Tag Archives: country living

First Garden

I spent all last week purchasing wood, scheduling dirt to be delivered, and buying a few plants from Home Depot. I’ve ordered some trees (pear and apple) and 6 blueberry bushes from the Arbor Day Foundation that will be delivered…sometime. They don’t say exactly when, which is frustrating.

Last Sunday, my friend Rebecca came over and helped me plant azaleas and hydrangeas. We also screwed together my beds, though in all fairness, my husband had to redo some of our screws. Thanks, love!

Scott got a bee in his bonnet and helped me till, install beds, and haul dirt. We were out until 11pm. Bless his heart, but he also had to spend three hours working on the tiller to get it running. We borrowed it from a family member, and I’m very grateful, because it worked very well once we got it going.

Here’s some pics of the fun:

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Before photo. We hauled that wood off and burned it.

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Dirt being unloaded.

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IMG_2119 2 Scott doing some tilling. Our dog is clearly accustomed to loud equipment.

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After photo from the next morning.

An amusing note: I ordered a load of dirt before we tilled because I was aware most of our space is clay–which of course, isn’t much good for a vegetable garden. Once we started tilling, guess what we found? Some of the only dirt-dirt (not clay) on our usable flat space is right where I wanted my garden; I could have probably done without that load of dirt. Ha.

On Monday, I planted a ton of beets, carrots, chard, lettuce, parsnips, and some marigolds and nasturtiums around the edges of the tilled space. I also planted Celosia Forest Fire along that left edge, to sort of create a barrier between pretty garden and that giant monstrosity of an invasive hedge to the left in the photo.

Next fall, that sucker is coming down.

Those ten beds are 8×4. I’m planting them based on the square-foot gardening method. It seems the most logical use of space. My goal is by next year to be able to produce 90% of our vegetables.

In another week or two I’ll plant some more. Keep your fingers crossed that (most) everything sprouts!

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A new friend (?)

I lied. There are not pictures in this post. There really is welding going on, and I hereby promise there will really be photos this weekend.

Scott and I were outside late one night earlier this week (by late, I just mean after dark). He was welding, and I’d come outside to look at his work. I noticed a truck stopped in the road across the street from us and called our dog over to make sure she didn’t get too interested in what the driver was up to.

Well, turns out the driver wanted to talk to us about where we’d gotten our containers, as he’s looking for some. We told him, and of course the conversation meandered over to what we were doing with them–he immediately jumped to housing. We obfuscated, saying they were just storage for now.

We’re not fibbers, but it’s also not something we want to advertise to strangers, despite what this blog may indicate.

I asked if he planned to do a container home, and he said he’d like to, but he’s just looking for some initial storage.

At that point, we admitted we are in fact working on a house. He totally understood, saying it’s not everyone’s business and he would have understood us not telling him.

I sometimes am struck by things I really appreciate about living in the country. One of them is the idea that what you’re doing on your property is your business… Another is that a guy will just stop to chat and end up telling us everything about himself–his name, where he lives (exactly), where his parents live (exactly), and where he works (you guessed it–exactly).

Laundry

You know, I like to consider myself resourceful. Able to take on any challenge. Creative. Capable. Awes–

Um. Anyway. Back to the point.

When we first moved onto our property we had no way to do laundry. We had water, and we had a washer and dryer in storage, but there was no water line (just a water hose from the pressure tank in the well to the camper) and no wiring for electricity. We did have a cinderblock outbuilding which was structurally very solid, but which desperately needed a new roof.

I, being the sweet and slightly delusional wife I am, told Scott, “I can wash our laundry in a bucket. Plenty of people do it. It’s summer, so I can just hang the clothes to dry. You have plenty of other stuff to do without dealing with hooking up a washer and dryer.” I mean, my grandmothers grew up doing laundry by hand. Hard, sure, but just a part of life…right?

Picture this: it’s May, so summer-ish. I have a whole load of regular laundry to wash. I have a bucket. I have an old concrete foundation by the well house that I think will be perfect to set up on. I fill said bucket with water and a little soap, put the clothes in, and agitate for several minutes, then leave them to soak awhile. After a bit more agitation, I dump the water, add fresh, and agitate to remove the soap.

Problems: I am soaking wet within three minutes from a mixture of splashing water on myself and the summer humidity of Arkansas. There are bugs everywhere. There is vegetation everywhere, and I can’t figure out where all these rusty old-fashioned nails on the ground came from (I’ve had a tetanus shot, thank God), and did I mention that I have a bucket of wet clothes I need to hang on a line? Did you know clothes that have not been spun in a washer are heavy? Yeah. Like they weigh down the clothes line to within an inch of the ground, and I’m trying to figure out how to keep the dog from grabbing a pair of my lacy unmentionables and running off. My clothes line, along with my very obvious camper, is also just in sight of the road, so I’m trying to determine where exactly we rank on the redneck scale and whether putting my nicer pieces of clothing on more obvious display increases or decreases our score.

