Monday, September 28, 2020

Learn by Our MIstakes

 In my last blog, I accidentally told someone in the comments how to get into our property. At the time I didn't think anything of it, knowing that most RV people we know will never come up to Minnesota. So knowing that, I accidentally let slip how to get in. I told that person that you have to find us first, get through security, get past the attack dogs and swim the moat. If you can do that they have the right to spend the night before I call the sheriff. So I was working on our property when I come around our building to this sight.

"Dang it Glady's! Did you leave the gate open? It looks like we have squatters! I knew I should have dug that moat sooner."

Upon closer inspection, it wasn't squatters but rather our very good friends from South Dakota. Former RV rock gods, newly Barndominium rock gods, Jim and Barb! They were on their way through and planned a quick stop as they continued on their way to Wisconsin. Usually when they travel this fast, the cops are looking for them but I did not want know. 

They wanted to check out our progress on the "Fortress". They said they have been monitoring it from Google Earth. To which I said "What?"

Breaking from RV-Dreams traditions, they traveled and they cooked us a steak dinner. I guess they don't like hot dogs.
We showed them around to many "Oohs" and "Ahhs". They were full of ideas and shared their knowledge of barndominiums with us. They especially loved our storm shelter.

They thought it would be a great place to hide when they needed to. After dinner I started a fire.
We kept them up past their 8 o'clock curfew if you can believe that.

The next morning we awoke. Lisa made them breakfast and they were off, riding into the sunrise. I didn't even need to call the sheriff.

Visits like that are too short and too infrequent but we always enjoy them. 
A few things got done this week. As you could see from the photos of our shelter, I finished filling that in after I ordered more sand. I also ordered rock so that I could work on our RV pad next to the barn. Jim and Barb were the first to try it out.
We got a message that the concrete people were going to show up and do our apron out front. They formed it one day and then came back a poured it. 

Again another shining example how blogger will not let me put the pictures in order. It looks good anyways. The plumbers came out one day and ran our sewer vent through the roof.
Also the electricians snuck us in another day and started running all of the wires in the Cabin. I am calling it a cabin now instead of a Bungalow. It just sounds more Minnesotaee.
So still moving forward. Wednesday is our moving day. The campground closes that day so we have no choice. Still lots to do and I hope the plumbers and electricians can get out there to finish it. Otherwise we may get stinky.
We are right in the peek of the fall colors here. It is going to be so nice to be out there and experience the 4 seasons here. I may not be saying that come January and February though when it is 30 degrees below the doughnut.

Monday, September 21, 2020


 Lisa has been trying to teach me how a woman's brain works(or at least her brain). At my age and being married to her for 30+ years I just shrug(when she's not looking) and just go with it. Why now does she think I need to know this? Is she trying to prove to me that women(Lisa) are not crazy? Because that ship has already sailed.

So this is the way she explained it to me. In a woman's brain it is filled with boxes. I am using Lisa's brain for this. She has a big box for building our house. And in that box there are boxes for the plumber, the electrician, the tile guy, the septic system, the gutters, the woodburning stove and on and on it goes. There is a box for Kendra. A box for Roman. A box for Heather. A box for the grandkids. A box for her mother. There's a box for what's for dinner. So anything you may see, she has a box for it. I think there is even a box for me but I think that one is the size of a shoebox. In her brain she can see all of these boxes and every single box is OPEN.

In my brain I have just as many boxes. Different things that I have to take care of. But the difference is that each of my boxes are closed except for the box I have opened to work on. So once I close one box, I can then open another box.

So as we work on the "Fortress of Isolation", I am glad when something gets done. Then Lisa can close one of the thousand of boxes she has opened. As for me she will just ask me, "What box are you working on today?" 

After this week she can close a couple of boxes. It has been a very busy week for sure. As we are getting to the end of September, which is kind of our deadline to have that house liveable, things are happening fast. Last week we knew that we had the tile guy scheduled for Monday. The excavator company said they could show up on Monday also. We also had some possibilities of the power company and the concrete company. So we expected a busy week.

We got out there early Monday to find the tile guy already there and starting to work. Then the excavation company showed up also. There were trucks and trailers and earth moving equipment everywhere. 

The excavators where busy clearing the forest farther away from the barn. On one side they had to clear a big area for the septic system. In this county we had to have a mound system which requires a large area.

