Country living, contract or do it yourself?

To me a major reason to live in the country is to take part in outdoor activities, so fencing, landscaping, pruning are all jobs I would rather do myself. On the other end are jobs that require many specialized tools, heavy equipment, significant knowledge or major ramifications if it is done incorrectly. For those I’d prefer to hire a contractor. Another consideration for contract or do it yourself is what you enjoy and what irritates you. And of course safety, I don’t want to do jobs where I have to be on the roof.

In our first 6 years we have:

Done ourselves Hired a contractor
 pellet stove repair central furnace repair
 exterior painting first story
painting above first story
 spraying weeds haying (for DWs horse)
landscaping/pruning/mowing  driveway gravel
minor plumbing major plumbing
 tractor repair/maintenance
 concrete for pole barn
barn/outbuilding repair
 septic maintenance
gutter cleaning  
Haying, concrete, gravel and toilets

Continue reading “Country living, contract or do it yourself?”

Rural internet: T-mobile with Binge On

Initial rural internet setup with USB modem and router

Having literally just bought the farm in 2011 one of the first things we needed was internet. Unfortunately due to our rural location, the options were limited. No cable or DSL. The previous owners had satellite internet service but said they weren’t particularly pleased with it. The satellite provider for our address required a long term contract and there was a charge for installation. Instead we went with cell phone internet (AT&T). Our initial setup consisted of a usb modem connected to a 3g router. It did not require a long term contract and worked well. We stuck with an AT&T 5 gb data per month plan for a year or so but our data usage was increasing, so we switched to Verizon which had plans with more data. Our setup with Verizon was similar except we had a 4G LTE usb modem connected to a 4g router that allowed use of an external antenna that was mounted outside the house. We had a faster setup and more data, and we were happy with the service, but it was also more expensive. As of 6-23-2017 Verizon lists their data only plan of 20 gb for $110 per month. Continue reading “Rural internet: T-mobile with Binge On”

Country living: The fun begins

Where do we start?

The farmhouse is from ~1930 and has had some use, but also has had many updates including insulation, a metal roof and an upstairs conversion of a bedroom to a nice master bath. The 8 acres need weeding and mowing, the fences need repair, the house interior needs painting, the barn needs painting, etc. It can be overwhelming to take on a property in the country. The solution at first: triage.

Internet and phone

A major challenge is there is no cable or DSL where we live, but there is landline phone service. I check and there is cell phone signal, but it’s weak. Its 2011 and I decide to get a 3g usb modem and a 3g router. To get cell signal in the house I use a Wilson cell signal amplifier with an external antenna. The coaxial cable is already in place as the previous owners had a cell phone amplifier. This works OK. We plug our Ooma internet phone into the 3g router and the internet speed is fast enough for the phone but it’s not ideal. But it works and we don’t have any extra cost for our home phone. As backups we each have an AT&T gophone cell phone. If we lose power we can get signal by going outside and use our cell phones. (As of 2016 we moved to T-mobile.) I set this up before we move in. Continue reading “Country living: The fun begins”

Leaving the rat race

Seattle circa 2010

I leave home about 7:40 am and head towards Interstate-5. As I get to the on-ramp the line-up has already formed. I wait my turn, alternating green lights let one car from each of two lanes enter I-5. Finally it’s my turn and I accelerate into the slow moving traffic. Everyone is careful to leave a minimal gap in front of the car so others don’t cut in front of you. I’ve been doing this for years and have an audiobook on in the car so the time isn’t wasted. This also keeps my blood pressure down when traffic comes to a crawl. Eventually I arrive at work at 8:15 am. A 35 minute drive that takes 15 minutes with no traffic.

We live in the burbs and have a large backyard but there isn’t much privacy. Four other houses face into our back yard so whenever you are outside you assume someone may be watching you as you mow, garden or try to relax. It would be great to have some privacy and we have planted some trees but that will take awhile. There is also noise pollution. In Seattle when there is a nice sunny day in the Spring, everyone gets out their power tools and there is a constant droning from a lawn mower or a leaf blower. Our next door neighbor loves power tools and talking loudly on his cordless phone on his deck. It’s time to leave the rat race. Continue reading “Leaving the rat race”