Halfmoon's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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Farm_or
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Farm_or » Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:06 pm

My blog address is on my profile.

Not to sidetrack too much, but I had a buddy from California that was a basketball coach. He observed the reaction of black kids vs. white kids when they heard a gunshot. He told his sons to learn from the black kids and just run when they heard a gunshot. "Don't stick around wondering where it came from like the white boys!"

He'd forgotten about it ten years later when one of his sons had scored sonic tickets for the pair. They were downtown Seattle in a crowd when there was a gunshot. "That sounded close, didn't it?"

When he turned around, his son was half a block away at a full sprint!

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:43 pm

No such thing as sidetracking. I think of this journal as a conversation, and you know what they say about people who talk to themselves. :lol: Much more fun when others respond, and you have such good stories.
Farm_or wrote:My blog address is on my profile.
So...I learned something. First time I ever clicked on a profile, and sure enough your website link is there! I tried to comment on your blog, but it seems that I need to have some sort of virtual presence. Since I only (sort of) exist here, let me say that I really enjoy your writing.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:00 pm

saving-10-years wrote:Well @Halfmoon love the photo and the stories, keep them coming please.

Given what @Farm_or had to say about his bonfire I can assure you that the buildings in Europe may be older but they are not as exciting as some of your old building are!
I guess you wouldn't really know until you tried burning one down. ;)

I'm so glad you're enjoying this. I struggled with finishing the travel story, because I have only some grainy photographs to remind me of the details. The stories of things we've built and obstacles we've overcome seem clearer in my memory.

henrik
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by henrik » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:42 am

halfmoon wrote:
saving-10-years wrote:Given what @Farm_or had to say about his bonfire I can assure you that the buildings in Europe may be older but they are not as exciting as some of your old building are!
I guess you wouldn't really know until you tried burning one down. ;)
Haha, indeed
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38430671

saving-10-years
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by saving-10-years » Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:02 am

Thanks @Henrick :-)

Its not the old old buildings you need to look out for in Europe but the new(er) buildings that they build on top of live bombs?

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:02 am

At the end of WW2, DH's family lived in a small farm community in southern Bavaria. German troops came into the nearby woods and set up an anti-tank gun, but they retreated into the mountains before loading it when American troops arrived. The Americans didn't want the heavy cases of anti-tank ammo the Germans had left behind (both armor-piercing and high-explosive HEAT rounds), but they also didn't want to leave it for potential use. There was a rumor that they would blow it up in place. Fearing destruction of nearby farms, local farmers loaded the ammo on their wagons and dumped it far into the moors. The American troops basically shrugged and moved on.

After the Americans left, the young boys (DH was about 8 years old) went out to the moors and dug the rounds back out. They discovered that hitting the rounds against tree trunks would knock open the necks and liberate the powder. Call me gender-biased, but I'm pretty sure this is a guy thing. :roll:

As an improvement on the smacking-against-trees technique, one of the boys decided to stick a round into the peat with primer end up and hit it with another round. He hit the primer. After a very exciting boom, he was standing in front of a large hole, covered head to toe with wet peat and yelling. DH and his friends took off and didn't look back.

The consensus of this thread seems to be: when you hear a boom, run like crazy.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:13 pm

A few months after DH and I got together, his birthday came along. I was so excited about making it a perfect day (hey, I was 21 years old, and these things were important). I arranged secretly to have another waiter take his shift that day; I bought landjaeger, leberwurst, crusty bread and cheese at Bavarian Meats in the Pike Place Market; I stocked up on sparkling cider because we weren’t drinking at the time.

DH and I rose in the late morning of his birthday after working graveyard shift the night before. Car already loaded, I told him that he had the day off and we were going to Mount Rainier for a picnic. He seemed stunned. When we arrived at the park and I unpacked the picnic, DH couldn’t believe that I’d found a place selling the meats he remembered from Munich. I considered the day a rousing success.

A couple of years later, DH told me the truth. In reality, he was stunned that I had taken an excellent earning shift from him, and he had trouble concentrating on anything but the money he’d lost. He appreciated the Bavarian food and the lovely scenery, but…the money.

Part of loving someone, of course, is understanding how he feels and why. DH had ample reason to value security based on his past, which I understood. My response as a proper wife was to WORK ON CHANGING HIM! :lol:

DH and I always saved 50-70% of our income, and a good deal of the remainder we put into our property. Maybe 5 years in, I started promoting the idea of early retirement. We had developed a severe aversion to people in general based on the night crawlers we dealt with, and I couldn’t imagine spending another 20 years or so in the business. It was an uphill battle; remember, DH was a guy who had trouble taking the day off for his birthday. I finally resorted to tough-love statements like: I'm going to write on your gravestone: 'HE SAVED A LOT OF MONEY'.

