A Conex Is Born

Wow. Been nearly two months. Not to worry, not much has happened. Not worth getting excited about anyway.

One big news item though, I now have a conex in place. It’s only been a year and a half coming but it’s finally done.

Last week I met up with Amos early in the morning in town and we headed to Micky D’s for breakfast. (yuck) He had ordered two twenty foot conex out of Jacksonville and through some unbelievably creative financing on his and his brothers part I was to take possession of one of them. They were supposed to be at the interstate about 10 in the morning so we were in high spirits in spite of this months recycled coffee grounds at McD’s.

After a Pepto Bismol chaser we headed to town for material. Then he got a call that the truck hauling the boxes had been stopped for a DOT inspection would be delayed. Is anyone really surprised? So Amos called the wrecker and told them we would be delayed an hour.

Our plan was to meet the truck at the interstate, have him follow one of us as far out as possible, drop the boxes, then have a tilt bed wrecker deliver them the rest of the way. Not that many moving parts so obviously not much could go wrong. Right?

After gathering material in town we headed back to my trailer to sit around and solve the worlds problems while we waited. We gave up on that rather quickly since no one listens to us anyway. I do have to IMG_20170113_122808093admit that I liked the idea of an open season on politicians but in today’s PC world we knew we would never be able to sell it.

At the appointed time we were off to the interstate and our first look at the boxes. While we were waiting for them to show Amos tried calling the wrecker again. No luck. There was still some time to waste though.

Then the boxes showed up and, well, they were ugly. I mean shipping containers aren’t exactly glamorous to begin with but these wereIMG_20170113_122819675_HDR decidedly ugly. However they did appear solid and we both had plans for painting them anyway. Still no wrecker so we decided I would lead the truck with the boxes out while Amos went in search of the promised wrecker.

Although slow, the trip out was entirely uneventful. The guy driving the truck was obviously skilled and seemed like a nice guy to boot. I took him in the long way since it was a far better road plus there was IMG_20170113_122836228an area where he could do some maneuvering and make the sharp left turn that was required. A few minutes later we were at the head of our road which was where we planned on leaving the containers for the wrecker. After a bit of backing and jockeying around he dropped the containers in less time that it takes to tell then was on his way.

On the way out I had received a text from Amos indicating that he had found the wrecker and was on the way. Thinking that they were close behind, I waited patiently while the Zigster gave each box the extended sniff inspection. Having passed inspection we waited. IMG_20170113_122804511Then inspected the sides of the road. Then some unrecognizable mess that Zig wanted to roll in but I was able to talk him out of. Then waited. Finally I saw Amos approach with the wrecker in tow. So to speak. He wasn’t IMG_20170113_123139916really towing it but by the end of the day I had to wonder why not.

I had to run to my property to take down a fence so Amos and the tow truck people stayed and began loading his conex. By the time I finished with the fence they were already in place and unloading the first box. I remember thinking IMG_20170113_123344106_HDRthat this was going very well so we should be done a lot sooner than expected. So I stopped by to watch. And watched. And watched some more.

IMG_20170113_124159262_HDRAn hour later I was sitting on a stump in the shade, drinking lukewarm water, and watching. If it wasn’t for the fact that it was going to get dark in about seven hours it might have been funny. It really reminded me of that old saying about two monkeys engaging in carnal pleasures with a football.

If one of the wrecker drivers wanted to pull the truck forward, the other was equally sure it needed to back up. Raise the bed, no lowerIMG_20170113_133827984 the bed. Slide the bed back, slide it forward. Wait, wait. Pull the truck forward. Finally, with a healthy thump, the front of the conex fell the last few inches to the ground to a collective sigh of relief.

Then it was off again to collect and deliver my container. By now the IMG_20170113_135546887_HDRfootball has had enough of this crap and is fighting back with everything its got. Two hours later, I’m sitting in the shade drinking lukewarm water and watching. Amos and I agreed that the football was winning by a large margin.

By three o’clock I had to go back to town and left. Amos agreed to keep an eye on things. In town sometime after five I got a text that itIMG_20170113_135956883 was in place. My business in town didn’t conclude till nearly seven so it was way to dark to drive out that night. I spent the night in town and headed out at the crack of dawn the next morning.

Figuring that he needed rest after the day before, I stopped by IMG_20170114_081257809_HDRAmos’s place, left some croissants and fresh brewed coffee for a peace offering then eased on to my place.

I pulled in expecting to find the shack laying on the ground, fresh plowed ground as far as the eye could see and the conex on one side. I was pleasantly surprised to find everything in order and the box sitting very close to where I hadIMG_20170114_081334938_HDR hoped it would be.

After a couple of week ends of moving stuff from the shack to the box, I now have some room and can start to finish up insulating and sealing the shack. With spring just around the corner I want to get the second floor done so I can sleep up there this summer. More on that later.

