Saturday, January 21, 2006

Cartography 101

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I talk about my place a lot, "here's a dead tree, here's my pond, here's a tree with under..." . You get the picture.

Or do you?

I was sitting here feeling useless, because yesterday's surgery on my right shoulder came with instructions not to lift anything.

EVERYTHING I do around here involves lifting...feed bags, remodeling, planting, taking out the trash, chainsawing, machete swinging, moving the chicken tractor, ...not to mention lifting weights which I actually enjoy. Arghhhh!

So, I was sitting here grumbling to myself when it occured to me that a map of this place might be a helpful post.

On the map above, all of the neighboring land is composed of large tracts of similar oak forest with a little pasture thrown in behind us. The effect is that we live in a much larger forest than we own. Nice.

The map is not to scale ( the barn is only 12 x 16...not bigger than our house) and as soon as I scanned it I realized I had left off a few things.

Here's some info about what you see on the map:

Fish Pond: Long and skinny and at the front of the property. Invisible from the road in the summer, slightly visible through winter's bare trees up front. The swamp at the south end is willow and cypress.

Frog Pond: My buddy Billy dug this for me. It's probably 10 feet in diameter and fishless on's for the amphibians.

Driveway: Not labeled, but you knew. It is just a sand track, bumpy and ever changing.

House: Small by current standards, cozy by mine. It's got a porch that wraps around 1/2 of it and is sided with western red cedar...which needs restaining currently. It is invisible from the road and all adjoining property. Privacy. There's a molded concrete stone walkway leading out from the front door.

Well: 42 feet deep 4 inch well under a large pump house I built.

Garden/Pig/Chickens: This runs north-south with the FFA pigs living at the south end, then garden beds, blueberry patch, and stationary chickens. Other chickens live in the moveable chicken tractor.

Barn: We built this as soon as we got here. It was a plan from Popular Mechanics and is 12 x 16 feet on a concrete slab. It has a loft for storage above and is a crowded wood shop below. This is where I carve.

Fishing/Boat Gear Shed: This is a tall, skinny shed I built just for water, boating, surfboards, dive masks, life jackets.

Range: I called the sheriff, "Johnny, can I legally build a shooting range on my 10 acres?" The answer, yes. So I started digging. Visitors laughed and then asked incredulously, " You dug that by hand?" The range is excavated so the shooter is below grade and the excavated dirt is piled as a safe backstop. I shoot lead free ammo when possible and dig out the real lead after shooting traditional stuff. This is easier than it sounds because my bullets all go into a very small group.

Planted Pines: These were planted in the midst of Florida's worst drought in decades...remember the fires of '98? Those that survived that tough year are growing nicely now. Best dog Ranger is buried there.

Low Spot: This corner slopes and will hold water after tropical storms, etc. I want to get Billy and his backhoe in there to scrape out a little pond for the critters to use.

Palm/Oak Forest: There is an abundance of sabal palm here and the effect is very old Florida tropical. I love walking through there.

I am currently doing controlled grass burns in the area near the pigs where it says "OPEN". I have some photos of that for another post.

I left off my recirculating aquaculture tank which is a 750 gallon circular tank behind the fishing gear shed. It is currently inactive, but I hope to do some replumbing and start raising fish again. I raised Tilapia a few years ago.

There it is folks, FC's homestead.


Rexroth's Daughter said...

Fantastic. What a great map of your place. Now I can actually visualize the direction you're heading in when you're going down to the pond. How close to the house does that driveway go? It looks like you have a bit of a walk in.

Now, what will you do next to keep from using that shoulder?

Hope you're recovering well and feeling fine.

roger said...

nice sketch. did you lift a finger to draw it? watch that. impatient recuperation goes along with stoic secrecy.

about the digging for the range--it is amazing what one stubborn human using the ancient technology of a shovel can do. and "This is easier than it sounds because my bullets all go into a very small group." LOL. proud of our marksmanship are we? well good.


Floridacracker said...

The driveway ends in a kind of nebulous parking area that is probably 50 feet from the door. Not ideal with groceries, but we have lots of helping hands. Our plan is to bring it up closer to the north side of the house with a covered parking area. It's on my to do list...

You caught me...pride goeth before a fall tho, so I'd better be careful. I know what you mean about impatient the way how is your back?

iehsm = belief in an all powerful E

swamp4me said...

Hehe, DPR beat me to the punch. I was going to comment on that subtle little bragging, too. :)

Floridacracker said...

Moi? I was just pointing out how efficient I was ;)

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Thanks, Cracker. That was very informative and, of course, interesting.

doubleknot said...

My daughter found your blog for me and I just love it. Born in Florida but have only lived here since 1975. Used to live on a nice five acres with assorted animals and wild life - miss it but life has taken me to the city to live now.
Hope your shoulder is better. My room mate faces surgery on a torn rotor cup in his shoulder in a few weeks - he had an accident at work and fractured his pelvis and hurt his shoulder and ribs. He is healing up nicely but for a man who is used to working hard staying at home is hard. He is also a born in Florida cracker.
I'll be looking in on your blog. Thanks for writting it.

Floridacracker said...

It's always good to get your bearings.

Thank you for the kind words. I'm glad you like PureFlorida and really appreciate the comments. I hope your room mate heals quickly. Take care.

Deb said...

Nice map! It adds meaning to your posts because now I can visualize things a little.

Of course, I am interested in your fish pond an your aquaculture attempts. I have found very little information on aquaculture at the homestead level. I am waiting to see if the crappies I threw into our pond survive the winter.

The MacBean Gene said...

Now that's what I call a map. North Florida meets Picasso.
Up here wells go about 4 to 6 hundred feet.
By the way my sister and her husband live outside of Lake Butler towards Alachua (I think I spelled that right), anywhere close to you?

Floridacracker said...

I LOVE fish...I have since I was a little kid. Fish and crustacean aquaculture are high interest topics for me. My recirculating tilapia operation was quite Rube Goldbergian, but it worked really well with Tilapia...a forgiving fish that tolerates crowding and less than ideal conditions. It's been idle for a little while. When I get it replumbed and running I will post it. I know of one good book for the backyard fish farmer, Home Aquaculture by the Rodale Institute. A little dated, but good info.

Lake Butler is not too far. Alachua is even closer. As for wells, I would hate to pay for a 400 foot well....ouch!

Rurality said...

Cool! Love the map.

If you get really bored you can put it on a google map and put little pins in it for the points of interest... :)

Floridacracker said...

Good idea...not quite there yet!

vicki said...

I like this! You need to scan a copy and hide it somewhere, as you hide other time capsule type items. I smiled at the mention of the moveable chicken tractor and the pigs because I remember previous posts. This looks like a fine homestead, always in progress. How near is your nearest neighbor? Clearly, a good enough distance away.

So, I have a question (probably dumb): Do you just catch frogs and amphibians and put them in the pond and they stay? They don't hop away? You know, I'm working on my anole farm over at my place so I'm interested in this sort of thing...

Floridacracker said...

Actually, that is a great idea about the map and time capsule. I'll do it.

The frog pond is readily colonized by the frogs and hopefully the tiger salamanders. As soon as it was dug, the young bullfrogs moved in. They can hang out without the threat of the fish in the big pond. They come and go as they please.
Now you may need some tiny fences for your anole ranch.