Somehow, I convinced DH that we should try to retire early. We had originally planned to stay permanently in Western Washington, but we were getting burned out on the increasing population/traffic in the Seattle area. We decided* to take a trip to Eastern Washington to look at real estate.

*Wife strongly suggested.

Farm_or
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Farm_or » Mon Jan 16, 2017 8:13 am

Your DH seems very familiar to me. My father also immigrated from war torn Europe. It brings to mind a line from Victor Herman (Coming out of the Ice) to the effect of really experiencing hunger. It is something that you never forget.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Mon Jan 16, 2017 7:52 pm

@Farm_or:

Sadly, I had to google Victor Herman because I'd never heard of him. Horrific story. I remember being struck by the book One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich when I read it in high school. I've always felt so fortunate to live in this place at this time, which is why I try not to act as though it's a birthright instead of luck.

We've all been shaped by our experiences, but chronic hunger has got to be one of the more powerful factors.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:41 pm

I am so hooked, read the whole thing today.

More comments to follow, but it's past my bedtime. :roll:

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:45 pm

My name is halfmoon**, and I’m addicted to real estate. Looking at prospective purchases, plotting out potential improvements and costs…these are crack to me. When DH and I began to cast our eyes around for remote property to buy, I was happy as a pig in mud. DH was skeptical.

**Only not. ;)

We had spent a fair amount of time playing around on the east side of the state, which in comparison to Seattle is warmer in summer, sunnier, drier (not a high bar) and far less populated. Real estate is/was also relatively cheap. Snowy winters seemed like an interesting challenge in contrast to relentless rain. DH remembered camping with his son and a passel of puppies there in winter, when starting a campfire involved no more than hitting sticks on the ground to dislodge the dry snow and lighting them. In Western Washington, lighting a piece of wood outdoors in winter involves a lot of combustible fluids and bad words. :evil:

So off we went to survey the landscape. We dropped into a few real estate offices to pick up listings and encountered our first taste of this different culture. Realtors didn’t want to bother showing properties in most cases; the places were far apart, cheaply priced (so limited commission) and often hard to navigate. Everyone seemed to be semi-retired or not very motivated. We were given rough parcel maps with directions like “Look for a broken tamarack snag by the creek, then head uphill.” Really.

The search consumed my brain. So many possibilities! I nagged DH to go back every week on our days off. We looked at 80 acres without a single tree but a great view; 60 acres at the end of a 4-mile goat track (never call this a road) whose only water source came down illegally through several properties by overland plastic pipe; places surrounded by wary pot growers or boasting broken-down trailers and sad livestock plucking every last green shoot from the barren hillsides.

I’ve never seen so much innovative augmentation of trailers. We met a couple whose cabin burned down in the middle of the night (wood stove had been sited on a big tree trunk on the corner of the cabin), leaving them standing outside in their pajamas with not a thing to salvage. They constructed a shell building around their travel trailer from which it could NEVER be liberated. That’s commitment. They had a woodstove in the outer enclosure and used that as their living room. Another family had dug an underground passage from their small trailer to an outbuilding where the kids slept.

(For some reason, this reminds me of a couple we met in the mountains of Idaho. The husband had built a nice two-story house to enclose a huge steam engine he’d restored. He’d also dug a fallout shelter into the hillside stocked with every imaginable staple. Meanwhile, he and his wife were living in an old school bus with no plumbing and one solar panel for power.)

Slowly, we grew discouraged. Nothing grabbed us and said, THIS IS YOUR FUTURE. Returning from yet another fruitless trip, we decided to detour through an area we’d always loved just to cheer ourselves up. As we traveled through the narrow, wild valley ringed with mountains, we said: this is where we want to live. Why haven't we looked here?

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:50 pm

2Birds1Stone wrote:I am so hooked, read the whole thing today.
:lol: It's all about the hook. So very glad you're reading and enjoying.

Farm_or
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Farm_or » Tue Jan 17, 2017 9:05 am

Good stuff.

When I found my place in the country after being trapped in corporate metropolis ffor seventeen years, I had on rose colored glasses and Pollyanna expectations. I liked the slower pace and lower pressure. I liked recognizing someone at the grocer.

When reality faded in, I have come to realize that people are mostly the same. There's a percentage of less desirables in the country because they are outliers of society for very bad reasons (just like the city, only spread out more).

