This is The Life

We’ve had neighbors on both sides for the last week or so. To the road side (or driver’s side, for those unfamiliar with RV jargon) is a Minnesota mother with two late-teens girls. Off the other side we’ve had a two-generations family from Louisiana, shoehorned somehow into a fifth-wheel trailer.

It’s been the latter with whom we’ve enjoyed cordial, ‘cross-the-fence camaraderie — as we come and go for our own reasons, we chat casually. When they struck camp this morning, the patriarch of the clan brought over an armload of firewood they wouldn’t be using.

These easy relationships, however brief, are among the best rewards of The Campground Life.

Today was warmer and dry, breezy and cloudy. It felt to me like a good day to do something simple, productive and satisfying — like scraping week-old mud off my boots and givin’ ’em the care they deserve.

And so that’s what I did (pictured).

Pro tip: Use it up, wear it out. Make it do, or do without.

I closed the last post promising to say more about our time on The Mountain yesterday. It was another one of those perfect days, both for us and for the work. This also was the first time we’d met our backhoe guy’s wife — a blue-haired little lady, sweet as sugar, who could sling gravel with any wet-behind-the-ears kid.

At one point I thanked her for her hard work. She tilted her head to one side and feigned a forlorn look.

“He makes me do it,” she drawled, a smile creeping over her face.

With the septic tank already in the ground, the task yesterday was to dig and bed four trenches, set the leach lines and top them with more clean gravel. Eventually a line will run from the tank to a distribution box. The leach lines will fan out from there. The two-person crew actually managed to get three of the lines set yesterday, so the job is much closer to being done.

I mentioned yesterday that thinning the trees between the driveway and the road (for the septic system) had improved our future front-porch view. To illustrate, I shared this panoramic image:

The best way I knew to replicate the porch perspective was to climb up on the idle excavator’s engine housing, which put me at the same height (give or take) as the floor of our house. And since the beast was parked right near the driveway, that panorama is as close to porch-sittin’ as I could get (’til we actually have a porch, that is).

Helluva view.

Much of our drive from Harrison to The Mountain passes through rolling pasture land. Beef cattle dot the hillsides, more of them now with the arrival of spring. It shouldn’t come as a shock, then, that livestock trailers arguably are common companions on our travels.

When I say “common,” I mean that they’re freakin’ everywhere — in town as well as in more rural areas, parked at Walmart and pulled off on the shoulder at restaurants that can’t accommodate these rigs, some as long as 50 feet.

I grew up around farming, so it’s not like I’ve never shared the road with stock trailers. But that was dairy country, not so much beef. This here is a whole ‘nother world.

On US Route 62 just west of Harmon is what looks to be a large beef operation. When we pass by the farm most mornings, trucks towing stock trailers — some empty, some loaded — are stacked up in the entrance and staged by the roadside (pictured), exiting from another driveway a quarter-mile east. It’s quite the slice of rural American Life.

We had clear blue skies and long views for our morning drive yesterday. On the return trip, however, the terrain was shrouded in a thick white haze. It was reminiscent of what we saw during our visit to Montana a couple of years ago — smoke from wildfires, some many hundreds of miles away, cloaked the mountains and prairies.

The reason this time was the same, but it was intentional. While wildfire danger is low, generally in the spring of the year, the Forestry Division of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture conducts “prescribed burns.” Yesterday there were almost three dozen statewide, including in nearby Boone, Marion, Newton and Searcy counties.

Though it’s annoying to some, it’s a smart strategy to get ahead of wildfires and reduce their effects.

(Somebody should tell the People’s Republic of California, eh?)

Maybe you noticed that there were no pictures of Smudge yesterday, nor did I mention her. That’s because we dropped her off at the training facility on our way out of town and picked her up on our way back. The day was more relaxing, of course, but we missed our happy Heeler.

We can’t really complain about this stretch of weather — pleasant days, cool but not cold, overnights comfortably above freezing. Our first full Ozarkansas spring, so far, has treated us well.

That’s about to change, if only for a day.

As recently as this morning, our current location on the northeast edge of a tornadic bullseye. Tomorrow’s forecast (pictured) was dim if not dire. Since then it’s been tempered somewhat, the threat of twisters and hail lifted


We’re still staring down the barrel of thunderstorms, some severe, and winds gusting to a predicted 30mph. That’s nothing to dismiss, certainly, nor can we discount the potential that the pattern could shift back our way, but we’re feeling better about what we’re likely to see here in Harrison. Let’s just say that it’s a more RV-friendly forecast.

Our severe-weather window runs from 7am tomorrow through 3pm. Strong winds will blow into Saturday. For a week (at least) after that, it appears, we’ll have favorable conditions to continue excavation and construction on The Mountain.

For most Americans, times are tougher now than they were just a few years ago. And though having a preparedness plan is the right thing to do, it takes money to put that into place. It can be tempting, I think, to throw up your hands or, at best, short-arm your preparations.

I’d like to suggest a solution to that frustration, one that can work for everyone regardless of resources or circumstances. Because prepping is an investment in your safety, security, well-being and your very survival, it may come as no surprise that it’s a strategy that comes from the world of investing.

It’s called “dollar cost averaging.” It means establishing a set dollar amount for buying stocks, funds or other investments each month or each quarter, and it’s proven especially useful when conditions are uncertain (which they are now).

For purposes of preparedness, this is more than just sticking to a budget. Dollar-cost averaging, done with discipline, effectively can lower both overall cost and average unit cost.

Deb and I have applied this technique to everyday life many times over the years. It can work as well for buying back-stock of canned food as it does for investing in small-cap stocks. What we suggest, respectfully, is simply establishing a general “preparedness fund” (rather than setting up different buckets for each and every kind of prepping item you want to buy). Then, at an interval you determine, ask yourself two questions:

“What do I need?”

“What’s on sale?”

Approach your purchases in that order. Dollar-cost averaging can work for everything from tools to food, precious metals to ammunition, books to seeds. And don’t be afraid (every now and then) to stretch your interval a little — maybe it’ll take one more paycheck to make a smart buy.

Two other tips: Start now and don’t stop.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB

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