Kevin “K”Line

Kevin arrives at Flyrock

We name stuff; it’s what we do. I don’t know why; we just always have. Remember Barney, the purple truck? (See A Truck Named Barney) And Flyrock — well, I think we spent more time naming it than we did our three children. (See Naming Flyrock Lake) So it came as no surprise that, when the truck hauling our shipping container made the first curve into Flyrock, my thirty-something-year old son said:

“We could name it Calvin.”

“What?” I wasn’t tracking with him yet.

“Or Kevin”, he added.

Kevin K Line

Then I saw the “K”Line on the side of the container and I caught on.  I joined in with, “How about Re, De or In?”

I think Kevin works best, for obvious reasons. And if it isn’t obvious, well then, it doesn’t matter.

Yep, we finally decided and bought a shipping container. It’s an 8′ x 40′ high cube. That means it’s nine feet tall instead of eight, which is good for driving the tractor into it without having to take the roll bar down first.

After over-thinking where to locate it, we spent several weekends clearing the area and building a pad for the container. We had to buy a couple of loads of gravel. I think that’s a little ironic: we own an old rock quarry and yet we have to buy gravel. And it isn’t cheap. I mean it really isn’t cheap! I can definitely think of more fun and interesting things to spend money on than a truckload of gravel that we dump in the dirt.

The delivery guy took it as a challenge to get through the trees we so judiciously left and set Kevin just where my husband wanted it — or at least where my husband thought he wanted it. It took backing up, pulling up, backing up again several times but he managed to maneuver the big load between all the trees and on to the pad. With a proud grin and an “I love it when a plan comes together”, which told his age and love for a TV show to still be making references to the A-team 30 years later, he took the check I had written him, crawled back into the cab of the semi and drove off. It was then we realized that we were going to have trouble backing the tractor out of the container without hitting a tree. We had a choice of either moving the 8,875 pound container or getting rid of the tree. We hated to cut the tree down, because it provides a lot of shade to help keep Kevin cool inside. So, a few days later, working by himself, my husband used his trusty winch  (see My Husband Says He Needs a Wench) and moved Kevin a foot or more, but doing it a half-inch at a time. It took several hours of jacking it up, then pulling it over, then jacking it up, then pulling it over, until he got it exactly where he wanted it — for the second time.

Maneuvering Kevin.

Now we can lock up the tractor, tools, kayaks, rafts and camping gear. No more hauling stuff back and forth between home and Flyrock. Well that’s an exaggeration, not as much hauling stuff back and forth would be more accurate. Our plans are to put a walk door in the back end. Maybe build a small room for a composting toilet, also a beer deck and an outdoor shower off that same end. We thought we might paint the exterior a nice light color, maybe a nice tan, but I’ve decided I kind of like Kevin the way he is. I think he looks cool. Because everyone is used to seeing these “K”Line shipping containers stacked on trains in the area, the color and half-worn graphics on the corragated red metal sort of gives it a railroad feel, which definitely ties in with our property. The railroad is right there, in your face and in your ears and it was intrigal to the limestone quarry from the day it was born back in the late 1800s. So maybe we’ll just cover the rusty parts with some red paint and call it good.

It feels good to have Kevin at Flyrock; a reminder that we’re making some progress, no matter how slow it seems at times. Maybe it’s because this is something we see when we drive in that feels a little more tangible than just cutting down weeds, that will grow back again, or trimming trees, that will have to be trimmed again, or moving junk and trash and rocks. Look something big and red and rusty with locks on it — we’re making progress.

Easy as one . . . two . . . three. Almost there. Driving the tractor in the first time. It fits!

Do Unto Others

The upper fourteen acres, finally all bush hogged.

It’s really tough to break a bush hog blade, but somehow, we managed. A reminder why we named this place Flyrock. We found out that it’s even tougher to change a bush hog blade. Finally, the high side is bush hogged. It’s cut too high, we’ve dug up rocks, left piles of them and holes where we dug them from.

Digging up rocks,

There’s still plenty of work to do on the upper fourteen, but we made it through the whole thing once, which is more than we accomplished up there last summer. I’m told it will get easier each time we mow (this from the guy who told me there was “Zero Percent Chance” of me getting wet). Well, we’ll see, but I’m not counting on it.

