All those blog posts over the years about moving to Wyoming…and we’re going to retire in Tennessee. Please, don’t get me wrong. I am still (and will always be) in love with Wyoming, but reality sucks. The reality of the Wyoming property is that the nearest thing that even resembles a town is more than 30 minutes away and that’s only if the roads are dry. A hospital is two hours away. The only way to get electricity in to the property in Wyoming would be through solar and wind power. Now, for Wyoming, that really shouldn’t be a problem, as the state averages 350 days a year with sunshine, and I can honestly say in the all the times I’ve been there, the wind has never stopped. Sometimes, it was a gentle breeze and other times it was a howler, but wind power wouldn’t be an issue. And water…that was also going to be a major challenge.
So, with all that at play, about two years ago, I realized building my happy homestead in Wyoming was never going to be a reality. Instead, we found property right next to some very good friends in Tennessee and we began to plan a retirement home in the woods and hollers of the Volunteer State. Two buildings were purchased, just empty shells really, and they were delivered to the property. Merriweather Lewis Electrical Co-Op was contacted and power was brought to the homestead. A cistern was installed for water.
While I was in the midst of laying out the floor plans for the two buildings and telling DH how we would connect the public and private living spaces of this homestead, he suddenly stopped me and said, “You seem to have this all planned out, already.”
Well, yeah…the homestead was supposed to be in Wyoming, so I just picked up the dreams, plans, and hopes for that place and moved about 1500 miles to the east and a little more south. The homestead in Wyoming had been dreamed of, planned, sketched, re-sketched, and fussed over for almost twenty years.
Thanksgiving 2014 was spent at the Tennessee homestead and work began in earnest on the cabins. The smaller one was used for storage of wood and building materials. That first week our good friends Jacque and her husband Dick helped Ken and I make the first dent into turning a large, barn shaped storage building into a home. We built a small bookcase, constructed a bench seat in the nook of the building, framed in what would be the bathroom with the help of more friends, Tenna and David, wired the building for electricity, fully insulated the building (and installing insulation on sloping ceilings is a bear!), and put the walls up in the nook.
Week one was in the books!
After that, I spent a week a month in Tennessee, working on the buildings. I learned several new skill sets: how to lay flooring, how to put up walls, how to plaster the seams between sheets of dry wall, laying tile, framing in the kitchen counter…in July, the main cabin was as finished as it could be and my attention turned to the smaller of the two buildings and making that into the “private space” of bedroom and my office. Until it was finished, the main cabin couldn’t be finished because I couldn’t move the bedroom out of what was the bathroom space.
The week before Thanksgiving, I went to Tennessee and completed the bathroom in the cabin. Finally, the interiors of the little cabins were finished. Before family arrived, I spent a few days decorating for the holidays. The whole time I did that, I was thinking that one year prior, both these buildings were empty shells without anything in them. Now there is a half wall of glass blocks separating office from bedroom space, a bathroom, an enclosed storage loft, a sleeping loft for guests…all accomplished for the most part by two older women and one older gentleman who are not professional builders of any kind.
We’re not finished by a long shot. The covered dog trot between the two buildings has to be built but that’s for this spring. The landscaping has to be finished. Because of the shade from the trees, a rock garden is the most obvious choice for that. Even shade loving plants won’t get enough sunlight when the trees are fully leafed out. The kennel area has to be built. What I have for the dogs is temporary but it serves its purpose while I down there for a week at a time. However, slowly but surely, the homestead is becoming just that—a home.