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Anniversary Trip

August 6, 2018

We have had a whirlwind summer. Lindsey has had extra classes to teach this summer, a book project with a colleague, and most recently a trip to visit her brother and sister-in-law in California. The farm has also kept us very busy, but more on that in another post. We did manage to get away for our one year anniversary on a fun road trip around the Olympic Peninsula.

Our first stops were the towns of Hoquiam and Aberdeen. We had seen some cute (and inexpensive) properties for sale on Zillow and were interested in the area. It is a part of Washington that neither of us had visited, and only occasionally driven through, so it was fun to drive around and see the sights. If you have followed this blog at all, you know that the last thing we need is another project, but it would be really fun to some day fix up a beach cottage or even a duplex and then rent or sell down the road.

We then headed North to Forks. The best way to get brownie points on your anniversary is visit the spot of a certain book and movie series your wife enjoys. The highlight of the northern part of the road trip was Lake Crescent. We rolled through right before sunset and the light bouncing off the water was beautiful. Definitely on the list for a future camping trip. After a stop for dinner in Port Angeles, we continued around the peninsula and south to a little town called Seabeck. Yes, we drove the entire peninsula in a day, which made for a very long day, but we were pressed to get to our Airbnb for the night.

The room we rented was a beautiful studio with a murphy bed, a small kitchen, and a huge bathroom (seriously, the bathroom was almost as big as the rest of the studio). It was incredibly well laid out and it got us thinking about how to utilize such a small space. This studio would make the folks at IKEA jealous! We also had a great note from our host wishing us a happy anniversary, along with a coffee coupon and a yummy muffin. We crawled into bed for the night… and let’s just keep it PG for our friends and family and move forward to the rest of our trip. The next morning we headed to Poulsbo and walked around all of the cute shops and stores. If you haven’t had a chance to visit, the neat Viking vibe and mix of antique shops, coastal stores, and food outlets make for a fun experience. For lunch we found a little Mexican restaurant in a tiny back alley. We were a few minutes early before they opened for lunch, but they let us come in and order and we had the whole place to ourselves. Not many things more romantic than having a private lunch in a sleepy little hidden restaurant in a cozy coastal town on a warm May day. The evening in Seabeck was peaceful and beautiful with the water right out our front door. There were several bird houses nearby and the sights and sounds of this place helped rejuvenate us for the busy summer ahead.

The next morning we headed home. We decided to get breakfast on the road but quickly discovered that several places were closed for Memorial Day and the places that were open were packed. We drove around Gig Harbor for awhile and then went to a late breakfast/early lunch at one of our favorite places, Moctezuma’s Mexican Restaurant. We drove past our old house in Tacoma on the way home and then headed back to our busy life. A short but relaxing and wonderful anniversary trip.

Lindsey wrote a Year One post awhile back and I having been thinking about what I could write in response. It is such a weird but wonderful feeling to have someone in your life that you feel is an extension of yourself. I have always been more of an introvert and typically need to recharge after spending any amount of time with people, but with Lindsey, she recharges me. I don’t feel tired of being around her or feeling like a need a break. I’m sure we will have our ups and downs as every married couple does, but after one year I can genuinely say that I am more in love with her than when we got married. She constantly makes me want to be a better person and yet is completely accepting of the person I am right now. In our first year of marriage we purchased a house, started a remodel, sold a house, bought a bus and RV, and moved multiple times; all things that could be crushing for many couples, but we made it to year one. As crazy as it has been, I wouldn’t change anything because I get wake up every morning with the love of my life. Happy Anniversary Sweetie!

 

Farm

April Homestead Update

April 21, 2018

Spring is finally here and we are moving full steam ahead on several homestead projects. We also had the opportunity to spend time with my nephew during spring break. He spent a week with us during the first part of the month and he loved spending time with his favorite feathered friends and exploring the farm. We also spent a nice afternoon at a great park in Auburn and spent the evening watching ‘A Wrinkle in Time’. One of the highlights of spring break was visiting the Northwest Trek Wildlife Safari. We saw all sorts of amazing animals including lynx, beaver, otter, moose, big horn sheep, deer, elk, mountain goats, caribou, and the highlight of the trip, bison!

Our big homestead project this month was having the field cleared of all the blackberries and brush by a local company. They also cleared some of the dead and fallen trees and dug up some more tires and trash from the field. Although wet and muddy at the moment it feels great to have the field cleared. We can finally start to explore our whole property and start turning the field into a beautiful pasture. We seeded the field with a mix of Triticale, Ryegrass, and a mix of Clovers and Wildflowers for our bees this year.

Speaking of bees, on April 21st we picked up a package of bees for the hive my dad built for Christmas. With the new bee suit given by Lindsey’s parents for Christmas, we loaded the bees into the new hive, checked on the queen, added some sugar water, and buttoned up the hive to let the busy bees start building comb and gathering honey. More details on the hive setup in an upcoming blog. The next step is to add an electric fence around the existing fence into the apiary. We had another break-in with the black bear and we don’t want it getting a taste for honey!