IMG_20170115_091345350_HDRMany thanks to everyone using the Buy Amazon link. In a month or so I’ll be able to add a solar cell which will greatly improve my spirit at night. It gets really dark out there.

The Bridge On the River Kwai

Just spent a couple of days out in the swamp.

Last trip out I transferred all my frozen meat into the 12 vDC freezer and shut down the propane refrigerator. Even at 40 percent run time the fridge was drinking about 50 to 60 pounds of propane a month. That is way to much. When I have the time I’ll try to find the problem and fix it. I looked on the internet and everything says to adjust the doors so the seals will be tighter. The instruction sort of say, “open the doors”, “adjust the hinges”, “problem solved.”

To me this is akin to your car engine not running. You look it up and find “open the hood, fix the engine, close the hood.” Guess I’ll have to study on this further.

The good news is that the 12 vDC freezer that Plume sent me worked gang busters. When I arrived yesterday it was holding a steady zero degrees and the batteries were holding up well. I still need to add some more panels and a couple of more batteries soon but for now things are great.

Amos and Hannah were up for the weekend. I always look forward to their visits. They are super company and always have something going on. This weekend we built a bridge. Regular readers are already aware of the marsh across the back of our properties and that we’ve never managed to get across it. This weekend we may have laid the groundwork for finally seeing what the back 2/3s of our properties look like. Or we may have built a bridge to nowhere.

I was negligent in taking pictures so the before pix are missing. I do img_20161113_111510298_hdrhave a few after shots.

Ok, so it doesn’t look all that impressive. It consists of three 4x6s sixteen feet long and a whole host of 2x6s four feet long. But keep in mind that we hauled these things down 17 miles of bad road in a 6 foot bed pick up. Amos tooled along at a snails pace while I followed his dust cloud. At one point I had to signal a halt when the load shifted which could have resulted in scattering our (their) bridge everywhere.

On site there was the chore of getting the wood to the marsh. Where I have several wide paths cut that I can drive down, Amos has miles of narrow twisty paths requiring negotiation. But not to worry, Amos has a converted riding mower to tow everything in place. Yeah, right.

With Hannah expertly guiding the newly christened ATV getting the freshly cut four foot 2x6s was something somewhat akin to a nightmare. Not to belittle her driving, she really did a great job. But obviously the ATV didn’t get the memo regarding its new status and kept getting stuck. Still, it was finally done.

Then came the three 4x6s. For the uninformed, a sixteen foot 4×6 weighs roughly about a thousand pounds. The ATV didn’t read the second memo and refused to budge about half way in. So we towed them in one at a time by hand.

I was in the process of writing a memo about naps when they turned to and started building. Figuring it was a moot point I tore the memo up and feeling like a British soldier in a Japanese war camp I pitched in and tried to help.

After much pain and anguish the bridge was completed. You can imagine how happy we were when we found out that the other side ended right in front of a huge stump. “Not to worry!” says I. “I have tannerite. We’ll blow the stump up!” So off I went to gather said tannerite and a large caliber weapon.

Back at the bridge we mixed the tannerite, packed it into the stump then fell back to what we thought was a safe distance. Amos took the first shot while I was in retreat with Ziggy. (the Zigster isn’t a big fan of gunshots much less huge explosions) A few minutes later I learned that he had hit it but it didn’t detonate.

So back to the stump to repack it and try again. This time I took the shot. Three shots later I could clearly see that I had hit it and still no BOOM. We gave up at that point.

On a brighter note, the swamp inspector examined the bridge and img_20161112_161804878_hdrpronounced it satisfactory.

Speaking of shooting, I saw a display a few weeks ago that left me totally impressed. Amos was out with a friend and they came by my place for some recreational target shooting. We set up some rebar out to about 40 yards. It was late afternoon so the light was failing but we weren’t going to let that stop us.

We had put some apples on the rebar at 40 yards which I thought was a waste at the time. Soon I couldn’t even see the apples. That’s when Batman took a 50 caliber black powder rifle with a scope and exploded an apple. I knew he was a good shot but had no idea he could see in the dark.

Thinking that the show was over I settled back on a five gallon bucket to watch the wind down. That’s when he pulled a pistol, announced he was shooting an apple and commenced to do it.

As best as I can tell, this guy is part bat or something. He must emit some kind of chirping or something to find his target through echo location. Till then I wasn’t sure how to peg this guy but now he has to be Batman.

Meanwhile I’ve taken another part time job that is taking up a lot of time at least for now. As a result I’m not able to spend as much time out in the boonies but my finances are beginning to look up. Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll be able to cut back and put in two or three days a week then spend the rest in the swamp.

Dear Hollywood celebrities, You exist for my entertainment. Some of you are great eye candy. Some of you can deliver a line with such conviction that you bring tears to my eyes. Some of you can scare the crap out of me. Others make me laugh. But you all have one thing in common, you only have a place in my world to entertain me.

