Saturday, June 27, 2020

Fortress of Social Isolation AKA Zombie Free Zone

Busy- having a great deal to do.

That is what the dictionary says. I say that it, is us. We have been going out to our property nearly every day to get things done as we wait for the construction to begin. Projects that we can do on our own.

One of our big projects was to clear under our giant oak trees. We are thinking that this area would be our yard. I bought a tractor to help with so many of the projects and if you look behind it you can see what the area under the oaks look like.
There are hundreds of small trees that we need to remove. Our son came out one day and cut most of them down.

Those three pictures show the progress we made over a three week period to remove the downed trees. Once the trees were gone we had around 150 tree stumps. So we rented a stump grinder for the day and went to work removing those. It took a solid 7 hours of continuous grinding to get them all.

This was a great little unit and it went threw the stumps like crazy. Once the stumps were gone we did a little bit of raking and cleaning up of the area until we had our finished project. 

It looked amazing. Now we need to plant some grass and then we will have a great area for the grandkids to play in.

We built a new driveway to access our property. It was on a hill and everytime it would rain heavily (and that happens a lot here) it would wash out.
I can fix it and I have the means to do it. It only takes 1 to 2 hours to do that with my ATV.

It looks good after I grade it but each time I do that it feels like the gravel gets softer and softer. Many times I would have to put the truck into 4 wheel drive so that I wouldn't get stuck halfway up the hill. Tired of dealing with that, we decided to bite the bullet and pave it. We called and got a bid and they said that they could have it done in a couple of days.
This is the look before they started working on it.

It looks great. As we felt that that would solve our problem of traction and washing out, we still felt like we would have a problem on the left side. So that created another job for us. Drain tile. So Lisa and I got some drain tile and started to trench along the side of the driveway.

It was 100 feet, uphill, both ways. That's what we will tell the grandkids anyways.
It always feels good to get one project done. Then we can get started on the next.
While we have been doing our projects, they have finally started working on our bungalow. They started with prepping the site and then they had to dismantle half of our barn to finally begin building the new section.

All in all it is really coming together now. We took a drive to see if the resident eagles have survived the storms we had lately.
We were amazed that that tree is still standing. I also took a couple of days to travel to Indianapolis to get our storm shelter. Our bungalow does not have a basement and in this part of the country you get a lot of storms. So for piece of mind we found a fiberglass underground storm shelter that we will bury next to the bungalow for emergencies.
Before you get your hopes up,it only holds eight people. So those people who are going to be saved should have already got their notifications in the mail. Sorry to those who didn't get their notifications.

Well that is it for now. We remain busier than ever and hope to be able to live in this over the winter. With the virus thing, we feel that it isn't a good winter to be traveling around.


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

What are We Doing?

What are we doing when we are not destroying dump stations? That is a good question that requires a long convoluted answer.

Like our forefathers that came before us to this great country, we are carving out a niche of our own in the wilderness. But unlike our forefathers who may have been looking for freedom of persecution or religious freedom or just a chance for a new life, we are looking for freedom of the Covid-19 and of course zombies.

Feeling like modern day Davy Crocketts, we have staked out our location to build our fortress of social isolation. The process of raising a fort has begun and we hope to have it constructed before any hostiles attack.
We have been clearing now for 3 summers. It has come a long way from when we started. We are doing most of the work ourselves, Lisa and I. Our kids have helped also but the brunt of the work has fallen upon us. I can't believe what this looked like 3 years ago when we decided to start this project.

3 years ago we started clearing the spot we chose of prickly ash and sumac.Then we had to cut access roads into the area.
As we cut and removed the trees, we started to get huge piles of brush. 
That year we rented a wood chipper (twice) to get rid of the huge amounts of brush piles we collected. Kendra came out to help us with that project and thankfully she did. It took the 3 of us 6 hours straight of nothing but chipping.
Just to give you an idea of what it was like. We went from this.
To this.
Using nothing but a chainsaw and a handheld brush cutter. Our forearms look like Popeyes.
I only put that image of Popeye there because I realized there may be a young reader who does not know who he is. 

For our second summer out there we planned a big project. One too big for us to accomplish on our own. That was moving our driveway from a corner of land that crossed our neighbors land and there fore caused some conflicts in the past.
Our second summer was spent keeping things mowed so that the jungle wouldn't reclaim what we already cleared and when possible we also kept cutting more of the jungle back. Plus that was the summer we went to Alaska so we weren't around for a couple of months anyway. Originally we planned on just a couple of RV sites. but it gets cold up here early and stays late. So we decided on building a garage with hookups inside it so that we could stay later in the season here. So then a building site had to be cleared.
We left for Arizona and the building company came and built our garage in December.
Then the PANDEMIC hit like a tsunami on steroids. That is when we decided that we wanted to build a fortress of our own instead of riding out the storm in our camper or burdening friends and family. Let's not kid ourselves here. We know we are a joy to be around but there is that saying, "Too much of a good thing......" so that is why we want to build. 

