Some random photos snapped while geocaching this weekend...
Wild blackberries growing near one of the caches. They were delicious!
Teen Daughter finds one after rock-climbing.
One cache was just off these railroad tracks and commemorated a historic train that used to run down this line.
Another was just off this wheat field.
Geocaching often takes Southern Man onto roads seldom taken, which is one of the aspects of 'caching that he really enjoys. He bets Frost would have enjoyed it too.
It's time for another update on the state of The Land, using Google Earth imagery from August 2012. Previous posts are here (2012) and here (2011).
Click for a much larger image.
This time we get the entire ten (actually fifteen) acres. The lower third is a long "shotgun" five-acre lot that Southern Man (and his ex) purchased about fifteen years ago. The upper-left portion is the five-acre "common lot" owned by the homeowner's association but seldom used so it's really part of Southern Man's back yard. The upper-right is a roughly square five-acre lot that doesn't go all the way back to the water so it remained unsold until Southern Man snapped it up a year after the first purchase. So The Land is ten acres in a backwards L shape, wrapping around the common lot, and with quite a bit of shoreline on the little watershed lake to the west. Both lots were pretty hilly and the west end of the lower lot wasn't even accessible by vehicle without trespassing to the south so an early investment was about 5K worth of dirt work to level the west part of both lots, drop in a tinhorn and fill in a deep gully, and put in the driveway.
Southern Man looked at the big washouts and gullies in the back of the lot and thought "Garden Pond and Fishing Ponds!" He's accumulated quite a bit of rock and stone and brick (stacked above the Garden Pond label) and hopes to build a really attractive water feature there, with several levels of pond and a cascading creek that goes through those trees down to the lake. The Future Ponds (North and South) will take quite a bit of dirt work and those won't happen for several years. North of the garden pond are several redbud trees so that's called the Redbud Grove. It's a very peaceful area and will probably gain a little gazebo or arbor one day that overlooks the water features. Moving northwest into The Point we see the firepit that RCJ and Southern Man built a few summers ago and the dock that is currently under construction. All of the scrap piles around The Woodshop are slowly being reduced to firewood and stacked up near The Point. The Trailer currently serves as Casa Southern Man. The Barn is stacked floor to ceiling with boxes and boxes and boxes (mostly of books) but there's a little spot in the loft where Southern Man has a few computers running for single-player games. South of the driveway is a stubborn lone tree that Southern Man hasn't yet identified that sits just inside his property line.
As mentioned above much of The Land is fairly flat thanks to that summer of dirt work but it's worn-out farmland that barely grows Johnson grass. In this photo it's clear that the Brush-Hog Guy has just finished the last mowing of the season; he gets the west half and mows all the way back to the water south of The Barn. Southern Man hand-mows the rest and the various mowed trails up into The Point are clearly visible in the photo. Once Southern Man finishes the projects in the back of The Land he's going to put up another structure: a two-story garage and professional office (he figures in ten years or so he'll mostly be working from home) with a greenhouse on the south end and an RV shed behind. The spot marked "Garden" is a bit lower than the surrounding terrain and that's where row crops like blackberries and corn will go, with raised-bed vegetable gardens north of there. Southern Man has wanted to get gardens going for a while but there's no water source up there so gardening must wait until he gets a ground-water well down. He'll run a north-south driveway on the east side of the garage and then try to put in a proper lawn of Burmuda grass in the front (that is, east) part of The Land. That'll take considerable work to finish leveling that area and will probably require many truckloads of topsoil to boot, so that's a distant-future project.
Those hackberry trees grew up along an old fenceline and separates the flat west end of The Land from a little area that Southern Man hasn't been able to work with yet but which has been tentatively named The Dell, as it's fairly secluded from the rest of the neighborhood by the treeline. Southern Man has taken probably forty hackberries out of that treeline (they were really overcrowded) but he left the good ones and may plant a few more to complete the north-south treeline and plant some evergreens along the road to the north to shelter that area even further. Most of the trees back there are just hackberries but there is an isolated horse-apple tree and another that Southern Man hasn't yet identified.
