I am beginning to think this place might not exist. Or, exist in any form that will allow me to afford it. Even here, in Podunk land, it seems that my dreams outweigh my means.
I have looked at several places. At least I can say I marked a lot of stuff off the list. Some of them were outright laughable ~ like the lady that tried to convince us that she "ran horses" on a cliff behind this little rundown house that we didn't even go into.
That has happened ALOT. We pull up to a "house", my realtor and I. We look at each other and both say - no, this won't work. She is good. She knows what I want because she lives on a farm. She knows what I'm comfortable taking on in terms of renovations and repairs, what my little quirks are (that I HATE yellow siding, that I pull up carpet in the corners of old house rooms to make sure there is hardwood under it, that I need at least some flat space for a proper arena).
Out of all the places we've driven past, sought out, looked over, we have actually toured two hard. The first was promising, although overpriced we may have been willing to wait and see if it moved down. The house was a real-life old farmhouse. New roof, siding and windows (always a plus). Small but super super quaint, with handmade window frames on the inside, hardwood floors under carpet, already fenced and at one time, they had horses. The old guy that owned it was there and super nice. But, right beside the driveway (I'm talking five feet) there was an oddly placed 1/2 acre with a chain-link fence and an old trailer. Junk in the yard, boarded up windows but a brand new piece of dirt moving equipment in the yard. We inquired. Nope, not his. Neighbors. The manner in which he spoke told us it was no good between them. The appearance of the place overall and a 25k toy in the front yard told me drug dealers, makers... You get that in hollers. Mostly meth. May they explode themselves promptly and we'll have another look at the place.
The second possibility was extremely overpriced for the condition of the house, although the house itself had tons of potential. Again, old farmhouse. But this time they had not kept up with it and had "replaced" the roof with some mismatched metal from their junkyard (family owned business). They also had a propane tank in the back yard (not uncommon lots of us do here - but they are generally hooked to an actual furnace) and individual lines to most of the rooms with those little gas wall heaters attached to each line. Hmmmmm.... One room had water damage from their makeshift roofing job. The barn was "about ten percent good" the owner said. And all this could be yours for a mere......let's just say about 100k MORE than I'd give you if I offered you a plug nickel you ridiculous woman.
Uggggghhhhhhhh....and nothing new for weeks, probably due to the holidays and winter. It is just a bad time I suppose. But, so frustrating as other parts of life also get more frustrating and complicated. It is "pig hauling" time at the barn. Load 'em up and take 'em to slaughter. This is always a long, tedious and loud process as the trailer is backed up to the pig lot and they are "encouraged" to get on the trailer (first by putting food in it and also by making their enclosure smaller and smaller so basically the trailer is the only place they have room to move around in). Pigs are noisy and opinionated. They are getting cranky with each other.
A friend pointed out to me the other day after I had voiced frustration and anger over several things in life and then added "and the poor pigs are restless" that - oh, that's why you are out of sorts. Then we talked about how when I do find somewhere there may not be a lot of animals but they would damn sure be safe and happy.
It keeps me going. Keeps me looking everyday as my search engine churns out the same damn properties over and over. Someday THE one will pop up.
The Farm Chronicles begin! So, I am documenting my search for a home. A home for me and a home for some animals, including my horse. There has been a lot going on in life, including the plans for a major utility project some 1500 or so feet from the barn where I board my horse. The land, owned by the utility board and leased by the farm for over 50 years, is to now be the location of the new city reservoir and land dam. The timing couldn’t be much worse, considering I just moved a year ago. I’ve been a busy bee with upgrades and repairs but there is still a ton to do, no room for a horse, I’m in a non-horse friendly community (meaning I am already at the last boarding facility in the community proper) and they are starting construction in July.
Life keeps kicking, in other words. But, I fucking kick back so here we go…
As with all bad timing, there is a sort of serendipity to life. At the same moment all this news was afoot I made a decision that I would, eventually, work to fulfill my dream of an animal sanctuary. Given my support and involvement with farm animals for the past several years, that is the route I have chosen to go. So, a little sooner than expected, I am going to incorporate both dreams (having my horse at home and a sanctuary) into one.
