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Friday, August 18, 2017

country update


COUNTRY UPDATE

Lately I have been having a bizarre waking anxiety absent minded wool-gathering type episodes where I keep returning to a dark worry the NOL is going to die and then there follows all the things I’m doing to improve the place after I move back to my off grid hovel.  It isn’t that I’m wishing to go back out of town per se, other than the ever present wish that most of the idiots in town would friggin leave already, and I’d be very happy if the Old Lady outlived me, plus I keep my superstitions to a minimum, basically watching those cats under ladders, the spilt salt and knocking on wood to avoid cursing myself after speaking of something-which I think all people should practice just in case.  So I’m not claiming I’m having visions or stupid crap like that ( go shove that Mayan crystal up your ass, Hippie ), just that I can’t get the BOL out of my mind for some reason.  At first I was thinking perhaps it is a bit of anxiety over cohabitating with crowds and I just wanted to escape, but those only ever came around because of the stress of work. 

*

Well, last night I got tired of these stray thoughts bothering me, so I just chalked it up the Lizard Brain trying to give me a message and I’d better listen because not only has it not steered me wrong before, I’ll be needing his help a lot in the future as crap starts getting intense.  I resolved to quit humping around with the B-POD and start fixing it up again.  For the last three months I’ve been intensely lazy, not even going out on my bicycle but skipping a week or two at a time and then driving out there in the NOL’s Jeep.  And other than the yearly weed cutting, I don’t do anything there other than scope the place out and see if anything is amiss.  Well, that ended today.  Enough vacation being a lazy bastard.  I biked out there ( I normally bike around town for exercise six days a week before writing as it works better than coffee kick starting the brain.  I had tried just five days but I was too bored with too much nervous energy so I added the other day.  Now, the one day I don’t exercise or write I’m mellow and relaxed and recovering ) and put in almost an hour of work.  But I did it smart this time. 

*

I actually had started working out there when I quite my last real job, but it was digging out a pit I had started earlier some years back, and I hardly got anything done.  I’d pedal out in the heat for forty-five minutes ( my daily exercise is a total of thirty minutes ), then try to dig, even just twenty minutes, then pedal back another forty-five.  It exhausted me-that was the article on lack of meat in your diet screwing up your calorie consumption and work load.  I’d keep working, pick until out of breath, shovel until the same, hurling dirt up and over from four feet down.  All I ever accomplished was squaring away the bottom from mud avalanches and getting maybe another two or three inches down.  I’m not sure how many weeks I tried that but I wasn’t going to do it again, at least not any time soon.  I decided to work exclusively on my B-POD, so that I could see real progress that actually improved my chances for survival ( the new pit will be, eventually, the NOL’s families post-collapse shelter.  They can all cram in to an eight by eight building-I’m done digging right now ).

*

A quick reminder, or a synopsis for any new folks, I lived in my travel trailer for four very friggin cold years, the propane budget miniscule, only solar heat during the days.  I had dug the “test pit” the first year here, to make sure the soil didn’t need bracing.  The B-POD is the Bison Pit Of Doom, where I dug ten by twenty, six foot down, placed a box in the middle and ran the roof over to the edge.  I double insulated rather than piling dirt atop other than one inch to cover the plastic sheeting from UV damage.  The third month living down there the outside temps went to 15 below Fahrenheit, single digits for a daytime high, and inside overnight with no heat it never went below about 35-40.  Then while perking coffee it jumped right back up to 50.  Not a true underground home and sadly constructed on a tight budget, it still kicked ass.  At least compared to a travel trailer.  I did this as a true survival home, keeping us alive in the high desert with a deficit of wood.  Here, if you can’t drive forty-five minutes or an hour, all you get is scrub brush, not trees.

*

Well, my first order of business was to brace the two sides of the B-POD.  I had run out of 2x4 wood ( I rented a U-Haul so there was no going back for extras, and I ran out of money after saving up for five months there was no more to be had ) and used unbraced plywood to go from the inside box over the one foot gap to the dirt wall.  I had over half the plywood resting on the upper ground and the rest the only thing holding up that section of the roof.  It has held up very good, since I always shoveled the snow off quickly and knew where not to step, but still it a project long overdue.  It was going to be a bear squeezing down the gap between the dirt and wood wall.  I am certainly not even going to think about tearing up the roof and going at it from the top.  But despite my almost two hundred pounds and bowling ball belly, and giant swollen head, I’m pretty skinny and should be able to swing it.  Alas, I couldn’t start today as the only nails I found ( nothing is well organized, just piled high ) were leftovers from the plywood and were too short.

*

But I did stay busy.  The Test Pit has been in sad shape this year.  Sometime this last winter the roof caved in near the entrance.  I didn’t mess with it, just leaning over and baling it out.  Then I waiting for the rains to stop.  Then I just didn’t want to deal with that mess.  But today was finally the day.  I scraped away the dirt and peeled up the upper layer which was a tarp.  No damage there, nor to the clear plastic sheeting underneath that or the rigid board insulation under that.  Six or so years after I built it ( I left it open to the elements for a year as the test ), there was no leaks, and that was throwing dirt with rocks in it ( not the smartest thing, I know.  The rocks are few and far between-that was my excuse ) on top.  Alas, there was wood rot galore under the cover.  I have rarely seen rot that bad.  The plywood almost held together-you had to step right in the middle between the braces to go through, but the braces themselves crumbled like wet sawdust.

