End of the Road Farm

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    • #91281

        So, I’ve been here a couple months now. Anyone headed west to Max’s classes out the old Northwestern Turnpike, will pass by my place – even though you can’t see it from 50. If you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss the road back into my place. It’s pretty awkward to try to go west from my road, too. Doable, but awkward. And driving up my road, most people hear banjo music and call me in a panic about whether they’re on the right road. But that’s a good thing.

        At the end of the road is a bowl-shaped hollow; mostly open with the house & studio at the opposite side at the top of a steep cliff. I can hear ya driving up before I see who it is. A pond. And several “back doors” into 100s of acres of protected forest. LOTS of natural cover from exposed sandstone boulders and outcroppings. Soldiers in a civil war battle found them useful too.

        I’m going to need some long-range practice to stop someone coming in the driveway. It’s probably longer than 200 yards; but I have clear lanes through the trees at several locations. Of course, strangers might not get past the meager handful of neighbors closer to the highway.

        It’s quiet back here. Because there is deeded access into that aforementioned forest, I quickly permitted the local guy who was caretaking here for the former PT owners to continue hunting my property and went out of my way to make him welcome. He & his buddies camped overnight here during the season – which was also the first weeks I lived here. A good thing since I hear everything and try to identify it at night. It was comforting to have someone around, who was leaving me alone, too. Now I recognize the vehicles and we talk weekly or so. They’ve been a good resource of information and referrals.

        These first couple months I’ve just been paying attention: to the finish work that needs done indoors on the house; the mechanical systems and needed maintenance (already had one nasty surprise; but I coped OK); and lining up the contractors to do the things that maybe I could learn to do – but right now would take me 10x as long to accomplish. In my case, trying to reach a minimum acceptable level of sustainability and reliability here, it’s worth writing the check to get it done professionally and quickly. I’m also acclimating to winter again. Faster than I thought I would. But then, I have spent most of my life with lake effect & wind chills.

        I was very relieved to make it here before the election – JUST before; like the day before. I’d attempted more than I was physically capable of and had to content with delays at the beach in October due to 2 named storms. I am still unpacking and trying to locate certain things – like my handheld Ham radio. But I’m also making runs to my backup location from here and exploring the resources between here and there. And making my plans for spring/summer priority work here.

        Power equipment and vehicles being close to the top of the list. At 60, I wear out faster than I used to — even though I can and do walk the hills here more than I thought I could. Without a partner, I have to find easy ways to do things and get over the fact that I’m “cheating”… and be grateful for the manly men who do come by and lend me their advice.

        I have a feeling I’m going to be baking a lot more than I used to, to show my appreciation. LOL.

        Mostly good people is what I’ve found here so far. And the fact that I resist driving east to Winchester more than I thought I would. Despite knowing people – friends and family – there. Surprisingly – I’m OK being alone this much. I’m not having full conversations with the cat or walking around in circles wondering what to do with myself. I’m not neglecting myself either… and still making steady progress around getting set up to self-maintain on this little corner of the mountain.

      • #91282
        Joe (G.W.N.S.)

          Sounds great, glad things are coming together.

          Smart with the former caretaker too.

        • #91283

            Keep plugging away. That is how things get done.


          • #91284
            Brian from Georgia

              Sounds like good honest living in God’s country.

            • #91285

                Ain’t that the truth, farmer?

                I hope to kinda journal what it takes to build a place to “self-sufficient” criteria. And where/why I might compromise… just because it’s still possible to do so. It’s good to know how to do things by hand, human-power – but it does wear out a body faster. BTDT.

                So, the things that made this place attractive were things I see as already furthering the goal of sufficiency:
                1 acre stocked pond
                attempt at a garden space – water & power available there
                artesian well
                almost all appliances are propane; 1000 gal tank
                24×40 garage/workshop with studio space above; all the amenities to create a living space if need be.
                Additional 2 car garage under house; 1/2 will become pantry and long-term storage.

                Endless supply of rocks, large & small – natures building material

                Most of the 10 acres is open and ready for fencing, if I commit to critters (2 chicken coops too). But things are at a distance to the house. So I’m mentally re-arranging the layout a bit. It helps to have things closer if you have a foot of snow to negotiate.

                For work equipment, I’m selling the rock crawler jeep and getting an older pickup. Much more functional. One of the multi-purpose UTVs. A bobcat. I debated a small tractor for awhile. With the hillside, it kinda makes me nervous and it will be overkill for most of the kind of work I’ll be doing. I won’t be planting fields of anything. A tiller or attachment for the UTV makes more sense – and I’ll still double dig with my fork.

              • #91286
                Mike Q

                  Be careful of bobcats. When the bucket is up in the air above seated head height they get very wobbly, especially when turning. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come close to rolling those damn things. Especially on slanted ground. If possible I’d suggest a skid steer. Same piece of equipment just with rubber treads in lieu of wheels. Much more stable.

