Thursday, April 8, 2010

Survival/Camping trip plans-Part 2

Over the past few days I have been going over my serious overkill list for my little planned getaway in the woods. I removed a few things that were just plain silly, like 4 different knives and 2 of the pots I had in my cookware set. I have no idea what I thought I would be making in 3 pots, LOL. Told ya, overkill. I reduced the weight now to 44 pounds, not including food and water. I'll be taking some beef jerky, dehydrated fruit, and maybe just 1 or 2 small cans of soup. Afterall, I can't plan on there being a steady supply of fruit/berries considering the amount of deer and turkeys that are in those woods, plus I may be heading out sooner than expected, and berries are barely budding let alone ripe. I do need to get probably 2 more canteens for water for now,since the 2 I have plus the camelback only hold one gallon total. I still plan on getting water from one of the creeks and trying a solar still, but I do want water on hand for this first trial run in case I fail miserably. I don't want to have to sneak back somewhere to get water. I also have the plans to take some food for now just because I may not be able to pop off a few squirrels quite yet. If I plan my trip during the week, there are 2 areas on that hillside that are being logged out, and I imagine that loggers seeing a crazy guy in camo might not be the best idea, let alone having them hear that lone .22 shot coming from somewhere. If it's a weekend, I may be open to the idea a bit more.
This first time out is afterall a trial run for me. It's been many years since I have done anything like this, so I don't know 100% for sure that I still have what it takes. Also things in those woods have changed quite a bit since I regularly hunted and walked up there. All of the old paths are gone, areas that were once wide open are now filled with green briar or vines, some woods have been logged out, one of them being my once favorite squirrel hunting woods ever. Times have changed, I have changed, and the countryside has changed. There were once lots of rabbits and pheasants in those woods, but now that people have stopped hunting the fox, and the coyotes have moved in, the pheasants are long gone and rabbits are very scarce. There are LOTS of deer and turkeys up there, but nothing I would kill out of season right now just to feed myself for a few days. I just won't do that. I wouldn't worry much about a squirrel or a rabbit on this little adventure,but I won't shoot larger game. I wouldn't eat that much over just 2 days, and besides, there's that whole illegal thing. Nope,no large game for me. I'll eat what I take in with me and ration it out, and I may get that one squirrel or two, who knows.
I imagine this all sounds really crazy to a lot of people. Trekking off into the woods by myself for a few days and just living with what I have on my back. This definitly isn't for everyone, but it's something I have wanted to do for a long, long time. Like I said in the other post about this, I used to make these trips when I was younger, and I miss them. I miss those woods and the wildlife. Somehow over the years, that part of me has become lost, and I want it back. My hunting buddies are gone, dad can't go anymore,and I don't live closeby anymore. I just plain stopped going. That one day rabbit hunting trip with my old friend was far more than just rabbit hunting for me. I would walk around, stomp some brush, watch for rabbits, talk to him, but a lot of the time I would just stop and look around. Every square foot of those woods holds some kind of memory for me. I remember this spot where I shot my first pheasant, or that spot where my dad and I once talked while we listened to the beagles run. I remember the old gravel quarry where my childhood friends and I used to race our bicycles. Those woods are full of memories. Those woods were much more to me than a place we would all go hunting, they were my playground as a kid. We didn't have a park, or sidewalks to ride our bikes, we had those woods.
While other kids I knew spent their summer at vacation homes, or off somewhere with their family, or playing basketball on the school court, I was in those woods. Nearly every day of my summers were spent there. I never had a real reason, I just was. My friends and I ride our bikes around the trails that are now long grown over. I would sometimes just wander off by myself with a book and just sit under a tree and spend the day in the peace and quiet of nature. When hunting season rolled around, it was always me and dad up there with a pack of beagles. Sometimes my great uncle Glen would tag along with his dogs, and sometimes the neighbor with his dogs. Dad taught me all those years ago that hunting was far more than just shooting something to eat, and that is still with me today. I appreciate nature now as much as I did back then, and probably more so. Back then I almost took it for granted that I could go anytime and those woods were always there. Now that I am 20 minutes away and can't get there anytime I want just to walk around, I realize how much I still love those woods. I miss them terribly. It's like missing an old long lost friend.