After a busy day with the bees and at the farm, Lindsey has been relaxing doing some quilting and sewing. I can’t wait to see the end result when she is done with the project. It is so fun to have time to work on some old homestead crafts.

Farm

March Homestead Update

March 18, 2018

Now that we are moved into our new apartment (see February Freeze post), we have had a little bit more time to devote to working on the farm. We received a wonderful boost when Lindsey’s parents came up for a few days and we hauled another 5,000 lbs of trash and recycling to the local dump. The mountains of trash and debris seem to be never ending by it feels like we are finally making headway. We also burned several piles of old wood and downed limbs and we are finally starting to see patches of earth that have been covered for the past several years.

Despite all the progress, homesteading is often taking two steps forward and one step back. Our RV (which served as a nice retreat for the in-laws and dogs) wouldn’t start when we needed to move it, and after jumping it a few times, I decided to just replace the battery completely. A couple hours and a $100+ later, we have a nice new working battery for an RV we now very seldom use. The next obstacle was the bus, our original project that got pushed to the back burner due to time and budget. Even gutted, the bus weighs over 18,000 lbs and after a couple of days of heavy rain we discovered that it sunk into the soft mud when we tried to move it. We tried to free it for a couple hours while Lindsey’s parents were here but it only seemed to slide further down the hill and put a couple of our outbuildings (and the bus) at risk. Luckily it dried out a bit this week and after another couple of hours digging out around all the tires and putting some gravel down, I managed to free the beast from its muddy tomb. We are hoping to clean the bus up a bit in the coming weeks and then try to sell it. While it would make an amazing mobile off-grid home, we have too many vehicles and too many projects at the moment.

In all of the trash and debris, occasionally you find a gem. We found an rusty old flatbed trailer buried in the blackberry bushes, but upon closer inspection it seems to be in decent condition. It needs a new deck and maybe some new tires at some point, but I was able to yank it out of the weeds with my truck and it seems to work fine. Can’t wait to see what else we find as we continue to clean and dig through the weeds and brambles on the farm. The chickens are loving all the cleaning as well as there is lots of fresh loose dirt, yummy bugs, and young green shoots to nibble. We are already talking about more chickens and Lindsey wants to get some Ameraucanas or Easter Egger mixes. While the chickens are mostly free range, we are setting up a large enclosed outdoor area for them to roam in safety that will also double as the apiary when we get bees in May. With bears, raccoons, feral cats, opossums, and who knows what else, we want to make sure our animals are safe. We also hope to get some goats as soon as we can get some temporary boundary fencing in place.

The house project continues to move forward (see Creating a Solid Foundation post) and we are hopeful to be able to start on major construction/remodeling this summer. Until then we will have plenty of work to do clearing blackberries, cutting down old damaged trees, continuing to clean and repair outbuildings, and prepping for new additions to the farm. Our goal this year is to finish the house and set the foundation for a self sustaining homestead. We will have well water (plus spring water backup or for irrigation) and septic on site and may look at solar in the future but for now we are lucky that there is grid power. And we would like to produce most of our food from our chickens, garden, and bees. Lindsey has been vegetarian her entire life and I have tried to embrace this as much as possible during the past year. Because of this, we will probably never have animals for meat and instead might utilize the pastures for rescue animals and/or field crops. I want to develop a large garden and greenhouse and we want to get into canning to keep us fed throughout the year. Eventually we hope to make a small supplemental income with the homestead through specialty crops such as garlic or herbs, or through crafts, woodworking, etc. A lot of ideas and possibilities!

Farm

Creating a Solid Foundation

March 11, 2018

One of the challenges in our remodel project has been what to do with the existing foundation. The house has a post and pier foundation with some massive beams but the house isn’t completely level and some of the posts are sitting on bare dirt. Several of the contractors we have talked to and our engineer have expressed concerns about the long term viability of the foundation. This week we talked with a company in Seattle that can add additional galvanized posts to support the beams and level the house. This could be a huge step forward in the project and we finally have a good path forward to keep the existing house vs tearing it down or building elsewhere on the property.

We have also been looking at ways to remodel the carport and incorporate it into the house redesign. One of the steps in doing this is decommissioning the underground oil tank and adding a new poured foundation, but this would give us an additional 480 square foot to work with. Currently we are thinking about moving the kitchen and mudroom/utility room to this spot. We are hopeful to have the foundation work finished and the framing and roof started by early summer. It has been an incredibly long process but we are still very excited about making this our forever home!

 

Family

One Magical November Day

December 26, 2016

As I sit looking out at the gentle rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean preparing to have Christmas with Lindsey’s family, I still have trouble wrapping my mind around the magical and life altering events of the past year and a half. When friends introduced me to Lindsey, I was hopeful that we would have a fun date and maybe it would blossom into a relationship, but I never could have imagined that a year and a half later I would be asking her to marry me. Every date, every moment, seemed to draw us closer together and it just fit. I knew she was the one. While we did talk about marriage prior to November and started working on our Fettig Farm together, there was still one step remaining… the proposal.