My husband and daughter spent a day, a couple of weekends ago, working on the shelf while I escaped to Chicago. We’ve decided the shelf may be the best spot for getting in the water to swim, so they started cleaning it up by trimming trees and clearing brush. That evening they each caught a fish, my daughter made fish tacos, they camped out overnight and got rained on. I shopped, ate in good restaurants and slept in a very nice (and dry) hotel.

Clearing brush on the shelf Pulling trees on the shelf. Hammock camping

Two gates, too many.The old pipe gate on the quarry side is too heavy and hard to deal with — kinda sounds like me. So, we hung a livestock gate that’s lighter and easy to deal with. The sad thing is that we’re now shutting and locking both gates. Crazy, right?

Here in our little corner of the midwest, I think 99% of the people are basically good, fair and honest. Yet, it seems that everyone has a line that they draw where they can justify doing something that others would think was wrong. But, they’re justified because; “These people are outsiders and they don’t deserve this and I’ve been fishing here my whole life, so they’re not going to keep me off of this property. I’m a good ol’ boy, but this SOB puts signs up saying I can’t hunt or fish or swim here. Well, I’ll show him, I’ll just tear those signs down.” Or, “No one lives here, so let’s just throw our old TV in the ditch, and then we can target practice and shoot the smithereens out of it.” Or, “Oh, look, they’ve built steps down to the water. I’m not supposed to be in here, but since they’ve made it so nice and easy, I’ll just use these steps and fish and leave my box of bait for them to clean up.”

Painting posts purple, again.Hanging signs, again.TV that was dumped, then shot at.

Sad to say, but internet forums are filled with property owners discussing how to keep people from trespassing and vandalizing property. Chains, locks, trail cams, tire spikes, and of course guns and signs threatening to shoot trespassers. It seems if you leave it too easy, trespassers enter without thinking twice. Make it too hard, they feel challenged and will bring bolt cutters and torches and whatever else they need to open any chain or gate. It’s disgusting. Maybe if they would work that hard at a real job, they could afford their own property and then they could worry about keeping vandals out. I don’t understand and I can’t imagine what is going through somebody’s mind when they trash and vandalize someone else’s property. I’ll bet you anything the vandal would be spouting off like the tough guy he thinks he is, about wanting to shoot someone if they did the same thing to his property — dumped a TV in his yard, tore down signs, left gutted fish or deer in front of his yard. But they don’t understand the golden rule and empathy and ownership laws and liabilities. So, until we’re living at Flyrock, we’ll continue to keep both gates closed and locked. And we’ll continue to take our stuff back and forth to the neighbors until we have a secure way to keep it there.

Which brings me to the news that we’ve decided to get a shipping container. Seems like it’s the best choice for locking things up. Besides hanging “no trespassing” signs and painting posts purple, working on a site for the container is what we’ve been doing most recently. My husband has been overthinking it (because that’s what he does); where’s the site for it going to be, how is it going to set on the site, what size should we get, do we want electricity run to it.  And me? Well, I’m just concerned with what color we’re going to paint it.

This is the site we chose for the shipping container. Mowed a path with the bush hog. Checking to see how level the ground is. Trimming trees and clearing dead ones. Spreading gravel for the shipping container.Working on gravel pad.





It Ain’t All Fun and Games — Part Two

Beautiful sunset view from Dog Rock Shelf. Maybe an off-the-grid cabin should go here.

We have a dilemma. It’s driving us crazy. We need to spend more time at Flyrock and less time staring at the windshield, driving there and back. More time working, less time loading and unloading tools. We load the Jeep, we unload the Jeep, hitch up this trailer full of tools, generator, mowers and chainsaws, to take to the property, then unhitch so we can hitch up the trailer with the tractor to pull it there. So much more could be accomplished if we could spend more than an afternoon working before the long drive home. We need bathroom facilities, even if it’s an outhouse. We need a shower, even if it’s an outdoor one. We need a place for tools so we don’t have to cart them all back home, or to a neighbors before a job is finished. We need a cabin. We need a shop or storage building. And as the saying goes, “people in Hell need water.”

Tractor loaded up on trailer, ready to take back to neighbors.

