We DID IT! The wood shed is built!

A year ago we began to walk our property to figure out what we wanted to do with all of this land.  We've never had so much land to work with, being a military family who has most of our lives lived in military quarters.
Once we had dreamed a bit, we started taking apart our "dream" list and started looking at what was a necessity vs what was just something we wanted.
Our woodshed was one of those "necessary" items.  We knew we both did not like the wood sitting in the ground.  The bottom layer of wood always ends up rotting and the pile dries slowly under the tarps we use to cover it.  Wood that has not dried or "seasoned" sufficiently does not produce as much heat and it produces more smoke.  Wood that has not been seasoned also produces more creosote which is harmful to our chimneys as it can encourage house fires when it builds up too much.  The Fairbanks/North Pole area is also being watched currently by the EPA as the level of particulates in the air has been reportedly too high during the winter months which is mostly due to car exhaust, power plants, coal burners and of course, wood stoves.  This in itself makes us want to be more cautious with our wood storage now as we do not want to have to pay a penalty just to heat ourselves on the -20 or -30 degree days!

Now going forward, my carpentry and handyman skills are rather basic.  I'm great at hanging up pictures, drapes, and blinds.  Before last year I had never actually made much other than a wine glass holder in shop class in 7th grade.

Last year my husband and I first got into raising meat rabbits so we made from scratch, a basic rabbit hutch. We both had no clue really about what we were doing, but we were using scrap wood from around our property that would've either rotted or been thrown away so it was a good practice run.
This past spring, knowing the wood shed build would be coming up this summer, we decided to make more elaborate rabbit hutches.  This allowed us to practice our carpentry skills some more as well as expand our rabbitry.

By mid April we were looking at all sort of ideas.  We never came across any actual professional drawn wood shed plans but we began to foment an idea of what we wanted, what we liked and what we didn't like.
We knew we didn't like the firewood on the ground, so a platform was a must.  We also knew we wanted to use up some of the supplies we already had, like the concrete blocks from our old raised beds in Fairbanks. This would allow us to cut costs some as we knew this would potentially be an expensive project.
From this point on, we began almost weekly trips to Lowe's as our woodshed began to come together.
As anyone knows who has built a larger structure, you always have challenges as your project proceeds.  For us it was just a couple of simple issues.  My husband had a deeper understanding of carpentry and building vocabulary, and for myself, I am a visual person.  I have to see the completed version in order to understand what I'm building.  Several times in the video we made you can see me sitting or standing and discussing what was the next step all while trying to get an understanding of what a "plank", "joist" and a "chalk line"was.  .
This sometimes caused my husband, Edward, to get frustrated as I tried to get an idea of what the finished project looked like so then I could suggest creative solutions to issues we were having as we progressed.
We decided to go with faux lattice on the sides simply because it would survive longer most likely than wooden walls.  Plus price was a big motivator.  Lumber up here in Interior Alaska is expensive, the lattice was cheaper.
The roof material we decided to use was clear fiberglass polycarbonate sheets for two reasons. First, since my husband and I were the only two adults on this project we needed a material that was relatively light that we could easily lift up to the rafters.  Second, we liked the idea of passive solar and since the woodshed is in an area that gets the afternoon sunshine, this would assist the wood in drying faster.  This seemed like a win in our book.

We started this project in mid July, when we were reaching highs in the 80's.  Since Interior Alaska rarely gets that high, it felt miserable to us, but thanks to Popsicles, sweet iced tea and lightweight clothes to work in we started to make progress.
Thank goodness too because suddenly our temperatures moved from the 80's to the 60's.  In mid August; about the time that we were putting the rafters and the roof up, it was actually getting chilly outside at night.  This served to push us even faster as we knew that winter was very close.  Many times while I stood on the ladder well above the structure I would look at the trees surrounding our property and I swear those leaves changed color every single day. I almost wished I would have snapped a photo each day just so I could capture the rapid progression of color from deep green, to pale green, and then to yellow and finally gold.
On the evening of August the 18th we began to finally stack our cut firewood into the woodshed with the North Pole High School team's football game being announced within our hearing distance.  We would all laughingly cheer the team on when we heard they made a touchdown.  Who knew we'd be completing our final stage of our build with the cheering going on nearby.


In Interior Alaska, we know here that summer is a race.  The race pretty much starts when the snow is melted and gone, the soil is workable and the mud has dried.  This is usually around late May, early June.  From this point we have about three months to get in whatever needs to be done outside.  This means gardens need to be planted; bee colonies set up and fed, firewood cut; buildings built; livestock raised and then butchered; produce from the garden harvested and then preserved and hopefully, maybe we'll even get to enjoy our beautiful Alaskan summer somewhat.  This year the only thing we did NOT get to do was enjoy the summer, much to all of our disappointment.  The only light to the end of our tunnel this year as we watched beautiful day after beautiful day pass us by was knowing that at the end of summer, we would have all of our projects completed and then maybe next year we could more easily plan in a fun camping trip or excursion.

As of today, August 30th 2017, it is now 55 degrees out with a high expected of 65.  I am constantly watching the forecast now.  Watching for the expected lows to see when will be the first day we see snow in the forecast.  So far, no mention of snow, just the typical rain that we customarily see this time of year.
It is this weather that makes me so badly want to get the wood stove going but the temperatures are just not quite low enough yet.  Soon.  Roaring fires in the wood stove with now dry wood, all while cooking dinner on top of the wood stove, while we sit nearby. Warm and comfortable.

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