The Black Sheep Family made some progress on the farm & homestead over the last couple of weeks. If you are new to the site, Mrs. BSM and I bought some land in November, 2016 and we are preparing to build our (early) retirement home in the very near future. It can’t come quick enough, but there is a lot of planning, logistics, and budgeting that needs to be worked out as we get closer to building.
Progress on the Farm & Homestead:
As is the case with most things, there is a little maintenance work that has to be done regularly around the property. Thankfully, we have an awesome neighbor that takes care of our bush hogging. Like us, he and his family are planning to build on their property, but he already has a tractor and we don’t yet. He doesn’t charge us, but we pay him anyway and allow him and his son to do a little hunting our land in exchange for his neighborly kindness.
With more than 30 acres of our property being forest/woods, we also get quite a bit of downed trees on a pretty regular basis. When they fall in the woods it’s not that big of a deal, since they just break down over time and feed the soil. We have had several trees that fell on fences on our property line (in the woods)… Some are from our property, and some of them fell from our neighbors’ woods, but we don’t really worry about those much since the fence needs to be rebuilt anyway.
Last winter was our first winter owning our property, and we had two trees that fell and blocked the driveway. A little muscle, this axe, and an inherited old F-250 (we asked for the seller to include it when we bought the land) made quick work of those trees so we could begin using the driveway again.
This summer we had some pretty nasty storms roll through and one of the larger oaks, closer to the building site, lost a limb. This tree is probably at least 60-70 feet tall and its limbs are the size of small to medium-sized trees themselves. Here are a couple of pictures to show you the scale of what the tree limb from this old oak looks like:
As you can tell by the picture of me standing behind it, the small fallen portion of this oak tree was over 30 feet long.
Pick the right tool for the job
Looking at that beast, I knew I
couldn’t didn’t want to be out there for days tackling that thing with an axe and saw by hand. The time had finally come… and, I have to admit that I was waiting for this moment for quite a while 😉 – I logged in (no pun intended) to Amazon and bought this puppy:
If Tim Allen were reading this, he’d be grunting right now. Since we buy a lot of our stuff on Amazon, we also have Prime shipping. So, 2 days later I was ready to roll with my new 20″ Remington Outlaw Chainsaw. Once I got back to the farm, about an hour or so later I had the top portion of the limb cut up, a stack of firewood to save back, and a pile of brush ready to be set ablaze.
One of the first things we had to do before we could start planning our home construction was to identify a perc site on the property. This test is done to determine the water absorption rate of our soil. Since we will not be tied in to city sewer, we will have a septic tank, which means our soil has to absorb the waste in a safe manner for natural disposal.
In Middle Tennessee, we have a lot of rock, so it can be quite nerve-racking thinking about the risk of not being able to find an acceptable perc site. We could always engineer a septic system if we weren’t able to find an acceptable site, but that can get pretty costly as you might imagine.
Luckily, one of our local soil scientists came out and was able to find a soil site right where we had hoped. He staked the site off, wrote up the report, and emailed us a copy within a day or two. With that in hand, we called a local surveyor, who came out and surveyed the site so we could get it recorded and documented with the State.
Once that was taken care of, we could finally begin talking with our builder again about moving forward. We are just in the beginning stages of construction planning, but our builder Steve Jensen from Jensen Quality Homes, came out and visited with us the same day the surveyor finished up. Steve gave us the name of the architect he works with and we talked about some options and next steps to get things going.
In the meantime, I think Mrs. BSM and I have finally settled on a design style (which will be kind of a mix between a farmhouse and a cabin). Now, we just need to schedule a time to talk with the architect and nail down the floor plan.
After Steve (our builder) left, we checked a few of our trail cams to see what kind of activity they caught over the last week or so. I don’t hunt for sport, but plan to harvest one or two deer this year for the freezer. If you eat meat, venison is probably one of the most humane and organic options you have available to you… Not to mention the financial savings associated with sustainably harvesting some of your own food.
One of our trail cams got a picture of some younger dude trespassing with a machete in his hand, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for him. Here’s a picture we got of a couple of doe drinking from the creek.
Thanks to The Wealthy Accountant’s post, “7 Questions Rich People Ask Their Accountant,” I was also inspired to setup a consultation/planning session with our accountant. It turns out that since we have a Forest Management Plan in place for farm, we will also be able to realize some additional tax benefits through actively working the plan for our farm. More on that later, but you can read a bit more about the management plan here: Saving on Property Taxes While Preserving the Earth.
That’s it for now… all in all, it was a good couple of weeks on the farm and in preparation of our new homestead. There’s more to do and more to write, so stay tuned!
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