First, to set the stage, here are a few images of the Totten farm (I've also heard it referred to as "Tottenshire"), where Don grew up and where his family have farmed for generations. As an Air Force brat with little notion of "roots", the deep generational attachment of Don's family to this place is both astonishing and wonderful to me.
The area where we have our cabin is very rural. We don't see any neighbors or lights from our place up on the hill, and on clear nights the stars are brilliant. One of my favorite memories is of one summer night when the fields out front were full of fireflies and the sky above full of stars, it was as though we were sitting in an imax theatre with the universe all around us, the fireflies like twinkling stars below, and the milky way soaring overhead. Pretty cool.
The picture on the lower left is a spot known as the "old sheep barn" - it is a tumble of rugged old stones that once supported a barn for sheep. The lower right photo is the view from our cabin looking downhill toward the next hill in the distance where the farm house and barns are located, the main part of the farm. Looks pretty nice huh? This is summer. Winter is a WHOLE other story - very rugged and downright cruel at times.
Here we are building our cabin - we had some of the lumber milled from local trees. That's me in the upper left photo (no I don't look like this anymore - this was about 10 years ago when I was SO skinny). That's Don and his nephew Drew in the lower right photo (Don STILL looks like this...grrr). And yes that is an african drum in the lower left photo - we did a lot of drumming back then.
A few views of the surrounding woodlands and hills... This part of the Totten farm - where our cabin is located - has always been known as "The Johnson Lots". Nobody seems to remember why - maybe the name goes back to a family who lived there long ago. An old foundation of a house is located halfway down the hill next to freshwater springs. Who knows how long ago that house was occupied...? The spot where Don is walking uphill (lower right photo) is approximately where the foundation is located.
Okay now that we have the history and setting out of the way, here are the plans for the studio building.
The ground floor will house the clay and glaze part of the studio, along with a small garage for a tractor. What is the tractor for you say? Um, snow removal for one, LOTS of snow to remove (you have no idea!). And also to keep the road up to the cabin clear of brush.
Just outside the door we'll set up a small shed for the gas kiln. My electric kilns will need to be located on another part of the farm where we have access to electric (grid) power.
Oh! I did I mention that this cabin and future studio are ENTIRELY OFF-GRID??? We have solar panels and a battery house that powers all our basic needs. We have propane for hot water and a small furnace, but mostly depend on a wood stove for heat in winter. In summer it is generally nice and cool but when it does get warm we have ceiling fans that do the job of keeping us cool. We currently use our cell phones for internet but are planning to install satellite access.
Here's the ground level layout. Off to the right out of the picture is the cabin. Can you spot our dogs Casey and Sierra?
Here's the upper floor where I will be working most of the time. There is extra space for a spare bedroom or office for Don. Initially however, we will use this space for storage.
That's it in a nutshell. These plans are in development and changing even as I type this. We have yet to price out construction costs, etc. I'm certain there will be modifications as we evolve the project. Stay tuned as I document our progress - there will be updates over the coming months!