Earlier in the year, my family was kind enough to give me a break from the B&B and unbeknownst to Lindsey, I snuck down to Seal Rock, Oregon to have a chat with her parents. We discussed our relationship and our dreams for the future. It was simultaneously one of the most nerve racking and exciting moments of my life. I am so thankful for my future in-laws and their continuing love and support. In addition to our little talk, there was another element to my visit. Lindsey has always wanted to wear her great grandma’s wedding ring, a beautiful vintage platinum ring from 1895. With the help of Lindsey’s mom, I had the ring cleaned, repaired, and resized.

And then one magical November day I proposed. My original plan changed a few times but I finally settled on proposing at Pittock Mansion in Portland, a Renaissance-style château built in 1909. I liked the vintage sitting which matched the ring as well as Lindsey’s style and likes. I was beyond nervous and was shaking like crazy, but got down on one knee in front of the grand staircase, Christmas piano music softly playing in the background, and asked the love of my life to marry me. And after a second that felt like an eternity, Lindsey said yes. The remainder of the day was a blur. We had a quick lunch with my parents before heading down to Lindsey’s parents for Thanksgiving. And along the way we called friends and family and chatted about wedding ideas.

We are now in the process of planing our dream wedding for May 28th, 2017 and are so excited to share this next step of our life with our friends, family, and loved ones.

Farm

Demo Day!

September 18, 2016

There are few things that bring more excitement than demolition day. The start of a new project and the cleansing of the old trappings of a house long past its prime. For us, demo day started with tearing back a bit of the wall and ceiling shortly after getting keys to the house. To our surprise, the 1960’s pink sheetrock and old ceiling panels hid beautiful original cedar planks. This was on top of the fact that the ugly linoleum was covering gorgeous old fir flooring. A great find for a short day.

A longer full demo day was planned and we were overjoyed when several family members made the trek to Buckley to see our budding farm and help us tear down the mid-century façade. We tore off the rest of the downstairs sheetrock to expose the cedar siding, and made quick work of the dusty ceiling panels. We started the process of removing the old bathroom wall and a kitchen wall that will eventually add much needed square footage to an open concept kitchen, dining room, and living room. And finally we took down the old cabinets in the kitchen, making sure to salvage the antique Crane Kitchen Pride sink.

The demo exposed some potential new problems and challenges for the project, but also gave us tremendous hope and excitement for the beautiful old woodwork we hope to restore and feature in the final renovation. After filling 35 contractor bags and cleaning up the debris we called it a day and headed back to Tacoma. Demo day wouldn’t have been possible (or as fun) without the great support from our family and we look forward to the next step in this farm restoration project.

Farm

New Beginnings Part 1

September 18, 2016

Owning your own farm, living off the land, getting back to the simple life. For many, these phrases harken back to a bygone era, a time when social media didn’t dominate our lives, a reality star wasn’t running for president, and when your very existence was tied to your hard work and perseverance. For me, growing up on a farm provided so many opportunities and lessons, that it seemed natural to want to get back to that as I moved forward with the next stage of my life. A stage that involves a wonderful woman that shares this dream of having a picturesque farm in the country. This blog is a way to document the journey toward that dream.

As Lindsey (the wonderful aforementioned woman) is in a more settled job as a professor at Pacific Lutheran University, we decided that we wanted to find a piece of property near her work. And I began the process of finding ways to work remotely and plan a move from the Hood River area to the Tacoma area. While Tacoma and the surrounding Puget Sound area are beautiful, there are very few classic farmhouses on large swaths of land. Even buildable lots with a few acres are at a premium. We begin widening our search further and further out from the city center and Lindsey’s work. There were a few houses that intrigued us, such as the classic farmhouse in Orting complete with a flock of wild peacocks. But nowhere really felt like home. There was always something that caused us to keep looking. A railroad track nearby, close neighbors, the distance from Tacoma, the amount of work needed, or the price. We kept looking.

In June, Lindsey sent me a link to a property listed on Zillow. For sale by owner, 2 bedroom 1 bath on 6.5 acres. While it looked intriguing, it was extremely small and was in bad shape. Despite the acreage I wondered if this was any better than the previous houses we had looked at. Lindsey viewed the property first and instantly fell in love. “This is the one,” she exclaimed over the phone. She wanted to put an offer in right away so I made the trip north to check it out for myself. When I turned the corner and went down the driveway for the first time, I immediately fell in love as well. Pear and walnut trees flanked the road as the property opened into a hidden meadow. There sat an old Dutch colonial style farmhouse, matching barn, and half a dozen outbuildings. The land and buildings had seen better days, but it was clear that those days were filled with vibrance and purpose. The bones of the house were solid, hand built with love, care, and lots of hard work. The air was tranquil and it felt like you were miles from anyone else. This WAS the one.

The process of acquiring the house was as challenging as finding it in the first place. Despite putting an offer in the week it was posted on Zillow, we were second in line and had to wait almost a full agonizing month before finding out that the other offer fell through. With keys in hand we set about the process of cleaning, demo, and planning our remodel. Our goal is to add a second story bump out that will give us much needed extra space. This combined with changing a few things on the first floor should give us four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The task before us is hard but we are inspired by the pioneers of old that made their start on this very farm almost eighty years ago. Our farm. Fettig farm.