So summer number 3 has us revamping our plans and now we just wait for the construction to begin again. Until then we just keep clearing and clearing. It feels good to be outside and working because we can see progress.
We have finally gotten to this clump of trees in front of the garage. Roman came out one day and cut down over 50 trees clearing out the area around 3 giant oaks that we want to keep. The trees are anywhere from 2" to 8" in diameter. Lisa then removes the branches with a cutter and then I cut them up for firewood. Cutting them on the ground was killing my back so I remembered what my old grandpappy said, "A Thompson machine gun will fit in a violin case". Oops, that was my Italian grandpappy. "Work smarter, not harder". So I built a rack so that I could put 4-6 trees across it, getting them off of the ground.
Then with a maniacal laugh, I slice them up into tiny little pieces.
My genius know no bounds. So that is what we do all day. Clear and clear and then clear some more. Our wood piles are getting very large.
Year 2's woodpile fell over when part of our pine tree came down on it.
This is the wood pile just from this year. It is 3 rows deep. So yeah, you could say we have cut some trees. Some day once the trees are down for the most part, then it will be time to start splitting all of this. That promises to be some good times there.

So if you have an inkling to visit, bring a chainsaw and beer.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

A Butt Nugget Fiasco During the Pandemic

Gather round children and let Pops share a tale with you. You'll laugh, you'll cry and you may even throw up. Just a forewarning.

We are back in the "Hobbit House" out on our super secret undisclosed location. May 23rd marks the one year anniversary of when we moved into the "Hobbit House" for our Alaska trip and eventually our trip to Arizona for the winter. I will add that we did spend 2 months in my sons basement during the peak of the pandemic but now we are back in the camper. Hiding in our woods because the campgrounds are not open in the state we live in.

Since we are living in it again, that means that our tanks fill up because we are using them. So with our hearts light and gay, we loaded up the "Hobbit House" and headed into town to the only place with a dump station.With nearly 6 years of dumping our tanks it is no problem.

I hook up the hose and the 90 degree elbow and put it into the sewer hole. Lisa is watching me as I perform my tasks like a ballerina in Swan Lake. In traditional fashion I exclaim "There she blows!" as I open the black tank valve.

This is where time goes into slow motion. I am facing the camper and behind me I hear Lisa scream. I think to myself, is she being attacked by a horde of zombies? So I turn around and look down and see my biggest fear.The sewer hose disconnected from the 90 degree elbow. As I realize what is about to happen, it happened. Butt nuggets and sewage start pouring out.

I quickly turn back around, Lisa is still screaming hysterically, shove my hands into the compartment and close the valve. This took just a matter of a few seconds and we had a spill that would rival the Exxon Valdez'. We clean up the area as best we could, choking down little balls of vomit as we did and sheepishly finished our business and left.

Hindsight is always 20/20 as they say. Could we have done things differently? Definitely. I think there is blame for both of us and I will admit fault. I should have double checked the connections were tight. That one is on me. Lisa , instead of screaming and melting into a puddle could have just said "STOP!". Instead I had wasted precious seconds turning around.

So we learned a valuable lesson boys and girls and I hope you can learn from our mistakes. It is going to take me awhile to get over it. I know that I am not ordering Chicken McNuggets any time soon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Hanging on in this Crazy New World

As I look outside at this ever changing new world, I can't help but think of how good things used to be. Like restaurants, movie theatres, and being outside without the threat of death hanging over our heads. I could enlighten the world on my thoughts about this whole situation but I don't think that it is important. I will have to save it for the campfires and when I have had the proper amount of beer to heighten my level of wisdom.

What I do know is that we have been watching our grandkids for a month now.

They are out of the daycares because they are just breeding grounds for all kinds of germs that go around. Your everyday germs like pink eye, the cold, the flu and the everfun one called hoof and mouth disease. But since there is a new virus on the block the world is upside down now.

We are their new daycare. I never thought that 2 little kids in diapers would be so much work. Also, how can they eat and poop so much? If it's not going in one end, it's coming out the other. I wish I had my phone one day when Lisa was literally up to her elbow in crap. Audie the 6 month old had a diaper blowout and it was up his back, all over Lisa's hands and arm. I would have taken a picture but I was scrambling to hand her wipes before it was knee deep.

4 weeks inside with a 2 year old. Even his mountain of toys are losing their appeal.
Even for me. You can only play with Playdoh for so long. I think what the kids are lacking is structure and the professionals that know how to entertain a 2 year old day after day. At the end of the day Lisa is like this.
All I know is that I have never been happier when "Happy Hour" starts.

2 weeks turned into 4 weeks. 4 weeks have turned into 6 weeks. That's what "They" keep telling us. I just want it to end and have life get back to some kind of normalcy. Even if it is going to be a new normal.