Buying a property was a big step, and one that happened rather quickly. Turning that property into a homestead, well, that involved (and still involves) a million little steps and a whole lot of time.
When the property, here in West Virginia, was purchased, my parents were living in North Carolina. My family and both of my siblings were living in northern Ohio. None of us had jobs here.
The property was 100% wooded. There were no houses or buildings, no electric, and no running water or septic. The actual property begins over half a mile from the road. The legal right of way to the property was impassable.
Thankfully, there is another way into the property. There is a tower road that comes through the neighbors property to our property line. From that line we were able to drive further into the property on old logging roads, as long as the weather was dry. If it was wet, it was a big old mess. The soil here is predominantly clay. Wet packed clay is slicker than ice. So if your tires didn't get stuck in the mud, they just spun and slid all over the place. I speak from experience.
Using that way in, we came when we could to work on making this place liveable. A permanent campsite was established. We had tarped tents and cook stoves, and all the camping gear. A "composting toilet" was established. It consisted of a five gallon bucket with the end cut off, set over a small hole in the ground. For your comfort, a toilet seat sat on the top of the bucket. The trick was to sit on the seat without it sliding off. After you did your business with the bucket, you threw a little dirt on top. The bucket was moved every few days.
The tasks at hand were getting the driveway open, and clearing trees for electric lines and houses. My parents schedule was such that they had a ten days off at a time each month. They spent them here. My brothers came down to help some. We came down to help some.
In my mind, it was a long process. My first thought was that two full summers were spent camping and working before anyone lived here. But thinking through it, and marking it the way any young mother remembers those blurred years, by the births of her children, I realized that it really was a relatively quick process. The dates on the pictures confirmed it.
The property was purchased in the summer of 2004. My parents were looking to move as soon as possible. They began looking for jobs here, and put the house they still owned in Ohio on the market. We were not really expecting to move for some time. We browsed through want ads, but didn't make a big effort.
There is a Toyota manufacturing plant near here. It is considered by many as the place to work in this area. Though I understand that the hiring practices have changed, at the time hiring started through a temp service and required a lengthy process of skill testing. My mom made it through the entire process, and she was near the top of the waiting list. Their house in Ohio sold, and they bought a trailer in West Virginia.
The trailer was in a trailer park not far from here. The plan was to live in the trailer park while getting the right away ready, get a spot for the house ready, move the trailer, and keep working from there. Dad hired some to work on the front part of the driveway, but he wasn't satisfied with outcome. True to what Dad always said, "If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself." He began buying equipment for the driveway, and other tasks.
|This is the driveway in February 2005.|
Dad and his equipment. He bought a lot of it off eBay. It was all old. He got it all for dirt cheap. Sometimes I think he spent more time repairing it than using it. In the long run, it did take more time, but the cost was far less than hiring the work done. Besides, he got to do it his way, which of course was the right way.
Right before my parents moved here, the temporary agency pulled the rug out from under them. They decided not to hire Mom for Toyota because of carpal tunnel. My parents moved anyway, and luckily Mom was able to find a job at Appalachian Electric Power shortly after. That was not the end of the surprises for the future residents of the 100 Acre Wood. 2005 still had a few things to show us.
To be continued. . .