The Gathering Area and The Septic Tank

Once we had the clearing cleared of clutter (I love alliteration), we were finally able to bring up our travel trailer on weekends while we were working.  We were also able to invite my sister and brother-in-law, Deana and Danny, to bring their 5th wheel and camp with us periodically and enjoy the great outdoors without having to pay for a camping spot!  Nor did we have to follow strict campground rules, but instead could laugh as loud as we wanted until the wee hours of the morning. This was a necessary and much needed activity, as we were getting tired of doing nothing but working while we were on the property.

When your campsite is on your own property, you get to set the rules! Generator at midnight, laughing out loud until dawn!

When your campsite is on your own property, you get to set the rules! Generator at midnight, laughing out loud until dawn!

Once we had the home base established, we were finally able to start developing the land rather than just grooming it.  The first and foremost project was to be our septic tank.  We had heard through the grapevine that our county, much like the one to the south of us, would soon require those expensive sand-filter ugly mound septic-type tanks, so we figured we would go ahead and get ours put in right away, before the building codes changed.  We found a local guy, Bob, who specialized in septic tanks (the further away from your property, the more they charge because of diesel fuel to get the tractor to and from) who came over to survey our property and give us an estimate.  He offered to bulldoze some of the manzanita tree stumps we had left behind into a pile (oh no, not another slash pile) for a small additional fee and gave us his opinion where the septic and leach fields should go.  After he gave us his estimate (SOLD!) we went down to the county permit office, filed our permit and paid our fee.  While we were at the county office, the clerk showed us how to go online to view the status of our permits and, quite frankly, just about anyone else’s permits within the county! 

This is the paper Bob gave us showing the layout and some specifications of our system.

This is the paper Bob gave us showing the layout and some specifications of our system.

A week later Bob came to the property with his tractor and within just a few short hours had completely cleared the area where the house would be along with the septic and leach fields, had dug a grave-like hole in the ground to receive the septic tank, and had trenched the lines for the leach field.  Let me tell you, this guy was on it!  Just as the trenches were dug, here comes a rock truck, and within the next hour he had all the rock laid in the trenches and the leach lines laid out.  This was all before noon!  Next came the county inspector, followed by a huge truck carrying the actual septic tank, which was dropped down into the hole using the truck’s crane.   DONE! 

No, no, this wasn't dug for a casket - this is the hole Bob dug with his backhoe, later placing our septic tank in it!

No, no, this wasn’t dug for a casket – this is the hole Bob dug with his backhoe, later placing our septic tank in it!

Holy cow, our first real investment completed!  When the final inspection certificate came in the mail, we were actually proud! 

We Have Worms

My husband and I gave each other worms for Christmas – a vermiculture worm bin, to be exact!  I know, I know, some of you think that’s not a very “charming” present for a husband to give his wife, but it was actually my request!  I’m not really the diamond necklace or Louis Vuitton type of gal.  Just give me some kind of practical item that I can use to make my life more comfortable or easier (I really love flannel pajamas and new leather work gloves) and I am a happy camper! 

You see, my husband has tried to raise earthworms in the past for his fishing obsession (which I love because it gets him out of the house and I get fresh fish!) but after a few months the worm container would get over-watered, under-watered, stinky from the rotting worm food or infested with fruit flies.  The escapees would make travelling across the garage where the bin resided a hazardous route….. have you ever slipped on a worm in the dark onto a cold, hard concrete floor?  It’s not pretty. 

Worm farm

This is the vermiculture kit my husband and I gave each other for Christmas.

Therefore, when my all-time favorite nursery, Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply– had an after Thanksgiving sale, I jumped on the opportunity to buy a Worm Factory 360 composting worm bin system.  Not only will my husband have an almost endless supply of redworms for fishing, but our new little pets will provide a nutrient-rich compost for our garden!  This system conveniently uses kitchen vegetable scraps and junk mail as food for the worms and, according to the literature, will process up to five pounds of food waste and junk mail each and every week!  Talk about the ultimate recycler!   

bedding material

This was the bedding material for the worm farm – coir, shredded newspaper, pumice and 1 cup of compost


So about a week ago, Michael, my youngest son, and I visited The Worm Farm in Durham, California  I wanted to purchase a pound of the redworms Eisenia Fetida (about 800-1,000 redworms), but the gentleman who helped me, who was actually the owner of this family based business, actually gave me more than 1-1/2 pounds of the little wigglers, charging me only for the one pound!  Such a nice guy! 

worm food

worm food – apple core, coffee grounds, old celery and over-ripe squash.


