Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Breaking Ground

Breaking Ground

The original ground breaking was planned for June 23rd – however the powers that be had other plans. The 40% chance of rain turned into 100% - I think it was because so many friends and family were thinking “water” because I informed everyone that we would be drilling a well that day. I misunderstood the procedures and now know that we have to prep the property first. This includes making a good foundation for the 30’ long drill truck, and in order to do that we have to have several big, plant destroying and earth moving vehicles “break” ground. That phrase has a whole new meaning for me now.

The official day for ground breaking ended up being June 25th. We were at our nephew’s wedding and having a wonderful time visiting with family when Ted, our grader (aka earth sculpting artist) was breaking ground on our property.

We arrived on Monday June 27th and I started taking photos of the whole process. We hired Ted to clear areas for: our home, motor home, drain field & septic system, the well & drill, pv panels and solar cells, and driveway. After everything is cleared he will start sculpting – more on that later.

Since people are showing up on our property daily – we are now officially a Job Site!
An essencial item for any job site

The photos you are about to see may be disturbing to people who love trees.
If it helps, we purchased 10.6 acres and are only clearing about a half an acre, leaving the remaining natural. We feel good about that.

Ted Innman of Cold Mountain Site Works (in the red shirt), David his helper (gray shirt), Jim, and the big dozer that knocked everything down

Ted saved these for our wood stove and fire pits.
We learned that the same amount of carbon is released when a log decays or burns. When used in a wood stove there will be even less carbon released for the amount of heat energy we will receive.

"The CLAW" and David hard at work

The stumps go to the STUMP DUMP and get ground into mulch.
They are the only plant material removed from the site.

The tree branches and small plants end up in the CHIPPER.
"Is that your associate in the Chipper?" (Anyone remember the movie that line is from?)
I was fascinated how easy "The Claw" could pick things up, whip them around and drop them perfectly into place. Ted made it look so easy. It looked like so much fun. He promised to let me use the small dozer when it arrives. Whoohoo!

Lots of mulch for use on the site

Plenty of large rocks for landscaping - and there are still a lot more to unearth

Jim collecting the smaller rocks for his landscaping plans

Holy COW!
She actually is a lot nicer than she looks. She stopped in along with some of her friends to see what all the "cow"motion was about. Now we know why we have so many paths on the property.

Sort of looks like a bear doesn't she - nope, just a cow.
"WE GOT COWS!" (another movie quote)

We are using the Mountain Laurel and Rhodadendron branches to cover up the barbed wire fence - looks much prettier.

Lots of beauty still left intact

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Survey Says! and It's a Real Jungle Out There!

These are two posts I held back until we were sure to have the property:

The Survey Says!
We made an offer to purchase the property in Fairview, a suburb of Asheville, without seeing the entire site, not because we are lazy or foolish, but mainly for one reason, it is very, very rugged thru most of the interior section of the 10.6 acres and it is going to take some time to really explore it.

After our bid was accepted we returned to explore on our own. We ran into our surveyor, Tom Mulloy ( ). We joined him on a scavenger hunt for site boundary markers and I know our assistance came in handy. It took teamwork to find some of them because they were well hidden. Thank goodness Tom had a machete, a vital tool in his arsenal of survey gadgets. As soon as Edrianna trusts me with a sharp object again, I’m going to get one. The last trip to the emergency room cost us $1800.    
(E) – Tom wacked through the brush like Indiana Jones looking for a secret temple. I knew right away I wanted one – not a secret temple – a machete! I already have the hat and the rest of the outfit to go along with it!

I have a great appreciation for mountain land surveyors and their challenges of getting thru heavy bush and trudging up and down the slopes. Much of the site is so dense that at several points we were only about 20’ apart but couldn’t see each other. I had found a corner marker and was calling out to Edrianna and Tom so they could come to where I was, but they couldn’t find me. I started waving an 8’ long tree branch frantically over my head and they still couldn’t see me. My next option was a flare gun, but unfortunately I didn’t have one. I felt like I popped into another dimension and became invisible. They finally did find me and we marked the area with bright colored tape so we could find it again.
(E) – At one point Tom had us on one edge of the property and between two markers – or so we thought. Jim headed one direction and Tom the other to find them. I stood there waiting, and waiting, and waiting. The view was really pretty. I was looking out toward a facing mountain slope. It was peaceful and very quiet. It was so quiet I became a bit uneasy, wondering where the heck they went. Are they ever coming back; did someone get hurt; are there bears out here; could anyone hear me if I scream? Where the heck did they go? All of the sudden something spooked a turkey and it went soaring through the trees and into an opening. Oh #@%$* – it’s a bear! Before I could completely freak out I heard Jim call out to me. I started breathing again and made a mental note of important items to carry when in the woods: machete, water, walkie-talkie, pepper spray in case you run into a bear, and a whistle.

