Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 30, 2012


WHEW! I'm working on this a bit at a time during the week, so I don't forget anything. As a warning, I'll add in photos before I post it, so this may be a bit discombobulated this time. Blame it on work - I heard at work today that my department's supervisor is going to try to get us more 8-hour shifts like we need to be running. It's kind of hard right now in our department, the breast table, as we've lost at least five people that I know of in the last few weeks. One guy moved to a different part of the the debone department, another quit last week because her husband had died, a third left a few weeks ago to go back to MS to be with her folks, and a fourth quit end of last week by pointing out (taking too many days off). The fifth walked off the job. So things are necessarily just a wee bit hectic at the plant right now. Q's job seems to be going good again, though we found out Sunday evening after the last blog post that he's going to have to fix the brakes on Sheamus this weekend before we can move the beds we were given to the property. He's either going to take a vacation day Friday to do that and get the trailer and load it with at least the beds, OR rumor right now has it that they won't be working this Friday anyhow, so he could save the vacation day and still fix the brakes. This is good, as the left front is starting to grind just a wee bit, and that's not a pleasant thing in any vehicle, but especially one that is nearly two tons of weight.

So full day at work for me today and not a lot done at the trailer on the way home, other than a tiny bit of brush trimmed to small logs and kindling, and the main trunks dropped in the drive by the woodpile if they were too big for the loppers. Triple digit heat, double in the shade, and too hot to be sawing on things, so I'm leaning toward knocking the brushpile stuff down to just bigger trunks and things that have to be handsawed or chainsawed. Means a heck of a lot of kindling and small logs in the woodpile in one lump, but hey, it's like I told Quentin - either I make kindling from the smaller sticks and big twigs of all these trees and the brush we're cutting down, or YOU get to split big logs into kindling come wintertime, your choice. Since I'm still cutting kindling from small sticks and big twigs, you can guess what his choice was.  Heehee. No more signs of that rattler, but that doesn't mean he or she isn't around, just that they are nowhere I am seeing them, and I'm fine with that. Though my asking questions about what gun would be good for snakes and small vermin, when you're a 5-4 woman with short arms whose a lefty has led to some interesting discussion on one group I'm on.

And for Gentle Reader Annightflyer, I hope you and hubby do get to move back east where you want to be soon. Not being content where you are is a pain in the tuckus, as Q and I can attest! We like our apartment, but gosh, the neighbors and management are a major issue anymore! We've been here nearly a year and the amenities are nice, but we don't appreciate neighbors teaching their dog to whine and howl, other neighbors getting drunk and fighting, having to fight for OUR parking spots, and management going "Well, you're leaving soon anyhow, so what's it matter?" With me picking up more hours at the plant, perhaps we can soon have that splice fixed and the electric deposit taken care of so we can have juice at the house.

We talked last night about the solar setup, and decided that on-grid electric is our best bet for now, so we have the power we want and need, while we buy the components one at a time as funds allow and hook it all up, then get rid of the electric company. He is looking forward to it. Even though the property slopes ENE, there is a LOT of sun up there, and facing a bank of panels toward the back of the house for southern (albeit somewhat blocked by the ridge) exposure and more facing toward the front downslope for whatever ENE sun we can get will be a big help. There's got to be good sun for solar there, considering that even in the current shade the trailer has, it gets to be a major hotbox with just a tiny bit of sun coming in. It helps that we're 1800' up a mountain in the Ozarks, so we're pretty far south in the latitudes. Wouldn't get THAT in my home state, that's for sure.


Hotter than bejeezus again today. The county's had a burn ban on for months now, and it's so easy to see why. The trimmed stuff in the easement that I haven't had a chance to get at yet, with working on the original brushpile, is so dried out so fast that one good spark would be all it took to set the whole mountain off ... and considering how many leaves there are in the woods on the mountain, not just our acreage, you can imagine how big a fire that would be. Since we didn't get out of work till 4:30 again today, all I got done at the property was a quick walk round to make sure stuff was okay and then I collapsed in the car (parked in the shade near the road) and ended up dozing off in the heat for nearly an hour. I don't mind the heat, and we'll have sliding screens in the windows that don't currently have screens, plus the screen door either before we move or very shortly after, plus a few box fans in strategic places situated so the cats can't knock them over, but it's still going to be a bit warm there. We will have to have a large auto-waterer for the cats, though. The small dish they've got now will go dry in no time with the summer heat.

A wall unit for A/C just isn't feasible. One, it's too expensive for our budget to buy one, and two, they cost a fortune to run. Add in that they take a lot of juice to start up and to run, and for a home that is eventually going to be solar- and wind-powered, an A/C just isn't workable into a sustainable  homestead off-grid. So it's fans and cool drinks and cool rags on the backs of our necks a lot during warm weather. I did it growing up in MI, where we didn't have A/C, either, and MI summers get just about as hot as Ozarks summers, only more humid due to all the lakes and rivers. The humidity makes it worse when temps soar into the 90s and above. I'll take the dry heat any day. Easier to stay cool without feeling awful sticky and nasty and you can still get some things done if you're careful. I think the only thing I'm going to miss about the apartment for a while, till I get used to it again, is the A/C here. Then again, here is a box stuck between boxes, and that doesn't help with keeping the place cool, either.

Some photos, all taken today (Saturday, the 30th, some were just planned out earlier in the week):

This is the downhill of the easement. I'm standing next to the utility pole with the meter boxes and yard light on it. You can maybe see the road where it curves at the bottom of our property. The property line follows the road from the driveway, downhill past here to a small wet crick the landlord calls "Hogwarts Creek." (Someone's read a bit too much Harry Potter!) You can also see all the crappy work that the electric company did in trimming. It's a typical electrical company trim job, sadly. Trim to the easement line and quit. Never mind that you left a foot-long stub of the branch sticking out of the tree, when proper trimming calls for the limb to be trimmed all the way back to the trunk.

This is right next to the driveway. It's part of that trash pile and the oldest brush pile. You can see where they dozed stuff like dirt into the trash pile to get it out of "their" easement.

This is looking up the easement from the driveway. It's what the downhill side should look like, with a lot of loose brush in it. It's what the downhill side WOULD look like if someone had passed on instructions like they were asked to do. Still grinds my beans, that's a lot of good winter wood chewed to sawdust.

The woodpile is getting bigger! Mostly kindling going on it right now, because it's too hot to use the handsaw at all. Just using the pruners and loppers is hard enough in this heat. Quentin is laughing at my photo of the woodpile. He won't be laughing when he doesn't have to split kindling this winter. He does say that he laughs because I have so much fun with my contribution to our winter heat, even if we don't manage to get a woodstove in this winter and have to make do with space heaters and possibly a kerosene heater. The wood he cut even just two weeks ago is already splitting itself from the drought we've got going here. He's in this photo because he's setting up a very hot, very shaken up, soda can for target practice for the first shot with the air rifle we picked up yesterday (Friday). More on it below.

