A Morning In The Country

It’s 7:45 am as I sit in our shed and look over the latest in the news (a habit I need to curb). I’m the only one up. I hear gunshots from next door and realize Mr. **** (Lawnmower Man), is probably after some critter that is after his chickens. I wonder if he got “it”.

I also hear the usual dogs barking, the roosters, and from farther away, the whinny of horses. A morning in the country.

It was cold last night and I’m thinking we need to move the stove back in for the winter. Nothing better to take the chill off. We went from baking to chilly pretty fast. I ponder how humans have such a limited tolerance to temperature variation. One tip in either direction…

Fires have been raging across the county for weeks but the rain of the past week has cleared the air. The two-month-long stretch of smoke and heat left us dragging. Larger pieces of burned bits of trees were beginning to fall from the sky last weekend along with the ash.

I guess I’m glad for the cold and rain. The water is getting gardened. 🙂

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Our garden is best classified as “wild” this year, with volunteer pumpkins and what I think is cantelope fighting for space within the narrow confines of the fencing. The beans never beaned. They just vined like crazy – most likely because of the excessive heat. The pumpkins are pumkining but are still small.

pumpkin

I’ve busied myself with projects such as the cat cabin Building A Cabin For The Cats. After it was finally done, I decided a zip line was the next “just the right thing”.

We have plenty of trees and hundreds of feet of old telephone pole cable half buried on the hillside. That’s most of the ingredients. I spent half a day digging the cables out and discovered they’re in excellent condition. Breaking the old bolts on the plates that secure them was tough.

Cable can be dangerous to work with. It’ll spring up and whack you hard if you aren’t conscious of it at all times. Hanging it requires a lot of tension. We had to buy a cable puller to get it around the tree trunks.

I ordered a trolley. It’s the thing with the wheels that runs along the cable. I’m going to recheck and reinforce all of the connections before we try it out. If it’s fun, we’ll run a series of them; just in time for us to move.

Speaking of that, Holdmybeerguy appears to be trying to claim adverse possession of the end of the easement by putting up a barrage of no trespassing signs with a note that says “Not a easement” (sic).

not a easement

We can’t let him do that. We have an ownership interest in fifteen feet on his side of the property line going up the hill towards his trailer. Once we’ve relocated, we’ll be having the road professionally graded and graveled – all the way to the end – where he can see everyone coming and going. He deserves it.

We’ll be adding an extra entrance to our own property at the very end. It’ll boost our property value and prevent him from claiming he has an exclusive right to access (adverse possession). A better road will benefit all of the land owners. If they want to chip in, fine.

I still have to tell the story of the skunk but I’m shivering.

Guns, Shovels and Signage

A long overdue rant.

Enough is enough.

We’ve decided to move.

You expect a different mindset in different regions but what we’ve experienced over the last three years has been completely off the charts and it’s getting worse.

One of our neighbors has installed a bunch of “funny” no trespassing signs on our two shared easements and more on his fences. Last count was about ten. It looks like a used car lot from hell – tacky and cheap.

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As I creep through the gauntlet in my dusty Durango, I almost expect a salesperson dressed as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre killer (only he has a shotgun), to step out from behind a tree into the car’s path.

In this particular scenario, I look nervously around from the driver’s seat as he walks around to the window and growls “Can I interest you in a vehicle? Just got some new ones in. Turn around real slow and have a look at the inventory.”

I look over my shoulder and see a field with a cow and a couple of goats as he jerks his head around at his house and yells, “Ma! Get the John Deer fired up! Gotta’ customer wants a test drive.”

You would need the John Deer to disappear a whole Durango.

“Never mind the dog – beware of owner” one sign says. We’re bewaring all right. He adds more every day and I wonder if he has one of those programmable electronic signs on order from ebay with maybe some of those frilly flag thingys thrown in.

I am not opposed to guns. I am not opposed to second amendment rights. I’m not on either side politically but I am irritated that this guy assumes we all want this kind of welcome mat.

