Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Happiness is … being warm and dry (even if it’s in a trailer)

Camping on the lumpy ground in a “one’ish season” tent when the temperature unexpectedly drops down to 32 degrees at night is no picnic.  Working your you-know-what off and crawling into a sleeping bag with a broken zipper and a puppy that has been eating every pile of elk poop she comes across is not much fun either.  After the week of road building was over I told M “that’s it!  I am not sleeping on the ground EVER again.  I’m done with camping and that IS my final answer!”

I searched craigslist ads for travel trailers for weeks.  We wanted something that was, of course, reasonably priced, would hold together until we could get the pole building up, and didn’t smell.  Several smelly “reasonably priced” trailers later, we stumbled upon a gem.  It was a little over our original budget (which wasn’t much), but the woman that owned it was a real sweetheart.  She and her ex had been restoring this 1988 Terry Taurus but divorced before it was ever finished.

They had most of it done, just a small section of old paneling that was ripped out never got replaced (we’ve taped plastic sheeting over it temporarily – wonder if we’ll ever get around to replacing it) and a few minor issues with the hot water heater, the oven and a small leak in the holding tank.  But it had a new fridge and toilet, had been painted, reupholstered, new flooring and all of the cabinets were freshly lined.  and more importantly – it didn’t smell.  We had the leak and the hot water pilot issue fixed but the oven would have to be replaced.  Since we don’t really bake while camping out at the farm and the stovetop worked, we decided not to replace it.  At least for now.

The floor plan works great for us and it is as cute as an old 1988 travel trailer can be!  It doesn’t look like much from the outside (I haven’t taken any interior pics yet) but it is quite comfortable.

Home Sweet Home Away From Home

Five years ago I could not ever have imagined I’d be happy about staying in a trailer. Oh, and did I mention it has a queen-sized memory foam mattress that is almost more comfortable than our sleep number bed at home?  People change.

Happiness is… having good neighbors (even if they don’t live next door)

Next on the list of things to acquire was a new chipper since the one we had was stolen.  We had taken it to the farm to start chipping away at all of the fallen branches from the storm last January.  As it is extremely cumbersome to transport back and forth each weekend, we stashed it under a brown tarp in a wooded area in the center of the property we assumed no one would or should be poking around in, but alas – we were wrong.

Being a couple of hours away from the farm and having to pack and haul anything and everything we might possibly need every time we head down was getting old.  The fear of losing anything else – especially a new chipper and a new generator – turned our thoughts to secure storage.  We decided an old shipping container retrofitted with a roll up door, a couple of vents and a secure lock box ought to do the trick.  We discussed options for it’s second life after we move out to the farm permanently and decided it could become incorporated into the livestock’s winter barn to store feed, straw, etc… as well as a place for associated tools and equipment.

The best place for it now as well as for later was next to the travel trailer, since this is the spot that will eventually house the livestock shelter.  You don’t want to have to drag around a 5000 lb metal container too often. Having it next to the trailer makes it easier for us to store propane tanks, batteries, the generator and anything we don’t feel comfortable leaving in the trailer in the event of a break-in or dragging back and forth in the pickup truck.

After much research and talking to at least three purveyors of fine, used shipping containers, we placed our order.  I went down a day earlier than M to meet the delivery truck.  I had discussed the site conditions with them beforehand and had indicated the container needed to be dropped about a 100 ft from the end of our new gravel road.  The road ends right where we are going to build the pole bldg and eventually the house, so having it nearby but not in the way was the plan.

We had been down at the property the weekend before for the keyline plowing (those are all of the lines you can see in the pasture – more on that later when M has time to blog about it), so I assumed conditions would be pretty much the same.   Upon my arrival I discovered it had rained quite a bit more here than at home and the ground seemed softer, but not too bad.  The delivery guy and I walked up to the drop site to scope out the situation and we discussed a few options.  He thought if he could make a sharp right off of the hammerhead turnaround at the top of our gravel road, hugging the trees and then back the trailer into the place we wanted the shipping container, he should be okay.  He was driving a fairly large truck with huge double wheels hauling a 40 ft trailer and our 20 ft shipping container.  He had to come flying up the hill at a pretty good clip to make the fairly sharp left turn (a 25′ radius per county specs) at the hammerhead and then very quickly make a sharp right turn to try and stay on drier ground once he was off of the gravel road. It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Muck Truck

I guess what he didn’t account for was the high content of clay in the soil.  He got stuck and the more he tried to get unstuck, the deeper his front right tire sunk into the mud – but at this point, he hadn’t noticed.  After about an hour of working the trailer’s hydrolics to move the truck out of the muck, he had to call it into his boss.  According to my contract, I got a half hour of set up included in my price.  After a half hour, I had to pay an hourly rate of $75.  The guy was tossing in an extra half hour his boss didn’t know about, so I thought fine – I was getting a pretty good deal on the trailer compared to the other places I had shopped and an extra $75 wouldn’t break the bank. He thought it would not take him long to get the truck out, but my shipping container was not going to be dropped where I wanted it.  The best he could do was drop it off near the hammerhead.  We’d probably have to wait until next summer to move it when things dried out or get a tractor up there that might be able to move about in this muck – but he thought even that was doubtful.  He proceeded to try and unload the shipping container, but it was all this movement that sunk the truck wheel in deeper and deeper.

