Friday, June 20, 2014

Happy Summer Solstice 2014!

I know, I know, we've been horrible about posting this year... but we are still alive and are still here on our homestead.

To be honest, this has really not been our year(s) -- mechanical issues, hydrologic issues, meterologic issues, fiscal issues, injury issues and family health issues abound.  Bad luck and hard circumstances are so pervasive that I'm almost to the point of watching for swarms of locusts, raining frogs, rivers of blood and similar Apocalyptic portents. I have no idea what Karmic balance we're paying off, but it must have been a doozie.

So, we've been having some issues with the diff case leaking on the big truck for a while. We replaced the seals, but it still seems to be leaking somewhere. The driveshaft fell out of her in the middle of winter, but we did eventually get that fixed. Unfortunately, with the diff case issues, we're leary of driving her long distances or hauling/towing anything heavy... so that puts a major kink in all our projects. Of course, she's now stuck hub-deep in a bog in our driveway that is too deep and wide to safely extract her, so she's really out of commission until it STOPS RAINING and the ground dries out a bit.

We still have the little truck, but we're being very careful not to get her stuck anywhere, etc etc. And she's only a 1/2 ton short-bed so it's not like we can do any major hauling/towing with her anyway. She's almost too small to make it worth the gas and extra maintenance taking her into Fairbanks for supplies.

One of the rear driveshafts went out on the ATV and it took forever to get the right parts and tools by mail to actually get her fixed. I seriously HATE manufacturers who have little proprietary bits that require their little special tools that they only sell to their licensed mechanics & dealers... requires some creativity, but we worked around that problem, so HA!  But, that left us having to transport stuff by hand/foot in the sled from the little truck at the top of the driveway, nearly a half-mile back to house since the little truck can't handle bad trail and the big truck is stuck blocking the driveway anyway. Dragging 5-gallon jugs of water and fuel in a sled through the boggy mud in the rain really sucks... a week's worth of supplies ends up being a 5-mile trudge with a 100+ lbs in the sled.

And all this leads to many many injuries... wrenched knees, twisted ankles, and seized backs. Add that to me falling down the stairs in the dark and breaking my foot and G falling down several times and messing up his back & knee on the ice this winter... OUCH!  We could handle the physical labor or the sucking quagmire, but not the physical labor in/through the sucking quagmire!!

We also determined that a wet spot we thought was just boggy is actually a seasonal creek after trying to cut the trail around the mud pit it's causing. There is actually moving/running water on both sides of the bog as far as our property line... so we're going to need to figure out some way for the driveway to cross it, either with a bridge or culvert system. Great.

Large portions of the turf are floating again this spring, including all around the cabin. I don't know what changed with the geology/hydrology, but it was major enough to crack & sink a couple of piers frost heaving this winter and with the water issues this spring it's causing major foundation problems. Looks like we're going to have to replace the concrete pads & piers (evidentally NOT able to provide adequate tensile strength at our extreme temps) with stacked railroad ties in a skid/pier combo that are even wider to help displace even more weight. Jacking up and blocking the cabin to do pier replacement is going to be so much fun... of course it has to STOP RAINING and dry out first since the whole yard is a bouyant carpet that we can't risk punching through.

And, the evil insects... the evil evil evil evil insects. Despite treating for mosquitoes and carpenter ants, both are out in full glory again this year. I've evidentally had some sort of critical exposure to the mosquitoes, because I know have a total allergic/histamine reaction after being eaten alive and have to come in and take Benadryl... which knocks me on my ass for the rest of the day. So, yeah, even with Bt and mega-DEET, I'm usually only good for 10-20 minutes outside before I'm withering like a spooked horse and unable to breathe. We're going to have to put more drastic (i.e. expensive) mosquito control measures in soon. The carpenter ants are really bad, and we found them trying to nest in the cabin walls... so it looks like I'm forced to use the seriously deadly poisons even though I'd really like to avoid using those whenever possible.

So, there you go. We really haven't gotten anything done because we're delayed by either lack of materials, malfunctioning vehicle, weather, geology, or the similar delay of a project that needs to get done before we can do others... ARG!!!!  And the stress of the breakages, delays, financial pinch, our injuries/health issues, and our family's health and personal problems is really taking it's toll. My insomnia and panic attacks are back in a major way, and G's not doing much better. Unless we want to spend the summer/year medicated (or in the nuthatch) we'll have to figure something out to solve/alleviate some of the issues that fits time, money and physical/technical constraints. Maybe if we just focus all our efforts on one single thing.....

Well, I'm really not much for whining and being negative; but I figured you guys might be worried about us. Plus, maybe someone will benefit from a little wisdom/insight about the kinds of things that can go wrong at all once and the major kinks it can put in the plans :D