After the BAD luck of drawing jury duty for the fourth time! I started to think, "maybe it's a bit worse?" Child molesters, meth addicts, thieves and murderers. Yep, they are everywhere.

But thankfully, there are some really good neighbors too. And some very charming homesteads.

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BlueNote
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by BlueNote » Tue Jan 17, 2017 3:58 pm

This journal is Awesome! You're a great storyteller and life has given you such a great story to tell, please keep going.You're also the most bad-ass accountant I have come across.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:48 pm

Farm_or wrote:When I found my place in the country after being trapped in corporate metropolis ffor seventeen years, I had on rose colored glasses and Pollyanna expectations.
Yes, I think most people come to rural/depressed areas with unrealistic expectations. Some of ours:

1. We thought the cost of living would be lower. Real estate and property taxes were cheaper, but food, fuel, building materials, hardware and household goods all cost more due to shipping distance and lack of competition.

2. We visualized the land as a pristine paradise. In reality (in the American west), public lands are leased to ranchers for free-range cattle grazing, the trees are regularly clear-cut and noxious weeds dominate the meadows. There is a lot of wild beauty left, but there's also plenty to regret.

3. We thought it would be easy to hire people, whether for skilled work (excavation, carpentry) or general labor. In reality, the pool of workers was small, undermotivated and not particularly cheap.

I could go on, but I don't want to sound as though moving to the woods was a negative experience. It actually pretty much saved us. ;)

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:55 pm

Deleted double post.
Last edited by halfmoon on Tue Jan 17, 2017 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:58 pm

BlueNote wrote:This journal is Awesome! You're a great storyteller and life has given you such a great story to tell, please keep going.You're also the most bad-ass accountant I have come across.
WOW, BlueNote...I have a huge smile across my face right now! I spent the past week working on boring year-end reports, so I feel more gray-haired accountant than bad-ass accountant, but still. :D

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Farm_or » Wed Jan 18, 2017 8:27 am

Excellent points.

Eastern Washington, SW Idaho, and Eastern Oregon should have formed one state.

I am one of those evil cattle grazers of public land. I have an interesting point of view, or two on that subject, because I am probably the only land owner, pasture leasor that was a mountain biker. I had a few conflicts with over zealous public land renters.

To keep it short, the most obvious benefit of grazing here is the reduction of fire danger. We had a real scare in 15 from the monstrous soda ash fire! Our good neighbors helped us organize an evacuation plan, including livestock. We were relieved when the wind changed

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Riggerjack
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Riggerjack » Wed Jan 18, 2017 8:49 am

3. We thought it would be easy to hire people, whether for skilled work (excavation, carpentry) or general labor. In reality, the pool of workers was small, undermotivated and not particularly cheap.
True that.

But remember who you are hiring, when looking at the pool of unemployed or underemployed, or independent contractors. The unemployed are the weakest link in their trade, or unlucky (good people sometimes work for bad companies). Contractors are generally the guys who couldn't work for someone else, and have traded a regular thing for independence. It's not a bad trade, but it means looking for more pay per hour, since less time is spent working, more looking for work. They also need to develop sales skills, leaving less time and expertise for their trade.

I find what is best is to look for tradesmen looking for sidework on weekends. I expect to pay them about the same as I make, only in cash. And even so, I often need to weed out folks, but I had to do that as a foreman, too. The guys who are best at their trade, need work the least. You generally need a connection to get them.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:39 pm

Farm_or wrote:
I am one of those evil cattle grazers of public land.

To keep it short, the most obvious benefit of grazing here is the reduction of fire danger. We had a real scare in 15 from the monstrous soda ash fire! Our good neighbors helped us organize an evacuation plan, including livestock. We were relieved when the wind changed
I thought you might have grazing permits, and I forgive you. :D

Really, every kind of public land use (grazing, logging, recreation) has its good stewards and its abusers -- along with a wide range of opinion on how those extremes are defined.

I can see that trying to evacuate livestock in the face of wildfire would be extremely difficult. We never encountered that issue, but forest fires came frighteningly close to our home in Eastern Washington three times. Each time, we packed up the huge and heavy cherry corner cupboard built by my great-great grandfather for his daughter's wedding and took it down to the valley out of imminent danger. DH got understandably tired of the routine (including bringing it back, of course), but the responsibility of a family heirloom weighed on me. After the last time, DH said he would gladly burn the corner cupboard himself next time a fire comes close. :evil:

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Wed Jan 18, 2017 7:03 pm

Riggerjack wrote:
3. We thought it would be easy to hire people, whether for skilled work (excavation, carpentry) or general labor. In reality, the pool of workers was small, undermotivated and not particularly cheap.
True that.

