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Elk Chili Recipe

I made a tasty elk chili the other night using some elk steaks that Mike received after helping some good friends process meat last year. He had vacuum sealed the elk into pouches and kept it in the chest freezer. It was ridiculously tender and delicious. Without further ado, here is the recipe.

I used a crock pot, but you could also simmer in a nice soup pot on the stove. It did have a tendency to stick to the bottom of my crock pot though, so I would stir regularly if you are home to do so. I gave measurements for spices, but I almost never actually measure, just “guessimate” and taste periodically. You can always add more, but you can never remove any. So start slow and build it up until you love the taste. <3

1.5 lbs of elk meat cubed (or you can use ground elk if preferred)

12 oz can tomato paste

15.5 oz can of white chili beans

15.5 oz can of black chili beans

1 yellow onion

I tbsp chili powder (I just do it to taste, honestly)

I tsp pink Himalayan sea salt (to taste)

1 tsp onion powder (to taste)

1 tsp garlic powder (to taste)

1 tsp creole seasoning (optional to taste)

1 can diced green chilis or 1 roasted anaheim pepper (optional)

I didn’t have the anaheim pepper at the time, so I just used the cajun spice I had.

Basically just toss it all into the crock pot, give it a good stir, and cook on high for 4 hours, low for 8. I think low would probably be better so as not to burn it to the pot, but I cooked it on high because I started it mid day.

I shredded some cheese and tossed a dollop of BBQ sauce into my bowl for extra flavor. It was simple, flavorful, and that elk was ridiculously tender melt in your mouth.

Enjoy!

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Reflection

I would never have imagined 6 years ago that I would be living in a magical little forest with my favorite Sasquatch, and here I am. So much has changed for us both, and yet this vision always stayed the same. The house changed, multiple times, and then came back around to the one we bought. The land was everything that I ever wanted, and I do believe it’s the same for Mike. He was looking in the plains because the mountain stuff always seemed unattainable. 

So close! We just have to put the rest of the pieces together. 

I love you, Miláček!

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Step 2. Jumping through hoops for permits. Soil testing and drawings.

Depending on what county you live in, you may be required to do various testing before you can proceed with your projects.

Ours requires soil testing for pretty much every project. Septic, well, buildings, driveways, etc.

You have to get permits for EVERYTHING. We do have permits on file for 1 septic system and both wells have a permit through the state because wells are state level and not county. We will have to file for a new permit for the driveway, and all the crap that’s in place because the previous owner again, did not.

Soil testing. This was all over the place. The first guy came out, drilled one hole and looked into it. Charged us $600 and that was it. I was told we couldn’t build on the site we picked. I searched for another soil engineer. $600 to look at a drilled hole and no samples didn’t help. I called and got a bid for $1800, that person comes and drills two holes and takes samples to send to a lab, except we had to pay the drilling team on top of his fees of $1800. Another larger firm in Colorado Springs quoted us $950 or so for two holes, two samples, and the report. Same as the $1800 guy, but there was no difference in what was provided. So when you need to get testing done, ask the county exactly what is required for the test to be accepted by the county and make sure that everyone provides the same services. We’re basically out $600 because the guy didn’t really do enough and when I asked questions about the report he gave me information which actually wasn’t correct.

Same with plans. Know exactly what the county requires on your plans and make sure that every detail is on there and make sure that your house follows exactly those plans or they will reject you outright.

I thought I had everything squared away, but the reality is that I have no idea what the hell I’m doing and I had virtually nothing to work with, so months spent on paperwork and planning was wasted. It might even be worth the money to hire a person to do all of this crap for you because I’m just as confused as I was when we started, and am still flailing around trying to figure out what to do next. This time though, I have a ton of notes from the planning office and an idea of what we need, but I’m sure it’s going to be one of those 6th time is the charm things.

I recommend if you are doing the project with a partner, have your partner also attend these sessions with planning department or include them on e mails with service people because they may understand information that you do not. We’ve been attempting to have me deal with the phone calls and administrative tasks, but then I don’t understand something that he does and we lose money on the project as a result because my decision was based on knowledge that I didn’t quite understand. So communication is key.

