Living the Wild – Carving out a Homestead From the Ground Up


Hi guys! I’m out of the woods for a minute, and in a coffee shop about an hour from the property. Just a little update (and lots of pics) since I haven’t been active on social. No internet out there, or phone service, or water/power/etc.


First off, thanks to everyone for continuing to visit my blog in my absence. I frickin’ love you guys! Today is my fourth consecutive day “living” at the property this trip. Not sure how long I’ll be out here, but there’s plenty to keep me busy. I’ve been filtering, laying rocks, etc. There’s so much I want to tell, but I don’t think I can squeeze it all into a single blog post.

I’m reporting from a coffee shop in West Plains, Mo. The best reliable internet that I’ve found out here. Catching up on some freelancing stuff and other emails, and taking care of internet things, like updating the ole bloggy blog 😉

This trip had 2 main objectives in mind: Lay rock down on my road, and setup a water system with backups in place. I won’t bother showing you my shoddy gutter job (which still needs some more work), but I’ve been playing with a system that will let me turn just about any water drinkable, even pee – but I’m not going to prove that part to you.

This is the final phase of the filtering process, which works awesome. Basically a Sawyer water filter (0.1 micron screen) and a closed loop to keep the bugs out. Turns out that unless the jugs are closed, the little critters are going to creep in.

You might notice all the spare parts. Filtration isn’t near as easy as it sounds. The water has to be well filtered before I put it through the Sawyer so that I don’t plug it up. My pre-filter is still a work in progress. I’ve come up with my own nomenclature for the water that matches my system. There’s raw hydro-the source water, screened hydro-run through a t-shirt, and filtered hydro-after the pre-filter gets it. The pre-filter is the only “work in progress” part left. It either runs too slow or doesn’t filter well enough. From there I go to pure hydro by passing through the sawyer filter, or bleeched hydro by making the hydro storable. Nothing else will grow in it after bleaching. Either way produces drinkable fluid from the scummy pond water that I’ve been using. My simple rain catch is set up, so one good rain will net me about 70 gallons of rain-water that will be much easier to filter into hydro. I also got these tanks for collection that, once cleaned up, will be hooked to the gutter filtration system. I’ll probably bury one as a cistern this summer.

They are food grade (came from a turkey processing plant) and cost about $80 each. Good bargain for great tanks, but I’ll need about 60 gallons, some bleach, and some dish soap to clean them out all the way. Just glad I was able to scoop them up for the moment. I also need to get some piping and hoses for them. As I get more tanks, they will have designations and pumping systems for gray water, plant nutrients, and even running water. But for now, having 550 gallons of storage space will be a huge help.

The road stuff went quick. Even with the annoying weather this weekend (scattered sprinkles to soak the tall grass, but no real rain on the hill) I was able to get the rock trucks rolling Monday morning. 8 big dump-trucks full of rock surfaced the road pretty well, and the unsorted rock was full of lime dust. It looked almost like concrete, and so far it’s been packing well. Here are some pics of the final product:

I made a joke with the drivers that it looks better than the county road leading in, though they are working on that. The recent flooding has screwed up a lot of things. With no fear of driving the road during wet weather, I’ll be able to make longer stays at the little camp, and get a lot more work done. So I need to start balancing my writing with my homesteading. There may be a bigger crowd-funding and blog project in store for that synthesis, but we’ll see about that later. You think people would donate in return for lots of cool wildlife and homesteading information? I’m not running in and out of an office “playing homestead.” I’m living it. For most of this trip, this is what my primary hydration looked like:

Note my pen-and-ink space in the bottom left, hehe.

On wild wonderfuls, I have some pics for you of various plants. First up, my Great Mullein is flowering and doing really well in this one spot. This specimen is now taller than me, close to seven feet:

Those little yellow flowers will soon be all over the spike. I also found a great example of Queen-Anne’s Lace for you. Note the little “blood drop” in the middle. Not every QAL plant has this feature, or this color, so know your plants. The real wild-carrot has a hairy stem and lobed leaves, and the flower pod is nearly flat, until it curls into a little bird’s nest after pollination. Proper ID is important, because there’s a lot of toxic plants in this family, including poison hemlock and spotted water hemlock, both deadly if you ingest a tiny bit of the plant juice.

Black-eyed Susans are growing everywhere, too:

I also found this curious mint that looks cultivated. No flowers on these guys yet, but I’m going to try an find a plant ID book for the mint family. It’s such a diverse group of plants and healing herbs. I got stung by an unhappy bee the other day, and after crushing up some self-heal leaves, and rubbing the oil onto the sting, all the pain went away instantly.

But it’s not all flowers and herbs. This little hitch-hiker joined my on my trip with the camera for a while. I guess he flew off after collecting enough sweat. It looks like some kind of weevil, but it’s tiny, like mustard-seed tiny. Note the skin pores in the picture:

On that note, focusing a macro lens with one hand is a pain in the butt, lol.

I also found some unidentifiables. If you know what any of these are, please give me a name for them. The first one is one-of-a-kind on my property. A huge plant with a waxy stem. It’s about six feet tall right now, and that leaf measures about 20 inches wide and 16-18 inches long. The single stem is over an inch thick, and the leaves grow opposite, just like a mint, alternating orientation on the way up.

Cool flower growing in the meadow areas:

A strange little puff-ball that likes the shade (found while collecting raspberries):

Another sunny meadow flower that I haven’t looked up yet:

Okay, now that I’ve used up all your internet. I’ll let you go for now. Stay tuned for more. Tonight, I’m going to try and fit some editing in (now that the laptop is charged up). There’s so much to do, and I’m usually pretty tired at the end of the day, but I’m making some good progress. Guess I’m headed back to the woods now. I got some things done, and I’ve spent enough time in this coffee house for the day. With any luck, I’ll have a livable camp set up soon enough. I need to add another barn or shed to relocate my tools, as my 96 square foot cabin is getting quite crowded, so once I clear the spot where it will go, I’ll decide whether to buy something or construct another building. I’ll keep you posted.


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Author: spottedgeckgo

Writer. Making my living on my pen, and working to turn a raw chunk of land into a future homestead.

2 thoughts

  1. Now *that* is a seriously beautiful road! I love how you’re taking care of nature/wildlife even while you have such huge infrastructure projects on the go. You’ve even reminded me that I meant to plant a mullien in my tiny London back garden. A very special life project, Marty – really enjoying seeing you progress with it. All best to you!

    1. Thanks Jenny. I would have replied earlier, but I don’t seem to be getting updates lately (might have something to do with my decreased internet usage. Mullien is a beautiful plant, I love it. I snuck some into Mom’s yard so it can thrive out there and make giant plants, haha. Today, the flower spike on my big one has 3 “sister” spikes growing out of the stem, all flowering also. Can’t wait to see what that plant does next. It’s definitely the prettiest one that I’ve seen.

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