How I Lost My Husband To An Old Wooden Bridge…

I said I was going to write about this many months ago, but frankly, there has not been a lot of spare time. Most of you know me well enough by now to know that if there is work to be done, I get after it. Do not get me wrong; I am not complaining. I love the outdoors. Mowing, gardening, and harvesting fruits and vegetables is what I do during the summer months. I find enjoyment in nature photography, hiking to the nearby river, and working at cleaning up timber in the woods in the fall, winter, and spring months. And when Daisy deer comes for a visit, I always make time for her.

I cannot leave my hairy house beasts out of this discussion either – our three Japanese Chin kids. There is never a dull moment with them running around here. Of course, I also manage to keep house, cook, and bake. We eat fairly healthy around here, so most everything is made from scratch. I would not have it any other way. But, when a woman finds herself mostly responsible for keeping up the ranch and the house, it can get a bit overwhelming.

The forty-foot long, twenty-foot wide, single-lane, wooden bridge that lured my husband away.
The forty-foot long, twenty-foot wide, single-lane, wooden bridge that lured my husband away.

I should have seen it coming. In early January of 2012, my beloved husband, FD, began talking about some old creek bridge that a co-worker wanted to get rid of. The bridge had washed up on the co-worker’s property during a flood back in 2007. FD was hoping to disassemble the bridge for the wood, saving it back for eventual use for heaven knows what. I did not think much about it at the time, as FD is always collecting material for some future project. I will admit this material he has collected over the years has come in handy many times. However, much of it remains in storage, taking up space in our 40×60 metal building, or stacked up in the old chicken barn, until he finds a use for it. There is even a rack at the edge of the pasture that holds items that are too big to go in either building.

So, when I heard the words “cabin” and some rattling around of dimensions, I thought yeah, right. Yes, I had heard this talk about a cabin for years, particularly during hunting season. I knew FD and his friend Hoot, were getting up in years enough where tent camping was not as appealing as it had been in their younger days. And it was a dream of their’s to build a cabin someday. But, like other years before, I knew this cabin idea would probably not get off the ground. For one, neither FD nor Hoot had a lot of money to pour into such a project.

The forty-foot beams had to be cut in half before they could be transported. Fortunately, FD's co-worker had a rig to haul this mammoth wood to the building site.
The forty-foot beams had to be cut in half before they could be transported. Fortunately, FD’s co-worker had a rig to haul this mammoth wood to the building site.

But I was wrong. As soon as FD got wind of the old wooden creek bridge, he became a man on a mission. His co-worker was more than happy to get rid of the bridge, which was adding to an erosion problem on his property. So, FD and Hoot spent the next two weekends disassembling the bridge, and the co-worker gladly transported the beams to the location where they hoped to build a cabin. Again, I did not think anything much would happen, and that the lumber would most likely suffer the same fate as the materials collected in the storage building at home, and just sit in a stack until who knows when. After all, there were no real plans for this project.

FD (left) and Hoot (right) manage the smaller pieces by hand. I wondered how they managed walking the beams with steel-toe work boots!
FD (left) and Hoot (right) manage the smaller pieces by hand. I wondered how they managed walking the beams with steel-toe work boots!

I was wrong again. The next thing I knew, FD was in the metal storage building, looking for his architect’s drawing table, and his drawing tools. I am not sure I had ever seen this apparatus, but he found everything stacked in a corner. He hauled the table and case of drawing tools into the house and setup his “dream” station in the computer room. He drew up plans for a simple cabin. Hoot designed a spreadsheet for materials. Together, they researched the local hardware stores, lumber yards, and the Internet, getting pricing for materials, and inquiring about tools to utilize for the building process. In the evenings, FD and Hoot would text back and forth, exchanging ideas. And sure enough, before January had ended, Hoot and FD were digging the piers for the cabin.

Hoot removes a small beam piece while FD drills the pilot hole for rebar.
Hoot removes a small beam piece while FD drills the pilot hole for rebar.

I always enjoy the winter season. The pace slows down here a bit on our little ten-acre ranch during the colder months, so while FD and Hoot worked on the cabin, I kept busy hiking to the river, photographing wildlife, and hoping to catch sight of my girl, Daisy deer. I often saw her with a couple of other wild does back along the old river channel. Sometimes I worked in the woods, clearing and gathering dead timber from storms, starting up the burn pit, and adding limbs to the flames to keep it going as I worked. I kept a leisurely pace while at this chore, and burning was always therapeutic for my soul.

