Pre-Spring 2018 Update

Since we moved in Thanksgiving day, November 24, 2017, a lot has happened and a lot has changed in our plans. I have several handwritten journal entries I need to type up in this blog. This is just a general overview of the past nearly 3 months. I will be hopefully keeping up better with these now.

 

For starters, our phones…..no signal. At all. We had Sprint contract phones and knew it was poor signal there moving in. Once at the property, we realized we had NO signal. It has been a hindering factor in my ability to keep up with the blog. Weather conditions affect our cell phone signal as well. In a couple of days we are switching to AT&T prepaid. It will be better for our budget and our online needs. They say we should get 4G and 4G LTE on our property. We will see come Friday and Saturday. Oddly enough we get better data options and more data/hotspot for cheaper using prepaid.

 

We have found out that the internet is a vital tool for our homesteading and not feeling so isolated from everyone we love. I hate to admit it but Facebook has helped us keep in touch with our family and friends more than phone calls and text since we have moved to our new deep woods home. I have researched more things since we have been on the property about how to install the well, build things, and clear trees and other stuff. Also, we buy certain items we need via online shopping due to their unavailability in stores nearby.

 

We realized within the first few weeks of being out there we should have planned to have the couple hundred it would have took to install the well. We were going to hook into the community water until we could save to have a professional well drilled. But….. they wanted $1,400 deposit before work could be done to put in the meter and a spout. That option was out very quickly. We have been hauling in water in 5 gallon jugs. We have 8 of them so far. We meet our eating and drinking water needs well. However, hygiene and dish cleaning has been an adjustment. Not just due to our water situation but an unusually cold as heck East/Central Texas winter. You don’t realize how much water you use for everything when it is on tap always available through municipality services. We can now bathe with just 5 gallons of water, per person. We don’t wash our hair every shower time. We keep it braided most of the time. When we do wash our hair it takes us another 3-5 gallons each for just hair.  This is still a lot of water but it is significantly less than what we used before.

 

Our energy usage necessities have been brought to light, hahaha, as well. Thankfully we don’t have much if any energy usage. We were using a powerbank to charge my cellphone while Alexis was at work. It has started not holding charge. It is time to bite the bullet and buy a better more sturdy one. For now we use the truck to charge the cellphones. We use batteries for a couple of light/lanterns, flashlights, solar/dynamo AM/FM/SW1 &2 radio, Multiband SW/LW/AM/FM radio, and portable shaver. The majority of those take AAA batteries. The rest take AA batteries, the multiband radio and portable shaver.

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Moving onto the property :-)

It has been an exciting and stressful time since we got word our bid went through two weeks ago. We have been very sleep deprived and stressed. Especially my poor wife who works overnights.
We got the phone call the bid went through and were relieved and excited. That meant we were going to be on the property before Winter Solstice. That is great news because we are eager to get this started and it means we can file for our Homestead Exemption on our property taxes in January 2018. The day after we got the call we got it we went to pay for it. We did some work on the property that day too. We made less headway our 2nd day out there because we were very sore and tired. And of course it rained on us half the time we were out there on day two. 

