Bob Gallamore

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since Mar 03, 2019
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Just a couple crazy post middle age people building a homestead in the woods.
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Recent posts by Bob Gallamore

I would NOT want to be a moderator on a site like this!  Many people feel very passionately about a topic and, unfortunately, seem so invested in the topic that anything said that doesn't agree with their view comes across as a personal attack.  I came here to learn, and I came here to share some of the things I learn along the way.  I've had people post responses that were borderline condescending.  I've also had responses that pretty much echoed what I said, the responder just didn't think I worded it "right".  While both can be aggravating and even discouraging, I shrug them off and press on.  Not everyone has the ability to shrug things off.  I have a younger sister who at age 55 is as likely to be driven to tears by people's words as she was when she was 5.  

IMHO, the anonymity of the internet leads to some poor behavior.  Nobody here knows me.  I highly doubt I will ever run into any Permies while out and about town.  I could say whatever I want, however I want, be as hateful as I want, and the only consequence would be getting blocked.  If I behaved that way in my small town, I'd be ostracized, if not poked in the nose!  There is so much ugly in the world.  If it is such a struggle to be nice and you resent the idea that you are being asked to be nice to people, then maybe you need to do some self examination.  

A wise man once told me that if the worst someone can say about him is that he was too nice, he could live with that just fine.
Budgeting and keeping track of spending is a biggie.  We currently have to travel to our property to work on getting it ready for us to move out there.  We were buying sandwiches and chips to take out for lunch, then stopping somewhere for dinner on the way home as a "reward" for our hard work.  When we were doing our quarterly review, we realized that we were spending over $40 per work day on food!  Now we take a salad with diced chicken breast for lunch and either wait until we get home to cook dinner or grill something before we leave.  That reduced our food cost for each workday from $40 to <$10.  That lets us put an additional $180 away per month.  That can buy a lot of building materials over a years time.

Having money set aside for life's surprises is huge.  Having cash to cover an expense instead of putting it on a credit card makes a big difference.
3 years ago
I don't go real fancy on my spreadsheets, but I certainly use them.  They keep me from forgetting important things.  For example, I have an overall project list with priorities, projected start and completion dates.  Nice thing about spreadsheets is you can change priorities and sort to get them in sequential order.  Beyond a list of projects, I usually develop a list for each project.  I like to leave a blank line between each step so I can add things in between as things come up.  Often times I'm pulled away from a project because of work or weather.  I can always refer back to the spreadsheet to know where I am on the project, what needs to be done next, and any comments or notes to make sure I have the right materials and tools.

We are preparing our property to move out in a travel trailer while we complete our house build.  I created a spreadsheet with steps needed, then printed it out and posted it on our message wall.  My wife and I were able to go over it and make a few changes.  The whole idea seemed so daunting to her, but when she saw it in a spreadsheet and was able to see the steps needed and the things in process or already completed it really helped give her confidence this is doable.

I also use spreadsheets for packing lists and checklists.  For example, several times we ended up driving over an hour from our current residence to our property and realize that we forgot a key item.  My spreadsheet checklist put an end to that issue.

Good thread, and very timely.  It is so easy to look at a long list and feel so overwhelmed that you get analysis paralysis.  Learning to prioritize can relieve that.
3 years ago
If you use the leaves whole the flat surfaces will stick together and clump badly.  If the leaves are broken up they don't stick together so badly.  I think the key is that wood shavings absorb water quite readily while whole leaves tend to she water.  My observation is that even when leaves stick together with a lot of moisture between them, there isn't much moisture in the leaves unless they have been down and are breaking down.  You might be ok with forest duff since it is made of leaves that are pretty far along in the process of decay, but stay away from freshly raked leaves, even if they are broken up by some method.

Either way, I'd give it a shot.  If it worked, then I would keep doing it.  If it didn't, then try something else.  Just my .03 worth.
3 years ago
We are going to move out onto our wooded property in about 3 months.  We will be living in a travel trailer while we build our house.  Most of our efforts will be focused on getting the house built and ready to move in, but this isn't going to happen overnight.  As a part of clearing trees to make room for the house, garage, and drive, we also cleared an area of some leaning trees that posed a potential threat to the house.  This area has a southern exposure and gets a lot of sun during the day from around 7:30 AM until around 4:30 PM.  About that time it becomes increasingly shaded.  Since the entire acreage is raw woods that hasn't been touched in about 60 years, there is no shortage of leaves and fallen trees.  Currently there is a 6-12" layer of dark, loose, spongy organic matter built up on top of the clay sand loam underneath.  Anywhere the ground is exposed it is a matter of weeks before native grasses and plants start sprouting.  So far we have:

1.  Created a compost area where we have been piling leaves during the clearing process.  After the first few months of clearing I discovered Permies and haven't burned any leaves since.  We have been piling them in a compost heap, along with grass and greenery cut down before it went to seed.  Every couple weeks I dump in coffee grounds and vegetable scraps, then turn it.

2.  Selected an area to build hugulkulture mounds in a horseshoe shape.

3.  Began digging up the top layer of organic matter down to the the sandy clay layer.  I'm depositing this on a tarp and keeping it covered to put on top of the mounds.

