I remember when I first met Greg. His sister brought him to the front door of the old city house. She was playing matchmaker.

My four children gathered around to look at the man in their doorway. I remember that Greg and I talked the rest of the night away.

In time, I asked Greg if he knew how to house work, real work, like keeping our 100-year-old home from falling into the ground.

As a single mom, I had learned to make do with duct tape and had liberally applied it to plaster walls, kitchen cupboards, countertops and basement wires. Greg smiled and told me that he could do anything that I might imagine – except cook.

I remember when I first met Greg’s daughter. I do not recall quite how the topic came up, but I clearly remember her looking up at me and earnestly saying that her dad could do anything. I smiled to understand how very dearly she loved her father.

In time, Greg and I married and lived together with our combined seven children in that old city house, as Greg worked, room by room, floor by floor, to totally refinish it. When the last child moved out, we sold that old house, amazed at its restored beauty.

And we moved to the country and into the tiny home we built ourselves in the middle of 63 creek-valley acres. Greg even built the windows, doors and much of the furniture. Conventional windows and store-bought furniture simply could not to fit into our 388-square-foot home, and I fully came to realize that Greg’s daughter was quite right. He really could do anything, anything I might imagine.

We have now happily lived in that little house for almost 12 years, but a few years back, we came to realize that climbing the steep stairs to the loft might not be so doable in our older ages, so we decided to build another house, our dream home, that would be easier on our aging bodies.

It has now been just over two years ago that we began to build, right across the gravel drive from the little house, and Greg has really done it all himself, except for pouring the cement foundation and stacking the heavy square logs. It is our dream home, with walnut windowsills, pecan floors and hickory cabinets. But as you can imagine, there is a lot of wood in a log home, so when it came time to make the railing for the loft and stairs, it
occurred to us that a metal railing would offset the wood and complement the stove pipe that runs through all three floors and heats the house. In no time, Greg had designed a railing and calculated how much metal we would need.

We drove to the city, pulling the drag behind the truck, and got in line behind semi-tractor trailers. We watched as the big trucks drive away, loaded with the metal to build highway overpasses and bridges.

As our steel was being lowered onto the drag by the warehouse man, he asked if there was anything else that we would like. We looked around at huge pipes and thick sheets of steel, and Greg told him that we’d be happy to take any extras.

Back at the creek, Greg set to work in his shop, cutting, drilling, and welding the metal. I did very little, except perhaps hold a finished piece, here or there, as Greg bolted it into place. A month has passed since our trip to the warehouse, and the railing is now done. I am honestly speechless. Words do not do it justice. All I can say that it is absolutely beautiful. And yes, Greg has never done anything like it before, but then he had never built an off-grid cabin, or wired and plumbed an off-grid log house.

And I certainly know, without any doubt, that his dear daughter, now grown and the mother of two of our beautiful grandchildren, was absolutely right. Her father really can do anything, anything that he can dream of, with only one provision. He still cannot cook.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.