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It was that day we begun to realize we are going to need to rent heavy machinery to help us clear the area we need for living. Also, we became intimately aware of our distaste for Yaupon Holly trees. Getting their roots up are not going to be easy at all. We will need a bush hog, stump grinder, and walk behind skid steer to help us clear the underbrush. We will rent them every few weeks for a day at a time, and whichever equipment we need at that stage. It is a huge undertaking. We knew it would be but tge reality of it feels daunting. Though we are determined not to let that deter us. We are using hand tools as well a double headed axe, chainsaw, brush axe, and clippers are our most used tools at the moment.
I might add using a long handled brush axe is more of a work out than using the axe. I can’t wait until we can get the brush scythe. That will be much easier on our backs and arms but still a work out.
We got enough area cleared for our temporary dwelling and hopefully the temp kitchen area. We have spent the last week busting butt to get the rest of the apartment packed and downsizing even more. Goodness can two people accumulate a lot of possessions! We have been downsizing all year. We thought we had donw pretty good. Hahahahaha NOPE.
As we were moving things over Thanksgiving with just the truck we began to know how much we still needed to get rid of. Well when it came to loading the trailer for moving today, we both had a mini panic. We had too much crap! STILL!!! We couldn’t move everything all in one like we wanted to for the last round.
So while my wife is at work tonight afyer just a few hours sleep, I am going to attempt to finish loading the trailer and finish throwing out a massive amount of crap cuz we just don’t have the time or energy annymore to take the last bit to donation centers. Also it is 2am…none are open. We want to be unloaded and relaxing before 2pm today. Maybe that way my wife can get a decent sleep before her graveyard shift. We did get lucky on several fronts during this journey. It is amazing the syncretistic events that have transpired to help us along the way. We are both very grateful for them too. Oh and it isn’t raining for this move. That is a relief and great stroke of luck for us. And I have my fisrt spots of poison ivy from clearing. Thank goodness they are small and I have medicine for it. 

Time to get to packing and loading. I will update more extensively after we are settled in mostly in a week or two. 
Have a good holiday season everyone!

Items we have to get started 11-11-2017

I wanted to make a list of the basic things we have to get us started for when we get out to the property. That way others may have an idea of what they may need. I will make updated lists as we find out what worked for us and what we found we probably didn’t really need or as we add new essential items.

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  1. 20ft x 20ft tent with rainfly, brand new.
  2. 10ft x 10ft canopy, someone left out by the throw away furniture items at the apartments. It is in really good condition.
  3. Several battery operated lights
  4. Candles and safe candle holders/enclosed lanterns
  5. Oil lanterns and lamps
  6. Cookware, hopefully more cast iron soon. We only have one cast iron 12 inch skillet right now. We will be getting a whole Lodge brand set eventually.
  7. Some plates and kitchen items.
  8. Two or three area rugs. We found again when college kids throw out things they can’t take with them at the end of the semester. They look like they are in brand new condition.
  9. Some huge pieces of vinyl flooring from when apartments in the area did remodels after the college kids left.
  10. A hand axe
  11. A large 8lb double headed axe
  12. Basic tool set
  13. Some hardware for construction, nails, screws, etc
  14. Lots of blankets for the South Texas Winters. Our cold isn’t anything like up North but it can still get damn cold for us here.
  15. Batteries for all battery powered items
  16. A couple of small power banks to charge the cell phones.
  17. 14 inch chainsaw. We hope to find an 18 inch or 20 inch chainsaw soon for the bigger trees that will need to come down.
  18. A truck
  19. 10-14 (5 gallon) water bottles
  20. (2) 10 gallon solar shower bags. Just a heads up these things are going to be heavy when full of water. 5 gallons of water is around 40lbs. I will be making a pulley system with a platform for these shower bags or they will break.
  21. Used pallets from local businesses. — These will be used to put the tent up off the ground. For our shower area to give us some place off the ground to stand. And in the designated kitchen area. Some pallets will be used to place felled trees and firewood up off the ground to prevent rot. Also, to make a frame for our bed. It will need to be kept up off the ground to prevent condensation and mildew. We will get more pallets as we need them to help in construction of things we need.
  22. A small charcoal BBQ grill. Stands about 3 1/2 feet. And it is a bit wobbly, thank you cheap walmart grill.
  23. Coffee press. I have had this for years. Thankfully too because we don’t wanna go without coffee or hot tea while we are out there.
  24. An old propane Coleman Camp Grill.
  25. Fishing pole and tackle with Fishing Licenses. We will need those to fish in the lake a street over. YUmm catfish.
  26. Pyrex glass storage for food. We didn’t want to use plastic because it can hold bacteria. Glass storage containers are less likely to do so and are better anyway.
  27. Some shovels, crowbar, fire starters (welders style)
  28.  Solar powered dynamo hand-crank SW/AM/FM radio, cellphone charger, flashlight from Voyager.
  29. A battery powered SW/LW/AM/FM radio, and a weather radio.
  30. Amazon Prime subscription. Okay we already had this but we are renewing it. The shipping and price offers available will become invaluable as we will be using online retailers for a lot of things we will need as we build our infrastructure on the Homestead. If Lowes and Home Depot had one we would probably go for that too.
  31. Books for entertainment and lesuire time or inclimate weather days.
  32. Board games and cards for the same as the above. We can’t work all the time or we will get burnt out and want to give up.
  33. A treadle sewing machine to use until we get solar power for the other two sewing machines. I got lucky a couple years ago to come across a treadle machine at an offer I could not refuse.
  34. Two battery powered alarm clocks.



