Twice a year, there's always just One Day when it all starts to come together. Today was that day. Since we started our semi-annual, seasonal migrations in March 2009, we've learned it takes a huge amount of work to prepare for these moves in October and April.
Sweetie Susun has many mottos. One of them that echoes in our brains on days like today is "Nothing Happens if Nothing Happens." Well, a lot happened today because we finally said "Game ON!" and began tackling all the tough chores we've been procrastinating to avoid.
This morning I spent several hours roto-rooting my shed so that we could break down and store everything on the ramada. Then, once that's done, we take apart the picnic table and stow it and all the other tables and chairs.
Then all the summer time "lock down" 2x4's have to be removed from under the ramada. After they are cleared and double-checked, then we have to lock down the custom flaps that hide the flotsam and jetsam under the ramada. That involves lots of bolt setting, rebar-pounding, and rebar protection. Once the ramada is truly protected, only a hard core vandal equipped with a bolt cutter and a cordless sawzall could possibly open up the crypt.
Once that was done, we tackled the re-organizing the woodshed for its annual hibernation. Sounds simple but it's far from it. It generally take almost 2 hours for this chore. Of course, once the outdoor woodlpiles are reorganized and the inside of the woodshed is feng shui, it's time to put the wood shed into lock down, too. This requires a ladder and three sizes of lag screws. Why three sizes? Well, we figure that a vandal might show up with ONE of the right sockets or wrenches but it's unlikely they would bring along an entire tool box and socket set.
The idea when protecting your property is to annoy the thieves and vandals so badly, they give up and pick greener, easier pastures elsewhere.
OK, the roto-rooting of my shed also required that we run dry our gas-power tools, each with their own dose of Sta-Bil in the fuel system. This means emptying out the fuel tanks into an evaporation pan so the fuel can dissipate into the air without polluting the ground. It also means fiddling with the machines to make sure they have Sta-Bil in the carburetor. Very nit-picky task.
Next, of course, all our outdoor signage and ornaments have come down, including the chicken wind vane. Why the wind vane? Because when you leave your house unattended for six months, we've learned it becomes a magnet for pre-adolescents (AKA: 12 year olds). Trust me, 12 year olds love to throw rocks at chicken wind vanes! So the chicken hides out all summer, safe from the urchins.
Then, of course, there are the two missing shingles. Wind doth take its toll on asphalt roof shingles, especially when said shingles are 20 years old. When we got this place back in 2009, we went to our insurance company to put it back on their ledger. The VERY FIRST question they asked as "Is the roof missing any shingles?" Well, of course we said "NO!" even though the roof was indeed missing three shingles. But we instantly and quickly learned that there must be a significant correlation between missing roof shingles and other things insurance companies don't like.
As a result, we now studiously repair and replace any missing shingles each fall and spring. That way no surprise inspection of the house while we are gone will raise any red flags with insurance inspectors. However, repairing just even two itty-bitty shingles is a substantial job that involves a VERY large, dangerous ladder and lots of esoteric guy stuff like a caulking tube of roof cement, roofing nails, and, of course, two appropriately sized matching shingles. Trying to get all this stuff to align together is like herding cats.
Today, that meant a 26 mile round trip to buy the missing $3.50 caulking tube of roof cement.
Finally, the roof was done. But then there was more--sorting out the lock down 2x4's and all their attendant hardware and the tools to affix said hardware. Once again, we use three sizes of hex head lag screws just to increase the frustration factor for someone who might think about trying to break into our place while we are gone.
Naturally, having so many different lag screw sizes also increases our own work load. It's not so bad in the fall when we return because we are just taking everything out and throwing it into a box "to be sorted later." Well, the "to be sorted later" took place today. Each of the respective lag screws has to go into its own little sandwich baggie. Meanwhile, each of the socket sets and wrenches we use has to be checked for functionality. Naturally, today one of the wrenches decided to up and say Good Bye. So, seeking out the replacement from our inventory always involves a lot of creative "seek & find" kinda fun. Luckily, after about 30 minutes of looking, we found the correct match and we're good to go for the final lock down Wednesday afternoon.
We lock this place up tighter than a drum when we leave. You would have to be one VERY creative and dedicated individual to break into our place while we are gone. It would be difficult even with a battering ram. We armor up this house like a small fortress when we leave. Everyone around here knows we do it that way. It kind of sends a message loud and clear to everybody: "This is Our Place, Don't Mess With it!"
After our disheartening vandalism on Halloween 2009 when a 12-year-old broke out most of our windows, we've learned our best defense is to "think like a 12-year-old." Those little buggers are very opportunistic creatures. If you can defeat a 12-year-old, ya dun good!
We routinely get compliments about our lock-down, armor-up mode here on the straw house. We're pretty danged proud of it. But it took a huge amount of work and money to bring it to this point and locking it down takes an equally huge amount of time, focus and attention to meticulous detail. If you forget only one of the steps, we leave your whole place wide open. Trust me, we don't do that.
Late in the day we had to spend some time messing with bird brains. The house finches and the Phoebes love to next on the top of our glu-lam beams. 19 years ago we thought that was cool. It didn't take us very long at all to realize that was not at all cool and their nests will prematurely age your house before your very eyes. And so it is we fight annual battles with red-breasted flickers and little finches and phoebes. Of course, each April that means we have to go use some sharp-edged stucco wire to protect each and every exposed nesting/roosting space.
Last year, we made some really cool cylinders out of the brutally sharp stucco wire. We even made end-caps, as well. We placed each of these cool cylinders on top of each of our glu-lams. Well, we forgot to anchor them down. One blew off completely and one got twisted at a 45-degree angle. Wouldn't you know the finches thought the stucco wire cylinder was a great place to build a nest. Bird Brains never quit thinking.
Anyway, today we got the birds beat back, too.
Happy Hour here technically doesn't begin until it's 5 o'clock. Yeah, the adage "it's five o'clock somewhere" is cool but that adage can turn you into an alcoholic. We don't drink a drop of wine until the stroke of 5 pm. Today was one of those days when we were really eager for 5 pm to roll around. But we finished up all those other chores and it still wasn't 5 pm.
So, we got out all our backpack food and totally organized it into three steel ammo cans.
YIKES, I thought this day would never quit. Thank God for Happy Hour!
Every time we do this semi-annual drill, our thoughts turn often to The Early Ones. Native cultures essentially followed climate. As climate would change, so did the camping spots for those Natives. Essentially, they were "following food." Animals also do this, too. But now that we have five full years of conducting our semi-annual migratory gig, we realize it's a VERY difficult thing to do. We think and wonder often of just how those people of Yesteryore managed to pull off such a lifestyle and still raise families and keep their culture alive and vibrant.
In a word: AMAZING!