Weekly Roundup: A River Runs Through It Edition

For almost twenty-one years, I have lived my life in a space defined by iron pins.

The deed to my home in suburban Ohio doesn’t say anything about acreage — which is reasonable, because there isn’t much of it. Rather, it describes the lot as being made of straight lines between iron pins driven into the ground by the township surveyor. “The north bound of the property shall be a direct line between an iron pin driven into the northeast corner…” and so on. Shortly after the home was built and I moved in, on the first of April, 2001, I set out to find these iron pins, expecting them to be engraved or perhaps set into concrete. I thought there would be something to authenticate their placement. Imagine my surprise to find them as nothing but twelve-inch sections of rebar hammered into the ground at various angles. The larceny that is ever present in my heart surged to the fore of my brain: I could make my lot larger, simply by moving these. Not in any way that would be obvious via satellite, but just five or ten feet. Who would know?

Over time, however, I realized that I wanted no more of this land than I could legitimately claim. I wanted less of it, really. In fact, I saved several thousand dollars by refusing to clear out the dead trees on the other side of my iron-pin-bound line; the homeowners association felt I should pay for it, but the land in question didn’t actually belong to me. There was a moment in the process where I could have accepted the burden, maintained the land for twenty-one years, then filed claim to add that thousand square feet of dirt to my baronial holdings. Ohio has a law called adverse possession. Treat the land like it’s yours for long enough, and you get legal title to it. So I did none of that. Instead I cleared the trees down to my line, mulched that area, and planted eight blue spruces. Had I done this in 2001, I’d be looking at a wall of spruce now. Instead, I’m looking at five grand worth of trees that appear to have grown by about three inches in five years — referring, of course, to the 6/8ths of the spruces that haven’t just given up and shed their needles for all eternity.

Oh well. Goodbye to all that. At some point in the near future, I will be abandoning Pin-land and taking up residence on a particular plot of land too spacious for mere pins. Out here in the authentic hick country of rural Ohio, the lines are delineated by blaze-orange C-channel signposts cut off at waist height. Today was my first day to walk the lines between those posts, to figure out just exactly would be mine and what would belong to others. In the past month I’ve only visited the front part of the land, relying on satellite imagery to understand the tidy eight or nine acres of forest that sits within my orange posts but which is not visible from the road.

What a surprise to find things that were not suggested in Google’s satellite photography. What looks like the proverbial ragged wood from above, dead flat and uniform, has a bit of hill and dale to it. And there is a… creek? It’s ten to fifteen feet wide, so I’ll call it a river. A secret river, running across a forest floor, at the bottom of a five-story hill. I didn’t know it existed when I made the offer, nor was I told of it when the offer was accepted. But it is there, and real, and mine.

I wish I could tell you I have a thousand acres, as Jeremy Clarkson does, but alas being a video clown pays considerably better than anything I’ve ever done. I have something like one percent of that. A little more. Not much. The longest line I can walk on the L-shaped property without leaving it measures as 1,321 feet. Just over a quarter-mile, as if by design. Still. I was born on New York Avenue in Brooklyn, so let’s look at in urban terms. This property could hold two of the largest city blocks in Manhattan. You could build the original Twin Towers on it. There’s a very nice fenced-in field up front, meant for horses or cattle, that could hold 432 Park Avenue, no sweat. Washington Square would fit here nicely; maybe I can have my own chess tournaments.

Up front there’s a barn that can hold all ten of our cars, both race trailers, and all six motorcycles, but it will need a floor and some wiring to work correctly. The barn was what drew me to the place; I envisioned a sunny future where I was not swapping vehicles between six(6) storage locations, as I do right now. That sunny future is approximately $60,000 worth of improvements away. It will be a long time before this project makes strict financial sense. Nevertheless, when I think about being to roll up a door and see all of my rolling hardware in one place, I can’t help but smile. The great temptation will be to fill it with cheap cars. Oh, look, a decent ’76 Talisman! A 1983 200SX! More Neons! But if I do that, I won’t have space or money for the Radical SR8-RX I really want to park on a freshly poured 3,200-square-foot concrete floor.

I’d have bought the place for the barn and the five front acres alone, and paid the same amount. The forest out the back didn’t enter into my plans. It was a lagniappe, nothing more. A place to get firewood. Maybe do a little airsoft match, after confirming that we aren’t holding said match during any active part of Ohio’s astoundingly convoluted hunting calendar. (Cottontail rabbits? Nov. 5-Feb. 28. Turkeys, youth shooters only? Apr. 9-10. And many more, particularly if you like hunting with a bow and arrow.) We could pull a couple of meals out of the forest, in the event of a temporary disturbance in American society. That was all the thought I put into it.

Today, however, while walking through an area represented by Google satellite images as “brown nowhere”, I came across a long curving set of wooden steps that led to… nowhere, just more empty slope. That, in turn, led to an S-shaped bend in, ahem, a “river”. There was flat ground next to the river where someone had set up four log chairs and a stone fire pit. No motorized vehicle short of a GASGAS trials bike would get you down there or back up, and even then you’d really need to know what you were doing. Our little Mahindra Roxor can take you to within two hundred feet of the steps, however. Once down there, you’d have no way to know if you were a mile from civilization — or a hundred miles from it. It would be a great place to sit in the evenings and have a few drinks next to a fire. The problem would be climbing back up in the dark. I have a flashlight called a Prometheus Alpha, turned from stainless steel in the USA, that would get you to the stairs but would not necessarily provide the requisite coordination to climb them. Might be best to pack a hammock down there as well.

