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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Vacation Time at the BOL

I don't normally take what most people would consider a vacation. The last time I took the family on a vacation was about 15 years ago, and that was a two-week road trip to visit more family. To me, just getting away from the normal day-to-day routine is good enough, but it always seems to come with work attached. I have gotten used to this, and I actually look forward to being able to practice skills that I don't use very often (carpentry, fence-building, tending animals, etc.) when I get the opportunity.

This year my “vacation” will consist of a week of watching the family farm (18+ acres of hills and trees with some pasture) so my Dad can go on a fishing trip. Since the family farm is my primary bugout location (BOL), this will give me a week to inspect, repair, and improve the various pieces of the property that make it a good candidate for a BOL. I will have to work my regular job a few of those days (staffing issues prevent me from taking the whole week off work) so I won't have as much time as I'd like, but I plan on making the most of the time I have.

My tentative plans include:

Check the Perimeter Fencing
Around here, the responsibility for maintaining fences follows the “right-hand rule”: as you look at a fence between your land and a neighbor's, you are responsible for the half of the fence on the right-hand side. Your neighbor is responsible for the other half, which will be on his right-hand as he looks at the same fence from his property. Clearing trees that have fallen on the fence is the biggest part of this job, with replacing the whole thing a close second. Replacing posts and patching barbed wire is a simple job, but getting to the fence can be a challenge in the rolling hills we have.

Update and Improve the Computer Network
I recently switched the farm over to a DSL line from the annoying and expensive dish internet. This saves about $60 a month, and there are no more data caps or speed issues in bad weather. I can understand using the dish internet if that is all that is available, but it has a lot of problems.

I still need to install a new wireless router and do some map work to plan for wider wi-fi coverage. My goal is to have at least minimal wi-fi available for security cameras that can cover the entire acreage. Even without internet access, once the network is set up I will be able to monitor what and who is moving around on the property.

Check and Maintain the Backup Generator
I bought a generator big enough to run one freezer, the refrigerator, and about half of the lights in the house several years ago when we had area flooding threatening the power supply. Mom was diabetic and needed a way to keep her insulin cold, so I bought her a generator. As far as I know it has only been used a few times, and I need to change the oil and make sure it has been stored properly.

Prepare the Area for Fruit Trees
There is a patch of scrub cedar trees that needs to be cleared and replaced with plum trees. Not too far from there is a spot with decent southern exposure that may be cleared for apple and cherry trees, but it is grown up with Prickly Ash saplings. Cedars are easy to cut out, but Prickly Ash is hard to kill; it likes to re-sprout if you don't kill the roots. I may have to invest in some agricultural chemicals capable of doing the job, but first I need to figure out how much space I want to clear.

Repair/reroute the Access Road to the Hilltop
There is a 2 acre flat spot on the top of the major hill, but the road or lane leading up to it is in bad shape; several years of neglect and too much rain have taken their toll on it. I own a surplus M35A2 2.5 ton truck and it can't make it up that road right now. It's time to survey a new route that will avoid the potential for rapid runoff during rainy years, and perhaps try to patch the path we already have. I'm not totally comfortable with only having one way in or out of an area, so I may do both.

Rebuild the Family Shooting Range
One of the valleys has become the family shooting range. With a 60' high hill for a backstop and about 150 yards from side to side, it is sufficient for informal weapons practice. I need to rebuild the target stands, and may lay out space for some permanent shooting benches to be built later. I also need to clean up after a few nephews who don't pick up their trash when they're done and have a talk with them about the paintball obstacles that have recently appeared.

Pest Eradication
Since the house at the farm is in the country, insects and rodents are a constant problem. The cats keep the small rodents at a manageable level, but the spiders and other bugs have gotten out of hand in the garage and (rarely used) basement. 

I have found an insecticide that will kill a wide variety of insects without the odors and hazards normally associated with bug sprays. Being FDA approved for use on food plants, and having a 90-day residual kill, makes this a good option for keeping insects out of a house.

This will be my test run for a future product review of that insecticide.  I'll see how well it works.

Have a Bonfire
One of the nights I am at the farm I will burn a brush pile that has accumulated for the last year. I may invite a friend or two over and sit around the fire drinking a few beers, or I may just sit and watch it burn by myself. 

This has been a rough year for me, losing my Mom, father-in-law, and two aunts within a month. I've also seen three acquaintances buried since Easter, and I think it may be time to sit by a fire and reflect on all of their lives. Some of us need to be around others to mourn, and some of us (like me) need to be alone.

The weatherman is calling for rain most of the week I'll be at the farm, so I guess I'll just have to see how much of my list gets accomplished. Some of it I can do from inside the house, and there are always other things to do to keep me busy if that's what I want.

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