As they were putting in the septic system we had to ask a lot of questions about it. We have never had a septic system before and didn't know how it worked.
This is the septic tank. 1600 hundred gallon capacity. There are 2 tanks in there. One is 1000 gallons and the other 600. So when you flush, forgive me if this gets too graphic, the solids will settle in the first tank. The liquids will eventually flow into the second tank. Once that reaches a certain level a pump will activate in it and pump the liquids into the mound system which is that big pile of sand behind the tank. 
This is the mound system. It is really just a filter. It is 40 feet long by 20 feet wide and 3-5 feet deep. There are pipes that run through those black covers and those are just used to disperse the spray from the pump. So the pump shoots the liquids under those covers into the sand which filters it before it rejoins the water table. I know what you are thinking. Don't you have a well nearby? We do. The sand is a natural filter and is at least 3 feet thick. Then the water table is 100 feet below that. More filtering. Plus it is by law 50 feet away downstream of our well. So if our coffee should never taste funny.
That is the finished mound system and septic tank area once they finished covering the whole thing with dirt. That took 3 days to get that in. While one guy was working on that another was clearing our RV pad site on the other side of the barn.
We will have full RV hookups on that side of the barn just in case someone were to find our undisclosed location, get through our security perimeter, past the attack dogs and over the moat. Then they have earned the right to stay overnight before we call the sheriff in the morning.

The tile guy was in our bathroom working on our shower. We decided to go with a custom shower just to spoil ourselves. It took him 4 days to get the tile laid and it turned out spectacular. 

Day one.
He got the walls up and the floor tiled. Those are rocks that look like river rock on the floor.

Day two.
He started getting the tile on the wall and he built our soap shelf. Then he had to quit and we had to call the plumber in to get the fixtures roughed in.

Day three.
He got the rest of the tile done and the rock in the soap shelf area.

Day four.
And finally the almost finished product. It turned out fantastic. The plumber has to install the shower head and controls and there will be a glass panel in front of the shower to separate it from the rest of the bathroom. We couldn't be happier.

While he was in there working the excavation company was very busy outside. Like I said it took 3 days to get the septic system installed, but there were other things they were getting done also. One of our major things we had to get done was the installation of our storm shelter. In June I drove to Indianapolis to get it and it has been sitting on my trailer for months.
So once that was off, they started digging the hole.
Once that was done it was time to haul that over and plant it.
I didn't get any pictures of it going into the hole because I was an active participant to get it in there. I was the one guiding and spinning it on the chain.

We got it in it's final resting place and now we are anxious for our first tornado drill. I told Lisa that we will have to take turns and randomly Yell "TORNADO!" and then run to the shelter. I wonder if she will find the humor in it when I yell tornado in the middle of you know what and we have to scramble outside naked to jump in the shelter. Things that make me laugh.
I started filling in the hole with sand but ran out. I will have to get another load before I can close that box.

The power company also arrived in the middle of all of this mess. They were able to get their truck to the back and trench our power line to the house and replace our transformer on the pole.

Now we have some power and it is ready for the electricians to come back and wire the rest of it.

The driveway was another big project that we needed done so that we could get our fifthwheel in there. We wanted a big looped area with a large parking area. Here are a couple of before pictures.

In the first picture there is a hill. We wanted that shaved down to make a flat parking area. They then used the dirt they took out of there and filled in the low spot that would be our first entrance. They brought in a big bulldozer to get that done.

It was fun just watching them move the earth like it was nothing. My little tractor felt left out. It wanted to get in there and help but it would have just been in the way.
They were moving the dirt from the hill, filling in the low spot. We had to have a culvert there so they installed that also. 

I have to take a moment to rant about this new blogger format. It won't let me delete pictures if I want to. That's why one picture is on here twice and it won't let me put them in the correct order. Why!?

After days of hard work it finally is finished.
That is the new first entrance.
The old entrance. You can see where the RV will get parked next to the barn. They made that wider for us. Everything looks so much better with the jungle cleared away more. On the left side is the large parking area. They also cleared out more trees under the big Oaks for us. That really opened up that area as well.
Now we have some cleanup work to take care of. We have been waiting for that to get done for 10 months and it looks great. Huge hurdles have been accomplished in just a few short days. The electricians are scheduled to come in and finish their job as well as the plumber. We may make our deadline after all.

I can hear boxes closing in Lisa's mind. Wait. What is that new sound I am hearing? OH NO! That sounds like new boxes opening!

Have pity on me!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Working with Bozo

With a title like that you might think that Lisa is writing this blog. I assure you that I, Dino am writing this. That does not mean I am calling Lisa a clown because I am not. I wouldn't even call her a cow like someone else I know who's initials are JN. I know better. Keep reading to find out who is the clown.

 The calendar has flipped a page here in Minnesota. What that means is that it can cool down very fast. We went from the 80's to the 50's in a matter of days. In fact as I write this it is 36 degrees out with frost. The frost is a good thing because it will kill all of the blood sucking mosquitos that erupted from our excessive amounts of rain in August. The cool temps really have us scrambling to get our house built because the campground we are in closes September thirtieth.