I took them home, set up the worm factory, and then put the little darlings to bed.  I will report back in a month or so on this topic to let you know how everything is going.  I am curious to see if we get any odors, fruit flies or escapees.  Time will tell!

worms in bed

The worms have been put in their new home! I will check back in a week to see how they are doing.

Shared at these blog hops:  Home and Garden Thursday, Homeacre Hop, Transformation Thursday and Simple Lives Thursday

We meet our new neighbors

We continued to work on our driveway through the spring and into the first summer.  There was an area about half way through our property that had a small slash pile and somewhat of a clearing, which we supposed was a staging area when the land was logged in the distant past.  We worked feverishly to clear this area so that we would be able to bring our travel trailer up during work weekends.  Let me tell you, sleeping in a real bed rather than a leaky air mattress after a hard day of work is much kinder on the muscles!  And, as most of you know, travel trailers have refrigerators, so we would no longer have to lug around an ice chest once we could bring up the trailer.

 One day as Ray and I were chipping some of the punky wood in the slash pile, this humongous hairy creature suddenly appeared.  Ray was not paying attention to anything other than the chipper so when I ran to him and pointed to this huge brute who was rambling toward us at a lazy gait, he turned off the chipper and pushed me behind him.  Isn’t it sweet – his chivalrous nature was going to protect me from this massive animal.  As the behemoth continued her nonchalant path toward us, I was desperately trying to recall:  am I supposed to look them in the eye or look away?  I couldn’t remember, but at this point there was no way I wasn’t going to look at this beast!  Ten feet away now and we noticed she was wagging her tail and looking straight at us.  She stopped and sat on her haunches right on top of an area of charcoal where we had burned part of the slash pile, then plopped down on her side and went to sleep.  Holy cow!  This dog wasn’t afraid of us, apparently wasn’t vicious and just came over for a nap on the charcoal warmed by the sun!  This is how we met Moose. 

This is Moose, one of the most gentle and affectionate dogs we have had the pleasure to know.

This is Moose, one of the most gentle and affectionate dogs we have had the pleasure to know.

We knew there were dogs around because we had heard their occasional bark.  Soon after the day we met Moose, she brought over her two partners, Bui and Buffy.  Bui was a German Shepherd-ish dog and Buffy was a little smaller, long-haired and – well – buff colored.   We got to know the three pretty well that year.  We realized that Moose was the matriarch, Bui the hen-pecked male and Buffy was the skittish one.   

A few weeks later my sister Deana and her husband Danny were visiting and we decided to take a boat ride on the reservoir that is situated down the hill from our property.  We wanted to see if we could spot the ridge where our property is situated from the water’s side.  While boating up a tributary of the reservoir Danny spotted a group of wolves, or large coyotes on the shoreline, rambling along in a pack of three.  We all stared wide-eyed at the group, but as we got closer to the pack Ray started laughing and shouting in amazement.  Those weren’t wolves or coyotes.  It was Moose, Bui and Buffy!  Our property is at the 3,000 foot level and the reservoir is at about the 800 foot level, but this pack made it all the way down to water’s edge!  Later, when we met their owners, we found that these three regularly went down to the lake. 

Louie has become my companion and guardian. For the price of an occasional pet and much loved ear rub, he will follow me around when I am working by myself, giving me security and peace of mind.

Louie has become my companion and guardian. For the price of an occasional pet and much loved ear rub, he will follow me around when I am working by myself, giving me security and peace of mind.