I meant to inclue a photo of my new leafy twiggy pile, but forgot to take one, I was just that hot. I have plans for this stuff, mostly involving partially filling raised beds for the garden. The soils is crappy here and so full of rocks that it would take a decade just to get a handle on clearing enough rocks and building the soil up to get a decent garden in. I'm going to cheat and use plastic totes, old tires, and the cupboards from the Merlot when we get to tearing it apart for scrapping it. Many of the drawers are six inches or more deep, the doors can be taken off and the hinges salvaged for something else. The doors can then be fastened together to make rather interesting raised bed frames. The base cupboard units can also be taken down off the walls and laid on their backs and used for raised beds. Put a few inches of gravel in the bottom for drainage, a lot of leaves and twigs and compostable stuff to halfway or so fill the bed, and finish off with good topsoil before planting. Instant raised bed. Yes, I will take photos when I get that far! (You've all figured out my weakness by now for documenting everything.)


Shortish day at work today. They ran us neck or nothing, so we ran out of birds to process. Heh. Still a good day, though really warm yet. But it gave me time to do a little work on the original brushpile this afternoon and look!!!!!!!

There's a huge spot that's finally empty of brush to be trimmed for the woodpile! It's a big step forward for me and helps me feel like things are moving along again. I've been feeling a bit out of sync the last few times I've gone up there, and I know a lot of it's just the "homestead frustration" that all of us homesteaders feel at some time or another. You know what I mean. Things aren't going as fast or as easy as you think they should be, and it's frustrating that they aren't done yet, and you start to feel a bit depressed and begin asking yourself why the heck are you doing this anyhow? That's been me for a few days. This is a big help to feeling better.

We also found out that Quentin won't have to take a vacation day Friday to fix Sheamus' brakes. His plant is not running that day, so he gets the day off anyhow. Free vacation day! Which means he fixes the brakes, gets the trailer and loads up the beds. Friday night, we'll also load up what we can of stuff we don't NEED here right now to take up and offload Saturday along with the beds. We need to get bolt cutters for the wire to the house to fix the splice and some PVC pipe and a couple reducers for the ends so this doesn't happen again. It's going to be a hot, nasty job to fix that splice, too, because it's in the sunny part of the driveway by the house, and I'm pretty sure Q's going to have to individually splice together the little wires inside the big wire and tape them together one by one, before he can put electrical tape around the whole thing and slide the pieces of the conduit over the wiring and cap the ends to keep moisture and dirt out as much as possible.

Discovered today we have to do a bit of work on the outgoing plumbing, but most of it's easy. The hard part is that the plumbing leaving the tub/shower stall doesn't seem to exist, so that'll have to be installed. The easy part is that one of the joins taking wastewater and sewage to the lagoon has come apart, and another whole big piece not only has come apart but the expanded end has a piece out of it and needs replacing before it can be glued back together. But at least I'll soon be able to use the kitchen sink, and once we fix the toilet, we'll be able to flush it. We'll also be able to use the solar showers in the bathtub/shower stall and have that water run to the lagoon as well. That's a three-inch pipe, by the way, in the photo, of the part that came apart AND has to be replaced.

I keep hearing how a homestead should only have one or two major projects a year to concentrate on. Seriously, we are concentrating on one or two at a time. Thankfully, most of them, like the prep for moving, the screen door, the sliding screens, solar shower, and plumbing, are all one-offs. Once they're done, they're not likely to need doing again any time soon, if at all in the rest of our lives. I'm 44, Quentin's 37 (yes, hubster is younger than me!), so we've got 30-40 years of  homesteading ahead of us. I think most of the stuff we have to do or want to do is going to last at least that long. Our two major-major projects for this year are the woodpile and buying and installing a woodstove. Cuz either we get that sucker and get it installed by Thanksgiving, or we have to get space heaters for the cold months, and those things suck up energy like there's no tomorrow. I'd rather cut wood all summer than put up with a high electric bill from running space heaters to stay warm!


Today was a wash. I woke up with a back spasm bad enough from yesterday's work running neck or nothing, so had to take a sick day. Sad, because I ALMOST had a point earned back. Grrr. Ah well. Q wouldn't let me out of the house anyhow, I was moving so slow and painful, as he put it, like an 80-year-old woman. More sleep helped. So today I did chores and hung out on a free ebooks site and downloaded a bunch of books from Amazon for my Kindle for PC. As if I really NEED more books, lol. Got some knitting and spinning done, too. Generally, just relaxed and had a good time. One more day to get through this week and we're going to be loading unneeded things into the van and taking off Saturday to git 'r done on phase one of the move!

We also decided what to do with that old chest freezer, since it's in good shape generally, but not likely usable as a chest freezer again. We're going to take the lid off and build a frame with legs on it and Q can have it for a workbench. The main part, we'll haul outside, make sure the drain works,  and set it where I can use it for a planter!


Crap. Crap, crap, crap. When I got up this morning, Q informed me that we won't be moving the beds this weekend, because we have to fix the van. One of the pulleys that runs the sole belt on the motor snapped off (the bolt it sits on is fine, the pulley is gone somehow) and shredded the belt. He had to drive about half the way home with no belt and no power steering, which was a major issue, but thank goodness for the automatic blower motor which kicked in and saved his butt and Sheamus's motor. So brakes are holding off for next weekend, since we have to get a belt and the idler (or belt tensioner) pulley for the van and he has to put them on so he can drive to work Monday. We will still go to the property, though, just in Victor again. Poor Sheamus is out for the count for the moment. Isn't that just like homesteading? Just when you think things are going great, something goes kerflooey and you have to back up a few steps?

We'll deal with this as well in time, it's just a difficult thing. Good thing we both had full paychecks, so that everything's taken care of, and we were able to get a small air rifle. It's a Crosman 760 Pumpmaster (if I remember correctly - I know it's a Crosman Pumpmaster), which is what we could afford. Q wanted a scope on it, but I can't see through the scope, since I'm a little short on one end, haha. Also , I'm left-handed, but right-eye dominant, so I have to  learn to shoot right-handed. I AM small enough that I can see through the legs of the scope to the rifle sights, and sight a target easily, so Q gets to keep the scope on the thing while I get to use the sights. I didn't want a scope anyhow, so this makes us both happy. I'm also happy that I get to relearn to shoot a weapon with no recoil. Mind, the Crosman is only good for small pest control and target shooting, but to start, that's what I need to keep away the blasted snakes and pop those bloody squirrels that keep beaning me with green nuts. That HURTS.


Woke up a bit ouchy, probably from the extra time I put in at a different department after mine got done yesterday, to make up a bit for the time I missed Thursday. Didn't make all of it up, but half is better made up than none. There was a lot of bending going on, and I ouched my back again, but not too badly. I'm not moving like an old lady today, I'm just sore. So plenty of aspirin and by the time Q wakes up and is ready to rock and roll, I should feel better. (Breakfast also helps.)

