Thursday, April 29, 2010

That's Why We Moved Here

(although we're in a far more mountainous portion of the state)

From Oleg:
Of Idaho
These rolling hills are Irish-Green
But those who herein dwell
Have rifles that reach a mile
To send Cromwell's hosts to hell

To them Ruby Ridge was a warning
An alert to the fair and free
Like other, more recent incursions
Against them and you and me

Enjoy rolling hills of Idaho
They look Irish but hold more lead
In case someday reason fails
And the living might envy the dead

The Federal hydra seldom
Comes into these rolling hills
To it the climate is noisome
Though the locals are dressed to kill

Plain are natives of green and beauty
Simple and rough their talk
But they have enough math to know
How far long-range bullets drop

These rolling hills are Irish-Green
But those who herein dwell
Though wishing for peace and quiet
In war would do rather well

To them you are valued visitor
By whom they strive to do right
Those who come in friendship
Need not fear the rifles' might

These rolling hills aren't Ireland
But a more formidable land
And despite all the Pharaoh's armies
These people will win in the end

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Importance of Good Design

In the last 6 weeks I've fallen down our stairs twice.


Not the outside stairs. Not the stairs to the basement. The loft stairs that lead from the main floor to the master suite.

They're fully enclosed, carpeted, and of spec but of bad design.

They are completely lacking in handrails and the carpet is a bit too plush. There's a reason we don't let the kids up to the loft.

The first time I slipped just a few feet. This morning I slid from the 3rd stair all the way to the bottom on my thigh. It looks like I've been caned, without all the fun.

I am unhappy.

We're installing goddamn handrails, the kind that should have been installed in the first place.

Were they required by code? No, because the stairs are walled on both sides.

Walls give absolutely nothing to grip. Any idiot could see handrails were a good idea.

As a bonus, the studs in the walls are offset since the construction crew didn't start the framing for the walls at the same point, as we discovered installing the doggie gate at the bottom of the stairs. Installing the hand rails is going to be fun.


Little stuff like this just pisses me off.

I've got a running list of this stuff saved for the house we're building.

Speaking of the house we're building...

My best friend (since we were 15) is pursuing a degree in Urban Design and Planning.

As part of that she needs to get her CAD certificate, which she's in the middle of classes for.

She's decided to help design our house as her project.

She also wants to know all of these little irritating things for her own use in her career, in order to design better.

So I'm keeping her a list of what works, what doesn't, what would be nice...

It's nice to know not all of my irritation will be in vain.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Dogs Won the Battles, but We Won the War

Ever since we've moved up here, we've had dog issues.

Where we lived in Scottsdale we had a 6 ft wood fence around the entire yard. The dogs would occasionally push past us going through the front door, or even jump out a window, but mostly they respected the fence.

That changed when we arrived in Idaho. Here we have a 4 ft chain link fence, and acres and acres of wonderful sounds and smells around us.

Zoe (our coonhound/Rottweiler mix) and Wash (our Doberman/Rott/Pit/Shepherd mix) became little escape artists. Zoe escaped for the thrill, but would come right back. Wash escaped to go explore, and go visiting.

They found tons of holes under the (poorly done) fence to get out through. For weeks we had a routine: let the dogs out, watch the dogs escape, plug the holes.

That got old.

Then we decided to chicken wire the holes. We made it through a few, until I did some more advanced brush clearing and discovered 300 ft of possible hole spots. Pretty much half of our fence was so poorly done that the 5 inches of clearance needed for Zoe to get the idea to dig existed through half the fence.

We decided to install an electrified fence.

Not one of the "buried wire" invisible dog fences with collars. Those are unreliable, and our dogs are large and pain tolerant.

We picked up an electric livestock fence kit.

We now have two lines of visible wire surrounding the yard, 4-6 inches inside the chain link fence and 6 and 14 inches above the ground.

When we initially hooked it up the controller to test it, and the charge was weak and barely noticeable to me and Chris. Yesterday I spend most of the day finishing running the fence and clearing any brush that was interfering with the fence.

The felt charge tripled, though I didn't think it felt like much.

I am not a 45 lb coonhound mix, though, so we turned the dogs out yesterday afternoon.