                • #91287

                    You can tip a bobcat on its back pretty quick too :whistle:

                  • #91288

                      As far as a tiller for garden work, look at BCS tillers.


                      http://earthtoolsbcs.com/ also. ( I beleive the largest dealer in USA)

                      youtube bcstillers also


                    • #91289

                        Thanks for the experienced advice guys!

                      • #91290

                          So, the beach house is under contract. That will supply a lot of capital for improvements around here. Met with contractor about firming up the main shelter and keep heat/cold where they belong. He’ll also get to bring the decks up to code. Nothing scheduled yet; waiting on due diligence on buyer’s part on the finances. They are pre-approved, so I don’t anticipate any glitches but ya never know.

                          Also moving forward on additional storage capability – putting equipment close to where it’ll be needed for gardening. Those projects can overlap in timing.

                          The recent snow has me looking hard at the survey and the last 100 ft of driveway for a way to re-orient it just enough that it will be easier to plow/navigate during the winter. Challenging & scary has it’s advantages but it’s also an impediment to getting OUT, at least by that route. Vehicle choice/tires is on that list too. There’s “nice to have” and there’s “gotta have” – LOL.

                          I think we might have one more good snow like that before spring is really here. I’m watching the pond right now too, to assess the possibility for micro-hydro electric generation in the “rainy seasons”. Probably want to start thinking about battery storage, too.

                          Working inside for the time being. Still plenty to do there, too – to get organized, continue purging stuff I ran out of time to sort before the move day. And collecting myself to work my butt off this next few months till winter sets in again.

                        • #91291

                            Wow. Your place sounds beautiful, and like the ideal retreat. I enjoy hearing of your progress, and am impressed by you tackling it all alone. You make it sound easy, but I can only imagine the work involved. Heck, for me, transitioning from flat, hot Florida to winters and those mountains I see in pictures from VTC, I’d be in a world of sniveling, whining hurt. :yes:

                            What happened with the dog?

                          • #91292

                              Because I have to hire in contractors for the remodel, I put off making a decision about a dog for the time being. Too much confusion, no fenced area for it, it just seemed like I was asking too much from the dog, myself, and probably contractors who would want to pet it.

                              Yes, the hills take some getting used to. Instant PT just going back & forth to the garage house & garden! Although I am going to have to have a UTV of some sort. Most of the “back door” exits through adjoining woods are too narrow for even the Rubicon. The 4 wheelers the hunters use go through there, though, just fine. I’m still debating if I would be willing to take care of a small draft horse or a Morgan, broke to ride & drive – and work. Or possibly a mule. I think I’m the only one in the “crew” that has any experience with horses. That experience gives me pause; because it is quite a bit of work to maintain a horse’s fitness and train them to certain conditions – like the sound of gunfire, for instance.

                              Ideally I’d have enough land to raise hay/grain for the horse, which I don’t believe I do. Not and do everything else, required to sustain a small group of people around here.

                              I’ve done the homesteading thing a couple times previously in my life. And since it probably should be part of any group’s comprehensive plan to survive… I just thought I’d post a bit about the thought process, the experiences, and challenges of developing a place into that kind self-perpetuating location. Won’t know how well I plan until the balloon really does go up.

                              People looking for their own place, need to consider the basics: ability to grow food, have a year-round plentiful access to water, and appropriate shelter… that will function sans electricity. Propane is a popular alternative out here – but in some situations shouldn’t be relied on, because of disruptions in supply, price, and opsec.

                              When employment is a factor, easy access to highways – but far enough off the beaten path that some casual day-tripper isn’t going to find you. And until we’re at SHTF, being near smaller towns and their services and people is a definite plus. Could be they’ll remain that way post-SHTF, but I don’t like to make those kinds of assumptions.

                              5 acres was too small for what I felt I needed to do; and 30 would be too much for me to take care of, unless the bulk was wooded. Now that I’m here – 10 acres might not be enough, unless I get creative about how I’m using space. But since I can see all of it, it makes it a little easier to think about how I would defend it. The cliff behind the house wouldn’t stop pros or a trained group – but it will intimidate anyone who might wander down into the bottom land. I can control access via the rough road to there… and at the end of my driveway. And shoot – I’m right on the flight path to/from Martinsburg – so kind of a sitting duck there, so it’s not like I’m going to be actually hide here. That’s why I’m learning all the less obvious “alternate” ways out now.

                            • #91293

                                Time for another update. I didn’t think it had been this long. But I’ve been busy – planning & managing the “assault” on the to-do list.

                                I DO have a contractor on board, willing to replace windows & doors on the house and give the exterior a weather-tight coat of good stuff. We’ll address the deck railings when that’s all done.

                                My chimneys are in good shape – however when the fireplace hearth was built the mason didn’t leave enough room to operate the damper correctly. That will get a fireplace insert. The woodstove downstairs – has a really crappy weld from the pipe collar almost to the bottom of the back. I could do better that; honestly. My D claims she can handle it no problem. But, I’m going to have more peace of mind just getting a new stove. Nice young guy who inspected & cleaned is a dealer for a well-recommended brand from Canada. I’d already looked at these previously.

