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End of the Road Farm

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This topic contains 41 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.) Joe (G.W.N.S.) 4 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #40460
    Profile photo of Mountain Mom
    gramma
    Participant

    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.

    #40462
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator

    Sounds great, glad things are coming together.

    Smart with the former caretaker too.

    #40464
    Profile photo of RonW
    farmer
    Participant

    Keep plugging away. That is how things get done.

    farmer

    RonW

    #40467
    Profile photo of Brian from Georgia
    Brian from Georgia
    Participant

    Sounds like good honest living in God’s country.

    3-4 Aug 2013 CRCD, 2-6 Aug 2014 CRCD/Patrol, 30 Sep 2016 Run n Gun, 1-2 Oct 2016 FoF, 3-4 March 2018 DCH alumni
    Team Coyote

    #40496
    Profile photo of Mountain Mom
    gramma
    Participant

    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.

    #40499
    Profile photo of Mike Q
    Mike Q
    Participant

    Gramma,
    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.

    There never seems to be enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it twice.

    CRM Sept. 2014, CTT 1505, CTT July 2015, RC-Rifleman 1502, CP Nov. 2015, FoF March 2016, CCW May 2016, FoF Oct. 2016, FoF Nov. 2016, CLC April 2017, FoF Nov. 2017, Alumni weekend Aug. 2018, CQB Dec. 2018

    #40501
    Profile photo of SeanT
    SeanT
    Moderator

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

    #40512
    Profile photo of RonW
    farmer
    Participant

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

    https://bcsamerica.com/

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

    youtube bcstillers also

    farmer

    RonW

    #40768
    Profile photo of Mountain Mom
    gramma
    Participant

    Thanks for the experienced advice guys!

    #42484
    Profile photo of Mountain Mom
    gramma
    Participant

    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.

    #42490
    Profile photo of Groundwork
    Groundwork
    Participant

    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?

    #42537
    Profile photo of Mountain Mom
    gramma
    Participant

    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.

    #44057
    Profile photo of Mountain Mom
    gramma
    Participant

    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.

    #44058
    Profile photo of Mountain Mom
    gramma
    Participant

    And the power is blinking… LOL.

    #44059
    Profile photo of JohnnyMac
    JohnnyMac
    Participant

    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.

    #46564
    Profile photo of Mountain Mom
    gramma
    Participant

    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????

    B-)

    #46568
    Profile photo of Wes
    wesmc
    Participant

    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!

    C2G Feb 2015, CTT March 2016, CQB June 2018

    #46635
    Profile photo of Mountain Mom
    gramma
    Participant

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

    #48460
    Profile photo of Mountain Mom
    gramma
    Participant

    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.

    #53350
    Profile photo of Mountain Mom
    gramma
    Participant

    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.

    #53354
    Profile photo of Wes
    wesmc
    Participant

    That’s awesome, Gramma! :good:

    C2G Feb 2015, CTT March 2016, CQB June 2018

    #53355
    Profile photo of RonW
    farmer
    Participant

    Nice expansion. Well done

    RonW

    #53362
    Profile photo of zeerf
    zeerf
    Participant

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

    #53363
    Profile photo of SeanT
    SeanT
    Moderator

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

    #53364
    Profile photo of JohnnyMac
    JohnnyMac
    Participant

    149 acres! Wow!!!

    Congrats

    #53367
    Profile photo of wheelsee
    wheelsee
    Participant

    :good:

    Which is heavier - a soldier's pack or a slave's chains? Napoleon

    Strength, Honor. Maximus (Gladiator)

    If you tolerate evil, you yourself are evil.
    Col Hugo Martinez, Commander Search Bloc

    William, in The Republic - CRS/CTT 2017, HEAT 2/CQB/FonF 2018, DCH 2018

    #53395
    Profile photo of Mountain Mom
    gramma
    Participant

    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.

    #55832
    Profile photo of Mountain Mom
    gramma
    Participant

    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.

    #55835
    Profile photo of RampantRaptor
    rampantraptor
    Participant

    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.

    #RaqqaSummer2017
    - - -
    Jîn, Jiyan, Azadî

    #56088
    Profile photo of Mountain Mom
    gramma
    Participant

    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.

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