Spend a full night down there, and my fifty-year-long transformation into Country Mouse will be complete. As complete as it’s ever going to get, anyway.

Today’s idea: Sell the house ASAP, buy a trailer, set it down next to the barn. Escape the city, the suburbs, the iron pins, the neighbors who call the cops just because you have a hundred people in the house for a Friday night party and you’ve got your SWR Workingman bass amp cranked to eleven. I won’t miss these things. Won’t miss the unpleasant virtual net of gig-economy services that surround my current location: Uber Eats, Doordash, Same Day Prime Delivery. I will exchange the architecture of immediacy for an unplanned natural spontaneity. A great place for Wordworth’s emotion recollected in tranquility:

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

If the saying is true, and Hell truly is other people, then by this summer I expect to be in Heaven. At the banks of a tiny river, on land that is mine, with nothing in sight. My friends and rivals have multi-million-dollar homes in the finest neighborhoods, showcase co-ops thirty floors above the avenue, the hippest places in the hottest corners of the city. I will have none of that; nothing that most would envy or even want. Just a place without a specific address, beyond the reach of Zillow or StreetView or satellite imagery. Nominally it’s about a fifty-mile move, but I think of it as nothing more than a single step over a line defined by two iron pins. From: inside to outside, here to there, somewhere to nowhere. Nothing more than that. But also nothing less.

* * *

For Hagerty, I retold an old tale and imagined a Hellcat that never was.

117 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: A River Runs Through It Edition”

  1. John E

    Let’s simply add: “We will follow your continued adventures after the 50 mile move, and look forward to further reaction and insights from the secret river’s edge retreat. Best wishes to you Jack!”

    Reply
  2. gb

    Lagniappe just ain’t what it used to be — Creighton Bernette

    Not in your case. Looks like a gorgeous spot. Happy that you’re staying in Ohio. Much congratulations!

    Reply
      • gb

        Didn’t you write a post on visiting the Treme sites that disappeared with the great Baruth corporate employment preservation purge? That one deserves a repost.

        Reply
  3. Bridgeguy

    Out on the rural route is where it’s at. Screw the ghettos (large cities).

    Looks like a great spot for pit bike racing on one of ye olde Friday night mixers.

    Reply
  4. Jim

    Forgive me for being “that guy,” but I don’t believe acquisition by adverse possession applies to Torrens property.

    Reply
    • Mark

      While we’re asking forgiveness for being “that guy”, I’d mention that the Bearcat was an improvement on the Hellcat, which succeeded the Wildcat. Perhaps you were thinking of the Brewster Buffalo.

      Reply
      • Jack Baruth Post author

        Your humble author is a WWII obsessive, but this is Motor Vogue and each MV article is lightly sprinkled with inanities.

        Reply
  5. NoID

    Just make sure you’re ready to commit…it sounds like you are. I was not. Five years ago we purchased 4.5 acres and a 100+ year old farmhouse. Two and a half years ago we cut and run after the property nickel-and-dimed every spare dollar we had and then some, and the time it took to maintain did not fit into the spare time we had or could reasonably carve out of our busy schedules.

    Had I seen what the future would hold we would have stuck it out. Little did I know there was a promotion, unnecessary COVID stimulus money, and yet another raise on top of the bump I got after that promotion, and some other logistical changes which would have allowed us to remain, even thrive, on our little plot of independence. Now we’re trying to use our current position of relative prosperity to see if we can recapture that slice of heaven, but it’s slim pickings out there.

    It’s exciting to see you completing your transformation to country mouse. I think you’ll love it. We sure did for the few years we had.

    Reply
  6. LynnG

    Jack congrats and good luck with the property. Sounds like a fine country place from your discription and the photos…..

    Reply
  7. MrFixit1599

    Reminds me of my favorite fishing spot as a young lad in Southeastern Ohio. Only access was to walk, couldn’t even get there on my BMX bike. Stream eventually led into a back waters off the Ohio river.

    Reply
  8. aircooledTOM

    I grew up in a place not unlike that. I would love to get back to a piece of land with ax simple house on it.

    Congratulations Jack. Looking forward to hearing more about your country mouse transition.

    Reply
  9. Burgersandbeer

    Congrats on the new property!

    Is there a house on the property, or just the barn?

    A huge plot of wooded land is very appealing to me. At the same time, I can’t keep up with 10% of that space in my available spare time.

    Reply
  10. Scout_Number_4

    Welcome to the country life, Jack. When it comes to tractors or clearing land, I might be able to help *you*…For once.

    Reply
  11. ScottS

    Happy New Year, and congratulations on the new real estate!

    Others have beaten me to it, but you need to put that Roxor thing out of your head and get a proper tractor in either green or orange. And make sure it’s a size bigger than what you think you’ll need. At a minimum you will need a front loader (hard to purchase a new tractor without this nowadays), a box blade, bush hog, and pallet forks. There is always heavy shit to move in the country and you did say you’ve logged 5 decades and the knees aren’t what they once were . . . You need to trust me on this. It has to be the first purchase.

    And did you mention the internet service?