                                I finally decided on a size for my garden barn; 24×31. I’ll have two garage doors to make it easier to organize equipment and get it in/out as needed… and a walkin door. I have a LOT of yard/garden equipment and misc planting/harvesting stuff. Phase 2 of that building includes a greenhouse and a summer kitchen.

                                And I decided a tractor was overkill for my place. It’s not like I’m going to grow acres of hay or corn. So I opted for a Polaris XL1000 – with a disc, snow plow and mower. This thing won’t set any land/speed records but it’s torque is just this side of a tank. It has a 1500 lb bed capacity and I think it can tow up to 2000 lbs. Of course I had a tool rack mounted along the bed for my hand tools – and a double rifle rack in the cab. Compared to the 4 wheelers the hunters use around here, it’s a tortoise. About 40 mph top speed. But it’s also quieter. I’m already getting use out of it and it saves my physical energy for the jobs that need to get done – instead of using up the energy to get to the job.

                                Then, I had to make a few purchases for the upcoming concealed carry class. SOMEWHERE in some box, I know I have holsters, etc. But until I can get the garden stuff out of that garage – I don’t even have room to start digging through boxes. When I do, I’ll have some odd calibers of ammo I won’t need. Cowboy action, old military rifles, etc. My D and Mike’s D will likely take a fair amount that matches their rifles. And my D and I finally came to a decision about the two we both wanted; she got the Rem 223 and I’m keeping the vintage M-1 carbine.

                                I think I’ve settled on how I’m going to upgrade my ham equipment for both the main vehicles and home base. Still need think about lightning in this location; storm is rolling in so here’s my first chance to observe. And I need to get my paperwork for WV concealed carry to the sheriff. I’m travelling later this summer and need to carry where I’m going.

                                I’m gonna be asleep by 9 tonite, I have a feeling.

                              • #91294

                                  And the power is blinking… LOL.

                                • #91295

                                    I’m travelling later this summer and need to carry where I’m going.

                                    Thanks for sharing! Sounds like things are moving along nicely!

                                    If you’re traveling out of state, make sure that state has reciprocity with WV.

                                  • #91296

                                      This is a “hurry up and wait” summer. Work on improving the shell of the house has commenced – and the weather is getting in the way of scheduling concrete work for the barn. So, I’ve been been busy – with not much going on at all. But by September, I should have all new windows & doors, a more comfortable great room (replaced about 60% of the glass with framed/insulated wall), new fireplace insert that I can cook on, and smaller woodstove for the 1st floor utility space.

                                      Pantry is shaping up and I know what I WANT to do, the question is simply, if can make it myself (I think I can) since no one makes what I want. I’m going to make insulated sliding panels (3 of them; 1 as fixed wall maybe) and insulate one garage door, in the garage under the house. Lots & lots of putting things where I need them still.

                                      Conceal carry permit was a piece of cake. Dropped off the app on Friday and the permit was in Monday’s mail. I was pretty stunned – and impressed too. I celebrated with a new sidekick – FNS9c. Same grip/mag size… shorter barrel. Target stands are in and I need to grab some lumber and do a little improvement in the shale pit for handgun work.

                                      Property security moved up the list. Someone showed up one evening and stopped near the top of the drive; got out and took a picture – got back in and BACKED up the drive… even though I have plenty of places to turn around and we’d made ourselves very visible hoping to find out who it was and what they were doing here.

                                      Probably going to add a driveway alert up there and wireless game camera for license plates. Maybe 2. For starters. Range cards might be next, from the front porch, across the pond and up that field to that spot in the drive. Although I think the small “live fire area” signs at MVT might be a web search, too. Doesn’t every woman just want a rifle rack as part of their porch and foyer decor????


                                    • #91297

                                        Gramma, your place sounds like heaven in the making, but are you sure you should sell that rock-crawling Jeep? That’s fun and lots of utility, too!

                                      • #91298

                                          I’m more comfortable in the Rubicon. It enjoyed the mud at MVT.

                                        • #91299

                                            Quick update:

                                            BEEN BUSY, is kind of an understatement. It’s been quite a while since I’ve maintained this much outdoor space by myself. I’m “almost” – just about – real close – there, for my satisfaction. The past week or two has just been insane. LOL… in a good way.

                                            Windows & doors are here; 8 more windows and 4 doors to install. Then the outside of the cabin will get sealed up. It really needs it. Then the deck railings, will come up to code. Concrete is poured for the garden barn and it (metal buildings) and fuel shed will be here in about a month. More work to do on the shed site. Two woodstoves and stainless steel chimney liner – installed. Now to order/store wood.

                                            Studio/garage space need some attention for better ammo/reloading storage and setting up my woodworking tools. I can, and will be doing more customization in the cabin myself. Built-in shelves, some furniture ideas, etc. And sewing… and making things.