4.  Cut several down trees in various states of decomposition and started moving them to the area I've dug out.

5.  Made piles of various size materials from trees we've had to cut down and dead fall.  Lots and lots of dead fall!

My plan is that once I get the first layer of larger tree trunks around 12-15" in diameter laid out (exclusively deadfall in varying stages of decay), I will cover with a layer of the compost we have been working on for the past year.  Next will come a layer of wood around 4-6" in diameter.  I don't think I'll have enough composted/mulched leaves left to cover this second layer, so I may have to have some topsoil brought in.  After that I'll start piling on brush and branches from topping trees, followed by an overall covering of soil.  

Since the work we are doing now is basically prepping for garden that won't be planted until 2021, would it be better to purchase soil or keep raking and piling leaves to break down?  I can put down the first layer of logs, then fill between them with the compost/mulch I have now and wait until I have more stuff ready to begin the next layer.  I doubt it will hurt anything to leave my piles of brush and branches exposed until I have more material to cover them.  This spring we are going to plant some herbs, tomatoes, and peppers inside the horseshoe area but don't plan on a big garden.  When we aren't working we want to put our time into building our cordwood home so we can get out of the travel trailer.

As long as we live here we don't plan on burning any of the leaves we rake off the ground.  They are too valuable as mulch and compost.
3 years ago
After thinking on it for over a year, we finally arrived at Serenity Hill, because that is what we find there.  When we move out there this spring I'm putting up a gate across the drive.  Above it is going to be a Serenity Hill sign made from branches.
3 years ago
We are developing our homestead using permaculture principles and practices.  I have a compact tractor that I'll be using at times, so I won't be eliminating the use of petroleum.  However, by growing as much of my own produce, eggs, and meat as possible I will be eliminating the use of countless gallons of petroleum products that would be used were I still buying all those items from the store.  Multiply that by having 20 people I know do the same thing and the dent gets even larger.

I don't know what to call a large scale permaculture "area"  When I hear the word "farm" I immediately visualize my grandfathers' acreage with row after row of the same plant of the same height.  I also remember being told to stay away from the fields and not play near them because they just got sprayed.  So to me "permaculture farm" is an oxymoron based on what the word "farm" came to mean to me during my formative years.  
3 years ago

carla beemer wrote:I totally get not wanting to buy stuff just to get a good rating on ebay. If you engage in monetary spending, though, chances are you will find things there you would normally buy. I have bought many used and unused parts to keep my 1987 toyota truck alive. I have bought very nice used wool and cashmere sweaters to give at holiday time for less than $20. I bought a package of eight 3M water system filters at a fraction of what they cost at Home Depot. I have bought lots of fabric, vintage and not, at much less than what I would pay at Joannes. On and on. Browse the categories of stuff you buy anyway and you may be surprised how quickly you can boost your ratings without spending extra money (but watch the shipping costs!). Good Luck!

All that said, I really like using craigslist, especially since I live in a small town and it’s very easy to meet people in commonly visited public places.

I've bought parts for more than one used vehicle off eBay.  My wife jokes that I'm the anti-Radar.  He was shipping a jeep home one box at a time, I'm building a truck one box at a time.  If you live in a small market area, eBay opens up possibilities from sellers and buyers that you would never find with Craigslist and FB Marketplace.  Stay informed, know the value of things, and don't jump at things that sound too good to be true and you will be ok.  My wife has many really nice designer label clothes that I bought for her on eBay for less than Walmart prices.  And I've purchased some very nice vintage timber framing tools on eBay at very reasonable prices.
I've sold lots of stuff on eBay.  It is a good place for specialized items because you have a much bigger pool of buyers available.  I sold a lot of model railroad stuff a couple years ago and had good results.

One of the responders to this thread brings up a very good point about selling on eBay.  I have almost 900 individual feedbacks on my account, mostly from buying (oops), but quite a few from selling.  It is very rare that there is only one of something on eBay, and I typically buy from the person with the highest number of feedback ratings and the highest rating percentage.  Someone with 5 feedbacks may be selling something for a little less, but I'll buy from the person with the higher rating.  It has worked out well so far because I've only had 1 bad experience in over 20 years.  Best of luck.
Best of luck Tara.  You've found a good place for sensible advice.  We are both over 60.  I have back and neck issues.  My wife has had both hips replaced, colon cancer, and now uterine cancer.  We love the rugged hills of the Ozarks, but decided that with our age and physical issues it made more sense to look for wooded land that had gentle hills instead of steep hills.  Took a while, but we found it.

Its good that you are reaching out and seeking to learn.  Use the time between now and when you get a place to learn as much as you can.  In the process of learning about the life you want and the skills you will need, you will learn a lot about yourself.  If you haven't done it already, make a list of what you want in a place and what you want to do with your place.  As you learn, don't be afraid to amend that list.  This will give you a starting point to decide if a place is right for you.  From things you said in your original post, it sounds like you are on a journey of self discovery and fulfillment on your own terms.  It won't always be easy, but it will be rewarding.  

Along the way you will come across a lot of people who say you are crazy or you can't do it.  If those people aren't doing what you are seeking to do, then take what they say with a grain of salt.  Look to those who are doing what you want for advice.  Instead of focusing on the reasons not to do something, focus on the reasons to do it.  And if you do decide to buy an RV and travel around looking for a place, you wouldn't be the first to do it.  In fact, we are going to move out to our place and stay in a travel trailer this spring while we build our house.
3 years ago