A brief introduction: Hi I am Jacob.
TL;DR: There is no tl;dr because you should have more patience and attention span than a gnat on a high wind.
Apocalyptic Homesteading Day 61-74!
Finishing The Dog Yard, Building A Deck, Moving To The New Site & A Few Thoughts About Lifestyle Choices
The days have gone by in a slow motion blur and I have not taken the time to write out my thoughts each day the way that I have done over the previous four years. For the most part my thoughts are slow and ponderous these days and for better or worse I have been staying rather tuned into what the current zeitgeist is and trying to discern where the hell things go from here as a country divided whilst struggling in the grip of a pandemic and extreme economic uncertainty as well as a helping of social unrest to boot. The events that have played out over this last month have really pushed me to take a long step back from everything and just do some important self-examination as well as a larger examination of the very social fabric that we are all a part of in the hopes that some things would sort of 'snap into focus' for me. Although I feel a heightened concern for the larger body of the world around me I at least feel good about the area that I live in, the folks involved and the many projects that I have been working on.
Mainly I did my best over the last many weeks to improve my quality of life by finishing the dog yard, building a large deck at the new shelter site and then moving all my camping setup (as well as the dogs and chickens) to the new site. The gates all came out super well and the deck got constructed rather quickly but it sure is stout and very level! Although I have only been living in the area for a week now it already feels like home and the dogs love having the big yard to run in. There is even a dedicated electric line with a sub-panel so that I can continue to use that oil recirculating electric heater to stay warm in the canvas tent. It is after all still winter and being up on an elevated deck on the side of a hill means that I get a lot more wind than where I was previously camping but I also get an incredible amount of sunlight so that is not all that bad of a compromise.
Overall the new site accommodates me, the dogs and chickens quite well. For now I sectioned off the lowest downhill portion of the yard with the temporary PVC dog yard fence so that the chickens have their own big fenced in area inside of the larger dog yard. The gate on that fence stays closed throughout the day when the chickens are foraging and then at night when I put them in their big dog crate (the temporary coop I have been using) I leave that gate open so that the dogs can access the area which is especially good when the predators are out and about. The chickens seem fairly content and I set up that smaller pink crate that I initially transported the chickens in as a laying box for the hens. I have lost track of just how many eggs that they have laid since our arrival here but at this point they seem to be laying one to two eggs a day and both the hens do a good bit of brooding and share the single nest quite well.
At this point I have yet to start the cabin building project and am still in the process of procuring all the materials which is much more tricky to do than at any other point that I can recall. It is not just that there are availability issues but also the frigging prices of lumber have tripled and quadrupled since this time last year. In fact I have equally never seen lumber prices go this high and suspect that if they do ever fall that it will not be by much. It seems to me that given the curvature of the previous year they will probably continue to rise in cost and aside from milling my own lumber there just is not anything that I can do about that aspect of things. As crazy as it might sound the difference in price of buying a small sawmill compared to paying the currently inflated price of lumber is not even a real comparison because you could easily buy two small mills and still come out ahead. Rough-cut lumber assuredly is labor intensive but the way things are now with the prices it really would be worth it to go that route. As with most things though, felling trees, moving logs, cutting and then curing lumber is quite the involving proposition and nowhere as simple as it seems at face value.
On a different note, something kept nagging at me while I was camping at the old base camp site and by the time it came for me to start pulling up stakes and moving I had finally started to gain some perspective on what it was. It really cannot be summed up as 'one thing' in particular but the absence of many things in my day to day life. I am still using that french press instead of having my usual espresso but that is not something that I think is a big factor but it is a factor nonetheless. I missed the daily routine of cleaning up the dog waste and adding it to the compost mound which I never got into doing here until I got moved to the new site. Getting that one routine back in place and 'creating' something with the compost and worms was not just a feeling of accomplishment but also of connection/involvement with the world around me. What I truly discovered (or was just reminded of) was that the simple routines like composting waste, burning burnables, hauling water, raking leaves, clearing deadfall from trails and many more things... amount to a lot of my time devoted to doing things which can all be summed down as my 'lifestyle'. Let me tell you (once again) that camping is assuredly not my lifestyle. Having those daily routines and doing them out of habit (gained via necessity over the years) makes for a clear change for me when they are absent so it is nice to be establishing them here at last.
During the last few weeks I have done an incredible amount of stuff outdoors because the weather has for the most part been fair but as of late the temperatures have been dropping at night and it has been raining a good bit. Being able to just let the dogs run lose in the dog yard has taken an immense amount of strain off of my mind as well which has also helped me be able to focus on doing projects without anxiety for them nagging at me. One of the things that I did with some of my time recently was to finally start getting a handle on some of the vegetation infringing upon the roads and trails here and especially deal with a bunch of thorny stuff that kept snagging me. I really need to get back into the habit of carrying a pair of pruning sheers in my back pocket when I am walking around because it seems like everywhere I go I find stuff that needs either trimmed back or removed altogether. It is a good time of year to be getting that sort of stuff out of the way before it explodes in growth when the warmer weather arrives which thankfully is still a month or two away.
