The Fantastica Chronicles (Day 186-196)
A brief introduction: I have been doing property caretaking (land stewardship) for many years (decades) and live a rather simple life with my dogs doing what most folks would consider to be an 'alternative minimalist lifestyle' but what I often just think of as a low-impact lifestyle where I get to homestead and spend the majority of my time alone with my dogs in the woods doing projects in the warmer months and taking some downtime during the colder months.
A little over three years ago I began sharing the adventures (misadventures) of my life via writing, videos, pictures and the occasional podcasts and although my intention was to simply share my life with some friends it undoubtedly grew into much more than that over the years and now I find myself doing what equates to a full-time job just 'sharing my life' which is not even all that glamorous or anything but hey folks seem to enjoy it so I just keep doing it!
The way that the Fantastica Chronicles came about is that I was living at another place when I started chronicling and sharing my days but eventually I wound up moving to a new place. The new place is a homestead named 'Fantastica' so I started with 'Day 1' upon my arrival here and just kept documenting my days much like I had done for the previous nine hundred and fifty-seven days at the last place that I lived.
I have mostly done that 'documenting' at Fantastica exclusively with words (and pictures) opting not to do the videos because as I learned at the last place, sharing videos over an intermittent and slow internet connection is horribly time consuming and what I often think of as an 'ulcer inducing' experience. All that said, I opted for simplicity with the documentation and have no real regrets for doing so.
The way that I look at it is that I give it all my best each day and while some stuff I write is better than others I think that for the most part I do a pretty good job at doing what I am doing which is simply 'sharing my life' as candidly as I possibly can and whatever folks get (or do not get) from it there is always the satisfaction of me doing what I set out to do... which is to simply share my life.
The Fantastica Chronicles Day 186-196!
Day 186 187 188. (TFC Long Days Of Defending The Steem Blockchain Against A Hostile Takeover & Winning)
I always knew that this whole Steem blockchain and specifically its social media aspect was the current 'Wild West' of the internet but whoa the last few weeks have shown just how 'wild' it truly is. Then just as things seemed to be settling down it took a turn into the utterly bizarre and got absolutely fucking crazy.
I do not even know where to start writing about it all or how to explain what I have been up to ever since Monday morning (Day 187 in Fantastica time) other than to say that I have put myself, my mind and all my energy into trying to help preserve said 'wild west' from a hostile takeover orchestrated by that guy I mentioned back in February that purchased Steemit Incorporated and wrongly assumed that he also purchased the Steem blockchain itself. Which he absolutely did not do but given his poor understanding of the technology and the nuances of the Steem ecosystem and more importantly its community mixed with his inability to engage or communicate with said community it has turned into quite the shitshow to put it mildly. To be blunt here, I think that in his mind he thought that he somehow owned the 'userbase' and not just some company and a webpage that most of the users did not or do not even use.
A blockchain is merely technology and the way this particular blockchain runs is in a decentralized fashion where individual users operate individual 'nodes' that run open-source software that is resistant to censorship or being controlled by a single entity. The way that the network is governed is by what we call 'Witnesses' who are voted into the top twenty positions where all 'governance' decisions are made through a method of reaching a consensus via a super majority of at least seventeen of those top twenty witnesses. The witnesses have other functions but their only really job (as I have stated in a different post) is to protect the blockchain/network which they actually do a pretty good job at even though (like any democracy) there is a good bit of squabbling along the way.
The squabbling is often the kind that any family/community is familiar with and often results more in tolerance of each other's quirks and idiosyncrasies than actual long-lasting hostilities which is not to say that there is not the occasional grudge or hurt feelings that just 'goes with the territory'. Nonetheless when a crisis or threat emerges all that stuff has a remarkable way of evaporating and folks tend to face the challenge head on with a united front. In this particular case the threat came from this new owner of Steemit Incorporated apparently colluding with several cryptocurrency exchanges to use the user funds stored on the exchanges to vote on the witnesses of the Steem blockchain. Basically the more STEEM (the actual cryptocurreny) that you have the more your vote is worth for voting for witnesses. This possibly illegally used funds (that belonged to users and not the exchanges) was used to overthrow all the top twenty witnesses in the wee hours of Monday morning.
