The Spring

The heart of our place.

When we first saw the property, it was late August and everything in eastern Washington was very dry, needless to say. Knowing this, we were trying to decide how we would have access to water. We considered a large tank and delivery. We asked our agent about a well and she said maybe a few hundred feet down we might find water.

I found water at about 1.5 feet.

The day we arrived, I explored every square inch of our newly acquired 3.7 acres and looked for likely spots for water. I had been online getting tips so I looked for green amongst the brown and signs of winter run off ditches. I found one spot on a hill on the property that actually had some green grass growing at that time of year. I decided to dig there.

I can’t remember how long it took; just a couple of hours I think, as there was solid rock right at the surface, but I chipped and dug away and to my disbelief, the soil turned damp and then…actual standing water.

I had found a spring.

It could have been runoff but all signs pointed to spring water as I continued to go a little deeper. It turned out that the whole hillside was either one massive spring with a multitude of outlets or tons of springs all over the hillside. Some sources were larger than others but you could almost dig anywhere up there and find water coming up out of clay tubes and cracks between rocks.

We decided to use it as a water supply and at one point, we trenched a tiny path down the hillside to a larger holding hole we had dug. We used our pump to put water directly into the trailer for washing and just got drinking water either from the city’s standpipe or bought jugs from the store.

All through the winter we got a pretty good flow and measured about 12 or more gallons per minute using the bucket method. Problem is, the flow almost dried up over summer. That’s why we didn’t try to tap it during the colder months. I ended up going down a little deeper during the summer months but we had water all year long!

Come fall, we called contractor after contractor to dig a shallow well to make things official but they were all booked months ahead. Faced with another winter with an amateur setup, we went and got a sediment filter to run the water through before going into the trailers. Our hoses froze last winter so we (as with everything we plan around here), have to think ahead for that. We had that flow all last winter so we’re thinking the only tricky time might be between when the freeze hits and before the water is flowing again. We’ll have to be careful to keep the hoses empty after each use. The water filter too.

Mind you, I know things are a bit dicy with water rights here in Stevens County so I’m still trying to figure out where we stand with all of this legally. We can have a shallow well dug no problem; that’s all we need anyway but I discovered something interesting while digging this summer.

Sure it was hot and there may have been surface runoff somehow making it’s way down well beneath the surface but I began to notice slightly hot spots in places at the bottom of the spring. It was coming up a rock face and was pretty consistent. I felt around day after day with my fingers trying to decide if this might be geothermal activity.

Just a month or two earlier, while looking at geological maps for prospecting purposes, we discovered that not only were we situated in the middle of a series of faults but that, by the look of things, we might be sitting right on top of one! That would explain the springs and, possibly, geothermal activity.

I called WSU’s (Washington State University) geology department and spoke with a geologist there. He seemed to think it might be runoff but trust me, I just have a hunch something else is going on down there. I called an attorney about buying the water rights but it sounds like a complicated process. We’ll see. We want someone to come out and drill to settle the matter of geothermal activity. Maybe next spring?

We’re also considering getting a micro water generator for electricity. More research is needed though.

All in all, we watered our garden all summer by siphoning through hundreds of feet of garden hose to the holding hole, then pumping it out to the sprinkler. Pretty nifty huh? When we dug the garden, we routed the water into the area and created a temporary mud pit to soften the clay rich soil to a point where it was a tad bit easier (bit still almost impossible to turn).

Our spring (or Stevens County’s spring), is the heart of our property. It represents life and hope for us and it’s the place I go when I need to think or just cry. It’s my place: and the yellow jacket’s. I had to share the space with them all summer long in that hole. We managed to get along, somehow, and everyone got their water.

20180928_180511
Looking up the hill with the hose for siphoning.

 

What Happened To Our Dishes Last Winter

It was cold and it was solid and it wasn’t letting our dishes go.

25231901698.pngIt lasted for months; the block of ice that contained a good portion of our dishes. I even remember noting the date that the final dish broke free of the ice but I forgot it. Sometime in late spring, I think.

We had sold our house and moved to eastern Washington and were living in a trailer on raw land we bought.

When we first arrived in Colville in September of 2017 we met our neighbors and stories were told of winters in eastern Washington. Temperatures of -40, snow drifts up to the roof of your house. We got the all-knowing nod; the distant look in the eyes of the person who has just learned you are from “the coast” and that they must break the news to you of the impending doom that is winter in Stevens County.

Incidentally, you are from “the coast” if you are any where from the west side of the Cascade mountain range. It doesn’t matter how far inland you are; you are from “the coast”. I may or may not have heard people from that area referred to as “coasties” at one point.

But we heard the stories and they turned out to be true; for the most part. Winter sucked for us. Of course we weren’t prepared and me and our son went to live in an emergency shelter for 3 months while my husband stayed in our trailer on the property with the cat. I’ll go more into winter later but this story is about the block o’ dishes.

