Thursday, November 29, 2007

Making Progress!!


This morning we got a phone call from the man who will do our culvert / driveway & building site leveling! He said he looked over the job and was just calling to give us an estimate! We were pleasantly surprised that it was substantially lower than what he initially told us that same job normally runs! He said he would also drop a couple large posts into the ground at the entrance of the driveway so a gate can be placed there. And he will begin work immediately! We are SO excited… this is truly the first step of the building process. Can’t wait for spring!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Blessed Abundance... Thanksgiving.


We just returned home from celebrating Thanksgiving with my family in Kansas. As I spent most of the day cooking, I wondered if we would make it home for Thanksgiving next year? Will we be snowed in? In all my 44 years … I have only spent 2 Thanksgivings away from my parents. Not being whiny… just stating fact.

Anyway, that aside… in talking with my parents about our plan to move to Colorado & build a cabin & live off the grid – my dad seems to think that I am a real sissy! In some respect he’s probably correct in that assumption! Several times he said, “I just can’t picture ‘that one’ living like that.” The words ‘that one’ came with a pointing finger – directed at me! Granted, I’ve never asked for “hard manual labor”…that’s what I used to consider hauling irrigation pipe or working in cornfields! In fact, growing up I tried at all costs to avoid it! (And being in a Kansas cornfield in the July heat & humidity is no picnic! Ha!) I’ve never voluntarily lived without running water or electricity or any other “luxury”. Never had any desire to “pee in the grass” on a regular basis or take showers outside in cold water. Quite frankly, most of my experience with those things has come in the past 15 years when we’ve spent some time camping…and we generally showered in a bathhouse! (But, in my defense… I WANT to live this way! )

We never went camping when I was growing up… not as a family anyway… and I think dad’s only “camping” experience was compliments of Uncle Sam during the Korean Conflict. Let’s just say, he’s not a fan! My mother’s idea of camping and/or roughing it (along with some others I know) is staying at a motel and running out of towels! I pulled out the pictures to show them our lot and the views we have from our lot and the road… along with a few from one of our camping trips. I don’t know if it has sunk in yet… that this is what WE want to do and that WE have talked about it at length for several years. They seemed interested in looking at the pictures and asked questions about the lot… I think it’s just going to take some time – and maybe a trip out to see us when our home is built! It will be difficult for me personally to be that far away from my parents… especially since they are now in their 70’s… and my brother is no longer a half hour from them!

With Christmas gift-giving looming on the horizon… I am contemplating the idea of re-gifting (or recycling, if you will) things that have been given to us or that we have purchased ourselves that we no longer have a need or room for. I’m sure some would consider me to be a scrooge… not attempting to be thrifty or frugal… which is what I’m really trying to do. But when you want to simplify your life and lead a life without stuff that ultimately ends up owning you… well… “Drastic times call for drastic measures!” (Who said that?) And while we don’t “need” or want anything for Christmas we would gladly accept certain things others no longer need – such as: flannel sheets, cast iron skillets, board games, sweatshirts/sweaters or cash – as a donation to our “building fund”!

It is now about 4 months until the “Mother of all garage sales” happens… and only a short time after that we hope to leave… that means we have to continue to get rid of stuff at any cost! My plan to have a garage sale this fall fell thru due to crazy Nebraska weather patterns but that just means that items I had boxed up are marked and ready to be sold! Even after relieving my closet of 5 bags of clothing I find that I still have more I should let go. I’m going to call our local City Mission & see what they need and hopefully I will be able to alleviate some of their need!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

We are very excited to have found on GOOGLE EARTH the property that we are going to be building on!,-105.279772&spn=0.003362,0.007145&t=h&z=17&om=1
The lot is long & narrow… 5 acres with some trees but they’re not Aspens… more pine tree varieties… along with some sagebrush & a few cacti. It’s an interesting mix! There are Aspen nearby… and wildflowers (Lupine, columbine, wild iris, wild roses, Indian paintbrush, etc.) that just grow in the road & out of rocks! The diversity makes for a pretty landscape.

I belong to a couple MSN groups and some of the ladies are following my blog. I am glad they’ve taken an interest…although I get the feeling some of them are reading & responding (within the group – not on the blog) mostly out of curiosity. I suppose that is to be expected. To those ladies I say, “Keep watching & see what happens… & watch your mailboxes for an invitation to visit.”

One thing these ladies mentioned was keeping warm! Believe me, there is enough fallen and/or dead wood there to keep us in firewood for YEARS!! We started clearing the other lot we have there… and have LOTS of wood stacked between trees… not to mention the makeshift fence we made of small trees & large limbs along the approximately 600' front of the property line (and the trees that have fallen that we didn’t get a chance to cut yet!). That wood can be easily loaded in the truck, transported to the other lot (a few miles away) and restacked.