I plan to start small and stay small. Small is manageable and advisable. If the business grows, more space can be purchased. Life can always move so long as it is manageable enough TO move.
So, I’m on the hunt. I’ve looked at several shitholes and two promising places that, unfortunately, went under contract in a matter of days. That is how things roll around here. Housing prices are so ridiculous that when there is something moderately affordable (and actually livable) it gets snatched up almost immediately. I will have to commute a good haul. I live about 10 to 15 minutes from my office now, give or take traffic, but to get something I can afford with the land I want I’m looking at up to an hour commute. Big change. However, I only plan to work about 9 more years before I’m eligible to retire so I will suck it up to start this journey.
Ahhhhh....the quest for a comfortable bed. We've all had that at one time or another. I have some special needs in a bed that other folks might not. Due to my back issues I need a firm mattress and support surface. Honestly, if I could sleep on the ground on a sleeping bad pad with some covers, I would.
I had a regular, slated bed frame for a bit. It was one of those "you don't even need box-springs" deals and got decent reviews on Amazon and it was cheap so at the time it fit the bill. But, it did not agree with my back. I had been waiting for the weather to break to try my hand at something I had been wanting to do for years - make a pallet bed frame!
Now, one thing I have learned is that "as seen on Pinterest" is not always as easy as it looks. So, I don't expect the miracle of "oh, wow that was a breeze" with anything I do. This was definitely not an "as advertised" project that would take an afternoon. It was more like a week-long, do something each day project. It could actually be a day project IF it was all you did, but I got other sh8t to take care of so I spread it out over about four days, a few hours each.
Materials List: Pallets (obviously), Stain (or paint depending on what you are wanting it to look like), Plywood, Brackets or Hinges, Rubber Floor Protectors (or I have seen folks use lockable wheels, which is a neat idea for moving to clean, etc.).
Pricing: I got pallets at Southern States - they sell them for $2 per pallet and I needed three. My plywood was a $15 sheet that I had Lowes cut into two equal sized rectangular pieces totaling just a hair bigger than my mattress. You'll use these for a smooth surface in between mattress and the pallets. Stain was around $10, plus another $10 for the poly topcoat. Also, I got a spray can of light green (ended up needing two) for the plywood so another $7. The hardware was around $5. So, in total, this bedframe cost $53.
Below is the story in pictures from start to finish (click on the pic for explanation of each step).
So, on the scale of super easy to total PITA this project was on the "not too bad" side, although I bitched about it plenty while doing it.
Stuff that occurred to me that people may not think about: Pallets are heavy LOL (No shit, right?) so be prepared for that when you are working with them. The project is best done outside so you'll need some nice days if you don't have a garage or somewhere to work (which I don't). Also, no matter what you read, this is NOT a one-day project! Well, I guess it could be if you started at 6:00AM, had everything you needed and finished at bedtime. In between sanding, staining and poly alone you have to give stuff time to dry, etc. I'm pretty limited on work time between my job and Takoda so mostly, evenings were out for me. Luckily I had a weekend of good weather and was able to get it done over a couple of days. Be aware of nails! They don't make pallets specifically for us to make cheap furniture so when you pick your pallets, look for protruding nails and broken slats, etc. The ole' guy at Southern States is great because he makes stuff with pallets too so he actually sifted through the stacks with me. I still had to remove some nails though. Lastly, measure your space in the room you intend to use them. Pallets will normally be bigger than the actual bed, which is nice because it makes for an inviting appearance, but if you have a small room, think about how the frame will impact it.
Other quick thoughts - pallet beds are toe stubbers! Be careful - ouch. And, you'll have to still periodically clean under the pallets. At least I do. That is why in the end I chose NOT to attached them together with hardware even though many of the DIY sites say to. I want to be able to move them to clean. Believe me, for the most part they are heavy enough and with the rubber bottoms they stay put well.
That's right! To my gym! And while I'm at it I thought, what the hell I'll paint the dining room too. LOL.
