Ever and Always
Chapter 18: A Walk in the Park July 2022
Copyright© 2015 by Banadin
They returned to Chattanooga for the closing on both properties on Tuesday July 19, 2022. They had Ricks 4Runner drive them as they now had to move two cars to Tennessee. They read and napped most of the way.
The closings took place in the Century Twenty One offices in Chattanooga. Rick and Marsha had been told what checks they needed to bring. They arranged to pick them up at the Chattanooga BB&T earlier that day. The signings were back to back so both Rick and Marsha were both suffering from writer's cramp.
Rick had contacted the TVA and explained what he wanted to do with a micro-hydroelectric generator. He was amazed at how friendly and helpful they were, as they explained the red tape, he would be drowning in.
They had the flow and drop rates for every piece of moving water in the area. He was told that King Creek would support a generator, but that it would require a pond with a dam. This complicated things as he was now changing the nature of the beast.
He would have to submit engineering studies that modeled his pond and dam and its resultant outflow. Of course, there would have to be an environmental impact study done. These had to be submitted to the TVA and the Army Corp of Engineers.
They did not want him to cause any flooding or change the area and kill some endangered critter. Never once was it said that the TVA might not want any competition in generating electricity.
It didn't really matter what Rick may have thought of the regulations, it wasn't that he had any choices.
He explained his thinking to Marsha, "I am going to proceed with the permit applications even knowing that they will take several years. At the same time, I think we should dual source our power and put up a solar farm. I want to be off the grid as soon as we can."
Marsha was a little reluctant about solar power until her main objection was answered. She didn't like the idea of all those panels disturbing the nice roof line of the house she envisioned.
Once Rick understood this, he suggested the panels be ground mounted, and have a slight rise between them and the house, so they wouldn't be a distraction.
Now all they had to do was go out to their property and select a site. Since the day was hot, they wore polo shirts, walking shorts and tennis shoes. Their drive out to the farm was punctuated with talk of what they wanted in a house and out buildings.
It was now King Creek Farm instead of King Creek Ranch. Marsha finally convinced Rick that it might appear uppity to their new neighbors. Rick backed down but didn't tell Marsha that he had remembered the King Ranch in Texas, which had been and still might be the largest ranch in the United States. He didn't want to look like he was horning in on their name.
They went up the drive way of the farm bordered by King Creek. Once they got to the old farm house/shooting clubhouse they got out and looked the area over. The house was almost a half mile off the main road.
Rick said, "I think we should build more to the center of the property so let's head north and see what's there."
"I agree," replied Marsha.
That is when their lesson began. This was mountain country. They walked north about half an hour. It wasn't a straight line. There were foot hills and bramble bushes that had to be circled around.
Their bodies were now sixty year olds, but out of shape sixty year olds. They hadn't any real exercise in almost thirty years. They came to a staggered stop at the top of a small hill.
They could see the top of the house from where they started. Rick brought a small range finder with him. It was like those that were used on golf courses to determine how far from the pin the ball was. He had to check it twice because they were only a quarter of a mile from where they started.
Between the hills, brambles and just not paying attention, they hadn't gone due north, but had staggered around the country side, and had no idea of the real lay of the land.
"This isn't working," Rick stated.
Marsha, still trying to catch her breath just nodded. They sat for a while and rested. Marsha was the first to notice, but Rick was quick to follow. They were sitting near an ant hill, and they were getting bitten. They were lucky and did not know it; at least, they weren't fire ants.
They both jumped up and started clearing ants from their legs and clothes. They then checked each other out.
After they were both cleared, Rick said, "Well that kills that idea."
"What idea," Marsha asked?
Rick only grinned.
All of a sudden, Marsha said, "No way," but at least she was also grinning.
A more serious Rick said, "Let's call it a day, head back and regroup."
"I can go along with that."
Looking at the house they noticed they had turned west and then were apparently going south. It was not very far to the drive way to the house. Instead of going a half mile north like they thought they had gone a quarter mile west by north west.
The hike back to the drive way and then to the house took less than half the time. They had been walking for almost two hours, and seen very little of their new property.
On their way back to the Coachman's Inn where they were now getting to be regulars, they saw some dust rising from a cleared field. As they watched a four-wheeled All-Terrain Vehicle came into sight.
"That is what we need," said Marsha.
"You are right. We will look after lunch."
They heard it mentioned there was a farm equipment dealer in Dayton that would probably have what they needed. They freshened up at the hotel then went to lunch at the Pikeville Family Restaurant.
