Hooray! A new well!


well-drillingIt’s strange that something so trivial as a well being drilled on our property should bring such excitement–but it does.  The first time we lived at this property we did not have a fancy drilled well–or plumbing at all for that matter.  We made use of one of the old dug wells on the farm and hoisted water up out of it with a bucket on a rope.  How rugged I felt when I managed to haul 5 gallons up out of that hole in the earth!  How I used to complain when I then had to haul that bucket a hundred yards up-hill to the trailerstead in the August heat and humidity.  And when I began to delve deeper into sustainable living, my growing garden plot required me to haul bucket after bucket up the hill so that I could water my crops.  We would fill a Rubbermaid garbage barrel with water, and then I would dip my watering can in and proceed to water the plants.

How nostalgic we can be about those hardships once they are far behind us!

Obviously we did NOT make our Thanksgiving move-in date.  It was disappointing and very frustrating, but I’m trying not to let it get me down.

The delay is largely due to an issue of paperwork surrounding the radio tower that sits on my in-laws’ portion of the property.  A lease agreement with a broadcasting company has allowed Keith’s parents to hang onto the acreage all these years, but that lease agreement did not specify which two acres the broadcasting company had access to–which, left as is, would have given them legal claims to our new home–since it sits on acreage that once belonged to the parcel the lease pertains to.  So our mortgage lender required that this issue be cleared up before we can finalize our mortgage.

All this is taking longer than we’d hoped, and it’s frustrating because this property is not just a home–but a place of business–a farm that I am unable to utilize until we are actually living there.  But I know that we will get there in the end, and eventually all this will be nothing more than a bad memory. Another hardship overcome that I can someday look back on and feel proud to have endured.

I am hoping that these obstacles will soon be overcome and that we will be able to move in before the Winter Solstice (remember–our family does not celebrate Christmas–instead we observe the shortest day, or the longest night of the year, and celebrate the return of light to our part of the world.  Read more about our secular holiday).  How symbolic it would be to begin a new year in this new place!

Stay tuned folks!

The arrival of the new homestead at Runamuk

moving the trailer into place

On Wednesday the new mobile home was brought in to Runamuk.

new trailer goes up the drivewayHere she is sitting in the driveway while the Ames crew does some last minute site-prep.

other side of the trailerThis is what the mobile home company designed to be the back of the home, but I decided it will be the front of our home–mainly because it has a kitchen window that I want to face south.

moving the trailer into placeAnd here they go–up the driveway with it.

Because there was a day of rain after they’d smoothed the rutts in the driveway, the soil was soft and the crew wound up using the bulldozer to pull the truck and trailer up the hill.  Then–because I want things the way I want them regardless–they used the bulldozer to settle the trailer in place–backwards.  😉

moving the trailer into place And here she is–sitting in place in the same location as the ratty old trailer we previously dismantled.

On-going site prep

framework for cement pad

backhoeYesterday the Ames crew were prepping the site for the cement pad to be laid.  The ground was smoothed out and leveled, and while we were there they began laying a woven wire mesh inside the framework–it will serve as reinforcement for the cement.

smoothed driveway!Keith and I decided that this was not the time to have an actual gravel driveway put in, so the Ames crew used the bulldozer to smooth out the twin ruts that led up the hillside to the trailer-site.

framework for cement padThings are moving right along–with any luck we’ll be having a very special Thanksgiving this year!!!

Getting underway for the big move

heavy equipment at Runamuk

heavy equipment at RunamukThe word came early this morning that our new trailer had arrived at the Ames Mobile Home Center in Canaan, and the Ames’ crew were bound for our farm-site with equipment and machinery.  Barely able to contain ourselves we drove out to meet them.

When we arrived we were greeted by the sight of heavy equipment, a welcome change after a long summer fighting for some way to make it back to this hillside.

The first order of business was to remove the old trailer frame–you know-the one we spent the last three weeks clearing rotted housing materials off?  Yup–that one.