I have woken up to a lot of weird and shocking things over the years but waking up to that really got my hackles up especially since I have found myself so deeply enmeshed and a part of the Steem community over the last few years and pretty much found a haven of folks that I actually feel a part of. Being a part of that community has helped me become a better content creator, a better communicator and all around just had a massively positive impact upon my life.
With all of that in mind those that know me know exactly how protective I can become over the things that I care about and what sort of 'mode' that sort of threat puts me into. So I found myself engaging the threat head on and doing everything within my ability to work against mitigating the threat and more or less putting myself on the front lines and opening my big mouth and saying what I have to say.
Finally late tonight I was able to just breathe for a moment and get this all typed out. I am not going to edit it and just going to share it so that I can get it off my 'to do' list for the moment.
I hope that everyone is doing well and has a wonderful day/night! I will write more tomorrow. Much Love!
Day 189-195. (TFC Thoughts On The Hostile Takeover Of The Steem Blockchain)
Note: This entry I shared as a post here.
So more or less a week ago my entire daily routine got massively disrupted by the attempted hostile takeover of the Steem blockchain. What has ensued is a pattern of erratic sleeping and eating cycles mixed with overworking myself trying to help the scenario online via social media, doing research and continually monitoring and staying informed about as much of the situation as I humanly and perhaps inhumanly can.
Along the way none of the process has been easy on me and the gnawing fear that I will lose a solid half of my monthly income if things go really wrong in the situation has not helped at all. Currently we have managed to not lose but with each day that passes our adversary in this just keeps pouring more money into the accounts that are being used to try to seize control of our community operated blockchain.
Meanwhile curation projects are suffering, content creators are suffering, investors are nervous and the entire Steem ecosystem has been thrown out of whack because the majority of users Powered Up their liquid STEEM to help bolster our chosen Witnesses that are valiantly (if not gracefully) fighting to protect the blockchain.
Tensions seem high overall from what I can tell and that is not just in regards to the microcosm of the Steem universe. It seems like the 'civilized' world itself has reached a precarious moment in history where 'everything' is on the line so to speak. Obviously these kinds of stressors are further complicating what folks (including myself) are going through as we try to regain control of our blockchain and resist becoming centralized under the control of a single individual.
The disinformation campaign has been pretty intense to say the least. Especially in regards to the community being slandered with accusations that are not just untrue but easily proven to be false. That 'falseness' is verifiable by the unalterable nature of the blockchain where information cannot be deleted, obfuscated or censored. For folks to even look into the validity of such claims is an obvious testament to the good reputation that the community as a whole possesses.
It has been pretty crazy for me to find myself using other social media platforms (mainly Twitter) to speak out not just about what is going on with this attempted hostile takeover but also trying to ask good questions in the hope of bringing out some accountability to the parties involved. I have also found myself sharing the stories of others and doing my best to onboard new users in the hopes that they will join our struggle and help us turn the tide in our favor.
What I have noticed about the social media campaign (especially on Twitter) is that the platform itself is not very conducive because keeping up with the threads of conversations, the posts (Tweets) and who is claiming what is counter intuitive to say the least and confusing and nauseating at best.
There is also the fact that posts that are made on there get deleted and that some users that have directly spoken out against some of the high profile bad actors have found themselves banned from the platform altogether. Personally I think that the censoring of the conversation on Twitter is being censored to a much larger degree than anyone is aware of via a technique known as shadow banning. For those unfamiliar with shadow banning it is basically a form of censorship where the user (or their content) is being blocked in such a way that it is not apparent to the user that it is being done. It is a dirty tactic to say the least because even if folks' make good points, ask good questions or reveal important facts those things go unseen by others and the shadow banned user often feels they are isolated and/or being ignored and simply gives up.
The irony of utilizing centralized (and highly censorship prone) social media platforms (like Twitter) to defend a decentralized (non-censored) platform like the Steem blockchain against being centralized by hostile forces... is not an irony lost upon me in the least. In other times I might even find the irony of it humorous but of late watching the censorship, watching the deletions, watching the retractions of statements, watching the spinning of false narratives (being catered to and endorsed by these same centralized platforms) just reminds me of why decentralization and censorship proof platforms are so important and any 'humorous irony' is just one more slap in the face along the way.