Everything I have just talked about is the main reason for my little trip. Sure, it's a small bit of a survival test for me, but it's also a trip to visit that old friend. Those trips out there lately to gather branches and vines have reminded me how much I miss it. Sometimes when I'm there, I have to push myself to stay busy or I just want to sit, stare off into the woods and think, remembering years gone by in those woods and all of the memories that they hold. This solo trip will allow me to do that all day, and that is the main plan. I'm not going to spend my days foraging for food, I'll spend the time sitting and relaxing, remembering every little moment that I can. I'll walk and visit all the areas that dad and I or my friends and I used to go to all the time, and remember the things we did. Though those times are long gone in the past, they're all still alive somewhere in my head, and I plan to re-visit each and every one that I possibly can.
I need this trip to not only bring back all of those memories of my past, but to also clear my head. This layoff has been pretty stressfull, and has taken it's toll on my mind. I tend to have a lot of sleepless nights, thinking and worrying about things. Not just worrying about money, but of my own feelings of self worth. I've felt like less of a man for quite a while, staying home and doing housework while Lisa goes to her job. I feel kinda useless some days. This isn't how it's supposed to be. Maybe I am too old fashioned, but I still believe that the husband should be the one out there earning a living while the wife stays home. I hate seeing Lisa leave for work while I am sitting here in pj's drinking coffee. Sometimes I stay in bed on purpose, just so I don't have to see that. I know that things have happened that are out of my control, but I still don't like it. I want to be the one heading to work while she stays home to read, or quilt, or spend time outside in the garden. I hate this, I really do. I know something will come along, but this waiting is killing me.
So....this trip out will hopefully do wonders for me. It will let me reconnect with that part of me that is lost,and it will let me clear my head. I can't always just sit and think around here, there are just too many distractions. The chickens are making noise, people honk their car horns, the dogs want in and out, the cat wants attention...just too many distractions, even in my little getaway room in the basement. I need this trip. Hopefully this entry didn't end on a really down side. It's just a cold rainy day and I haven't slept much for days. This was written last night before bed, edited a bit at 1am when I couldn't sleep, and again re-edited now at 11am. Geeeeeeeez I need a job!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Finally yesterday we got a bit of a break in the weather...again. It was in the upper 70's and sunny all day. A few days ago, I brought home some more old RR ties from mom n dads and decided to go ahead and made the new greens bed right next to the other one. Of course, I had to move the compost bin, the solar dehydrator, and condense down the woodpile about 6 feet. I added the 3 new ties to the end of the other four, giving me a second 8x8 bed. There was one untreated landscape timber in the pile I brought home, so I used it in the center to divide the new bed in half, one side for spinach and the other for garlic.
When the kids were still living at home, I had to make a spot for parking for them and for one of our vehicles. (an older lady lived here alone for 30 years and only needed the one spot) I had surrounded the area with RR ties, and on the upper end, wrapped them around a big oak tree, making a flowerbed at the end. Of course, I later decided against using the space for pointless flowers, so I removed the ties to use elsewhere, but left the soil that was in them, leaving just a 6x4x1ft deep mound. This is where I got the soil for the new bed, pulling the now grass from the top and taking it by the wheelbarrow load to fill the bed. YAY for getting rid of a bad spot to mow around and for using the soil for something more usefull.
Of course, as always, I'm working outside with the garage radio blasting to make my day to better. ( yesterdays selection was a beautiful mix of Yngwie Malmsteen, Rainbow, and Rough Cutt). I work much better with music, though the neighbors must imagine I am crazy singing along and having the occasional garden rake guitar solor hahaha. I got pretty warm around 11:00, so again, as always, I took off my shirt which left me with a lovely sunburn by the time I stopped around 5:30 to make dinner. I ALWAYS manage to give myself a monster sunburn on that first hot sunny spring day, so yesterday was no exception. Ah well, it's not too bad this morning.
Today is going to be another trek to my friends farm for more branches and vines for the garden trellis's/oblesques. I thought the pile I had last week would last a while, but of course I was wrong. I had enough to make 2 full ones and have just enough left to make 1 more. Today I plan on filling the truck as much as I possibly can. I made the first one with just 3 legs to see if it was stable enough. I put together the tripod legs, then started wrapping the vines around it from the bottom to the top, then created the wreath at the top, then wrapped the rest of the vines back around in the opposite direction back to the bottom. I hung one of Lisa's small windchimes inside the wreath, and I gotta say I'm pretty happy with the results. I made a second one with four legs and gave it the same wreath at the top, and put a windchime inside it and a little fake birds nest with plastic birds I got at the dollar store. I was just going for a little more of that "cuteness" that people seem to like so when I get some in the yard to sell they might just have that extra *push*. I still say it's worth a shot, people love that cutesy garden stuff lol.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

