I have very little to report this time. Other than a walk about all I did today was get everything put away for my trip back to town. I got here about noon, took a shower, did my vegetable imitation for a couple of hours took a nap, then tried a different vegetable for a change.
Anyway here’s some rambling stuff from the shack in the swamp.
Back in the swamp again.
I was up early today, ran to town for some last minute stuff, bought 140 pounds of ice, loaded the Boy and headed out. The roads on the way out were in very good shape so I made decent time right up until I got to my road. Even then it was fairly dry with no white knuckle driving required.
At the shack unloading was uneventful except the cooler. With 80 pounds of ice it always merits a short porch sitting event. There was a strong wind blowing so after I opened the place up it was fairly cool within minutes. The strong wind reminded me that I hadn’t finished nailing down the steel straps holding the roof on so I spent a couple of hours getting them tied in. I did a rough count and there were a bunch of them (more than 10, I didn’t take my boots off) which makes me feel better about the upcoming hurricane season.
I spent some time spreading a snake repellent that was highly recommended online and found at Ace. Afterward I was nearly regretting it since it has a moth ball smell mixed with some foul odor I didn’t even want to identify. The smell went away after a couple of hours or maybe every smell sensor I had is now fried.
As I was spreading it I thought “I wonder if this works?” Then I thought “How would I know?” It’s kind of like vampire repellent. Do you see any? In truth this came up in a conversation with a good friend but it sounds better when I tell it this way.
Then I went on my regular walk about. This is where I walk some of the property and the road in front. Ziggy loves it because he gets to run up and down the road at top speed and hopefully (in his mind) splash me with mud when passing a puddle. Not sure what he’s going to do if the mud ever dries out. Spit at me maybe. Dunno, we’ll see.
The swamp is down a lot. There’s no water flowing across the road and I could see mud for several feet on both sides instead of water. I was hearing logging going on south and west of me so I’m wondering if they have done something to open the flow up. Sometime this week I’ll take a ride that way and see if I can tell what has happened. Tomorrow morning I’ll walk to the back swamp on my property to see how far it has dropped. It would be nice if I had 5 or 6 acres drying out and available for use.
I visited hog wallow number 2 which is also drying. I might be able to walk it this week without sinking up to my knees and get a feel for
how big it is. At some point I want to dig a pond. A hog wallow is an ideal place since there is no foot deep root mat to deal with.
On the way back from my walk I stopped and looked at the shack for a minute. Holy crap what a dump! There’s piles of material, tools everywhere, half finished projects at every turn and no end in sight.
My priority this week is get the siding up and build a shower. I’m going to have a shower this week if I have to stand on a ladder and dump water on my head. I want to mount the water tank about 10 feet off the ground. This will mean I have a tank of water that weighs about 350 pounds ten feet up. Question is how do I tie it down so it doesn’t blow over?
First idea is to pour a pad and tie the 4x4s to the pad. Problem is I have no concrete right now. So I would have to dig and level an area, go to town, buy concrete then come back. Then mix and pour about 20 bags of concrete. That is a lot of work. A whole lot of work.
I could bury the 4x4s about 2 feet in the ground. Then in about 2 years have the whole thing collapse on my dumb ass while I was in the shower. It’s looking like I’ll have to make a concrete run this week.
It’s supposed to get down to 50 tonight. Which means that it will be in the 40s out here. I’ve lit three candles which surprisingly do very well at keeping the chill down. I set the kerosene heater out just in case. I’ll know it’s time to light it if the Boy gets in bed and dives under the covers tonight.
This morning it was pretty cold. Not light the heater cold but cold enough I didn’t mind sharing the bed with Ziggy. Boy is like an electric blanket. Then it happened. Noise on the porch!
I grabbed a pistol and headed that way. I expected Ziggy to be excited and ready to attack. All I heard was marauding raccoons and some faint snoring coming from underneath the covers. So I charged outside, shined the flashlight around and didn’t see anything except the mess they had made. Meanwhile back in bed Ziggy wasn’t in any mood to negotiate space at all. I looked at the clock and put the water on for coffee.
Tonight I have a surprise for the little democrats. I’ve blocked off part of the porch and spread mouse traps everywhere. It might not do much to deter them but at least I’ll wake up laughing.
Had a good day anyway. Walked the back part of the property and the swamp is indeed down overall. The band of marsh which keeps me from getting to the back 20 acres might be dry enough soon that I can get a footbridge in. I would really like to see what is back there.