Putting myself on the front lines of the battle to preserve our community operated (and community governed) blockchain was a simple decision especially since I had so closely watched the scenario since it began with the purchase of Steemit Incorporated and the confusion of the purchasing party thinking that just because they bought a company that runs software on the blockchain that they also had bought the blockchain and the community that operates, maintains and uses said blockchain.
All of which shows a poor understanding of how things work and also when presented with the facts the purchaser brushed those facts aside as irrelevant and continued a narrative that heralded the destruction of the blockchain itself as a decentralized and autonomous entity (or non-entity) which to me was one hell of a red flag because combined with a total lack of real communication from the ill-informed purchaser (as well as series of conflicting statements) which all signaled to me that there was either incompetence at play, manipulative behavior at play, deception at play or a combination of those things mixed with some quite obvious bullying and ego tripping.
For those who actually know me in life you know full and well that I have little patience nor tolerance of bullies or bullying in any form and I have often put myself square in the face of such people/actions because hey lets face it I just cannot abide nor tolerate seeing folks bullied and I believe so strongly in that sentiment that I have no choice but to stand up to it and put myself square in the middle of things whilst giving 'zero fucks' for my own safety/security. The repercussions of my actions in doing so be damned because at the end (and beginning) of each day I have to live with my own choices and the very notion of somehow compromising my own integrity sickens me to the point where I just cannot abide not doing everything that I can do in confronting the bully/bullying, protect those being attacked and absorb as much of the damage myself along the way to bringing such behavior to an end.
The big problem in the current scenario is that there is a lot of money at stake in the situation and not just one person's money but many peoples, as well as the financial security of folks. There is also the income made by those who (like me) rely on the content they create generating revenue to help with 'getting by' each month. So there is assuredly a tangible and healthy amount of fear going on around the money aspect of things. Unfortunately I have seen how the involvement of said 'money' is skewing folks' perspectives and often lending to a sort of myopic tunnel vision where they wholly miss the larger picture altogether because they are so focused on either gaining money from the situation or just not losing what they currently have invested.
In my perspective just because someone pressed a few mouse clicks and transferred tons of money into their Steem account does not amount to the proverbial 'jack shit' and their often 'low effort and high gain' actions do not even remotely compare to the work of developers and content creators who have spent thousands of hours creating unique content, replying to comments and generally engaging with others on the platform. In summary of that observation I would say that (aside from the developers) the content creators by far have contributed (and invested) the most value/energy into the blockchain and they also have a clearer perspective of what is at stake because they have truly put their hard work and effort into making the community what it is today in regard to value.
What I am saying here is that anyone can dump some money into a Steem account and start voting on people and making rewards off of other folks' hard work. It is a 'no-brainer' in that regard and yeah for a few mouse clicks (compared to the hours of work a content creator puts in) the voter makes a substantial profit. Which is all fine and dandy until those same people start critiquing folks' hard work without any real perspective (or understanding) of what it takes to create said work. This sort of behavior is indicative of flawed personalities, entitlement, a lack of compassion and an over-inflated sense of what they are actually contributing to the Steem ecosystem with their 'money' and mouse clicks. Obviously this line of thinking does not apply to all developers, content creators, curators nor investors but it is meant to paint a broader picture of what I see playing out in the current community.
Personally I have received a good bit of critique on my recent posts and even if I make it clear that my pattern of recent posts is nothing like what I usually post it tends to fall on deaf ears. Lately I am much more interested in cataloging the things I find, archiving on the blockchain the things I find to be important, making observations and making some humorous stuff because people apparently need to laugh or they will explode or have some sort of meltdown. I have also been doing my best to present folks with the tools they need to onboard new users and also ease said new users and their own utilization of the underlying blockchain technology so that we can continue in the fight to preserve it.
Having been using the Steem blockchain for the past six hundred and two days I have had a hell of a lot to learn (and am still learning) and I think that something helpful that I can contribute to the scenario is to share what I have learned along the way and equally try to help get new users (and old ones) to become familiar with the system and solve some of the problems that they might encounter along the way.