That’s it. You make your living pretending to be someone else. Playing dress up like a 6 year old. You live in a make believe world in front of a camera. And often when you are away from one too. Your entire existence depends on my patronage. I’ll crank the organ grinder; you dance. I don’t really care where you stand on issues. Honestly, your stance matters far less to me than that of my neighbor. You see, you aren’t real. I turn off my TV or shut down my computer and you cease to exist in my world. Once I am done with you, I can put you back in your little box until I want you to entertain me again.

I don’t care that you don’t like Mr.Trump. But I bet you looked cute saying it. Get back into your bubble. I’ll let you know when I’m in the mood for something blue and shiny. And I’m also supposed to care that you will leave this great country if Trump becomes president? Ha. Please don’t forget to close the door behind you. We’d like to reserve your seat for someone who loves this country and really wants to be here. Make me laugh, or cry. Scare me. But realize that the only words of yours that matter are scripted. I might agree with some of you from time to time, but it doesn’t matter. In my world, you exist solely for my entertainment. So, shut your pie hole and dance.”


OK. So it isn’t exactly a river. More of a mud puddle maybe. But who img_20161113_111524403_hdrwants to wade through it? After I get a marker that says “River Kwai” I’ll post a pic.

#CowLivesMatter by gosh

In town for a couple of nights so I figured I’d fire off a quick post.

Last trip out started off with a bit of excitement. One of the areas I have to drive through has a lot of cows. It was early morning, the weather was beautiful then I rounded a corner and saw them. They had the road completely blocked and it only took a glance to realizeimg_20160918_115835388_hdr1 that they weren’t at all in a good mood. It was my worst nightmare, right there in front of me were a herd of Cow Lives Matter protesters and worse yet, I had a couple of pounds of ground beef in one of my coolers.

For a moment I thought of making a U turn and running but no, at some point I knew I would have to confront these bovine bullies. As I approached at a crawl I was sweating profusely and wishing I had opted for ground turkey instead of ground beef. In seconds I was surrounded by a milling herd angrily chanting “Eat mor chikin!” accompanied by the sound of spray cans being shook vigorously.

By now my hands were shaking while I wondered if I could reach the shotgun in the back seat if they all decided to charge. Then it occurred to me that I could end up sharing a shallow grave with the ground beef if they decided to search my coolers. By now the chanting was virtually inaudible over the sound of spray cans in action then I saw it.

A no Cow Lives Matter Safe Zone! Easing the truck into reverse I was able to beat a safe retreat. Looking confused the cows appeared img_20160918_1158595201as if they were going to turn on each other for a few moments allowing me to engage four wheel drive and take to the open pasture. The last I saw of them some of the slower protesters were spray painting each other while hurling racist remarks about in hopes that something might stick. Though I never got more than fifty feet away they never seemed to notice. But then you have to be dumber than a box of hammers to get caught up in the movement to begin with.

I had a tree die a couple of days ago. By that I mean that I looked at a few days before and it seemed fine. Then two days later I started by it and being an expertly trained observer I thought “Something is different.” Stopping I looked around a bit and after a few minutes thought “Why am I standing here looking around?” I find myself doing that more often than I did about two hundred years ago. Then I remembered that something was different so maybe I should figureimg_20161019_1542007761 out what it was. It should have been really obvious since I was practically leaning against the tree but you just don’t expect a good sized shade tree to die overnight. Finally I figured it out and broke out the chain saw. With the tree gone I was feeling like I had accomplished something until I thought “What was I doing?” But that’s another story entirely.

I’ve mentioned that the fridge is drinking propane. So I disconnected the thermistor and set it to run twenty percent of the time. At that setting the ground beef I had in the freezer thawed. Since I had risked life and limb to get that meat out there I wasn’t about to give up on it so I set it to run forty percent of the time. I headed back to town for a few days then returned. Everything was well frozen so I cooked some burgers the first night and ate them.  No adverse affects so I guess it worked.

It’s starting to get cool at night. We’ve already had night temps down

May I have a 9 am wake up call please?
May I have a 9 am wake up call please?

into the low 50s. Daytime temps is still near 100 so there is a huge difference between day and night clothing. It is also great sleeping weather. I’ll be taking some extra blankets out tomorrow since the bed hog steals all the covers.

There are several properties I walk once or twice a week at the request of the owners. I check for damage, vandalism and to see if their feeders are working. Usually all I find is feeders damaged or not working which I text to the owners. Bears are really rough on feeders.




“Hmmm. What’s that little box?”







Needless to say, the owner wasn’t at all happy about this. The bottom edge of that feeder, where it starts to form a cone is about six feet off the ground. Want to know how big that bear is?


