(Continued from Part 2. This concludes the series.)
I don’t like to micro-manage but at the same time monitoring the progress of work helps ensure that you are getting what you pay for. As I have stated, the building contractor who built our addition had a very detailed quote and nice computer-generated layouts of what it would look like when done. The only drawing he did not have was one for the addition onto the basement. Guess what the only issue we had was? The mason put the man door in the wrong spot. I caught it but it did require additional costs in which the contractor absorbed. I also noticed that when they broke up part of the cement floor that was being replaced in the basement, that there was busted up clay drainage pipe (new damage) and they replaced that as well. I would drive out each night after work if I could to look at the work and progress. I was not able to spend as much time driving out to check on the work of the first contractor who remodeled our kitchen and replaced a window and the door into the mudroom.
Recently, I started to remodel the mud room and took down the old paneling in the room and noticed that the contractor who had replaced the door and window didn’t even put any insulation in, that was stipulated in the contract. If that wasn’t bad enough, there was improper work done on fixing a 2×4 in a load-bearing wall. He also only used little one-inch screws to hold the hinges onto the doorframe versus the longer 3-inch screws that go into the actual framing. This would have make it a little more difficult to kick in the door. Needless to say, we now have the 3-inch screws attaching the door hinges to the door frame. If I had been able to see the work before it was enclosed, I could have ensured that I got what I asked and paid for. Don’t be afraid to ask for photographs of the walls, et cetera before the contractor encloses them.
When we were going through the seller’s disclosure on the house we ended up buying, I noticed that the seller reported that the water did not initially pass the test for total coliform. The seller stated that they treated the well with bleach and it passed on the second test. When we purchased the house we had the water tested again and it failed. The levels being detected where not high but none the less the test showed there was an issue. I removed the roof that was on top of the well house and discovered the issue: Someone had the wrong well cap installed. There were holes that were probably allowing mice, or other small critters to enter the well and then decay thus adding to the small levels of total coliform that the test were detecting. I had a well driller come out and he extended the well tube up and out of the well house, put a good cap on and re-ran the electric wires.
The well driller put a few concentrated bleach tablets down and gave me instructions to wait 24 hours, then run the water in the house from each sink, etc. until I could smell the bleach. I waited a few days after that and then took a sample in for testing and: nothing. I was concerned about the quality of well water in this area since it is notorious for being very high in Sulphur. However our water is good and we have a well that has no issues with recharging. One of the things I also noticed when looking over the house was that the wire for the well pump was “casually” connected with just two wire nuts. Since then I have updated that so that if the power goes out I can now just un-plug the well pump from an outlet and plug it into the generator.
Our newly-purchased home needed some landscaping done. There were several pine trees around the property that that were in desperate need of trimming. We also had to apply poison ivy killer to a number of areas. Due to lack of trimming the trees had taken over parts of the lawn and even part of the drive way. The un-trimmed trees blocked the view of my one of my neighbors. When we were looking at getting insurance on the home it was as a “seasonal” home and being able to be seen by three neighbors lowered the insurance rates. From a survival standpoint I want to have good fields of fire and be able to see what is approaching. From a Mutual assistance group (MAG) standpoint I want to see what is happening at my neighbors’ homes too. The last reason for attending to the landscaping was that it made the place looked “lived in” and thus perhaps passed up by thieves.
One of my pet peeves about living in the city was having to go to a shooting club. Not that I’m anti-social but it seemed like I would spend more time talking to people about what I was shooting than shooting. There was also the time spent on waiting for others to walk down range and back either setting up or checking their targets. And of course, there was being muzzled by the idiots who didn’t care where their muzzle was pointed. When I would take time to go to the range I want to shoot not talk or be shot. I built a small 100-yard to 140-yard range (depends where I set up). The range allows us to practice even things that were forbidden at the gun ranges due to their rules.
We knew that we wanted apple trees and blueberries, so we planted four apple trees the second year we owned the property. We did not plant any the first year since we wanted to see how the property drained. The third year we planted four more trees. However, only one of those survived. The trees I got the third year were not what I wanted. I have been buying my fruit trees and plants from the local conservancy who has a plant sale every Spring. The variety of apple tree I wanted was not shipped and on the advice of the people from the conservancy I took a variety that I knew nothing about. Advice from others is good but doing your own research is priceless. We also planted six blueberry bushes and they are coming along nicely.
The two elderberry trees that i bought did not survive either, but they did not look healthy when we got them. The good news is that I found two elderberry trees by our “pond”. We started our garden by making five, 4-foot by 10-foot raised beds with one being planted with asparagus. We did not plant a garden this year due to the move. But we have planted tomatoes, peppers and, onions with a very nice harvest. Now that we have moved to the BOL full time, we will be expanding the garden area. I would highly recommended that when you buy your BOL that planting fruit trees and bushes be on your list of priorities since it will take time for these plants to start producing.