Research what is required of you. Understand the reasons behind the testing, plans, drawings, etc and make sure that everyone understands what it is exactly that you need from engineers, architects, inspectors, etc. Know that they will not remotely bend the rules. even if something is off by 1″, you will have to redo everything. Be precise in your communication and execution of plans. I’ve wasted so much time, energy, and money by not making sure I understood the process.

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Step 1. The Realtor and Finding Your Property

The beginning of our house hunting experience began with searching for properties on sites like redfin and zillow. Having never purchased a house before, I had no idea what to look for, how to figure out what was in our budget, etc.

I started looking to purchase something on my own at first, and even tried to purchase this place on my own before we eventually purchased the place, but I had trouble with financing the property due to issues with the property, but we’ll get into that later.

I found a mortgage calculator or 12 online and started there. I put in what I had for down payment + income, etc etc and it spit out a dollar amount that I could afford max. That became my max price in search parameters. Once I narrowed it down to a group of properties, I wasn’t sure about how to pick a realtor, so I let one of those websites just assign me one. That was an error, and actually I let it pick my second realtor as well, but I did a little bit of research on her before we actually went with her.

The first realtor was from Colorado Springs, and was great with stuff in the Springs, but knew pretty much nothing at all about rural areas. The problem we kept running into and ultimately what has made this process difficult is that if there is a trailer on the property as the main home. It can’t be older than June 15, 1976 to be considered a home due to lead and asbestos use prior to that date. Our trailer is from 1971, so you can’t finance this property as a residence because of that rule, even though after testing there were no harmful substances found in the trailer. We couldn’t finance the property on a land loan either because of all the structures that are on the property, so eventually we had to go with owner carrying the financing until we are able to refinance when the house is built to get a traditional home loan. Even that isn’t guaranteed. So it’s a risk, and I was heartbroken when I couldn’t put the offer in because I couldn’t find financing anywhere.

So we tried again, we looked at the house again, with the new realtor. I e mailed her and explained the situation that I ran into when trying to purchase the property, and she had been through all of this before. She lives in the area, and knew all about the rules in the county, how to get around the issues with the trailers, names of all sorts of people to help get rid of the trailers, she knew what she was looking at on the property as to what was good and what was bad. She told us not to submit an offer above a certain price because we could get a property that was a completely clean slate for less and it would cost less to bring everything in than it would for us to fix up this one. We sent in a lowball offer, and were shocked that it was accepted. So find a realtor that knows the area well, living there is preferable. Have a realtor that understands what it is that you want to do with the property. Look for reviews, look for people who specialize in the type of property that you are trying to purchase. Listen carefully when he or she gives advice about the properties that you’re looking at.

When you find a property, research it. The previous owner didn’t get his permission slips for anything, so we’re having to start from scratch even though there’s a house up here that’s been here for probably 30 years or so. Search county records for permits, and spent the $10 or whatever fee it costs for them to do a paper records search of the property. Know what permits are already in place. Look for the well and septic on file is applicable and KNOW what the septic is rated for as you don’t want to purchase a place with a septic in place for a 1 bedroom house when you’re planning to do a 3 bedroom house, and think you can keep that septic system in place. They’ll shoot you down before you can blink.

What is your well rated for? household use? can you use it for livestock as well? Think about your plans for homesteading, does the county allow you to keep livestock? if so what kind? Building codes? Want to build outside the box? Make sure you can follow the county building codes.

SO much to consider when looking for a home! If you’ve never purchased before, how the heck do you know what to look for? So think about what you want to do with your property and make sure the place that you choose will allow those opportunities.

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Mission Statement?

Having never had a mission statement, I’m not sure what one is really. I’m assuming you state what your end game is. Your goal. Your ultimate mission.

Our aim is to inform via our experiences. While researching homes and properties and planning for this adventure, there was a lot of information on how to physically do a whole plethora of things, but not as much info on materials, costs, pitfalls, expectations, reality. It would be nice to just put the information out there for others to use as they will. Neither of us is an expert in anything. I have zero knowledge and skills coming into this, so I’m a clean slate. I am even new to keeping records of anything. So bear with us as we stumble along on our journey. We are still at the beginning, and so if you are reading this, then you are beginning with us.