Note to self: Your grandmother may have done this, but folks used to own way fewer articles of clothing. And they were washed less frequently. 

Ring, ring–

“Hey, baby. What’s up?”

“Yeah…about me handwashing our laundry. I just did a load, and I think I was being unrealistic about the chances of that happening often enough to keep us in clean clothes…”

“Oh, I know. I’ve already got the washing machine in the truck. I’ll get it hooked up within a few days.”

Good man, my husband. Smart too.

Happy New Year

The new year has me pondering, as I’m sure it does many of you.

You know, when we sold our house in late 2013 and moved into the camper, I thought it would take three months to find land and build a simple, but liveable, structure. Being the practical-minded person I am, I prepared for six months. It’s been 13.

After spending the entire calendar year of 2014 in “transitional housing” I’m ready for the next phase of our living arrangement. Honestly, some days, I think I’m going to take up drinking before we get there.

But then I think, if we’d built a regular building, as we’d intended, we’d be spending nearly triple the amount we’ve estimated for the cargo container. We’d have a 15 (if not 30-year) mortgage. And it would take easily 2-3 times as long to build.

So, you know…it’s been worth the wait, I think. I’m happy to say 2015 will be about something besides buying or selling or building. It’s going to be about living. And sharing some of that living with you, kind readers.

UPDATES

Of course, I know what you’re really interested in are some updates. Well, I’ve only got a tiny one. As you may know, it’s been raining for approximately 29,408,209 days. Or a week. Whatever. Since our first step is welding, and Hubs is not going to weld in the rain, we’ve been in a holding pattern. However, tomorrow afternoon is supposed to be dry. If welding happens, I’ll  let you know.

Since it’s been raining for so long, and since we’re mostly shaded, and since the containers scraped up the ground as they were moved…it’s muddy, y’all. So, for Christmas, Scott put in stepping stone all the way from the parking area to the front of the camper. It’s the best gift I could have asked for.

The school of country living: driveway maintenence.

In my previous post, I mentioned a few lessons learned. We’ve covered cranes and realizing office people are not a wealth of accurate information. Let’s talk about driveways.

My brother has a fair bit of property, much of it with gravel drives. We regularly comment that, “He must have just had a load of gravel dropped,” when the road is particularly good, but I’ve never stopped to analyze the basic underlying fact: unpaved driveways must, in fact, be maintained.

We have a gravel drive–two, if you’re counting. The second one has been basically unusable to this point, and it would have been a useful thing to have before now. Husband has been seeking a “gravel guy” to come spread some gravel for us, and we finally found one who came recommended by two separate friends of ours. (Side note: like everything else, there’s been some hiccups with finding a gravel guy, since there’s some construction going on near us and apparently they’ve all contracted out to finish that job. The guy we wound up hiring is driving thirty minutes to get to us.)

He (Gary is his name, BTW) showed up this morning (Wednesday), but not with gravel–with a bull dozer. I left to go to work while Scott stayed behind, took pictures, and helped. I wish we had taken more before photos, but here’s a before of the second (unused) drive:

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Can you even tell it’s meant to be driven on? Geez. (However, note the lovely pasture across the street. We sure have a nice view.) Now…
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Isn’t it beautiful? It may be hard to tell, but this drive would be way easier to back a ginormous trailer up…like we hope to do Thursday.

Our primary drive wasn’t that overgrown, but it had a lot of ruts in it from years of no maintenance and wash-out. But now, it’s a thing of beauty:

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It’s smooth. Flat. Even. A sheer pleasure to drive. Frankly, I didn’t realize how bad it was until I came home and it was magically fixed. This pic was taken before the gravel was added, but you get the idea.

I thought Gary was just coming to drop gravel, but once he arrived, he wound up essentially building us a new drive. He dozed our primary drive down flat, and dozed the overgrowth down on the secondary–all before he ever brought gravel.

So, friends, my lesson from the school of country living is that driveways must be maintained. If you do not maintain them, they will become rutted, grown-over, and overall, bleh. But, with a (dirt cheap) layer of gravel added here and there, you can maintain a pleasant driveway experience for years.

And you can always call Gary if it gets too bad, or you buy a property that has to have a new drive built. (Except you can’t because he’s so good that he’s slammed with business and frankly, I’m selfish, so I probably won’t give you his number. Unless you’re family. Or you bring me chocolate. Or ask nicely.)