*

I knew I had a venting problem soon after I covered the hole.  The trapdoor entrance always had condensation on the underside.  I put another set of pipes in horizontally across from the first set ( I thought I might wire up a solar panel there although I never did as the place was lousy with big ass spiders along with the condensation ) but they didn’t do a damn bit of good.  Too small of diameter and I’m sure they need to be low horizontal one end and straight up the other.  Which is how I built the B-POD as I learned real quick about that issue.  The Test Pit was flush on the ground, so there was no suitable intake to start the venting process.  Hey, it was a TEST pit.  I had built almost nothing prior to that.  I just didn’t realize the venting issue was so severe as to melt down all the wood inside.  I had overlapped the clear plastic quite a bit, plus the whole thing was on a slight hill, but plenty of moisture arrived.  My B-POD is dry as a bone, and the vent is just a crooked door that doesn’t shut properly and a four inch screened hole on the other end up top. 

*

Well, I had been offered enough warning that tearing up the test pit roof didn’t upset me.  I got more pissed off from a neighbor dog digging for a ground squirrel and tearing up a section of aluminum siding on my medium size trailer.  All the framing underneath is rotted so I just propped the bastard back down with a stick.  I keep my place squared away and neat, but don’t assume it ain’t redneck central.  I tore away a quarter of the roof and was able to salvage all the insulation. It is that crap Styrofoam bead stuff, which I’ll never buy again, but I can reuse most of it on something ( it came out in pieces as I had glued it to the plywood ), as well as the tarp, so I look at it as being ahead money wise even if the pit is now crap.  I’ll just use it as more buckets of wheat storage, buried.  I told myself no more wheat, so I might just hide the stuff I already have above ground.  Or I might just get more wheat eventually.  I’m not sure at this point, I don’t want to get ahead of myself assuming the loyal minion donations will continue forever. 

*

But while they do, I’m improving the B-POD, just a few 2x4’s or pieces of plywood at a time.  On an extreme frugal budget I could live at least three years on the saving I already have, so when I found myself stashing yet more savings the other day, I knew I needed to do something different.  Perhaps that was the little voice’s purpose?  Stop saving, you moron.  Start doing.  Expand, improve.  I don’t plan on doing serious damage financially, not like I just explored on my article on spending a lottery windfall amount of money.  Propping up the slightly saggy roof is four sticks of lumber, twelve bucks worth.  The next project is going outside where the dirt staircase is seeing wall erosion.  I already have all but the plywood for that.  $20.  Next I’ll move back inside and wall off the half room with dirt walls.  I have to guess on that, probably a total of $100, but I’ll be doing that $20 at a time, first framing then sheeting.  Next I’ll tear apart the door frame and enlarge it, replacing the closet door with a two by four and plywood door ( I’m done buying doors-what a rip off they are.  Which is why I used a free trash picked closet door with a blanket tacked up in front of that to block most of the wind ).  That will probably only be another $20 to $30, as I have the insulation already.  Then I’ll join the wall support outside with the new door and expand the roof to extend the overhang.  $30? 

*

Then I get serious, digging down in the stairwell to have an underground hallway and create a new underground room.  That will eventually be an eight by eight hole so a six by six room.  The original home is 6 by 12.  By enclosing the dirt half room I expand to 6 by 16 or 18.  The dirt hallway, to get the new hole away from the old hole so there is no cave-ins, will be wooden walled when completed, with shelves built in.  Nothing fancy, just stick frame and plywood.  I don’t need to prop up dirt, just keep the dust out and the dry dirt from falling off the walls out into the corridor.  There won’t be much of that-in five years the original walls have pooled mostly just a few inches at the base.  The reason I’m willing to dig this and not the new hole is that the dirt stairwell means the work is at least a third of the way already done, plus the B-POD spot has easier dirt for digging.  If I was younger and had the energy I would do this the right way, building a full size house and using tires to get down a lot cheaper.  But I simply don’t want to do that at this point.  I’ll spend the money for lumber. 

*

I’m staging this work in the previous order so that I get the most important done first.  If I never get to the new room, it is no big deal.  And at some point I might take a break and go into the original room and take out all the wheat buckets I use as a bed platform, and build a proper bed frame.  One that is insulated on the floor and doesn’t shoot the cold up and cause condensation on the underside of my squishy foam mattress ( the cheap fix was to prop up the mattress every day to dry-which sucks ).  Everything is livable just the way it is but if I let it go another five years the dirt walls will keep crumbling and eventually I have holes letting in the weather.  Time to fix all that up properly.  It is a few bucks here and there, and everything I do galvanizes me to move forward.  And it is an investment.  Why not make it last past my lifetime?  And be more comfortable. 

END ( today's related link http://amzn.to/2hDVEAI )
 
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15 comments:

  1. Frugality in building construction will get you killed.
    Even though I hate em with a purple passion, every now and then I'm reminded of why they have building and zoning codes.