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Internet service will be *okay*, although I don’t think I will ever go back to hosting commercial enterprises on static IP out of my house the way I’ve done at the current house.

      Which orange are we talking? Massey? Kubota? The Roxor is mostly to plow the snow, pull a mower, and run people over to the ah, local go-kart track.

      Reply
      • ScottS

        Orange = Kabota
        Green = Deere
        Which one you purchase will depend on the dealer and support in your area.

        A Gator or Razor would be a lot more useful than the Roxor for most things.

        If you need to mow several acres of grass you should look at a big zero turn. I can personally recommend the Kubota ZD1211 and a 72″ deck. These machines are much faster, particularly in turning and cutting around features than any tractor or pull behind mower. A diesel will use a fraction of the fuel vs a gas mower and it will be significantly quieter.

        Reply
      • sgeffe

        I was thinking about the Internet access, knowing your computer skills! 🤓 I suspect there’s not going to be fiber out that way any time soon!

        Haven’t finished the Hellcat article yet..blew coffee out my nose with your line about the demise of the L coupe looming “on the horizon!” Just two cents from an Omni-scient observer! 😂

        I always thought that Colt/Vision generation was pretty nifty, particularly the sedan! Japanese subcompacts of that era were a cut above! Just don’t crash in one, as the Top Gear Mitsubishi Pajero (or Trooper-something) vs. 4th-Gen Civic (same as my first new car, a Torino Red 1994 Civic EX slushbox) crash test proved!

        As far as classic tales from the TTAC-cum-non-caching-ad-on-every-page-view-that-busts-through-ad-blockers-POS, take the triple-digit Phaeton story which whipped the Internet into a fury and repackage it! My first exposure to your prose, and I’m still a fan, after having sworn-off the other site because of the stupid Tundra ad that doesn’t quit! (Certainly would influence a future decision to leave my beloved Honda for Toyota if something like a full Honda conversion to only glorified golf carts was a possibility!)

        Happy New Year to you and the Baruth clan! Hmmm..Riverside Green ain’t just a subdivision any longer!

        Reply
        • Jack Baruth Post author

          Thank you sir! I’ll be re-running some TTAC stuff here. About half of what I wrote is still my property; the other half was licensed to VerticalScope but I should still have rights to republish.

          Reply
    • jc

      I’m far from an expert, but I’ve worked with tractors and worked on tractors both for family and for a farm. Mr. Scott told you pretty much what I was going to say. You’ll pay more for a 4 wheel drive hydrostatic tractor, but I think it’s worth it because it’ll dig in the ground if you’ve got heavy stuff on the front end loader. I’d ditch the mower deck and get a dedicated zero turn if you’re really ballin out of control.

      Not super related, but dad’s buddy is one of the great thinkers of our time and combined the dirt berm for his gun range into a dirt bike jump. It’s a great idea.

      Reply
      • Mike

        Yep. 4WD is a must-have, in my experience. Also, the Orange Yanmar tractors are pretty good, and don’t carry the Green Tax (Kubota’s pretty proud of their stuff, too). Also, if you get a newer model, beware: The Environmental Protectionist Agency hath decreed that anything over 24.9HP requires DEF and emissions controls. Unsurprisingly, this has created a) quite a demand for older, simpler tractors such as mine, and b) a whole class of tractors rated at “24.9 HP”.

        Reply
    • 94 metro

      A tractor definitely should not be the first purchase. You gotta get out there and see the land at ground level for a few months before you could intelligently spec out what you might need. And if he’s not doing much in the way of actual farming on this property maybe the roxor with a snowplow and a good riding mower is enough.

      Reply
  12. Keith

    Congrats. Sounds a lot like where I grew up in Missouri. Barn, pond and everything. I loved it. But the schools weren’t good enough so we went to the suburbs when I hit junior high.

    Reply
  13. John C.

    I would be not so quick to sell your suburb house unless you are badly over extended. You have not described the house on your new lot but i am going to guess it is a period circa 1200-foot 1920s kit near the road. That would be similar to many friends of mine here in Georgia. In an Armageddon situation, I have myself lusted for such an alternative. To make such a situation work however, you must have a wife that can cook and a son that will tolerate you while roughing it at a lower level than with his mother. The lot you newly have will never be self-supporting, please understand that before you sell what you have.

    Reply
    • Mike

      I’d keep the suburban home, but for another reason: rental income. Take out a 20 year mortgage on it before you leave, use the money to improve the farmhouse, and write off the debt to cancel out the rental income.

      Reply
      • Jack Baruth Post author

        We discussed it but I think the exposure is too great. Nearly all of your potential renters are H1-Bs who understand the system much better than we would and who are essentially on imaginary passports that can be changed or reissued on a whim. They can do $100k of damage to your house then reverse their first and last names on their drivers license, at which point you can’t touch them.

        Reply
          • Nick D

            Refusing to rent does indeed violate fair housing laws.

            The reality of being a small time landlord doesn’t align with the Insta-Tok reality of fixing heaters in the middle of the night, evictions, and property damage. I work with a few people who have multiple rentals and they’re constantly complaining about issues. One tenant found the main company number and was leaving harassing messages, calling CEO, etc. for a director level position.

            I’m sure some make it but it’s far from passive income.

            Sell at the top IMO

          • Jack Baruth Post author

            If only. I built a house in the one part of America that hasn’t seen values double/triple/quadruple over the past two decades.