It needed to be moved before the crew could begin prepping that site for the new trailer installation.  We didn’t realize til it was dragged past us that we’d missed one lonely bag of garbage sitting up on the old floor.  Hmmm….

moving old trailer frameInstead of trashing the metal frame from our old trailer, we decided to have the Ames crew haul it down into the field, where Keith will build a shed on top of it to store the salvageable lumber and materials from the old farmhouse (which, as you can see in the pictures, is going to need to be dismantled and cleared away–much like we just did with the old trailer).

settling the old trailer frame into placeHere it is, nestled in amongst the trees just beyond the old farmhouse.  It’s not pretty, and I have to fight with myself about it–right now it’s a terrible eye-sore, but I’m holding tight to my principles.  We will not send it to be trashed, we will re-purpose it, re-use it.  Waste not, want not–right?

And then came the gravel!  Hooray!

gravel!Before they can lay the cement pad there needs to be a bed of gravel, which will allow for drainage under the trailer later on.  And from previous experience on this hillside, I already know that having good drainage will be a good thing come spring time.  Compared to the Kennebec river valley where the village of Anson is settled (with the town of Madison on the opposite side of the river), the top of Pease Hill gets more rain, more snow, and more weather in general.  Incidentally, Pease Hill is one of the highest hills in the area.  😉

dumping the gravelthe mound of gravelNote the jelly on Summer’s cheek from his jelly doughnut–that’s right we had ourselves a little celebration this morning.  Tomorrow the crew will be pouring the cement pad; stay tuned folks!


Runamuk Boys Offer Penance

old trailer messIt was painful to visit the farm after we were forced to move into town. And easier to avoid it, even though the old trailer sat there, rotting away, and needing to be cleared out.  The mess nagged at my conscience, but still we left it.  It remained a scourge upon the land, a hideous reminder of our failure.

Keith and I decided that the new trailer will go in the same location as the old one, since we already had a septic installed at that site the first time around, along with electricity.  That meant that the mess from the old trailer would need to be cleaned up before we could move the new one in.  Not a fun job by any standards, but it feels good to make reparations–to offer our penance to the forest and the hillside–for the damage we inflicted with our neglect.

Runamuk Boys Offer PenanceWe’ve been hard at work, offering atonement as a family, and looking forward to starting again, to moving forward with our plans for the expansion of our farm, to tending the land and the wildlife, and we’re especially looking forward to living more closely attuned with nature.

debris from the old trailer


We’re careful to sort the refuse into various piles–one pile of garbage, one of wood debris–some of which will be salvaged and re-used for up-coming projects, a pile of scrap metal, and a pile of other salvageable materials like windows, PVC piping, and more.


sam burns offers penanceThe frame from this old trailer will be moved a couple hundred yards down the hill into what the family laughably refers to as “the field”, and we will repurpose it (waste not, want not, right?).  Keith plans to build a shed on top of it to house the tree trunks that we will later use to build our cordwood house.

And work begins next week to prep the site for our new trailer–she’s on her way folks!  I can’t tell you how excited we are to finally be going home.  So stay tuned for the latest details from Runamuk!

A Thanksgiving Homecoming!

forest path
forest path
One of the many paths through the Runamuk forest.

At the start of the year I’d deemed 2013 the “Year of the House”.  I do that…give a theme to each year, and a word to live by.  I pick a handful of very specific goals for the year–not a resolution, but–improvements of my person or my life, goals that I want to accomplish, and the word and theme that I choose directly relates to my goals for that year.  I had only 1 goal to focus on this year–and that was to move our family back to the forested hillside that we call home, and to move Runamuk there and dig in–literally.  So this year could only be “The Year of the House”, and the word I chose to live by during 2013 could only be “Purpose”.

I am so elated to be able to say that the purpose which has propelled me forward this year, and indeed for the last several years–has led me to success.  We are finally going home.

Ground-work will soon begin at the site of the Runamuk farm.  After a grueling struggle with various banks and financial institutions this year, we’ve finally been approved for a mortgage loan on a new mobile home and a drilled well.  We will be able to move in just before Thanksgiving.  And I am so thankful.

I’ll be the first to admit that this was not the end-result I’d envisioned last December when we were initially gifted the land by Keith’s parents.  And I’ll also admit, I’m greatly prejudiced against mobile and manufactured homes.  I’ve lived in them before, I know full well the social stigma attached to them, and–if you recall–the reason we were forced to leave our little forest-haven in the first place was because we were living in an old trailer that had fairly rotted around us, creating an unhealthy environment for raising our boys.  I was blissfully happy raising babies in the woods without plumbing.  Moving into town was not a path I wanted to take.

