A few years ago, when we were dreaming of our homesteading adventure, I happened to read a blog post that completely floored me. It was about a young Vermont couple that was in the process of building their own home. And it wasn't just any house—it was a charming straw bale house with a frame made of beams they hand-hewed from trees on their own land.
The article and accompanying photos inspired me, but it also filled me with a longing for a life that seemed totally out of reach. How in the world were we going to traverse the massive chasm between where we were then (living with family in the Midwest, with no land and no building skills) and where we desperately wanted to be (living on our own land, in a house we built ourselves)?
I remember being completely mystified by it all: How does one find land? And how does one go about building a house? And how do some people possess these skills already? How do you hand-hew beams? What even is hand hewing? How can you just chop your own trees down and build with them? HOW DOES THIS ALL WORK?
When I found that North House Folk School class in 2012, it was like being thrown a life preserver, and I clung to it with all of my might.
This afternoon, I remembered that article for the first time in ages, and took the time to read it again. And as I did so, a smile of realization crept up my face, and I thought, "We have come so far. The chasm of the unknown was vast and wide, and we've traversed so much of it. The learning curve was the steepest I've ever tackled, but I've climbed so much of it, and I've gotten so much stronger in the process."
When I admired the photos in the blog post, I did not feel a desperate longing. Instead, I felt calm and rational as I sized up the building, looking at the plaster job, the brick floor, the spray-foam around the unfinished office windows—things I never would have noticed before starting to build our house. After a thorough examination of construction techniques used, I gave a nod of affirmation and said, "I could build that."
And then I smiled even wider when I realized, "I AM building that."