          • CJinSD

            My condo has gone up in price(I wouldn’t call it appreciation) by over 50% in the three years since my cash purchase. It’s almost kept up with the increase in my grocery bills since Biden took office! I should have spent the money on Persian oil futures instead.

          • John C.

            To keep it as a rental implies you believe the system can go on for many more years. There is nothing unusual historically for an aging larger home becoming a rooming house. To be worthwhile, you would have to believe you could collect rents and enforce leases. Well maybe if your Blackrock.

            It still may make sense to hold on to the old house for say 6 months or a year to see if the new lifestyle so far in the imagination plays out as imagined. A decade ago, when we sold our mcmansion intending to live in a downtown condo, never having previously lived that lifestyle, we rented an apartment for a year to make sure we enjoyed it. We did, and the old house sold, we then bought something nice we still live in.

        • CJinSD

          I have a friend who lived in a neighborhood in Northern Virginia popular with DC commuters. The houses were stereotypical McMansions on small lots. He shared his with his wife and young son. The rest of the homes that had visible occupants housed multiple generations of…people from the East. They thought he was a curiosity for owning his house and for not having three or more people in each of its six bedrooms. He gave up and moved to a much smaller and more expensive neighborhood where he now lives among the deep state royalty. I think he sold the house in New India, but he usually keeps the homes he outgrows and rents them to well-compensated Government employees who haven’t figured out that the taxpayers want to build real estate empires for them.

          Reply
        • Ice Age

          I’ve never been a landlord, but I’ve been a tenant plenty of times. You’d have to be stark, raving mad to rent your property to ANYONE these days – except maybe close family friends you’ve known for years.

          And regarding the H-1Bs – you’d never get the curry smell out of the drywall.

          Reply
        • Mike

          I’ve been a LL for a single family home for the past 15+ years. There have been problems along the way, but I’m not planning on getting out. Yes, there are laws about rental discrimination but as a friend of mine who was also a LL said, there’s a million reasons you can refuse to rent to someone that don’t violate anti-discrimination laws. One clause he had in all his contracts was “must show proof of ownership of a vacuum cleaner”. You get the picture. My tenants have consisted of a slowly revolving door of 20-somethings all getting their feet situated in the Real World. Many have eventually moved out and bought their own homes. As it should be.

          Reply
          • aircooledTOM

            I’m with Mike on this. I have not been at it quite as long as he, but my tenants have been great so far. I run into a lot more trouble with my Short-term renters (however, STR is far more remunerative… risk/reward and all that).

            A good product, at a decent rent, in a decent location, should work out quite nicely. Often LL’s jump at 2% “opportunities” in D class neighborhoods. You’ll run into trouble with this kinda thing. I try to buy decent places in decent neighborhoods. I typically use a realtor to get my tenants. You get a different type of renter using a realtor to find a place to live than someone cruising FB Marketplace or CL.

            @Jack… you know your market much better than I do, and you likely have a pretty good feel for who would be interested in your home. So I completely understand your hesitation.

  14. MrFixit1599

    We are moving to the Tulsa area next week. Currently live in a small town in Wisconsin, that has no food delivery services. Trying to find that happy medium where I can be a country mouse, and she can have all the current delivery services she desires. With a pool. And a jacuzzi tub. And a fireplace.

    Good luck with the move, and let me know if there’s good fishing there. Bass love hiding in the shadows next to those banks on the “river”.

    Reply
  15. stingray65

    Congratulations Jack – best wishes that you and your wife will find green acres and the associated chores and fresh air to be enjoyable as you say goodbye city life. Please give my greetings to Mr. Haney, Hank Kimball, and Arnold.

    Reply
  16. Dirty Dingus McGee

    Congrats on the upcoming move. I moved to my current estate 17 1/2 years ago. Having been born and raised as a country mouse, apartments and suburbs for me was like living in hell (or New York city). Many find that the trade offs are hard to deal with; a trip to the grocery store now takes 1/2 hour, fuggetabout pizza delivery( or most any delivery), during storms if you lose power you’re some of the last to get it restored( back up generator is almost a necessity), getting to the airport now takes 1 1/2 hours,internet by a cable tv provider is as good as it gets etc. But the trade off is worth it to many.

    Over the years I tried several different types of “utility” vehicles, 4 wheeler, Gator, large lawn tractor. None were exactly what was needed for everything. Currently I keep a Gator for misc chores, a zero turn mower (Dixie Chopper) and a JD 3032E tractor with several attachments ( bush hog, auger attachment, harrow). These are not used daily, or even weekly, but when you need it its ready.

    Reply
  17. Nick D

    Congratulations! You need a rally stage back there for sane and reasonable goals, like practicing weight transfer and tire evaluations.

    Reply
  18. Jonathan H.

    My hunting buddies talk a lot about hunting our land in the event of a societal meltdown and accompanying food shortages. It’s a nice thought but my (not original) theory is that there would be a lot of panic hunting and the edible mammal population would be decimated in a couple years and that’s why we’d starve. I hope I’m wrong. I have plenty of rounds for my hunting rifles just in case.

    The creek was a very nice bonus. While I have 156 acres, I only have two small creeks that run *almost* dry in the dead of summer. I’d probably trade you even. Especially since you have the barn as well. Congratulations.

    Reply
    • hank chinaski

      I agree with this assessment. Long pig will probably end up on the menu for a few if that happens.