 

Here is the list of books I have which I have found or will find informative as we progress.

Handmade Houses (1973)

Handmade Houses (1973)

  • Cabins and Cottages (1978) Time Life Books [ISBN: 0-8094-2410-X retail ed.]
  • Handmade Houses – A Guide to the Woodbutcher’s Art (1973) [ISBN: 0-912020-00-8]
  • Waterhole – A Guide to Digging Your Own Well (1991) [ISBN: 0-935902-21-X Paperback]
  • Solar Power Your Home for Dummies (2008) [ISBN: 978-0-470-17569-9]
  • Backwoods Solar 2017 Planning Guide and Catalog [Backwoods Solar]
  • Build a Yurt by Len Charney (1974) [ISBN: 0-02-079320-0] <I found this book via Internet Archives . I downloaded the .pdf, printed it out, and took it to a local copy place to have it bound. Copy Corner in College Station is a great place.>
  • Wildwood Wisdom (1945 reprint) [ISBN-10: 0-936070-12-9]
  • Renewable Energy Made Easy by David Craddock (2008) [ISBN-10: 1-60138-240-5] <An alright solar energy book. I felt it gave me a good starting point. However the Solar Power for Dummies book has more pertinent info for me.>
  • Country Wisdom Almanac (2008) [ISBN-13: 978-1-57912-774-9]
  • Plants for Places (2011) [ISBN-13: 978-0-7566-7192-1] <A small thick book for color photo plant identification.>
  • Trees – 143 Species in Color – A Guide to Familiar American Trees (1956) [ISBN: 0-307-24494-6]
  • Dictionary of Discards by Frank M. Rich (1952) [ISBN: 0-517-N09911]
  • Handy Farm Devices and How to Make Them (1909 reprint) [ISBN-13: 978-1-906621-17-9]
  • Animal Traps and Trapping (1973) [ISBN: 0-8117-0103-4]
  • Wild Game and Country Cooking by Timothy Manion (1983) [ISBN: 0-9612936-0-8]
  • When Technology Fails – A Manual for Self-Reliance & Planetary Survival (2000 1st Ed.) [ISBN: 1-57416-047-8 paperback]
  • Home Preserving Made Easy – A Complete Guide to Pickling/Smoking/Canning/Drying/Freezing and Jelly-Making by Vera Cewanter & Dorothy Parker (1975) [No ISBN # listed]
  • I have several other ebooks on the computer and downloaded onto my very old ereader. Still 500Mb will hold a lot of old ebooks.
Handy Farm Devices and How to Make Them (1909)

Handy Farm Devices and How to Make Them (1909)

Most of these books have been collected over years with an interest towards doing what we are about to do. Some of them have been bought recently. Internet Archives is a great resource to find alternative ways of doing things from the older books. Combine that knowledge with what we know now and come up with something great.

–I am looking for books on how to build with green wood and whole trees/ unmilled timber. Those will be added to the list as I find the ones I am looking for.