A quick recipe share for today, one I've been using the last few days to get some older rice out of the house.


You'll start with white rice. (Yes, I'm a heathen that way, I use white rice.) While the water's coming to a boil, throw in bite-sized fruit of whatever you like - apples, peaches, strawberries, pears, blueberries, etc. I had a bunch of raisins on hand, so used them. When the rice is cooked up, put it up in the fridge. Remember that cooking white rice takes 2 cups of water for every cup of rice. I should note that I usually make this up the night before I need it for breakfast.

When you're ready to eat it in the morning, fill your bowl with the cooked rice and fruit, add a bit more water to it and warm up either in the microwave for a couple of minutes, or cook a bit longer till the water's absorbed. This will help fluff it up for the morning. Put some cold milk on the rice/fruit in your bowl and eat. It doesn't seem to fill you up much at first, but as rice soaks up liquids really well, especially when warmed up it seems, in an hour or so, you will be pretty full from a bowl of this stuff, and it will hold you for a while. Great way to use up leftover rice, or old rice, and it's about as cheap a breakfast as you can get.

Whew. now that we're home for the night, barring our weekend dinner that Mom (me) doesn't cook so we go out. This weekend, we decided to go to Denny's instead of Famous Dave's. They have to wait for our money again, haha. But Denny's is 24/7 and Q is working on the van right now, and so far he's doing great! The bolt for the idler pulley is already out and the new pulley is on. I have to go help in a few when he cools off, is to help get the thing snugged up a bit more so he can feed the new belt on. Then, if we can get the van restarted without jumping it, we'll take it to dinner.

But other photos of things we accomplished today, despite the heat!

 We did some target practice a bit with the air rifle with pellets, and he shot the crap out of that soda can. He hit it near the seam, and the pellet went right through and the seam split, spilling soda allllll  over the woodpile. It was cool. Me, I chose a partly empty jug of water that had been sitting so long the water was pretty nasty. I hit the label a bit to the left and down of center, so not completely on target like I wanted, but I still hit it. TWICE. First two shots with a gun in nearly 30 years, and I sighted, took a deep breath, let it out, and held the exhale like I'm supposed to, and kept steady on target. Managed to hit the jug just above the water line the first time, and the second time, just down and left of center and Q says I made the jug piddle, heehee.

 These are the splice as we've managed to dig it up so far. It isn't much, but we discovered through examining the conduit coming out of the house as well as the conduit coming out of the meter box, and discovered there's one splice, but three honking big wires going to the house. *sigh* At least we only have to fix one wire (which is all we were told there was at all) and put it in conduit to protect it. We aren't messing with the ones that are fine, because there's no sense messing with what isn't broken.
 This is the big logs Quentin cut up with the chainsaw today. There's a number of them that just needed to get cut in half for the woodpile, and a lot of oak and maple in that log. The property is covered in oaks, maples and elms. All lovely, lovely hardwoods that burn nice and hot in a woodstove. *happy sigh* All in all, a good day's work on the splice and the woodpile.
And this is a better photo of the hubster. Quentin says he hates having his picture taken, but he consented to this one. He's crouching down resting in the shade for a minute after cutting up all that wood in the photo above!

We have made plans on the way back to the apartment today (neither of us calls it "home" anymore, just "the house") that once we have the beds up there, we are going to take the boys (aka the kitties) and some stuff and go camp up there overnight on weekends till we're moved. Get us and the cats used to the place. I think the boys will like it, especially once I get the last few holes in the baseboard area patched so they can't get out by accident. So many little things to do to make the place a happy home, but we have so darned much fun doing it.

Now let's see what this week brings besides more work and hopefully good long hours at both plants for us, and a great Fourth of July to everyone.

ADDENDUM: The hubster cussed and swore cuz it drove him batty doing it, but the idler tension pulley and the serpentine belt are back on Sheamus. The belt took the longest cuz he couldn't figure out how it went around things, even with a diagram, becuase apparently the diagram wasn't the right one, though the internet swore it was. On the upside, Sheamus is fixed and back on the road, though now the brakes still have to be fixed. That's a minor thing, Q says, and can be dealt with next weekend. And, best of all, Sheamus, depsite being driven close to 40 miles with no serpentine belt, still had enough juice in the battery to fire up without being jumped. Yay us. Yay especially for the hubster. He is amazing. Now it's time for dinner at Denny's, because we are starved.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

I was going to write this last night, but I was so pooped by the end of the day, from the high temperatures and just all we did, that I collapsed into bed and dozed off. Bad me. But this little blog hit a small milestone this week, in hitting our thousandth visitor. A lot of repeat traffic, I know, but still, it's a nice number to hit. Now to hit 5,000, and keep going up from here!

This last week was kind of exciting in a way. We've been given two queen-sized beds, mattress and springs, no frames. That's fine, they can sit on the floor for now at the trailer. We reserved a U-Haul trailer to pull behind the van next weekend to get them from here to there, along with as much of the "not needed right now" stuff as we can cram in the van next Saturday to get us down to the necessaries for survival till we move in a few more weeks. We'll rent a trailer again then for the bits and pieces of furniture, so we can use the car and van for anything else (clothes, food, toiletries, the cats, etc.), and finish the move in one trip, getting out of here.

The neighbors with the whiny, anxiety-ridden poodle-thing have made a big mistake. Q heard the guy the other morning, while Q was getting ready for work, teaching the dog to howl all the time. We've discovered that when they're gone, a dog whistle works wonders for silencing the little beast, but with the dog learning to constantly howl, I wonder if they realize just how hard it will be to train it to NOT howl once we've moved. Their problem, not ours!

Our jobs both went to full hours this last week. Q's went BACK to full hours, mine ran a full week for the first time in around two months. My poor feet were killing me by the end; I think they forgot what a seven or eight hour shift is like. But the little bit of pain in my feet is worth it, because the money is necessary right now to get us on our feet at the property, and get things done there. Q and I have talked and once we're moved and working on getting the homestead to be an income producer for us, the place will be my baby. He has no intentions of quitting his job, so if/when we (meaning I) can get the income from the homestead to equal or exceed my average take-home check from the plant, I get to quit the plant and work strictly from the home. That's going to mean a LOT of work on my part, because what I get from the plant, less the gas and upkep on the car, less what I have to pack for lunches, etc., that I can't go "well, I'd have that anyhow if I was working from home," I have to make up for from the homestead. That means I have to make at least $800 a month from the homestead. Not an unobtainable amount, but it will be hard to get to anytime soon, till at LEAST next summer probably. That's still not a bad thing, other than I hate winter driving, lol. Thank goodness the Ozarks doesn't get much in the way of winter snow and ice.