Each weekend evening, when FD and Hoot returned from the cabin site, they talked about what they had accomplished that day. And since FD took our camera along to document progress after a day’s work, there were plenty of photographs to “ooh and ahh” over. I was actually amazed at all of the work going on with the cabin. FD and Hoot were making great strides. I felt a lot of pride for their work ethic and drive. It was not costing much of anything either. FD had calculated every last inch of lumber from that bridge to be used for the cabin, and there would not be any waste.

While FD drills the next pilot hole, Hoot drives the rebar in with a sledge hammer.
While FD drills the next pilot hole, Hoot drives the rebar in with a sledge hammer.
FD continues work as the sun sets in the evening sky.
FD continues work as the sun sets in the evening sky.

Soon, the pleasant weather of springtime arrived, and the searing heat of summer followed. I was having a bit of trouble keeping up with the work FD and I normally shared during the summer months here on the ten-acre ranch. So, I was actually thankful for the drought that came with that summer, as it at least burned up the grass and ended my mowing duties. But Hoot and FD continued their long hours of cabin construction in the hot sun – every weekend. Both of them dropped weight, and began to look a bit haggard, I thought. But the amazing thing was, I always saw confidence and pride on their faces. They set off early each Saturday morning with big grins and gusto, ready to tackle the plan for that day. A couple of times, I went along and spent the day photographing the two of them at work. I marveled at the brute strength they exhibited, and the dedication they gave to each task. They worked together like a well-oiled machine. Each man knew what the next task was, and what his role would be in completing it. Watching them, and photographing them, I had a real respect for the individual skills each offered to the project.

I might not know much about a block and tackle pulley system, but I do know country boys can kick butt!
I might not know much about a block and tackle pulley system, but I do know country boys can kick butt!

Another amazing thing transpired over that summer of cabin-building. Help and material seemed to come from all sorts of people at just the right times. A brother-in-law from Dallas drove up a couple of weekends to lend his skills and assistance. He also donated a large amount of used plexiglass from a remodel job at his home, which FD and Hoot used for the custom windows they built for the cabin. A friend lent his trailer and some mortar tools. Others donated hardware and other material to help in the building process. Hoot tore apart an old cattle corral for window casing wood. From an old barn that belonged to Hoot’s father-in-law, he and FD gathered some scrap, corrugated metal for the gables and shutters. My brother in Nebraska donated some old barn wood he had collected from rubbish after a tornado. Another co-worker of FD’s donated a Porta-Potty that floated up on his river-bottom property during the same flood that had beached the old, wooden bridge back in 2007. And of course, FD used a good deal of the scrap wood and lumber he had gathered and stored over the years. This project was coming together with minimal expense.

Hoot catching his breath before driving in the next section of rebar.
Hoot catching his breath before driving in the next section of rebar.

By the end of October, the basic structure was ready for the opening of hunting season. FD and Hoot scrambled around to find second-hand furniture; beds, chest of drawers and a small table and chairs. Both men reported that it was great to come back to a cabin to relax at the end of a long morning or evening hunt. Hoot, the camp cook, enjoyed cooking indoors for a change. When they came in to town for a shower (or to sweet-talk me into washing their dishes) they brought with them reports of beautiful morning sunrises on the lake, and spectacular sunsets casting shadows through the woodland trees. Wildlife cut across the open meadow south of the cabin’s front porch. “Roughing it” in the cabin seemed to agree with both Hoot and FD. What more could a fella want?

FD and Hoot enjoy lunch while admiring their work!
FD and Hoot enjoy lunch while admiring their work!

Well, I will tell you just what more a fella would want! No more had hunting season ended mid-January this year, and Hoot and FD were talking about plans for additional work and improvements on the cabin. Already, they had a long list of cabin projects to work on over the spring and summer. Evidently, during the hunting season, they were making note of ideas to make life even more comfy out there! Oh, sure, there would not be electricity or running water, but countertops, a propane stove, shelving, and maybe some better flooring could be added. Front porch steps needed to be built. And maybe even a kitchen sink with plumbing to a french drain outside for ease in washing dishes or scrubbing up quickly.

Just to keep this blog post interesting for the ladies... are these not the most fabulous tool pouches? They come in both heavy duty fabric, and leather!
Just to keep this blog post interesting for the ladies… are these not the most fabulous tool pouches? They come in both heavy-duty fabric, and leather!