Since our last update we have seen some progress that we can actually call progress. 

We were at a point where the next step was to have the person spray the walls and ceiling with spray foam for insulation. We were giddy with anticipation because that was an important step to get completed so that the electricians can come in and do their thing. We hired a local guy thinking that giving him some business would be good karma. 

He would start the job on a Tuesday. We got a call Monday night from him telling us the foam he ordered for the job hadn't arrived yet. Uh-oh. He accepted this job back in June. He would let us know in the morning if it arrived. Tuesday morning arrives and no word from him. Uh-oh. We finally get a hold of him and he says that he is taking matters into his own hands and driving to Fargo to get the foam. Great! A real go getter! He gets to the bungalow around 2 and starts to get to work. Usually foamers like to work when it is cooler out but he was bound to get going. He stops around 5 and says he will get an early start in the morning and should be done in one day.

We drive out there Wednesday morning to check his progress and guess what? He isn't there. Uh-oh. Lisa calls but he isn't answering his phone. Uh-oh. Finally after 5, he emails Lisa saying that his phone "broke" and he had some "stuff" come up and will be there first thing Thursday morning. 

Again we drive out there Thursday morning and no foamer. Damnit! Again no calls and no emails. Lisa gives him an ultimatum. Get to work on Friday or that's it. By Thursday afternoon she is fuming and we just decide to fire him. What a clown. 

So what he got done was part of the living room and that was it. Now we have to find someone else to finish the job. Thankfully the guy that built our barn knew a company out of Fargo and they were able to come in and finish it later on the following week.

They did a much better job than the clown and we are very pleased with the outcome. Thanks to that clown, that put me a week and a half behind on putting up the rest of the walls for the electricians.

Other things have happened while we messed around with the clown. Our well got drilled.

The first day they came in with the big trucks to find water. It was very interesting to watch them drill. They found water at 100 feet which was good. We were quoted for 150 feet and at $24 a foot, we saved some money. That crew left and then the next day another crew showed up with a very big digger.
This crew was installing the well pump and the water lines to the yard hydrant and to the house. In this part of the country the winters are long and cold. So cold that the frost will go 6 feet down into the ground. So they had to bury our water line 8 feet to make certain that it wouldn't freeze. 
You can see that there isn't a lot of topsoil. It is mostly clay. It was wet clay all the way down to the 8 foot level that they dug. It is just a wet summer here. In fact it was interesting that when they drilled they could tell what kind of earth they were going through. 

From 0 to 1 ft.  it was black soft dirt.
From 1 to 31 feet, it was brown hard clay.
From 31 to 80 feet, it was brown sand/gravel.
From 80 to 100 feet, it was grey sand/gravel.
There is no chance that "Timmy" will fall in the well. 

Once the foaming was done I started to get the walls ready for the electricians. Running stringers across the beams. This is not like a normal house and the studs don't go vertically. That's the problem I was having trying to figure out how everything will come together. I was thinking like it was a normal house. I even finished the bathroom like that and then tore it out.
Now everything is running the way it is supposed to be,
While I was struggling with that Lisa was working on some landscaping with the help of her mother.

I also found the time to fix the floor drain that they put in the barn. It just drains to the outside. I dug it out and it was plugged with dirt. I was thinking, how could this drain? So I made a big hole.
I then put a couple of inches of rock in the bottom.
Then I took a 5 gallon bucket and put drain holes in the bottom and sides. Then I put that in the hole.

Then I filled the whole thing in with more rock.
Then I put 2X4's over the top of it and filled it all in with more rock and gravel.
You can't even tell its there. I think it will dran much better than what the original plan was. That is the side of the barn our RV hookup is on but it is too close to the build that our fifthwheel won't run over it.
A couple other things that got done. One was to move our propane tank farther from the building. It was too close and after a 4 inch rain running off of the building, it started washing away the concrete blocks that support the tank. So that got moved. Second thing is that we got our gutters and downspouts installed.

We are getting closer. Electricians have installed our meter and circuit panel. Now the power company has to run a power line from our pole to the house.

I have a couple of days to finish the walls before the electricians get back. So we could have power in a few days which is very exciting to us.

Stay tuned boys and girls. We might not be homeless in just a few short weeks!

On a more personal note. I had an emotional set back as I try to cope with my physical limitations. This was due to Lisa telling me "That if I fall off my bike I should just get right back on it." Maybe she was referring to how good I look in bicycle shorts? So what does she want to do? Eat Sushi! Well in my case it is more like wear Sushi.
As I struggle trying to eat it, battling hand cramps and flying Sushi, it dawns on me that maybe "I" am the clown.  I know Lisa sure got a laugh out of it again.