And since Southern Man doesn't really need a 2800 square foot home just for him (that's the minimum required by the HOA) he plans to add on to the south and west ends of the barn - living area, kitchen, mud room, utility room - with a big Siberian heater rather than an English fireplace. The west end of The Barn already has pipe under the slab for a bathroom and the upstairs will make a lovely bedroom. The HOA might not be overjoyed with that but it's a step up from living in the FEMA trailer. And to tell the truth as long as he keeps the front area mowed they don't fuss too much. And Southern Man will be quite content to live back there until the end of his days, or until he's just too feeble to maintain ten acres. And hopefully that won't be for a long, long time. Southern Father is still going strong at eighty-one...
Today Teen Daughter turns fourteen!
Southern Man slipped by the Ancestral Manor that morning to leave a cake and a Vera Bradley gift bag full of goodies.
Teen Daughter about to blow out the candles. Photo by one of the Southern Grandparents as Southern Man was at work.
Shopping with Southern Man (who picked her up after voice lessons mid-afternoon) - Vera Bradley and the candy store.
Southern Man's little girl is growing up; two years from today she'll be driving.
While going through boxes of old papers Southern Man stumbled on this, something he'd typed up and had on his office bulletin board for many years before moving to a more politically-correct institution where he dared not express such radical views...
I believe in the individual, in less government so as to allow that individual maximum freedom to create and achieve; that societies which are founded on restraining the government rather than the individual are optimum; that the individual is smart enough to solve his own problems and does not need to depend on big government for resolution of all his problems; that my believe in individuality and limited government does not preculde me from advocating the requisite amount of governmental authority to ensure law and order in our society; that our ability to enjoy peace vis-a-vis other nations is directly related to our military strength; that the best we can hope for in an imperfect world will most likely be achieved by maximizing individual economic and political freedoms and, conversely, that social utopia cannot be achieved through governmental largesse and socialistic redistributions of wealth; that compasion is defined not by how many people are on the government dole but by how many people no longer need governmental assistance; that political and economic freedom are inextricably intertwined; that society owes its citizens equality of opportunity but cannot guarantee them equality of outcome; that strong, wholesome family values are at the very core of a productive, prosperous, and peaceful society; that those values cannot be instilled by government but can indeed by eliminated by well-intentioned but destructive governmental programs; that human life is sacred and that God placed man in a position of having dominion over nature; that environmental awareness is healthy but that apocalyptic environmentalism based on disinformation and hysteria is destructive to society and man's best interests; that racial relations will not be enhanced or prejudice eliminated by governmental edict; that there is one God and that this country was established with that foundational belief; that our morality emanates from our Divine Creator, whose laws are not subject to amendment, modification, or rescission by man; that certain fundamental differences between men and women exist in nature; that men and women are not at war and that their relationship should not be redefined by those who believe that we are; that the meaning of the establishment clause of the First Amentment should not be stretched beyond its intended dimensions by precluding voluntary prayer in our public schools; that the United States of America was founded on the beliefs I have just enunciated and that it is the greatest nation in the history of the world; and that the United States of America is the greatest nation, not because Americans are inherently superior but because its government was founded on principals which seek to allow maximum individual achievement.
Southern Man finds himself in full accord with these opinions. Even twenty-odd years ago, Rush is Right!
From the preface of The Way Things Ought To Be (1992) by Rush H. Limbaugh III
So Southern Man has finished his teaching for the day and is puttering about his new office when The Dean pokes his head in the door and says "I have your fall contract ready, and if you'll come sign it now I'll give you a prize!"
Well Southern Man is a sucker for free stuff so he goes over to The Dean's office and signs the next year of his life away. And the prize was a little 2 TB Passport USB drive for backups and (as promised earlier) a brand new Microsoft Surface tablet and a 64 GB microSDXC card to go with it.
The iPad is going to get mighty jealous when this baby comes home.
But the best part was when The Dean said "I'm really glad you're here." It's good to be valued.
Teen Daughter wandered about the Ancestral Manor with the new camera a few days ago and took these gems.