Our trailer is a semi piece of crap in that I bought it not really knowing what to look for in a trailer. It was too small and cramped and we had constant issues with the pipes. I can’t remember exactly why but I was doing dishes outside the trailer in the freezing cold. Things would freeze right up if I left them outside.

I think I’d come to get the dishes from the trailer to bring to the shelter when I piled them up in a tupperware sort of container just to get them out of the trailer. Our pipes had frozen up with no way to wash the them. I don’t remember exactly what happened but they sat in that container ready to go for a couple of days and, of course, the snow and/or rain happened. Before long they became one with a massive block of ice. And it was heavy.

Forks sticking out, pans, scrubbys; all manner of dinnerware was stuck in the berg and it was solid. No breaking it up because there was plastic, glass; things that would break if you did that. It ended up sitting there for a good couple of months before the spring thaw finally gave any hope of it melting. We must have bought more dishes or used what we had left but that thing didn’t finally release it’s icy grasp on the last dish until well into spring. I remember when it finally started breaking into smaller pieces that I could bring inside and run hot water over (we must have fixed the water system by that time).

This year we will be prepared. We are insulating.

Next post: Insulating or preparing for Armageddon?

 

More highlights coming:

  • The case of the missing coffee pot strainer lid
  • Mice: A trailer is a great source of food and nesting material
  • The cat – Asshole
  • Gobblers!
  • Deer: at first they were cute until they ate our garden

 

snow fun Not directly related picture of snow sculptures I made last winter to add interest to this blog. Hah!

Insulating For Snowmageddon

I’m trying to be “responsible”. I aspire to be more responsible. To plan things out and make them happen in a timely manner. Like getting ready for winter. I’ve found over the last year that not having a lot of money makes it a lot harder to be responsible. You are more likely to have to make do somehow rather than do what is prescribed but you don’t have a choice and you do your best and that is that.

Having more money on the other hand, makes being responsible a lot easier. If you need parts, money for fees and bills etc, life is a lot easier. This now means Amazon is my new BFF. We put up signs pointing to our property to make life easier on the UPS guy and took down various branches and one tree so he wouldn’t continue to scrape the crap out of his truck. In winter, we will have to pick up our packages in town.

We have ordered appliances, parts, supplies…things to improve our living situation out here including a solar power system and the questionable water heater. We’ve been debating about the best ways to insulate the big rv and the smaller one our son insists he wants to continue to live in for privacy.

The small trailer is much easier to insulate but the fifth wheel is like a barn on wheels. We have to find all the cracks and fill them in, skirt the lower perimeter to keep wind from circulating underneath, find a way to keep the “basement” warm (that’s what they call the lower storage compartment of a fifth wheel), etc. etc. etc.

I have had my head crammed in RV forums and on Youtube for weeks now trying to figure out the best way to do this. For skirting: foam board vs RV cloth skirting vs straw bales vs snap-on stuff vs vs vs vs. What kind of heater and where? Gotta keep those tanks from freezing. The water lines also.

When I told our counselor about this decision making process he asked if we were planning on -40 degree weather for weeks. I told him “yes, we were”. And snow up to the roof. No repeats of last winter when our trailer turned into an ice cube and half of us had to leave for town!

Must insulate: bubble wrap on the windows, a full body storage RV wrap..just wrap that whole sucker up baby, new seal on the front door, use that digital thermometer to get readings on the surfaces to find those air leaks, Great Stuff spray foam everywhere! Make sure all hatches are secure and maybe replace the doors with that foam board, insulate the pipes and the water pump, make sure the drains and outside hoses don’t freeze..but how?

Think The Ants and the Grasshopper. I don’t want to be the grasshopper freezing to death. Not this time. No repeats of being on my way to my first day of work and getting a call from my husband saying “I’m stuck in the trailer. The door is frozen shut!”

Better overkill than under. Winter is a comin’.

Goose On The Lose On Gold Creek Loop

Honkers

Posted To Local Facebook Group on Febrary 3rd, 2018……

“Goose on the loose on Gold Creek Loop.

Neighbors big white goose followed me and my husband up Gold Creek Loop about a mile from Corbett Creek road couple of weeks ago. He’s missing now. We thought he’d have the sense to return the whole half a block home but no, he seems to have upped and runned. We couldn’t turn back at the time and feel terrible. He might come to the name “Honkers” or message me if you know any thing.”

We met Honkers the first week after we moved in. He was a hefty white domestic goose with a lot of character. He seemed quirky like us and we quickly “adopted” him as the security system and gate guard.

He belonged to the neighbors who lived on the road going onto our property. You had to drive past their house on a common road to get to our gate. Honkers had a penchant for cutting us off while driving by and we had to start figuring in extra time when we left for the battle to pass. He came to know us and the sound of our truck and we were soon obligated to stop and say hi to him and a quick pet.

We were told by his owner that he had survived an attack by a predator and being hit by the owner’s vehicle. He would waddle up the dirt road next to my husband and they looked adorable together. I regret I can’t seem to find any pictures or videos of them.

