Thursday, July 30, 2020

Not all Stepdad-Stepson relationships are tense one.

Two Fridays ago, my husband worked all day building a little bridge and clearing a trail. It was hot and muggy and he was tired. As he came down off the ridge, he tripped over a root or something and put a pretty good gash into his head. Blood everywhere. I don't do well with that, as my children can attest. I cried and wrung my hands. But pulled it together because I had to to get the bleeding stopped and some temporary bandaging in place.
But the next day, he was back out there, wound wrapped up, helping my son with framing. Last weekend, my son needed to run to pick up more supplies and he asked my husband to go with him. The store is about 45 minutes away, so they were gone for a while while I worked on other things up there. Later, my son told me he felt like the two of them were getting nice bonding time in. It absolutely warms my heart to see that happening.

Monday, July 27, 2020

My younger son's project.

Toward the front of the property is the remains of a little cement block house. All that is left is a front wall with two windows with the glass mostly broken out, and a bit of one side wall.
The cement pad that it's on was completely covered in weeds and vines and piles of cement blocks.
My younger son asked if he could build a tiny house on wheels on it and live there until we build. Yes! We all got to work tearing out plants, cutting down small trees, and moving blocks.
Finally, it was clear and he bought a trailer and moved it on.
It soon became a construction site. After a disastrous day when a storm sprung up and then we frantically sopped the water up with towels, my son set up tarped tents to shield the materials and trailer.
It seemed to take forever to get the platform ready. My son scrubbed the trailer down with a wire brush, primed and painted it and then installed floor insulation, flashing and subflooring. At first, he had a buddy helping occasionally, but was mostly doing all the work himself. He only has weekends and some evenings, because he drives for FedEx during the days.
My husband and I decided it was time to offer our services and the last two weekends we've forgone hiking to work with my son.
I say we, although it's mostly my husband. I can help shuttle the tarp tent on and off, pick up debris and hand things up to people, but I am not much in the way of extra muscle. Fortunately for me, the project I'm working on is just the other side of the cement wall, so I work there until they call for me.
This weekend, they made remarkable progress. My son designed the tiny house and has put a lot of thought into how to maximize space on an 8 X 16 platform that can only be 13 1/2 feet above the road. That's not a lot of space! There is a small storage loft high up on the end over the living room/kitchen and a slightly lower sleeping loft over the bathroom.
At about 6:30 yesterday evening, the basic framing for the area above the lofts was completed.
We rigged up more tarps to protect it from the forecasted storms and called it a day. It's been exciting for me to watch my son's vision taking shape and we wil be back at it next weekend.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Trail blazing

We have been spending every possible minute on the weekends up at our property, mostly working on building trails. In this arial view, the shaded property and the one immediately to the right are the two we bought.
We've studied topo maps to get a sense of the land, which is bordered by the ridge on the east, to the right of the creek in the center and rises up to a ridge on the west and in back along the northern edge. The lowest point, at the road along the south is 1400 feet and the highest 1900 feet.
I have an app called LandGlide that we use when we are marking trails. It lets us know exactly where we are on the property.
On the East Ridge trail we know we are close to the end when we get to what we refer to as "our tree" because we spotted it on our first hike and were really excited to find that previous logging had left several massive trees untouched.
We see the most turtles on this eastern ridge. I've learned that male box turtles have red eyes and females brown eyes. The conversation went something like this -
Me: "Look at this cute turtle! It's a male. Hey there, Mr. Turtle!"
Turtle: "Go away."
Right now everything is lush and filled in, so you get only rare glimpses of the view beyond the edge of our property. I'm looking forward to seeing what it looks like in winter.
We have been trying to leave things as natural as possible, but still want discernable trails. We cut back only what obscures the trail and in some places my husband has raked the path to clear it a little.
We are blazing all the trails with white paint.
On the trails to the west, we have found lots of these little moss-covered hillocks, which we refer to as "burial mounds." For no good reason other than that they remind me of Native American burial mounds I've visited.
This cool tree was shaped by a vine that twined around it when it was smaller.
I love it all - every tree and fallen log and plant. We have made a couple of trails up to the western ridge and Sunday made another one down to the front of the property. Some of the trails incorporate old logging roads.
We are working hard but it's fun work. And occasionally, I take a moment to just lie on the forest floor and stare up through the canopy. Not a trail-building day goes by that we don't look at each other at some point and say, "Can you believe this is all ours?"

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Wildflowers on the Ridge

I thought I'd share some of the flowers I've seen up on our property. Starting with mountain laurels! I really love this shrub so I was happy to find these.
 Coreopsis, also called Tickseed. They're cheery little flowers.
I have plans to transplant some of my own heuchera to the woods, which can grow wild in the mountains. And down by the creek, here they were! They have already flowered, but the best thing about heuchera (also called coral bells) is their variegated leaves.
Wild bergamot! it's a type pf monarda or bee balm. I have some scarlet monarda in my front yard that I plan to transplant. I think it would look great intermingled with their light purple cousins.As the name bee balm suggests, the bees just love it.
On one hike we found a little meadow with lots of the bergamot. And sure enough, it had many pollinators buzzing around it.
Maybe best of all, I found flame azalea. I love this plant, but didn't even know it grew around here.
All that said, have a look at what fell across the logging road in the last storm. That, my friends, is pure poison ivy. It was a robust vine growing up a small dead tree. I am going to have to do something about it because we can't just climb over it on every walk. Still, the wonderful plants outweigh this little demon.