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I won't be able to buy property until I'm out of school, but I should graduate in December of this year. There's several pieces of property I'm looking at, and the one on the top of my list is hilly.

I like hilly for dealing with extreme rains. A flat field will be flooded; a terraced field will drain. If it's dry, you have to water both.

So this morning I was thinking about terracing. One that's appealing for both it's low cost and low tech is cribbing.

This is actually one of the best pics I could find:

Except I'd probably use untreated cedar logs. The "boxs" are filled with dirt until only the front is visible -- finished, it looks like this:

Edit: I've been looking for products that will last a long time buried. Cedar logs should last about 29-30 years. But. PVC will last 100 years. So, pvc pipe filled with sand and with holes drilled every so often for drainage. That should do.

Edit #2: Since Mike really doesn't like the idea of using wood and maybe redoing the terraces every 20 yrs, another option, perhaps a better option, would be poured concrete treated with a non-toxic concrete sealer like Green Building Supply, Penetrating Concrete Sealer. For this project, we'd probably go with a cement/sand/stone volume mix of 1:1½:3. As long as the cement "logs" aren't damaged, they should last a pre' long time. We'd use concrete forms that would look something like Lincoln Logs, and we'd need a small concrete mixer. I can see how we'd do it -- working on site, pour four forms on day one, next day, strip the forms, set the new "logs" on some 2X4s to cure, pour four more. Next day is a repeat of day two, but we'd also be painting the top of the first set will the sealer. Next day, same as previous day, but flip the first set over and paint the bottom of those with the sealer. So each "log" would take 4 days to complete. I figure we'd make them 10'X½'X½.

I just had a thought: would we work from the bottom of the hill up, or from the top, down? Huh.

Here's a map of the land I'm looking at. This is an 80 acre parcel. It consists of two hills with a saddle of swampy ground in between. The northwest corner is at about 46.565295, -87.8385602 and the southeast corner is at around 46.558049, -87.8349354

I'm thinking we'd grow on the south side of the north hill, and on the flat area on the south hilltop. Or something like that.

I have to have something to think about, to plan with, or I'll go a bit crazy. As soon as my tuition is paid (soon!) I'll start saving a hefty amount every month for the down payment. So we'll see if this one is still available in eight months...
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One of the first things that I plan to do after getting the property is drilling the well. I always imagined that the well would come up from the basement, but that's actually against code. The well has to be set back at least 25'/8m from the home and 50'/15m from the septic system.

(Also, drainage fields can't be more than eight feet deep or so, because the weight of the soil above compresses the field too much. So no drains in the basement, unless I want to pump sewage up to the drainage field or engineer some kind of roof over the drainage field. Which I could do, and it would work, but be pre' expensive. Something to think about: how important would it be to have water/drain in basement? If we have to house a family there, it might be important.)

There's an article detailing different ways to drill a well, with links to diy kit for drilling your own well here and for a system to hand pump water from a deep well (otherwise, you need an electric pump)

All in all, it looks to cost about $2000 if we put in a 100'/30m well ourselves compared to $7000-$10,000 if we hire a company to do it. An advantage to doing it ourselves is having bought the experience and know-how of putting in a well. Of course, we could cock it up and waste our money.

One other thing to mention here is that we will also be separating our sewage into gray water and septic field waste, with gray water going out to the garden/orchards. I'm not sure how I want to do gray water harvest in the winter months. Cistern? How much water do we use, if we discount toilets? Hmm.
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I am beginning to seriously look at an off-grid power generating system for the homestead. Reading at HomePower, I find the helpful suggestion:
Off-grid load analysis is more complicated, and involves measuring or estimating each load. The method can also be used to estimate electricity usage for on-grid homes in the design stage or for backup systems (for sizing battery banks and inverters). It’s also very useful to use this method if you’re on grid, to find out where you are using all that energy. Then you can develop strategies to reduce your energy usage, which is typically the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly use of your dollars.

