Saturday, December 6, 2014

The bug-out place

I guess I need to preface this post with a note about my children and grandchildren.  Although it doesn’t make things any different because these things happen in all kinds of families, it makes me feel a little better to remind myself that although you raise children the way you think is best, children and adults will do what they choose, not what you want.  Even if they do what you want it is because they choose to do so.  I came from a large family and really enjoyed childhood, and still enjoy having a bunch of brothers and sisters who are all my best friends.  We played together and fought together and against each other, but in the end we are there for each other and always will be.  I know that not everyone is fortunate to have that. 
I wanted to replicate that when I grew up and decided to adopt a bunch of kids.  They weren’t infants but older and abused or neglected.  I figured that loving them would turn them into the same type of family that I grew up with.  Boy, was I wrong!  They are all in their 30s now with families of their own.  I’ve always been their rock when they need advice or if something goes really wrong.  I don’t rescue them completely; they still have to swim to the life raft.   I’ve always felt an extra obligation to help out because they had such a difficult start.  Some turned out better than others.  Now I'm raising two of the grandkids because their father was abusive and their mother (one of my kids) would rather put drugs and her own fun life ahead of the children she has had.

As many know, son and his family lived at the bug-out place.  I bought that property about five years ago.  I put some improvements into it and two years ago son asked if they could move in.  The deal was that they would cover the taxes and insurance since the property is paid for.  They could do whatever upgrades or changes to the house or property they wanted as long as it was an improvement, and they couldn’t do anything major without discussion.  When they discussed any project with me, if I really liked it they could give me the receipts for the materials in lieu of rent.  I only had one rule.  No growing pot on the property.  After all, I have complained about some of the neighbor properties growing pot.  I don’t care if they use it or even grow small amounts but I don’t like the theft and fights that large crops brings. Also, in this county the landowner gets fined if they are caught growing on their property.  I could lose the property if someone grows on it.  So no growing pot.  Simple rule.

Simple for me.  Not so simple for son.  The first year on the property went well.  They enjoyed using the place.  Son cleaned up some of the dead trees and rewired some of the light switches.  The second year was a disaster.  While his wife left the bug-out place each day to go to her job in the city, he hung out at home with the kids.  They would spend half of their day playing video games and the other half working on the house and yard.  By working on the house I mean tearing things out and not finishing rebuilding them. 
He replaced the bathtub in the hall bathroom.  Tore out the old one and all the drywall near the tub.  Oops, he got too wide of a bathtub so the door wouldn’t close all the way.  Just bring it back and get the right size, right?  Wrong.  Instead he tore out the door and moved the door frame over three inches.  He rehung the door but because he built his own frame the door doesn't close.  He didn't care. He didn't wall in the tub.  Open  2x4s surround the tub and the wall with the door. The kids still used the tub, but not the shower. 

He tried to convince me that the wood stove wasn’t needed so he wanted to take it out.  It takes too much room up in the kitchen, he often complained.  Don’t touch it! So he didn’t.  Then he said the propane wall heater was leaking propane and making them all sick.  It’s old, buy a new one.  So he pulled out the old one and didn't want to pay rent for a few months to pay for the new one.  No.  I'm not replacing that.  Use the wood stove.  He asked if he could turn that space into a closet because we have the wood stove.  He took the heater out of the wall so now we have a big space because he didn’t turn it into a closet. 
Daughter-in-law came over one day and showed me on her phone how he’s opened up the old overgrown road on the property.  Now that is an improvement.  She said that he built a crossing over the creek.  Great.  Can’t wait to see it. 

The time came for me to go out to the property, since I hadn’t been there in over 6 months, but son had a fit.  He said he wasn't quite ready for me to see all the wonderful improvements.  He wanted it to be like those home fix-up shows where the person is away from the house for a while and comes back to a perfect model home.  OK, I’ll give you a bit more time.  Then when my brother came to visit son made up some excuse as to why brother couldn’t go out to see the property.  Then it was son’s birthday so I decided that we would go out there for his party.  Son called his sister and told her that she had to have the party at her house.  Absolutely no way could the party be at the bug-out place.  So daughter called me to tell me that the party was at her house. She told me why there was the change of venue but that she didn’t understand him being so adamant that I couldn’t go to my own property.  So we had the party at her house.  Son and his family spent the night at daughter’s house. 
That next morning I went to the bug-out house.  I knew it would be unoccupied so I had plenty of time to spend to assess exactly what was going on.  I was in shock.  The house was trashed.  Literally.  Trash filled every room.  How could they live like this?  The king-sized bed was in the middle of the living room floor so they could lie on the bed while playing the video games or watching tv.  The bathroom was so filthy I couldn’t use it and went behind a bush outside!  The master bathroom wasn’t any better.  The doors all had holes punched in them.  The back room, where sister, brother-in-law, and I worked rebuilding had never been finished.  It needed a couple more days of work on it to hang the rest of the drywall.  Instead the drywall was all broken. 

