2014 Chronicles

This page lists the notable events of 2014. All events are listed in reverse chronological order (the January articles are at the bottom of this page).

Summary: 2014 saw the preparation of the property, and the installation of underlying infrastructure, notably the security and smart-house systems, the concrete, and the underground plumbing for the rainwater collection system.

Stump Grinding 121914

Ugly John did our stump grinding work. When I remarked that he wasn’t all that ugly, he said he looks surprisingly different if you don’t pay your bill.

Rainwater Diversion—Rear Slope Test 121914

12×28 Shed Delivery 121614

How do you squeeze a 12′ shed through a 12′ gate? Carefully

Covering the Rear Trenches 121214

The Final Pour 121014

New Waterlines 121014

Concrete Removal and Trenching 120914

Rear Awning Installation 120514

The rear patio awning was installed by Birite Aluminum (of Pensacola). They did a terrific job at a reasonable price. We liked the quality of their work (and materials) so much that we asked them to design and construct a custom carport and front patio cover. The carport would protect our vehicle (and Southern exposure of the house) from the ravages of the hot summer sun. The front patio cover was designed with a cutout that would allow the Winter sun to reach the plants on the front porch—at least for part of the day.

The Longest Day (Poured 17 yards) 120214

Stinky Joe Monitors the Cameras

Rear Patio and Shed Pad Pour 112014

East Driveway Pour (First Pour) 102414

Preparing the cabling tunnel for the Generac.
A rain storm arrived during the pour.
Click this link to see the movie!

Front Grading 112114

The lot looks very different (and the house looks small) with the landscaping and outbuildings removed (above).

Preparing Conduit Runs 111914

Bobcat Work 111314

One item we overlooked was the grading that would be needed to level the lot and channel rainwater runoff away from the house. Although minor by any standard, several days of Bobcat work was needed to get it right. And that was followed by many days of hand shoveling to move large piles of sand from one place to another.

(One of) My Biggest Mistakes

No matter how hard I try, I have a habit of putting “things” in the wrong place. For example, during grading, I piled up sand in the wrong place. When I dug the trenches, I dug them in the wrong place (not by much, but just enough to require a “do-over”). When the greenhouse arrived, I put it in the wrong place. Needless to say, it took a lot of work (mostly hand shoveling) to move those piles and trenches (and greenhouse too). Moving a hole in the ground (from one place to another) is a simple proposition—but it takes lots of hard work. Luckily, the concrete was poured in the correct location!

Where the heck is that septic tank?

Shed Removal 110514

After shed removal.

How to Get Rid of a Shed

How do you get rid of a shed? Give it away! As you can see in the photos above, some nice people with a small pickup truck dismantled the shed in large-sized pieces and hauled it away. Unfortunately, the pieces were too large for the truck, which resulted in several wild rides on the freeway, as we learned later. There were close calls, but thankfully no injuries

The Best Laid Plans (and More)

An Early Plan 2014

Every serious project begins with plans, and we had lots of ’em!

And we had a long list of wishlist items: solar, rainwater collection, security, raised beds, hydroponics tanks, patio(s), carport, outdoor kitchen, circular driveway, new windows, all tile floors, high-speed connected office, LED lighting, new fences, storm shelter, Generac, hurricane doors and covers, oversized AC, greenhouse, the list goes on.  

Let’s Build it—All!

Instead of picking and choosing; we listed all of our “wants” in priority order and decided to build them all—time and finances permitting. But first, we had to remove or relocate the plants and other “items” that were standing in the way of our progress, and then we had to prepare the land itself.

To save money, we decided to do as much of the work as possible by ourselves (have you tried to hire an electrician lately?). Little did we realize that everything we installed would come with unexpected complications and maintenance challenges. Thankfully, most of our initial designs provided flexible where flexibility was needed and they functioned as planned.

The year by year Chronicles pages of this website show the order of installation for our wishlist items (the list is not yet finished) and discusses the complications, surprises, and lessons learned.

Design Goals: Simple Operation, Robust Function, Easy Maintenance

From a design perspective, we had three goals in mind. Everything we constructed had to be simple to operate, robust in function, and easy to maintain with off-the-shelf parts. And, we built everything to last for years!

“Before” Photos

The photos below show how the property looked before the modifications began.

The original shed and chicken hutch (before removal).
The rear yard before construction begins.
A northwest view of the back of the residence (before construction begins).
The West side of the house, from the rear facing South. The new shed will come through here after a new driveway is installed.

The Backstory: Hop in the Swamp and Swim!

In my family, all journeys begin and end with the land—the soil beneath our feet. From it we rise and through it we grow. On it we prosper, and when the time comes, to it we go. Some journeys start at the beginning. Our story begins in the middle

Over time, I discovered that I had become a prepper. Not the kind that lives as a hermit in the middle of the woods, but someone who bridges the gap by repurposing all that’s readily available (like a residential lot), in order become as self-sufficient as possible. Sure, I stack SPAM (like any good prepper should), but there’s a whole lot more to it. After all, what if nothing happens? What if the world doesn’t go to hell? What if Jesus comes before we’re all toasted in a thermo-nuclear war? Who’s going to eat all that SPAM and beans?

After years of study and lots of small-scale experimentation, we felt we were ready to put into practice all that we’d learned. We were ready to go green, or at least, we were ready to take the plunge. After all, the best way to learn about ‘gators is to hop in the swamp and swim!

Before the construction begins.
Before the Modifications Begin

And so it began. After a two-year search to identify the ideal destination (using an ever-changing list of criteria), we downsized and moved to the Emerald coast of Florida. There, we purchased a 3-bedroom house on a half-acre lot and went to work. Note: The perfect destination for our needs proved to be Marianna, Florida (but Marianna was a bit too far out for our liking). See Why Florida of all places? (on the About Eden page).

And, we documented each stage of our adventure…

We waited five years to start this website. As you’ll see in the chronicles of our adventure, the surprises in that period of time far outweigh the expected outcomes.

Along the way, we’ll answer the following questions (based on our experience):

  • What’s a Barter Garden?
  • Why Florida of all places?
  • Can I produce income from my garden?
  • Can a garden satisfy the food security needs of a family?
  • What’s the best design for raised beds?
  • How much did our garden cost?
  • Do I need a greenhouse?
  • Is hydroponics practical?
  • What the heck is the miracle tree?
  • What the heck is a secret sanctuary?
  • Can I cash in on agritourism?
  • What does the future hold for self-sufficient initiatives like EBG?
  • What are the pros and cons of installing a Generac whole-house generator?

(ref: 2019_1026-About Eden-v1.docx / 2019_1020-Back Story-v3)

Jump to the Answers to these questions on the About EDEN page.