Finally made a bid

Our Wedding October 2017

Wearing the outfits I made for us both at our wedding.

At some point mid October the decision was made to go ahead and bid on the property earlier than we had planned. We had some vehicle issues, the neighbors in the apartment next to us make too much noise, and we are just so ready to get out of the apartment and start our new lives. Ahh I remember the catalyst, we got married. Something about that just sealed the desire for us to do this early. We had been discussing it for a couple of months already. The morning after the wedding we woke up and both knew we were ready. We decided, “Let’s do this.” 

 

Now the scary part is we did not know if we could qualify for a loan with the bank or not. We make $2,000 a month combined on a good month. Our credit is “fair.” Our savings was almost nonexistent. We had been trying to save but we have also been paying off bills and contracts over the past 10 months. We are trying to lower our bills. It has taken reaching November to finally see that pay off. My wife was pretty sure we would be denied at the bank for any loan they could offer. She was right. It was disheartening but I still wanted to try.

 

What we did next, I really don’t recommend but we are ready to get our homestead lifestyle started like 5 years ago. On the beautiful day of October 23rd, 2017, after being denied a loan we would need to pay for the composting toilet and the property….we went across the street to the Burleson County Courthouse. We walked up the stairs, opened the doors to the second floor entrance, went into the tax collector’s office and asked to speak to the gentleman in charge of the tax resale/tax auction purchases and bids. We told them we wanted to place a bid. They gave us the paperwork and we filled it out. We had questions on the statements made on the paperwork. We talked to the gentleman in charge of it, whose name escapes me.

 

Our hearts dropped as we found out the County wouldn’t look at a bid unless it was a minimum of $350.oo per lot in the listing. No exceptions. We knew at that moment we could only bid on one of the three listings we wanted to get. The listing we bid on had 2 lots. So our bid was $700.oo for a property of approximately 0.5 acres. Even though that is still a great price we knew that was less land than we wanted to start with. However, it was still land to start with. We could bid on the other two property listings later in the year if our bid got accepted.

 

Then the tax man told us our bid had to be approved by two agencies. One was the County Commissioner’s Court and the other was the holding trustee of the property Caldwell ISD. We told us if the bid missed submission to them before they closed down for the Christmas Holidays we would not hear anything until January 2018. The kicker was they were meeting the day we were making the bid. Great timing on our part (sarcasm).  Again we felt like we were kicked in the gut. We told the gentleman that we wanted to move out there as soon as possible because we were needing to clear land to build a house. He told us he would see what he could do and completely understood. We were to contact him in about two weeks and he should know more at that time. He was confident though that our bid would be accepted. That at least was a good news, we just had to quickly figure out how the heck we were going to pay for the land when the bid went through.

 

We had a backup plan for the loan, we hoped. Alexis had been receiving letters saying she was pre-approved for some small loans. You know those letters where some lender says, “Congratulations you are pre-approved for $3,500.” or some other amount of money. Given the bank had denied us every option they had, we were not overly optimistic but I said what is the worst that can happen, they tell us NO. When we got back home from Caldwell I tried getting a loan in my name first. That was definitely a no go. Pesky student loans…which will be gone in two years now thankfully. That is another story though. I grabbed the pre-approval letter off the fridge Alexis had received. Tried to remember to breathe while the process to see how much she qualified for began. In about 15 minutes and lots of questions later, we breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. She qualified for a $1,700 loan. We felt a tension leave us as we knew we could now pay for the property and the composting toilet.

 

The catch with the loan is it is similar to a payday loan. Payments will have to be paid every two weeks until paid off. No option for a monthly payment because she gets paid every two weeks. We were like, well we got the loan we needed to get started and on the land. That is what matters at this point. Someone finally gave us a chance and we are taking it.

 

Fast forward about a week later, Alexis got a phone call from her car dealership. They were just asking her if she was happy with the car she is paying on for the past two years. They let her know trading in may be an option. We mulled it over. As the week wore on we were starting to seriously mull it over knowing we needed a truck to get anything done on the property. Also, the roads would tear up her car in very rapid order.

