This page is not really a formal part of the website, just an HTML document for holding pictures on the server until I figure out where to put them. A lot of this is from a personal page that is not yet hosted, so I am posting the items here. Copyright on everything here is still savvysurvivor.com and no permission is given for linking, reprinting, or publishing any of these pictures without my express consent.
Home, as it looked when we finally closed the deal with the real estate people. Not-so great credit meant getting hosed on the interest rate, but this place is costing less than half the place we last rented in California.
People are awfully nosy and suspicious in these parts, and have a particular uh, view, towards people who move to Oregon from California. Growing the hedges up to give some better privacy was a necessity. It also negates the need to put a project car in the yard as a lawn ornament to fit in with everyone else here. A neighbor down the road started a beautification trend though, and even the folks living on $700 a month SSI in single wide trailers have pretty decent looking lawns in this neighborhood. They say crime is low because everyone is armed. Alas, it is kind of unusual to see one of the neighbors out and about without a piece. Another interesting point about the locals, they seem to have particularly good taste in hardware, with many of them carrying pistols that are worth more than their pickup trucks.
The view out back, looks nice, but is largely impassable due to the &*^%* beavers ruining the drainage for the area and lots of narrow deep water and mud channels out there. It has become a de-facto wildlife refuge because people simply can't get back there.
Residents of my valley included a nest of Bald Eagles.
This picture was taken a long range of a bird in flight, his wingspan appeared to be around 8 feet.
An early attempt at moving in political circles. Here I was in with then Oakland mayoral candidate Jerry Brown.
We don't agree on a whole lot, but he was one of the few men of conscience in the Democratic party who questioned the integrity of the Clinton administration and the system of corruption that was growing out of it.
A front yard of the type you would expect to see back in Marin County. The grass here is delicate. If I let it grow tall, it looks pretty ragged and unkempt. If I cut it, it dies off in sections that either get scorched by the sun in the summer, or get muddy in the winter. There is a huge blueberry bush at one end of the yard that is doing quite well. I let the shrubs grow tall in order to get more privacy from the road but I have to get out and cut the tops off to even them out. They also help to cut down on the noise from the good ol boys playing hip-hop on their stereos as they drive by.
Work in progress on the ranch rig. Nothing special here, just the funky old van. It was too light in the rear to have enough traction to make it up the driveway, so I am adding a combination bed and tool box setup in the back.
A useful addition to the home workshop any place where you get things rusting as much as they do here in Oregon. This sand blast cabinet has proven pretty useful keeping the rust monsters at bay from some of the smaller tools.
A luxury for the home gunsmith and avid shooter. This solvent tank was only $89 at one of the traveling tool sales they have here in the northwest, but the solvent to go in it was another $70. Go figure. I get the environmentally friendly stuff without acetone. That way I can be happy with the environment and keep the narco-cops off my back for buying precursor chemicals to make met amphetamine.
Another cleared out area. All the "dead spot" is where some huge blackberry bushes had taken over and used an old livestock fence as a trestle. Removing the mess meant pulling blackberry vines apart from wire fence material, pulling up metal and wood fence posts, and chipping all of the organic matter.
The pipe feeds water to the water tank for what used to be an irrigation system and the spring that feeds the pipe runs year round. The picture below shows the rate of flow in late spring, as the rains were getting less frequent. In the rainy Oregon winter, the pipe looks like a running fire hose 24/7 and the overflow floods much of that part of the yard.
Just another shot of a section that I cleared out in 2001. It had been overgrown with grass, weeds and blackberries from four to seven feet high. The white things are what remains of some beehive stands, but some disease wiped out the bees in the area several years ago (before we got the property) and I will eventually remove the stands, but they are partially buried in the ground.
I don't know what kind of flower tree this is, but it looks pretty old and the flowers look a lot like Orchids. It was not doing so well when we moved into the place because it was getting choked out with blackberry vines and several dead branches were hanging down to the ground. A lot of cutting and trimming brought it back to this level of health. The flowers seem to come out a different color every year. Last year they were more white, this year purple. A similar tree/bush nearby has bright red flowers. It is tricky to get grass to grow under this one and the grass is not doing so well in that spot.
This is the chipper that I bought with one of my first student loan checks from college. It has paid for itself several times over, which is more than I can often credit to the degrees I earned.
The chipper has come in very useful when I clear brush and trim trees around the property since it means I do not have to start a fire to get rid of the stuff and there is the bonus of a steady supply of good fresh chips and mulch. These things are a luxury for a lot of property owners, but for me it is a must-have to avoid needing to burn piles of brush and weeds all the time. You can also use one to make potting soil in a hurry by feeding wood chips in with manure and compost. I got the generator with the same make and model of motor so I can switch parts back and forth if I have to, but the generator has proven to be a lot more difficult to start.