A spreadsheet is the easiest way to gather the necessary information. For each specific load in your home, you’ll need either its wattage and daily hours of use or its daily kWh use.

Measure each load’s power, since rated or sticker wattage may not accurately reflect actual appliance consumption. When in doubt, round up. Measuring 120 VAC loads is easy with meters such as the Kill A Watt, Brand Electronics Digital Power Meter, or Watts Up?. Any 240 VAC loads will be harder to measure, and you may end up relying on rated wattage or estimates.

Soooo, what do we use for power? Um.

Blower motor for furnace/wood stove
refrigeration and freezer
electronics, tv, radio
microwave, coffee pot, toaster (maybe not use these at all)
washer and dryer

Am I missing anything? This is just for the house, not for any outbuildings.

The Plan

Jul. 8th, 2016 09:48 am
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I haven't talked much about climate change or The Plan recently, because it seems to me that most folks can see what's happening and the info is out there if they want a deeper understanding.

Back in 2010, I wrote that we weren't sure yet how bad it was going to get. That's still true, but what else is true is that the projections now are much more dire than they were in 2010. We'll loose the summer arctic cap sometime within the next ten years. We're already seeing serious losses in agriculture. Everywhere, the weather has changed.

Now that I'm in a position to really start realizing some of my plans, I want to update The Plan.

I had hoped to have purchased the property five years ago, three years ago, last year. We still haven't got it together. As a family, we've made some great moves forward, but we haven't got ourselves squared away enough to put money into savings. But now I expect to buy a 40-acre parcel in about twelve months. I plan to save money over the next year for both my RN education and a large down payment on the parcel.

I've talked to the kids about how they see this playing out. For the most part, what they've said is 'we'll keep going as long as we can, and when things get too hard, we'll come to the homestead.

This is somewhat problematic because a lot of work will need to be done before it 'gets too hard.' We're going to be having our yearly family camp out at the beginning of August, and I'll present a timeline to them then:

2025 -- summer arctic ice cap is gone. Jet stream is erratic, and weather is extreme with droughts mixed with torrential downpours. World food projected to decrease by 15% of today's totals

2035 -- world temp is over 2°c-3°c; ice only forms in arctic in deep winter; modern agriculture is on the brink of collapse. War.

A lot of folks believe that we will avert this future. I believe that we could, but we won't. The Plan is to have the beginning of a secure homestead by 2025 that can not only feed a 10-15 family clan, but is also a place of learning with a large library, ability to produce cloth/fiber, pottery, and smithing/working of metals, a tech/mechanical shop, a collection of musical instruments, and a small hospital/dental clinic.

It's an ambitious plan, and I might not see the fulfillment. Perhaps these things are never fulfilled but a work in progress. Onward.
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I've had one interview with a job offer of working nights in a nursing home for $23.80/hr. I've had two phone interviews for the correctional job, and will be sending in my background check tomorrow; the interviewer finished the interview by saying "Let's get this show on the road." I haven't been able to connect with the hiring person from the spinal cord/brain injury rehab place yet. So I still haven't decided which job to take, but I know I'll be working somewhere soon for pre'damn good money.

Short range plans: get all the bills under control; get Luke moved into Carl's place; get the upstairs bedroom that's been gutted for two-freaking-years finished so the little boys can have their own room; get myself a new laptop for school.

Mid-range plans: I'm not going to school this September. There are some excellent reasons, and they mostly have to do with money. I will go back next September, and I'll go back with most of my tuition saved up and with some real nursing experience under my belt. I feel extremely comfortable and confident about this.

Long range plans: After graduating with my RN, I'll start saving for the property. Every year that passes gets me more jumpy about the future, and I'm behind by something like five years. Truthfully, I had a tough talk with myself about spending the time/money to get my RN --I'm that freaked out by the incessant ticking of the damn clock. But the knowledge and skills will be just as useful, if not more, than the increased pay and job opportunities.