 

Once again, we decided, why not let’s just go and see what they say. What is the worst they could say, NO. Well the first day we went after hours there trying to reach something within our budget for payments we left empty handed. We just couldn’t see how we would make it on the payment they were offering for the truck, which was almost twice the amount of her car payment for 72 months. Then we would have to contend with maybe a higher car insurance payment too.

 

Being she works graveyard shift, she was exhausted by the time we left the dealership. I was also due to me keeping her schedule, mostly. We just couldn’t figure out what we were going to do about the vehicle situation. We went home and slept. After sleep, since she was off work that night we woke in the early morning hours. Sleeping in for us and it was needed. We started running some payday errands and got to talking about the truck and the dealerships offer. We were figuring out the finances of it without having to pay rent and utilities. The loan for the property was temporary. We weighed the pros and cons. Decided in the long run it would be beneficial to take the deal and when we could pay extra on the truck payments.

 

We called the dealership back and asked if the offer and the truck were still available. Luckily for us it was. Well we went home, cleaned out the car of things we wouldn’t need in the truck. We grabbed another small loan check she had gotten in the mall. It would cover the $500 down payment and lunch. We went to our bank, deposited it and off we were back to Caldwell Country. Several hours later again, we had traded in the car for a 2014 truck that would serve us well and a damn good warrenty on it too. For the second time in a little over a week luck had smiled on us again. We were very happy to finally feel like we were doing something right.

 

We knew we had to seriously amp up our packing now.  The next day we realized we had the money free we were going to use on the car payment. Goodness were we happy. We set out to get tools we needed for the property, batteries, a chainsaw from a local pawn shop, shovels, a double sided ax, and a few other odds and ends.

 

It was as if getting married and getting the truck has set us on the right track. All the events have given us hope. We feel like it is all synchronicity because the time is right. So two weeks after the bid was placed we called the tax office. He said he had the deed already made out and was going to submit it to the County Commissioner Court on November 13th. We discussed when Caldwell ISD was to meet next. He didn’t know they were meeting on the same day as the County Commissioner due to Thanksgiving being around their normal meet up time. He was not sure if he could get the bid paperwork on their agenda for their November 13th meeting. He would see what he could do though. If not we would have to wait until December 18th. That was encouraging news, we are itching to get out of the apartments though. I’ll tell you what whenever this goes down we will be so ready.

 

We find out this coming Tuesday on the 14th what they said. We are crossing our finger we get word that some miracle happened and both agencies were able to approve the bid and we have the property. Then we need to go pay for it. That is how we hope it goes. We aren’t going to push our luck though and have planned for a move out day in December. We are waiting to hear what the tax office says before we give a date to the apartment complex. They know about our plans and are going to work with us over leaving halfway through our lease contract. They are being nice and understanding and encouraging.

 

We just have to make it through this weekend without gnawing our nails off in anticipation of any news about our bid Tuesday. We are packing in the meantime, throwing out more things, selling things we can sell, and giving other things away to friends who are in need also. Also, Monday we start the process of getting Alexis’s last name changed over to mine. It is all every exciting and terrifying. It is all finally happening. All the planning and talking this whole year is starting to take effect. We are finally getting to take action towards making our dream a reality.

After Hurricane Harvey Trip

We live in Brazos county currently, which is next door to Burleson County. We did receive a lot of rain from Hurricane Harvey but otherwise remained safe and dry. I kept up with the Facebook page for Cade Lakes to see how they fared through all the rain. There are a couple of lakes which keep water year around but the other “lakes” are reservoirs for overflow from Second Davidson Creek. There are a few low spots and parts of a few roads got a bit messed up due to runoff. Other than that it seems the spillway did it’s job and so did the reservoir lakes. The community was cut off for a few days from getting to Caldwell or anywhere else. They kept each other updated through Facebook on the conditions of the neighborhood. Also, they were updating each other through Facebook on County road conditions.

