Back in PA!

We had just barely made it back to PA when our first guests showed up..  a co-worker from the campground and her sister and King, the dog,  were passing through, and we encouraged them to spend the night with us.. so they did!   you can see that it took King no time to get comfortable in his new surroundings…king feeling at home in bear creek

Before continuing their trip south, they stopped by the orchard where the annual festival was taking place.. King stayed in the tiny house while the girls explored the festivalnikki and rachel at tiny house

We lent a hand at the festival and for a few days afterward..   we made cider and picked apples..   we were blessed with weather that was almost too hot!  making cider 1 making cider 2by the end of the day we had pressed close to 600 gallons of cider…

Then we decided that it was time to get serious about a job for the upcoming months..  we saw a listing for a warehouse in our area.. made a call and went for an interview..   it was not really an interview –  no one actually asked us many questions.. instead, we sat behind computers and filled in forms and took a psychological test  which we apparently, passed.. because next we were invited to take a drug test..  passed that too.. and now we have a job 🙂

Thursday morning we met a former colleague for breakfast..  and then stopped by school to pay the last bill for my step daughter who graduated in June..  chatted with the Dean for a few moments..  and then took off before we ran into the crowds associated with a class change..

Friday evening we returned to school to see a performance by the fine arts department  –  the kids did a wonderful job, and it was fun to see so many of them participating.   it was also enjoyable to connect with a few more colleagues from the past 15 years..   we will not wear out our welcome at school, but it felt good to be back on campus ..

Today we ventured over to the Bear Creek Preserve and decided to explore a trail that was new to us..  the grey trail which parallels Shades Creek..  what a spectacular trail.   often it leads right through tunnels of rhododendron … this must be an awesome experience during the bloom..  I should probably edit the number of pics.. but maybe I will just go overboard and post them all  🙂oct 25 hike 2 oct 25 hike 1 oct 25 hike 3 oct 25 hike 4 oct 25 hike 5 oct 25 hike 6 oct 25 hike 7 oct 25 hike 8 oct 25 hike 9   we are looking forward to  following this trail a bit further  next time…

Tomorrow evening is our orientation for the new job , and we start next Sunday..  between now and then, we have chores to attend to here at the house..    and the  big event of the week is a community campfire down in the lehigh valley at some friends whom we met at the campground this past season..    it should be a full and productive week  🙂

Fall at the Orchard

peach tree in the fallIt has been far too long since my last post, but we had no idea how intense the picking season would be at the orchard.   Originally, the idea behind the tiny house was that we could stay here once or twice a week as needed.  The reality is that we have barely been to Bear Creek since July!

The pace has been relentless.   For those who farm, this will come as no surprise, but for those like me  who did not grow up on a farm, this has been an eye opening experience.. and I am simply living it through my wife who is actually the one employed at the orchard!    So what does the husband of the farm worker do?    “Can you help jug cider?”    ” Would you mind delivering apples to Scranton?”   “Could you get the forklift and bring a bin of apples to the grader?”   “would you like to spend 12 hours selling apples with me on Saturday at a festival?”    🙂   that is a taste of what life is like when your wife works at an orchard..    ( of course, there is only one right answer to all of these questions!)

Until this past weekend, I was the helper when it came to making cider.. but Saturday I was on my own.. and the cider stock was running low..  so  I pretended that I knew what I was doing..  and I made my first 120 gallons of cider..  before loading the truck and heading out on a delivery..  Sunday morning we started jugging it at 6:00 am..     before heading out on another delivery..      wow..  i guess it is a good thing that I happen to be on break from school!

The picture above is the same set of peach trees that I mis-identified in a post early this past spring..  most of the leaves are now on the ground..  The peaches and plums are long gone..  the apples and pears are stored..  and soon it will be pruning time.    We have learned a lot over the past 5 months..   and we are loving the tiny house..   I finally got the last of the exterior siding finished last week..   so the house is buttoned up and cozy – ready for whatever winter has to offer.

They are telling us that the storm that is headed up the coast ( which might interfere with our Thanksgiving travel plans)  may be stronger than fist anticipated..   I am  looking forward to taking a picture of the house with snow on the roof, but I would prefer that it would be next week!    in any event, I will post one as soon as I get the opportunity.

Making Progress…

Who would have imagined that it would take a whole summer to build a tiny house!   In fact,  I have been distracted from time to time, and I am not attempting to complete in record time – But then, since this is my first tiny house, I guess it will be record time regardless of how long it takes me!

The gas guys came and hooked up our tiny oven and heater the other dayth74 I must  have the stove converted to LP before I get to bake my first batch of cookies.. but I am anxious to turn that into a reality!

Here are some other photos of the house… Sunny, our cat, did not express a great deal of excitement about living in the tiny house, but he has taken over the place now..

th82 th71 th72 th74 th75 th76 th77 th78 th83A former student stopped by and lent a hand  –  the company was greatly appreciated, and it is so helpful to have another hand on the other end of a long board!   Two sides of the exterior are primed and just about ready for  the finish coat – white on the trim and a light yellow on the siding.