So I didn't get a ton done at the property this week in the way of cutting up stuff for the woodpile, but I got a healthy amount done, and we worked out some other things that need doing and how to do them. He's still dithering over fix the deck first or build a chicken coop first. He says properly do the deck first, I say the coop first, because then we'd have eggs and some meat eventually and a pest control in the chickens. It's going to be a long discussion on it, but I'm sure I can get him to come around. We've only been married for two years, after all, and it's his first marriage. He's still in training, lol.

Speaking of which, yesterday being our anniversary, and with us both having short checks this week, it's tight to get through to Wednesday night when he gets paid again. We'll JUST squeak by - AGAIN. We are so tired of that, but hopefully longer weeks will pick up at the plants again for both uf us on a more permanent basis. On the other hand, we scraped enough together to go to The Rib Crib for dinner. Neither of us was overly hungry, so we just got one big platter (the Pitmaster's Special, though it needs another rib on the plate, really), and split it. While there, one of the performers from Music City Centre next door came over and was passing out coupons for his show that night and gladhanding everybody. Me and my big mouth mentioned we'd like to see the show but were broke this week and couldn't afford the tickets, even at a discount, and it was a pity as it was our wedding anniversary.  Mr. Doug Gabriel of the Doug Gabriel show asked a waitress for a pen, and wrote on the coupon "Free Per Doug." Yep, we got to meet one of Branson's premier entertainers and see the show for free. You can BET we headed over after dinner to get our comped tickets and see the show.

It was a fantastic night. The food at Rib Crib was very good, and it comes out with no sauce on it. You get a choice of mild or hot sauce in squeeze bottles at the table, and I used the mild. It was excellent stuff. The meat was perfectly done (rib, smoked chicken, pulled pork and brisket), the mashed taters were homemade (could have used a bit more gravy on them) and the potato salad also  homemade and near as good as mine. We aren't big eaters anyhow, but walked out full. We were also given twenty-year anniversary cups to bring home from the place, so that's kind of fun. They're plastic and I hate plastic cups, but Q loves them, so he can have them.

The show was the highlight of our night. The day wasn't what Q had wanted it to be to start, with us on short checks, since he'd wanted to take me to Famous Dave's. A bit pricey this time around, but with two full-ish checks coming this next payday, he's said we'll finish our anniversary next weekend at FD's. Good thing I love BBQ! But the show was a lot of fun. If you're in Branson, it's a MUST-SEE. They also said they love to tour and do shows all over the country, so if you need a promo packet, get ahold of them and get one for a local performance. You won't be sorry. The whole Gabriel family gets into the act, from Doug, his wife, his daughter and both sons, and the older son's fiance. Great music, great comedy (especially from the younger son, who is a complete dork, I swear). This year's show is Number One Hits, and thanks to Mom raising me with the Golden Oldies as a kid, I could sing along with most of them. The majority of last night's crowd was older folks, so when they did "Footloose," I was about the only one really going wild in the audience with the participatory dancing. (Can't help it, I love that song, and it's always made me want to jump up and dance ever since it came out when I was in high school. Ok, I just made myself feel really, really old.)

All in all, a good week. Not a lot done to get moved, but some. Not a lot done here, but some. Mostly work and sleep, but at least it ended with our anniversary and a high note with the show that me and my big mouth got us comped tickets to. A lot of good word-of-mouth advertising (always important) for Rib Crib and the Doug Gabriel show as well, because how can you NOT say good things about good food and good entertainment?  Hugs till next weekend. I really need to remember to take the camera to show off what things look like again, so you can all see the progress.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

To all the fathers out there, Happy Daddy Day! My husband included. Our daughter texted him about an hour ago to wish him HFD, and he just smiled this huge smile. Now he's off to Wally World cuz he forgot something yesterday and needs it for work. Ooops. Hey, his fault, he forgot to tell me to put it on the grocery list!  I'm making his favorite dinner this afternoon for the day - chicken teriyaki. Yum. It's gonna be goood.

Things are tight financially, but we are making it. My hours have been cut at work to where I'm lucky to get 20-25 hours a week, and his aren't much better right now. We're both filing for partial unemployment so we can try to get back on our feet a bit, which we hate, because mine isn't going to be much, and his original case is only open for another couple of weeks. With luck, his job will go back to full time soon, and stay there, and hopefully so will mine. So things are going really slowly on the move still, but we are making some progress.

We went to the property yesterday in my car to save gas - my little Aveo can handle the mountain road and gets great mileage compared to the van, so we opted to load up in Victor and head down to get something done. Quentin took one look at the mess generated by the power company (they think they did a great job in trimming, wait till I take pictures this week and post them for you), and just about cried. There are so many trees now that have to be taken down cuz they got topped. He got a few down yesterday and one cut up, before the chainsaw got hot enough that it didn't want to work any more. Honestly, I can't blame the thing. It was 90 degrees yesterday and hardly any breeze, but thankfully not that humid. So we did get a lot done with that. The woodpile is now a good foot higher than it was, because Q's logs are so much bigger than mine.

Thing was, when they were doing the trimming, I told the guy in charge of the crew to leave the trimmed stuff on our part of the easement alone, not to brush  hog it to oblivion as they normally do. So I got up to the property Friday on my way home and what do I find but a guy with a mini brush hog chopping up the trimmings and shoving the logs out of the way to the edge of the easement. ARGH! He had already done the bottom half, but I got his attention when he came uphill and got him to stop on our property and keep going uphill to the neighbor's and finish up stuff up there. The neighbors I don't care about, it's OURS I care about as that was going to go into the woodpile! But I saved half of it, which is better than nothing. So that's a whole summer's worth of brush trimming and log cutting to do just to clean up the easement. Never mind the stuff Q's got to cut down that got topped, and cutting all THAT up. That woodpile is going to be HUGE by the time we're done, and with as easy as Ozarks winters normally are, it will last a long, long time.

Friday, I splurged a bit from my birthday money I got in a card from my Mom. I went to Lowe's and got a mattock that's got the pickaxe and digger both. So when the chainsaw decided to take a rest, we went up to the house, got the shovel, and started trying to dig up the electric splice. The ground is hard as a rock, so the mattock was a necessity in order to get the splice dug up. It made the job a lot easier. We had a five-gallon bucket, too, so he loosened the dirt, I shoveled it into the bucket and he dumped it off to one side of where we were working out of our way. The splice wasn't down nearly as far as we'd been told. We were told it was about two to three feet down, and were expecting a busy afternoon of trying to find the thing. It took about fifteen minutes of chopping and picking and digging, and the splice was only about two to three INCHES down. No wonder the frost-freeze cycle messed it up.