Welcome.

The dream:

A homestead. A working property. We work the land, and we use our skills to earn our living. We sustain ourselves with the efforts that we are putting into this. We build a home for our families to love and enjoy long after we’re gone. A sanctuary for our treasured ones. This is our goal. This is our dream.

The reality:

We’re off to a slower start than we’d like. We’ve had setbacks and delays. We’ve also had small victories, new discoveries, new skills learned, and we’re moving ahead in leaps and bounds. We’re waiting for one piece of information to move forward with new plans and drawings. The kit is paid for, but we are waiting on test results from the soil sample so that we can pass along all of our info to the engineer for the correct plans. Once all of these things are in place, we can start moving ahead with the physical work.

In the meantime we have been doing some prep work for both building and the upcoming winter season. We have been doing property maintenance to catch up on a year or so of neglect. That adds up to a ton of stuff in a hurry when you’re in the woods!

We’ve made some fixes and upgrades in the current residence. So we have progress, but not quite the progress we had expected at this point.

So now we wait, and in the meantime I will begin to share our adventures with you here, on Facebook, and hopefully soon on YouTube.

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Objective Completed: Purchase Property

Objective completed.

We have purchased a parcel of land in a small town in Colorado, and we closed on it yesterday. It is my intention that we document our journey from purchase to completion…. if a project is ever really completed. We are planning to purchase an arched cabin, which we will pay to have roughed in. We will then finish the exterior and interior with help from beloved friends and family I’m sure. We are starting with land purchased which already had a few structures and items strewn about the property.

We will have to do some cleanup of the building that will temporarily house us while we build our happy little cabin.

I take it as a good omen that while we were standing on the build site last night, watching the sun go down behind the mountain, and the sky turn purple and pink, we heard the haunting cries of the wolves at the sanctuary howling on the wind. <3

Without further ado, I give you the grand tour of what is currently on the property.

This is the modified single wide that is currently on the property. In order to refinance we will have to demolish this house. For now, we are going to clean it up and live in it temporarily until we finish building our primary residence.  AKA “The Ranger Station”

We may rebuild the ranger station with a trailer that falls within the required guidelines.

One of the new neighbors came to check out who was moving in.

Another photo of the new neighbor. Or I guess we are the new neighbors. Our plan is to not intrude on their natural path through the land. We have seen over the winter where their main traffic areas are, and it appeared the previous homeowner had taken care to take into account what their traffic patterns were before planning to put the location of the build site where it is.  We plan to set up cameras to track their movements for awhile.

Sunset from the build site last night.

Key to the new house!

Trees in the area of well #2

My eldest child, myself, and Papa Bear aka Miláček.

New neighbor by the existing house.

More of the mule deer

Mule Deer <3

Miláček on the build site, watching the sun set.

A little golden hour light from the site of the existing house

2 of the several sheds that are around the property.

Sheds + soon to be homeowner (taken the first time we viewed the property)

Shipping container, shed, + dog house.

Miláček on the build site

Build Site

Driveway

Sign at the front gate <3

Front gate and driveway

one of the few trailers on the property

kitchen of existing house

kitchen of existing house

hallway in existing house

bedroom of existing house

living room of existing house

living room of existing house

another trailer on the property

one of the trailers on the property

mud room of existing house

kitchen area of existing house

Wood stove

weird room 1 in the house blocked off from the rest of the place and with a whole lot of outlets

weird room 1

weird room A

hallway

Laundry area

FBI Van room

The Ranger Station

View from the Ranger Station

There are steps going down to this area. We suspect that he meant to put a pond there. We may go ahead and finish that.

We weren’t sure if there even was a second well based on records we found. It was all quite confusing. I found the well casing last night, and Mike (miláček) found the cover for the concrete thing that housed the pressure tank and some other stuff that I have no clue about yet.

Some stuff inside of that concrete stuff. Mike calls them “well controls”

more inside that thing.

Build site after we closed on the place

On the build site after we closed! SO excited!