Ozark Retreat - Chapter 3
estate agent rode with Brady. It was a hot, muggy day. Brady had the air conditioner full on. Julia directed Brady down the
state road for just a short way, and then onto a county road. Soon Brady noted they were climbing in altitude. The road twisted
and turned quite a bit. They’d gone almost twenty miles on the road. Brady figured it was less than fifteen as the crow
flies back to Branson when Julia indicated a steep dirt track.
He turned onto it and they
climbed the sharp grade. The road finally leveled off and then quickly petered out. It was forest all around, except for the
dirt road. Brady had to jockey the Suburban around some in the trees to get it turned around to head back down the track.
Brady and Julia got out of the Suburban. Julia handed Brady a topographical map. “Here
is the map you requested. We’re… right here.” She put her finger on a point on the map after Brady unfolded
They couldn’t see more than twenty or thirty yards in any direction, except
down the road, so Brady began walking along, map in hand. Julia stayed where she was. Brady had spotted key points on the
map and checked each one out in person. He was trying not to grin when he returned to the Suburban and Julia. It was everything
he’d asked for and Julia had told him about. Plus.
All the real estate agents had
said that properties with water sources were rare and costly. They did exist, but most of them had been bought up years before,
by the earliest settlers, and seldom came onto the market.
What Julia had missed on the
map, if she had even looked at it, was a tiny blue mark. Barely more than a tic. It was a spring. A very small one, but a
spring never-the-less. He’d been tempted to check how it tasted, but remembered in time that he’d read that even
in remote areas the water was often contaminated. He’d have the water tested professionally before he tried to drink
any of it.
He didn’t mention the spring to Julia. He did ask, “How did this
piece of property come to be on the market?”
“A group of doctors had bought
it, intending to put in a small spa resort. They bought the property three years ago, based on some very tentative county
plans to extend and improve the roads up here. That project fell through. They decided to cut their losses while they could.
They are quite eager to sell.” Julia quoted a price.
too eager to me.” He made a counter, and she re-countered. Brady made his do or die offer.
I’ll have to check with them,” Julia said. “I just don’t know. I’ve gone as low as they would
Brady shrugged. “It’s a take it or leave it offer. And it will
be cash. See if that makes any difference to them.
Julia looked delighted. “Oh,
I think it will. Can’t make promises, but I think they’ll take it. They were grumbling about having to finance
When Brady dropped Julia off at her office he said, “If they accept the
offer, push the paperwork through as fast as you can. I’d like to take possession as soon as possible.”
“Are you planning a resort, too, Mr. Collingsworth?”
Brady replied. “A retirement home.” He suddenly realized he meant it.
he dropped Julia off, Brady went to a hardware store and picked up a few things and then went back up to the property. He
dug out the wet spot that was the source of the spring and made a small pool. He scooped up water in three zip-lock bags to
take back to the city for testing.
He filled half-way full four 5-gallon plastic buckets
with topsoil from four different spots on the property. Then he dug down in another spot as deep as he could without making
a huge hole and put a sample of the sub-soil in another bucket. He’d take them all in for testing by the county extension
A week after Brady got home Julia called. The doctor group had accepted the offer.
Brady over-nighted a cashier’s check that afternoon.
A few days later and he received
the results of the water and soil tests. The water was contaminated with protozoa, but any decent silver impregnated filter
would handle that.
The soil tests were also less than perfect, but more than acceptable.
The soil was more than moderately fertile, but not up to intensive gardening without conditioning. He would need to do a percolation
test to determine the size and type of septic system that would be needed. But he needed to decide what facilities he would
have on the property before he sized the septic system.
One piece of information the real
estate agents had provided him, on their own, was how deep wells in the area ran and the names of a couple of well drillers.
Water was a big issue in the area.
Brady got on line and found a site with aerial photographs.
He pinpointed his property. The photo was over ten years old, but perhaps for individual trees that might have died and fallen,
and new growth, he couldn’t see where anything else had changed.