But remember who you are hiring, when looking at the pool of unemployed or underemployed, or independent contractors. The unemployed are the weakest link in their trade, or unlucky (good people sometimes work for bad companies).

I find what is best is to look for tradesmen looking for sidework on weekends. I expect to pay them about the same as I make, only in cash. And even so, I often need to weed out folks, but I had to do that as a foreman, too. The guys who are best at their trade, need work the least. You generally need a connection to get them.
We were far away from thinking this clearly. We had a rosy notion that rural/depressed areas are full of salt-of-the-earth, hard-working people who are just waiting for some benevolent person from the city to come and offer them cheap cash work. :roll: In reality, the motivated usually already have jobs (lots of public land and agencies with related jobs), work for their own farms/businesses, or have moved away. The remainder are often retired, on disability (a LOT of that), living the homestead hippie dream, or just sort of...relaxed.

I still have a business client in the area, and one of their greatest ongoing challenges is finding reliable workers. They pay pretty well, but it's hard and messy industrial labor. They mostly hire Hispanics.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:04 am

THE HOMESTEAD/ACCUMULATION YEARS

CHANGING COURSE, continued

When we arrived home, I immediately called every realtor in the area to ask about property in our target area. They all had the same discouraging message. This valley and the surrounding mountains were dominated by publicly owned land: state forest, national forest, designated wilderness and state game land. Property rarely entered the market, we were told, and when it did? The locals bought it.

That was about as discouraging as waving a steak in front of a wolf. Next days off, we were back in nearby towns looking for more real estate agents. We walked into one office and struck gold. The agent was a gray-haired Indian* who was familiar with the area; in fact, he had once lived in a commune on the mountainside.

(*I would say Native American, but I talked once with a tribal museum attendant and asked whether they prefer Native American, First Nation Peoples [Canadian term] or Indian. He said these are all white-society labels, and they really didn’t care what the whites called them; they used tribal and clan designations.)

This agent had genuine insider information. He knew that a couple who owned a 40-acre inholding in the state forest were getting a divorce. The husband didn’t want to sell, but the wife did. He agreed to show us the property with the wife’s permission although it wasn’t formally listed. :D

I should take a moment to outline what we’d decided early in the search were non-negotiable requirements for a land purchase:

1. Southern exposure for solar and gardening
2. Running water and/or an existing well
3. NO easement through the property

Spoiler alert: we violated all requirements.

Farm_or
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Farm_or » Thu Jan 19, 2017 8:23 am

The scarcity of good investable land has been a subject of ours recently. We are always trying to plan ahead, like the next 5-10 years and selling our home on the range and relocating is a real consideration.

It's still a long ways out, maybe, but tugs on the heart strings when you have put so much of yourself in a place. I can't explain the power of place; that connection with the land and sense of belonging?

The scariest thing is that it is a permanent deal and you can't go back. There are only so many once in a lifetime opportunities until your life runs out.

But those are part of the reasons for trying to look far ahead. Maybe time will help dissolve some emotional attachments? The good news is that our property value doubled my expectations. Sweat equity is the way to go with real estate.

You're the account, so I know that you know better than me. Finding that place that was overlooked by the majority, spit shining and improving it to the mean standard, so that now the majority notices. And that is the recipe for a great ROI.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:41 am

Farm_or,

The things you mention are a big part of the story I'm telling. Sweat equity has always been our path, and we invest a lot of ourselves emotionally also. We still have far too much real estate, but it's hard to let go.

We have friends who live in an old farmhouse on 500 acres in Eastern Washington. They used to have animals, but they're in their eighties now and can barely keep up with just living there: wood heat, horrible access road, failing septic, jerry-rigged spring water that freezes in winter. We've urged them for years to sell and move into town, but the process seems overwhelming to them. I keep reminding myself not to end up like that through fear of change.

LucyInTheSky
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by LucyInTheSky » Fri Jan 20, 2017 6:15 pm

Hi Halfmoon,

Love your story. Joined the forum just so I could keep up to date with the Halfmoon Saga. I'm from Eastern WA, and my parents are in the same situation as your elderly friends. My dad wouldn't dream of moving to town, and they drop hints all the time about how I could move into the other homestead on their land...which terrifies me when I consider some of the details of the property (ancient gas pumps, questionable septic systems, etc...). Plus I don't live in the area anymore and I still rely on a J O B...details! Can't wait for the next chapter.

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