 

The more we find out about this community and the people in it, the more we are positive this is where we want to build our future.

 

As soon as we knew we could make it there safely on the roads, we went. Around the last week of August we went to see first hand how the roads and our prospective property fared after receiving about 20 inches of rain. Really well is how it all fared from what we could see. This was the first trip I had to worry about mosquitos biting me though. That is understandable. Alexis is the one who normally gets the mosquito love but not this time. =) Seems they prefered me this time around.

 

A week before we knew the Harvey was going to hit us we went out there. We measured the approximate length of the properties to get an on the ground visual. We walked deeper into the woods of the properties where we could. We got good news again. The majority of the undergrowth is Yaupon trees. They will be nothing to cut down and clear but tedious. We will be able to clear out an area for the foundation of the house a lot sooner than we thought. Sadly there is very little old growth there. We only spotted about 6 trees that looked over 50 years old, oaks and some cedar and juniper. Most of the hardwood trees have an approximate diameter of 18 inches or less.

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Used the measurement tool on Google maps in conjunction with the dimensions the county gave us on all the properties to get an approximate idea of the perimeter measurements.

 

We met a man who is on the Community Water Board while we were out there. He was on his ATV checking his hog feeders when I went to talk to him. Turns out he is a contractor, we had a lovely conversation with him. We found out a foundation would do great here with little to no shifting due to the soil. Thankfully that is contrary to what my research lead me to believe. He will help us find a good contractor to put in the foundation when we get ready too.

Also, we found out the community water is fed from a new well dug last year. It is very deep and good quality. He showed us where the pipes run along the front/side of our property. We talked about the wild animals in the area and the general social climate of the community. What he told us won us over even more. Like there really needs to be any more information to help us know our decision is a good one. We walked away once again from a trip out there very happy.

 

Back to the after Harvey trip now, like I said above everything fared well. I decided we were going to go to the county office before they closed to ask some questions. We ended up in the Environmental Office at the Burleson County Courthouse. Since the post office doesn’t deliver down those roads you have to get a 911 address. The Environmental Office is where you do that. For a single side print sign it is $10.oo and I believe $20.00 for the double sided one. No one else lives down our street and we will be on the corner. A single sided sign will work well for us.

 

We confirmed the area was unincorporated. Therefore the county does not require building permits. The only permit we would need is if we decided to get a septic system installed. Due to the soil in the area we could get a conventional septic or an aerobic septic. We are going to use a high quality composting toilet. We will not need a septic. They gave us the information for which one the State of Texas has certified as safe. They go by NSF certification, Texas Administrative Code – Onsite Sewage Facility.

 

This is the office where they do floodplain planning as well. We found out we are just a street away from the gray area that show the floodplain for the area.

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County floodplain map page for our subdivision

 

We walked out of that office having more good things confirmed about our choice of location for our future home and life. We got a print-out of local surveyors as well. We will just have to do an educated guess until we can save up the money to have all the properties re-surveyed. It seems they have not been surveyed since the original founding of the community. While walking around in the woods of the property we did find a few of the old survey markers remarkably. We had that confirmed when we talked to the gentleman who lives a street over from us that is a contractor.

 

Now we are back to waiting for January unless I think of anything else we need to know. After our wedding at the end of October, we will start packing up certain items in the house. Once January hits it will be a whirlwind of activity. We may not have the time to pack things up and separate like we want to for items which will go in the storage unit and which will stay with us on site in the beginning.

More research into the property

So much is starting to happen in our lives as we near closer to January 2018. We have hit a lull for the most part on what we can do regarding the property we want to get. We have made several trips out there over the past two months. We will continue to make occasional trips. They serve three purposes, to remind us of our goal, to give us encouragement, and allow us to deal with little questions or ideas we have come up between now and then.

