The Ambling Full Tilt journey of 2015 (and early 2016) was a life-altering event. We uprooted ourselves from our then-comfortable home to begin the journey and then wound up in perpetual limbo; to quote Clarence “Frogman” Henry “I ain’t got no home.” Even as the Ambling Full Tilt journey wrapped up at the end of January, we were still working with family to keep a roof over our heads as we sought our true home. First in Boise, then in Maine.
We have been homeless for ten months. By choice, obviously. But for a couple so infatuated with the idea of home, this has been a trying chapter. Now we have closed on a new property; our HOME. Unfortunately the vagaries of buying a place that is old enough that no origin records exist (it was build sometime between 1950 and 1969) have kept us on our toes. And out of the house for a while. We closed Monday morning but didn’t “move in” until late Thursday afternoon because of the challenges with the property. Our excitement, from closing to moving in, was tempered by an uncommon set of challenges:
- The well pump and pressure tank needed to be replaced for various reasons.
- The well casing was buried five feet below ground so we had to have a riser welded on to bring the well head over the ground level.
- Power for the new pump had to be routed in a house that had no crawlspace access OR EVEN VENTILATION to the post foundations system, which leads to…
- And unknown degree of mold and rot under the house and
- An unknown remaining longevity to the foundation itself and
- An unknown rodent and/or insect population and…
- …a clarifying element to the last item. I stepped in the corner of the bedroom as I moved the bed into place and suddenly the floor felt like the main load-bearing element was the carpet. I pulled the carpet back to find, if not the main nest, a central hub in a carpenter ant infestation.
- Lastly the previous owner was elderly and not interested in actually moving out. So we bought a semi-furnished place filled with a cornucopia of shit we didn’t actually want or need. All that had to go before we could move in. At least she gave us a killer deal on a riding lawn mower.
The ant situation has not been resolved, nor will it be for a little while. Even if we eliminate the current population, they were using a floor joist as a thoroughfare so there is no way to assess the extent of the colony (or any of the other potential issues) until we can cut crawlspace access in and inspect. From how things have gone so far I expect to find a rotting, moldering, infested space that puts an upper limit on the cottage to a couple of years. That’s okay. The roof won’t last more than 2-3 years anyway.
Why did we buy a property where the living quarters were quite possibly somewhat of a shambles? People have already seen this on Facebook:
We drove ourselves nigh-mad trying to find the perfect piece of undeveloped land at the right price. We failed magnificently in that endeavor. Yet what we pulled off was finding 2.5 acres of beautiful land (80% cleared with 20% still forested) for building our farm AND a solid well AND a solid septic system AND functioning electrical service AND a cottage for living in (that was in no way a winner yet it was livable), all for a price that beats many parcels of undeveloped land we’ve found! So even if we have to burn the cottage down in a year or two and rebuild from scratch, we are WAY ahead on this deal.
So what follows will be getting our full build-out plan for the farm developed, then creating our first raised beds, then a garage/shop, then a chicken coop and paddock system with integrated gardens, then a solar thermal greenhouse, As winter rolls in we’ll design our actual living structure and make a transition plan. Courtesy of a dear friend we have a special direction we may head in, but that is a story for another time (yet Dani has given a preview of it here). Chickens will follow, then likely a barn and goats and a big garden plot for fodder if all goes well. Oh and we haven’t even started on the compost system, which will be very large and comprehensive (including composting toilets).
But first there are pressing matters to solve like [retroactive edit
internet access, voice access for calling the world, getting a mailbox up, figuring out a budget plan for telecommunications that cost more than twice what I was expecting]. Also we have a dead tree that needs to come down; it’s right next to the house and the overhead electrical local service. And seven other trees on the property (I’ll have to buy a chainsaw and figure out how to use it safely). We’ll have to remove the tremendously huge and decaying aerial on the roof (looks like it could have been for ham radio in the sixties, but was actually just for TV). And we need a vehicle as both a daily driver and a hauling rig. Oh! And the massive amounts of red tape: address changes, getting actual Maine drivers licenses and vehicle registrations, voter registrations, etc. Finally we also need to sell the tiny house foundation trailer we hauled across this entire country because we don’t need it anymore!
Many things! Many changes! Many challenges!
We’ve read more books and magazines about gardening and chicken keeping than you can shake multiple sticks at. We have a backlog of building literature we still need to get through. Also we have almost no construction tools.
Yet here we are. Our plants desperately need to get in the real ground. We need a roof over our heads that won’t fall down. We need to plan for the immediate future with an emphasis on self sufficiency. I don’t have the foggiest how we’re going to figure this out. But, as Goethe said:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
We’re jumping in to the deep end. Finally.
May life be gracious to all of us who are doing our best to live in proper balance with her and our fellow travelers on this journey.