Will this affect our property values?

What is this guy so threatened by? The government?

Did I mention this is no other than Cowheadguy The Totem?

At any rate, this is another example of a situation that forces us into either a  pushover or busybody position. We need to find our assertive position but I think we’ll end up waiting until the threat of being shot passes to object or let it go.

I miss the quiet we had during that first year after we pulled the Jayco Lite up the long dusty driveway. We’re looking for property with a larger buffer a little closer to a metropolitan area but still away from it all.

We do, however, have one card up our sleeve: this particular neighbor has inquired into buying our land when we leave.

Payback is a bitch.

Cougar

We share this place with all sorts of wildlife: turkey, deer, pheasant, skunk, rodents of every variety, bear – and cougar.

A family (Cowheadguy), has a small farm about a half of a mile down our almost mile-long easement road. It’s a type of micro-farm and he has (we know he has cattle – The Totem), goats, chickens, a dog and kids.

About four days ago, a cougar jumped or dug underneath the ten-foot fences he has around the various pastures and killed all four or five of his goats and a calf. I feel bad for the animals and for the family, differences aside.

Another neighbor of ours came over to warn us and said the sheriff’s department and/or Fish and Game has set up a trap for the animal with motion-sensor cameras. They will signal a man who is on call to come and deal with the cougar should it show up again.

In the meantime, I got permission to set up one of our security cameras on my neighbor’s property, trained on his entrance and a little down the road where the cougar might be traveling. I set it to audible alarm and to take a snapshot should it be motion activated.

The same neighbor, who has shot at the cougar and missed, thinks he’s found a game trail wherein it’s coming through his property. I set up a trail cam down there but so far all I’ve gotten is a house cat.

Yesterday, the neighbor informed me the cougar had gotten a bunch of chickens on Holdmybeerguy’s property just above us. Within a few hundred feet of our front door.

We’d already told our son not to walk around at night with his flashlight until the cat has been removed from the area, however that may happen. He carries bear spray if he even goes outside after dark. We do also.

I set all of the cameras to take a snapshot with motion but had to turn the audible alarms off because with all of the cameras, something like long grass (which I cut), or the damned spiders that are constantly weaving webs in front of the lenses, sets them off every few minutes.

We’re hoping this thing is taken care of soon. For all of us, including the neighbors we don’t get along with. At some level, we’re all human and have to come together for the common good.

Holdmybeerguy Now Has Dogs Or Someone Visiting With Dogs

What would you do?

The barking began two days ago. It’s worst in the evenings – and goes ALL night long – NONSTOP. I want to emphasize this isn’t intermittent and it’s LOUD.

The first night it started at around 11:00pm with the racket still echoing over the hillside when I finally went to bed around 2:00am. Last night it started even earlier. They were still barking at 2:00am when I finally fell asleep.

I woke up to the cacophony at 4:00am.

I tried to use high frequency noise after the first few hours yesterday but nothing. I discussed things with my husband – the fact that once again we were in a position wherein a totally thoughtless neighbor had backed us into a corner from where we had to react.

We considered giving it a couple more days in case this was a visiting relative of Holdmybeerguy and live through it rather than end up in yet another confrontation rather do something immediately.

We asked ourselves what kind of person lets their dogs bark continuously most of the night without a care in the world. I sure don’t know, but when I woke up at four this morning my mind was made up.

I was pissed. No more.

I walked up along our shared property line and looked for the source of the noise and saw a small pen set up with one or two medium to large dogs inside with one running around outside the cage. All of ’em were barking.

I yelled across their property for them to quiet their dogs then turned around and added “you have one hour before I call animal control”. Realizing it was pretty early, I quickly decided it was more prudent and reasonable to go down the work-things-out-directly checklist before I made any calls.

