August was a long, hot month. The hottest August we've had since living in Florida. It definitely gives meaning to the term dog days of summer. In looking back on what we accomplished over the last month it's quite amazing. In no particular order:
While the heat tried it's best, it didn't beat us. We pushed through and made a lot of progress. Stay tuned - September is going to be so much fun!!!
Today we set our four corner posts. This was a pretty simple task that was made more difficult due to extreme heat conditions and limited vehicular access. We persevered and completed the task.
Our corner posts were purchased through the local dock maker and are basically marine-grade pylons. Each post is no less than 7 inches in diameter and hand dug to a depth of 3 foot deep, back filled and packed tight with a 60 pound bag of Sackrete.
From start to finish it took us about 4 hours to complete this milestone task. Sitting at home, clean, comfortable, and toasting with a glass of wine in the air conditioning, it's starting to really sink about how important this job was for us today. Any good project starts with a solid cornerstone - today we laid four of them. The foundation for our fence and ultimately, our farm.//tr
It had to happen. We had to do work along the main road. The North, South and West lines have all been cut. The East side road frontage is the only line that has work remaining on it. The goal was to make a cut into the property that will first serve as a place for us to park our vehicles on our own land as well as begin to establish our future driveway.
We have avoided this for a couple of reasons. First, the road is on the East side of the property. From about 7 am to 8 am its nice and shady. After that, it's not a pleasant area to work because you are being baked. Somehow the jungle heat of the interior of the property paled in comparison to that day's work due to the blazing sun. We would have to walk across the glaring limestone road that captured every last ray from the burning star overhead to seek relief in the only sliver of shade within sight.
The second reason we have been avoiding working along this section of the property is that it is inevitable people are going to stop and start asking questions. While this is not a bad thing - we both feel knowing our neighbors is beneficial - it feels kind of weird being the couple questioned. We do understand the curiosity of two strangers hacking away along the road with hoes, rakes and shovels on a piece of property that has sat idle for greater than 20 years.
So the day we worked the road, we met some of the locals. The conversations and comments ran the gamut from "you're not going to cut these trees down and clear this land, are you" to "cut them all down, they are all junk trees!" Mostly everyone was kind and welcoming. They asked what our plans were and if we would be moving out there soon. It’s funny, because when we asked a few questions of our own, many of the negative comments about the area centered around the roads. The road and it’s access is actually one of the reason why we chose this particular piece of land. One guy was trying to scare us by telling us all about the multiple 5 foot rattle snakes he kills all the time. When my husband extended his hand into the truck’s cab to shake hands, he later commented that he got a contact drunk off the guy. It’s is Florida, and the saying goes, “up by 7, drunk by 11.” A couple of folks were even bold enough to ask us what we paid for the property. We were perfectly fine offering up this information, it is public record, but I don’t ever recall asking a stranger what they purchased their home or property for. Immediately after asking that, they harkened back to the days of the last real estate bubble.
We achieved our goal for the day of being able to park our vehicle on our own land. The fact that neither of us had a heat stroke was an added bonus. //tr&mr
It's mid-July, in Florida, and it's hot. I must preface this though with a statement that Florida is not the hottest place we have ever dealt. We lived for many years in Arkansas, where triple digit temperatures, straight-up, no heat index were normal. Don't even get me started on the heat index... Florida is a different kind of heat - more along the lines of a jungle heat. If you wander into the shade, it's instantly cooler. If you sit down and put a cold water soaked bandana on your neck, it's instantly cooler. If you eat your weight in watermelon, you are instantly brought back to a cooler internal temperature.
You have to be careful, and you have to pace yourself. You have to know your limitations, and you have to know what you can and cannot do. You have to rest when you feel fatigue setting in and you need to stay hydrated.
We worked for about 6 hours today with rest breaks totaling around 45 minutes. We sat in the shade, we drank Gatorade and ate watermelon. We brought enough water to last us twice as long as we were out there. We achieved our goal for today (clearing the West line) and decided to eat our sandwiches and take a little break before packing everything out. As I was inhaling the last bit of sandwich, I found myself staring off into the landscape. You know, that far off stare where your mind is completely empty and void of all thoughts. I finally heard a voice, "stay with me sunshine". Ooops! It was time to go home. A bit more water, a nice change of clothes, and a sweaty walk back to the car put an end to me. It was a pit stop at the ABC store, then straight home to the pool to cool off - gotta get back out there in the morning!! //tr
In 2014 a couple of 40-somethings decided to make a change. The purchase of 10 raw, pine scrub acres along Florida's Nature Coast started it all. This is that story.