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Getting to Know Eugene
I've been in Eugene, Oregon for a few weeks now, so I suppose it's time to post another update. I've got pics this time! Given that the updates over the last few months have been nothing but big walls of text, I figured it was about time. I'm staying in a little cabin up on a hill just outside the south side of town. The lady who owns the cabin has a lot of improvement projects for her land going on, so I've been able to earn a little extra income by helping with that. Also, there are sheep! Well, and llamas and cows and chickens, but the sheep are the focus of the last part of this post.

When I was making my plans to come out west, I figured I was leaving at a decent time. It was the end of April, and I figured that meant colleges were going to be wrapping up classes soon and a ton of apartments would be coming onto the market as the students went home for the summer. Come to find out, though, the big school out here in Eugene doesn't wrap up classes until mid-June. How they can manage to keep students' attention that long is a mystery to me (my guess is that they don't.) However, it also means that housing wasn't as readily available as I had hoped.

Fortunately, a friend of mine from my museum exhibit job pointed me to a listing on a website called www.airbnb.com where people list rooms or properties they have available for people to stay in. The listing was for a "small, cute, rustic country cabin." Not only was it pretty close to town, it also offered a cheap monthly rate AND allowed dogs! Given that living in small spaces isn't really a problem for me (and is actually preferred at this point) I went ahead and contacted the owner.

The lady who owns the place, Michele, built the cabin and stayed in it while she worked on her main home. She asked me (and Barney) to come out and see the place before we agreed on anything, not only to see if we liked it but also to see if she was okay with us. That makes sense, as the cabin is pretty close to the main home, and if you're going to have someone basically living out your front door for a month, it's best to make sure it's not a person with whom you'll constantly be butting heads. So, we checked it out.

It was cute, as you can see. There's a little 2-burner stove and a microwave for cooking, a good kitchen sink, a fair amount of storage for all the stuff I brought, and (most importantly) a wifi connection. Also, it has a pretty view out of the front windows.

The property is up on a hill overlooking a nearby community college. There's an overgrown orchard one one side, lots of trees all around, an llamas (llamas!) out the back. The llamas belong to the neighbors, though. All Michele had at that time were chickens and a dog. Had, mind you - that past tense is important.

So after I unloaded my car Michele started filling me in on all of what there is to do around town, and what kind of places I might want to check out, where the deals were, and stuff like that. She was VERY helpful! She also seemed to have a LOT of projects going on at her property. I noticed a garden pond liner leaning up against the cabin, and she said she was planning on hiring someone to put a pond in near the house. Given that I already had pond-installing experience from the one my folks and I put in a few summers ago, we both figured I would be an excellent candidate for the job.

This, of course, led to a few other jobs, including bracing and filling a planter on the side of the cabin...

...and putting up a some fencing and installing a few gates.

What were all those gates and fencing for, you ask? Sheep! Michele wanted to get sheep for her property, and knew of a person nearby who had two sheep she wanted to get rid of. Perfect match, right? The one problem, though, were that we had to catch and transport the sheep ourselves. Also? The sheep were wild, had big 'ol horns, and hadn't been shorn in over 2 years. They were not about to come willingly. Fortunately, we had some help.

You know, for big, bounding piles of fluff, those sheep can sure be pretty agile! We had the help of the sheep owner's son and his friend, though, so we were finally able to pin them down. Surprisingly, once we caught them, the sheep weren't that difficult to manage. I was expecting more of a struggle out of them. Of course, I grew up in a suburb where the largest fauna we would encounter would be an exceptionally well-fed squirrel, so my knowledge of sheep and their habits is woefully limited.

In the end, it was the owner's son who tackled both sheep, but I take credit for grabbing one by the horns, lifting its chin, and getting it to walk forward. I even got it to leap over a ditch while still keeping it under control! Thank you, Internet, for your reams of expertise! We loaded the sheep up into dog kennels (which look too small for those sheep until you realize that you can stick your hand into them darn near up to your ELBOW and still not reach their bodies because of all the wool,) and took them back to the property.

On the way back, Michele and I were talking about how the two of us were going to get them out of the truck by ourselves. I didn't feel like it was a big concern. They looked huge, but didn't feel as heavy as I thought they would. Michele was still worried, but I felt confident. In retrospect, I guess I had it coming.

We were able to get the kennel out of the truck without any problems, and we used a dolly to wheel the first one over to the enclosure. We dropped it off the wheels and I bent over to lift the front edge over the board along the bottom of the gate. Michele, still concerned, spoke up:

"Be careful that you don't throw out your..."

...yeah. I'm sure you know what happened just then. JUST as I got it over the board, and JUST as she said it, I threw out my back. No standing, no bending, no kneeling for me... just lying on the ground in the fetal position for the next few minutes. Now, I've thrown out my back before. Twice before, actually, so this isn't new territory for me. It doesn't make it any easier to handle at the moment, though. Anyone who's thrown out their back knows that it takes a couple days for decent mobility to return, and even then it's still weak for a while.