Add in that it's a big bundle of mess, no conduit to protect it, and it's taped together with black electrical tape that's frayed and come apart, and the wires of course have gotten clogged with dirt. We're going to have a bit of a job ahead of us. The wires have to be dug up enough to have some play, the whole splice has to be cut out, conduit slid on the wires, splice has to be redone, and then bury the thing again and hope it works. On the other hand, the really hard part is done. We found the splice! And with it not being nearly as deep as we'd been told, it makes for a lot easier job in the long run to fix it.

Mind, we've already decided that in the long run, we'll be putting in a solar system. The only bad part with that is the property faces and slopes ENE, so we don't get a lot of southern sunlight. But we do get a lot of sun in spite of that, and a lot of heat. Trust me on this one, getting a tan or heat exhaustion there is NOT a problem. It's awful easy to get heat exhaustion if you aren't careful (hence the cooler full of ice and drinks for us right now, whenever we go up). So a solar system and eventually a wind turbine or two will provide plenty of power for us, we just have to get up there and get to that point. One project at a time. The current major project is fixing the electrical so we can get the deposit together and get electric turned on and finally move. There's a lot of  other projects to get done, too, as there always are on a homestead, but the dream is making it's slow way towards coming true. That eases a lot of the homestead frustration we've had the last few weeks.

Happy homesteading, everybody!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I. Want. A. Gun.

Yes, folks, you read it right. I want a gun. Not just any gun though. Something smallish, lightweight (cuz I'm a flyweight lady, more or less, when it comes to physical strength), and where we don't have to have a permit or whatever to get it. Probably something from Wal-Mart, quite literally off the shelf, likely a something that shoots BBs or .22s. Critter control, especially after today.

It's been reasonably quiet so far this week, most of the noise has been the power company sending their limb trimmer truck up the easement to trim (ie, totally top and destroy) trees that are "leaning" into the easement and which could possibly hurt their precious power lines. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for grid electric if that's your thing (and it likely will be ours while we get things together for a PV system and get it set up and running). However, I don't see how a tree less than ten feet tall is a hazard of falling on the power lines. Sheesh. The fact that they are disturbing the forest homes of many creatures leads to why I Want A Gun.

You see, today, they finally started trimming the trees on OUR property. Their trimming job is horrible, as the guy running the saw just basically mangles the trees, cutting hither and thither and never trimming the whole limb close to the main trunk ... he stops at the easement border, so the tree is left looking half-naked and horribly trimmed. A real tree-trimming service would fire him in a heartbeat the way he mangles things. And I do mean the trees look half-naked when he's done. He literally trims every single branch from the ground to the crown on half the tree. Near the bottom of the mountain road, there WAS a gorgeous old cedar. It's now a not-so-gorgeous HALF of a cedar.

Anyhow ... all their noise and "trimming" and such has disturbed the mountain's wildlife. While trimming up some more brush this afternoon (and they have just gone and made me a whole summer's worth of brush to trim up, on top of what we would have generated on our own, ye gods), I spied out of the corner of my little eye something a-slithering across the driveway in rather slow motion. Looking up and over that dee-rection, I beheld a snake, slowly ... well ... snaking it's way across my driveway. "Ah," I, "a snake, a denizen of yon local woods which have been disturbed by the power company's efforts to preserve their mighty investment of wiring and poles." (Okay, not really, but it adds drama and effect. Deal with it, lol.)

"Let us now peruse the body of yon snake, and attempt to identificate the wee beastie!" (Reality, I looked over, said, a snake, ok, can you tell what it is? Check the TAIL first, you know rattlers are common around here.) Then, in my best imitation of Achmed the Dead Terrorist, "OH HOLY CRAP! IT'S A FREAKING RATTLER!!!!!" Having never seen a live rattlesnake before, but having read PLENTY, I knew to stay away and not try to do something stupid like scare it or pick it up. Instead, I kept an eye on it, and stayed several feet away from it.

Poor thing was really just looking for a warm place to curl up for a nap, but I guess all the tree trimming disturbed it's nap wherever it already was, and it went off to find a new nappy spot. Unfortunately, it's new nappy spot is rather close to my woodpile, and the last wood I put on there disturbed Mr. Timber Rattlesnake (ID'd it when I got home through internet hunting), and it kind of came off the ground a tad and coiled to strike, all without rattling. Now, I've seen enough nature shows to know that means it's ready to bite, whether with venom or without (dry bite). I didn't care. I don't want to get bitten, and I usually work up there in my sneakers. Mind, the four-foot or so snake didn't actually strike. I really think it's as scared of me as I am of it, though I have to say I wasn't horribly scared, per se, but more respectful of it. I know what venomous snakes CAN and WILL do. While I may have never encountered a live rattler before, I've certainly prepped enough with books (it isn't real hands-on learning, but it helps), and I think that helped me to stay calm and not get all riled up, which would have likely ended up with me bitten and Mr. Rattlesnake slithering off somewhere else quieter.

Honestly, I don't want to shoot him or her because "It's a poisonous snake and it's invading my territory." I know that it's more me invading the snake's territory. However, we do eventually intend on having livestock, and I really don't want poisonous snakes hanging around the house hoping for a free meal off the guineas and chickens and whatever else we have around that might accidentally set the snake off. It's the same as when I finally get a garden put in. We'll be fencing to prevent deer predation, rabbit predation and every other kind of predation we can think of, and doing our best to avoid hurting or killing the creatures as long as they stay OUT of where they aren't wanted. The homestead acre or so is where they are NOT wanted in that respect. Elsewhere on the property, we don't care.

I just told hubby in a text that I want a gun for our next big homestead purchase and he wanted to know why. I mentioned the timber rattler and he says "Snakeskin boots for me!" I really don't think he'd get a pair of boots - a hatband, maybe. Boots would be doubtful from that snake. But ... wildlife is fine in it's place, and the acre or so of actual "home" isn't it. The woods is. I'm willing to share the land, and they can have most of it for themselves, pretty much. I just want one little piece of it for us humans.  (Besides, there's a larger, abandonded property right  next door to us that they can have to themselves, too. Maybe I can sweet-talk Mr. Timber Rattlesnake over there???)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

June 9, 2012

Whew. The work's been better for hours this week, but this week and next will be tight, financially, putting us another couple of weeks behind. I'll be glad when the plant gets done doing whatever they're doing to fix the building so we can get more hours again, lol. We have stuff to DO! Hubster's check next week will be really short, he only got three days in. Mainly because he was taking a vacation day Friday to get the van tagged and a few other things done that need doing, so we knew he'd get a four-day check. Then he woke up Thursday sick as a dog with laryngitis and a bit of a fever. No work for HIM that day, and he hates getting sick. But at least the van's tagged and the other things that needed doing are done, including a haircut for him. He WAS getting a bit shaggy!

So a lot of general outdoors cleanup got done during the week, and Friday, instead of running both vehicles, he went to bed early for him so he could get up with me and drive me to work in the van, run his errands down in that area (like tagging the van, since the temporary tag expired today), and then come back to get me. We also figured we wouldn't be able to get to the property this weekend, so we opted to stop there for a couple hours on the way back home yesterday, and got a little bit done there.