                                            And getting my range set up!! (I just want the contractors out of here first; they have no “need to know” about those things.)

                                            Doing things in the right order matters. I wouldn’t have had a clue what the right “order” is, except for experience. It’s just like learning the tactical skills – learn and take care of mastering the basics: food – water – shelter FIRST. And in the process of all this, I’ve met quite a few local people and have started the network process.

                                            But this old lady “hit the wall” yesterday. It’s time to rest up and go at it again soon. Oh, most of the new “ham shack” equipment has shipped. I still need to figure out my antenna situation.

                                          • #91300

                                              I haven’t exactly been letting the grass grow under my feet around here. Fixed my back problem and am still waiting on the outbuildings I ordered in August. Now, to strengthen all those core muscles. I’m going to need them.

                                              An opportunity dropped in my lap – out of the blue – to expand from 10 acres to 149. I close on that, on Monday. Decision was a no-brainer and I had the resources. New acreage is completely landlocked with the only access to it from my current place. It provides enough trees to harvest for wood heat/cooking if it’s managed well, to be sustainable even for a group here. It adds another pond, a year-round creek and springs between the ridge I’m on the next one west. There is enough acreage in the bottom that could provide traditional grain crops, in smaller quantities, to support livestock of some sort. Or I could develop an interesting home gun range…

                                              It also comes with some manpower/defense in the form of a casual hunting arrangement for a group of friendly, helpful locals. That’s been too casual up till now – so I am definitely thinking about organizing that more effectively.

                                              I believe I’m in a re-grouping phase for the winter. I’m getting settled, and finally organized and I’ll be able to finish the unpacking soon. Still feel like I’m spread too thin… but I think that’s going calm down some in the near future too.

                                              So I should be able to start working on those skillsets I’ve chosen to add to the mix… as well as reviving some old ones. Will be looking at the training schedule for spring and trying to work that in, too.

                                            • #91301

                                                That’s awesome, Gramma! :good:

                                              • #91302

                                                  Nice expansion. Well done

                                                • #91303

                                                    :good: :yahoo: nice deal it sounds like!

                                                  • #91304

                                                      Way to go
                                                      I am to your East in Stephens City and would enjoy meeting you sometime.

                                                    • #91305

                                                        149 acres! Wow!!!


                                                      • #91306


                                                        • #91307

                                                            Hey Sean, old stomping grounds between Harrisonburg, Middletown & Winchester. We should definitely do that sometime. I’m still hustling to keep up with everything I’m trying to finish up before the snow flies around here. I typically get “over the mountain” about once a month. That’s about all the “big city excitement” I can tolerate.

                                                            Because the opportunity to buy this land was a pleasant surprise, I’m glad I’d also prepped enough liquid assets to make it happen. It’s gonna take me awhile to walk the land enough to get a feel for what can be done. But my local hunters already have spike strips out where some no-goodniks have felt free to trespass and throw trash. I need to know exactly what part of the land that is. So, I do have some help here. (Anything in the future plans is likely going to require a more formal arrangement for help.)

                                                            The hunters have gotten 7 bucks so far this year. Bow & Rifle.

                                                          • #91308

                                                              Well, I don’t have a lot of “show & tell” right now. Been doing a lot of research, planning, designing. Best plan for a garden, at the best site… how best to utilize existing buildings (to provide shelter for larger groups – anywhere from a dozen to 24-30)… and prioritizing work around here.

                                                              Sold the other two properties, I figure I have enough to deal with on 150 acres. LOL.

                                                              Doing lots of small jobs around here, getting organized and more “unpacked” and moving things where they really need to go. There’s at least one more major building on the list and a major reno/improvement of the other building (garage/studio) here.

                                                              As soon as the mud dries up some, there’ll be some serious driveway and garden prep going on around here. I’ll probably have him dig out a root cellar, too. And I’ll be keeping some contractors busy again. Kids & I will build my wood storage… and I need to find someone to come cut trees. I’ll be splitting/stacking.

                                                              The pace is going to slow down some this year, because there are a lot of things I haven’t been able to get to, with the crazy pace I set last year.

                                                            • #91309

                                                                Just curious, I noticed you mentioned how most of your appliances are propane now, do you plan to add solar to your homestead? Seems like it’s becoming a bit more mainstream now and would keep the electronic hardware (HAM and stuff) up and running if there were shortages of fuel for generators.

                                                              • #91310

                                                                  RR, I’m entertaining all possibilities right now. Propane isn’t quite as “solid” as I’d hoped. Also not quite deciding just yet. I have some more research to do.

                                                                • #91311
                                                                  Joe (G.W.N.S.)

                                                                    Propane isn’t quite as “solid” as I’d hoped.

                                                                    What issues?

                                                                  • #91312

                                                                      Cost and availability. After 3 weeks of calling, saying it was time to fill my tank (per their stds)… I only had 10% left when they put 787 gals in. You don’t know want to know how much that cost.

                                                                      And that was just for the one month it was so danged cold here in WV. AND I was burning wood to supplement the heat.

