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Passive House Update – 6 months to move in

Are you ready for a Passive House Update? We are 6 months to move in and I thought I’d give you a little tour of the inside and talk a bit more about what needs to happen so we can get out of this barn and start living in a house again. Because truth be told, we’re all getting a little sick of barn life.

Passive House Update - 6 months to move in

Passive House Update – 6 months to move in

Passive House Update -007

Passive House Exterior

For the most part, the outside of the house is finished. Obviously, the garage still needs to be clad. It’s getting coreten {weathering steel} on the outside and I’m excited to see how it will look when it’s finished. But I’m not in too big of a hurry, because priority is on finishing up the inside of the house so we can move in. We also still need to complete the breezeway which will connect the house to the garage. It’s going to be a see-through glass breezeway, as far as I know, and will be the only way you can enter the house from the front.

Passive House Interior

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July Homestead Update

It’s time for a July Homestead Update! We’ve had a seriously busy July around here. Every year just gets crazier and crazier. I always think – next week, life will slow down. But it never happens! Surely, you feel the same way? July Homestead Update

July Homestead Update

In the garden…

simplifylivelove garden update julyMy garden is going absolutely nuts! I’ve harvested bucket  loads of cucumbers, zucchini, beans, and cabbage. The tomatoes are starting to turn red and my potatoes are finally dying back. My corn is looking gorgeous – I love the variation in the three different types of corn I planted and hope it yields well! I haven’t had this many cucumbers in YEARS! I’m not sure how I managed to handle the cucumber beetles this year, but whatever combination of things I tried {DE, companion planting, planting starts along with seeds} – it worked! I hope I can duplicate it next year.
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One Year in the Barn – Homestead & Garden Update

Well friends, we moved into our barn in July of 2013 and have now been living in it for an ENTIRE YEAR. It’s hard for me to believe it’s been that long, but it has. We’ve accomplished an awful lot around our little homestead this past year, and I’d like to take you on a tour of some of the events from the past year.

One Year in the Barn - Homestead & Garden Update

Well friends, we moved into our barn in July of 2013 and have now been living in it for an ENTIRE YEAR. It’s hard for me to believe it’s been that long, but it has. We’ve accomplished an awful lot around our little homestead this past year, and I’d like to take you on a tour of some of the events from the past year.

One Year in the Barn – Homestead & Garden Update

passive house Iowa

The biggest accomplishment is the Passive House we are building. {Curious what a passive house is? Read this.}

That’s it right there! The great thing about being married to a fabulous home builder/remodeler is SOME DAY I will get to live in that beautiful beast of a house. The bad thing about being married to a super talented home builder/remodeler, everyone else’s home projects come first. That means progress on our house is slow going. But we have made remarkable strides in the almost year since we started the house. We dug the hole last August, right after we got back from Paris.

Considering we had the worst winter on record in so, so many years, considering our windows were delayed by over a month from Europe, considering the hubs has never used many of the building materials he’s using or built a passive house before, I’ll take it! Windows are in. Interior framing is almost done. Exterior of the house is almost done. Insulation has been started. We’re making progress. I’d love to hope we will be in it by Christmas. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’m kind of taking this time in the barn as a time to kill everything, so to speak. My dishes keep breaking, my towels get more stained every day, and more and more stuff is sent to Goodwill.  I’m getting new furniture, new linens, and new dishes when we do finally move into the new house. After almost 17 years of marriage and 4 kids, our stuff is just looking a little shabby. I’m taking trips to Ikea, making wish lists, and dreaming. We’ll be living in that house soon enough.
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We’re Living in a Barn!!

On our path to a more sustainable life, we are going to be living in a barn while we build our super insulated passive house. Here’s a little bit more about that decision.

We’re Living in a Barn!!

Sorry for the radio silence. Life has been seriously crazy this summer and I have not been able to spend time on my computer – which is both good and bad! Sometimes I feel like my computer is my life and it’s nice to disconnect from it every now again. It’s ironic that I disconnected right after an awesome blogging conference in Cincinnati, but that’s how it goes, right?

life in a barn

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that we are finally moving out to our barn! We have been planning to move there for quite some time, because we’re getting ready to build our dream house, a super insulated passive house which will need no furnace even in the brutally cold Iowa winters. But the new house isn’t started yet so moving out to the country hasn’t really been possible. A couple months ago, though, we decided  to bite the bullet and get out to the country –> house or no house. We are quite done with living in town and we seem to do a lot of things because we think they’ll make a good story. 🙂

farm kids in a wagon of mulch

We moved to Iowa in 2006 in large part because we wanted to raise farm kids. We decided it would be impossible to raise farm kids in the suburbs, and suburbs were pretty much our reality due to active duty Air Force life. So we moved to my hubs’ hometown in rural Eastern Iowa and became self employed. Since 2006, though, we’ve lived in town. Granted it’s a small town, and we had a small acreage to play at, but town life is town life. And we want to be in the country. So we just moved into our barn. If you haven’t read the story, we were given a free barn in 2009 and moved it to 5 acres we own with the help of a professional large structure moving company. The barn was days from being burned down, and it most likely should have been burned down.

barn house
Less than a year after we moved it, the barn almost burned down again in an accidental fire {before we had insurance on it}. That was a huge scare and we got insurance really quickly after that! Since then, we’ve spent the last 3 years rebuilding the barn, and at Christmas time in 2012, we finally finished the upstairs into 3 offices and a showroom area for our home construction / remodeling company.

This summer, we decided the barn would make a good temporary home, after hemming and hawing about moving far, far away because of the potential for a nuclear power plant 5 miles away.  News of the nuclear power plant was really hard on me. We decided to move to Iowa for clean country living and all my research said living within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant can be quite dangerous and have pretty bad health consequences. Additionally, our county has the dirtiest air in all of Iowa and our well water is so contaminated with nitrates that we can’t drink it. After I got word of the nuclear power plant, I told my husband we should get out of Iowa and move somewhere far, far away. That’s easier said than done, though, because we’ve spent the last 6 years building a business and investing in our 5 acres and barn. And really, what area doesn’t have something bad located not too far away?

We actually decided to go ahead and build our dream home a couple of weeks before we got news that the nuclear power plant will NOT be built! YAY YAY YAY YAY!! And  so we’ve spent the last few weeks moving out to our 5 acres! Moving with 4 kids has been a huge challenge. We’ve been moving into progressively smaller homes for the last few years without getting rid of many possessions. Now we’re in our 1200 square foot barn office. I also have a huge kitchen/laundry room/bathroom downstairs in the barn in addition to the 1200 square feet upstairs, so there is actually more room than we had in our last home if you count the kitchen. However, it’s not a “proper” kitchen space, and part of it is occupied by our construction shop, so it will be quite challenging trying to work out of there. Once I clean up our mess, I will share some before and after pictures.

For now, I am breathing a sigh of relief. Our old house is cleaned out and rented. Every single thing we own is out at the barn. My garden is out at the barn. And the barn is in the country. We are no longer living in town! It will be so much easier to tend my garden and raise farm kids now. And while this might be one of the crazier things we have ever done, after spending three nights in the barn, I’m happy to shout: “I’M LIVING IN A BARN!” My barn is a tragic, tragic mess, but we’re there.

So give me your best “Were you born in a barn joke.” I’m collecting them. 🙂