We broke ground in early spring of 2015, just months before we would quit our jobs and suddenly find ourselves operating on a very slim budget! It’s probably good we didn’t know that financial insecurity lay right around the corner or we might not have started.

Still, even though we probably could have hired someone to do it for us at that early point, Michael likes doing these things himself if he can–a reflex born of life in the country. He found a neighbor with an old excavator willing to rent it to him for $1,000 a week, and installed a culvert pipe at a bend in the driveway that has needed better drainage for a century.

It’s not a waterway, just a wet weather runoff area at the base of a ravine, so it didn’t need anything fancier than an 18″ galvanized steel culvert pipe. They come in twenty foot lengths which is the right size for most driveways, and currently costs $550 at Tractor Supply (this is one receipt we haven’t dug up, but Michael remembers it cost around $500.00).

Michael is competent but not expert with the excavator, so he focused on roughing in the driveway and the building site, pushing or pulling down trees that were hanging precariously over the driveway, and digging up stumps and roots in the newly cleared field. He created a huge pile of stumps and roots and brush that he then spent several rainy days burning.

By the way, if you try to do this yourself and aren’t experienced, just keep in mind that it’s very important not to burn when there’s any fire hazard. Certain times of the year and weather are better than others. Find out about the local conditions and burn regulations if you’re new to the area and never assume anything! An out of control fire could really set you back.