Moose, Bui and Buffy were the first three of this family that we were to meet.  Over the last few years we have had the pleasure of meeting Buffy’s daughter, Whiskey.  Then Whiskey had Burl (another story I will tell later).  Sadly, Bui died of old age last winter.  Buffy, Whiskey and Burl are gone too.  Such is the life of a mountain dog.  Three or so years ago Kaluah (Louie) and Swede were added and then recently we met Tara and Jupiter.  Though we still have a heart for Moose (she is getting to be an old girl now), Louie is our favorite.  He seems to like us too.  Whenever we are up working on our property, Louie comes over to greet us, nudging our hands for a pet.  If I am by myself working somewhere in a secluded place on the property, Louie keeps vigil by my side and I have never felt safer.  I honestly believe he would defend me if I was ever to come across a bear or mountain lion. These dogs have also been taught “dog manners” and if they are in our way for some reason, a simple “shoo” or “go home” is all that is needed. Of course, the best part of the deal is that we don’t have to feed them, pay for their vet bills nor provide a place for them to live!  They are our friends and we are theirs.  Special thanks to M and B.

With A Little Help From Our Son….

After a month or so of clearing the cute, shady lane leading into our property from the road, we arrived one bright, early Saturday morning to see tire tracks on the lane.  Apparently it had rained a few nights before and the suspicious tracks were imprinted in the now drying mud.  I know it sounds silly, but we felt violated – like we had been visited by a burglar!   Further investigation of the tracks lead us to an area where we had previously cut through a huge fallen cedar which had blocked the lane.   A few weeks ago we had removed  the cedar with a chainsaw just to the edge of the lane so we could pass beyond it, but left the majority of the log that was not blocking our access on either side of the lane.  Whomever our stranger (burglar, trespasser, stink-face) was, he had helped himself to the rest of the cedar!  We were outraged!  How could this happen?  Our property was situated on a privately owned graveled road with signs at the head of the road saying that it was all private property, along with Neighborhood Watch signs!  We weren’t upset so much by the loss of wood, but by the feeling that we had been violated!   

Ray and Stephen digging the holes for the posts.

Ray and Stephen digging the holes for the posts.

It was then and there we decided we needed a gate and some Private Property/No Trespassing signs.  The signs were easy enough to find, but where to find a simple utility gate?  We knew that some day, when we were actually living in our new home on the property we would replace a simple gate with a nicer gate, opening and closing with a solar run gate opener.  But right now we just needed a cheap gate to keep people from actually driving into our property.  Our first thought was to search the internet and see what came up.  Much to our chagrin, one of the first listings on our search was the Tractor Supply Company.  Oh yeah, of course!  When my sons were little I used to take them down to TSC when they would get in their baby chicks and ducks.  We could easily spend an hour just watching the babies in the cute little pens they had set up inside the store.  So, knowing they were a farm supply store – to the store we went. 

Attaching the gate - almost done!

Attaching the gate – almost done!

Once there we had to make a decision of how big of a gate to buy and decided the ten footer would be sufficient, especially since the actual opening would be closer to eleven feet, and it didn’t cost too much.  Ray already had a short chain and we bought a simple padlock to secure the gate to the post when we wanted to lock it up. Along with the hinges, we bought two 4 x 4 fence posts and some sacks of cement.   

Attaching the No Tresspassing sign!

Attaching the No Tresspassing sign!

The very next weekend we enlisted our oldest son, Stephen, to help.  Luckily, Stephen had inherited a post hole digger from the house he had just purchased, which made it a lot easier to dig the two holes for the posts.  Now, when I say it made it easier, I certainly don’t mean that it was easy.  It seemed that the soil was nothing but clay!  In some places it even had clay rocks – if there is such a thing.  We spent at least 2 hours between the three of us to dig holes deep enough and wide enough to put in a couple of 4 x 4 posts with some cement.  When Ray deemed the holes sufficient (he has put up a residential fence or two) we gave a collective sigh of relief and began setting the posts.  While I held one of the posts plumb, Stephen would slowly pour in a bag of dry cement while Ray would pour in a gallon of water and munch it around to mix water and cement.  With the posts poured, we were done for that day.  We couldn’t hang the fence until the next weekend when the cement had hardened, but once we had the gate hung we ceremoniously attached a POSTED No Tresspassing  sign!                                



Shared at:   Wildcrafting Wednesday; Healthy2Day; Cottage Style Party


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