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Setting Up the Homestead–A Picture Essay

The utilization of my motor home is not unusual. I live in it full time on various job sites across Texas and Oklahoma. What is atypical (I think) is the fact I write about it. I routinely search the internet for other fulltimers who do what I do and I have yet to find one. Most of the full time RV blogs are good but they elaborate on a lifestyle that is pretty foreign to me. The Old Fish Bus — a 1993 Dolphin 32D by National has been in exactly ONE RV park in the last year. I went to visit my son in the Air Force at Keesler AFB in Biloxi,MS and stayed at the FamCamp there. I boondocked down and back. If you dismiss that trip, I have not been in an RV park in 2.5 years.

For some background on how I ended up doing what I do, check this entry SeriousFulltiming. For an overview of the modifications and upgrades to the Fish Bus, click  Dolphin 32D.

Setting up at one of our jobsites is different from what motor home owners experience.  Many times it is up to us to install the amenities most others take for granted.  While this photo essay may not be applicable to what most of you experience, a segment of RV Owners buy property and then set an recreational vehicle on the property as improvements are made. I hope this recreational vehicle article will prove interesting to most and of special interest to you RV homesteaders. (you can see a full size picture by clicking on any of the thumbnails below)

Homebase in the raw

Homebase in the raw

A fairly typical first day on the job. Running on generator power, the first task at hand is to get the gravel spread for the 3 RV parking spots.  Power is installed as evidenced by the power pole on the left.  The electricians will arrive later in the day to install 4 50amp RV electrical outlets and one 110v outlet.  We also had the power company install a security light on the pole.  This jobsite is north of Newton,TX on an 800 acre unimproved tract of timber land. The land owner has a travel trailer that he plans to park here as well on a semi-permanent basis until he can construct a more substantial weekend retreat.

Home Sweet Home for the Next 3 Months

Home Sweet Home for the Next 3 Months

Maybe a little more utilitarian than most RVers are used to, we are more about functionality than we are aesthetics. You can see the power hookups on the left. The septic system we installed is next to the white PVC pipe on the right.  It is elevated to be noticeable and very obvious. We do NOT want someone parking a vehicle on top of the tank! The DISH network DISH 500 dish on the small tripod can also be seen. If the site looks rough and raw it is! 2 weeks previous to this it was undisturbed Piney Woods. You can see my ‘front porch’ by the motor home door. It is constructed of pressure treated 2x4s and is invaluable when the weather is wet. The mud around these raw jobsites is a real nuisance. I also have my small awnings out. I have found they really reduce the interior heat levels and they also help deflect rain from the leak prone windows. My windows don’t leak and I want to keep them that way.

Closeup of my RV Front Porch

Closeup of my RV Front Porch

The front porch is a feature that has proved to be invaluable on a muddy construction site. The key is to get the area where you stand up off the ground.

Camp Site View

Camp Site View

A look at various vehicles at the jobsite. The Kawasaki Mule Trans4x4 is invaluable on one of these rough jobs. We use it for transportation to remote areas on this 800 acre tract. It will go where a full sized 4×4 doesn’t have a chance. It is economical and will transport 4 people and up to 800lbs of cargo with ease. I hate to beat up my Suburban traveling down these unimproved logging roads!

Infrastructure on the Job Site

Infrastructure on the Job Site

A good picture of functionality versus appearance. I like to keep the equipment close so I can keep an eye on everything and this picture bears that out. The trailer carries the 300 gallon water tank. This site does not have available water. I detailed how I obtain water in more detail in this post Portable Water Supply. I have several options when we do not have water available onsite and this post explains the different options. Th big Jobox box contains a variety of items necessary to support a project of this magnitude. You can see it is sitting on an 8×8 foot wooden platform to keep it out of the mud. I mentioned the awnings in one of the previous pictures. You can see my Prompt RV Sunscreen on the front windshield in this picture. It has been a fixture on my motor home for over two years now and I heartily endorse this product. During the day, I can see out and no one can see in and it really cuts down on the heat inside the coach.

Loot at all the propane tanks!

Look at all the propane tanks!

I am more dependent on propane than the newer model recreational vehicles because I have a propane fueled Generac generator. I also believe in reserving my onboard 40 gallon propane supply for emergencies. I installed 2 Deluxe Extend a Stay valves by Marshall Brass to supplement the onboard tank.  Looking right to left there are 3 40lb propane tanks and one 30lb tank.  The tank on the far left is empty. The next tank is connected via one of the Extend A  Stay valves to fuel the generator.  The next tank is connected by an Extend A Stay to fuel all onboard propane fueled accessories like the water heater, Norcold refrigerator and Atwood furnace.  The last bottle on the far right is connected directly to a Mr. Heater Little Buddy heater which is a more efficient way to heat the interior of my motor coach than the Atwood furnace.  Lastly, notice how the tires rutted up the gravel when I backed in.  This RV parking area is on top of a ridge and we pushed in about 4″ of clay fill to elevate it above the surrounding area and then spread the gravel on top.  Until it settles in, the area is going  to be soft.  This is common where we park our RVs and I carry an assortment of  plywood blocks to put underneath the hydraulic leveling feet.  Without the plywood blocks, the small feet on the hydraulic levelers would just sink right in to the soft ground.

The final look

The final look

A rear view of the semi-permanent parking area. Not too pretty but it does function well. You can see the DISH network satellite dish with the duct tape wrapped feed horn — the victim of repeated stowage in the underbody storage areas. Multiple electric cords running out to the power supply provide electricity to the coach. My recreational vehicle is 30amp. I have done a conversion to run 2 30amp feeds into it to power both Dometic air conditioning units simultaneously. The blue extension cord powers a 1500w electric heater. A black plastic garbage bag covers my Blue Ox Aventa II towbar that I use to tow my 2004 Suburban behind the old Fish Bus. The cover protects it from weather and harmful UV rays just as well as an expensive custom cover would!

If you ever thought about buying an unimproved piece of property and parking your RV on it on a semi-permanent basis, if you are a homesteader looking for cheap housing while you improve your property, I hope this article has been helpful.

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