He finally understands what I want on the forest thinning, lol. He assumed that I ONLY wanted the little stuff taken down. I got him to realize that I wanted some bigger stuff taken down, too, especially if it meets the "dead, diseased, dying, stunted, leaning, damaged, etc." criteria. He took down one reasonably-sized young tree, about six inches across at the bottom, and we thought of the small cluster that it was going to be the only bigger tree in it that came down. We looked after the small stuff was down and the bigger one, and realized there's another bigger one we thought would stay that's coming down, too. Darn thing is nice and straight for maybe fifteen feet and then the top starts going sideways. It's not only NOT aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but if it gets loaded with ice in the winter, it's coming down from the weight, and it won't be pretty. Better to notch it and make it come down the way we want it to, in a reasonably cleared area wheree it won't damage any mature trees we ARE keeping, or any nicer saplings we want to see grow bigger and nicer, and then cut it up for firewood.  With finances so tight next weekend, we won't make it there then, either, so likely next time you folks see photos, there may be some major changes.

Among other things, we are seriously considering a solar setup. We need to remember to check the full amperage on the house circuits, and I know it's 110v wiring, so it's a matter of getting the one number so I can do the math to convert to the wattage for the amount the whole house CAN pull for power, and cutting it by two-thirds for what will likely be the most we'll be pulling at any given time, even with all Q's electronic gadgets. He realizes that with an off-grid system, that we'll likely be only having most stuff plugged in when we're using it. Like my laptop right now is only plugged in when I use it. The rest of the time, the lid's closed and it's put up. So it doesn't use a lot of juice, and it recharges quickly. He knows he doesn't have to have his little stereo plugged in all the time just to have the clock set for the correct time ... as little as he uses it, it doesn't make any sense to have it plugged in except when he wants to play music. Same for the small TV he uses to play his PS2 games on ... if he's not gaming, it will be unplugged. Or the TV we (mostly he) watch. If it's not in actual use, unplug it. Only reason so much stays plugged in here is because the bills are included in the rent and he doesn't generally think about it. (Plus the outlets are mostly in the most inconvenient places possible to put them. Most of our stuff is plugged into surge strips and those into the outlets just so cords reach!)

So figuring out how big a solar system we'd need and how much it would cost is the next step, in case we choose that over hooking up to the county electric company. We also need to put in the screen door, get a few more sticks of furniture, move stuff up there, and a whole heck of a to-do list. Mind, a lot of it is stuff to do after we're moved, but it seems like the more we do, the more we find to do, and it's a overwhelming at times. But it's also pretty boring, lol.

Like the brush pile. I swear, the more I clear out of it, the more there is to clear out of it, and it's getting kind of dull. But it's like I tell people at work about processing poultry, and it applies to homesteading as well. Boring and dull are good things. Boring and dull mean everything is going along swimmingly and you don't have any worries. Excitement is a bad thing. Someone's hurt, something broke, etc. You do NOT want excitement in poultry processing or homesteading. I may be bored stiff some days from cutting the brush up and piling it in the woodpile (which is pretty respectable - I need to extend it lengthwise now), but it's nice that it's going well. Quentin says the woodpile, by the bye, may be around a quarter kindling courtesy of me, but at least it means when we make a trip to the pile for the day's wood, we don't have to worry about making sure to stop and grab kindling, too. Just grab an armload and we'll have logs AND kindling in one go. He says I need to also make sure to put a line of heavier stuff on top of all the kindling as the top layer of the woodpile, so if a good stiff wind comes along, the kindling won't end up in the driveway, lol.

We have talked about how we want to fix the deck when we redo it permanent, and how to close off the underside of the trailer. We don't want to use metal skirting. We're going to insulate the pipes, cuz goodness knows, we do not want frozen pipes if it gets that cold. However, we don't want metal skirting as that just adds to the freezing factor. He is going to put up plywood for skirting around the trailer and the bottom of the deck, with vent gaps in them every couple pieces of plywood, and a trap door in the deck floor to get in there to work if needed.

Then, because of the ticks under there, and the fact that there's a lot of trash under the trailer that we don't want any animals getting into (hence the use of plywood also, rather than metal skirting or even lattice), he's going under the deck and trailer once they're closed in and dumping a lot of Sevin under there to kill off the freaking ticks under the house. Nowhere else will be dusted with Sevin, just under the trailer and deck. We also want to use 1x6 boards as the deck flooring, because if one of them breaks or bows, it's a lot cheaper and easier to replace a single board vs. a whole piece of plywood. Add in that if it's a board, and Q's not around to do it, I can go to the store and get the thing myself and install it without help. Plywood I can't do that with. We're trying to make everything so that if he's not around for whatever reason, I can likely do it myself. The whatever reason eventually is most likely to be he's at work, but we're also considering what if he's sick or in the hospital or worst of all, dead?

So that's our week, basically. Plans are in the works for a lot of small projects, most of which will be able to be done in a weekend or two. You'll be the lucky recipients of all the photos and chitchat about them. Tonight, we're going to busy for a bit ... we have a local independent wrestling show to go to and root for one of the guys Quentin works with, as he's in a hair vs. belt match. (Our buddy Gary is the titleholder, and both he and the guy he's wrestling have long hair ... whoever loses the match gets their head shaved, lol. We hope it's NOT Gary!) Talk at you next weekend!

Addendum:  BUGGER. BALLS. The wrestling show got cancelled because of scheduling conflicts. Off to IMAX for a date night movie with the hubster then.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

June 2, 2012

It's been an eventful week, in more ways than one. There's so much to talk about, and some of it's uplifting and heart-filling moments, some of it enrages and saddens at the same time. Some of it is sheer curiosity on our part.

The heart-filling moments have involved my dear daughter, so far away "back home" in Michigan, where I'm originally from. Last time I wrote, she'd finished her last day of high school there. This week, on Thursday night, she walked for commencement. We are so proud of her, and her accomplishments. Wednesday night was Senior Awards Banquet, with the awards presentations after the dinner.  She got a music-related scholarship for $500. That one's based on a former music teacher for her high school who died suddenly and rather shockingly shortly after his retirement. His family established the scholarship. Big thanks to them. Big thanks also, as my daughter said, to her counselor, who helped so much through the last couple of years for her. DD also got an academic letter, an outstanding performance award for recognition of exceptions skills or ability in academic excellence, a perfect attendance award, and a Michigan Competitive Scholarship award, which is also worth up to $500 because of her high ACT scores. That was the high points of the week, even though hubster and I couldn't be up there to watch her walk and go to the open house today. That part's pretty crappy.