This is the site plan

I sketched a section through the site and a birds-eye view so you can get a idea of the steep terrain. Click the images to enlarge. 

 It's a Real Jungle Out There!

There is a lot of thick undergrowth and a good chance this site has been virtually untouched by man for many years. The smarter members of the animal kingdom however have made good use of this sanctuary and it is evident because we found some of the trails they created. Some have even left their scat (poo), which will help us to identify what lives in the area, whether it is squirrels or Big Foot. One of my goals is to learn about the Flora and Fauna so we can manage the site properly. We were told that there are black bears, coyotes and someone has seen a cougar. I know for a fact there is an abundance of wild turkey, because every time we have been to the property, we have seen dozens of them. There is no doubt that this area is a micro zoo. I can’t wait for us to start taking photographs.
We have a plan to find all the animal trails throughout the site and transform them into hiking trails. Animals know the best way to negotiate the wilderness; they use the path of least resistance. This way we won’t be just hacking our way through the trees and shrubs and fighting the lay of the land. Edrianna, Tom, Kathy and any other adventurous volunteer we can muster up are going to pick some weekends to blaze these natural paths.

We will be using machetes at a minimum to be as minimally invasive as possible. It will be like Lewis and Clark. I trust this is the way to go and hope it doesn’t turn into Lewis and Martin (Jerry and Dean) as we make our way thru the jungle. One thing is for sure, this time I’m bringing plenty of band-aids.

The Power of Positive Intention

The Power of Positive Intention

We waited and waited and waited… two months beyond our original closing date and finally in the last minute of the 12th hour we CLOSED. Unbelievable! Just in the nick of time because the day we closed was the day we had to commit to our final home design with Deltec before it goes into the production phase, so we can have it delivered and assembled on site at the end of July. Because of the tight deadline we thought we might not get the property we fell head over heels for. We were concerned we would have to start looking for an alternate site. We are so grateful we didn’t.

The past two months have been frustrating to say the least. We found out buying raw land can sometimes be complicated and ours was due to conflicting surveys. You may remember Edrianna’s blog post about this. Every time we got close to settling this issue something stalled. I stayed busy continuing to act as if everything was going to work itself out by designing the site layout and writing a song about the property. I spent a lot of time visualizing the property and the plans I had for it and I couldn’t let it go; even toward the end when we were very close to giving up – “deal or no deal.” Remember the model we made and the photo of the kitchen with Edrianna and I scaled down so it looked like we were standing in the kitchen? Jane, my sister in-law, saw it and commented, “That’s positive intention.” Aho! (Native American for Amen)

Now we are moving forward again. Our builder, Al, is finalizing our construction costs as I type. Our grading guy, Ted, hopes to start prepping the site next week and we will meet with Adam at Sundance Solar this week to go over specifics for our solar and heating solutions. I’ll be sure to share those in a future post.

The day after we closed, Edrianna and I went out to our “new place” and moved the rare Lady’s Slipper orchids away from the home site, relocating them to a safe area in the woods. We take it as a good sign that they have popped up exactly where we intend to place the house; however, don’t want to have them trampled. That would be bad. The same day we moved some rocks so we have a place to park and took some additional measurements needed for our site plan. We met Jerry R. and his grandson who happened to be driving by to help our new neighbor Jerry L. with his cows. Jerry R. welcomed us to Fairview and told us to come on by the fire station and let them know we are tucked back in the woods. Good idea! Jerry is a retired fire fighter, however still hangs out at the station - so small town – we love it!
Edrianna moving the Lady's Slipper

Also while we were at the site that day we grabbed our new walking sticks that by the way I carved with the intention of using them on this property; we hiked down to the creek and up to the far end of the west ridge. It took us about an hour and a half round trip because there are no marked trails yet, only a few animal paths, dense brush, some steep uphill areas, thick Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel, and forest; oh, and not to forget a stream. I tried out my new machete and it was no match for the thicket. My brother, Tom, is concerned about me using a sharp tool considering my past mishap in the moving truck. When I go back I will take a large pair of limb loppers because I think they will do a better job.

The Rhodadendrons are in bloom and beautiful

Trantham Creek

This large boulder formation is on the west side of the property

A huge tree is rooted into this boulder on the east side

The view of Little Pisgah mountain from the west side

The next blog will be one I wrote back in April about the property and was saving for our initial closing of April 14.