A visit to the
USGS website got him different scale topographic maps of the area. He took the maps and copies of the photos to a professional
model maker he’d used on a case, and had large scale models of the property and the surrounding area built.
He began reading the Branson newspaper on line to become more familiar with the area.
His detective business was booming and he expanded during the fall, hiring two operatives in addition to Harry,
one male and one female. Barbara had her license and had handled tasks for him that required a female. But she was pregnant
now and wanted to just run the office.
They really needed more room for what they had,
and would need even more as they expanded. “Barbara,” Brady said one day, “use your detective skills and
see if you can find us a decent place in a building with some kind of reasonable shelter space in case of bad weather or something.”
“You a convert, Boss?” she asked in reply.
don’t know, Barbara. I think just maybe I am. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit.”
He told her about the property he’d bought and she laughed. “Yep. A convert. Seriously now, if
I can help you in any way, let me know. And if you would, keep me and Robert in mind if you want to start a MAG. I’d
like to find a better retreat than we have, if you’d consider it.”
consider it. I hadn’t thought that far ahead. I still need to get a well drilled, but I can’t do that until I
decide where I want the house and cut some trees. You can barely move around up there right now. A drilling rig would never
“Think southern exposure and defensibility, both in placement and
It was good advice. Brady kept both in mind as he continued to study
the maps and the models, and plans for everything from a one room cabin on up. He had a clean slate. He could do anything
he could dream up and afford. He had to put preps on a back burner for a while. The firm picked up a murder case from one
of the several attorneys he was on retainer to for case investigation work. It took him out of town for quite a while. When
he returned the attorney’s client was set free with the actual murderer in jail, with enough evidence provided by Brady
to convict him.
It had been a tough case, and dangerous. The killer had carefully set
up the accused, with an alibi for himself. He didn’t like it when Brady began to poke holes in the frame and the alibi.
Brady set himself up as an easy target, and with police backup, trapped the guy. At least this one had enough sense not to
try to shoot it out.
So Brady decided to take a couple of weeks off and go down to the
property. He was born and bred a city boy. He’d been in the service, but other than boot camp hadn’t gone into
the field. He did his tour working for the JAG as an investigator.
He used the information
from forum discussions to select camping equipment so he could stay on the property when he went down. Barbara put in her
dollar and a quarter’s worth and he was set. Barbara also made sure he understood the BOB concept. She nodded her approval
when Brady showed her what he had come up with.
Barbara would be in charge of the move
to their new offices while Brady was gone. He hated moving. The building had a sub basement and parking garage suitable for
shelter use. Between them Brady and Barbara came up with a budget to have preparations purchased and stored in the offices
and sub basement after the move.
Brady had talked to both of the available well drillers
previously. One sounded fine, but the other guaranteed a minimum quantity of water if he could douse the property and put
the well where he wanted. Brady had grave doubts about dousing, but the guarantee couldn’t be beat, even though the
driller was a dollar higher a foot than the other guy. But he wouldn’t guarantee quality of the water when Brady asked
about it. Just the quantity.
So Brady met the driller at the property the first day Brady
was down. Brady showed Henry the area where he planned for the house and compound. He watched Henry as he walked the area,
two L-shaped pieces of coat hanger in his hands. Brady saw them cross or almost cross several times. Henry kept coming back
to one place. “Here,” he said, looking up at Brady.
It wasn’t quite
where Brady would have picked, but it wasn’t that far off. And it was uphill from where he tentatively planned to put
the septic system. It would do. Brady would get the guarantee. Henry showed Brady how much space he would need for the drilling
rig and support truck.
They set a date for Henry to come back with his rig to drill the
well and set the pumps. Brady had selected a solar pump as the primary pump, with a deep-well hand pump as back-up. He was
taking his preps seriously.
But first he had to get the trees cleared. Firewood was a
big business in the area, so it was no problem to find someone to cut the trees for a portion of the firewood. He’d
stockpile the rest. Wood burning stoves were in his future.