                                                                      Once I’m past some OTHER Ps In M A, that I’m dealing with now, I’ll be addressing buying the tank and shopping for another source. And also having both furnaces evaluated for efficiency.

                                                                    • #91313
                                                                      Joe (G.W.N.S.)

                                                                        You don’t know want to know how much that cost.

                                                                        I have a 1000 gallon tank, but it’s for primarily for stove and
                                                                        Generator. So I only fill up when prices are low.

                                                                        What kind of furnace? Forced hot air?


                                                                        What are others using?

                                                                      • #91314

                                                                          Back now. House is forced hot air; timber frame & log. Garage studio has a combo furnace – gas forced hot air but a firebox to burn wood instead of propane. I hear two different things about how efficient that one is. Insulation in that building is probably minimum. I didn’t address that building last year. Maybe this summer.

                                                                          Just about everything in the house is propane. I’m planning to replace the gas dryer with electric. My power bill is surprisingly low here… but again, that’s because of the number of things that are propane fueled.

                                                                          I just need to reassess efficiency, make a few building modifications – and potentially replace the garage/studio furnace. Last summer, I replaced doors/windows and completely took out 5 windows in the west cathedral wall – and two doors in the living room (there were 5 doors on the main floor originally – LOL). It has made a big difference in how much the furnace runs. I think it was just THAT cold here… that long (about a month).

                                                                        • #91315

                                                                            Time flies when you’re busting your butt and dealing with weather.

                                                                            Taking a break this morning. Work has shifted outdoors, now, although I do have a flooring re-do for downstairs scheduled tentatively for July. Carpet is simply NOT practical at a ground level used constantly as an entrance.

                                                                            So let’s see, I’ve done all the paperwork to put the new acreage into the forestry management program. Should get a tax break out of that. Still waiting on the state & the forester to come do an “inventory” and write the plan. I still to find someone to cut trees into logs for firewood for me. I got a splitter that will make smaller pieces of wood and I’m still splitting kindling by hand. Wood shed needs built, too. Yes, I’m starting now for next winter.

                                                                            Getting power run to the garden barn. I won’t be using lights at night that much, but it’s handy to have them and especially outlets for charging batteries, etc. Water hydrant out there is dry as death valley, not even any noise; so next week we start investigating why. (I’ve also spotted some springs down in the back 40 that might could be developed too.) I’ve eliminated the possibility that there are two wells here, so it’s just a matter of figuring out what was done when it was all put in.

                                                                            The ranger got a big brother a week ago. I got a Bobcat 590 skid steer. Bucket, rock/root grapple, auger. I’m probably going to have to go back & get rock teeth for the bucket and the digging bucket. I’m calling it my “force multiplier” for getting the more physically demanding projects in a timely fashion without killing myself trying to move things that are just too heavy for me. (I’ve already had the crap scared out of me with safety lectures, thanks. I’m going to practice first and get comfortable with the controls before getting into work with it.)

                                                                            This way, I’ll be less dependent on “waiting for help” and since I don’t have to explain what I want… I can just go do. It’s a long term investment that will let me do a lot of things in the back 40, too, from moving large rocks for… ummm… traffic control… and building projects, to terracing some of the hills to manage erosion, irrigation, etc.

                                                                            On the slope around the house parking area, I’m using concrete block, rebar and weed cloth for “kitchen beds”. Easy to access from the house for the usual herbs and such. Planting herbs around the boulders too – medicinals. If I have likely good spots down in the back 40, I might try to get some ginseng started too. The focus is mostly on perrenials, so I have 10 rosa rugosa to put in. The auger will help with all those holes in shale/rock. At least to get the hole started. Rugosa’s rose hips are a great source of vit C. They’ll also help feed bees and form a prickly hedge. I’m starting to develop the “perimeter inside the perimeter inside the perimeter” plan.

                                                                            Oh… the field at the bottom of the back 40 should be excellent for shooting. I think I can even get 1000 yds out of it; maybe more. The hunters are still around… and supposedly trading “help” around here for hunting rights. Keeping the deer down around here, will help with letting new trees come up back there.

                                                                            And I just saw a notice in last week’s paper for a county “Emergency Amateur Radio” net. Been looking at antenna locations… once the flooring is done, I can organize/set up/get the ham shack situated.

                                                                            And the kids think I’m bored and lonely out here all by myself. LOL….

                                                                          • #91316
                                                                            Joe (G.W.N.S.)

                                                                              I got a Bobcat 590 skid steer…

                                                                              Cool, that will certainly help. Take your time using it and don’t let yourself get too used to it, rushing and complacency is when most mishaps occur.

                                                                              Yea, retirement is so boring! (Sarcasm)

                                                                              I sometimes wonder about retiring from retirement. ;-)

                                                                            • #91317

                                                                                Sounds like things are coming along nicely, great to hear! Will have to check out those rosa rugosa also.

