The homestead begins... This is going to be a long term post. :)

Discussion in 'Homesteading' started by Geoffrey, Jul 7, 2014.

  1. Geoffrey

    Geoffrey Guide

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    My family and I are the proud new owners of 10 acres of agricultural land here in Northern Alberta. We have been looking for the right piece of land for years and this past week we purchased it. This has been a long and emotional process for us, we tried last year but didn't qualify for what we needed to buy and build. This year with the generosity of our family we were able to purchase a piece of land.

    The 10 acres is fully wooded mostly with Aspen/Poplar but there is a good mix of willow and a few birch, spruce, and fir. I will cultivate the land and try to encourage more of the bird and conifers to grow.

    Our plans is to do a self build right from the clearing of land right up to the building of the house. We will bring in trades only when needed.

    Over the past two weekends we have started clearing our driveway and I can say with certainty this will be a slow process. We have three little kids and my wife is pregnant with our fourth so my workforce mostly consists of me.

    Our goal is to clear 2.5 acres of the land and start a small homestead with the goal of becoming self sufficient. We plan to raise chickens for eggs and meat as well as a Jersey cow for milk and a calf each year. This will be hard work but well worth the trouble.

    I plan to create a bushcraft area where I can spend time working on my skills, overnighting, teaching my kids and others, and working on my bushclass requirements.

    This will be a very long and ongoing post, I hope to post updates over the coming weeks, months, and even years sharing our progress with you all.

    Thanks for being a great forum community, a place to learn and share.

    Here it is

    photo+1.JPG

    Hard to tell but there is a 20 foot wide by 100 foot long path cut into the timber

    photo+2.JPG

    LOTS of work to go, I hope you stay tuned. This place has been an encouragement and an ongoing way for me to live vicariously through so many of your adventures and posts.

    Thank you all for all that you post on here.
     
  2. Airth

    Airth Scout

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    Congratulations! I for one look forward to seeing your progress--you're living the dream!
     
  3. MichaelBear

    MichaelBear Bushmaster

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    This is just magnificient! I had a chance last year to get 20 acres in Adirondack NY with cabin for 20,000 and just didn't have the money. I am so happy for you! Congratulations!
     
  4. dustinf

    dustinf Guide

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    Congrats!

    Slow and steady wins the race. Don't confuse wants with needs when starting out, debt is the biggest detriment to freedom.

    Good luck!
     
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  5. blind & lost

    blind & lost Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    You are a fortunate man, and you and your family will be blessed. Remember patience is a virtue, enjoy!
     
  6. Thorbyfour

    Thorbyfour Guide Bushclass I

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    Very nice! I plan on having a few acres here in the Utah mountains.
     
  7. JimBow

    JimBow Guide

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    I know I will follow the adventure.....all the best to you!
     
  8. jstalljon

    jstalljon Woods Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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    As one who jumped at this chance a little over a year ago, I say congrats and wish you the best...it's the hardest, yet the most rewarding effort you will encounter.
     
  9. caspice

    caspice Tracker

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    Geoffery,

    To echo dustinf, Needs over Wants. Since you are, at present, a work force of one concentrate on the basic Needs...the Wants will wait. That said, do not neglect to include your children in this journey. Small hands can help to ease the heaviest burden. Keep your end goal clearly in sight. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Looking forward to regular progress updates. When is your fourth expected?
    Good luck and God bless.
     
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  10. Sgt. Mac

    Sgt. Mac Elder Staff Member Administrator Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II Bushclass Instructor

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    Congrats Buddy!!:35:
     
  11. BrainTree

    BrainTree Scout

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    Congratulations! My wife and I are in the middle of the process getting the right land (but in central CT). I can't wait to see more pics.
     
  12. Pipsissewa

    Pipsissewa Scout

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    Subscribed! :35:
     
  13. SavageJak

    SavageJak Scout

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    Congrats! I will be watching intently, as I have a similar plan I'm going to be starting in the next 3 years! Wish you all the best with your endeavor!
     