We have been lucky as far as rain goes..  showers were threatening all day, but no rain to impede progress.  Of course the relatives would love some rain – it has been a bit dry, and I am sure that the trees would love a drink!    But, the good news is that the peaches and plums are in 🙂   If anyone is looking for a  north east PA destination for a road trip and likes  peaches –  you are more than welcome – and I will give you a tour of the tiny house!    Peach festival  coming up Saturday the 16th of August…  Heller’s Orchard 84 - peaches

Another weekend and lots.. well, some progress.. never as much as I anticipate!

ImageIt’s beginning to look like a house!   I am having some difficulty convincing my  Father-in-law that is really is a little house.. just on the tiny side!   Today I told him that I got three windows in, and his question was .. ” are these the kind of windows that open”?… well,  yes, just like in a real house 🙂

The milestone for the day  is that I got the roof finished..  the staging down – no more climbing up on the roof with bundles of shingles!   Of course, I was hoping that I might have all of the windows and the door in as well, but we got a shower mid-afternoon, and that put a halt to work for a while.   So next weekend, I hope to be totally enclosed.. maybe I will even get some of the window trim up.  We could actually take our sleeping bags down and spend our first night.. but it is going to need a very good sweeping out first…

ImageWe have one more week of school, followed by final exams, and after that, I will have significantly more time to devote to working on the house.   I sure am looking forward to having a chunk of time to spend on the project.   ImageYesterday a couple was driving by in a pickup, and they slowed down and rolled down the window and shouted ” nice job”   That is life in a small town at its best!  Pretty soon, we are going to have to make a final decision on the exterior siding … it won’t be too long till we need it! 


I am feeling wonderfully exhausted!

ImageWell, it has been quite a weekend.. I thought that I was going to work on the house both days, but then it dawned on me that  I had a tech rehearsal on Saturday for our upcoming dance production.  Bummer!!   6 hours sitting in the booth – wishing instead to be on the roof!   Yes, that sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?    It was nearing 5 pm when I got to the orchard yesterday, but that meant that there was still about 3 hours of light.. so I tackled some of the preliminary work – closing in the other gable end, putting the overhang on the back side of the house – little things that would put me in good shape for today..  

It rained a bit last night and things were still wet this morning, so we started the day off with a walk.   The orchard is in the middle of the bloom.. very pretty.


It is kind of funny how we have already forgotten what a trying winter we had!   Around 9 am the work began.  There was still prep work to be done before I could break open the shingles.   Some of the trim needed to be put in place … next came the drip edge and then the ice and water shield and the tar paper higher up on the roof.    and then more drip edge..  and finally, it was time to shingle.   I was still thinking that I just might finish the roof by evening, but already, the up and down and climbing around had begun to take a toll on my  less than in shape body!   The shingles went rather well.. just a few adjustments along the way, and things fell very nicely.    The roof jacks were an absolute necessity..   In some way the steepness of a 12 over 9 pitch is somewhat challenging, but, on the other hand, you don’t have to bend over quite as much!  

There were a few photo ops  from the ridge…



I need to fill in some of this space yet, but first I needed to install the strapping that you see here..   next trip I will make the gap appropriately sized  for a ridge vent..


So  it was not particularly comfortable sitting on that ridge, but the view was worth it! 


and this is what the house looks like with one side shingled..  I got the ice and water shield and the  tar paper and drip edge on the other side..  next trip should be very productive, and it is entirely reasonable to think that I could have the roof finished with one more day of work..  then it will be on to  doors and windows  🙂       

So,  I could not help but think about the song  ” Up on the roof”  when I was sitting up there..   also thought about the scene in  Anne of Green Gables  when Anne decides to walk the ridge of the house and falls and twists her ankle..    avoided that !     I also thought about how I used to climb trees all afternoon when I was a kid.. I sure don’t remember ever feeling this sore and exhausted then 🙂    But, there is nothing more satisfying then looking over what you accomplished at the end of the day.. even when it hurts to put all of your tools away!

A productive evening!

ImageThe goal for the afternoon/evening was to finish the sheathing..  and I made it!  As usual, the first piece took forever, and then it was smooth sailing after that.  There were a few moments when I really could have used an extra hand, but I was able to put the tools away before it got dark, so I really can’t complain.   The next step is the finish the blocking at the top where there will be a joint in the plywood..  and then i can start on the rafters.   If all goes well,  that will happen this weekend.   It is supposed to rain tomorrow ( Friday )  and we have a tech rehearsal at school on Saturday,  so I wont’ be able to tackle this next phase till Saturday afternoon or Sunday..  but Sunday is supposed to be a nice day.  so look out!   🙂

Imagethe orchard is looking pretty nice about this time..  we are keeping our fingers crossed that the weather is kind the next 5 weeks or so..   My wife and I talked this morning about some decisions.. like a source of heat.   If it is at all feasible, we would like to go the route of installing a small wood stove…Our thinking is that we will really be using the house a lot during the fall.. not so much during the winter..  so maybe we don’t need to keep it heated all winter..    we also decided to install a sky light in the loft area.   I think that will add a nice touch, and with a pitch of  12/9 ,  i think that the likelihood of leaks will be minimal..  