And, honestly, I kinda had it coming. I was being stupid about it. Instead of getting down on my knees to take the stress off of my back, I just bent over and tried to lift a crate-full of sheep. It was my own fault, and I realize it. Fortunately, Michele's neighbor was home and was able to help get the second sheep out of the truck. He, also, was much smarter about it than I was. I just concentrated on standing for a while (which actually required more concentration than you'd imagine) and eventually worked my way up to sitting.

But now there are sheep nearby! I haven't been of much use around the property for the last few days, but I have been able to feed them. The grayer of the two is a male named "Shrek," and he has trimmed horns that angle straight toward his eyes. He's pretty docile and will come right up to me when I have food. He hasn't eaten out of my hand yet, though. The other, browner sheep is "Fiona." I'm guessing the previous owner was a Dreamworks fan. Either way, Fiona is much more nervous and will only approach after Shrek has already eaten and after I haven't moved for a good 10 minutes. Even then she won't come as near as Shrek will. I think she's still scared - it's been a bit of an ordeal for them!

But there we have it; that's how life's been for me for the past couple of weeks. Hopefully later, after my back recovers, I'll be able to post more.

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I'm so glad you found a place and things look like they're working out for you. I'm sorry to hear about your back though. It's beyond painful. I hope you're on the mend and feeling better soon.

Actually, every time I've thrown my back out it hasn't really been all that "painful," per se. I just, well, can't move. It's more like a prolonged ache than a pain, really. Either way, it's been about 4 days now, so I'm beyond that point and into the stiffness stage. Just gotta keep moving it and stretching it at this point. As long as I'm careful and don't try to overdo things I should be back to normal in the next couple of weeks.

Yikes! Sorry to hear about your back.

The end is nigh: I've got a ton of ads up on Craigslist and anything that doesn't sell by the 26th gets donated to charity. I'm feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, but upbeat.

Hopefully, your phone will let me talk to you once the dust settles!

I know, right?

Congrats for you, though! Kinda liberating (and a bit scary) to be getting rid of all that, isn't it? You can't turn back now! ...not that you wanted to, of course.

Sounds like you've got a great situation out there. The tiny cabin is awesome. Michele seems great - maybe you can talk to her about moving your tiny house on to her property and working her sheep ranch!

We've been discussing possible arrangements, even mentioning the tiny house. We haven't finalized anything, but she does want someone to be around to take care of her animals while she's out of town, and I... well, need a place to stay. Nothing certain, but it seems to be working out well for both of us right now.

Home with sheep!

Sounds like a great living situation.

Please get the sheep sheared asap. Letting the wool grow that long is animal abuse - I've had sheep and have seem what they are like unshorn.

Re: Home with sheep!

Relax, it's been taken care of. The new owner (who is not me, by the way, so I wouldn't have been able to shear them, anyway) had them shorn by a professional right away.

off topic a bit

Hello, this is a little off topic but i have been following your ventures for some time now. my question pertains to your tiny house you built though. i was wondering how large the trailer you built it on was. i know this is irrelevant now but i am asking because you partly inspired me to make one.

Re: off topic a bit

No worries! Most people who visit my LiveJournal do so because of my tiny house, so I'm still frequently answering questions about it. Ask away!

The trailer upon which I built my tiny house was an 18-foot flatbed.

Do you still own it?

I am the same guy who commented a little bit ago. i was wondering, do you still own your tiny house? If so, i live in Michigan and i am curious if, one day, i could stop by and see it.

Re: Do you still own it?

I do still own my tiny house, and it is still in Michigan. Unfortunately, as you can see in this post, I have since moved to Oregon. I really don't know when I'll be back in Michigan, and if I decide to stay in Oregon, I'll probably go back to drive it across the country at some point.

Re: Do you still own it?

Well i knew you moved because of the code issue and your bad neighbor. I was just wondering if i could see the house next time you are around. I understand you were near the flint area and I live in flint so i thought it would be easy for me to come by if welcomed when you next came into town.

Re: Do you still own it?

I will be happy to give a tour!
It's likely, though, that I won't be back in Michigan until the end of the year, around the holidays. If I make plans to come back any sooner, though, I'll be sure to post about it.

Positive change

Hi Jonathan,
The ordeal you experienced with your neighbour really got to me. As a Tiny Houser who chose to build on a cement pad as opposed to a trailer, what happened to you seemed daunting.
Still, on checking in today, I notice a change in you.
You look so happy! Almost as though you are in love...?
None of my business, of course, just sayin'.
Keep in keeping on.