I had to do some light stuff to pull this out but you get the idea. He’s a big boy. That’s not Ziggy dressed up up in a Winnie the Pooh costume.





“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt



I’m Back

Been almost three weeks. Ouch. All both of my readers have been pinging me for being lax. Sorry.

First of all, I would really like to thank everyone who is using my Shop Amazon to Shop Amazon. As I’ve said before, shopping Amazon via this site doesn’t cost anymore and I get a small commission. Presently I have a couple of more months then I will be able to buy some toy for the shack in the swamp. Right now I’m leaning toward a 100 watt solar panel or a Yagi cellular antenna.

Meanwhile, out in the swamp, I’ve not been idle. Well, sometimes I’ve been idle but its mostly been busy, busy, busy. Alright, maybe its more like busy. That’s old person talk for I got some stuff done.

I cut some new paths. John Boy came by on his tractor and bush hogged my old and new paths which was super nice of him. His bush hog mulches the brush which helps level things a bit so it isn’t so nerve wracking to drive around. I have enough cleared now that I can load tools and a cooler in the truck, drive to where I want to work and not have to run to the shack every time I need gas or a cold water.

I cut a new driveway and started blocking the old one off. It is actually an extension of the old drive but instead of turning and coming alongside the shack it is more winding. Once finished it will give me ample opportunity to see someone coming in.

I planted some pecan, eucalyptus, and oak trees. Hopefully I’ll live long enough to stand under them in the shade someday. I also planted some trifoliate orange which are growing like weeds. I want to plant a complete barrier across the front by next spring. Maybe by next fall I’ll have my living barrier tall enough to start to work.

Had a real surprise show up via UPS. Plume bought a Whynter 85 Quart Refrigerator/Freezer and had it drop shipped to me. It runs on 12 vDC or 120 volts. It works great so far. I tested it in town by cooling it to 32 degrees then putting in some ice trays and set it on fast freeze. Fifteen minutes later I had ice cubes. At the shack I ran it for a day on 12 volts and it froze stuff gang busters. But I don’t have enough solar to run it and the fridge over the long run without running the generator every three days or so. So I’m going to have to add at least one more battery and solar panel I believe. I hope its only one battery since they are expensive as all get out.

The fridge is giving me problems. It’s drinking propane like crazy. A 20 pound bottle only lasts about a week which is way to much. Seems that it never shuts off hardly and then its only for a few minutes. I found that I could disconnect the thermistor and have it run a percentage of the time based on the coldness setting. I did that and set it on the warmest setting. I left for town, came back a six days later and found that the freezer was thawed. So I bumped it up a couple of notches and left. We’ll see what happens when I get back out.

I took the cell phone booster out of the truck and put it in the shack. I now have 4G while sitting in the shack and clear as a bell phone calls. Come to think of it, instead of a Yagi I might get an omnidirectional antenna so I have better coverage. Though I only turn it on when I need it, I’m powering it from a 15 watt solar panel and a NAPA deep cycle battery that I don’t know where I got it. I’ve had the battery for at least three years but never used it so I believe it should be in pretty good shape.

I took a part time job in town at the camp ground I’m staying at. It was a bumpy start at first but has smoothed out and I’m working a few hours a day now. If I can work off my lot rental every month that will put about 400 dollars extra in my pocket to buy new toys for the swamp.

While in town I watch a lot of Netflix. I had to quit watching the Star Trek series. Has anyone noticed how that no matter how new or advanced the Enterprise is, the least little thing is able to kill it? It doesn’t matter what it is, they only have to fire three shots and the Enterprise is going down the tubes. Just once I’d like to see them stomp a mud puddle in someones chest and keep going on.

OhoohooCaptain Smirk, there’s a ship uncloaking off our starboard bow. Or maybe port stern. Crap! It’s right there in front of us.
Smirk: On the television. Or display. Or screen. Crap! Show me.
Pock: That’s an Awesome class battle cruiser from the Smurf Alliance Captain! It’s equipped with four blue smurf cruise missiles capable of destroying a moon!
Ohoohoo: Captain, they are powering up weapons. Should I raise shields?
Smirk: Nah. Nuke em till they twinkle Ohoohoo.
Ohoohoo: Nuking em till they twinkle Captain.
Pock: Oh look! Shiny!
Smirk: Snotty! It’s time for the movie. Where do I plug this projector in?
Snotty: I’m giving ya all I’ve got Captain! She can’t take anymore!
Smirk: I don’t care about your sex life Snotty. Get this movie going. That’s an order.

Hurricanes, Bears and Pigs Oh My!

The hurricane. Yawn. I rode it out in town and barely noticed it. More like an extended thunderstorm than anything.

I headed out to the shack the next day. The roads were mushy in img_20160902_1441295741places with a lot of downed trees but still not all that bad. Most of the trees I just drove over or around. A couple I had to hook the winch up and pull out of the way. Naturally I didn’t have a chain saw with me.