I went back to our trailer and scribbled a note telling them to quiet their animals and that I’d be more than happy to meet to discuss the matter in person because we have to sleep sometime. I taped it to the post along their road with Gorilla tape. Two tiny pieces of paper from a notepad with extra wide industrial strength adhesive tape bigger than the note. Maybe I was trying to make a statement.

That was about twenty minutes ago, then I came in to vent.

What would you do? How long would you be willing to listen to three dogs bark all night long before you approached the owners, called animal control or the sheriff?

This is the guy who stole one of our UPS packages and ripped a full grown tree out of the ground with a chain right on our shared property line where we had trees that could have been damaged. This is also the guy who threw huge chunks of asphalt all over the easement when it got muddy making it almost impassable so I’m thinking that aggressive, swift action is the way to handle this situation.

Wish me luck. I don’t like confrontation but you have to show people like this that you’re not going to put up with their shit. Incidentally, we love dogs and have owned them. We don’t right now because we don’t have a fence as a guarantee of keeping them from wandering. As for the barking; no way in hell would we ever allow that kind of behavior.

Why us? Why the neighbors from hell?

I wish I had a nice poem for this one but I don’t think I’d be able to find enough expletives that rhyme.

Someone Paved Our Driveway – Sort Of

It’s that time of the year again – when the snow melts and the ground doesn’t. As a result, billions of gallons of runoff heads in our direction in the space of about three weeks.

The layer of permafrost won’t let the water soak in except for the topmost couple of inches; just enough to make a nice mud pie.

Our driveway, which doubles as a seasonal creek and has never been user friendly,  becomes a bog. It should have been regraded and graveled a couple of years ago but that would have required the neighbors to agree on something.

We have three times the traffic this year and every time someone drives through the goop, it gets deeper and threatens to suction the car in place – never to move again – and it’s one lane.

The prospect of becoming a ginormous speed bump the neighbors have to negotiate on their way home is enough to keep us far, far away from The Thing – The Road.

The destruction extends all the way to the main road. The postal service left a nasty-gram in everyone’s mailboxes telling us to fix the road or no mail would be delivered.  Luckily someone  dumped a load of rocks in front of the boxes, thus restoring our service.

The trek is so intimidating we stay home unless we’re out of oxygen or something. Don’t try to text during the ride or you may end up ruining a relationship with someone you never knew and becoming best friends with someone from Lisbon, Portugal in the space of a quarter mile.

By the time you reach the street, there’s a chance you’ll be seasick and may have incurred some sort of blunt force trauma after glancing off of some inner furnishing of the vehicle. The violent lateral lurches are capable of putting a head through a passenger door window.

The other day we needed cat food (oxygen), so we piled into the four-wheel  and braced ourselves. As we crept to the top of the worst part of the easement – a steeply graded slope – we looked down and noticed someone had laid pavement at the bottom.

More accurately, someone had lobbed chunks of broken asphalt all over the road. They lay at all angles and sizes where they were chucked. Some slabs were two feet in diameter with smaller shards mixed in.

This project had our uppermost neighbor’s “hold my beer” signature all over it. Huge ruts from his truck now cut into and through portions of the road – which he missed with the asphalt.

What we were looking at reminded me of a school project. Imagine a four-year old with some glue and macaroni only big.

I told my husband to stop while I jumped out and I redistributed the minefield.

I  jumped back in and we skirted the construction zone as far to the right as we could without rolling down the slope away from the road.

Now we had to make it past Cowhead Guy’s house (explanation here).

Never a dull day.

The Totem

You may have heard of The Long Long Long Driveway.

It’s the almost mile-long unpaved easement we share with our neighbors to get to our landlocked properties. The stretch of gravel and dirt resembles a stream bed in places and a mud-bogging race track in others, depending on the season.

The legal agreement says it’s for “ingress and egress” only, but it’s become oh-so-much more – including a nifty place to display one’s trophies for all to see; in this case, the head of a freshly slaughtered bull.

