Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Survivalist Neighbor

 With the massive rain storm that dumped over 16 inches in under 12 hours, came a really wonderful surprise... meeting a neighbor. To give you an idea how much water came down and what it can do, this is a farm 2 "doors down"
  When a farm becomes an island...

  Thankfully... their hives are on high ground...
  I was wondering from where all these honeybees were coming! Now these are not the "new" neighbor's bees (he actually has a bit of a "time" with the bee family.. due to 30 hunters somehow wandering on to the wrong property.. a story for another time.)

 The "new neighbor" is a blast. He's 71 and all go all the time. He has 150+ acres of heaven complete with 2 spring fed ponds (which hold many 4 pound plus large mouth bass), acres and acres of wild black raspberries, gooseberries, chestnuts, black walnuts, elderberries, a massive garden, deer, turkey... everything he needs and then some. He rarely buys anything from the grocery. Coffee and beer (because although he has made his own beer, wine, brandy, etc. he's too busy to "screw around with that right now") and this vanilla oil.. that's his grocery list!

 His house is underground. It is small but absolutely amazing. In winter it never drops below 50 without heat, and in the summer it is 68 without air conditioning!! He cans and preserves everything he hunts, picks, gathers. I'm flat out swooning. His storage room is just gorgeous. Floor to ceiling jars of gem colored veggies and a huge section of venison, turkey and other meats. I am getting canning lessons from him! 

 I just have to laugh, because last year... learning to cook squirrel and 'coon was not on my radar. Did I mention he hunts from his living room?  Stand fixed to the window and ready to go at a moment's notice. He also makes wicked amazing biscuits on his wood stove. The "right way" to field dress deer, turkey, 'coon, and squirrel is also on the curriculum... after proper gun care lessons. That comes after 'shroom hunting.

 Seriously.. he's amazing. He made a jalapeno coring thingy from a (ammo)shell, a bolt and some nuts. While he doesn't have a sweet tooth, he looooves cinnamon rolls. Oh yes.. rolling pin in hand.. I am ready BRING IT ON!!!!

 He's an optimist living like a pessimist. Prepared for the worst, enjoying every moment. He has a "rep" for being... well.. gun crazy and nuts. He finds that hilarious and wants to keep it that way. He's a self proclaimed recluse but is anything but solitary.

 The lightening in the storm hit a tree a foot away from the propane tank. (This tank btw would heat a house for 1 winter.. his set up.. he has to refill it every 10 years!!!) It went through the lines in the ground, blew up the phone box (sending the cover and parts 50 feet from the house.. as well some decor on the house also launched off into the yard), fried a bunch of electronics (in particular his gas stove! It punched 2 holes in the gas line by the stove and "it was like fighting 2 flame throwers!" He had to shut it off with a hammer at 3am.).. so he came over to us when he realized the other neighbors were not home. When we got back to town we called in to get his phone back on (still down.. as well the "other" neighbors still have no phone).

 We chatted for awhile and he invited us over. Best day ever!! It is like finding out you moved in next to Santa Claus!! For being a "recluse" quite a few of his buddies fought their way through flooded bridges to make sure he was ok. One of his hunting buddies (I'll call Dozer), a small guy (in a wife beater, Wrangler jeans, cowboy boots.. and looking like he was fresh out of kindergarten) was there with his bulldozer fixing his road the next morning, even though he had already done most of it! 

 The rain nailed his garden, washing away over a foot of dirt. It looked like someone pulled all of his root crops out for harvesting. We spent a couple hours in boot-sucker mud rounding up as much as we could before the scorching sun did more damage. Much of his zucchini, beans and tomatoes were swept away. He shrugged it off as he has a 2 year supply of garden goodies still stashed away. 

 After tackling his garden we hopped into his Kubota to check on another neighbor's farm he was watching while she was out of town. Totally washed out with a brand new 6 foot ravine crossing her driveway.. in 2 places! We helped take care of the chickens, dogs, horses while Dozer sent her some pictures. It seems Dozer just last month put in new massive culverts. While it would have handled the 13 inch record breaking rain storm last year, this year's 16+ incher uprooted huge trees everywhere. Her ancient barns were well placed in one of the few spots that these torrents of rain did not reach. 