Mary had just come on duty, and the crowd was light, so they had a few minutes to talk. She asked them how they liked their new land.
Rick was the sort who didn't mind a good laugh at himself, so he told Mary about their morning's woes.
She in turn explained they were very lucky they didn't sit on a fire ant hill, and how bad they could be. From now on they were to wear good boots, thick socks, long pants, and long-sleeve shirts, and don't worry about how hot it got!
A man in his early thirty's sitting at the next table said, "Mary is right, wear cotton clothes that breathe but make sure you are covered out there. By the way, I am Mike London. I gather you are the Kings that just bought the Johnsons and the gun club places, that new King Creek Farm."
"That's right," replied Rick.
"I'm Rick and this is my wife Marsha." As Rick made the introductions, they all stood and shook hands.
"My place is a little south of town on the west side of the valley."
"Oh, are you out near that farm the survivalist group owns," Marsha asked?
"Yes ma'am but they are really standoffish. The only way you know they are there is all the gun fire. I reckon they think they are going to have to fight a war."
Rick felt a little uneasy about that. He had fought a war and still had bad memories which he did not talk about. He decided right then and there that he was going to find out what the goals of this group were.
Mike continued, "Have you thought about ATVs?"
"We saw one on our way back here, and decided to check at the Dayton Tractor Supply Store and see if they carried them," replied Rick.
"I am pretty certain they do."
Mike continued, "That is a lot of land you own, over eleven hundred acres. If I remember right it is about three quarters a mile from East Valley Road to the mountain ridge so you must have about a mile and a quarter of frontage along East Valley."
"That's right," said Rick. "What I can't figure out is how much land is an acre?"
Mike laughed, "An acre is 43,560 square feet. A perfectly square lot of one acre would measure about two hundred and eight feet a side. So if one side of your land is three quarters a mile deep, then the other dimension would be about a mile and a quarter. That is extremely rough arithmetic and remember, while your border on East Valley may run straight none of the others do.
"Weird but it actually makes sense," replied Rick and then continued. "How was 43,560 square feet decided upon?"
Mike said, "I have absolutely no idea. It is an old English measurement." Mike went on to say, "Have you folks considered getting aerial photographs taken. It will really help give you a good idea of the flow of the land."
"Mike," exclaimed Marsha, "That is a wonderful idea, anything to keep me out of those bugs!"
"I know there is an outfit that flies out of the Chattanooga airport that does that," said Mike.
Mike then pulled out his smart phone, and a quick search came up with Chatham Aviation and their phone number. Mike told them they could see what maps the Army Corp of Engineers had of the area, and also the TVA.
He also suggested that since they were going to Dayton, they stop in at the Farm Bureau extension office which had just opened and see what maps they could provide.
Rick and Marsha thanked Mike profusely.
Rick told Mike that he would like to give a tour of King Creek Farm once they were settled in. Mike liked the name they had given the land.
He said, "I would get a sign up quickly or people will just refer to it as the King place, like they do all other farms around here."
"Who does work like that around here," asked Rick.
"I would ask Steve Klima. He can make a simple sign and put the name in with a router. With the letters painted it would make a good-looking sign. I know he made some up for the Boy Scout Camp, and they looked very nice."
"Where would we find Steve," asked Marsha?
Mike gave them Steve's phone number which he had in his phone's memory.
Tell Steve I told you to call him, we are in the National Guard together. Even though I am his Sergeant, I don't think he dislikes me that much."
This made Rick laugh as he remembered his military days, Sergeant's come in all types, good, bad and in between. You respected and depended on a good one, tolerated the one in between and feared the bad ones. They could get you killed.
After lunch, they drove to Dayton. They had avoided this trip before because the road had a hair pin curve which actually looked like a hairpin. The traffic was light so the car kept just to the speed limit, and though the road had many curves, they didn't get sea sick like their original worry. Just in their drives around the area they had found roads that they would avoid, if at all possible.
In Dayton, they found Nelson's farm store. It bought and sold feed and grain along with the connections to obtain almost any piece of farm equipment you could think you might need.
Jack Nelson met them at the door with a cheerful, "Howdy neighbor, how can I help you?"
Rick explained they had bought property over north of Pikeville, near the base of Hinch Mountain.
"Oh so you are the new owners of Kings Creek Farm, glad to meet you, I'm Jack Nelson."
Marsha said, "It didn't take long for that news to get around did it?"
"You folks don't know how big of news your purchase is, there haven't been many land sales around here in the last ten years, and yours is by far the biggest. The youngster's leave as quick as they can, we've almost got to the point of no return."