Bread Baking Day

4 loaves of bread
4 loaves of bread

Today is bread baking day at the Woelks in Elk. Part of learning to live more simply for me is to cook almost all of our food ourselves. This includes basics like homemade bread. Just about every other week I make a batch of bread up.

After these loaves cool, I wrap them in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and place them in the freezer. When we thaw out a loaf, I set it on the counter and make sure we eat it before the week is out

No Preservatives

There are some things that I did not know about fresh bread. Store-bought bread lasts 2 or more weeks sitting in its bag on the counter. But, there are no preservatives in homemade bread so it does not last even a whole week on the counter. When it decides to mold it is a really fast transformation. Really, quite amazing to see, like a science experiment in the kitchen.

You can not store freshly baked bread in a refrigerator unless you like bread that really resembles croutons. Hard as a rock. The fridge and fresh bread are not friends as far as I am concerned.

This favorite recipe is a 4 loaf mix that starts with 14 cups of flour. It is simple bread that I have never had anyone complain about. This same recipe can instead make either a large pan or two 9×12 cake pans of cinnamon rolls and 2 loaves of bread.

If we are wanting dinner rolls this recipe makes four 9×12 pans of dinner rolls that can be frozen too. Or, sometimes I just roll them into golfball size balls of dough and place them on a cookie sheet in the freezer till they are frozen. Then they are easy to bag and keep in the freezer. This is really handy because we can use as many as we feel like. Taken straight from the freezer, we let them thaw out and raise in a greased baking pan. Then bake in the oven right before dinner. People think you slaved all day over dinner.

Oh Say Can You See?

upper side of property
upper side of property


Oh Say Can You See?

How did those surveyors back in Lewis & Clarks time do this mapping of the land?

How do you map out the lines between the property corner markers when you can’t see where the other end is?  We amateurs began with walking as straight as possible, using a chain saw to clear a “best-guess” path. Planting rebar posts with flags on the hilltops and tying yellow flags in the trees, so we can see. Hours of cutting bush and dead-fall tree trunks, stacking the resulting brush in piles to shred later. So much fun! Not!

wild flower
What wildflower is this?

Upper side of the property…

Fire Breaks

Finally, we are able to take bailing twine and stretch it out to see where our “straight-line” should be. We discover that we were off (way-off) as the twine line goes into a zig zag pattern, turning as it hits trees along the way. Dang, we must have walked the line hundreds of times before we finally got a clear path on the upper slope of the property. We ended up clearing a great “fire break” by the time we got the line straight between those two property corners. Brush is a tenacious thing to conquer.

Clearing the worst area first makes the sides and front of our property seem easier. With the brush removed and the line set, we now only have to dig a 2″ deep ditch to set the wire in, placing flags at 12′ apart on it. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

Remember those muscles in your hands, arms and between the shoulder blades on the back? We have 10 acres here with four sides 660 feet long. Spend a day swinging a mallot (I can’t) to dig a 2 inch deep ditch along one side of the land and you will definitely remember these muscles too!

Next, we look forward to retraining the dogs on where they can go without getting shocked  by their collars. We can anticipate walking the border with them until they learn.

Who prayed that we would get in shape this year?

Stop it, whoever you are!!!

Where, Oh Where?

south border Pete
Pete clearing the south border

Where, oh where did that marker go? Oh, Where on earth did it go? As this project gets more and more INTERESTING we are finding that not all survey markers are created equal.

Getting Fit

It must be time for our legs to get into hiking shape. After the intense medical stuff last year for me, this type of work seems really challenging to me. We used our GPS and phone apps as we clamored over boulders and through brush trying to find the forth little metal stake.  Chain saw in hand. But, we encountered problems with the trees blocking access to the satellites. Where is that fourth marker?

Multiple days of sweating were followed by us calling our neighbor to  help us locate our shared marker. He walked us right to it, leaving both of us feeling quite stupid right then.

As you can see, this marker was a unique hidden little bugger. What does a land surveyor do when he can’t find any ground to plant a stake in. Why, of course he puts a small nail in the boulder formation, then marks it with a piece of rebar at the base of the rocks. Um Huh. Unfortunately, over the years layers of moss and forest debris accumulate on the boulder making it virtually impossible to see the little nail in the rock.

I’ll be sure to get a picture of that little bugger for the next post.

Underground Dog Fence

NE corner
North East Corner survey marker

We are installing an underground dog fence for Max and Hurley to be able to roam the full property (10 acres).  It took us a while to be able to save enough to buy the system. After we finish, (if we survive the installation) we are hoping the dogs will love being able to run the whole property instead of just a 90 ft diameter around the house. Above is our first corner marker.


Ha Ha! We made the mistake of assuming this dog fence project would be an easy 1 or 2-week project! A couple of months later, we are getting it done and hoping one more week will have the line buried and functioning. Really, not so easy peasy at all.

Isn’t this a great idea?

NW corner
Northwest corner
NW corner marker
Marker NW corner

Here is our second corner marker located. They are not that obvious to find, are they? Our process started with the land survey corner markers on the Northside. This is where we have cleared the brush previously, so it seems pretty straightforward. But, I’m thinking that the man upstairs let this be the first side so that we should not give up when it got rough because so much was already done. The search here isn’t too bad because our electrical line is buried close to this property line.  Luckily, we already cleared this side and the front of the property when we built the house.

dog fence road
dog fence road frontage

Three corners down, one to go.

A search & rescue event begins for us as we attempt to locate the fourth survey marker. It is located on the roughest steep ravines of the property, the southeast side. The property is a virtual rain forest with ferns on the bottom southwest side morphing into quite a steep slope with some really great rock formations.

Wow! The adventure has really begun!