Monday, December 27, 2010

Birds, nails, and fire

Yesterday morning I was doing some work at home, while the kids played with their Christmas presents. The son was reading his books, and the daughter was putting together her first 300 piece puzzle.
First campfire at Pine Grove
Previously, I had mentioned that I had wanted to place a few signs down at Pine Grove to let people know that the land is now owned and will soon be occupied, and that it is no longer the empty spot that it has been for the last dozen years.

I suddenly had no desire to spend my off-time doing work for the office, so I loaded up my backpack with those signs, a hammer, and some hot chocolate.

I arrived in the early afternoon and stopped by the home of one of the neighbors to introduce myself. They are a married couple who have been there since 1997 after moving down from Iowa. The fireplace insert was keeping their house nice and warm, so we chatted a bit about cutting firewood and the current football game. Both nice people and I'm sure that we'll get to know them a bit better next year.

I drove down to the place on the road where we leave the car. I made sure the pack was full and headed into the woods toward Pine Grove. At the first property line I dropped the pack and began looking for the nails to post a sign to a tree. No nails in site! I checked the cellphone and had a bar, so I called the wife and sure enough I had left them sitting on the kitchen counter.

A quick change of plans, I packed away the gear and removed the machete and began hacking a trail down to a spot where I would like to have a pond. After about an hour I got cold and hungry, so I made a little campfire and ate an MRE.

It was starting to get dark and some sort of large birds starting landing in the treetops. There must have been 4 or 5 of them, and they are probably the ones who made the tracks in the snow. I have yet to identify them.

Next trip down, I will remember the nails ;^)

Friday, December 24, 2010

"The Land" now has a name

It seemed to be missing something.

We went down to "the land" last weekend and walked around the perimeter for the first time.

"The land" has been the topic of a few conversations during the last few weeks and to me it always seemed as if it should have a name.

Well, last weekend the name presented itself as we were walking around the 3rd corner of the perimeter. The wife and kids were a little bit ahead of me as I decided to veer off and head over to a grove of pine trees.

I noticed dozens of deer tracks and wanted the kids to have a look so I called out, "Hey, you guys, come over here!" which was met in response with, "Where are you?"

I looked around and said simply, "Here, in the Pine Grove."

In that instant, the name for the land came into existence. Now, it may not be the most unique or interesting name, but it sure does fit.

I hope to get back down to Pine Grove pretty soon, as I would like to get started on clearing the brush from the inside of the perimeter. I would also like to clear out a spot for our first campground and then I will be posting a few "Private Property" signs. I had noticed a spot where some brush had been dumped over the fence onto our property.

Now, while I'm not terribly upset about the brush pile, I would still like to get those signs posted as soon as possible to let others know that some people are now taking an active participation with this piece of property.

I figure that the brush pile has probably been there awhile, as Pine Grove hasn't seen many visitors for the last dozen years or so.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Book Review: One Second After

It's been a few months since the wife and I have read this book, but after we picked up a copy at one of our local public libraries it didn't take us long to finish it.

I started reading it the same day and 22 hours later I handed it to her and said, "Here, you might like to read this."

She was done within a day as well.

I think what we both liked the most about this book was that it seemed to focus around the majority of the population, instead of being focused on a minority of prepared individuals.

The overall premise of the book is that an EMP event takes place and that it takes several years to recover from the devastation. While there are many things that people can be prepared for, some things will no doubt be beyond their control, as was the case with one of the characters in the book who was a diabetic and relied on shots of insulin.

Overall, the story flowed pretty well, the premise was plausible, and the characters behavior kept us interested. We recommend reading this.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Down payment made!

We made the down payment on 6-acres of undeveloped land that sits about 1.5 hours from our house. The clear property deed should be ours within the next four months as we have arranged a payment plan for the remaining balance. Excited!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Solar power preparation

Earlier this year I ran an advertisement on Craigslist and stated that I would be willing to haul away any unwanted old satellite dish. Well, I got one response and headed out the next day to dig it up. It took me about 5 hours to complete the job as the pole was set in concrete about three feet deep.

I took the nine-foot satellite dish to the recycling center and they gave me $9.00 for the aluminum scrap. I then dug my own hole and set the mounting pole in concrete in our backyard.

The mounting base has a motorized unit which lets the solar panels move along a single axis. I have the panels facing south at approximately a 30-degree angle.

I added two steel cross pieces to mount the solar panels on (Two Siemens 12v/43w panels, in parallel).
We have four deep-cycle batteries on a shelf in the shed (pictured in the background) and a 7-amp charge controller (from Harbor Freight) manages the charge.

View from the back

View from the front

Close up view from the back
I am still planning on making a circuit to control the motor and track the sun's movement throughout the day, but for now I can simply turn on the motor and move the panels (which I have not done for the last two months). The batteries have been maintaining a steady charge of 13.16 volts, which isn't that bad considering that they were used (another Craigslist trade!).

[EDIT: I just wanted to point out that we are currently living in suburbia, and while it isn't my ideal location, we've decided to take advantage of having city water, electricity, and all the amenities which come with modern living. This is the perfect scenario to take advantage of and figure out all this stuff NOW, while a failure of anything we're learning how to do won't cause any sort of hardship - except perhaps monetarily. The time to learn and try all this out is not when one's daily life depends on it. The time to learn how to make a fire using flint and steel isn't after 6 feet of snow falls and you're living outside in the woods. The time is now, while things might still be good.]

Land purchase moving forward

Great news!

After exchanging a lot of emails with the owner of the land parcel, he's agreed to let us pay him 50% down and then the rest in four equal payments. This will allow us to take full ownership of the land within 4 months, which will be perfect as the camping season for 2011 will be starting up shortly after.

We're no doubt very happy right now as it means that our long-term plans can finally begin to move forward. Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The journey begins

After many months of search, we have located a six-acre plot of ground for sale.
It is located just a little bit north of the Ozarks region. The asking price is very low for the area, but even so, we do not have the cash on hand to make the purchase. If this is meant to be, it will work out and we will be the owners of the parcel. Otherwise, we'll continue to save as much money as possible and keep on looking.