What is hard for me: I want to spend money that I haven't yet made on things I've been wanting for years. One thing I *am* going to do is go to the Nutcracker this Christmas, and pay for some family to come with me-- whoever wants to come. I also want to fix up this house -- some carpeting, paint, that kind of thing. So I have to set myself a budget within a budget within a budget. Bills/fix-up/fun. I have only ever been able to handle the bills, and when something has come up that had to get fixed, we played catch-up.

I have some thoughts about stress and poverty. I may go a bit crazy for a couple months. Bear with me, eh? A final thought: my interviews went very well and gave me a window-look into what kind of nurse I will be. Do you know what? I will be amazing.
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So, I was thinking about my cabin, and I had this idea.

I'm going to be building a stackwood cabin, about 48'X32' or so. (yes, this is a *big* cabin) It'll face south, and that south face will be an arc, a curved wall to take in the sun.

One of the things stackwood/cordwood walls are famous for is the ability to set colored glass into the wall:

I was thinking that it'd be cool to have the equinoxes marked, setting colored glass into the wall where the sun would shine in on those days. The latitude of the cabin will be about 46.5°N

Reading about the equinoxes on wikipedia, I figure from the discussion of day arc, that on the equinoxes the sun would rise due east and at noon would sit at about 43.5°:

I'm wondering if I could mark the sun's path along the arc of that south wall, where it rises in the east to where it sets, due west.

Geometry! The wall would be more of a semi-circle than just a rounded wall, from due east to due west, and it'd have to be... I'd need a skylight to capture the noon equinoctial sunlight. Or maybe just a cathedral ceiling? hmm. Still, it's a cool idea. I'll have to think about it.

Edit: so, finding length of the sides when you know one side and two angles... If my house is 32' wide, with side A being from the south wall to the north wall along the floor, side B being up the wall, and side C being from where the sun comes in to the north wall, then angle AC would be 46.5°; angle BC would be 43.5° and angle AB would be 90°.

Finding the length of the sides: 32/sin(43.5°) = B/sin(46.5°)
Which gets me: 32/0.68835458=B/0.72537437
so, 32(0.72537437)/0.68835458=B no need to be that exact! 32(.725)/.688=B
height sun would come in= 33.72', or 33'8.64"

*sigh* That's a pretty tall wall, even for a cathedral ceiling! But ... it would really work for a Great Hall. Hmm.


Jan. 11th, 2016 05:32 am
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so I don't lose it: Fence River Rd, Michigamme parcel

I like the small wetland, the location is close to perfect (remote but not impossible) and the price is reasonable.

Edit: Heh, it just got bought. Ah, well! There are many other parcels available in the area. Like this 60 acre parcel on CR 601


Oct. 5th, 2015 11:44 am
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That property we camped on last summer, the one with the cliffs? I told myself not to get attached to that piece of property because we can't buy it yet... and yep, someone else scooped it up. I'm all bummed. :(

There are other properties. There are *tons* of other properties. I will get over it. But, *sigh*.

Ok, this one up by Chassel has real possibilities. And there's a 80 up on the ridge over here -- both are offering land contract deals. So we'll find something and it'll be good and we'll have sooo much work to do.

I kinda like that 80...

That's a large lake, Portage Lake, there to the west. Lake Superior is about 4 miles (as the crow flies) to the east.

Only comes with one bathroom, though.
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These are some trips I'm planning in the next year. If I'm going to be near you, I'd love to have coffee or such!

Sept 25-27: Marquette, Michigan. I'm moving my sister down to come live with me. She's in Gwinn, Michigan. I'll be traveling from Lansing, Michigan along US-127 to I-75, across the Mackinaw Bridge, along US-2 and up M-77 to M-28. I'm leaving Friday afternoon, 3pm-ish and arriving at 0'dark-thirty; coming back Sunday afternoon.