I see doing all of that as a sort of 'duty' to the community at large and something that I am surprised that more people are not focusing on because without gaining new users and thus potential voters for our community elected Witnesses, the blockchain will eventually be lost because each day those attempting to take it over just keep pouring money into their efforts and the community itself has already put everything that they/we have into it and only achieved a stalemate that will eventually be overcome by the influx of outside capital no matter how much we 'wish/pray' we can win.
Back to what I was saying about my recent posting habits. Personally I have not been trying to make money with the things that I have been posting and the majority of my posts I have been setting the beneficiaries of those posts to reflect who and what I think should be making revenue from them. Admittedly a few posts I forgot to set the beneficiaries on and a few others I felt I deserved the rewards but by and large 'making money' is absent from my list of current priorities. My intention is to disseminate and preserve information and just because some folks sole 'concern' is money... I do not suffer from that affliction.
Something else that I have been doing is just editing my old posts and adding more content to them instead of making more posts. I have been doing that in part so that I can keep my updates convenient to find and not clutter my blog with lots of posts (which has happened anyway) and also just so that I can conserve bandwidth on the network and not take up 'spots' in other folks' feeds with my stuff. The way I see it is that much of what I am doing in that regard is archiving my findings/observations to the blockchain and providing an easy interface (for those paying attention) to find what I am archiving. I am sure that some folks would bad mouth me over this technique as well but it is not like I am removing any of the content in the original posts and am just adding to it. I have also been changing the image that the post preview displays as well as the title of the post just so that myself and others know that a specific post has been altered/updated.
To sum all the posting stuff up I have done my best during my six hundred and two days on Steem to give all my posts my best effort and try to only produce quality content based around things that I actually know about which are my life experiences primarily centered around homesteading, off-grid living and how to do things or what some folks call 'do it yourself' related articles. I have never been truly successful at it all but I have been incredibly consistent with making posts and archiving the 'documenting' of my life. By and large (until recent events) I have stayed within my genre as far as writing and posting goes and enjoyed the journey of doing so along the way.
Given my long track record of doing this and recently finding myself being told that I am a spammer, low effort content creator and generally being 'thrown under the bus' for my efforts seems to indicate that folks either fail to look at anything previous to my recent posts (centered around all this turmoil related to the acquisition of Steemit Incorporated) or have looked and just do not give a shit that I have a superb track record.
The only thing that I am left to wonder about from this sort of behavior is how many other content creators (that have stepped outside their usual genre or genres) are also being unfairly critiqued and/or attacked for expressing their views and ultimately why such attacks are being made in the first place because it seems to me that curators/witnesses (everyone) should be empowering content creators instead of attempting to dis-empower them.
The questions that this behavior raises in me are what exactly are the motives behind such attacks? Are the folks doing it just because they are petty jerks that can no longer maintain a facade of altruism now that their socioeconomic status has been jeopardized and their 'power' threatened? I could speculate all day on this topic but suffice it to say that I take such attacks with a dim view, am taking notes on those doing it and am generally inclined to believe that they are doing much more harm for the scenario than actual good. For those folks that are just cracking under the stress of things please just 'breathe' and remember that folks are doing their best to be supportive and lashing out at folks does not help.
Speaking of doing more harm than good. I have seen a lot of bashing, name calling and mud slinging from all sides and honestly I find this sort of behavior not just counter productive but also demeaning of the very values and ideas that this community is centered around. I think that asking good questions and presenting facts is a much stronger approach than a bunch of immature 'school yard' behavior. On the other hand I think that satire and parody in the situation gets too little attention and given the immense amount of stress the community is under that those things could help tremendously with 'lightening' the mood and presenting the opportunity to laugh a little at the ridiculously insane scenario that we find ourselves in.
On a different note. In the beginning of all this much of the discussions were being held publicly but once things started to really heat up the discussions have become 'closed door' affairs with the community being fed tidbits of what is going on or information on the scenario being completely withheld from the community. I have a lot of opinions on this matter and can draw a lot of my own not-so-flattering conclusions from it even though I understand why it is happening but the important part is that being representatives of the community and 'negotiating' (discussing) things that will affect the entire community without the avenue of community discussion nor input... is its own kind of slow poison and reeks of suspicion and questionable motives. In closing on that thought I would like to say that this sort of behavior is rapidly eroding the trust that was/is placed in our community 'movers and shakers.' If your intention is to erode that faith you are doing a good job and even if that is not your intention... you are doing one hell of a job at it.