After I got to the shack I had very little damage. Had some tarps torn up and loose stuff blown around but nothing major. There was a lot of standing water which wasn’t helped much by the fact that it img_20160903_0847166241rained for nearly two days after the hurricane. My driveway and parking area quickly turned into a mud bog so I spent a lot of time cutting brush to drive over. The mud is still there but it doesn’t get slung around near as much.

I was asked by a neighbor to check his feeders and pull cards which I did. So I have a lot of game pics to share.





Just More Stuff

Back in the swamp and as usual dealing with yet another life and death situation. This time literally life and death.

Two days ago I was feeling pretty good about my efforts at installing the fridge so I was considering leaving it running while I headed to town for a day or so. It was late in the afternoon so I had plans for spending the night, buttoning up the next morning then head out for some AC, shower (of course) and a WalMart run to stock up on “Refrigerate After Opening” supplies. A couple of hours before dark I decided to do a detailed inspection of the fridge. And boy howdy it’s a good thing I did.

When building the enclosure I followed the manufacturers instructions like a person possessed. If it said 32.4 inches wide the end measurement was 32.4 inches. Within 3 degrees of level became dead level. Seal and insulate is triple sealed and triple insulated. I went whole hildabeast (no offense to hogs) installing this thing.

The manufacturer clearly states that all baffles, enclosure walls, base, etc. may be fabricated out of wood, sheet metal or aluminum. I used wood and backer board throughout. In addition to foaming all joints, I sealed every joint with aluminum tape. Overkill, right? Not so fast. It wasn’t overkill by a long shot and very well may have resulted in me returning to a crater of smoldering ashes where the Taj McZiggy once stood.

My inspection was an in depth hands on type. I felt joints for leakage, touched everything than was accessible and even wet my hand to try to feel for air movement. Then I got to the chimney. At first all appeared well so I grabbed it. Well, maybe not grabbed, more like lightly brushed my fingers over it. It was HOT!!! As in, had I grabbed it I may have some healing blisters right now.

Now I expected some heat. Maybe enough to be slightly uncomfortable but this was beyond uncomfortable. And it was pointed directly at a 2×6 brace I had installed per the manufacturers installation instructions. Feeling the wood, it wasn’t blister hot but it was way to hot for any kind of mental comfort that I was searching for. After staring at it for about 3 or maybe 12 minutes a thought surfaced, “Oh shit!”.

I then went into a detailed review of the install which took maybe 90 seconds and arrived at the conclusion that I was hosed. And discouraged (again). And angry (again). But relieved. I was very relieved that in three days of running the fridge on generator and propane I hadn’t burnt down the shack with me and the Boy in it.

So, I went inside and checked the installation manual. Sure ’nuff, I built the enclosure just like they said to. Then I shut the fridge off, turned off the propane, loaded up and headed to town. Or maybe I should say campground since I don’t really live in town.

While in campground, I called the manufacturer, they wouldn’t even talk to me once they learned what I was doing. “That refrigerator isn’t certified for any install other than in a recreational vehicle.” What the hell? I told them to think of it as an RV without wheels. No luck there. Like talking to a democrat about gun control. Dumb as shit and twice as full of it.

So I set about finding my own solution to the problem. Which I’ll get into later in much more detail.

I got a late start out today while it was raining cats and socialists. The roads were slick as all get out but then everyone knows that democrats are full of it anyway. I rarely got over 15 mph so the trip in took nearly an hour and a half. Once I got here the place was soaked. Apparently there’s been over four inches of rain in the last two days with a lot of it looking to be sideways. The prediction was for less than 20 percent chance of rain so I’m guessing the weather forecasters are out at some bar yucking it up tonight about how they can be wrong 100 percent of the time and still not get fired.

Worst part is that I hadn’t put a tarp over the vents for the fridge so the sideways rain ran right in. The cooling unit and controls are soaked. So I can’t light it off until tomorrow sometime after I light off the air compressor and blow it dry. At least it’s not nasty hot tonight.

This morning I oozed out of bed and built some coffee. My Coleman stove was wet from the rain so when I lit it there was flame coming from everywhere except the proper flame place. Some compressed air dried it enough that I was finally able to get water going for coffee. Instant, oh yummy. Not.

Checking the fridge I decided it was dry enough, turned on the gas and started it up. And so it ran, and cooled, and ran, and ran. As far as I can tell, the burner hasn’t cut off yet after about twelve hours. I actually expected this since in the trial run it took nearly a day and a half for it to finally cool enough to cut off. For the trial I had it on one of the coldest settings but this time it’s on a warm setting so I believe it will cut off sometime tonight or in the morning. I wanted to get it to some steady state baseline before I modify the exhaust. This will let me know if the modification helps or hinders cooling.