Thursday, I also woke up sick as all get out. Not to where I had to see a doctor sick, which is good, as I am a homeopath and much prefer not to visit the degreed quacks. But it was enough that it took me forty-five minutes to eat a bowl of cereal, and that wasn't even counting getting dressed, which I hadn't done yet. I apparently looked like sheer h**l, so Q wouldn't let me go to work, even going to far as to threaten to slash the tires on the car to make me take a sick day. He pulled rank on me!!!!!! Yeah, I'd like you to feel a little sorry for me, okay? He stood at the end of the bed and freaking glared at me while standing with his arms crossed and wouldn't let me go to work. So I had to call in, and I had to admit later that he was right. When I woke up again about nine-thirty, I decided to brush my hair. Took me twenty frigging minutes to do a five-minute job and I was exhausted by the end and nearly fell on my kiester. Shoot. Back to bed till one-ish, when he headed to work, before I felt halfway human again. So I feel kind of bad about Friday's events, because if I'd been able to go to work, I'd've been there to likely put a stop to what happened.

The enraging and saddening time was yesterday, Friday. After a half-day at work, I headed to the property for what was supposed to be a couple of hours of brush-cutting. All I can say to start is it's a good thing I moved the woodpile out of the power easement area last week, because the power company brush-hogged the easement. That's fine, they're allowed to. They are not, however, allowed to park their bleeping brush-hog on the private part of the property outside the easement, or have anything to do with this:
Yep, that is where the Taurus and the van were sitting. Supposedly, they were there Thursday when the crew brush-hogged and left at around one or one-thirty in the afternoon. Mind, the whole easement was brush-hogged, so why they parked their friggin' equipment on our property (ours by rental, but still ours) other than, oh wow, no furniture in the trailer, place must be abandoned, so we can park our stupid brush-hog here for however long we want! The two hours that I was going to be there yesterday turned into more like six hours by the time it was all done, between getting there and getting home.  It was about five hours up there altogether.

Yesterday's cast of characters:
Q - the hubster, and the more physical half of the renters
Me - the renter and spouse of the other half of the renters
M - my best friend an Mom to D1
P - husband to M and stepdad to D1, aka Daddy or P!!!!!!!!!!!
D1 - daughter to M, darn near a sister to me, and landlady (yes, you figured it right - we are renting from my best friend's daughter, lol)
D2 - husband to D1
CM - Deputy Sheriff from the County Mounties
BO - Brush-hog Operator. I know, I gave him an uncomplimentary nickname, but goodness, he deserves it, the idiot. Parking the equipment on private property.

I leave work in H-ville at the plant about 12:30 in the afternoon, and head to the little neighborhood Wally World they have there to pick up a snack to take with me to the property. Grabbed a Snickers bar, if you must know, so I could have it with my sammich and nut bar (I'm a little addicted to those Nature Valley Chewy Sweet and Salty Almond Bars) when I got to the house and could sit down to have my other lunch that I normally would have had on second break. I've already called Q to let him know I'll be at the property and for how long, chatted for a bit about Saturday's plans, and said see you Monday to all my coworkers. I got to the mountain road, headed up, thinking what a lovely day it was, and it really was. Gorgeous skies, comfortable temps, would have made for a glorious day to work outside on the brush pile. Instead, I pull in and find the d**ned brush-hog parked on the property, right next to the driveway where I usually park the car. I had to park nearly on the county road to be able to get out! He'd run over some stuff Q was going to cut down for me with the doggone thing in doing so, too. Bloody H**L.

Then I started walking up the driveway. Lalalala. Oh wow, the Taurus and the van are go ----.... *jaw drops* *eyes bugging out* Oh f**k, the Taurus and the van are gone!!!!! Into the trailer I go, to drop my lunch bag, and fish out my cellphone to call Q. Three times I call, and no answer. I finally texted him to please pick up the phone, and he called me back, wondering what the problem was. Mind, the rent had been due that day (Friday), but since Q had the day off, he paid it to D2 at the plant where they both work the day before, so as to not miss dropping it off. I ask Q, "When you gave the rent to D2 yesterday, did he say anything about them coming up to the property to get the vehicles?"
"No, honey, he didn't, why?"
"Because they're gone."
"They are gone. As in, not here. The places they sat are empty, devoid of vehicles."
"Oh f**k, we're in trouble."
"No, dear, we aren't in trouble. Whoever took them, however, is."

I ended up texting him the number for D1, as he wanted to make the call and find out for himself. A text soon arrived from M, asking me to stay up there if I was still there, and wait for everybody. P was on his way. Turned out, not only was P on the way, but so were D1 and M. Now, with M being pretty much completely "broken," as D1 is fond of putting it, they had to bring along her medications and little portable walker/chair, and good thing they did.

P arrived first and started to call the county mounties. D1 arrived with M as passenger in D1's van, and more phone calls ensued. I kept Q updated by texts, as well as eventually making a call to get a number for a scrap metal recycler up here near where we currently live. That was a good idea, as they had information on another one up this way. M called the local electric company to gripe about the vehicles being missing and they actually hung up on her. Mind, she was being nice but firm, and basically saying that if someone of their people had stolen them, she just wanted them back, no questions asked if they were returned. And the lady hung up on her. M called right back and was soooo nice. "Hi, Leslie. This is M. We were just talking about the missing vehicles and I guess we got cut off somehow." She can be so saccharine when she's really mad.

Soon after, she ended up talking to the Operations Manager for the electric company and I believe the General Manager as well. In the long run, the OM was willing to vouch for his people, after all, he personally hired every one of them! They wouldn't do something like this, he'd swear to it on a stack of Bibles as high as the moon! Maybe somebody drove by (a mile or more up a steepish mountain road that's reasonably remote????) and saw them from the road! (And considering that unless you are on the property, with or without permission, nine months of the year, you can't see diddly-squat from the road, that's a crock of s**t. Sorry for the potty-mouth, this whole thing cheeses me off like you wouldn't believe.) M did get them to agree to send someone out immediately to move the friggin' brush-hog.

Eventually, the CM arrived, and took the report. By then, some one of M or D1 or P had managed to find the VIN number for the Taurus and they were able to get that information to the CM. Also, D1 had been on the phone a few times to D2, who was still pretty mad about the whole thing and was calling tow truck companies to see if they'd towed the vehicles. When Q had called D2 originally and spoke with D2 as well, D2 was ... incensed would be mild, I would think. While waiting for the CM, I gave D1 and M the walking tour of the house, as they hadn't seen it since before cleanup started. Between that and what we've done to the outside, they were impressed, and at one point, D1 gave me a hug and thanked me for Q and I being up there. Otherwise, I don't think they'd've known the vehicles were gone for quite a while. I still feel bad, because if I hadn't gotten sick, I would have worked, and likely would have gotten to the property about the time that one of the vehicles was doing a disappearing act. But I feel good, too, because if I wasn't the type to show up there every day after I get off work, even just to do a walkaround, those vehicles could have been long gone and nobody would have known and the vehicles likely would have long since been scrapped, with no hope of ever finding out who took them. By being able to notify D1 and company so quickly, the police will be able to find the creeps who did this a lot faster and get them where they belong. To my mind, that's behind bars somewhere, but that's me.