I needed some fresh air!  I wanted to go for a walk on the opened up road.  Son had told me that he had cut down quite a bit of brush and also got rid of the poison oak.  I needed to be cheered up after seeing the house.  At least the road all looked good on camera!  First I went to the outbuildings.  They were all filled with trash.  OK, on to the road.  It looked good.  He just pulled the brush off and didn’t dig down into the soil.  He ran the little off road vehicle on it to flatten it down.  Looks great.  I got to the creek crossing.  He covered the creek with logs and put the soil on top.  Not quite a Spitler crossing but close enough.  I noticed that the poison oak was gone.  He spent a good deal of time working outside.  Doesn’t make up for the disaster in the house but at least I know he wasn’t spending all day just playing video games! 

After crossing the creek I noticed a large pile of potting soil. on a bright blue tarp.  And further, a clearing under the trees…with little green plants growing happily in the late summer sun.  And further along, at the back of the property was an area about ½ acre in size that was filled with happily growing well watered pot plants.  No wonder he made the road so nice and got rid of the poison oak.  It was interfering with his pot garden.  I was pissed.  If the sheriff found this I would lose my property. MY property. MY bug-out place!

I went home and seethed.  I didn’t say anything to anyone so nobody else in the family knew that I had been out there.  A couple days later, during the week, I called son up to say that I was off work early and was coming over.  They met me in the front yard.  They didn’t invite me in and I did not ask to go in.  They did not offer to show me around and I did not ask.  Instead I handed them an eviction notice.  Sorry, but I have to do this legally.  Why, daughter-in-law asked?  Because I want the house back.  You have 60 days to move.  Yes, in California, even if the person is growing pot on your property or doing anything else that is illegal, if they have lived there for longer than one year you have to give them a 60-day notice to move.  Asinine!
They complained a bit wanting to know exactly why.  So I told them.  You trashed the house and are growing pot.  Son actually tried to deny that he was growing! He didn’t know that I was there and saw.  As a parting gift I gave him a snapshot from Googlemaps in which you can see the clearings and each individual pot plant. 

They moved out and we haven’t heard from them since.  We think they went up to Washington.  I took 60 bags of trash out of the house.  33 gallon bag size! It filled up my pickup twice!  There was still broken furniture and mattresses to remove. I still have the yard and outbuildings to clean up.  Then there’s the scrubbing of the ceilings, floors, and walls.  Then repainting.  And finishing the bathrooms.  Worst of all, on his way out he threw rocks in the front windows.  We have five windows to replace. 

Trying to do this cleanup while still doing things at our farm while dealing with Girl’s behavior and Boy just wanting some of my time means this is a very slow process.  I’m sure when son’s family hits rock bottom somewhere else they will be back. Our door will not be open. 
I wrote this a couple of days ago.  This morning Boy, Girl, and I went to the bug-out house to do some more clean up.  Boy and Girl worked hard today taking all the broken furniture out of the house and smashing it more (that was fun!) then putting it all into the back of the truck.  They cleared off the porch, which had more broken junk that didn't fit into the truck last time I was there.  I spent our three hours there just washing floors.  I was short of water because we had to haul our own since the power was off and the backup water barrels are missing. 
I am very pleased to know that although the house has been vacant for a few months now that nobody has taken anything from the property. I, on purpose, left Son's bb rifle on a chair.  If someone broke into the place the rifle would be gone. 
This week I will go to the dump and get rid of the 60 bags of trash, which have been stored in the little trailer, plus what's in the truck.  I'll also get the electricity turned back on so when we go out again next week I'll be able to have as much water as I need to get the ceilings and walls washed.  I'm going to tear out the kitchen and put in a new one.  That was something I wanted to do when I bought the place, so now's a perfect time to do it!  Then paint (or maybe paint before the new kitchen is torn out).   
More lessons learned! I can afford to keep this property without someone having to rent it from me.  No more renters!  It is in a secure location because, although empty, nobody has entered the property.  It's time to get serious with this property and get it set up for a true bug-out home.    


  1. Sorry, to hear this story, but thankful that is didn't end worse. I really feel sorry for their kids though.

    A hidden game camera inside will catch any trespassers.

  2. I'm sorry, so very sorry your family has treated you and your property with such disrespect.

  3. I've followed your blog for a few years, but I'm not sure I've ever commented. I'm glad you're writing again, and I just wanted to say how sorry I am about your property, and about your son's response to the eviction. I think your decision was right and necessary, though, to avoid enabling his bad behavior and also to protect your property.

    Best of luck in its restoration.

  4. I had property next to my Fathers, he told me repeatedly never rent to family or friends. I felt sorry for my Brother and let him "rent". I do feel your frustration. I can't say he was worse than other renters, but I'm sure they paid monthly.
    Just a little bit of respect goes a long way in life, it's unfortunate that most people don't respect themselves, their own property and certainly not the property of others.
    Tear out the old kitchen, then drywall repair (if needed, and I always manage to need it) and then paint. We painted last and it turned out great but it would have been nice to have an empty space to work with.
    It's nice to see you blogging again.

  5. Looking on the bright side: you didn't lose the property and he didn't burn the place down. Did any of the fruit trees planted there survive?

    I'm impressed by your attitude of getting right to work and clearing it out.

  6. hope you changed the locks, et cetera.
    d. h.

  7. Glad to see you're writing again! Sorry your family trashed the place - very disappointing behavior, but glad you are able to make the improvements that you've wanted to do.

  8. Sorry to hear of your situation. I don't have any answers as we have struggled with a family situation similar, but not as bad. We just try to hold them as responsible as we can. Good Providence.