Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

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Putting in Windows

11/14/2012 4:19:07 PM

Tags: homesteading, cabin, off grid, window installation, Bethann Weick

before the windowsLike many days, this was another one in which we had set ambitious constructing goals as we continued building the cabin.  Driven by the desire to be done, and threatened by the season’s first nor’easter, our to-do list was full considering the shortened daylight hours of the season.  . 

The morning hours quickly passed as we secured insulation between the floor joists.  Post lunch-break, we were ready to lay the sub floor.  However, we were mindful of the snow and sleet predicted for that evening and the next…and the gaping holes that stood where the remaining three windows had yet to be hung were prominent in our minds. 

While laying the floor was psychologically a significant step that we were excited to complete, installing windows to keep the weather off the fresh floor was quite appealing as well.  Who wants to see snowdrifts or melt puddles in their living room?  Optimistic as we can be, the likelihood of doing it all ourselves was outside our realm of realistic. 

Quite on cue, enter Bob and Maria.  To them we eagerly gave (and they willingly took, we think) the task of window installation.  To our complete un-anticipation, this turned out to be much more difficult than expected. 

Imagine!  Wood framing that had once fit so nicely during the hot, dry days of summer, now offered nothing but resistance.  Perhaps it was the recent rain, perhaps our skills, perhaps it just happened as the house moved and tensed during the building process.  Whichever the reason, this was no longer going to be an easy, 1-2-3 process. 

As mid-afternoon turned to late-afternoon, Bob and Maria continued to chisel and rasp the western window frame in all the right places.  With each test of the window, we kept hearing “its closer…” but never quite there.  Taking breaks to help lift the window in and out, Ryan and I finished the floor and placed the small loft window in the gable end. 

windows are inAs dusk began to descend, a snug fit was achieved and the chisels laid to rest.  The western window went in and was secured.  There were certainly no cracks for the snow to come in. 

Though the southern and northern windows had been installed almost two weeks ago, the eastern window still remained.  While daylight was clearly running out, the low, thick clouds suggested we best be prudent in closing up the building.  Caution ruled the day. 

With four of us to heave, steady, and evaluate, we attempted to mount the eastern window.  Instantly, the same resistance became apparent.  However, there was a minimum of light remaining to enable noble efforts at reshaping the constituent parts.  While we relish our hand tools as we choose to live without power, the gathering darkness clearly made their use a problem.

Determinedly, out came the tape measure, and some quick figuring was scratched by pencil.   The logical next step?  Dismantle the window and bring the parts to Bob’s small workshop (power tools!) on the other side of the hill.  While he ran the saw, headlamps and flashlights were assembled to provide light to work by at the cabin.  The four of us then headed back to Coösauke.  

While we certainly had more hands than the job required, the smiles we shared in walking through the woods to put a window in by lamplight when we all wished to be having dinner, was oddly enjoyable.  At least just this once.  

Promptly reassembled, the window did fit.  To see a light (albeit just a flashlight) shining out the window in the midst of a dark woods sparked a satisfaction and a security well beyond these words.  We had our first glimpse of what our house would be like as our home.  

For garden design & maintenance, land management & wildland services, as well as advice, stories, or commiserations contact Coösauke at   

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