Part I - Several years ago, when Sam and I decided to make one end of the basement the man cave and the other end a gym we had a disagreement over paint color. Sam felt that the gym should be bright and energetic and I was OK with that. Until he said the word "yellow" and then I cringed inside. I do not like yellow. I mean, I can take it in small amounts but on big walls, on a house (my childhood home was a faded yukky yellow), for a kitchen (and for some reason my mom wanted a yellow kitchen?) it is JUST.TOO.MUCH.
Sam won the "discussion" at the time. We did finally agree on the shade of yellow, which was called Canary. So, I felt better for a good while because at least my yellow gym was named after an animal. I further embraced it with vivid prints and bright colored cushions on the bench that sits just inside our door. Yellow never did become my favorite color but for a solid seven or so years we got along fine.
Then we started talking about the possibility of a major renovation in our basement, including building a wall for a home theatre and redoing some very old ceramic tile in the doorway as well as the "ugliest bathroom known to man" and no, I will not post pictures of it until the renovation begins. Suffice to say, we didn't have anything to do with the complete lack of taste that involves some sort of wallboard with blue and pink flowers. That sh&t was all the prior owner's awful decision.
But, I digress....
Around the same time, I started to crave some serious Zen in my life and had thoughts of mellowing down my shiny yellow gym and making it more of a peaceful zone. In our house, I'm on my own anytime I want to paint. Sam absolutely hates painting. And, knowing that doing so was going to completely disrupt the flow of the house for at least two days I decided to take it on while he is gone.
You can kinda see the big equipment in the first picture - I have a weight bench, a multi-exerciser cable thingy, a treadmill and a weight rack with all the weights to the right. First step was to get all that stuff out of the way. I actually did that this morning before work.
Taping was next and I started that after work. Tomorrow we shall paint! I love painting. I HATE painting prep and clean up. All the cleaning and organizing I did yesterday is no match for the ungodly mess in this house right now and I have to turn this project around and be ready to GET ready for Turkey day by Wednesday. I took a vacation day tomorrow so this should not be an issue, right? LOL. Rigggghhhhhttttttt.....
Part II - Because we have been talking forever about painting our dining room and hallway too and so guess what I decided????? I will just do BOTH projects! LOL LOL LOL.
So, of course this meant moving more stuff and now the dining room, kitchen, and living room (where most of the "stuff" was moved) are a mess too. Plus I have slumber party time set up in the living room, the laundry is about half put away in the bedroom... I am living in home project chaos right now. Price of progress I suppose.
So, the colors for the rooms: something called Sagey for the dining room. You guessed it - the color of sage - but lighter. I actually matched it to the blinds on our French door. And the color for the basement? Contented. Also a green but with a very slight grey feeling, very soft, very good feelings about this color.
I will post pictures of the finished products. Or I will be seeking other living quarters should I not complete said projects before the chef comes home to make Thanksgiving dinner.
This is NOT a story about cooking snakes. Eeewwwwww... We have just returned from a camp weekend. The last weekend before leaves really begin to turn. Summer's grip is failing ever so slightly right now. Like someone suspended from a certain fall, his hand begins to slip away even as the sun still rises high above the clouds everyday and bees buzz to and from the last flowers of the season.
Everything feels slightly more crisp, even though the air can still be heavy mid-day.
The trees, as at this vista over the weekend, are less waxy green, more muted, just waiting to be dressed in their most magnificent red and gold.
The woods is giving way to the Stag now. Preparing for the slow, spiral downward that is the Dark Season. Like most changes in the earth there is a flurry of activity that comes with the instinctual knowledge that something is about to end.
It is the same with us. We covered a great deal of territory this weekend, almost like we were trying to explore as much as we could, get in those memories of the summer of '13 while we still can. We also did what animals are doing and prepped for the cold season to come. We fixed a stove pipe that was long overdue and past the point of even being safe. We spent hours by the campfire and we packed very slowly this morning to make our way home, lingering in the silence of this mountain that will soon be covered with the colors of the dragon's breath. And then with winter's bare, stark whites and greys.
And what would camp be without me having to relocate another little family of woodpile squatters? I found this little guy and five others just like him in our season's wood pile. They were all relocated and so was the wood. Better luck next year little slitherins....