 

In August we made some trips up to the county office. We started looking into the deed history of the property we would like. Over the course of this journey, one tax resale property listing has turned into striving, hoping, to buy three listings all next to each other. They will total between 1.5 -2 acres. The records on the property and overgrowth are make the exact acreage uncertain. The county mapping and tax office agree with us that the total is about what I said.

 

During our August trips we found out we had to go to the county clerk office to find out deed history on our own. We cannot afford a title search from a title company. The only one in the area willing to touch Cade Lakes said it would be $500 deposit and $100/hr of research before we bought the properties. However if we want title insurance, which they suggested, after we have the Sheriff’s deed to the properties it will about $300 one time payment. We will be covered if liens pop up or back taxes try to be collected for the history of the property. That was a little daunting to find out but we understand. So I set out to do what research I could on my own. With my fiancee with me, we must have made 4 trips between the tax appraisal/mapping office and the court house. It was hilarious to us in our frustration. The results were worth the run around to get information. Thankfully those two offices are just blocks from each other.

The wonderful news we found out was that it seems the properties are good to go.

Property listing #1 – The owners are deceased. The property was last actively on the county tax roles in 1985. ( That is 32 years of being inactive on the county tax roles). This is great news for us and the possibilities of how low we can bid on the property.

Property listing #2 – It appears this one was never even purchased from the original developer of the subdivision. A bit of history, the subdivision was developed in 1973. (It went off active tax roles in 1979. That is 38 years where the county has not collected taxes on this listing.) Again great news for us. We were starting to get very excited. It was hard to hold all that in while standing at one of the computers in the Burleson County Clerk’s Office.

Property listing #3 – This one was purchased shortly after the subdivision was developed. However, the owners for whatever reason lost the property to tax repossession sometime in 1979. (Again 38 years of being inactive on the county tax roles.) At this point we were positively giddy with excitement. And we had a wonderful sense of relief knowing from facts and intuition these properties were not going to be contested when we buy them. Even if they were the owners will only have 180 days to do so before they lose their chance.

Cade Lakes Property

One of the properties we are looking at. This is the Tax Card the Mapping Office found for us to show who the owner was. We could not find this on the other 2 properties.

The way the computer system is set up for Burleson County to look up deed history is by a certain number. I can’t remember which one right now but we didn’t have it. We ended up looking up the whole subdivision and scrolling through all the listings to find the one that matched the Real Estate or Parcel/Lot number we were looking for. Considering most of the properties in Cade Lakes are not always listed properly and boundary lines are not always clear it made our task difficult. When we found one that might be the one we were looking for, we had to look at the scan of the deed document and scan it to find out if it is the one we wanted. We were in there for probably 45 minutes. We took photos with our phones of what we found because to get a copy of each page was $1.00. Also, the county clerks gave us a website to go to where we may be able to download the info we want to print out. She couldn’t remember if there was a charge for that. I haven’t checked yet. I may do that after this as I had forgotten about it until just now.

Here is the website they gave us:

Texas Land Records

Each county has it’s own requirements. But it looks like what they would charge us for getting them printed is how much it costs to view the document in Burleson County. Even if you just view one page you will be charged $1.oo per page for the entire document. So if it is 14 pages and you want to look at just two pages, you will be charged $14.oo to see them.

I advise you make the visit to your county office to look at their computer system. You will be able to view the document free of charge. You will be charged to have a printed copy however.

 

All of what we found during that trip was highly encouraging.

 

 

 

What off the grid means to us

I have recently become a member of the book of faces, or commonly called Facebook. As I have read through a plethora of homesteading info, discussions, use google to search homesteading info I have come across different variations of off the grid living. Each person/family has their own needs and desires which dictate how they set up their off the grid home or even how off the grid they are.