I noticed that one of my foundations is washing out so I spent a considerable part of the day moving rocks, busting up three bags of concrete which had got hard from humidity and busting up concrete rubble. By the time I quit, you can hardly tell I was even there. I still have some rock to use but it’s not going to be near enough. I need to raise the area about eight inches which doesn’t seem like a lot until you actually start doing it. Then it becomes Mt. Everest. I’ll probably end up heading to the hog wallow with a wheel barrow tomorrow for some fill. I swear I need to buy some illegal aliens to do the work this American doesn’t want to do.

I pulled the card on my front game camera and settled in for the usual six hundred pics of brush moving slightly and nothing else. Then I freaked.

This game camera is about fifteen feet from the front porch of the shack. I’ve never got a picture of any critter other than Ziggy. Then I came to this one. It’s hard to tell but that is Mr. Bear hanging out within spitting distance of where I hang out. I checked the date and I was in shack at that time.

Keep in mind that there’s no bathroom in the shack. If the urge hits in the middle of the night you have to go outside and commune with mother nature, and a bear possibly. Now I’m all into this “it’s his home”, “he was here first”, “not all bears are bad.” I don’t give a rats ass! I don’t want to walk outside to take a leak and find a four hundred pound bear on my porch ready to go all jihadi on me.

So tomorrow I’m going to set up some early warning traps that will hopefully discourage him from hanging around. I have some mouse traps I’ll attach to stakes then glue a primer to the bar so it ignites a pack of firecrackers when tripped. Since the boy is deathly scared of firecrackers I’ll have to put them out just before dark. Hopefully no one will decide to come visit after dark.

Bears, Refrigerators and Winter Is Coming

In the swamp tonight. No clue what day it is. Think it’s mid August. August I’m pretty sure of at least. A huge “Thank You” to whoever bought from Amazon using the link on this page.

Been a lot happening so I’ll start with the refrigerator. It’s in the shack, on a platform, mostly framed and baffled in. I’m hoping to finish the baffling tomorrow, seal the plenum and light that bad boy off on propane. If all goes well I’ll be celebrating ice this weekend. If you want to know more head over to the Refrigerator page under Projects for so much detail you will be scratching your own eyes out. Sister Suzie has asked how it works so I’ll give a short run down on ammonia cooling.

Before I go on, a short explanation about names on this blog. In general I don’t use anyones real name here. Or maybe I do sometimes. The thing is, I mostly make up names for people based on how I’m feeling at the time or something about them I’ve noticed while interacting with them. All the names are intended to keep their real identity concealed and are meant in fun. Under no circumstances do I intend to insult, demean or otherwise offend someone. Truth is, if I don’t like someone, they will probably never be mentioned here.

OK, so let’s talk about bears. Or rather a bear. As in there’s a great big honking bear hanging out here that has me a bit on 6678edge. I’ve never shared space with a bear so I feel justified in admitting that I’m constantly prepared to run screaming like a scared little girl.

This guy is big! On his hind legs he is at least six feet tall and we’re guessing his weight in the 350 pound range. In the pic it’s hard to tell but he’s molesting a 6681feeder about seven feet off the ground. What’s not shown is that he knocked the feeder down and tore it in half to get at the corn inside. All this happened about 100 yards from the shack. Bears can run up to 35 miles per hour. I can run up to 1 mile per day with frequent breaks for snacks and water. Maybe a mile and a quarter if I have those guys that stand alongside the road and hand you water and energy bars.

So there’s this new bear in the hood that I have to figure out how to coexist with. Never let it be said that I’m not into diversity. My biggest concern is the Boy. By muzloid6684 standards he’s a freaking brilliant genius capable of inventing space travel, again. In truth, he’s dumber than a box of rocks and to stupid to run from a bear. Which means I would have a martyr on my hands to gather up and bury which I really, really don’t want to do. Thank god I never had kids. I probably would have kept them velcroed to the wall until they turned about 30.

I’ve been training him to stay in sight of the shack by liberally 6687applying the bug zapper (remote control) to his shock collar. But when he sees a pig or armadillo that doesn’t work all that well. Cranking up the setting will light him up like a Christmas tree but again, doesn’t always work. Obviously more work is needed.

Figuring I’d keep the bear at a distance, I bought firecrackers and bottle rockets. Or at least what passes for firecrackers these days. At the gas station I was perusing their fireworks and settled on some M100s and bottle rockets. Hey, vertical envelopment. When I got to the shack this afternoon, I lit off one of the M100s expecting to startle wildlife for miles around. What a ripoff! I can get more noise out of clapping two pieces of wood together. Are kids such wimps these days that they can’t be trusted to handle high explosives without losing limbs? Where do you go to get something that will lift a tree trunk out of the ground? This is obviously another area that the feds got into and screwed up.