How about we just drop it here instead?

I pointed out that the front right wheel was getting pretty deep.  I thought the guy was going to cry. He said he wasn’t going to be able to get out and had to call his boss again.  I overheard him say “Well, no I didn’t have her sign the waiver.  Well, because I didn’t think I was going to get stuck.  Yes, I should have known better.”

Right about this time, my friend ((and road builder) S happened to be driving back from her dad’s place and on a lark decided to drive a little out of her way to see if we might be up for the weekend.  Thank God she did!  She told us she saw a guy down the road with a tractor and offers to go see if he’ll come up and try to pull the truck out.  A short while later, he shows up in his Ford F-350 pickup.  It turns out the guy isn’t even from around here and was just buying the tractor after following up an ad on craigslist.  Unfortunately the tractor has a broken throttle, but the guy thinks he can pull the delivery truck out of the muck with his pickup.  Hooray!  Good samaritans do exist.

First order of business is to get the shipping container off of the trailer and the only way this can be done is by jacking it up so they can pull the trailer out sideways from underneath it.  They do this by placing a stack of cut 2 x 6 boards under it.   The delivery guy gets a large chain off of his truck and they hook it up to the side of the rear end of the trailer.  The Ford guy pulls and pulls and gets the trailer free from its cargo, which is now precariously perched on these little blocks of wood.  They move the chain to the back of the trailer and the Ford guy pulls the truck completely out of the muck and onto our gravel road.  Hallelujah!  I give the guy $50 for his time and effort and thank him profusely.

Built Ford Tough

Free at last! Free at last!

In the meantime, S (who never minces words) asks the delivery guy “why does my friend have to pay your company more money when you admitted to your boss that you should have known better?”.  He gets a little defensive but then agrees it isn’t my fault.  It is his boss who going to insist on the extra hourly rate especially because he didn’t get me to sign a waiver that would make me responsible for any truck damage, towing fees, etc… incurred in the course of delivering my shipping container.

As we all head back down to the main road so I can sign the delivery order and get my reciept, the guy says he’s going to tell his boss that their company got off easy by not having to call in a tow truck to pull him out of the mud, and that we should call it even.  His boss takes a few minutes to accept this and actually has to check in with his boss before he can give the okay, but finally they all agree that I don’t have to pay anything extra.  I think we are all just so relieved that the truck was pulled out of the mud and no one has to pay a kazillion dollars to do so that no one really focuses on the fact that I did originally pay a $200 delivery fee and this is what I got:

WTF???

Happiness is… having really good friends (even though you had to buy 24 acres to find them)

All I can think about is what the hell are we going to do?  We’ve got a shipping container sitting on a pile of wood blocks no where near where we need it and whole lot more muck than was there before.  I don’t think we can drive our truck over to the trailer until next summer and the whole point of having this ding dang container was to store stuff near the trailer to make our lives easier.  Now we have to haul everything from the road and trudge through the muck to get it to the trailer.  Waaaahhhh!

At least Magpie is enjoying the mess left behind

I can just picture M’s face when he drives up the next morning – we don’t have cell service up here so this will come as quite a surprise to him.  Well, it was quite a look – he couldn’t quite beleive it, but at least he was laughing.  You had to laugh – it was just so ridiculous.  So while we are standing there and I am reliving every moment for him (using lots of hand gestures), we can hear what sounds like large equipment down at the bottom of the hill.  We shrug it off thinking it has something to do with the community hall down the road, but then I hear the very distinct sound of a trackhoe and it sounds like it is getting closer.  After spending a week camping on the farm while the road was being built, this is a very recognizable sound to me now.  I look down the hill and through the trees I can see a bright flash of neon yellow and orange.  The cavalry has arrived!!!  S, wearing her neon yellow and orange construction jacket is marching up our road with her husband J right behind her driving the trackhoe.  We can hardly beleive our eyes – S & J are here to save the day (something they have done for us on more than one occassion)!

J hooks the shipping container to the trackhoe, drags it across the muck without a hitch and then spins that bad boy around to place it exactly where we originally planned.  And as if that wasn’t already more than we could ever have hoped for, on the way back out he smooths out all of the deep ruts created by the delivery truck.

My hero!

Ok, just a little more to the right…

In less than 24 hours, life is good again.

Happiness is… everything in its place

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About La Femme Farmer

Starting up a small farm is the goal for the second half of my life. It's a late start I know, but better late than NEVER! Growing food, cooking and eating are my passions and now I get to do it full-time (and then some). and yes, that's a tomato from my garden!
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2 Responses to Don’t Worry, Be Happy

  1. Wow. This just sounds like a hellish day to me. Thank heavens for Sandy and Joe – and that excavator is just inches from the trailer – clearly experienced. And the keyline plowing – were you already “doing” permaculture at this point? Cuz I can see from sneak peeks of more recent posts that you did your PDC quite recently…

    • It was pretty stressful at the time, but re-reading the post just now made me smile. We have some really great friends with some really cool toys! As to the permie thing – we were definitely reading everything we could about it at the time and had attended a few workshops. The keyline plowing came about after M attended a 3 day Whole Farm Fertility workshop earlier that summer. We hired the guy who hosted the workshop on his farm (he had just purchased a Yeoman’s plow) to come plow ours.

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