Broke out the tools, generator, air compressor and was all set to put up siding. Then disaster struck. I remembered that I’m afraid of heights. Along about noon I kicked myself in the butt and started climbing ladders. By six I had one side completely done except for a strip that I’ll do on the balcony tomorrow.
I’m planning on completing a side before I move on to the next. The new ladder is heavy as hell so moving it is a study on sweat. So I’m going to finish screwing down the top, seal the seams and paint before I move on.
I’ve become concerned about the screws holding the siding on. I didn’t learn until today that I should be using screws and liquid nails. Many of the screws are in nothing more than 1/2” plywood. So I have all these screws sticking through the walls. I’ll be putting insulation over them but feel like I should reinforce the joint somehow.
I might buy a ton of shoulder washers and a couple of quarts of fiberglass resin then just fiberglass them in. No individual joint would be all that strong but overall it would significantly increase the integrity of the wall. Might not be a bad idea to do the screw heads outside as well. A layer or two of cloth on the inside would really strengthen the joints. I don’t like working with fiberglass but the idea is really appealing.
I’ve decided to leave the first floor unfinished inside and finish out the second floor. This is based on the belief that the second floor will become living quarters and the first will be storage and guest quarters. Not that I won’t appreciate my guests comfort if I have any but a bed, a fan and Ziggy is about all anyone can expect.
Been a couple of days. Went to town Sunday night for some air conditioning, a shower and a bed that doesn’t slide around when I move. Next morning I made a quick trip to town for some material and ice (of course) then headed back to the swamp.
I have the siding complete on one side of the shack with most of the base coat of paint on. The backer board and thin set soaks the paint up like a sponge so it is going to take a lot of painting before I’m convinced that it’s well sealed. I started with some OD green then went to a gallon of khaki I had bought by mistake. (two gallons truth be told) I started pouring the remainder of the green in so I ended up with several shades of green and some khaki. Once I got to the second floor I kept going out to the road to see what a color looked like through the trees and brush.
I found out it really didn’t matter much. Just about any shade of green faded into the foliage and pretty well disappeared. Except for the window and roof line. I can paint the frame of the window and hide that but it will still be a large rectangle of glass and screen that sticks out like a sore thumb. The roof line will more or less disappear once I get the nerve to climb up there and paint the 6x6s. By the time I get to using a rattle can I’m confident I can convince the eye to look elsewhere.
I’m not expecting total stealth yet. Once the bamboo and trees grow enough my shack will be totally concealed from the road. Hopefully that will be late summer this year. If not next year for certain.
Speaking of bamboo, the giant bamboo I put in the ground about a month ago is over two feet tall now. I’ve read that under ideal conditions it can grow up to six feet a day. I’d settle for 30 feet by the end of this summer. From the looks of it that might be a realistic goal. The other plant I put in the ground about three weeks ago appears to be settling in and is beginning to show signs of growth.
It’s finally happened. I’m losing it. On my walk this morning I noticed a dragonfly on my shoulder. I thought this was a rather nice surprise so I began to talk to it. I explained that I really admired the dragonfly race and that I would really like to be sort of an ambassador to the dragonfly kingdom. (for anyone who doesn’t know it dragonflies are fierce hunters of mosquitoes and yellow flies) I then invited him and all his buddies to live at my shack and follow me around all they wanted. I even offered to build little dragonfly houses with a white picket fence and a station wagon with wife, kid and shaggy dog on each seat. At just about that point he fell over dead. So much for my skills as a bug whisperer.
I tried an experiment that I hoped would help rid me of stumps. I have zillions of stumps from brush sticking up and some of them are 2+ inches in diameter with as many as a dozen in a group. Below ground they are a mass of roots with thicknesses that cause a mattock to go “Sproingggg!!!” when hit.
So I thought why not build a small very hot fire over the stumps to burn them and the roots out in one fell swoop? So I tried it. I poured a couple of pounds of charcoal over the stumps, put a steel fire ring down to contain the heat and blaze then lit that sucker off. Then lit it off again. Then added some lighter knot. Then poured more lighter fluid on it and lit it again. It finally lit. And burned for 14 hours. Well, at least burned then smoked that long. By the end of the day I was all excited when running over to check the results. You can imagine how I felt when I realized I had about a dozen flame hardened stumps to deal with now. All I can figure is that the roots were able to pump enough water to the stumps to keep them from burning. Maybe I should bury a spinning hub cap under one of the stumps then let it leak to the local mezcan population that one is buried somewhere out here.