                                                                              • #91318

                                                                                  Monsoon summer continues out here. When it’s not raining cats & dogs, it’s too hot & humid for this old lady to do much – and it turns out that I’m still an “all you eat buffet” for mosquitos and no-see-ums when I forget my spray.

                                                                                  My D (40 yrs old) is here for a bit after the end of her contract work and end of a long term relationship. On balance, that’s a good thing. She’s split & stacked all the wood that was cut last year to work out her frustrations. :D She’s in prep mode for a 6000 mi cross country road trip with her dog in a ’77 Pontiac that she hopes to complete in 3 weeks. The optimism of youth! LOL. But she’s experienced, can wrench on her own vehicle for most things, and didn’t start driving on her own until she promised to keep tools & fluids, etc in her trunk.

                                                                                  The “power to the barn” project is one step away from being completed. Electrician and son were caught by the July 4th storm out there, wiring up the interior. We’re waiting for 3 days in a row WITHOUT rain to trench the line to the meter panel. Haven’t gotten it yet.

                                                                                  I have a big puddle out there, as I’ve been grading 6-10 ft away from the building with the bobcat. I still can’t see really well from inside the cab, so I need to remediate the grade, which isn’t letting the water drain at that corner… which also has a vein of clay in it.

                                                                                  Backhoe buddy has spread a good bit of shale on the driveway and it’s holding up much better in the downpours than gravel did. Driveway is long and very steep at the gate… so since purchasing the additional land gets me a longer frontage on the road, I’ve mapped out a way to decrease the angle of the slope and make it slightly more navigable in snow… and STOP the worst of the runoff in downpours.

                                                                                  (Joe, it’s been like a tropical storm or nor’easter here every single week since the end of April. UNHEARD OF amounts of rain here.)

                                                                                  This week has been super busy. Mon-Tues was replacing carpet downstairs with vinyl laminate hardwood style flooring. Great stuff and I can mop up the mud the dog & we track in. Wed-Thurs, I had 97 trees cut out of the new path of the driveway, 3 big piles of mulch from the smaller branches, and everything else cut in rounds to split. Apparently the size of that pile has totally demoralized and depressed my wood splitter – which won’t run and now won’t start. D & tree guys did some troubleshooting on it, but she won’t try just adding some sta-bil to the gas tank… like the head tree guy and I suggested. It may very well NOT fix it, but it’s an easy thing to try. I’ll deal with it after she heads out for TN (her first stop).

                                                                                  My “chaperone” – the hunter who helped watch over this place till I bought it – had a terrible motorcycle accident a month ago. Severed his spine among other injuries. He’s doing rehab in Atlanta and last I heard he MIGHT be getting some feeling back below the waist. His sense of humor is intact and he’s working his butt off to get some mobility back again. Hope to see him during hunting season with his buddies.

                                                                                  I’m so glad I didn’t decide to wait till this year to replace the windows and doors – or get a wild hair to replace the roof. (Which is on the to-do list, along with adding more insulation up there.) The rosa rugosa STILL haven’t been planted – I’m holding them temporarily in some dirt, but it looks like I’m going to need a better “holding bed” for them to overwinter. Delays due to weather have totally messed with my plans… and at this point, I’d like to just be snowed in for a week or two. I’m TIRED of trying to fight it right now.

                                                                                • #91319
                                                                                  Joe (G.W.N.S.)

                                                                                    (Joe, it’s been like a tropical storm or nor’easter here every single week since the end of April. UNHEARD OF amounts of rain here.)

                                                                                    Relatively speaking it hasn’t been that bad here, but it is closer to the way Florida weather was 30 years ago.

                                                                                    We have lakes, ponds, streams, and swamps that haven’t had water levels (some were dry) like this since I was young. My camp is effectively on a island now and I couldn’t be happier.

                                                                                    There is a “rails to trails” bike path I enjoy a few times a month that has a section under a good two feet of water for maybe 30 yards. I get some funny looks when I pedal right through it while others are turning around. ;-)

                                                                                    Anyway it sounds like your making progress, which is good. We almost never make the progress we planned.

                                                                                    The heat will cool down before we know it.

                                                                                  • #91320

                                                                                      3 days in a row wasn’t long enough to dry up the puddle at the corner of the barn; and the back of the barn was swampy. But last week, we only had one little shower in 5 days. So yesterday, I figured I’d better not squander the opportunity and now have basic grade all the way around the barn. That wet corner is full of clay – and is like quicksand. I’ll start dumping shale in there to firm it up and deal with one more problem later. I need a “spa day” – LOL.

                                                                                      D’s made it to Portland; had a 3-4 day layover with friends in Santa Fe while she connected with a guy about work. I figure she’ll think about heading back on Tues/Wed this week. So between now and the time she gets back, I need to get some yard work done.

                                                                                      Joe, you got any dogs that need or are ready to rehome yet? I have survived the D’s puppy so far. He likes sticks – and is so proud of himself because he pulled a 6 ft long branch up the steps, to the landing leading to the porch. He mulches it. Who knew pitbulls were retreivers?