You can see though how small they were - I used an old camp pot to catch them and all but one went willingly to the high grass and woods. The lone "Striker" as we named him, was a bit suspicious of his transport. With his attitude he should do just fine out there in the world. ;)
I'm sitting on the porch watching my dumbass, redneck neighbors run up and down the hill behind their house on ATVs. Now, this hill isn't really all that long so up and down they go. Up, Down, Up, Down. All afternoon they do this. It must get boring after awhile, right?
So, I start thinking, because I guess I'm bored too, about the term "redneck" and how people get all offended when you use it in combination with the word "dumbass" or some other equally derogatory term. Or even use it by itself. I did an episode segment on the word once, the origin and nature of the same. It was not always negative. And it still doesn't have to be. And I use it openly in both ways because, well, I am one after all. A redneck.
Rednecks come in both positive and negative forms. Some of the more positive forms make music. And speaking of redneck music, country is so awesome right now that it has been sneaking into my playlist and The Highway keeps making an appearance on the XM Radio in my truck. Country was once relegated to the barn only. It was like once I walked in there it became normal. Even though I didn't much like any of it I could take it there, in those surroundings. Somehow, there only, it seemed to fit. It seemed like acceptable background noise. Now it seems like acceptable music to my ears. Country music makes up more of my ringtones than any genre right now.
WHAT is going on? I'll tell you what is going on. Some good ole' boys (mostly) are making some damn good music and it doesn't resemble over-twanged pop and it doesn't resemble harping on about dogs dyin' and women leavin and cryin' a tear in my beer. And, as a result, it doesn't make me blurt out to my radio shut the f&ck up will ya? nearly as often as I used to.
Here is my current barn playlist. If you have anything against country music, or if you used to listen to country back when Tim McGraw was just the new guy in the cowboy hat with the edgy, fun music and have since given up on it, then this is THE time to give it a first (or another) listen:
- The Only Way I Know by Jason Aldean (this song really is an anthem for anyone raised in a tiny little town with not much else to do but work hard, play hard and not know any better than to just keep on keepin' on)
- Boys Round Here by Blake Shelton (chew tobacco chew tobacco chew tobacco spit LOL LOL need I say more?)
- Cruise by Florida Georgia Line (I personally dig the remix one with Nelly)
- Done. by The Band Perry (the exasperated sigh/grunt at the end of this song is worth waiting for and the song is good too)
- Mama's Broken Heart by Miranda Lambert (hide your crazy indeed) ;)
- Runnin' Outta Moonlight by Randy Houser (more fun with good ole' boys)
- Point At You by Justin Moore (even though I'm neither sweet or soft)...
- Parking Lot Party by Lee Brice (I know I know but this song is funny! and catchy. I like it so shut up)
- Drivin' Around Song by Colt Ford (cuz that's just what you do folks)
- C.O.U.N.T.R.Y. by LoCash Cowboys (rednecks can spell too)
And there you have it. More things I refuse to apologize for. I should go do something upscale now. Where are my boots?
Always good to bring home a little "camp wisdom" so that when one gets down she can look back at pictures and smile. Or wonder why in the hell she took that picture?
The picture at the left is actually of a Magic Hat beer cap that I thought was just too good to throw away. So I hammered it to our wall with roofing nails. LOL. Probably after I had consumed the beer in the bottle it was once attached to.
First thing this spring we were greeted by Robin's eggs on our porch. A sure sign of life on top of the mountain after a long, tough winter.
Interestingly enough, we have also seen tons of deer this summer. More than normal. The wildlife seems to be agreeing with the season so far and didn't do too badly even with the early, severe storms over the winter season.
I am SUPER interested in what this flower might be. It was blooming in mid-April and I have yet to identify it so if anyone knows what it is please pass along to me. There were lots of them in the bottom of what is left of an old cellar and house foundation.
I have lived in a few different places. But, they have all been redneck places. West Virginia, Virginia, South Carolina. Yes, you are named don't even dare to say you are cultured. Now I fully admit that each has a unique form of THE redneck aspect of life but still...
