Lending a Helping Hand

By , September 13, 2009

Yesterday, we helped neighbors with a new guest house on stilts that collapsed. Michelle and Aly had been canoeing a load of laundry home from town on Wednesday, when the wind got to strong and they had to ditch on the neighbor’s cleared cobble beach. Michelle and I went over to grab the canoe and take it back to the bay, but we arrived to find our friends frantically shoring up the sagging building.

They had constructed a small guest house on stilts over a pair of 1000 gallon water tanks. They intended to insulate the tanks with foamboard, then enclose the space under the stilts in plywood. They had to pull out supports to fit the foamboard in place. They pulled too many, and the structure sagged and twisted. It settled on one of the two tanks, caving in the top and breaking a seal, but had it not done so, the situation would have been far worse.

We and three other neighbors worked for about two hours, using lines, 2X4 supports, a small log, and about five “come alongs.” Eventually, the structure returned to its original position, and we shored it up well. A brief disaster ended happily.

As we hiked home, we discussed the incident. We certainly didn’t wish the situation on our neighbors, but we found it heartening that these things aren’t uncommon. We forget, in our self-critical assessment of our homesteading life, that things go wrong from time to time. I suppose it’s not what happens that matters so much as how we deal with it. We try to be available to help our neighbors when needed, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is a form of insurance. Call it Karma if you will, but what goes around comes around, so we try to make sure that help and support goes around whenever we can.

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