So I have this pile of firecrackers that don’t crack and bottle rockets that probably run out four feet then glow feebly. I guess I could dump them all in a pressure canner, hide in the brush, then light it off and throw it at the bear. But then I would probably have a bear laughing his ass off while he ate me.

In other news, wait, there’s no other news. Refrigerator and bear. OH!!! Generator. Yeah! It’s screwing up sad to say. That lovely 30 amp extension cord that came with it went dead the other day. I’m not sure if it’s the outlet or the cord since I have now other cord to test it with. When I have time I’ll check the outlet on the generator for power and see which it is. If it’s the receptacle on the generator itself I’ll be taking it back for a refund this time.

Good news is my solar is working like a charm. More tomorrow. Maybe.

Back again tonight. Long day. Finished framing in fridge, hooked up 12 volt DC control power and fired it up off the generator. At last check one freezer compartment was at 39 degrees and still cooling so I’m getting excited. I filled some ice trays for the other compartment hoping I’ll have ice before I fall out tonight. In a few minutes I’m going to pack the refrigerator part with soda just to have some thermal mass to help keep it cool while I hook up the propane tomorrow.

If all goes well with the propane I’m going to run it at least two days then shut down and head to town for a day. When I get back I want to start it up on propane, run for ten days then decide whether to leave it running permanently. At that point I’ll be able to stay out here two or three weeks at a time and only have to go to town for material and food.

Since I’ll have to refill my propane bottles occasionally I can’t really say that I’m completely off the grid but I’ll certainly be a lot closer than I was this time last year.

With the end in sight for the refrigerator, I have to start thinking about my next big project. As hot as it is I really need to get ready for winter. That roughly translates into finish putting up siding, insulate and seal the shack and installing the wood burning stove. From experience I can vouch for how miserable spending the night in a drafty shack with no insulation is. Candles and sterno just can’t keep up. Besides, it’s very uncomfortable trying to get some rest in a sleeping bag with a 70 pound pit bull in it with you.

In The Land Of The Blind

The man who can make ice is king.

Good news tonight. Today I hooked up 12 volts to the propane fridge I had bought then connected it to 120. It works. I am now fairly certain that it will work on propane which means I can make ice once it is installed.

I’ll be loading it up tomorrow morning to take out to the shack. Installation is going to be a major effort. I’m starting a projects page for it. Check it out for updates.

Dang I Forgot To Give It A Title

Before I get started I’d like to give a shout out to Crazy Al, Daring Dave, Mad Mary, Sister Suzie and Plume who all used the Shop Amazon link from here. Every bit helps and I really do appreciate the support.

Back in the swamp tonight. I spent the morning gathering material, or trying to, then headed on out. I had just spent about six days in town so I was in high spirits to be getting back out here. I didn’t really want to spend that much time there but it seemed like everything that could go wrong did.

The town closest to where my camper is has a very limited selection when it comes to buying material. I needed fuses for the solar so naturally I went to an auto parts store. Sure ’nuff they had fuses but no holders. When I asked about holders the folks at the store were genuinely confused. What sort of danged fool would buy fuses if they didn’t have holders to put them in? I didn’t even try to explain.

The roads on the way out were really wet and a couple of times I thought I might have to get out and lock the hubs in case I needed 4 wheel drive. I made it through but it was touchy in a couple of the puddles. When I got to the shack my rain gauge said it had rained nearly five inches since I was out last. After unloading I took a walk and found that some of the areas that were drying well were flooded again. Naturally it started raining when I was at the furthest point from the shack. I didn’t have much trouble convincing the Boy that it was time to head back.

Back at the shack I thought I smelled propane. Checking out the grill nothing appeared amiss so I chalked it up to imagination. Come dinner time I opened the grill, lit the lighter and was greeted by a ball of flame that virtually engulfed the grill. Turning off the propane at the bottle I retreated to the other end of the porch and armed myself with an extinguisher while I waited on the flames to die out. Turns out the pressure regulator is shot so the grill is DOA until next trip to town. That is if they are sold in town.

So I broke out the charcoal grill. Naturally the bag of charcoal had got wet at some point so the first thing that happened was the bottom dropped out of the bag. Now I have two five gallon buckets full of charcoal to store somewhere.

About an hour and six lighter cubes later I finally had lit charcoal. I could probably have started the charcoal with fewer cubes but I had absolutely no idea how to use them. Still don’t so I cooked enough burgers to last a couple of days.

My agenda for the next few days is to get the first floor wired for lights and run a line for the fridge. I have some 12 v Dc compactIMG_20160805_135233786 florescent which only draw 12 watts. It will be nice to have a brightly lit shack for a few hours at night.

I think I’ve figured out how to get the fridge out of the truck and into the shack in one piece. Next trip in I’m taking a battery so I can test it before I haul it out here. It requires 12 volts for the control circuitry so I’ll run that this trip. I’ll also put in a 120 circuit so I can run it off the generator whenever I have it running.