      Congrats on the purchase. Road access? Water? Power? A relative recently bought a sizable parcel in a nearby state and got logging and potential mineral rights as a bonus. Maybe Starlink will live up the hype at some point.

      Having a Governor who isn’t a Covidian or anti-2nd is a must. I’ve this wacky idea that if the court tosses Roe, they’ll use the trashed ‘right to privacy’ to allow jab mandates.

      Reply
      • sgeffe

        Speaking as an Ohioan, no jab mandates or gun-grabbing here! Governor DeWine went a little too far regarding some of the COVID emergency-declaration stuff, but the legislature’s response was to pass a law stipulating that the declaration could not be indefinite, among other things.

        Reply
      • Jack Baruth Post author

        Everything’s going to be possible, but none of it will be cheap. Living six hundred feet off a dirt road requires a lot of cabling and pipes.

        Reply
      • Jonathan H.

        Nearly the entire property is valuable timber I have the rights to. We have a well and electrical power to the house. The place could easily be heated full time with the wood stove. The one major down side is that the property is landlocked. We have an easement that allows us access through the other property. That landowner has never given us a problem in the thirty years we’ve owned it.

        I don’t live there full time. It’s mostly for hunting and just getting away from modern society. It’ll be a good bug out spot for sure.

        Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      There are twelve people in Ohio for every deer. That’s not sustainable math. Even in the best circumstances over any sustained period of civilization interruption we would always be one sprained ankle from starving. So my plans don’t account for more than six months off the grid. By then we either have some sort of functioning local government or we are going to die in the next winter.

      That being said, most cities would descend into bloodshed after five days of no power or food, and I can easily conceive of that occurring in this decade.

      Reply
      • stingray65

        Guns might be of some value in putting meat on the table when society breaks down, but for those that have a patch of land that can grow food for personal consumption and/or trade the more likely use will be to keep hungry poachers and crop/garden thieves away from your food supply. A lot of city mice are going to be unpleasantly surprised when supply chain issues lead them to learn that food does not originate in supermarkets.

        Reply
        • Jack Baruth Post author

          Happily, we have an easily blocked one-and-a-half-lane road to the south and an even more easily blocked one-lane bridge to the north. In theory you could walk through a mile of forest and arrive at a 150-meter-long open field between the treeline and the house. It would require optimism to think you could make it across that field alive, should things come to that.

          Reply
  19. KoR

    I have had an inverse relationship with land that you have. What you have looks beautiful, and yet I can’t find myself drawn to that life anymore.

    I grew up most of my life in an exceedingly rural area. Like, couldn’t get cable and the nearest movie theater was a 45 minute drive away type of rural. We’d play in the creek and in the woods because that’s what there was to do.

    As I grew older, I recognized the limitations. Harder to get girls when you’ve known the 8 in town since you were four. Hard to experience the more interesting facets of adolescence when you’re mom is on speed dial in each of the two stores in town, and your grandma was on a first name basis with each of the town’s citizens.

    As I grew older still and eventually went to college, I saw things that I hadn’t even dreamed of. People living lives I only recognized from books and movies, cultures and human behavior that were as alien to me as anything could be. I, frankly, became quite envious of them. I was stuck in ancient farm house in a town knocking on death’s door while others could really ~live~.

    Each time I went back home, I saw it in a more and more backwards light. Things staying stagnant in perpetuity. The town hadn’t changed since I was born, only difference is the people who died, were now dying, and the paint on the houses fading forever more. People I grew up with turning to drugs and alcohol. Nothing to do, you see, but those things especially as the jobs continued to dry up.

    I moved away when I could to a different small town, yes, but one where I didn’t know a soul and that a twenty-sixty minute drive in any direction could bring to me to one of the country’s largest metropolises.

    This to me is real freedom. The potential for potential. The idea that I can do things and everyone in town wouldn’t know. That each night isn’t predetermined, and that the people of tinder and bumble aren’t full of only old grade school crushes.

    But I’m young yet. Such things are more important to me than legacy or whatever. Maybe in another 20 years I’ll have a change of heart. But then again maybe not.

    My change to a city mouse (or, more accurately, a suburb mouse I guess) hasn’t taken quite so long as your own change, but as of today it feels as permanent.

    In any case, congrats on the property. Really does look gorgeous.

    Reply
    • hank chinaski

      I’m not young anymore and not quite old yet. The suburbs of most metros are often at different points on the same curve as the rural towns you describe are but on a different curve, and things happen out of your control that change the math as the megacity inevitably spreads out like a cancer…..mortgage sized property tax bills (thank you, teachers’ unions), section 8 housing (built for profit or spite), plus all the traffic and crime to go with. The nanny state. The haze of rank pot smoke from every other home or vehicle. It’s a rootless bugman hive wearing a Mayberry skinsuit.

      Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      I can absolutely see where you’re coming from. I’m not entirely anti urban; I’d be pleased to live in Giuliani era NYC. But I think the writing is on the wall for people who think you can live free in a city, at least until our political climate changes a bit.

      Reply
      • stingray65

        There are still a few well functioning urban/suburban areas in the country – mostly in red states and mostly in cities that have not become dominated by corrupt Democrat run political machines. But as the recent census reports show, the mismanaged blue states and blue cities are the ones losing residents in big numbers, and it remains to be seen if their migrations will infect the still functioning parts of the country. Sadly, it will take more than a bit of change in the political climate before insane parts of the country become sane, because insane Leftists have become the majority in most blue parts of the country.

