firewood rounds

Building on Raw Land: Power and Water

Slash pile burning

We are actively developing 30 acres of land in Northeast Washington… cleaning up decades of forest and logging debris, working to reclaim the health of existing woodlands, and building our dream house.

The next steps in the process for us, which we had hoped would happen sooner (but were delayed because of the virus reductions in services), were getting power and water fully functioning on the property.

While we waited for things to come together for water and power, we decided to get a jump start on cleaning up our forest — especially around the future build site and future garden location.

One of our main goals of owning this property is taking care of the forest — being good stewards to the land. In this phase, our tasks included taking down some dead and damaged mature trees and thinning out (called pre-commercial thinning, PCT) some amazing patches of regenerated younger trees.

The result from all this work includes several large piles of firewood rounds for splitting and burning the winter after this winter (so that the rounds can dry). It also resulted in quite a lot of slash (tree limbs), which we burned over several days — taking advantage of the wet conditions during May that has extended the burn season.

Other goals for the property include recreation (via trail development) and wildlife enhancements. We have created a detailed Forest Management Plan, with financial assistance from a cost-share program with the WA-DNR.

We have now dedicated/worked more than 100 hours related to forest management since we have been living on the property.

Installing 3,000-gallon reservoirs

Then we finally got word that the local concrete company was back up to speed constructing reservoirs — and that our two 3,000-gallon reservoirs would be delivered — and the folks at Fogle quickly got to work prepping the site for the twin reservoirs and trenching lines between to the wells — and power.

Why two 3,000-gallon reservoirs you might ask — as many of our friends have. First, when you have a low-producing well (or wells, in our case), you want to have a reserve in place so that you can wash, shower, and run the dishwasher without worrying. Second, when you live on the top of a hill in a wildfire-prone area, you want to have a good supply of water at all times.

As luck would have it, the day the reservoirs were delivered was overcast and rainy — which meant some pretty muddy conditions. By the end of the second day, the reservoirs were installed and all lines connected to a series of pump controls… and all tested properly. The downside was that with the work completed, we lost our temporary water connection — and we would not have any more water until the power was completed on the property.

Avista power installed

While we contemplated a weekend getaway, if necessary so that we could have access to water and showers, Avista (our power supplier) showed up the very next morning, running the cable, installing the transformer, and energizing our system!

Our driveway was already pretty torn up from the reservoir installation, and the Avista work added to the ruts, but we did not care as the roadway is just dirt right now and will most likely chewed up a few more times before all our construction-related projects are finished.

In just a few short hours, we had power — which meant we could start our wells pumping into the reservoirs AND that we could plug our travel trailer into our 30 amp plug on our power station. No more generators!

The final success came the next day — after giving our wells about 24 hours to pump into the reservoirs, we turned on our frost-free faucet and we again had our wonderful well water to fill our fresh tank in the trailer.

Amazingly, the inspector came by the same day and approved the installation of the reservoirs, so Fogle will come back in a few days and fill all the trenches and do a little repair on the driveway, finishing up their work for now.

We ended the week with water and power — two key elements of the planned infrastructure. Next up we need to finally nail down the septic plans. (We have been approved for a system, but will dig a few more test holes to find the best location for the drain field.)

We also learned that our building permit was approved by the county — after a long wait, partly due to the virus — so that we should be ready to break ground in June, as planned.

While waiting for the septic and the beginning of construction, we will continue with small projects, as well as continuing with our forest management practices.

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