Image the next big decision will be how we finish off the exterior..   I have been considering a whole range of ideas from board and batten,  to vertical T&G pine,  to a novelty siding..    just about time to figure that one out!  

A beautiful and productive Easter Weekend!

We thought that we were moving the tiny house to its new home last weekend, but circumstances conspired to negate that plan, so we held off to this past weekend and implemented a new plan.   Over the course of three days, with just a couple of setbacks like a dead battery in the truck that we needed to tow the trailer, we successfully moved all of the pieces of the house to the orchard.  Yesterday we enjoyed a nice Easter Dinner with my wife’s family, but only after making significant progress on re-assembling the house..  now we can really get going!


we placed 2 inches of foam insulation beneath the subfloor…


we left gaps at either end to enable any trapped water to drain.. once the house is dried in, we will spray insulation from underneath to close these gaps..


is she dancing?   you bet!   happy to have the sub floor in place 🙂


not bad for a days work!   that is a plum orchard behind the house, and the apples are on the hill in the background..   our goal, although a bit unrealistic, perhaps, is to spend a night in the house during the bloom..  that gives us about 3 weeks   …  or perhaps more likely,   a year and 3 weeks!  🙂


wrapped up for the day..  feeling pretty good about accomplishing what we did..   maybe I will get to finish the sheathing this afternoon after work..  then on to the roof!

Sunday morning

This morning my wife and I traveled to the orchard to check out the spot for our tiny house that my brother-in-law recently recommended.   It just so happens that he has a 15×16  concrete pad at the back of his property – just the right size!    We can put the house there and still have a bit of concrete for a picnic table.  🙂

After that discussion,  I went to the shop to work on the house.  The goal for today was to cut out the scroll boards for the front of the house. ( the back will have regular, boring rake boards)    These boards  are clear  5/4  by  12 pine.   They cost $44 a piece,  so I measured 3 times!    I am pretty happy with how they turned out..  they surely will give the house some character!  


The students who have been helping me with the construction may be disappointed to find that the only thing left for them to do is to take apart what we have built so far so that we can move the house ( hopefully next weekend)    It is pretty exciting to be at this point!

A Productive Day

Image I have been looking forward to today since the weekend.   There were a number of students on board to help so we set up the walls that have been framed.   First we measured and laid down chalk lines to show us where the inside of the walls should end up.   And then we set up the longer wall, piece by piece.. you will see clamps where we put the sections together ( they are also screwed.)   After bracing both ends, we raised the end wall.   Of course, this is just to give us a rough idea of how things will look.  we will take a little more care when we are doing the final construction  at the orchard.   And, now for the next two walls!   It is going to be very neat to be able to walk around inside our house and to picture where things will go!    In fact, I already gave the kids a tour… it just takes a bit of imagination.ImageI am just about ready to move in  🙂

Do I really need another new project?? :)

ImageAt the end of the school year, my wife will be leaving the classroom to join her brother on the family orchard.  This is an idea that we have been discussing for 2 years or so, and it appears that now is the time to make the move!   In many ways, it will be a new adventure for all of us, as we anticipate spending significantly more time, particularly in late summer and fall, at the orchard.    In short, we need a place to stay over night on the farm.  

The solution…   a tiny house!  For a number of years, I have been following the tiny house movement, reading blogs about folks who are building tiny houses, often on trailers, and adopting minimalist lifestyles in exchange for greater financial freedom or simply to leave a smaller footprint on our fragile earth.  Although I have been fascinated by the idea, I never thought that building a tiny house would be practical for us – until now!  

I turned to the stack of plans that I have been collecting over the years and pulled out one of the first set of that I ordered – probably 20 years ago.   The design is for a child’s playhouse – 8 x 10 with a decidedly Victorian appearance.  I bought those plans thinking that I might build the structure for my daughter.  She is now 26 and hardly needs a playhouse, but…  if we extend the footprint to  16 feet..   and that is exactly what we are doing!    Our tiny house will not be on a trailer, but we will borrow many of the ideas that the trailerable houses have incorporated.  

By good fortune, the spring production at school requires very little in terms of set construction so I asked if we might use the shop space to begin construction on my tiny house while using the opportunity to give the stage crew a meaningful construction experience.  We got the green light from the administration,  and, losing no time, I submitted a materials list to the local Lowe’s store..  and this is where we are at the moment.   The plan is to build the house in components which can later be taken apart and moved to the orchard ( a 35 minute drive)  later in the spring.  Image  the interior layout..



lots of folks just see a pile of lumber here..   I see a house!   🙂


a focused and enthusiastic group of students lending a hand!


so this is what  8 x 16  actually looks like..  sure is good that we get along very well!


looks just like a real house!    So this is what we have accomplished since Wednesday..  I was fortunate to be able to get into the shop after school on Friday and to spend a good part of Saturday ( yesterday)  there by myself..   so far so good!