But as summer went on and we met with failure at every turn, I was forced to take a good hard look at myself.  Who the hell did I think I was?  Was I too good to live in a trailer?  Was I so proud that I would let an opportunity to go home–to be on my own land–pass me by???  And what was the goal for the year?  What was it I had been working towards for the last 5 years?  And hadn’t I promised myself, the trees, and the hillside–that I would be back in 5 years, come hell or high water?

And so I took it.  I seized the opportunity to move back to that hillside–even if it means living in a trailer–a mobile home.  Again.

Things will be different this time around, though.  Our trailer will be brand spanking new–built especially for us–not some ramshackle old thing that’s already sustained damage in a flood like our first trailer was.  We’re going to have a new well, and plumbing.  I look at it as an investment in our farm and business.  The long term goal is still to build a cordwood house to live in, the trailer will become my honey house and commercial kitchen.  With that in mind, I am eager to move forward.

Runamuk is ready to expand–to grow into new areas of agriculture.  Keith and I are ready to work with our land to act as stewards of the land and create an optimal and healthy ecosystem for wildlife and livestock.  We are chomping at the bit to be able to pour our sweat and blood–and love–into it all.

So stay tuned folks!  Great things are about to happen at Runamuk, and I will keep you apprised of the latest going-ons right here at the Runamuk blog–your window into our little fledgeling farm.

Longing for home…

forested path

mudseasonWe lived there once before…did I ever mention that? The site of the Runamuk farm of tomorrow.  My blog was known then as The Scientific Homeschool, and I was raising babies in the woods without plumbing.  I put together the “Chronological History of the World Unit-Studies for Secular Homeschoolers” (yeah-say that 3 times fast!) –so important was it to me that we incorporate Earth Studies into our family’s education.

When my eldest was just an infant we lived in a camper for the summer, then in a ramshackle trailer through the worst part of the winter–without a heating system to speak of.  But we managed, and the five years we spent on the old Burns farm–without plumbing, raising babies in the woods–were the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Read more

New Queens in the apiary

new honeybee queens

new honeybee queensDespite my best efforts this spring to make successful and productive splits and nucs (read more about that here), I still found myself with 4 out of 12 hives Queenless come July.  I do not claim to know it all when it comes to bees and beekeeping, and after talking to beekeepers with 30 and 40 years of experience under their belts, I’ve learned that there will always be new things to learn, and new curve-balls to field.  While the beekeeper may provide a colony with a Queen or Queen-cells, the bees may yet choose not to employ said Queen.  And as with any other form of farming, which is reliant on the whims and mercy of nature, weather can play a leading role in successful–or un-successful– Queen-establishment. Read more

The Year of the House

runamuk logo

It’s been just over two weeks since we went back to the bank to formally apply for our construction loan.

Back in March we were pre-qualified for an $85k construction loan, and we’ve been busy gathering all of the necessary estimates and documents together so that we could finalize the loan.  When we met with bank representative Jack Ducharme at the Madison branch of the Skowhegan Savings Bank, we were told the process typically takes 30-45 days to finalize.  For the last three years Keith and I have worked to get to this point, carefully crafting a plan that included a sharp household budget, systematically paying off debts, and even taking a small loan with our local credit union to improve our credit rating.  Yet even with everything seemingly in order, even with a good credit score, we’re holding our breath, watching and waiting, as though one wrong move could bring the entire house of cards tumbling down. Read more

Carpe diem: Monday’s Musings

phineas & ferb

phineas & ferbIt may seem juvenile, but I don’t care–I am a huge fan of Disney’s Phineas & Ferb. I think even if I weren’t a mother the show would appeal to me with it’s free promotion of creativity and optimism, not to mention the fact that every episode has at least one song. I love musicals–it’s a guilty indulgence of mine to curl up on the couch on a rainy evening to watch Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly–really anything with singing and dancing, and if it’s in black and white, so much the better.

Phineas & Ferb combines my affinity for musicals with my penchant for a positive, up-lifting and inspiring message. How wonderful to encourage children to explore their curiosities, be creative and follow their passions, at a time when avoiding failure is such a prevalent theme in society. Read more