Our great grandfather owned the General Store in what was then the town of James, South Dakota, east of Aberdeen. James is almost a ghost town now, with just a few residents left. The lots where the general store stood went to my great aunt Frances, my grandfather's sister. At some point the land was deeded to my brother, and he's been paying property tax on it for decades but never did anything with it. Aunt Frances made him promise to never sell the land, but he almost sold it a few years ago, at which point I jumped him about selling it outside the family. I told him I wanted it, and before she died Mom had told me she had been telling him that he should give it to me. She passed in February 2010, and it's taken until now to get him to agree to file a Quit Claim deed so it's in my name. Money hasn't been discussed, so I have no idea if I'm buying it from him or if he's giving it to me, but either way it's good. Hopefully nothing comes up and he actually makes it to SD, he lives in Phoenix and has a film production company so projects often come up unexpectedly and his travel plans are pretty iffy at the best of times.
I actually started packing the travel trailer on Sunday, and Monday I decided I should start the fridge to get it cooled down before I loaded the frozen stuff, and the darn thing wouldn't light on propane. I just had the two 40-gallon tanks mounted on the camper, so I tried it several times thinking maybe there was just air in the line, but eventually I gave up and started searching for an actual problem. When I took off the outside cover for the fridge I quickly discovered what the problem was, WASPS!! I waited until very early this morning when it was just thinking about getting light out and I knew they would all still be in the nest, and after lots of wasp spray and cleaning the nest out the fridge is working again, it's cooling down as we speak. :) A-SIL had been hooked up to campground electric for the past 9 months and never ran the fridge on propane. These may have been transplanted North Carolina wasps for all I know.
I have been trying to find someone to mow while I'm gone, and after several failed attempts at hiring a yard service to do it, the neighbor finally volunteered her adult son to do it for me. In exchange, he got the 10 x 10 x 6 dog kennel that I had used as a chicken house. You can see it in the back left of this photo if you can see though the mess in the lean-to of the old shed. The chicken house/kennel had a metal roof on it, and I told him I wanted the steel, so I took that off on Sunday.
Speaking of the mess in the shed... that's one of the many projects I intended to get to before heading north, so with no extra free time to speak of I decided to finally tackle it. It took a few days to drag everything out, build some shelves for the lumber, and put everything back inside. My older daughter tells me I'm a hoarder, but I disagree, it's not hoarding if you use the junk. My total cost for the shelving was about $9 for some lag bolts, nuts and washers to hang the shelves from the roof joists. Everything else was leftover from some other project here. Not only did I get everything that was in the shed put back in an organized fashion, I also got a bunch of other stuff under cover that had been sitting on the other side of the shed along with a bunch of garden fencing that was around the raised beds.
The entire lower shelf is the used metal from the roof of the chicken house along with some other steel that was found on the property when I bought it. I plan to use it to enclose the side of the lean-to closest to me in the photos, this is the side the rain usually comes from. If there is enough I may close in the left side as well, and add more shelving to hold parts and pieces of the Caboose when I start dismantling it this winter.
The remains of the chicken house/kennel... I raked up the straw bedding and will let it compost some and then use it in the raised garden beds this fall. I plan to hack down the overgrown brush behind where the kennel was, and move the Caboose there so it's sitting level when I start working on it. Currently it's on a pretty good incline, not a problem for disassembling it, but it could be a major problem when I start the rebuild and need to get things plumb and level. The fence to the right is multiple chain link kennel panels hooked together to give the Great Dane and Golden Retriever a space to roam. Amazingly I removed all the vines just 3 weeks ago. It's incredible how quickly the forest encroaches here. If people were to disappear it wouldn't take many years for most signs of them to be swallowed by the forest, at least outside the cities.
Another, sort of related project today was to move Rover, the old Class C. I'd like to park him so that he blocks the view of the shed lean-to from passers-by, and also get him sitting a bit more level. There's a cut-off switch on the battery because he tends to drain it when sitting. I threw the switch, hooked up the jumper cables and crossed my fingers. He's been sitting since we took him to Bonnaroo in June 2011, but the battery was new at that time so I was hopeful. After many minutes I tried turning the key... nothing happened. OK jiggle the jumper cables around, and let it sit again. 15 minutes later, he turned over once. Jiggle some more on the cables to make sure the connection is good, then go do something else. 1/2 hour later, still no joy as he slowly cranks over once again. I think the batter is toast, but I REALLY hate to buy a new one to use just to move him 30 feet. He's currently being used to store "stuff" and I don't foresee a rebuild in his near future, so buying a new battery seems foolish. He's developed a small roof leak recently though, probably from being stressed by parked on such an angle.
Haha, I just realized all three of the campers are visible in that photo, only Daisy the Shasta is missing, and she's up north. The KZ is level for the fridge to run, compare the underline with that of the Caboose, you can really see how much of an incline it's parked on.
This is where I want to move Rover to, parked facing left and close to the two trees on the right. I even trimmed the lower branches today while I was waiting for the battery to not charge so they wouldn't rub on him. It's still not completely level, but at least he wouldn't be leaning over to the side so badly and would only be pointing downhill slightly.
One of the better things about cleaning and organizing in the lean-to,and one of the major reasons I wanted to get it done before I leave for a few months, is I finally have space to park the V-Strom. This poor bike has sat outside ever since I bought it, both in MN and here in TN. Eventually it will be parked on the rear 'boarding platform' of the Caboose and will be my run-about vehicle.
I miss my V-Star that I sold to a neighbor last week, but Jimmy rides past in the evening and honks at me if I'm outside. Not sure if that helps, but at least I still get to see it. I did 30,000 miles on that bike in a bit over 2 years of riding it, lots of good memories and great places.
One last catch up item... I mentioned that I was waiting for the lady that owns the organic blueberry farm to call me and let me know she had my fruit. I had picked some, but between trying to get daughter packed up and heading off to Utah, packing the camper, and working around the house here I didn't have time to go pick the rest myself. It costs a bit more if they pick for you, but I'm okay with that. I told her I wanted 12 gallons total, thinking I could easily go through that in a year, a gallon bag per month. It turns out she picks into the cardboard pint containers, and 4 of those more than fill a gallon Ziplock bag. Bless her heart, she even bagged them and froze them for me before she called me to come pick them up. This is what 12 gallons of organic blueberries looks like.
Yes, that's 21 1-gallon Ziplock baggies full of blueberry goodness... What's a person to do with this glut of berries? I humbly suggest blended Margaritas...