We’ve gone back and forth for the last six months on whether we should build a metal building for a shop and put a small apartment in it. But how do we get that done when time out there is already the problem? My husband called me one day, when I was at Target with my own shopping decisions of which decorative pillows to buy for outdoor furniture; he was close to pulling the trigger and dropping a deposit for one of those hangar type clear span metal buildings. Not really wanting to be bothered, I told him to do whatever he thought best. He bailed out at the last minute, knowing we don’t have the time to put a slab in and erect the building ourselves, and finances are stretched to the max, so we don’t have the money to pay someone else to do it for us. Undoubtedly, it would have ended up sitting on pallets, in the rain and then the snow, and we’d still be at square one — only with less money in the bank.

Maybe we just need to buy a camper. That would put us out there immediately. After evenings spent looking on Craigslist and a couple of afternoons driving all over Southwest Missouri to look at them, we decided our money might be better spent on something permanent at Flyrock. Plastic toilets and little toy sinks don’t feel like what we need or want. We’ll give the idea up for a few weeks, focus on building something and then one of us will check Craigslist again, or someone calls us that has seen one for sale, then it’s off to look at it and struggle, all over again, through the decision of whether a camper is really for us.

Shopping for a camper . . .  . . . or an Amish building Is it big enough for a tractor and a living area?
What about an Amish built storage shed? If we get a 14×36 we could make half of it a garage and half a cabin. Or would it be better to buy two smaller ones and keep them separate? A couple of 14x20s, one for a garage and one for a cabin. They seem to be well constructed. It would be tough to buy the materials and build one yourself much cheaper. They bring it in and unload it from the truck and it’s ready for us to finish out. And there would be the added bonus of someday having the cabin for friends to stay in or as a weekend rental.

How about a shipping container? Well, if we did that, would we get an 8×40 or two 8x20s? Can a semi pulling a 40 footer even make the turn through our entrance gate and set it where we want? Oh, let’s get distracted, and look at storage container houseplans on Pinterest and take pics and measurements of the entrance to send to the people who would deliver one and let’s wrestle endlessly with all the different places we could set it.

Will an 8X40 storage container make it through the entrance?

Whatever we finally decide to do, where is it going to go? Well, in order to know that, we need to know where we are eventually going to build our house. I mean, we don’t want to spoil the house site with a cabin or a shop, whether it’s a little wood frame building or God forbid a shipping container. But we’re having a hard time deciding where we want our house. We have four or five spots picked out and there are pros and cons to each.

A building site with a good view of the peninsula and the road into the quarry. A site at the center point of the cliff on the high side. Good view of lake and land below. Up at Cedar Point. Maybe a good spot for a cabin.

Decisions are getting the best of us. Quite frankly, I’d like to be laying on the beach, at an all-inclusive, where my most pressing decision is which drink I’m going to have the pool boy bring me — after I finish this one. “Excuse me, you forgot the little umbrella in that last drink. Bring me two next time. Two drinks that is — well yes, two little umbrellas as well. If I’m not right here by the pool, I’ll be back at the shipping container my husband and I live in on weekends, along with a tractor, that we bought with the next couple of year’s vacation money.”

Oh look, there’s a nice camper on Craigslist.

It isn't the beach, he isn't a pool boy and there isn't an umbrella in my drink.

It Ain’t All Fun and Games — Part One

Working on this blog

I spent several hours last weekend writing this blog entry. It ended up way too long. I knew it was. When I asked my husband to help me edit, I could tell by his lack of enthusiasm, body language, and the speed with which he raced through it, that he didn’t like it. I was irritated at him, because I had tried to go with an idea that he suggested, disappointed that he didn’t like what I’d done with it, and mad that I’d listened to him in the first place. Anyway, I promptly shot an email with the copy to my oldest daughter to get her opinion, confident that her opinion would agree with mine. Then, I’d be able to set my husband straight! Well, she didn’t like it either. Okay. Fine.  I guess that’s what I needed to hear, even though I didn’t like it. Perhaps I was too close and passionate about what I had written. “Mom, it was hard to read. It wasn’t fun. If you were trying to be funny, you weren’t,” she told me.