WATER: Surprisingly, none of these ladies in the online group has asked about water or bathroom!!! You’d think that those things would high on the list of priorities! ***For the record, just let me say the bathroom facilities are still being worked out. Will have to work out details of using a composting or incinerating toilet with the powers that be – in the county Court House. *** We wanted to have rain barrels (yes, they still make those!) to catch rainfall but it seems any water, rain included, belongs to the State of Colorado! Oh for Pete’s sake! We’re also looking into having a cistern (the pump would be gravity run or run on solar power). Having a cistern would require also having water delivered. It is our understanding that this can be done… for a price… but it is very reasonable in comparison to drilling a well… not to mention convenient (moreso than filling jugs & hauling it ourselves*)! The latest estimates I have on drilling a well (with no guarantees!) are: digging 100’ to 300 ‘ at a cost of $20-30/foot comes to somewhere between $2000.00 and $9000.00. And there’s no guarantee of hitting water or how long the water will last IF it’s found! That’s a LOT of money for a “gee, I hope we hit water at 100’ & that it lasts 100 years” well. A 1000- gallon cistern with a 12 volt pump, on the other hand, we estimate will run in the neighborhood of $1500.00 (for the fiberglass cistern, pump & digging) plus approximately $40.00 for 1000 gallons of water (delivered – plus a per mile delivery charge). At least we would be guaranteed to have water! We will have to learn to be very conservative with it (no long showers!) and probably “recycle” the gray water (watering plants, garden, etc.) - if that's ok with the State of Colorado! * In the past, when we’ve gone camping for extended periods of time, we’ve filled gallon jugs from an Artesian spring between Ft. Garland & Alamosa. It’s along the highway & free… you just have to stop & “do it yourself”. One good thing about this water is that it is ice cold – we didn’t have to try to keep it cool. We just put the jugs under a shady tree & used it when we needed it. We used it mostly for washing dishes & a little cooking. The bad thing about this water is that... it's ice cold! We tried putting it in the solar shower… but we were under enough tree cover that the sun really didn’t warm it much & it was VERY chilly! Scratched that idea! Although we both drank water (from the spring) from bottles when we were working, Jerry got sick – and I didn’t – from some bacteria that was in the water. We’ve since learned that there is a purifying tablet we can use in the drinking water. We spoke to one woman who said she raised her children on that water… evidently her tap water isn’t that great?

DIRT/LANDSCAPING! Thanks to some nice folks who belong to an online owner/builder group (in the Sangre de Cristo Ranches/San Luis Valley area) we got the name/number of a gentleman who does dirt work in the area. We’ll need to have a culvert & driveway put in and while he’s at it… a leveled building site! Once we get that done we’ll have a place to put our camper & start building. We’ll be pulling out the sagebrush in our “spare time”. Guess we'll need to buy grass seed & pray for rain! It would be nice to have a "yard" of native grasses & wildflowers... no mowing! Anyway, I’m willing to give it a try just to get rid of the sagebrush… as snakes come with sagebrush! Eeek! I’m sure there are uses for the stuff…will have to research that some, too! Due to the rocks &the slope of the lot any landscaping will be au natural! We are talking about some sort of garden – whether it’s fenced in (not that a fence will stop elk, deer or bear if they’re hungry!) or in a “hothouse” situation. Some of the people I've been visiting with online who live out in the Ranches - said they've had fairly good luck planting gardens... so there's hope! We’d just like to be able to have fresh veggies! I know lots of people garden in worse conditions (than rocky soil, cacti, sagebrush, etc.) … It sounds like it’s a matter of improving the soil (black dirt & composting) and keeping the weeds out! If only the critters would just eat the weeds & not the produce! We didn’t really check to see what kind of wild edibles there were when we camped there. Not sure what fruit trees and bushes would do well at that altitude and climate. I’d love to have blueberries… but I’m afraid the critters would too!

I would like to try to raise a few chickens… mostly for great eggs but also an occasional chicken dinner (if I don’t get too attached to them!). I saw (online) someone in the Ranches had a chicken coop & is doing just that. I’m sure one would have to take some serious construction precautions in building a coop & scratch yard to prevent thievery (coyotes & the like).

The latest info I got regarding big critters... is that there has been a cougar near the school in San Luis - just south of where we'll be. This animal is responsible for the death of 2 goats - so far! Also, someone spotted a bear crossing the road one night! I think that would be a bit freakier than a herd of elk! A couple we know in Forbes Park had gone for a walk & when they returned there was a bear in their driveway! The same couple had a bear on their deck trying to get to the bird feeders! Note to self: let the birds fend for themselves!

More later!