Our newest neighbors have placed this lovely item on top of a fence post right next to the shared entrance to our property. I’ve put the photo at the end of this post, far far down so those who don’t want to see it don’t have to.

Who does this and why? Is this what farmers do after a slaughter or could it be  because someone is pissed because I yelled at them about the snowmobiles and they want to send us a message?

There’s a history with the snowmobiles.

Shortly after we moved in, one family took it upon themselves to ride their mobiles all over the property that surrounded and spanned the driveway, tearing it and the road up pretty badly.

When I confronted them, the matriarch of the clan claimed they’d just bought the lot. I found out differently the next day and the not-very-happy realtor sent someone up to straighten things out. Turns out they’d made an offer then weren’t able to “perform” or fulfill their end of the deal. It wasn’t their property.

The next year, after another of their family members bought one of the remaining lots, they resumed their riding only this time, in large circles around the surrounding properties, essentially turning the barely snow covered road into a racetrack.

Out went a letter from our attorney and all was quiet until a couple of months ago, when there they went again. We gathered evidence via surveillance cameras just in case, and I finally yelled at the top of my lungs for them to stay the hell off of the easement as they drove by.

They had a pow wow about it after driving the machines up onto someone else’s private property and rallied for one last stand or drive. I could hear every word they said as they plotted from their secret place atop the hill. I had to resist the urge to yell out “I can hear you” from the darkness. I believe there may be some discontent.

By the way, one of them stole a UPS package from us a couple of months ago. We have good reason to be out there standing our ground. It’s a shame but we have not picked the fights.

Back to the bull. Is this a thing in rural America; the displaying of your leftovers from the slaughter? What’s gonna happen when it warms up? Is this thing going to sit atop it’s post and rot into the summer?

Will we break down and leave a note in their mailbox or go up to their door and tell them to please put it away with the rest of the Halloween decorations until next year? Does anyone know this to be a custom of farmers and won’t it attract predators?

I love Halloween, but please.

Photo way below – off screen. 🙂

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cow

Hermits

Hiding from the neighbors.

Today, my husband and I took turns peeking suspiciously out our closed curtains to see if the neighbors had fixed their broken-down truck which stood near the entrance to our property.

Neither of us wanted to go outside and expose ourselves to the perceived scrutiny of one of the men who stood around the vehicle with its lid propped open. You see, we’d had this place to ourselves until “they” moved in about a year ago and to this day, we are about as anti-social as they come.

Why didn’t they tow the truck the rest of the way up the hill to their property where all the tools were? Why leave the truck out in the “open” where we could watch every move they made? Didn’t it bother them? Is this a cultural thing?

I hope you get that I’m talking tongue-in-cheek

We understand the psychology of social anxiety. Some of us are more introverted than others and have the perception that we are different and might somehow be unliked by others; in this case – the locals.

We get that it’s our own insecurities and we joke about it freely.

The truth is, however, that we want to be left alone. We want our privacy and if a seven-foot tall fence was in our budget, you better believe we’d have one by now.

Human relationships are the most important part of life but every time our neighbor (Lawnmower Man) starts up his Sears Special, we find ourselves halfway hoping he’ll run over a really big branch that will stop the machine in its tracks – at least temporarily. Although I’ve chatted with him a few times, I’ve always left the conversation wanting to run away as fast as I can.

He has a lot of plans for his property but his property is smack next to ours and every time we hear the chainsaw start up, we cringe and hit the real estate ads. I want to be in control of when I socialize and watching my neighbor cut the grass right up to my property line thirty feet away every other day unnerves me.

We moved to the country for solitude.

Where we came from, our neighbor’s doorstep was two-hundred feet from our own and I was not allowed to plant a single bush for privacy because the HOA said we couldn’t.

One day I set up a carnival-like play area for my then youngster with bean bag throwing, an alien bubble-making tub, and other fun stuff. The power-hungry president of the HOA showed up on my doorstep to point out that the driveways were not designated for such use.