        Reply
  20. Disinterested-Observer

    When my citiest of mice mother saw how much of her beloved forest tract had been cleared for the driveway she literally cried, wailing, “It looks like 6th avenue!”

    Reply
  21. goose

    Congratulations!

    Looking forward to the video of someone riding down that staircase thing. You could make some great singletrack through that area.

    Reply
  22. Ken

    Congrats! Looking forward to hear / reading more! I have a similar plan, (or perhaps fantasy as far out as I am) of my wife and I abandoning the suburbs. Keen to know what’s involved to maintain a property like that.

    Reply
  23. Tom Klockau

    Very cool and congratulations. My folks have a house up at the lake, about an hour and a half north of here, and I finally realized around 2019 how wonderful it is to go up there and camp out on the deck with a novel and a drink till dark, then watch old movies on the VHS until I get tired.

    Reply
  24. Daniel J

    I’d love to do this. Lots of problems where I live:

    1. It would cost 10k just to get electric to a plot of land for a trailer.
    2. Septic tanks are no longer allowed in most countries.
    3. It would take 2 to 3 years for a custom builder to build me a house.
    4. No high speed internet.

    I live outside of a city governed by county law and HOA laws since I’m in a suburb community.

    We get lots of camplaints in the neighborhood about fireworks and loud noise for example. This isn’t because of me, mind you, but I always point out that those laws are in the city, not the county.

    The response is that they moved to the country for peace in quiet. I ask, why didn’t they build their house on acres of land which can be had for cheap here instead of an HOA tract community? I also told them that many also move to the county so they can shoot guns, light fireworks, and turn their amp to 11. Of course their rebuttal is, why don’t those people buy on acres of land? I respond: they don’t have to.

    I find these neighbor interactions similar to what I see across the country on the national political and cultural stage.

    Reply
  25. MD Streeter

    Some of that urban stuff we actually have up here in very rural Upper Michigan. So long as you’re close to one of the “cities.” My coworkers love using Doordash, although I have no idea if Uber or Lyft is popular up here since there are a handful of Toyota Sienna taxis to ferry the car-less locals around.

    Housing is tough to buy if you want a slice of “urban” life up here. The few towns are all besieged by downstate or out-of-state money and we’ve been putting off the purchase of our own 40-acre parcel in the woods as we watch land decrease in supply and increase in price. Any affordable house up here is 120 years old and in need of the care required of a piece of ancient mining history, and that’s to say nothing of the potential for meth labs running in these “affordable” neighborhoods.

    I first came across your writing on TTAC perhaps 12 years ago. There are two stories you wrote that stuck with me. The one about the teenage girl whose mother hates her love of cars whose uncle sets her up with a SBC-powered Rolls, and the one that reads like a series of vignettes about a man whose wife (girlfriend?) was killed in a car accident. Okay, so I don’t really remember much more of that story, but the imagery was strong enough that I remember that much at least. The Sunday Stories were a real treat, if you’re going to be going back in time to resurrect some other TTAC articles. That Rolls story, though, that was wonderful.

    Reply
    • Compaq Deskpro

      The story of a veteran who sabotages autonomous highways with his illegal gas powered Challenger was a good one. A central repository of works (giant PDF? Kindle store?) would be great, I would pay for it.

      Reply
  26. NoID

    Name-dropping real engineers in your fake articles is a nice touch. As for the Hellcat, you’ve certainly captured the spirit of the modern reality in this fictional history.

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      When I wrote it, I was thinking, “They always get a quote from Erich on these things, what would they have done back then?” I got a “you son-of-a-bitch” text after the fact from him.

      Reply
  27. -Nate

    Back to the shadows again .

    I hope I’ll never be forced to do that .

    It’s fun and John will be greatly improved by living out of town .

    I hear ‘tractor’ and think of our old 1935 and 1937 John Deere ‘A’ and ‘B’ tractors in the 1960’s, dead reliable and dirt cheap but we never had any lawns to mow…

    The steps and river (brook, really) look great, I agree a hammock will be needed, prolly one with a skeeter net .

    Best of luck with it jack .

    -Nate

    Reply
  28. Ronnie Schreiber

    Depending on the slope and flow of your creek (and environmental laws in Ohio) it might be worth your while to look into microhydropower.

    Also, at about $60K, it’s probably outside of your budget but if your woodlot produces enough biomass you might consider getting something like a Power Pallet gasifier/generator that converts wood chips into 25kW of electricity and heat you can use for space heating and hot water.
    https://www.allpowerlabs.com/products/product-overview

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      I’d say the woods are fairly spacious as they are; I don’t have any desire to take a lot of trees out for something like that.

      Reply
  29. Ronnie Schreiber

    Around the same time the Grumman F6F Hellcat was introduced in the summer of 1943, the M-18 Hellcat tank destroyer also went into service. The M-18 was designed by General Motors and built by Buick. The Hellcat nickname might have been picked up from a futuristic concept GM designer Art Ross rendered in 1941 of a huge tank destroyer that he called the M-1 Hellcat, a large drawing of which was hung during WWII in the Argonaut Bldg which housed GM styling across the street from the General Motors Bldg.
    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/hellcatfantasy.jpg

    Reply
  30. ScottS

    Catching up on IG yesterday, there appears to be a closed circuit “road” very near your property? I’m sure you have had a consultation with your accountant about structuring the whole racing/writing/car/property thing into a legit business making that new diesel truck and the future tractor qualify as section 179 purchases.