Oct 17-18; Charlevoix, Michigan. The Third Annual October Birthday Bash! Wooot! (Two new grandbabies are due in September. Currently among my immediate family, we have birthdays -- Jan/4, Feb/1, March/4, April/0, May/1, June/1, July/1, Aug/1, Sep/1, Oct/7, Nov/0, Dec/4.) Route is I-96 to US-131.

Late December: Negaunee, Michigan. Just a holiday visit to the family, same route through lower Michigan to the UP.

March 11-13, 2016; FOGcon 6, Walnut Creek, California. This is a wish more than a for-sure thing. I'll be in the midst of nursing school, and it'll be expensive, maybe $1500? for plane tickets and hotel and meals and all.... but man I want to go.

May 27-30, 2016; Wiscon, Madison Wisconsin. Definitely going. I'll drive, taking I-94 to Chicago, and then I'll probably take the scenic route that [personal profile] kaffyr and I took, back in... 2012? Anyway, it was lovely. If you live near the route, feel free to ask me for a ride!

If everything goes well, and I'm expecting it to go middling-well, in March or April we'll be buying that piece of property that I have my eye on. Most likely we'll take a camping trip up in early to mid summer to scope out where we want to put the first cabin. Come camp with us! I would love that.

In May of 2016 I'll be eligible to take my NCLEX-PN and get my license to practice as an LPN. December of 2016 I'll get my ADN and when I pass my NCLEX-RN, I'll be looking for my first job as an RN. Then things might get interesting.
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I've been thinking about building a manor. Who knows if I'll ever build it, but I've got these ideas and I thought I'd post them and then people can comment, make suggestions, poke holes -- whatever!

There is a piece of property up north that I can actually afford. It's a 40 acre parcel, about a mile from a small river with high lands and low lands. The soil is rich. It isn't near any industrial or mining sites. It has access via a well made dirt road. It's selling for $30k, with a land contract deal of 10% down. There are three 40s all togther. Here's the listing of one of the 40s.

If I don't get this one, I'll get something similar within the next couple of years.

I've been thinking about tire bales.

"Tire Bales are a solid compressed block of scrap waste tires. Each tire bale is made up of 89-110 passenger and light truck tires. One tire bale weighs 2,000 lbs., or one ton. The dimensions of the tire bales are: 60" long, 50" wide, and 30" tall. There are five 9-gauge steel wires that hold the tire bale together. Each tire bale can sustain 375,000 lbs of pressure before any failure will occur." Front Rang Tire Recycling

Here are some images of someone's tire bale house:


The main cost of tire bales is the movement and placement of them. At one ton each, we'd need to rent some pretty heavy equipment. We want to build an underbasement and an upper basement. We'd build at the base of a hill, dig out the basement and make a retaining wall between the hill and the first floor with the tire bales. We'd use the dirt from the basement to back fill between the house and the hill, so that the second floor will be ground level in back.

One set of wings will come off the ground floor, and one set will be staggered back, set up into the hill, coming off the second floor. I can visulize it, but I don't know if I'm describing it well.

I'm thinking that we'll build the hexagon or pentagon or with 24' sides, and the wings will be about 24'X48'. The above ground structure will be post and beam with stackwood, like this:


And shaped something like this:

manor wings

Ok -- I'm going to build a mock-up.

Here you go. I just did the wings on one side; they'd be mirrored on the other side. What do you think?


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View Beartown in a larger map

We went for a drive on Sunday to look at that property that I want. After driving for about an hour over dirt roads, we found the place, or near enough to it. I'd packed a picinic lunch and Carl put out a blanket. Keith had his old hunting dog, Candy.

"Bear shit," he said, kicking at it, as we spread out the blanket and I started handing out sandwiches. "Old stuff." He stared off into the woods. "Guess I'll go look around."

Jareth began to fuss, but Crystalyn had some pureed bananas, so I gave her a break and fed him while I munched my ham and cheese. We were in a clearing, and I tried to catalog some of the plants -- mostly hardwoods - maple, beech, birch, and hazelnut with a lot of low blueberry along the road and edges, raspberry, blackberry, vetch, beech fern, and grasses. Good soil, rich and well drained.