    Ever notice that when a tornado is approaching the *specialists* advise people to seek shelter in their basement under a heavy structural beam? I cringe every time I hear that. That's exactly where I do NOT want to be, cause when that bitch comes down everything under it is destroyed. I'm a structural engineer and when the smoke clears you'll find me safely ensconced under 1 end collapsed floor joists in a corner of the basement. Properly constructed concrete block corners of basements have never collapsed in any tornado ever in the history of mankind. Nor will the ends of the floor joists overhead that bear on that corner. ALL of the center stuff may collapse but NEVER the corners. Ever.

    You don't even have a clue of the amount of things you don't know. 2 rules of construction: Everything costs more than it costs and takes longer than it takes. Count on it. Walls and roofs lay in wait, to kill you. Friendly advice, take it or leave it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Lord! Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.

      And since I built this place fifteen or so years ago, many such have been revealed. For example, nobody told me that lumber in contact with dirt will get termites, the sneaky little bastards.

      Delete
    2. Instead of laying wood right on the dirt, lay it on a concrete block, with a layer of 30 lb felt (tar paper) between the wood and block. Now, water has no way to weap into the wood. Any wood within 24" of any soil should be pressure treated.

      Delete
  2. I think that these premonitions that you’re having are ultimately telling you that there’s a good chance that you will be living at the B-POD once again someday, so putting a little effort into making it more habitable is a good move. Are far as you and the NOL goes, if statistics are to believed, you should live roughly the same amount of time. But realistically speaking, if you were to outlive her, her assets will mostly go to her children, so still plan on the B-POD as your retirement home. You’re not alone. My junk land will be my final retirement home. Any inheritance that my brother and I get will be minuscule, and will not be enough to hang on to my mother’s place (Parents were terrible at managing money).

    The plan is to try and get into the Jack Lalanne fitness program in order to maintain autonomy. If I had to go into an old folks home, I couldn’t pay for it. I don’t think that I’d want to anyways. I think I’d opt for the old Indian “retirement plan” and head out into the woods with a big bag of dope, and a few gallons of alcohol. Oh, and a .38 special, for when the pain becomes too unbearable, if I don’t manage to kill myself with the substances first.

    After all, it’s like Josey Wales says: Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms 😀 Yeah, I’m making light of it, but I’m basically serious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're all going to die, so why take it seriously?

      Delete
    2. Those last 2 paragraphs could have been written by me. It's sorta scary seeing someone else write the same thing I've been thinking for a long time. LOL

      Delete
  3. Off topic...

    Here's the link to a doom porn article that is mostly sensational garbage. But it did have one quote that was interesting

    "the United Nations estimated that food reserves worldwide would only enable humans to survive for 74 days."

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4803246/NASA-reveals-risky-plan-COOL-Yellowstone.html#ixzz4q8rz2Kcm


    So basically if the world goes to hell for some reason, there is a little more than two months of food for everyone on the planet. And that's assuming that there is no hoarding, no waste, no transportation problems, etc.

    And that right there is why you should prep.

    Idaho Homesteader

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another reason? China is ONLY self-sufficient in rice. Not all the other food they consume. We don't care that Pakistani's are starving ( we should as they are a nuke power ), or North Africans, but you better worry what China will do. At a minimum, occupy the natural gas fields for fertilizer. 2009-2011 or 12, yearly global droughts. You don't think it won't happen again? Even worse, that global reserve just feeds the JIT system, it isn't really an amount put away in silos until we need it. Even worse? everyone needs industrial farming/irrigation to feed themselves, yet the oil production in the majority of countries is declining 8% a year. Want worse? What? You need more reasons?

      Delete
  4. maybe it is time your wife had a few scans and blood tests?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Na, she's always in for tests and exams to keep her meds renewed. I'll be the one to die unexpectedly since I won't see a doc.

      Delete
    2. LOL , speaking of which. Bout four months ago I decided out of the blue , to wean myself off of the pain meds. Boy howdy , the VA Doctors went
      ballistic ! They called me repeatedly and even sent warning letters , stating that to discontinue my pain meds would hurt badly...no fugging shit Sherlock !
      I fully realized this but at the same time did not want to be addicted to that crap if the ca ca hit the rotating oscillator.
      Thing is, if I don't go in at least once a year, they'll drop me off their rolls. Sooo...
      Just yesterday made an appointment to go see them.
      Bet they want a pint of blood and a cup of pee...
      Not too mention possible anal probing.

      Delete
    3. Go for the anal probe, stay for the insurance. Or is it the other way around?

      Delete
  5. How much could it cost to hire someone to backhoe the perfect hole for you? Do it now while its still cheap. And like others here have said, keep the wood away from the dirt.
    If I didn't live in a place where the water table is really close to grass I'd live in a hole. My old ass will never be able to dig one without machinery, thats a fact. I have thought about earth sheltered above ground homes. That could work well here in the SE.
    Great hair, don't bury it in a rotted hole in the ground......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My perfect hole would cost close to a third of my savings. Nyet! I'll stick with Good Enough hole.

      Delete

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