168: Many hands make light work

168: Many hands make light work

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This month we took on a big house project. We replaced 2 exterior doors, 5 windows, and re-sided the house in a total DIY-fest.

Our house was built in 1967 and from what I can tell, everything we replaced was original to the house. There’s some fanangling that happens when you’re going from 1967 to 2021 and there were some creative fixes we had to come up with. It goes without saying, a house project always takes longer than you think it will.


We got a lot done on our house in the time my husband had off of work, but we didn’t get it all done. And the problem was, the next chunk of days my husband had off we were at an out-of-town conference, so we couldn’t work on the house at all during those days. The following set of days my hubby had off, I had an annual girls weekend on the calendar. I told my husband I was just going to stay home from the weekend because I’m an adult and we had stuff to button up before the snow started the fly, but he sent me on my way and said he’d invite some people over to help him button up the house.

I thought, okay. Good luck with that…

So, imagine my surprise when I pulled in the driveway from my weekend about 2 pm that Sunday to find several cars in my yard and five extra people working on my house.

The warm squishy heart fuzzies, y’all. So. many. warm. fuzzies.

See, the thing that always gets me is this: in a world where everyone is busy, where everyone has so much to do, people took time out of their busy lives to help us with ours.

And this wasn’t just any weekend to ask for help. It fell on a sort of holiday weekend in Minnesota (MEA Weekend) which ends up being four day weekend—one of the busiest travel weekends of the year in our state, and usually the last big hurrah before the snow flies. Besides that, it was Youth Firearms (deer hunting) weekend.

And people are at our house? Helping with our project?

At the beginning of the project, my dad had lent us all his ladders, scaffolding, and tools that we didn’t already have. But on the weekend my husband asked for help, another friend brought us a forklift to use — which ended up being a huge help on the back section of the house. Two guys with previous construction experience came and crawled all over the ladders and the roof, gettin’ stuff done. A couple that came to help and brought muscle had also already planned out a meal to feed everyone who was working.

A teenage son of a friend helped at our house until he had to leave for work, his brother replaced him after getting done with his own event he’d been at. I’m sure they had better, more exciting things to do than help their parents friends with a house project, yet there they were.

People arrived willing to do whatever needed to be done, and it wasn’t fun work. Nobody wakes up and thinks “hey, construction in the cold, sign me up!” It was super windy and very chilly. We worked well past dark and put lights up because we wanted to get the one wall done as long as we were set up for it. (Note: not the wall that is pictured below. I have zero appropriate pictures from the “let’s go help Jay and Amy finish their house” event)


Who makes up your community?

Y’all, this is the answer. Take that snapshot of what happened at my house and multiply that by a billion and wouldn’t that be a great way to run the world? People dividing up work based on what they do best. People bringing their experiences and knowledge to work towards some goal. People working hard to help others get something done because it supports the entire community as a whole in some roundabout way.

This is the meaning and the purpose of community. And when we think of putting together a community we are often way too close minded about who that should include. This is sometimes super true of the homesteading community. We think okay, we need people who know how to plant a garden and take care of chickens and work with goats. We need people who have the skills to butcher and process animals. We need people who can cut and stack wood. We need people who build stuff and we need people who can sew.

We forget we need the person who knows how to make things work on your smartphone. We forget we need the person who knows that one guy who has ties to the local bakery and can get their day old or week old bread for free as long as you come pick it up. We forget we need the person who knows how to fix the car that is more computer than not.

We tend to make connections with people who live exactly like us. And while that makes sense in some ways and it’s definitely more comfortable, we’re missing out on other people who would be a valuable part of our community.

A problem with independence

I often find that people who are super helpful have a really hard time accepting help. Or (as is my issue) they can’t believe that people would offer to help them in the first place. And that’s the problem sometimes with independence. We get so caught up in doing it ourselves and not wanting to depend on others that we’re actually less productive than we could be if we’d just accept someone’s offer of hey, I could help you with that.

And there are so many things that help– big and small. Sometimes people who could help don’t think the person could actually use their help (in some weird, I probably wouldn’t actually be helpful to them sort of way) so they don’t offer.

Let me tell you what. Something as simple as holding the piece of siding steady so I can make a weird angle cut out is important. Something as easy as picking up nails so the forklift doesn’t drive over them is important. Every person who helped with our house was important to us getting the job done faster than it would have been if we’d been doing it ourselves.

I’m so thankful for our friends and our community. <3

There are so many lessons to be learned.

Hopefully in today’s rambling, you heard whatever you needed to hear. Whether that’s something about making connections and expanding your community beyond what you thought it needed to be, or remembering to offer help even if you think it’s not needed, or accepting help even if you think you can do it yourself. 

There are many lessons to be learned when it comes to community and helping each other, and I think those lessons learned on a small scale (like someone’s house project) can benefit us so much when we think about things on a larger scale.

The truth is that everyone is busy, and everyone needs help. But many hands make light work and we need to find a balance between independence and community. 

— Amy Dingmann, 10-27-21

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2 thoughts on “168: Many hands make light work”

  • Lovely to hear that there are still great folks in the world! So happy for you and Jay. The house looks great, and you can begin this frozen season knowing that you have done major work that will help battle the cold. That sure ain’t nuthin’!

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