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      I’ve done 179 before, and even survived an audit with it, but with Biden hiring the equivalent of the Sixth Army Group to prosecute middle-class people I’m frankly terrified of doing it again.

      Reply
      • ScottS

        179 should not represent a risk if your business activities are properly structured. A good CPA will keep you out of the audit cross hairs. I the coming inflationary and high tax environment you need to avoid spending after-tax dollars on things you can legitimately purchase with pretax dollars. If you plan the use of the property (or part of it) for your “professional” activities you will be a lot better off financially. About three years ago I had to care for the sale of my dad’s “country” estate. He had a fabulous shop in a high end barn structure. The take away is that those buildings are not valued anything close to replacement cost when it comes to selling the property. I had figured this out a number of years ago and purchased a commercial building not far from my home for all of hobby/guy stuff. It is a far better investment and I have had rental income on part of it I don’t use.

        Reply
        • Jack Baruth Post author

          I agree, but having seen an audit from the inside and learning that “right” and “wrong” had little to do with it, and that I was paying someone an hourly rate to negotiate with a government that had both infinite resources AND its own court to decide the ultimate resolution of each issue, I’ve decided to avoid the proverbial Harkonnen fist in the future. My spouse works for an investment company that has no patience for employees with audits or other government interest, as well.

          Reply
      • Bullitt315

        Jack

        You can incorporate or partner up with the wife with an llc (99% 1% works well) and reduce your audit risk to near 0. A 200k schedule c is “ big” a 200k corporation or partnership is not. It’s an extra 1-2k in filing fees depending on the cleanliness of your books

        Reply
  31. gtem

    Congrats Jack! Can we assume it’s 100% yours now? I like the trailer idea and used to ruminate on the same game plan in my mid 20s before I married my wife and took the “normie” road. More recently we considered buying in the country (but still in the “right” school district), here too ultimately decided the benefits of a joggable subdivision (granted with 1-4 acre lots) outweighed rural elbow room, for now anyways. Boy I’d get in trouble quick with a 10-vehicle sized barn. I’ve already reached capacity of a three car garage+roomy driveway in the course of a single year of being at the new house, 2022 is a year of no car/motorcycle purchases for me. With your new rural stomping grounds, I highly recommend scooping up something like a KLR650/DR650/XR650L. I’ve been blasting around local gravel farm roads on my fixed up DR and boy is it a hoot, and perfect for mixed paved/gravel/light trails type of riding.

    Reply
  32. CitationMan

    Congrats on making this move at 50, I was only able to do it at 60 after my intransigence got me “retired” from a very un-American bank. The piece of mind from living a rural area is real, as all of your thoughts induced by your current location go away. It’s very liberating.
    I’m glad you’re not keeping your house, that’s already your past life and it’s essential to make a clean break and move on. The trailer idea is the path of least resistance to going rural, especially since it’s almost impossible to get anything built these days. I’m trying to do a whole house renovation here in semi-rural North Carolina, and have had no luck getting anything started in the last year, even though my project does not require anywhere near the materials needed for a new house. Your barn is the key to your move, so hopefully you can get that in shape for storage first.
    Having made the 700 mile move from Illinois to NC a year ago, I recommend using moving pods to free up your time during a hectic move, as they allow you to load and unload at your convenience. I even hired movers for a couple hours to load the heavy stuff into the pod. You could also have a loaded pod dropped off inside your barn.
    Since you’re going to be downsizing, winter is the perfect time to start purging any useless or unneeded possessions. Be ruthless getting rid of stuff so there’s less to move and to be burdened with at the new place.
    Best of luck!

    Reply
  33. Newbie Jeff

    Congratulations, Jack… I hope it works out for you.

    Unfortunately, I feel like we’re running out of places to run to… you move out of the bad neighborhood, the bad neighborhood moves to you… you move away from the city, the city follows you… you move to Florida to leave everything else, everything else moves to Florida, too.

    I hate to be cynical, but from the tone of the comments here, most seem to realize it, too: our society is broken, our nation is beyond salvaging, and the only practical option that remains is to flee it… but you can’t really run from a broken society, can you? Even Alaska may not be far enough now…

    Reply
    • stingray65

      I think the places that will remain relatively sane are red areas that regularly experience cold winters. Druggie/crazy homeless, gang-banger people of color, and most crazy single college educated women will not voluntarily choose to resettle in parts of the country that are mostly white, mostly Republican, and regularly get down to zero F (or worse).

      Reply
      • Jack Baruth Post author

        The lizard people figured that a while ago, thus the mass settlements of Somalis in Minnesota and Ohio, with many more “refugees” set to “enrich” the towns that thought they were far enough away from the coasts to be left alone.

        Reply
        • gtem

          More so than lizard people that “refugees welcome” mentality seems to stem more from this weird inborn Scandinavian cuck mentality (they do it to themselves back home in Sweden etc), the Lutheran Church figures in here as well.

