Building Our Upland Dream Home
(Part 7)

Dateline: 6 February 2017 a.d.

We started building our dream home in the spring of 1983. As soon as the frame was weathertight, I nailed the plaque you see in the picture above to the hemlock beam in our kitchen. I made the plaque using rub-on letters from an art store. It is from Psalm 18. It is a verse of praise and faith.

The plaque is now fly-specked and worn. The nails are rusty. But the verse hasn't moved from that spot in 34 years. It stays there as a reminder of what Marlene and I believed way back then, and what we still believe today.


In the spring of 1985, after another winter of living with Marlene's parents, we were anxious to finally move into our little house and make it a home. The house was not finished, inside or outside, but it was finished enough.

We got a septic system early in 1985 and a well too. The well was nothing more than a 10ft-deep hole in  the ground, dug with a backhoe. A concrete tank with perforated sides was lowered into the hole and it was backfilled with stone. It was not the best of wells, but the price was right, and it served us for the next 18 years. In 2003 we finally had a good well drilled. 

I built the kitchen cabinets myself, right in the kitchen. Judging from the corn field outside the window (across the road), the picture above may have been taken in the summer of 1984. Notice the substantial cross bracing between the 2x12 floor joists.

We finally moved into the house in July of 1985. In the picture above, Marlene is sewing at the kitchen table. The table and chairs came from an auction. The kitchen cabinets have no doors on them. And there is no ceiling yet in the kitchen. You can see our garden outside the window. The white fridge that is only partially visible was  a 1950's or early 1960's model that was given to us.

In the picture above I have finally gotten doors on most of the cabinets, and a ceiling. There is still no trim on the windows. There was much yet to be done.

A few months after we moved into the house we found a puppy at our door. We adopted him and named him Pilgrim. That is the dog I wrote about in The Life and Death of a Good Dog, which is a chapter in my book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian.

Marlene and I were married in November of 1980. Our first child was born until 1988. Until then, Pilgrim was pretty much a surrogate child.

Building our dream home was a lot of work back then, but we were young and full of energy. The years of our marriage before we started to have children were what I would call the Easy Years. Marlene and I both worked, our incomes well exceeded our humble circumstances, and we had few real cares.

In my next installment of this series, I'll show you the addition I put on the house in the fall of 1990, when Marlene was pregnant with our second child. The carefree Easy Years were history by then.


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  1. A very nice looking house! Probably just about the same footprint as my 100 year old one. I added a couple of rooms,3, and completely renovated the whole house from 1975 to 1985. Was working 12-14 hours a day and by then I was 47 YO. I still, to this day have one closet with the old lathe and horsehair plaster in it! Been meaning to finish it but "things" keep getting in the way.LOL! I love the fact that you put the post and beam part '"in" the kitchen. Congratulations on a job well done . Everett

  2. Enjoy your building story so much. (When we moved to our property in 2012, we couldn't dig our own well....against the law.)

  3. Enjoying your photos and story. So you made building mistakes and that's okay... you learned from them. I think it looks like a real nice house with a great history. These are the kinds of houses that when you move from them, you leave part of your life behind. Yes, when we're young we have so much energy and enthusiasm!

  4. Elizabeth L. Johnson said,
    Your house is beautiful!! Yes, the before and after (empty-nest)years of children are wonderful; absolutely wonderful! after all the years of hard work raising them. I still tell young couples, though, being a young family with children at home will be the best years you'll ever know. Hard, but the best ever! Is Chaz still driving truck? How's the restaurant going? And what's your third son and wife doing to keep busy? Bless you all!