                                                                                      I’m thinking I want something with a calm personality; calm, cool and calculating. LOL. The hyper, spazz, always needs attention/play of the puppy makes me crazy. But he HAS learned “the look” I give him, when I need him to chill.

                                                                                    • #91321


                                                                                        In our house “chill” is actually a command word, using the hang loose hand signal:


                                                                                        I always find dogs respond better to body language/hand signals, which is probably how he learned your “look”

                                                                                      • #91322
                                                                                        Joe (G.W.N.S.)

                                                                                          Joe, you got any dogs that need or are ready to rehome yet?

                                                                                          Right now I only have my own pack. So I am down to five.

                                                                                          My latest addition is a senior female GSD.

                                                                                          In her day she was a real “bad ass” Schutzhund 3 (SchH3) trained/titled. She’s thirteen so on occasion you see the K9 she was, but now is mainly enjoying retirement. Her handler was a friend and veteran, but he died of cancer. His family was fine to keep the much younger trained male.

                                                                                          With no one interested in her I stepped in to provide her a much deserved home.

                                                                                          I’m thinking I want something with a calm personality; calm, cool and calculating. LOL.

                                                                                          Have you checked if there are any fostering opportunities in your area? This can be a excellent way to (for lack of a better term) test drive a dog for your home while not making a permanent commitment.

                                                                                          If you wanted to consider this route I can give you some good pointers to consider.

                                                                                          JohnnyMac, combining body language/hand signals with verbal commands is always a good idea and once understood provides more options for different situations. Most people get a kick out of seeing my dogs obeying hand signals alone.

                                                                                        • #91323

                                                                                            Well, I guess I’m not talking anyone’s ear off given it’s so long since my last update. Not much WORK going on in the winter, except keeping up with the woodpile, cleaning stoves, etc. And trying to plan.

                                                                                            Priorities this year are to TRY (weather permitting) to get the garden situated & planted. It’s probably a good thing I’ve had more time to re-evaluate the drainage situation, think about growing under cover, etc. I have changed my mind on some things.

                                                                                            We have been sorting out the studio space this winter, as well – and now have 4 sewing machines between us. (The D is planning on building a house on the property.) I’m streamlining – purging – as much as possible to make working with all our various tools more functional. Not getting as much target practice in, but spring, I suppose will come someday. D wants to get a concealed carry class under her belt, and I know I need a refresher. One weather forecast says we can get 5-8 in of white stuff, with ice next week. Joy.

                                                                                            Monday, I’m meeting someone here to get an assessment on a generator. There’s a list already of what I “need” and “what would be nice”. I miss the whole house generator I had at the beach. Ole reliable diesel engine. My needs aren’t as huge here, so the 1000 gal propane tank I want to dedicate to it, should last a good bit. Yeah, it’s overkill for the weather-related outages we have here but in a grid-down situation of any kind, it’ll buy me some time to get back-up ducks in a row.

                                                                                            Also been dogsitting a lot for D, since she has a new beau… and he has a chocolate lab. The difference between the two personalities is opposite ends of the scale. LOL, I think the lab is a lot more my speed.

                                                                                            The entropy in the institutional systems that have made the country “work well” seems to be converging. All the various things on my “threat radar” from economic, social, weather, etc seem to be rolling together downhill. I think I’ll be pouring a larger concrete pad for the generator; big enough that I can also mount the tower/ham antenna I have picked out. Then, I can relearn everything I’ve forgotten on that topic… since being busy with so much other stuff.

                                                                                            Well, it’s supposed to start snowing again pretty soon… and I have to go get another of wood and split kindling… I had twice as much wood this winter, than last year – thanks to D being almost as much a machine as the log splitter. But it’s not where I use it…

                                                                                            and that’s another thing I’ve realized lately, is that there is a reason old farmsteads had the functional outbuildings so close. When the weather’s foul, it minimizes steps on ice/snow and still lets you take care of things.

                                                                                          • #91324
                                                                                            Joe (G.W.N.S.)

                                                                                              Also been dogsitting a lot for D, since she has a new beau… and he has a chocolate lab. The difference between the two personalities is opposite ends of the scale. LOL, I think the lab is a lot more my speed.

                                                                                              One of the great things about fostering a dog for a few weeks or more is you get a chance to learn their real temperament and personality.

                                                                                              Few dogs will be the same after a few days to a week after being removed from a kennel.

                                                                                              …is that there is a reason old farmsteads had the functional outbuildings so close. When the weather’s foul, it minimizes steps on ice/snow and still lets you take care of things.

                                                                                              Great observation!

                                                                                              Much can be learned from how real old timers did things in your area.

                                                                                              Sounds like things are coming together nicely. ;-)

                                                                                            • #91325

                                                                                                @gramma great to hear from you. Keep us updated on your progress.