On Thursday, my bud Tammie and I set off to a friends farm to get more tree branches and vines to make more garden oblisques. I was a gorgeous sunny day and almost 70, a perfect day to be outside. We set off around 11am, got there, talked to my friends wife while she was walking around with two young sheep that she was caring for, and walked off into the woods. It was a perfect day to be out, mid 70's and sunny. We couldn't have picked it better.

We decided to hit the vines first, which were in the far back of their 14 acres, and started walking. I was carrying my fully loaded ALICE pack, just so I could get used to the weight, and she was carrying her saw and some drinks. We got to the spot we wanted, and before long, had a good sized pile of wound vines ready to haul out. We sat down for a few minutes and took a break, just sitting and talking a little while we spent more time just looking around and enjoying the scenery. We heard some deer walking off in the distance, and saw a hawk fly low within 50 feet of it. This is why I still love this place that I have known for my entire life. It's beautiful, peaceful, and quiet being so far from any roads and people. That hillside and all that property around it has always been my escape. I have many great memories there.

We talk quite a bit while we are gathering there, in between the long bouts of total silence while we work and enjoy the quiet. In my world of few friends, Tammie is one of the best I have ever known. Few people I have known understand what Lisa and I do here at home and what we want for the future. Tammie gets it because she wants the same things. I have never had another friend that I could talk to about living off grid, gardening, self sufficiency, and all the other endless topics that we chat about, all of my others think I'm insane, she doesn't. We talked about a lot of things there in the woods the same as we do when she comes to the house for coffee on random days when I am home. (which Lisa loves to joke about, saying we sit around and talk about our cramps and our feelings, LOL) It's somewhat funny to think that I met her through the online group she started, never imagining her place was 5 minutes away. I can truly say that in the 2 years since we met over an e-mail and a bucket of horseradish from our garden, she has become one of the best friends I have ever had. I have to thank her for that, it means more than she knows from someone who has not had very many.

We were able to find one spot that had vines as far as the eye could see, and gathered a LOT of vines to bring back, twisting them into rings like christmas wreaths to be easier to carry...which was a real bonus considering I was wearing that fully loaded pack already, lol. We both had two armloads, and headed for the truck so we could drop them off and get another drink since we had both already finished the large vitamin waters we carried in just 2 hours earlier. We tossed the vines in the truck, grabbed a quick drink, and set off once again to get branches for the legs. Luckily, there are plenty of piles of branches left from the loggers about halfway to where we gathered the vines. We picked through the piles, tossing out the straighter ones, cutting off the small branches, and tossed them in piles. After 3-4 areas of gathering, we bundled them up with some rope and decided to call it a day. We got them in the truck, headed home, then divided them up for her to head home to start more of her own projects. I was tired, hot, sweaty, and covered with scratches since I was silly enough to wear a sleeveless t-shirt. Remind me NOT to do that again!! My right shoulder looks like I was wrestling with a 6 foot raccoon.

I came in the house, got the dogs outside, grabbed a giant iced tea, and headed to the garage to start my own. I decided to go with a tripod design for my first rather than a 4 legged one like we watched Rick Pratt make for the video. I made this one around 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide, which went really quick. Wrapping the vines around it however, took a little more time. The vine I grabbed to wrap around the frame ended up being close to 20 feet long, and I didn't want to cut it quite yet. I started on the bottom of one leg, turning the frame instead of trying to wrap 20 feet of vine around it over and over. as easy as I thought. The vines are stiff and don't bend quite so easily. It took me about 20 minutes or more to get it wrapped around once from bottom to top. My plan for this one is to roll the vines at the top to make a sturdy wreath that will stand straight up, then wrap it around the frame again in the opposite direction back to the bottom. I had just started the wreath part when Lisa came home, and I stopped.

Lisa had quite a surprise for me when she got home, she had bought us a new mattress. WOOOOOHOOOOO!!!!!!!!! We've had that same one since before we moved in this house 11 years ago, and it was getting really uncomfortable and had springs starting to pop up so much that you could feel them. We were wayyyy overdue for this. They had told her it would be delivered on Thursday, and since I have NO patience, I asked her to call and see if I could just pick it up. Of course, the store doesn't even stock the mattresses, and their warehouse is in Cleveland. The best we could do was up the delivery date to Monday, so that will have to do. I hate paying for something and not having it in my hand right then. I hate waiting for something to be mailed, shipped, or delivered. It makes me crazy, lol. Ah well, at least I know it's on the way.

The weather here is starting to make me insane, even though I know it's the typical Ohio spring. 75 one day and 50 the next. Sunny one day, rain the next. Arrrgghhhhhhh. On Monday, Tammie and I were supposed to go film one of her blog videos of someone who plows with draft horses. The forecast on Friday called for rain and storms on Monday, so she cancelled for now, which was really disappointing. We were really looking forward to that one. She'll just have to talk to the people and re-schedule sometime when the weather is more stable.

While we were at the farm gathering the materials, the owner, who I have known most of my life, asked me if I was still out of work. He is bidding a job that he is pretty sure he has, clearing out a pretty large warehouse not far away, and would take 3-4 months. He wants to hire someone to oversee the demo crew, letting them in and locking up every day, while watching them and making sure no one gets hurt. Kind of a job supervisor/safety/security guy. I told him I would be VERY interested, thanked him for thinking of me, and told him I would be gladly waiting for the call. Keep your fingers crossed for me folks.

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