Jayne (our 110 lb Rott/Pit mix) was the first to discover the fence. The fence doesn't shock until it has a second or so of contact, so he nudged it a few times to make sure it was there without any effect.

Then he touched his nose to it for long enough.

He yelped and ran 3 of his own lengths away.

Zoe did essentially the same thing a few minutes later, with the same effect.

Wash took longer. He nudged more than a few times, very tentatively, testing the new object. For a bit I thought he may be tougher that Jayne.

Then he tried to go through the fence.

He yelped and ran back to the house and up the stairs, yelping the entire way.


Later yesterday Jayne decided to test the fence again, just to make sure.

The shock still worked. He yelped and ran again.

I think we may finally have a solution.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Shopping on the Side of the Road

One of the reasons we moved to rural America is the high availability of good food, particularly good meat.

We couldn't care less about "organic" but "grass-fed" or "grain-fed" is our holy grail, right next to "vine-ripened" and "picked this morning".

We also love a wide variety of red meat, including venison, elk, and buffalo.

On the 95 between Coeur D'Alene and Sandpoint is a series of signs. "Fresh Jerky", "Elk Jerky", "Buffalo Jerky".

For 4 damn weeks we drove past those signs waiting for the jerky to go on sale.

One Friday the trailer finally showed up and I noticed it on my way to CdA with Daughter the Older.

On the way home we stopped at the stand with cash.

On the same sign with all the jerky prices was an item that caught my eye.

"Grass-finished beef. Steaks $6 a pound."


So I ask, and turns out I need to ask jerky-man's wife as the meat is at their house in the freezer. She will be there any moment.

So we wait a bit and the wife shows up. We talk a bit, and she just says, "well, come by the house and pick out what you want."

Her hubby tells her just to take us, it would be faster.

So the kiddo and I climb into her car and off we go with a strange woman.

An absolute treasure trove of farming info. She shows me her cows, her steers, her prize bull, her crops, her raspberries (you can have as many starts as you want, dear) and her chickens.

Oh my dear god those were fat cows.

So half an hour later or so we're climbing back in her car with 4 lbs of strip and a lb of tenderloin. For $6 a lb.

I've made some new contacts, learned a lot, and I'm coming home with unexpected steak and jerky.

As we're leaving the couple say that my husband's going to tease me for doing my grocery shopping on the side of the road.

Turns out he was too busy eating phenomenal beef to comment.

We Few, We Happy Few...

This blog is being written to chronicle one family's transition from suburban megalopolis America to independent rural living in the Rocky Mountain West.

We've already begun our adventure, and in the next little while, we'll be writing about how we got to this point, why, and what we've done to get where we want to be... and where exactly that is for that matter.

So... where we stand right now...

We moved exactly 6 weeks ago from the megalopolis known as Phoenix. Phoenix and all its attached suburbs is currently 80 miles wide and 50 miles high.

Phoenix is situated in Maricopa County, which is is 9200 sq miles with 21 sq miles of water and a population of 4 million, 97% urban and 3% rural. The population density is 420 people per sq mile with cities with literally five times that in Phoenix.

We lived in Scottsdale, which has a population of 235K, an area of 184.2 sq miles, and a population density of 1278 per sq mile.

We now live in an unincoporated area of Bonner County, Idaho which is 1738 sq miles with 182 sq miles of water and a population of 40K, 23% urban and 77% rural. Population density is 24 per sq mile.

Crime rate in Scottsdale: 7.17 violent crimes per 100,000

Crime rate in Sandpoint: 1.76 per 100,000.

We lived in the desert with next to no water, and now we live in the forest next to a huge lake.

It's a helluva change, and a badly needed one at that.

We're currently renting a house. A house with twice the square footage on 5 times the land than our Scottsdale house, at $300 less a month.

Our landscape is no longer rocks, but lawn. Lawn we don't have to water, only mow. A lot.

Our 4 wheel drive is now a necessity. We're probably going to get rid of our actual car, for at least a four wheel drive sedan (maybe an Audi or something similar).

There's no longer an illegal safe house 4 houses down, just a bunch of friendly people.

That's not the end of the road though. Within the next few years we'll be buying a large parcel of land and establishing (or taking over) a ranch.

Crispin Ranch, our forever home.

This blog is our journal of that process.