Carl pulled up some ferns and we used them to swat flies away -- they were the little, shiny black kind that bite. Then Jareth was done with his bananas and fussed again while I made a bottle. (Crystalyn nurses and bottle feeds, both.)

Seth was tripsing around the blanket, munching on his sandwich, swishing at the flies with his fern. It was a very lovely day.

Then Keith came raring back up the clearing, eyes big. "Come on! Up! Up! Everybody in the car! Pack that baby up!"

He didn't say it, but his eyes said BEAR. So we all pretty much TARDISed ourselves into the cars. I've never seen a group of people move babies, blankets, and a hamper so efficiently. We went from picnicking to sitting in cars in about five seconds.

Once the kids were in the cars, Keith relaxed. He stood next to Carl's window. "Yeah, I saw some real fresh shit right down there," he pointed, "and then, about a yard away, a big track. And right next to it, a little baby track." He swiped off his Nascar baseball cap and swiped at the flies. "Then your baby started to cry, and well, that'll bring a mama bear right up, hey?"

The only thing that makes me pause about the property is that it's only about 2 miles as the crow flies from the edge of the Kinnecott Mine property. There's a ridge running between, but I don't know how the mine will effect this property's water.

When I asked him what he thought about it, Keith shrugged. "I dunno about water, but I know that mine operation is gonna leave a lot of salvage behind. It's only supposed to opperate for, what, ten years? They're here for a stab-n-grab. They'll leave a lot behind."

That night, we collectively picked off four ticks. I got two!
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I was over at a NOLA blog, reason.com, reading about a 20 year old unarmed kid, Wendell Allen, who got shot dead when police raided his parent's house. They found, btw, only 5 oz of marijuana. The quote of the day is: "We have not been able to yet completely understand what exactly occurred,” from Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

There's a lot of discussion about the corruption of the NOLA police department and justice system; about gangs and even some discussion of pot and class.

Then at the end of the comments, there's this:

"Citizens must start forcing the consequences of police actions back on the individual police officers who commit them. This means that cops who behave this way are a legitimate target for being themselves killed - by anyone - a friend, relative, or just any regular citizen with an interest in justice. Start killing these cops who kill citizens, and the behavior will stop. It's really that simple folks. You want the cops to stop killing us? Then start killing them. There are way more of us than there are of these murderers, and the sooner we decimate their ranks, the faster they will comply."

What gets me is that this is not some crazy "we gotta start killing these fucking motherfuckers." No. This is a very well worded, reasonable espousal of anarchy.

I think that we'll be seeing more of this kind of thought as society becomes more stressed. 2030 is coming, and we won't be ready. By 2030, we'll be seeing some very crazy weather from climate change; big storms, terrible heat waves, terrible droughts, rising seas, crop damage, and huge property damage from blizzards, ice storms, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes.

By 2030, food prices are expected to double and the cost of energy and gasoline are expected to double, too. Wages for the working class are expected to be stagnant. Cities and towns won't have much for resources and things are gonna start to fall apart.

It's already falling apart in NOLA -- I guess it has been since Katrina. Some would say since before that, even. Jim Crow and corruption and Louisiana politics. I don't even. By 2030, I wonder what of New Orleans will even still be there.

I grew up thinking that we'd have a wonderful future -- spaceships, moon colonies, the Jetsons, all of that. I'm raising my kids to think about hunkering down and surviving.

Sam is heading off to the UP next month, and he's signed up for NMU's program for electrical lineman certification in the fall. Carl is graduating from Bay de Noc's Waste Water Treatment program in three weeks -- he's lined up to get a job in Marquette at the water treatment plant there. Jake is doing better in Minneapolis; we're trying to figure out how to get him back into school to finish his degree. It's all coming together.


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