 

For us we don’t want to be 100% separated from society. However we do not want to rely on public water systems and power grids. We want to use well water and rainwater catchment systems. We will have some electricity in the form of solar power. We don’t want a lot of modern amenities and conveniences in our home. For us they turn into hardships to maintain, much less purchase. We will have a Nature’s Head Composting Toilet so a septic will not be necessary, eliminating all the water wasted by using a traditional toilet. We will keep our cell phones, laptop, and hopefully have a landline and internet service setup over time out there. Cell signal is a bit sketchy in the area we have chosen to set up shop.

 

We are choosing this kind of life because for us it is simpler. It is what will make our daily lives less stressful and more enriched. We aren’t choosing it to turn a finger up at the man. Or to become hermits. What we do crave is a life without so many of the pressures modern society puts on everyone. We are tired of feeling like a certain type of lifestyle with the latest technologies, fashion, and everything we will never be able to afford and will only in the end producing clutter bombarding us with every internet ad, television, radio ads, streaming ads, etc.

 

Things can enhance your life and in doing so make things easier for you. But what do you do when those easier “things/products” end up putting you in debt? What do you do when those products cause you more stress than if you had just chose to ignore them? So many times over the course of my adult life I have noticed products pushed towards people, marketing becoming more aggressive. Products which are not all that necessary for an everyday home being pushed to be perceived as a necessity when it isn’t. For that matter, the same can be said of business’. Services and products flood our western world. It is like we are walking through the lit up strips of Vegas streets with flashing adverts everywhere we turn and a peddler on every corner trying to convince you that their wares are a necessity in your life. Between real life and our ever plugged into the internet lives those are the streets we walk as we try to make it through our normal day.

 

Between the importance which seems to be perceivably placed on money and products, it is enough to make us want to check out of society completely. Products are resources but not necessities. Money is a human construct which social status, livelihood, and business standings have been shaped since its existence came into being. Though it may break the brain of some reading this but money is really unnecessary. Why is so much importance placed in bits of metal and paper? All the money and all the material possessions in the world mean nothing when we are born and nothing when we pass from this reality. Why on this Earth than do we make them so important in the interim?

 

Both of us would prefer not to need to use money at all, unfortunately our society doesn’t work like that. We are stuck working with what we can and leaving behind what we can do without. Due to all that, we are paring everything down as much as is possible and working to set up our lives to require as little of those papers and bits of metal as possible. We cannot do 100% without it because of taxes and the need to use it to obtain necessities we are unable to make ourselves or barter with someone.

 

The financial and emotional strain of trying to fit into a monetary societal system we clearly don’t fit into has taken its toll on us long enough. We are finally in a position where we can make the change we so desire. We can make our lives into what will make US happy. No one else is going to do it for us. For one person’s happiness is not necessarily another person’s happiness.

 

Off the grid living for us means a simpler life. It means more freedom from the financial chains our monetary based society places on us from birth. It means living the creativity that is searching for a way out of our minds. It means sitting with the goats as they are about to give birth and watching the momma and baby share that first bond. It means seeing the beauty in every bit of nature and our connection to our living planet during each part of our day and night.

 

It means curling up together on the porch with a cup of tea each and listening to the crickets and bullfrogs calling through the darkness with coyotes talking to each other in the distance. It means doing the work now to make our lives simpler as we reach our 50’s and up. We crave the distance from cities but the ability to select when we go into one and enjoy what they have to offer. We crave the smell of earth, the scent of the wind, the crispness and roughness of nature. We want to build a fortune in experiences not money. That is why we are going off the grid. We cannot obtain what we want being tied to a 30 year $250,000 mortgage, $30,000-$60,000 15 year car loan (each), growing electric/utility costs, and growing grocery costs.

 

So I have found us tax resale properties we can have paid off in 12-24 months. An area that gives us the ability to build our own home using alternative construction methods, more eco-friendly ones. And the ability to create, in as relative freedom as possible, the home we want. Everyone has their own vision for their home life, this is ours.