It was evident that I would be wasting my time fighting this ongoing “cabin fever”! And, why would I want to put the skids on such an amazing project anyway? Since the start of this endeavor I saw the excitement on Hoot and FD’s faces each time they set out to work – like a couple young boys about to build their first tree house. This project had sweetened life. It was the fruition of a dream.

I actually got Hoot and FD to pose for a window shot! Every window, door and shutter is custom made.
I actually got Hoot and FD to pose for a window shot! Every window, door and shutter is custom-made.

As much as I lament having lost FD on weekends for over a year now, I am not really all that upset. During the first months when the construction originally began, I might have griped and groaned about the additional responsibility it brought to me here on our place. But, with some of that came pride in learning new skills. I took over a few tasks I considered to be man’s work. What a silly thought that was after all. Besides, a farm girl from Nebraska could handle them just fine by herself, thank you. The chores I dreaded doing myself, were really just jobs I did not like to do, and jobs that FD had always done. And did doing them myself really make all that much additional work for me? Not really. FD was still available to help with anything I could not manage. He may not have completed it on my timeline, but he always got the job done soon enough.

View of the lake from the front porch.
View of the lake from the front porch.

Perhaps it will be nice for me too, when the cabin is completely finished someday. Though I am not a hunter, I do enjoy fishing at the lake out there. I have taken the camera along for wildlife photography opportunities many times and have always come back with stunning photos. Maybe in late January, and through the cold winter months, it will be a cozy getaway for us. And, in our retirement years, we might enjoy some lazy weekends at the cabin, sitting around the fire ring in front, talking about the good old days when we all sacrificed to build this dream cabin.

If you would like to read more about the cabin, visit From Creek to Cabin in 287 Days. That long-haired country boy husband of mine can do more than build a cabin… he is a pretty darned good writer too!

ยฉ Day by Day the Farm Girl Wayโ€ฆ


47 thoughts on “How I Lost My Husband To An Old Wooden Bridge…

  1. I am SO impressed with those two guys! That’s a major project to tackle, but they sound like they are on top of every detail. But why didn’t we get a photo of the finished cabin? I wanna see!!

    Thanks for the link to FD’s blog — I’m going to go over there and read all about it. Longhairedcountryboy…what a great name for a blog!

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    1. You’ll have to wait for FD to post more on the cabin construction to see the finished product! I didn’t want to take away from his story. Longhairedcountryboy has a funny history where his hair is concerned. He was made to keep it short as a kid, and remember, in the 70’s long hair was IN! As soon as he was able, he grew it long… and it was handsome! When we married he had it shoulder length. Due to a change in job positions at his work in the last decade, he finally cut it quite a bit shorter. He’s a country boy through and through…

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  2. What a project! Great to see people inspired. You have coped well being left alone so much and with more work to do but I can see why you don’t begrudge them their dream.

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  3. Great post Lori; I enjoy these glimpses into your life so much – especially when I’ve used up all of my “spoons” and am confined to the sofa again (I get energy bursts and I utilise them, but I know it’s time to take a break if I start to get sick).

    I’m pickling things again and have successfully grown my first red cabbage after all other attempts bolted (they must have looked at me, haha). There’s been a lot going on at Tribble Towers, as you’re aware, but I’ll be back up to posting soon.

    I’m now also following your hunk of a husband’s blog – I’ve only skimmed it so far but I feel almost as excited about the project as you do!

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    1. Gemma, I completely understand your absence and quick posts. I think of you often, sending little bursts of positive energy your way. Documentation of your life is fascinating to me, so different than mine… and you help make so many people aware of your struggles. I’m so glad you take care of self when you need to!

      The cabin is a beauty. It looks so natural out there in the undeveloped woods in that part of the county. I didn’t post any photos of the finished structure as I’ll leave that to FD as he writes about the progression of the cabin. I just grin from ear to ear every time I go out there. It’s an awesome little cabin!

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  4. Lol…there are worse things to lose your husband to ;). I agree, men seem to need that time to bond, to get physical and to just chew the fat together and it adds to their lives to get these kinds of experiences. It has also given you a new sense of appreciation for what FD does and also a new set of skills on top of those you already knew…BONUS! :). You are right about the cabin being somewhere new to have adventures. They might have been AWOL over the past few seasons but once it is finished, it’s a whole new landscape for having fun and future adventures ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. You have that right, Fran! I’ve seen FD flourish over the past year. He’s been really happy with this project. And I look forward to spending time out there too. It’s a very wild and undeveloped area so getting out with the camera will be interesting. There might be all sorts of wild things I haven’t met yet! Last year I photographed that amazing Summer Tanager in the woods near the cabin. I hope to make more discoveries like that when we’re spending time in that cozy cabin. Ah, life is good!