As far as the Town Hall meetings go all that I can surmise from them is that the 'loudest' people in the room tend to dominate the conversations, not much community input during them is given credence unless it is by a large stake holder or representative/ally of a large stake holder and even people that present wonderful ideas/solutions are shouted down or ignored by those 'louder' voices because it conflicts with whatever narrative/itinerary is being pushed. This sort of 'pushing' of a narrative/itinerary does not foster constructive debate, discussion or solutions and leaves me seriously questioning the wisdom of those doing it.
I do not claim to have a bunch of solutions and can only share my perspective to the best of my ability but what I see playing out before me is ludicrous and not really a path to a winning strategy. I have done my best to do what I myself can do but I have to ask myself if it is really worth it or not to continue at this point given the actions of those in 'leadership' roles, the myopic shortsightedness of those only concerned about their money and the absolute ineptness of anyone to manage (help/guide) the broader campaign that is going on in a way that is actually productive and offers a glimmer of hope that we might actually win.
Personally I think that at this point it is better that I withdraw from being so active in things because honestly working on spring water systems, planting food and doing a bunch of other things that I generally do this time of year now that my winter downtime is approaching its end is way more important to me and going to contribute something meaningful to my life in a tangible way.
As things stand I have been spending eighteen hour (plus) days doing everything that I can to help ensure that we as a community even have a chance to successfully thwart this hostile takeover and emerge victorious and yeah that is awesome and all but it has come at a heavy cost to not just the things that I need to do each day in my own life but also to my readers and my sterling reputation among them of making posts consistently.
In other words my own scenario has grown so out of whack for what is good for me that I have to reign in my compulsion to just keep pouring myself into this affair. I will remain involved, continue to observe the situation and continue with my effort to bring in new users that might change the balance of things... but besides that I have to spend my time doing other things that contribute to improving my quality of life and further the sustainability of the homestead where I live.
I have a lot more thoughts but this summary will have to do because at this point I should probably just speak it out to an audio recording instead of painstakingly writing them out and thus creating more work for myself by having to proofread and edit them.
Finally I got this all out of my system. Ta ta for now.
Day 196. (TFC Working On A Few Springs, Burning More Brush & Watching The World Slide Towards Panic)
It is early in the morning here and although there is a bit of a chill to the crisp morning air it will hopefully warm up and turn into another beautiful day like it was yesterday because it would be nice to continue the work that I began yesterday working on a few springs.
After finishing yesterday's writing (that actually took me two days to complete) I grabbed my trusty trenching shovel and hiked down to the creek to further asses how all the recent flooding had affected the spring that I (we) had begun development on last year there and also to start digging out the silt and rocks that got washed into it and clogged the intake for the water line that I have run from it.
Honestly what I found was a bit dismaying because all the dam that was previously keeping the creek water from entering the spring water pool was totally washed away by the flooding and the sheer amount of creek water now infiltrating the pool is much more than it previously was even before creating that particular dam.
I knew that the spring being so near the creek would be problematic but since it will primarily just be for irrigation or hydro-electric use I figured that a little creek water infiltration would not be all that big of a deal. What I failed to consider was just how much the bank of a creek can change due to flooding.
I knew that silt would always be a problem at that particular spring site but I did not anticipate the movement of really large stones around the spring area itself. A little over a week ago one of my fellow homesteaders brought to my attention that a very large boulder on the bank above the main springhead/pool had moved and how that might be good because that same person had noticed a new springhead had emerged from beneath that boulder even before the flooding. When they first brought the new springhead to my attention I was rather excited because its placement in the creek bank indicated that we could possibly move some stones/rocks and find its head a little further uphill and further away from the the creek than the other springheads there.
There was one really large boulder above that new springhead that looked like it would be problematic to move because of its size but after all the flooding much of the soil and other rocks that were holding that boulder in place got eroded and the boulder shifted/slid downhill almost a foot! Yesterday when I was working on that spring area I decided to move some stones from around that boulder to see what it would take to move it the rest of the way so that I can begin the exploration/excavation behind it looking for the source of that newly emerged springhead.