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I took the matter into my own hands and ended up uncovering so much corruption the whole organization had to be overturned.

This history is, in part, why we are so reclusive.

Hemmed in and getting panicky, we are carefully planning ahead to ensure we have a buffer around our new home when the time comes – lots of acreage surrounding ground zero – our front door.

This evening, we finally heard the thunderous rumbling of our neighbor’s V-8 and we rushed to the blackout curtains to take a peek. The hood was down – this was good. All tools were put away. Almost time to skulk out from beneath our rock and sprint to the car for the pop.

But alas, the man and his accomplices decided to gather around the truck to chew the straw for another hour.

Cornhole and the alien bubble-making booth will have to wait until tomorrow 🙂

 

Lawnmower Man

A poem about conquest.

He moved out to the country just to cut it down and tame it
Should have bought a condo and had someone else maintain it
With chainsaws, mowers, chippers, tillers, every shape and size
He’s here to stay he’s clearing the way it’s time to colonize
At six am we hear the roar he’s got the chipper chipping
Another tree he’s on a spree the landscape he is stripping
He has big plans with his bare hands he’ll mold it to his taste
A cul-de-sac and traffic lights not one inch left to waste
I wonder why he chose to live in natures splendid glory
The turkeys, deer, the wolves and cats this was their territory
When we arrived before his time ’twas tranquil and so soothing
Its time to go we like things slow we’re packing up and moving

Two Years Ago Today

We left western Washington; destined for our new home on the range.

The morning we neared our new home driving up Highway 395, the song Runnin’ Down A Dream played on the radio as the first hint of daylight tinted the eastern sky. We were pulling our Jayco Lite travel trailer with our 1986 Ford F-250 my husband lovingly called Bridgette.

That was two years ago today.

The space between then and now has been packed with memories a person cannot make up.

Survival trumped all else the first year while we carved out a place for ourselves among the Ponderosa Pines on the iron-rich bedrock.

We still get our water from a spring we dug and our energy from two gas generators and a solar power system. I’ll be so glad when a glass of water and a shower no longer involves moving mountains.

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We put up a huge portable shed but haven’t done much else because we haven’t had the  money. We’re still living in a fifth wheel but plan on building a small log home when money permits.

I’m not looking forward to another winter as the fall equinox approaches although my husband’s learned how to drive fairly well in the snow and we now have a fireplace to keep us warm.

We’ve learned to live with the wildlife for the most part and our garden is two years old and full of half-eaten tomatoes (deer like them) and squash. I’m growing a gigantic pumpkin that I’m proud of and we introduced morel mushroom spores to the side of our property where we hadn’t previously seen any grow so we can harvest them in the future.

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We’ve learned a lot about living off-grid and are a lot wiser but we remain humble as a precaution. Never take anything for granted and never get overconfident.

We’ve spent the past two years planting some financial seeds that are beginning to produce with big plans going forward.

Perhaps most remarkable is that we’re even starting to get along with the neighbors. That’s true progress.

 

Meditation and Mushrooms

It’s not what you think.

In my quest to better myself and my life, I’ve decided to take up meditation and in my husband’s quest for mushrooms (no, not psychedelics), he stumbled upon a whopper.

A Giant Western Puffball eight inches in diameter weighing nine pounds.

It looks eerily like a human skull and it’s now in my freezer.

I’ve known about puffballs for years and have collected and cooked them but I had no idea we had these enormous masses growing in the Pacific Northwest. They are edible and taste and feel much like tofu from what I’ve read.

We put it on Craigslist.

As for meditation, I need to learn how to shut out the gunshots as my neighbor is target shooting.

I’m interested in rewiring my brain and apparently meditation helps to accomplish that.  I previously saw it as a “hippy” thing to do but there’s research now that shows it’s super effective in changing for the better.

Meditating temporarily disengages your mind with the subconsciousness making it easier to replace negative with positive attitudes.

I’m starting off with short intervals that I can do while the neighbor reloads.