                                                                                              • #91326

                                                                                                  Mid-summer update:

                                                                                                  So the D is becoming a permanent fixture around here. So much so, I realize she needs her own territory to command. (Two strong women in the same kitchen is a recipe for conflict; we’ve got “hand to hand” down pretty good – and 5 mins afterward, we’ll laugh and share a cold one. That helps.) So we’re building her a small house far enough away on the property to be private and close enough that we can simply radio back and forth if there’s an urgent situation.

                                                                                                  She’s repartnered with a guy actively involved in his own homesteading effort and who has some wilderness survival skills; he is still learning too. Adding him to the tribe as work/time allows this summer.

                                                                                                  Generator is operating well; and of course isn’t necessary since it was installed. LOL. But it also means I have 1700 gals of propane stored now, more or less at all times. The tanks are tied together and I can selectively remove things from generator power to minimize draw from the important stuff… and operate the generator itself only at select times as needed. That covers the water system here. Portable generators are serviced and ready to go for comms, tools, outbuildings as needed too.

                                                                                                  The Rubicon is finally back on the road; after the last service and winter storage. When I tried driving it, it developed a serious miss and lost power going up the mountain. About the same time, the Cherokee developed a more minor issue, until the back hatch was destroyed by a UPS truck. That required dealer attention. Sigh.

                                                                                                  But my guardian angel showed up to sort out most of the issues. And it’s been interesting – enlightening – to watch D around a milvet who always carries and is ready to respond to trouble. She is struggling with some hoplophobia. The mindset of being always ready to respond is something that threw her. She has plenty of square range experience and is comfortable handling firearms herself… but it’s the lifestyle aspect that’s new for her.

                                                                                                  And depending on how things go in the next year or so, I might be repartnered now as well and have someone I KNOW I can trust to back me up except when I’m being a total jerk. So the D is going to have to get over her philosophical issues. That will also add more people to the tribe… possibly a medic in the future.

                                                                                                  Last piece of ham shack is getting worked on (antenna) and I’m juggling a bunch of legal stuff in the mix, as well too. So I’m always shifting gears, wearing different hats, and trying to arrange all the different pieces of the puzzle into a complete and productiv, self-sufficent picture around here.

                                                                                                  Gardens survived the heatwave, more or less. I planted late. Have the big garden and a field to fence now; pond that needs stocked with fish. So, following the old saying around here: It’s better to be a warrior in the garden, than a gardener in a war.

                                                                                                • #91327
                                                                                                  Joe (G.W.N.S.)

                                                                                                    Glad to hear things are falling into place

                                                                                                    Generator is operating well; and of course isn’t necessary since it was installed.

                                                                                                    Funny how that works! ;-)

                                                                                                    The prepared always have better “luck.” :yes:

                                                                                                    I know many think that much propane is overkill, but between the peace of mind and allowing purchases when prices are down are worth it IMHO.

                                                                                                  • #91328

                                                                                                      Once you get the antenna up
                                                                                                      you should be able to monitor the 147.300 Bluemont repeater easily from your AO
                                                                                                      You can also try 146.820
                                                                                                      every evening at 7:30L on the .300 machine, there is a traffic net that occasionally moves traffic!! mostly it is HAMS checking in and commenting on the day.

                                                                                                    • #91329

                                                                                                        Thanks for the info Sean!

                                                                                                      • #130450

                                                                                                          Time flies when you’re trying to build something. I’ve been stopping in more, since the weather is yucky now, for a healthy dose of clear thinking on the topics of the day. I’m finding too much “crisis fatigue”, demoralization, outright fear & hysteria along with the usual dose of “fighting words” is prevalent. People are letting themselves be played – even if the threats are serious.

                                                                                                          Looks like the D’s house will be weatherproof by end of the year. Local builder; poured concrete walls with ICF forms. I’m past ready for her to move out of my house again. I’m just not a communal living type person – and she attracts strays (2 & 4 legged) like it’s her calling in life. Good possibility she has more long-term work in her future, too – so she’ll only be here on weekends.

                                                                                                          Antenna is unboxed – but that’s as far as I got. I didn’t realize it “was some assembly required”. I no longer have space to do that, until I can work outdoors again. Hunting has been sparse this year; the bears seem to have run off the deer that were around altho one of the young guys got a nice 8 pt buck.

                                                                                                          I’m collaborating on rifle builds this winter. Parts & pieces I “inherited” when the hubby died… and a well-equiped machinist who’s gradually working his way into my life. Looks like I’ll be learning the AR format after all.

                                                                                                          Winter is when I ponder a lot of things and create new project lists. I deferred a lot of upgrades/life cycle replacements to get the D’s house built this year, but given the emergency repairs needed recently, I pretty much know what needs to happen next year. So I’m doing more pondering on the “state of affairs” current in this country than normal again.

                                                                                                          There are so many things happening/being discussed that simply don’t exist here. At least not yet. And overall, that’s been a really good thing. Somehow I have a feeling it won’t stay that way… so planning on putting in a moat with alligators (j/k; too cold for gators here) and knowing what is necessary to “lock down” this place when and if, it’s necessary.

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