Eventually, the blasted BO arrived to move the brush-hog, and stood around yakking, trying to garner sympathy. I'm sorry that he was going to be late for a wedding where he was apparently best man, and that he "had" to drive so fast to U-ette to get the keys to the brush-hog from his partner, just so he could come up and move it from where it was, but with all his "manly" whining about all of this, I wanted to get in his face and tell him that my Give A F**k button was broke, because if he or his partner (he admitted there was just the two of them up there working) hadn't stolen the cars, they likely knew who did, and are just as guilty as whoever took the things, never mind whoever drove the flatbed that had to be used to haul the flat- or no-tired Taurus and van out of there. Never mind, either, that he drove over my little pile of leafy bits that was going to be our kindling for this winter and shredded it for no good reason, since it wasn't even in the way. And let us not even get started on the fact that he shredded a few small trees with the brush-hog that were going to go into our woodpile, and parked the d**ned thing on private property. Freaking stupid idiot. He may be pretty smart, in general, but good grief, how stupid do you have to be to park your company heavy equipment on someone's private property? Like I told D1, Q and I plan on putting up fencing and separating the land into small pastures after a while, and what if we'd already had fencing up? D1 said, he'd've torn it right out, and she's right. And heaven forfend if we had livestock inside the fencing, as they'd've been free on the mountain. Oh yeah, that situation would have been a real gem. Eventually, we all left, but what a day Friday was. (And to D1 and M and company, I know I got stuff out of order to some extent, but the major points are correctly ordered!!! My brain is still freaking fried from yesterday's "little bit of fun."

So details were related to Q when I got home, and he's upset, too. You can imagine why. Among other things, we're responsible for making sure those vehicles don't get damaged. They have a lot of sentimental value to D1 and D2, and keeping them safeguarded was part of our job. Mind, everybody kept telling me we weren't in trouble, all was well, etc., but I still feel somewhat bad about it. I'll get over it in a few days. Have to admit, I feel worst for whoever took them, though, they're going to be in some serious doodoo with D1 and M and crew. M is especially seething over the camping gear that was in the van.

But that was yesterday, and today was a new tale. We got up, gassed up the van, grabbed powerades for Q, and headed to the property. The photo I took of his rather angry face at seeing where the vehicles were came out so blurry he's a blob, lol, but you should have seen his face. I don't think I've ever seen him quite that mad about something before. Plans for the day were reinforcing the deck joists (involving pulling off the plywood we'd reused last week temporarily), tacking down that piece of plywood so it won't shift while we're working on things, and getting some of the flagged stuff taken down. He especially wanted to try to get the big tree with the no trespassing sign downed and cut up some, and move the sign to the address number tree.

So we get out of the van, and one of the first things I see is this:
a cute little baby praying mantis! It's a bit blurry because I had to zoom in quite a bit to get a good shot of it, because it was just that tiny, maybe half an inch long. Isn't it cute?

This blurry shot is Q using the chainsaw on what was left of the logs he was going to try to cut up last weekend when the chainsaw bogged down. Turns out it was just horribly gunked up around the flywheel, and because of that mess, the flywheel couldn't possibly turn. No wonder it would start but not stay started. Sheesh. Some of the logs were driven over and brush-hogged by the idiot brush-hog driver. Mind, he moved some of them, but not all of them. If he could move all the heavier stuff, why couldn't he move all the lighter stuff, too? For heaven's sake, I put them all there, and I grant they were in the easement, at the edge of the drive, but I'm a small, fat woman. If I can move them off the frigging hill to where they were, why couldn't a big, strong man like BO move the little stuff, too? Honestly, when I moved them today for Q to cut up, I managed to haul them around three and four at a time. And I was moving them about ten or twelve feet up the drive, and all BO did was move them about two feet.
And this was the woodpile at the start of the day, before I started stacking on what Q cut up. Notice the water jugs? Mine, for rinsing off sweat and drinking. Oh wait, women glow. We don't sweat. So I use part of it for rinsing off the glow. Notice that the people who stole the vehicles moved my water jugs so nicely out of the way over by the new home of the woodpile.
These were my black raspberry brambles under the master bedroom window. They are now trampled to nothing. Grrr. There were still a lot of nice berries on them that weren't ripe yet for me to snack on, and now they are destroyed, pure and simple. All for someone to be greedy. It's not like they couldn't tell the place wasn't abandonded. The new work on the deck and the path down the driveway having recently cut down grass and weeds in it, and the brush pile being full of stuff with brown leaves on it, should all have been enough to show the place wasn't abandonded.
The deck after we took the loose board back off so Q could work on the joists more on the other side. You can see under the deck base also the rest of that other board and the joist that came down with it.
The wood that Q cut up before working on the deck, all stuff too big or too solid for me to get the handsaw through it. Took me six or seven trips with armloads to get this all piled into the woodpile.
The view down the mountain through the easement, where the vehicles were sitting. In the background, you can see the mountain that I can see through the trees from the deck during the winter. Blurry but it's awful pretty as a view.
Q working on the deck again. He's installing some joist braces to stabilize the deck, before putting things back together.
Nailing in another of the joist supports. See, Q has a face!!!!
Now he's putting what Lowe's called a "pole barn spike" into the side of the deck and into the end of the one joist where it is in the hanger.
That's the spike about halfway into the joist. Q stood up to wipe some sweat off, and I took advantage to get a shot of the spike.
Toenailing the spike into the other end of the joist. He's determined the thing isn't going to come apart until we're able to actually replace the deck properly.
Taking a short breather after getting the joists supported and the deck board back up, prior to tacking it down so it stays put.
This was what they did with the brush-hog to the very end of the brush pile and my pile of leafy kindling, which they didn't even need to run over. Yeesh. Shreds and busted wood.
The woodpile from another view, at the end of the day. Sure is growing. And yes, that monstrosity in the back is the blasted brush-hog that BO finally had come and moved into the easement where it properly belonged in the first place.
And this is the base of the tree that originally held the no trespassing sign, which was relocated to the tree above the house numbers. Q notched this sucker about four times trying to get it to come down, but it's oak, and it's big, and it has a serious case of "F**K YOU!" It isn't coming down easily or any time soon. Sheesh. It honestly won't even shift the littlest bit yet, but since the top of it is dead and the dead bits are slowly moving down the tree toward the ground, it's got to go. But it doesn't want to. Balls. Maybe next week.

For now, I'm off to bed. It's been a long day and I need to get some sleep. Tomorrow comes far too early, even if it is a Sunday and day off.