Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020 Goals

"Today is the first day of the rest of your life." My Dad used to say that to me. I was never quite sure what he meant when he said it though. But on this first day of the year 2020 it seems apropos. In fact, for the last few months I've been trying to gather my thoughts around what some of the next big steps Cindy and I should take on making our 37 clear-cut acres more of a year-round hospitable environment.

To date, we've been somewhat mindlessly planting a wide variety of trees to see what might be hardy enough to thrive without much human involvement.  This past year, our three biggest accomplishments (aside from tree planting) was firstly, the work done on the driveway - smoothing and clearing the path and dropping over 100 tons of stone on it to make year-round access to the property a reality.

Secondly, we had a small 10x8 shed delivered and placed at the top of the driveway so we would now have a place to keep our tent and sleeping bags, water, etc.

Thirdly, I built an outhouse out of cedar and pine in my backyard and transported it to the land in a rented truck.

All of these changes were HUGE improvements from the previous status quo.  It meant that when we went to our land, we no longer had to pack the car with camping gear, and that when we arrived, in most weather situations, we were now be able to drive on to the property without the risk of getting stuck in the mud or having to haul camping gear up a very muddy driveway during a thunderstorm, in the middle of the night (which we did once).  Now, we also have a place to go to the bathroom that is protected from the elements and does not require digging a hole every time.

Yet another major improvement we made later last year was in preparation for our wedding last November 2019.  We needed a cleared, mostly level, spot to put our wedding tent and port-a-jons for the wedding reception.  So I rented a Track Loader and Excavator and cleared about 10,000 square feet of land, removing small trees, weeds and felled tree roots in the process.  This clearing will be a great spot to put more permanent structures like a garage and perhaps a house.

In my mind, the next major step in helping us maintain our driveway, the wedding tent clearing, the trails we've cleared as well as help keep the grass and weeds at bay, is the purchase of a tractor and a bush hog.  If we get a tractor, we'll need to be able to store it someplace to keep it out of the elements in order to protect our mechanical investment, so that means building a barn or garage of some sort.

At the same time, the summer months make camping almost unbearable at Ca Ira Castle, as it gets really hot and there is not much shade.  Even with shade tents up the wife and dog start to hate me pretty quickly for taking them camping (and the kids can't even be bothered).  It is time to figure out a way to provide a more permanent shelter from the elements there, if possible.

So here's my rough plan, not necessarily in order, for improving our life even more at Ca Ira Castle in 2020:
  • Acquire a Tractor with front-loader
  • Acquire a Bush Hog
  • Buy a modular two-story garage
  • Put equipment in bottom part of garage
  • Build-out an off-grid livable space in the top part of garage
    • Install Solar Panels
    • Install Composting Toilet
    • Water Well
  • Build a deck off the back for enjoying the sunsets
  • Plant clover and grass in the cleared spaces in early spring to help soil
  • Make a concrete bench for enjoying the shade of one our London Plane Trees

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