Having lived MOST of my life on this earth in the oddest of them, West (by God as the holler folk like to say) Virginia, I get a daily dose of red simply by walking out the door and choosing to go to work instead of staying securely in my home and losing myself in the wonders of streaming Netflix or my trusty LOTR DVD collection. Most days, I'd much rather do the latter but alas, those pesky bills and stuff...
So, in thinking about this blog page I thought - hey I'll do some fun West Virginia facts because it really is a cool state and the founding effort and original inhabitants were interesting. So, I pull up "50 state fast facts" on 50 states dot com to see if there are any that I maybe DON'T know.
And....wait for it...I get to the right this flashing advertisement stating: OBAMA SAYS BAN GUNS! SAY NO! CLICK HERE TO FIGHT BACK!
WTF. Shut up. Do you really think the Pres is coming to take your guns? Any more than I believed GW was coming to take my brain? I mean, really? Well, he did at times resemble a zombie but... Anyway, I realize this ad was not just on the WV page but, LOL, seriously it just is indicative of the stupidity I deal with here. And dudes, I AM from here. So, I feel like I can speak freely is what I'm sayin'.
So, back to facts. Fun Facts about my lovely mountain region of the little patch of land we call America....
Speaking of the President, did you know that West Virginia is the only state in the Union to have acquired its
sovereignty by proclamation of the President of the United States? Ahhhh interesting story we all learned in WV History in Junior High. West Virginia became a state in 1863 and was the only state to form by seceding from the Confederate State. West Virginia was also one of only two states formed during the American Civil War. The other state was Nevada.
But, why do this? Well, there are records and facts of course but I like to believe it was because we actually were better than we are now. See, West Virginia has this little niche in the environment of the country that affords us "outsidership". And by that I mean there are these unique things from a geographical, economic, and settlement standpoint that caused us to be a little different than the status quo. Call it - the Australian Syndrome. LOL. AKA we are probably all descendants of convicts so take care...
Basically, if you lived here it was because you were either running from something or someone or you just plain did not want to be bothered. The mountains are a bitch. Not the same kind of bitch as out West but still, harsh. And they are so full of vegetation even now, so imagining that time in history I can see where it would have been a challenge to even find a spot to call home. The possibility to earn a living? From what? If you trapped where were you going to sell anything? Who were you going to sell it to? Western Virginia, as it was called at the time, was the Wild. No one wanted it. Except the people that did.
And to these people, stuff like politics as usual and slavery did not make sense. The people that settled here originally felt abandoned by Virginia. Virginia was full of old standards that didn't concern them and meant more to the affluent. So, basically some of the counties of Virginia, specifically in the WEST of Virginia, decided that if their own state could decide to secede from the Union over their crazy, outdated beliefs, then they themselves would secede from Virginia and form their own new state.
Now, I must say that this whole chain of events makes me say, in my heart, FUCK YEAH. LOL. THIS is what I concentrate on when I think of West Virginia. The motto of "Mountaineers Are Always Free" speaks volumes to me. And this is the basis of it. If what they are selling you is bullshit you have the right to do something else. And don't be afraid to say - this is BULLSHIT. LOL.
So, that's how we got here and I am proud of that.
But, I do admit to being constantly perplexed and pissed off by what we have become. I feel like it is OK to be not "cultured" - I don't consider myself cultured in any way really despite having a good deal of education. I understand that education is a specialized thing and I feel I have everything to learn about just about everything actually. I never want to STOP learning so I admit I don't know... But, it is not OK to be ignorant and not want to know. It is not OK to be mean due to that ignorance. And it is definitely not OK to be a bunch of racist, sexist, homophobic assholes and HIDE behind ignorance.
I mean to say, are we not that state of just leave us alone and let us live? I mean, really? Didn't we come here to get away from all these crazy ideas that don't make sense. And why do so many of the people I encounter sound crazy? WHEN did we become THEM?
Uggghhhh... It was long before I was born because lemme tell ya I have been dealing with this shit since kindergarten. LOL.
Other actually fun facts maybe later. This was just a really good RED starter conversation...