Anyway, I was a little surprised to notice that just a bunch of small roots were holding the boulder in place. After carefully positioning myself where the boulder could not harm me if it moved I cut the roots lose with my shovel and the entire boulder immediately slid down hill and landed in the pool of the spring where the intake line is! Somehow it managed to miss the intake line altogether. I was unable to move the boulder further by myself so I am going to have to recruit some of my fellow homesteaders to help me get it flipped out of the way where it will replace the dam that got destroyed by the recent flooding.
I also spent some time working on that wet weather spring that I found recently and although I dug a deep hole downhill from the buried boulder (that I mentioned a few weeks ago) I did not find any water even though the soil/clay is very moist at the bottom of the meter deep hole that I dug. Failing to hit water there I went to a position uphill of the buried boulder (slightly above where I initially dug out where the wet weather springhead emerged) and started digging down in that location. Unfortunately after only digging down maybe sixteen inches I hit what appeared to be more of that same boulder so I stopped on the exploration and went down to the creek to work on that other spring.
I am going to pause in the writing of this for now and get on with my day. Hopefully I can make good progress on one or both of the springs today but whoa am I feeling achy after all of yesterday's activities!
Well, I never finished writing this yesterday because after doing stuff for the remainder of the day and getting a shower I fell asleep early so I will continue it now in the early morning hours just before the sun is fully up.
I wound up not working on moving that big boulder out of the pool of the spring near the creek because no one was available to help me with it and although I could maybe do it by myself with enough time and micro-movements (and pry bars) I do not think that it is all that wise to do so alone by the creek with no one else around especially given how the boulder is positioned and how slippery everything is. Things could just go wrong way too fast in that scenario and there I would be stuck down in the creek without any way to get help if I needed it.
Instead, I worked on digging more exploratory holes near that wet weather spring I found last month. The hole uphill that I dug the other day I merely widened out and although I tried to dig it deeper I still hit that big boulder again! The other hole that I dug was another one on the downhill side located a few feet parallel to the last hole that I dug on the downhill side. I did not get very far down on digging that hole because I hit a bunch of roots and rocks but the soil was very moist so that is a good sign. All the digging wore me out quickly and had my aching muscles from the activities the day before screaming so I did not give the digging much more effort once I hit the rocks.
Anyway, I decided to do some light duty work and built a fire to burn more of that brush that I started burning last month. Although the brush pile I was working on was much smaller I only burned half of it because it was late in the day when I started and there was a high wind advisory that was to begin right around dark so I thought it best to just burn half the pile before the wind picked up. I did not even bother trying to make more biochar with it because that is always time consuming but I did wind up with a nice pile of ashes by the time I was finished.
After all that jazz, I was feeling pretty wiped out so I got a shower (which I definitely needed even before working around a pine fire) and although I made an evening cup of espresso I immediately fell asleep after taking just one sip of it. That last bit worked out rather well because it was raining this morning and having that full cup meant that I did not have to go out in the rain to brew more.
Well, I better wrap this up and get it all edited. I am trying to get myself back on schedule with consistently posting each day and now that I am actually coming out of my winter downtime I will thankfully have more to write about! I hope that everyone is doing well and has a wonderful day/night.
Day 197. (TFC Getting Up Early & Working On Restoring The Big Spring Near The Creek All Day)
I woke up to it raining at 5:37 this morning and although part of me just wanted to go back to sleep, I instead spent some time finishing yesterday's post (that I failed to complete because I fell asleep so early) and also doing some correspondences online as well as some light reading (skimming) of the news just to get a gauge of what is going on in the world. The correspondences were assuredly much more enjoyable than anything going on in the news and overall made for a pleasant start to the day.
Eventually the rain let up and I was able to recruit one of my fellow homesteaders to help me move that boulder that had slid into the pool at the spring near the creek a few days ago. If you saw the pictures from yesterdays post you know just what we were up against and how the bank is very steep on the sides that we would need to be lifting/leveraging the boulder from. Ultimately it was a lot of small movements (with pry bars and one long black locust log) that got the boulder to the point where we could flip it towards the dam and although we indeed flipped it, it just did not get quite far enough out the pool to suit us. So we pried and leveraged it to a point where we just could not move it anymore and at that point I honestly had no idea what we were going to do from there because the bulk of the boulder was covering the majority of the pool.