Re: Positive change

In love? Heh. No. That would be nice, but I haven't even met anyone out here aside from a few (admittedly excellent) folk who are a full generation removed from me and some sheep.

Unless you mean "in love" with regards to the city itself, in which case I'd still say that's a stretch. I do like it here, but I haven't been here long enough, nor have I explored enough of it to comfortably say I "love" it here.

If anything, I may appear happier because there are enough projects and work going on around here to give me a reason to get up in the morning. Just having a reason to justify his day can do wonders for a guy's attitude.

Re: Positive change

Ah well, there you go. I am happiest when I have a lot of projects too. I should have known... really. I guess most of we Tiny Housers are basically people who love to have a life that is interesting and filled with things to do.
I am off to THO today and will stay on with the dog pack and Baby. I am not sure what I will accomplish there this time, but I imagine that stuff will get done.
Besta the best,

calculating building materials

Hi Jonathan,

Great tiny house and very informative blog!
I getting ready to build my tiny house here in New Zealand, might be the 1st☺ in NZ!
Trying to calculate all the material I will need. Was wondering if you would share how you’ve calculated the material for you tiny house?

Re: calculating building materials

How I calculated my materials? Well, to be honest, I didn't really put much forethought into it. For starters, I took the plans that I bought from Tumbleweed into a local home improvement store and had their contractor desk work up a quote for me. Tumbleweed provided a basic materials list for the structure's outer shell, and that was enough to get me started.

After that, each day I decided what I was going to work on, then I ran up to the hardware store to buy supplies. Fortunately, the hardware store was close - for about 5 or 6 months straight I was there every day, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day.

Given the way I did my build, I'm probably not the best person to ask about planning!

Isn't Oregon wonderful?

My back is acting up today so I have stuck myself on the couch, which is never easy because I have a hard time sitting still for long. I found your blog today from another tiny house site. I haven't had a chance to read too many posts yet but was excited to see that you made your way to Oregon! And not just anywhere in Oregon, but Eugene. Good choice, my friend : ) Eugene is actually where I met my husband.
I was born and raised in Oregon and have lived all over the state. I am going to be 29 next week and finally moved out of state a few years ago. I live in Idaho how now, and while it is a beautiful, rugged state, in pales in comparison to Oregon.
I'm sure you have been overwhelmed with comments about your new home so I will try to be brief. If you haven't seen the coast yet, do so. Oregon has a beautiful coast line. From Eugene heading west, you will hit Florence. Everything north of there is amazing along the Hwy 101. You are also close to many natural hot springs. Cougar hot springs is less than a few hours from where you are now.
Also, you will find that the culture there is wonderfully accepting of dogs : ) Just about everyone has them. It is very much a "dog culture". It also sounds like you have found a very cool living situation there. Folks around that area are so awesome and inviting. Everything is so much more layed back than the vibe on the East coast. I read your post about being drawn to Oregon. It is a magical place. Enjoy!
As for us, we are now living in a little cabin on a trout farm in Southern Idaho. We currently have 6 people in a 700 sq ft place. Hoping to build our own tiny house down the line, when our kids are older and living on their own. For now, I really enjoy seeing what other people are coming up with for their own spaces.
If you have ANY questions about Oregon, I'd be happy to answer them. mockingjay@findingidaho.com Eugene is a wonderful place. Happy exploring!

Re: Isn't Oregon wonderful?

Thanks, Lindsay!
Yeah, Oregon does seem pretty great! I've seen what you mean about the "laid back" feeling; even people driving on the expressway around here seem pretty relaxed. And everyone is pretty welcoming, it's true.

I still haven't made it out to the coast yet, and everyone here has been telling me I need to go. It's on the list! I haven't come across anyone yet who has had anything negative to say about it.

And yeah, there are a lot of dogs out here - Barney has no shortage of friends on his daily walks!

Good luck out in Idaho (and sorry for the late reply!)

Enjoy Oregon!

My dad hitch-hiked from Michigan to Oregon in the '70s, met my mom in Portland, etc. He described Oregon as a mythical place to him, too, before he came out here.

I've lived in the Willamette Valley all my life, including 7 years in Eugene (now I'm in Portland).

If you get bored of the pace of life in Eugene (can be a bit slow at times), Portland is a nice change of pace, as is San Francisco (9 hours south) and Seattle (about 5 hours north, when you can avoid bad traffic).

Highway 126 leads up to the McKenzie River, with many things to do. I've got a blog with pictures, hikes, directions, etc.: http://www.shoestring-traveler.com/

Re: Enjoy Oregon!

Oh, neat! Seems you've got some neat places to see on that blog - I'll be sure to check it out. We're coming into summer right now, and I've been hearing from the locals that I shouldn't expect to see any rain for the next few months. Provided that the sun doesn't get too hot, it might be a great time to check out some of the sights around here. Thanks for the info!

Another blog and more pictures, please?

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