But, that’s the thing, I wasn’t trying to be funny. Back in my very first post, I wrote that I thought it would be “fun and interesting to chronicle the challenges, the progress, the fun-and-fights, the injuries, recoveries, the good times and bad along the way.” Well, here’s where I’m at right now: I still think Flyrock is beautiful and I still want to build a house there; I’m not enjoying the process at the moment. I wanted to convey my frustration to you — I wanted you to feel what I’ve been feeling.

You know when your mind has just been messed with so long and so hard and to such an extreme that you just can’t think anymore? That’s kind of where I’m at. It seems like we face decision after decision and it finally just leaves my head hurting. For example . . .

Toward the end of Fall we discovered that we had a problem growing on our newly cleared peninsula, the rock planter we built, and all the areas where we had covered old concrete debris. Last summer there was a beautiful, lush plant growing on the backside of the property. Didn’t know what it was. Didn’t really care. But we should have, because it’s poison hemlock. An invasive, poisonous plant that will kill livestock and humans, if ingested. Evidently it’s the poison that was given to Socrates when he was sentenced to death.

Pretty, huh? Yeah, I used to think so too.

It has a two year cycle. The first year, while it’s seeding, it’s a pretty, fernlike plant, that looks a lot like harmless parsley — undoubtedly why it’s also called poison parsley. The second year it grows to be six to eight feet tall and so dense that you can’t walk through it. We could barely drive a tractor through it with the bush hog going. It grows like crazy because of this fantastic fertile soil underneath it. Wow, we have all this rich dirt, let’s move it to areas we need it. Brilliant. Ahhhh, but it’s seeded thick with poison hemlock. One step forward, two backward. Here we spent days with heavy equipment, hauling 20-30 big loads of dirt and we covered our hard work in — hemlock — poison hemlock that is — poison hemlock that takes over everything and grows eight feet tall and we won’t be able to walk out on the peninsula, if we let it go.

One of many loads of Poison Hemlock seeded dirt we dumped on the peninsula. Growing on the peninsula.

One of the areas where we took dirt from. Next summer this will all be 8 ft. tall.Obviously, we had to do something. We weren’t keen on the idea of using chemicals and possibly harming the lake and the aquatic life. We tried spraying a natural weed killer that I read about online; vinegar, epsom salt and dish soap. A week later the Hemlock was still alive and thriving. Over the winter we spent hours and hours researching and calling different agencies for help.

Hemlock taking over the rock retaining wall.

Finally we were hit with the realization that we had no choice but to use chemicals. It was that or lose the peninsula. But if we had to spray chemical, then we wanted to be smart about it and we would prefer not to support a certain large company that has caused problems for small operation farmers and ruined our food.

Before any of you say ” just buy some goats”, believe me, we considered it. There are people on forums who say the poison hemlock kills goats and there are those who say it doesn’t. Regardless, it just isn’t possible for us to have goats when we don’t live there to take care of them.

Die Poison Hemlock, Die!

Distressed by what we had to do, we attacked the hemlock using a fish friendly chemical on the banks of the peninsula. It kills all plants, including our beautiful grass. In other areas, that weren’t close to the water, we used one that wouldn’t kill other plants but that wasn’t fish friendly. We’ve made some progress. It’s dead in some areas and there are other areas that we’re going to have to treat again. The backside of the property is covered with it. We’ll have to deal with it later. It’s a time and priority thing. The backside is such a huge area it will require a big sprayer attached to our tractor. Oh great, something else to buy. Fortunately there’s no Poison Hemlock on the fourteen acres up on the high side, where we’ll build someday.

And that brings me to, “It Ain’t All Fun and Games — Part 2

(to be continued)

Peninsula after spraying and mowing.


HER-bivore Pizza Bites

Her-bivore pizzas ready to go in the oven. Somehow they got eaten before I got a picture of the finished product.

At a carnival, Samantha instructs Theodore to get a slice of pizza. So Her-bivore pizza is no stretch of the imagination and really doesn’t need a recipe. I mean you all know how to make pizza, right?

I used a pre-made pizza crust and cut small appetizer-size circles out of it with a biscuit cutter. I brushed my little crusts with olive oil and pre-baked them for a few minutes. Then, I added sauce, cheese and veggies. Just don’t add meat, because then it wouldn’t be an Her-bivore pizza. Return pizzas to oven and finish baking.