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  5. Okay I neeeeed to applaud how active you all are! But is does sound busy, and I can just see your Chins hopping around on the ranch with you haha. Somehow I totally see a picture in my head right now.

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    1. Yes, and those Japanese Chin have a mind all of their own! They rarely mind me, and they like to run off! I won’t be taking them out to the wild country at the cabin. I do enjoy all of my animals… right now Daisy and Spirit are on the slope out back, grazing on weeds. It’s a very cool life here!

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  6. Very cool! That brings back old memories of my 20s, 30s and 40s when I could do stuff like that. It hurt but I kept plugging away at such projects. Looking back I was making my pain situation worse but was in denial. Everyone must feel like I do so everyone must hurt really bad but they don’t complain – so I wont either.

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    1. I’m glad this brought back good memories. I think it was a good time for both FD and Hoot to tackle this project. FD did have aches and pains, but I never heard him complain. Mostly, he woke up with leg cramps in the night… which of course woke me up too! We do keep moving along, don’t we? Life is good.

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      1. Yeah, those leg cramps will wake you up and anyone else in the house that hears the yell. I have those too along with back spasms that will put me out of business for a week or more. When those things hit, I often go to the floor on my knees! EEEOUUCCHH!

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  7. Yup, we have doppelganger husbands! My husband built a 12 x 14 shed 3 years back. Luckily, it took only a few months and a few favors from carpenter friends to finish it.
    His new project is refinishing his ma’s basement, as it flooded last spring. So far all the demo is done and now it’s time to call in all his favors from the friends he didn’t charge to fix their plumbing problems. Good thing he keeps good friends around such as carpenters, electricians and dry wallers!
    Thank you! I loved finding out I’m not the only other “project widow” out there!
    Also, it would be funny to see what these boys would do if the roles were reversed. …

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    1. Oh, those guys would probably survive just fine, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be up to our standards! LOL We are fortunate here too, as FD is proficient at masonry, carpentry, plumbing and electrical work. He can do some mechanicing too… one of those “Jack of all trades” kind of guys. The only problem is, he’s just one guy trying to keep up with all sorts of projects.

      Your husband seems to like challenges too. I think men are geared more that way. As for us “project widows” I guess it prompted me to find something to do with my time, and as I get older, that means a little more relaxation! Who could ever be bored with time on their hands? I always have something up my sleeve! Thanks for the great comment!

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  8. What an awesome undertaking! Loved hearing this story from your life. Yes, a shot of the finished product would be nice. Prod FD a little, huh? Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. Thanks Ginny! I’ll be sure to tell him to get more writing done. He’s been trying to document this project so that he has a nice memoir someday – and doesn’t forget a lot of how it went! I’m the same with blog posts. If I don’t get a story to go with my photos, it falls by the wayside and pretty soon I can’t remember all of the facts!

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    1. Thanks Tina. FD will be posting photos of the finished cabin on his blog (I didn’t want to ruin that for him) and is it ever gorgeous! It really fits in with the undeveloped landscape, very rustic. It’s definitely a hidden gem.

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    1. I’ll pass that on to Hoot and FD! Yes, the view is a beautiful one. Hopefully, when the weather cools down I’ll spend a night out there with FD. I’ll bet the mornings are awesome, sipping coffee on the front porch!

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    1. Thank you Neil! I guess I always thought FD would give up on the idea, simply because it would cost a small fortune to build a cabin. However, this venture cost very little between FD and Hoot. What really saved money was finding free material and custom-making doors, windows and screens. I guess the old saying is true, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!”. If you intend to build a cabin, then I believe someday you WILL!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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      1. All it takes is a bit of thought and the right materials at the right time, and the right frame of mind, unfortunately in th UK space is at a premium an you need planning permission for a green house in some places so for me it might just have to be a dream for me

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        1. I hope that FD will soon get to the point where he puts finished photos on his blog. It’s a beautiful structure, and is fitting to the undeveloped area. I am simply amazed each time I visit out there, that two men could build such a structure out of an old bridge. I do hope you get to build something Neil! I think FD and Hoot are very proud of what they managed. It’s got to be a very rewarding feeling.