Naturally I’ll have to move everything in the shack to get it in place. Then I have to do some of that wood working stuff which I hate so much. I have to build a plenum to bring fresh air into the cooling unit as well as vent the exhaust outside. I also have to seal the cooling unit so if there is an ammonia leak it doesn’t come inside. To say that I’m nervous about this is an understatement.

It’s been a couple of days and I’ve made some progress. I have a IMG_20160805_181453017circuit ran down the middle of the shack capped off in the back. I put in a light fixture in the middle that is currently occupied by a 13 watt compact flourescent. I was surprised at how much light such a small bulb puts out. It’s nearly to much for just hanging out at night and doing whatever swamp people do at night in their shacks. I dunno, maybe sharpen gator gigs or build hog traps. Anyway, I’ll be keeping an eye out for smaller bulbs for future use.

A second circuit, maybe 8 feet long is for a bulb over the solar stuff. Plumes charge controller has a set of programmable contacts that allow you to turn loads on and off at preset times. I have it set for manual activation right now but will be reprogramming it before I leave today. I’m going to have it turn on for two hours after sunset and then turn on again an hour before sunrise. Not a big deal but it will make a casual prowler wonder if there’s anyone in the shack.

Figuring I’d get the most out of this light I painted the area around it with some aluminum paint I had. The last time I used this paint it was all shiny and aluminummy looking so I figured I would get a semi mirrored finish. I guess storing it outside for nearly a year wasn’tIMG_20160806_141737870 kind to the shiny aluminummy part. It came out a dull gray with no shiny at all. Oh well, it will be a good surface to paint over when I get some new paint. It does reduce the light to a tolerable level so if I have a sudden urge to do swamp shack people stuff I can sharpen my gator gigs in comfort. I wonder if there really are gator gigs? Who in the world would be crazy enough to gig a gator anyway?

Speaking of gators I spotted this little guy while on a boondoggle yesterday. I’m guessing him to be about four feet long. I took the pic from inside the truck so you can kind of get a feel for how close to IMG_20160806_102923838the road the swamp was at that point. I would have got out to get a better shot but I had spotted a slide that was huge. I’m guessing this guy is looking so sad because he is sharing digs with a gator at least twice his size. I wasn’t about to get out of the truck and possibly meet his big brother in person.

The brushlings have revolted and are in full tilt riot mode. It’s possible I’m going to have to concede defeat for this year, take down the grape arbor then hope for a good winter. A good winter coupledIMG_20160806_185426219_HDR with some good ideas on how to control this mess. I will win this battle. I can’t see owning 30 acres and not being able to see more than 50 feet in any direction.

Back in town tonight. Spent most of the day reading about installing a propane refrigerator and printing parts of the manuals. I guess it’s as tricky as I expected. If I screw up venting it won’t work. If I screw up the exhaust I can start a fire. If I screw up the seal and it leaks I could die a horrible death from ammonia. If I screw up all three all that will be left is a blackened crater with a flaming puddle of fat that used to be me.

I was disappointed to find that the replacement display for my charge controller isn’t in yet. But there’s a tropical depression coming in with predictions of 5 to 15 inches of rain over the next three days so maybe I’ll just hang in town for a few days. It’s that time of the month so I have to do laundry anyway. Yuck.

I was happy that my order of ultra bright 12 volt LEDs came in. These bad boys only draw 20 mA each so they will be a welcome addition to my shack lighting scheme. They put out 3.15 lumens which sounds small and is. However for the battery load that’s well within the range of useful. Ten of them should put out about 2.5 watts of light which when spread out will provide a good night light level. I hate waking up in a totally dark place. Besides, they’re just a lot of fun to play with.

OK. Some more pictures. I’ll explain as I go.

Light On
Light Off

OK. Stupid. But I am excited at finally having light. At least light that doesn’t recharge outside during the day or run off batteries. Gotta remember I started this winter with candles and sterno for heat and light. This is a big deal for me.


Bad pic I know. Not sure what happened. This kluge is my current control area. I had to use what fuses I had on hand so they are just hanging out. My terminal strips were all to small also and everything ended up wire nutted together.


My phone camera decided it was time to make a video then recorded a couple minutes of me walking around outside. I did get this shot of the generator shed which still needs walls and a roof. I’ve put one of my generators and the air compressor inside so finishing it is on the list. You can see where I’m spreading plastic around in an effort to establish some kind of beach head against the brushling wars.

That’s all for tonight. I’d like to thank everyone for visiting. Please feel free to comment. Suggestions and criticisms are all welcome. Comments like “You suck” aren’t so very welcome but I won’t delete them.


If I ever figure out how to operate this thing Ishimo will be the one begging for treats and sleeping on the floor.


Living the dream.