Then one winter day, me and my husband were frantically trying to get our truck out of the long driveway, around the corner, and up the hill of the main road during a snow storm when Honkers waddled out. We were extremely stressed out and taking turns pushing the truck up the slick road but seeing Honkers was both funny and dismaying at the same time. He needed to go back.

By the time we got the truck to the top of the hill and hopped in, we didn’t have time to have one of us hop out and usher the goose back to the driveway just down the road. We thought he would have the sense to just turn around and go back home but he didn’t.

We’d like to think that Honkers found some other geese to fly away with but no one really knows as we never saw him again after that day. Miss you Honkers 🙂

Next: The Spring

Out of the Pot and Into the Frying Pan

How we came to live in the wild (three and a half miles from the nearest town).

Introduction

  Following are the stories of my family’s journey from a place of manicured lawns and HOA’s to a place of yellow jackets, ticks, stickers, mud, frozen pipes, colorful neighbors, openly worn MAGA hats, a driveway from hell; and the best adventures of our lives.

I am not a formally educated writer. I go on gut but I love humor and it’s a great way to gloss over the underlying financial and emotional struggles we’ve faced since we left our previous lives behind hauling nothing but a 20′ travel trailer. When we pulled onto the road to find our destiny in the Spring of 2017, we literally didn’t know where we would end up by the end of that summer but we figured (rightly) that adventure awaited us on the open road and beyond.

……………………….

 

We are a married couple with a sixteen year old son and two cats. We were growing tired of the increasingly frenetic atmosphere of the Puget Sound region so we sold our house and headed east in search of wide open spaces more compatible with our nature. In the spring of 2017, we sold our house, bought the travel trailer and hit the road.

We camped in the national forest and anywhere else we were allowed for over three months as we cruised the real estate websites for property. In September we found a few acres of raw land in eastern Washington near the Idaho and Canadian borders that was just right. It was three miles away from the closest town and far far away from any major metropolitan area and came with no utilities.

Moving onto undeveloped land means you’re on your own. Amenities, heck, the things you need to survive are no longer a matter of pushing a button or paying a bill. You have to figure it all out for yourself. You become the chief engineer, contractor, and if something breaks, repair person for every project . Everything we used to take for granted is often missed sorely but we’ve grown in ways it’s hard to put into words.

We kind of scrambled for lack of preparation for the first few months. We got our water from the city standpipe then found out they close it in the winter. Luckily, we had discovered natural springs on our property which we dug by hand. For power we used a gas generator.  The following autumn, we installed solar but couldn’t really use it until the next summer.

We initially used WiFi for Internet but it became us vs the Google data pig.  The neighbors let us use their WiFi until we got into a fight and they changed their password.  We could only connect from my husband’s spot in our bed anyway, and only if it wasn’t raining. It eventually took downing three gargantuan trees to get Internet service to the property.

 Emotional and social adjustments were inevitable with such a big move.  Like the new extremes in the weather in eastern Washington as opposed to those of the moderate rain belt we moved from, the emotional highs and lows were more extreme. Hotter summers and colder winters gave rise to newfound happiness and adventure which gave way to days and weeks of depression but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Our first weeks at our new home were fantastic. We were officially land owners and there was exploring to do but then winter came on fierce and with a seriousness that slapped all thoughts of anything but survival out of our consciousnesses. Our water pipes froze and our worldly possessions disappeared under three or four feet of snow. Some things we didn’t find until the spring melt.

Zero degree temperatures forced us to make the decision to relocate my son and I to an emergency shelter while my husband hunkered down at the property with our cats. Three months later, we moved back to the property and picked up where we left off; still struggling financially and with very little to work with.

Spring, then summer came with new challenges. We got a crash course on bugs and I took up slingshot while trying to shoot down yellow jacket nests. The heat, and an oppressively hot summer made it one of the longest I’ve ever experienced but we had things in the works.

We tilled rock-hard soil and planted a garden. We dug the spring and a trough going down the hill to a catch hole. We used antiques we found buried on our land to construct things we needed such as the fence to our garden.  We did whatever we could to pass the time and keep our chins up.

Thank you to my husband for helping me to get through it all. When I was at my worst, he would hold my face in his hands, look at me and say “Good things Baby, good things”.

As fall arrived, our “eggs” began to hatch and we were finally able to make some huge changes to our living conditions and begin to build, literally and figuratively, the quality of our lives. We could stop trying to just survive and begin to live. 

We’ve accomplished a lot since fall. We now have a solar power system, generators, a large shed, an upgraded RV (we decided to put off building until spring), and other necessities. We have a fireplace to  sit by, a wood pile, larger propane tanks and other means for which to stay comfortable and dry for the winter. So far, so good as of January 2019.

Although better prepared, this life is not for the faint of heart. It requires sturdiness and ingenuity. More money wouldn’t hurt but we have plans in place for that.

Welcome again and I hope you will enjoy the stories (and some of my eccentric poems), that follow. 🙂