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  9. Hi ๐Ÿ™‚ . Before going away I complained that you didn’t post often enough for me, so I was delighted to come back to four posts, but so sad when I read about Rowdy. We have comfortable lives and forget the laws of nature when we love an animal. Imagining you searching desperately through the woods, I was there with you. I don’t think I could have resisted the need to doctor Daisy’s wounds. I’m curious why you feel that the vulture is your totem animal. They usually evoke death and profiting from others misfortune. And how did you come to ‘find’ your totem. It’s a totally foreign idea here in the old world.
    Then came your post about the cabin. What an amazing adventure for the two men and so wonderfully recounted by you in words and photos. I think men need to create something visible and or throw themselves into a career, as they can not create new life or nurture other living things as well as women.
    Can’t wait for your next tale.
    Take care of yourself.

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    1. Good morning my friend!! I’ve been enjoying your recent blog photos from your trip to South France. I’ve been spending time outdoors, keeping gardens and landscaping alive in the brutal heat. Daisy is doing well, as is her little doe, Spirit. I saw them last night bedded down in the pasture just south of our house. Daisy’s wounds are healing nicely and her hair is beginning to fill in where she had bald spots after the attack. It wouldn’t have done much good to doctor her injuries, as deer lick their wounds to aid in healing. A bandage wouldn’t stick, and she would just ingest any medication. Animals are resilient in the ways of self-healing.

      I blogged long ago about my experience with a vulture in my post, . Always, the words, “Glide and Soar” come to mind when I see a vulture flying high above. They are also a reminder to let go of the “carcasses of trouble” when I am upset about something. They are a cleanser of nature. Totems, I believe, stem from the beliefs of the Native Americans in this country. The State of Oklahoma has a large population of Native American people, so the heritage of many folks here is rich in Native American folklore and beliefs.

      I agree with you about men creating. FD has always been one to need challenge in his life. FD and I have tried to allow each other to be who we are, encouraging growth. While I lamented a little about his absence during this cabin project, I am immensely proud of him and Hoot for achieving this dream.

      Thank you for your always wonderful comments! Enjoy the day and take care!

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    1. It does look amazing! I just swell up with pride every time we go out there. FD and Hoot are working on some interior improvements now. They keep after little things. I’ll tell FD to be sure to keep posting about it! I know others would like to see the end result too! Thanks for commenting!

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      1. Just think how great it will be, hardly cost you anything and it will look absolutely fab. I would be so proud too! And yes defo please let us see the end result !:D

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  10. What a great story and told with such charm.
    I’m glad those timbers were saved and put to use – can’t find timbers like that much anymore.
    And now you have a lovely porch to enjoy and plenty to be proud of (and the part where they show up to use the showers – we did than when I was little and we were building a little house…the French drain for water drainage sounds wonderful…it’s hard carrying out a little tub of water to dump after washing dishes)
    Post really made me smile.

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    1. Thank you so much! That cabin is just amazing. It’s beautiful, and when I think about all of the material that just seemed to come forth I am bowled over. I mean, who just “finds” a free river bridge and who gives away barn wood? Who drives all the way from Dallas for a few weekends to help out? It’s also interesting to note that some things came from Nebraska and Oklahoma tornadoes. It was meant to be… and I know FD and Hoot are thankful for the opportunity, and bursting with pride.

      The french drain was actually my idea! Every once in a while, farm girl logic comes in mighty handy!

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  11. A lovely post about the great human beings doing little but very important things in the big scheme of the world. It’s guys like these that make it and people like you that in the telling make it true. Thanks.

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    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment! It’s been such a fantastic endeavor for Hoot and FD to build the cabin, and now, for FD to write about it, telling the story of the actual construction. My perspective was more about feeling a sense of pride for their accomplishment, and for the brute work involved in doing so much of it just the two of them. That whole area the cabin sits on is pretty much an undeveloped area… beautiful in all regards, and wild. It is an area I love to visit simply to photograph what nature offers. For the guys, it’s living a dream!

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        1. Thank you! It is an amazing, untouched piece of land that flourishes with wildlife. FD mentioned last night, as he and Hoot got ready to leave just before dark, they heard wild turkeys making their night noises (a cooing type of call) as they roosted nearby in a tree. He said he and Hoot just couldn’t leave, so they stood, listening to the turkeys until they finally settled in for the night. What a beautiful moment!

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