At that point in things I noticed a rather large fault line running across the boulder (which was about one foot thick, five feet long and three and a half feet tall) and I thought to myself that if we could exploit that fault line that we could maybe reduce the weight of the boulder enough to pry/leverage it over the rest of the way onto the top of the dam. I started hammering away at the fault line with a short handled sledge hammer and after some mild success at widening the fault line my fellow homesteader took over with the hammer and broke some nice sized chunks of the boulder off. I then retrieved a splitting maul and we took turns using the hammer side of its head to break off the remaining stone beyond the fault line and thus reduced the boulder by enough in size that we could pry/leverage it a little more onto the dam.
We once again hit a point where we could not move the boulder any further so we again took turns with the hammer side of the splitting maul's head and broke off a swath of the boulder along its lengthwise edge. There was only small fault lines along the edge so it took a good bit more pounding to break off some large chunks but we eventually removed something like ten inches of stone on that edge. After all of that what we were left with was a much smaller boulder that at that point was roughly square in shape with all of its sides being somewhere around three feet in length and thus was much easier to get moved the rest of the way out of the pool and up onto the dam.
I know that spelling it out that way makes it sound like it was pretty easy but it was far from easy and was quite the labor intensive task even though we did most of the 'heavy lifting' with pry bars and pivot points. The entire process was a rather tricky proposition especially given how steep the bank is, how there was no good footing around the boulder and just how slippery everything was with the rain we got earlier in the day. There were a few times when we could have maybe moved, shifted or even lifted the boulder with our bare hands but its placement and the terrain just would not accommodate us doing that. To put it mildly the entire task was a bear of a job!
After the boulder was finally moved out of the way we focused on rebuilding the dam that separates the creek from the spring area, getting the majority of the creek water to stop infiltrating the pool and cleaning out the pool itself as well as the channel that drains the pool. Getting the pool to drain properly (and mostly stopping the creek water infiltration) were the most difficult parts but it was necessary to drop the water level of the pool because the volume of water in it could easily force the springheads to stop producing water and thus cause them to either go back underground or pop up somewhere else altogether.
With the big boulder out of the way I was able to start excavating some of the steep bank where I fortunately encountered a lot of clay that we were able to use (along with roots, sticks, leaves and small stones) to fill in many of the holes between the rocks that make up the dam. A lot of that stuff will undoubtedly breakdown or get washed away over time but for now it will act to help catch silt and small stones from the creek and further 'seal' the dam.
In the end we wound up getting to a point where we could open up the big orange intake pipe at the springhead and let it start draining water from the pool which worked out rather well and helped to get the water level of the pool to drop down to a point closer to what it was before all the flooding occurred. Once we got to that point I mainly worked on excavating into the bank (looking for a higher springhead behind where the boulder previously was) while my fellow homesteader worked on building up the creek side of the dam and diverting the water flowing in the creek away from the spring area altogether which worked out really well because by the time they were done there was noticeably less water colliding with (and infiltrating) the dam.
It all made for a long day's work and I was a bit surprised that it was nearly dark by the time that we finished for the day. We wound up leaving all the tools near the creek to make working on it again a bit more convenient. Hopefully I can make more progress on the excavation work once I cut some large roots out of the way and dig further into the bank. Where I was digging at is primarily a massive yellow clay bank with hints of blue clay in it so that it a really good sign and also the clay itself is incredibly handy.
Anyway, I should probably wrap this up, do the editing and whatnot because it is now early in the morning on the following day and although I got most of this typed out last night I fell asleep before I was able to finish it! I hope that everyone is doing well and has a wonderful day/night.
Day 198. (TFC Burning More Brush, Purging Some Gravity-Fed Water Lines & Doing Some Random Chores)
I woke up around four o'clock this morning and was pleasantly surprised that it was not raining (nor had it rained during the night) like the weather forecasters had predicted that it would. It was however a little bit chiller outside than it has been of late and after only being awake for a few hours doing stuff online I wound up dozing off briefly and took a short thirty minute power nap which was pretty nice considering how sore I woke up feeling.