Another view of the apple trees and grape vines in the spring. Blackberry vines were all intertwined with the grapes and the grape vines had not been trimmed for years. I did a major trimming job on the grapes and cut the blackberries out, but the grapes vines have been slow to recover and the battle to keep the blackberries down is constant. The blackberries will grow several inches overnight.
To be honest, I thought 20 year old apple trees should be bigger but I think overzealous pruning has kept them stunted over the years. I am landscape pruning them (hollow out and take off lower branches) instead of orchard pruning them so they will hopefully get taller and open up more ground underneath.
AN example of improvised furniture. Cable spools come cheap and can last well out in the weather, but the dead spot in the grass will take a long time to recover. One thing you can do with such spots is use them for vegetable plants.
Another water line a previous owner had put in. I uncovered this while clearing brush and blackberries. The ground here is all messed up and will probably need to be roto-tilled before I can get any decent lawn to grow here. All the dead stuff is an example of what you don't want too much of on a rural property. That stuff is a big fire hazard while a good healthy lawn not only enhances property value, but it is a good fire brake.
Another area getting cleared, with all of the brush and low hanging branches from the trees chipped in place and then seeded with lawn grass. It will probably be two years before this has the proper "Sherwood Forest" look of short grass in the shade of well trimmed trees. These kinds of clearing jobs are recovering a lot of previously unusable sections of the property. It is a whole lot easier to protect this kind of landscaped area from fire than it is to protect a "natural" landscape with lots of underbrush and low hanging branches.
This area was one source of many challenges on the property. It appears that Blackberries were actually planted on these terraces on purpose. Not no more now that I gave the weedeater, chipper and lawnmower a good workout. Getting grass to grow here was hard and I have to constantly mow it to eventually kill off the virulent blackberry roots which send new chutes up every few days. The terraces will eventually be home to more fruit trees, but the planting schedule is slow. There are three levels, and one level get trees every two years. The slope faces south, and that planting schedule will guarantee that trees in front will be short enough to not block much sunlight from the ones in the rear. The top terrace already had a dwarf apple tree and a cherry tree, so I put a pear tree in between them. Blackberries remain above the top terrace and I toss old wire fence sections on top of them to support them to grow higher on the property line. This is creating a tall and virtually impassable hedge that is mostly natural.
This is a side shot of the grape vines, and the fruit trees in early spring. The grass I planted started to finally fill in at this point. Much of this area had been choked with blackberries when we moved in and the trees were riddled with disease. Last year I managed to get a lot of good fruit, and this year I think I have most of the disease killed off. Better living through agrochemicals, I'll say. All that organic farming stuff is nice talk until you are dealing with bugs, fungus and other nasties eating more of your crops than are left for harvest. The trees are small, but were actually planted in the late 1970s by a previous owner of the property who set the place up as a survival retreat. I have been searching for a cool weapons stash he might have forgotten about when he moved out in the early 1980s, but as yet, I ended up finding lots of scrap metal buried all over the place in an apparent effort foil discovery of anything of value that might be buried. The only clues so far being some M14 stripper clips in the ruins of the old garage. Some big hits on the metal detector turned out to be chunks of a cast iron bathtub that had been broken apart and scattered around the property, with most chunks buried not far below the surface.
They had two large food producing gardens that were maintained later on by later owners, but I opted to just turn it all into lawn and maintain the fruit trees. Small scale vegetable farming is not very economical, but fruit trees are always good to have. We have three different kinds of apples on a total of around a dozen trees, one pear tree, two cherry trees (one is huge and I can only reach about 15% of the fruit) and two plum trees. The regular plum tree is not so healthy, but the yellow plum tree produces a lot and seems very resistant to disease. There is a fig tree, but it is not doing very well.
The grapes produce a strange tasting wine that is a lot like cranberry juice, not unpleasant, just different from other wines I have tried. We have not been able to tell what kind of grapes they are, but the vines are old and were apparently planted by the same people who put in the trees.
Another picture of the Ranch Rig. It is still in pretty hurt shape and not all that roadworthy. I need a headlight bezel for the passenger side. The amount of money I sunk into this truck has convinced me even more in the wisdom of just getting something as new as possible and leaving the repairs up to the experts. I guess the plus side of this is that there are no payments on it and insurance is uh, rather cheap...
This is a before picture for the big current project. Another overgrown Blackberry patch that has covered what used to be some sort of Quonset hut greenhouse that was later converted to a barn for miniature ponies. All of this stuff is going away and will probably be replaced by a new building.
Below are more pictures of the clearing project in early stages of progress. The dark area in one is something of a tunnel through the weeds and brush that reaches to the spring that feeds the pipe shown above.