          The concept of targeting some sleepy little white town in the upper Midwest or Maine for mass Somali resettlement is a particularly egregious form of the Great Replacement that truly pisses me off (as an assimilated Russian immigrant-turned US citizen myself)

          Reply
        • CitationMan

          Any ideas how we can make the lizard people have some skin in the game? Through legal means, of course (for now).

          Reply
          • Jack Baruth Post author

            DeSantis and his proposals to ship “refugees” to blue states/towns would be a good place to start.

            Here’s another one: abolish the armed private security business in its entirety, and charge anyone who is apprehended while performing armed response for someone else with the “full Rittenhouse” of charges. And abolish certain technical safety measures, like keycard elevator access, on grounds of fire and first responder safety.

            Let’s see what happens to “defund the police” and “ban the guns” when anyone can take the elevator to the top floor of the Manhattan co-ops.

          • CitationMan

            The defund the police move by the Asheville NC city council backfired. 84 of 240 officers have left since 2020. The police actually released a list of crimes they will no longer respond to.
            My old hometown of Chicago also has a shortage of cops. I had two lefty acquaintances recently remark unprompted on just how bad the crime had gotten. By that they mean that the crime is now in their neighborhoods and not just in the bad neighborhoods. Of course, they don’t know why it’s happening, and they think it will get better. When asked why it will get better, they had no ideas. I told them to watch The Omega Man with Charlton Heston to see their future.
            Chicago will be the first big city to blow up if there’s ever a national calamity. It’s already half way there.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      I was watching the season finale of yellowstone last night when Kevin Costner says “100 years from now there will be grass in the roads and weeds on the roofs.” We were so close to making it as a species; we had transistors and mild spaceflight and the Green Revolution to buy us fifty years’ worth of breathing room. But our elites, like Milton’s Satan, decided they would rather rule in hell.

      I think we will see some contractions occur in America during the next few decades. It will start with an exceptionally bad harvest and end with blood in every city street. There will be a six month period where people will live off stored food and victory gardens. A lot of urban people who have long held what they felt was a monopoly on violence will get in their cars as groups and head out to the sticks for some free food. Many of those people will learn firsthand the difference in engagement distance between a Hi-Point 9mm blowback pistol and a Remington 700 or lever-action Marlin.

      Reply
      • gtem

        “A lot of urban people who have long held what they felt was a monopoly on violence will get in their cars as groups and head out to the sticks for some free food”

        You’re giving these folks way too much agency IMO. I think in a collapse scenario the rural “haves” (and by haves I mean people motivated enough to have a garden, keep a cow, etc) will deal moreso with their own rural Dollar General dependents. I feel like a lot of people sticking up for flyover country (I’m one of them) overestimate the ability of the average younger/middle age person to grow their own food, as easy as it is. In the cities, the urban underclass will come for the urban yuppies, and then for the suburbs.

        Reply
      • ScottS

        “Many of those people will learn firsthand the difference in engagement distance between a Hi-Point 9mm blowback pistol and a Remington 700 or lever-action Marlin.”

        And an introduction to thermal.

        Reply
  34. jc

    Watch out for ticks out there. Don’t know if they have Lyme yet in OH, but it’s nasty. Have not had it myself but several friends have.

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      My son got bitten by a Lyme positive tick at our local trails last year. Thankfully he didn’t get sick. We are now obsessive about them.

      Reply
      • AoLetsGo

        Yep
        When is was hiking the AT a couple of years ago people would ask me:
        Are you carying a gun for the wierdos out there? – No
        Are you worried about bears or snakes? – No
        What were you concerned about the most? – Ticks

        Reply
  35. JustPassinThru

    Hmmm. Used a different email address than I had in the past, and I went to Moderation Hell.

    Okay to delete it…as I repost…

    I saw the title of this, and thought you’d made a bigger move.

    Like, to the region referenced by Norman MacLean.

    I made the move many years ago…even though I’m in a suburban environment (yes, we have such in the land of Oro y Plata) it’s better out here.

    I would never consider a return to Cleveland, or Ohio…or, for that matter, NYC, where I, also, was born.

    Reply
  36. Jeff S

    Late to the party but I too would like some more vintage Baruth. I worked 24 hour auto parts in the mid 2000s and nothing kept you going at 3am like some Baruth Phaeton speed secrets. Just rename them to get past the wokesters. How to achieve equality of outcome for lesbian dance theory majors… at 125 mph.

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      I might be able to ride the wave of anti-police sentiment among people whose entire lives are made possible thanks to vigorous police protection!

      Reply
  37. -Nate

    Have you begun th9inking about back up power yet ? .

    Large commercial gen sets are being auctioned off in your area often right now .

    -Nate

    Reply
  38. caltemus

    Owning a ninth generation Lancer, the content lately feels aimed right at me. When I was shopping for a car, I was looking for a Civic and feel like I got a deal on an “imperfect copy”. I do have the Rockford Fosgate branded stereo, and it’s acceptable. Luckily Mitsubishi only have one compact platform, so many bits from newer models, and even some jeeps will bolt on. I imagine rust will kill the car before any major mechanical failures, especially with the 5 speed and not the CVT.

    Reply
  39. MrFixit1599

    Finally made it to Tulsa, temporarily staying at my father-in-law’s pool/guest house at his 7th or 8th house until we find a house to buy. Realized that this pool house is nicer than the house I just sold in WI for 210K. Makes me question some of my life choices.

    Reply

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