 So tomorrow, after I try to tackle my chores, I will go visit the neighbor and bring him some tomatoes I just picked a little bit ago.
  Yellow pear x Black Krim = really tasty plum sized funky colored tomatoes. 

 Not a long visit as we are almost done with the coop. Sorta. Nest boxes will be done tonight, the brooder box will go underneath it.. then paint the floors.. and put in the roosts.. after the walls are closed up. This is what it looks like so far.

  The front of the nest boxes will be hinged to flip down so that cleaning is easier. The ceiling and walls are insulated, but we have 2 walls to finish yet and ran out of materials! The coop only has 1 coat of paint on it so far. Then.. on to fencing in a pen. They have a huge area to run around in right now, and oddly the guineas never leave it.. it will be some time to retrain them to get off the patio. There are also 4 red tailed hawks and several bald eagles.. so the pen is for when we can't be outside with them.

 Speaking of which, night has fallen and I need to run back to put them in for the night. Right after a quick call back to the realtor. It seems someone is still breaking into our house and stealing more things. *sigh* I wish it was sold already. A constant downer as we have to deal with banks, police reports, mortgage companies.. and still no work. I wish unto our "tenant" the same things he has brought us. 

 At some point.. I hope.. we catch a break. Until then.. I'll be making a jalapeno corer from an ammo shell, a bolt, and some nuts in the slice of heaven right next door.  


  1. Wow. He sounds amazing! Get a good apprenticeship in under that fella and you'll be all the wiser for sure!

    Keep us posted on what you learn from him. Sounds like a real treasure.

  2. Sounds like quite the guy. I love the coop :)

    Wish we got half your rain then we would both have 8 inches :)

  3. Sorry about the flooding, we have had some rain too, nothing major but I am ready to move on to the next season. Sounds like a fantastic neighbor to have!

    Love the coop! It is so pretty:)

  4. What a horrific amount of rain, I can't even imagine 16" of rain coming down in such a short period of time...dang. Sounds like you have quite an interesting neighbor.:)

  5. It's good to have an interesting person with valuable skills that you can visit with and learn from. Aside from Cody Lundin, your neighbor is the only person I ever heard of who actually lived in an underground house. It makes perfect sense.

  6. Finally got the basements all good to go! Walking to the neighbor's is not easy.. almost a mile hike taking the shortcut (only 4WD can make it through right now). Agreed he has a lot to teach, and I am more than happy to learn.

    The underground house is small, but you can't beat how efficient it is. Blissfully chilly no matter how hot it is outside.

    2 people died in the flood.. but they were hit even harder north of us. The water washed lots and lots of cars down the hills and smushed them like accordions at the bottom.

    They are still trying to get the phone lines back up at the farms by us.. although more than a few of us have walkie talkies! Gotta say.. very helpful having those!!

  7. Thanks for the updates on the seeds! I'm so excited! I'll send you my e-mail addy when you're ready to exchange and we'll go from there! I'm not sure what I have that you don't already, but I'll update my "What we're growing" list on the side of my blog and see if you're interested in any of them.

    16" after drought, the ground is so parched it can't absorb it fast enough! I'm so sorry about the torrential rain and the damages it caused, but the silver lining in it was worth it (your survivalist neighbor)

    Gosh, I'm so envious of you for discovering such a treasure of a neighbor! Can I move in with you and learn too! hehe ;-) Not ready to eat coons and squirrels yet, but we do have plenty squirrel in the area if needed, and their fat from all the yummy fruits and avocado (neighbor's house) around here.

    Your chicken coop looks great! 3 cheers to your hubby for repurposing the dilapidated barn! Someday (waiting for my hubby) we'll have a little coop too.

  8. The neighbor is well worth it! He's a lot of fun. He's also hooked on fried green tomatoes (and I think I am the only one here with any luck with them this summer. We've somehow ended up swapping a lot with neighbors. It has been great as we haven't bought anything from the grocery in over a month!!)

    I hope you get a coop soon! I'm hoping ours will be finished soon! The birds' sleeping quarters atm is very very cramped. Quite a few of them are rather plump. (Next year.. I need to plant a lot of zucchini, cucumber and tomatoes... they just go nuts for those veggies. We are getting the zomg huge zucchini from several people.. so they polish off at least 1 a day and beg for more!)