The last several days I have assuredly gotten quite a good bit of physical activity in and I guess given how I basically dove head first into doing some rather strenuous stuff I am not quite as sore as I could be after my winter downtime. I have of course been gradually easing into being more active over the last month but I do not think that it really prepared me well for moving lots of rocks, digging a bunch with a shovel and dragging long pine branches to a fire to be burned. All the walking around I have been doing sure has added up as well because I have quite the 'healthy' ache in both my legs. I am definitely not complaining or anything and am excitedly looking forward to this wee adjustment period (that I go through every year) coming to an end and being left with the usual aches and pains that manual labor causes.
Admittedly I got off to a pretty slow start today but after helping one of my fellow homesteaders unload a new IBC tank (intermediate bulk container), four long cattle panel and some metal fence posts, I ate a delicious lunch and then hiked down to the creek where the same fellow homesteader (also the same one that has been helping me at the spring) was showing a guest what we have been doing at that spring site. By the time I got their they had already explained everything we had been doing so I did not have much to offer to the conversion other than 'wow that spring water pool is back to being crystal clear' which it is so that is pretty cool in and of itself.
There is still a tremendous amount of silt and small rocks in the spring pool that need to be cleaned out but I think that for now I may just leave it as it is because as I continue excavating into the bank I am bound to knock a lot more stuff into the pool. Something pretty cool that the same fellow homesteader has pointed out several times where I am excavating at, is that there is water dripping from several of the roots in that area. I am still unsure if that indicates that there is a springhead located up high on the bank or if it is just surface water running down from the higher terrain above it.
The ground in that area (above the excavation zone) is loamy and full of rocks that have had a lot of the dirt (and other debris) washed out from around them so it is hard to tell where that dripping water is really coming from. Ultimately the dripping water is good no matter what because even if it is just surface water it at least is helping keep everything in the area moist which is always helpful to keep a spring (or multiple springheads) flowing and helps them to be drought resistant.
I decided to take a break from doing any work that was too onerous today and wound up burning off the bottom half of that pile of pine brush that I started burning the other day. Unfortunately the bottom half of the pile was soaking wet and it took me the majority of the day to get it all burned because although the fire stayed burning the stuff just burnt incredibly slow even after I put a nice little chunk of fat lighter (what some folks call lighter knot) in the center of the fire. Come to think of it the fire probably would have gone out several time if that piece of fat lighter was not in the center of it and I was not continually raking leaves and pine needles onto the coals each time the fire burned low. I was definitely glad when the task was done because whoa was it one smoky fire!
I spent a little time today tinkering with the gravity-fed water lines that I ran last year. I was hoping to get them all flushed out (because they got filled with silt during the flood) but I only managed to get the first hundred-odd feet cleared out and flowing well. No matter what I did I could not get the next section of tubing unclogged so I just left it hooked up and hopefully overnight the water flowing into it will unclog it. I may wind up having to go down to the creek with a shop vac and suck all the silt out that way but I am hoping that I can avoid doing that. Once I get that section of water line unclogged I will have to do the same for the next section also and given that it is the last section and the one that runs uphill to near the yard of the homestead proper at least it will be easy to reach with a few extension cords so that I can suck the silt out of it with a shop vac.
At one point late in the day I was going down to the creek to check on the progress of flushing the water lines out and I wound up slipping on the nearly vertical back and falling squarely on my right side and mostly on my forearm. Amazingly I did not break the bones in my forearm because when I landed it collided with the edge of a wide rock jutting out of the bank. It gave me one heck of a scrape though and although it is sore and surely bruised things could definitely be worse!
Anyway, I am pretty wiped out at this point and although it is just now approaching dark outside I think that I will fall asleep before I can manage to get this edited. It feels good being active again doing stuff and all but whoa these long days of working on stuff have been taking quite the toll on me! I hope that everyone is doing well and has a wonderful day/night.
This week's Fantastica Chronicles includes more than the seven days that I usually include in them because last week I did not share them due to everything going on with the Steem hostile takeover and me not writing much each day about my homesteading adventures. I did however write plenty of other things during that time and I will list a few of them below.