A local farmer advertised
stump removal. Brady contacted him and had him come out and dynamite the stumps. That called for some earthmoving afterwards
to fill the holes and level the ground. Brady had gone undercover on a case two years previously as an equipment operator.
He had more than a passing familiararity with earthmoving equipment. He just needed to decide if he wanted to rent equipment
and do the work, or hire the work done.
After checking on the availability of equipment
he just hired a contractor and had him do the work. Later he would do some of the work himself when he had more time. Henry
was happy with the pad created and set up and got right to work when he arrived the day after the dirt work was done.
Curious, Brady monitored the operation, watching with interest as Henry worked the rig controls like a musician
playing an instrument. It took most of two days of drilling to hit the best aquifer. Brady had to pay up. The well produced
eleven gallons a minute. Plenty for Brady’s needs.
Henry was experienced with solar
pumps and had everything needed to erect a fold-over pole with the solar array on it, and the controller and batteries for
backup. Brady would do something else later, but Henry had a tip-up, insulated enclosure to cover the well head in the meantime.
Samples of the water were sent in for tests.
Brady found he liked camping out and stayed
two extra days beyond what he originally planned to just enjoy being on the property. Before he left, Brady set up a motion
activated surveillance camera just inside the tree line, aimed at the well site and camouflaged it. On the off chance someone
discovered the well, pump, and solar array and vandalized or stole it, he’d have proof of it and probably the identity
of the perpetrators. He had digital pictures of the installation for insurance purposes and would acquire coverage for the
property when he got back to the city.
He knew the next thing he needed to do was decide
on the location of buildings and the number of people for which he needed to provide sewage treatment. But the work load was
picking up and Brady put the decisions off for a few days. Barbara was looking for additional operatives. If he could get
them, he had a big security contract in the bag and would branch out into that field.
came through, as he knew she would and Brady took a team to the new business building under construction for which he would
be providing security. The original architects had included security features, but Brady suggested a few changes. The owners
weren’t too happy, but some of the changes actually saved some money. Overall, the changes resulted in only being slightly
more expensive than the original plans. The owners were happy and Brady was happy. It would look good for advertising his
Brady took another two weeks off and went back down to the property. He got
the same wood cutters, powder monkey, and earthmoving contractor he’d used before to clear the area where he’d
decided to put the septic system. He’d studied up on various waste treatment systems and knew what he wanted. It was
a basic septic tank with leach field system.
The plumbing contractor that he hired continued
to tell Brady that the multi-trunk leach field was way over capacity for the tank capacity, according to the percolation test
that had been done. Even for the larger than normal septic tank Brady had ordered.
Brady stood firm and the man installed it the way Brady wanted it. Brady had learned that you could clean out a tank, but
could not effectively clean a leach field if it ever became saturated.
He wanted the extra
capacity for that reason and to allow for reduced evaporation in cases of extreme winter weather. In a properly installed
leach field much of the liquid migrated upward through the ground, to be used by the plant life over the field, with another
portion evaporating into the air. A significant amount was absorbed by the ground, but far from all of it, as most people
thought. Including some plumbers.
So Brady now had two of the most important basics on
the property. Water and sewer. And the water had tested out pure and relatively soft. It wouldn’t need any treatment
and tasted good.
That was Brady’s last trip for a while. Winter set in and work
demands kept Brady busy. But he wasn’t neglecting his new hobby. Preparedness. He was learning more and more, and buying
preparations based on what he learned. Barbara had made sure the office was ready as it could be for whatever might come,
be it natural or human caused. Brady approved everything and learned much from her examples.
the winter, in the spare time he did have, Brady began to play with building designs and their placement on the model. By
springtime, he had the basic plan for the entire property modeled out.
He also took the
advice of the gentleman at LaRhonda’s compound and had an engine swap done to the Suburban, as well as a few more modifications
to make it a better ‘prepper’s’ rig.