In my opinion, regardless of whether you like them, your neighbors are your de facto MAG members. I have a better relationship with my new neighbor now than I did with the neighbors in the city after 10 years. Besides wanting good neighbors, I strive to be a good neighbor, especially since I’m the “new guy from the city”. Establishing a good relationship with your neighbors sets the foundation for cooperation when SHTF. Like any relationship, developing trust is the cornerstone.
The first year we owned the BOL, the nation was still in the midst of the .22 Long Rifle ammo drought. I was out one weekend and the neighbor came over to talk with me and told me that he “hoped I didn’t mind” that he had dispatched thee ground hogs on my property. I told him that I didn’t mind and that he was more than welcome to dispatch as many as he wanted. I asked what he used and he said “just a .22 rifle” and then mentioned not being able to find any .22 rimfire ammo. After he left, I went inside the BOL and got a 550 round bulk pack of .22 ammo and then took it to him. He was shocked that not only did I have .22 ammo but that I was giving him a whole box when such an item was almost impossible to get.
My closest neighbor runs his own business and has animals and fields to tend to at night. He mentioned needing to get to town for something but that he didn’t have time. Since I still work in town, I told him anytime he needed something just let me know and I’ll get it for him. He has taken me up on this a few times and is very thankful. Our relationship has now progressed to the next level and he borrowed my compound miter saw. My neighbor has been a great source of information on local contractors, saw mills, stone quarries, and other local businesses. He is also sharing what varieties of vegetables have grown really good in his garden. We also discussed raising they same breed of chickens so that we could swap out roosters. Since his apple orchard is already well-established, he was very interested in know that I am starting my own apiary. This year I also offered to let him hay my fields and he cut and baled about 200 small square bales. I figure when we get our animals next year that we will make some share arrangement for him to bale and for me, to get a number of them.
The Internet and communications were perhaps one of the most challenging issues we had. Our kids wanted Internet, while my wife and I both need the Internet for our work. We are lucky if our cell phones work. I have gotten to the point that I know where I need to stand to make or take a call. Texting is more successful unless I’m inside the house or trying to send a picture. Getting the Internet on my cell phone is also challenging. We looked at getting inter-net service and it seemed like everything was the same, slow and expensive. I talked to our IT director at work and told me about Ubifi. I checked into it and we signed up and it works great. We can actually stream a movie. As for our cell phones, we are planning on getting a cell phone booster, to help improve that service.
To me, having a strategic plan is imperative. (See: “Putting together a Strategic Plan” in SurvivalBlog, January 16, 2019). I can honestly report that checking off items from my May 2019 plan has been a dismal failure. The vast majority of my projects will be carried over to 2020. Why? Well, frankly, looking back I assumed that our house would sell quickly thus allowing the funds to be used for many of these projects. The other issue is that I didn’t realize how much of my time would be monopolized by actually moving. We did not hire a moving company. We did it by using my truck and the wife’s mini-van for most of the stuff. For the large stuff like furniture we borrowed a large truck and had our extended family help. We moved from a house with 2,800 plus square feet and a 3 car garage into a house with barely 1,000 square feet. As I mentioned before, not having a good tractor has been a major impediment to getting stuff checked off my list. That isn’t to say that we didn’t get anything accomplished, because we did. So, our 3-year plan turns into a 4 year plan!
Like many of you reading this I didn’t think moving to a BOL/Homestead full time was possible, at least not until I retired. Now, with a challenging medical condition here I am, a dream turned into reality. Looking back, I wonder why we thought we couldn’t do this until retirement? But like many instances when we stop saying “I can’t” and replace it with “I can”, things happen. Yes, our drive to work is a little longer, we spend more on gas, and I’m sure our car insurance will go up. But we are living our dream of being in a safe location, able to raise our own food, shoot our firearms, and let our dogs run around in a huge yard. We don’t hear the wail of police car sirens.
The kids’ class size went from 26 down to as low a 16, in some classes. My son commented that he hasn’t seen any fights at his new school. Our taxes are about $8,000 less, per year. Some of the money wasted on the taxes will be used to pay for improvements to our new homestead/BOL or to absorb the added cost of fuel, vehicle maintenance and insurance. One of the things we all appreciate and enjoy here at the homestead/BOL is looking up and seeing stars that were unable to be seen in the city with all the lights.
Our world is not becoming any safer. Disasters, crime, political discontent, coupled with cities that are looking Sodom and Gomorrah have made moving to a rural area one of the safest and smartest things that you can do. Yes, we have to drive into the city for work but we are confident that we can get out and back home should anything happen. It is nice to know that, statistically speaking, my home won’t be broken into, my kids will get a better education. They also see kids being kids and not little gangster wanna-bes.
Just start by stop saying “I CAN’T” and replace it with “I can”. Good luck. You won’t regret it.