When the weather does change it is going to be rather sudden and I am going to have to double down on being cautious for rattlesnakes because I am absolutely nestled deep within their habitat. One of my biggest concerns in that regard is that as of now the dog yard is covered in leaves and I want to rapidly convert it to something that does not help the snakes camouflage themselves. My plan is to move the temporary PVC dog yard with the chickens in it to several places around the dog yard and each time that I move them spreading grass seed over the area that they had previously been in and thus scratched up. I may also make another small fence to keep the dogs off the recently seeded areas so that they will have a chance to sprout and grow undisturbed. Once the grass gets itself established it will spread rather rapidly as long as I continue to keep the dogs off of it and let it do its thing. Hopefully by the end of spring I will have grass growing over the majority of the dog yard or at the very least all of its edges and a few large patches spaced around it. Thankfully there is both good soil and good sunlight at the site so one way or another the grass will grow eventually. Like that snip from one of my favorite authors goes: There will be water if God wills it.
It has been a rainy day here so far and I figured that the best way to start writing again each day was to sit down and peck out a few words. The break from doing it was well timed because it was during that same time frame that I began the journey of sharing my daily thoughts four years beforehand. In that span of time I have no clue exactly how many words I have churned out chronicling my days and adventures but suffice it to say that throughout the experiment I have learned and grown and have even caught onto a few of my own patterns and tendencies along the way and how to work with them. In short I can safely say that the journey of words has lead me to a better place within myself than when I began and overall in better condition to deal with life without a bunch of depression and alienation getting in the way. In many ways I have mellowed out over the last four years and I sure as hell could not have timed it better given the apocalyptic state of affairs. It is nice that my life has not changed all that much over the last year as things have really started to melt down but it is not like it all has not affected me. Something that has grown clear to me is how insulated my life is from true disruption and just how resilient and flexible my lifestyle is when faced with change.
As far as my mental attitude and all that goes I am doing well and still plodding along each day further developing the site and getting my own setup more dialed in. During my entire time here I have maintained a rather unwavering approach to everything that I am doing and actually not had a rough go at things at all aside from my usual disdain for camping and 'making do' while I get things setup the way that I want them. This part of the process is always grueling when setting up a new site but just knowing that it will eventually end is a massive incentive to keep putting in the hard work and making things more accommodating. Although I could go on indefinitely living the way that I currently am there is no part of me that actually wants to because I like having all the amenities that really make life worth living in the first place.
Living in the woods is always quite the attractive idea and sure anyone could more or less do it for some period of time but having the things that will make it a comfortable experience is a whole other matter entirely and one that involves many steps and lots of resources. Personally I like approaching the process methodically whilst pacing myself but I definitely have those days (and weeks) where I know that I stayed busy the entire time but have no recollection of what I did or if I am truly any closer to my end goals or if I just did a bunch of side quests instead. Documenting stuff sure helps with all of that and of course there will always be a slew of side quests to contend with no matter what the project might be. I do my best to stay on task and not get over-involved or distracted but sometimes one thing just leads to another and before I know it I am looking for some tool to fix some other tool to do some task to unlock the next phase of things and so forth and so on ad infinitum. Those are the times I just stop, look around, take a deep breath and begin retracing my steps so that I can get back to doing whatever the primary mission was or just move onto something else entirely. Fortunately for me I am long practiced at managing my own time and if the days were not so short (and often chilly) I would undoubtedly be making much more progress than what I am.
Anyway. I cannot sum up my gratitude for being where I am at in life and doing what I am doing and although I have slacked off on creating content over the last month that will definitely not be so in the months ahead. The break was very nice and undoubtedly long overdue to occur for one reason or another but I think that it is important that I continue to document my life and share it to the best of my ability. Being a writer in this day and age is kind of daunting because the times will forever be fucking historic and there is tremendous pressure that those doing the writing get it correct or at least coherent and whoa I do not even know if it is possible because so much of it absolutely defies words. There has never to our knowledge been a global society so interwoven that has experienced this sort of upheaval which makes it all to be in very uncharted waters as far as historical references go. Sadly there is no user manual for the apocalypse but we have evidence that plenty of non-global societies have weathered similar storms so perhaps there is hope that working together folks can keep the machinery of civilization at the very least operational if not well-oiled and running smoothly. There are plenty of 'off the wall' folks out there pushing against change (and for change) of some kind or another and they do not mind if they destabilize everything else along the way but realistically I really like being able to buy my groceries at a store and not live in a crazy end of the world war zone under the threat of violence and instability. Call me crazy but I just want to work on my projects and continue living my life without making it any more damn stressful than it already is... why folks would want it any other way is just ludicrous and downright irresponsible.
Well, I guess that I am just going to wrap this up and try to figure out what the heck the days are that I missed writing about. I lost track along the way but I am going to get back on track here and just figure things out. I think that I am almost done with my ninety day adjustment period to a new site so that is a nice feeling. It has been a peculiar winter but at least it has been a productive one. I hope that everyone is doing well and has a nice day/night.
More about me: I have been doing property caretaking (land stewardship) for many years (decades) and live a rather simple life with my dogs doing what most folks would consider to be an 'alternative minimalist lifestyle' but what I often just think of as a low-impact lifestyle where I get to homestead and spend the majority of my time alone with my dogs in the woods doing projects in the warmer months and taking some downtime during the colder months.
Nearly four years ago I began sharing the adventures (misadventures) of my life via writing, videos, pictures and the occasional podcasts and although my intention was to simply share my life with some friends it undoubtedly grew into much more than that over the years and now I find myself doing what equates to a full-time job just 'sharing my life' which is not even all that glamorous or anything but hey folks seem to enjoy it so I just keep doing it!
The way that I look at it is that I give it all my best each day and while some stuff I write is better than others I think that for the most part I do a pretty good job at doing what I am doing which is simply 'sharing my life' as candidly as I possibly can and whatever folks get (or do not get) from it there is always the satisfaction of me doing what I set out to do... which is to simply share my life.