  14. 1773

    1773 Guide

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    It looks like you are on your way to living your dreams. I know you said your plan was to clear the land yourself but it sounds like you have a bunch of constraints on your time. From the looks of your photos, your land is flat, 2.5 acres of cleared land by hand with limited time could take a year or more, 2.5 acres of cleared flat land with a dozer/excavator (the excavator allows removal of the stumps without loosing a lot of top soil, if that is not an issue in your area you can get by with just a dozer) is about 2 days at a cost of about 2500 dollars or about 1250 if only a dozer is needed locally. Now I realize you may not have the funds to do that and that makes your time investment an offset to speed. The reason I bring this up is there have been several people locally who were going to clear their land by hand "just like the pioneers did" well they worked diligently on it every weekend for a while and then by their perceived lack of progress became frustrated with the whole project and walked off from it. Rest assured that given the opportunity, the hearty pioneers would have gladly traded those mules for a D6 Cat. I know this is unsolicited advice and is probably worth what you paid for it but you sound really exited about your property and I don't want your dream to turn into a nightmare for you. I will be following your posts and look forward to watching your progress.
     
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  15. Tall Paul

    Tall Paul Scout Bushclass I

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    Congratulations on your new adventure! This looks like a great adventure for sure. Subscribed!
     
  16. Bostoned

    Bostoned Scout

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    Congratulations. Very cool. Good luck.

    I am going to enjoy watching you transform that piece of land into your dream.
     
  17. north-woodsman

    north-woodsman Scout Bushclass I

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    Congrats buddy!
     
  18. EvanStinson

    EvanStinson Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    OMG!! 20 acres AND a cabin??? In the ADK's??? That's a S T E A L.... I can feel the pain of not being able to jump on that from here!!
     
  19. megabit

    megabit Tracker

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    I look forward to your updates.

    Mike
     
  20. rdec

    rdec Guide

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    Spend some time roaming your land. Figure out a plan for what you need to do and where. The hire of a good man with a small bulldozer and a thought-out plan can do more in a day than you can do in a year.

    I had friends in Vermont with a small farm who always said that the money they spent on that 'dozer was the best and most productive money they ever spent.
     
  21. hunter63

    hunter63 Bushmaster

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    That is very valuable advice.

    We must have spent 15 years deciding where on our original 10 acres we wanted to build.....turned out that I kept coming back to a spot on the hill....that really wasn't a spot....had to hire a dozer and make one.

    In the mean time we had our little trailer down on a different level....and it was level....most assumed that was where the cabin was going as it even had a near-by perk for septic.....but didn't feel right.

    We took our time and built what we wanted as well as paying for things as we went.....took a while but almost complete (well it will never be "complete").

    Also remember the "cost of something may be money, may be time, may be sweat and toil.......you need to decide what's best. "This time".

    Thank you for posting, I enjoy hearing about and watching progress on others projects.
    Long road, lots of work, ....but worth it.
     
  22. mbiraman

    mbiraman Supporter Supporter Bushclass II

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    Congrats. As someone who did this over thirty yrs ago i'll say it can be a good life. You'll learn allot along the way and make lots of mistakes,,,thats ok, ,, you'll learn from them. Whatever you do try and keep your overhead for the future low. Good luck
     
  23. Geoffrey

    Geoffrey Guide

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    Thank you for sharing this, you are echoing my thoughts and concerns. I am going to research some small scale logging companies as well and see what the timber value on 2.5-3.5 acres is verses the cost to clear it. I agree with you, the pioneers and all those that came before us did things the hard way because there was no other way. For us this isn't a build planned around doing the "old way" it is a quest to do it the budget way.

    The choice to clear by hand is one I am not taking lightly. Thankfully I have two Stihl chainsaws at least.

    My first day working the land the first small Stihl I was given had a throttle linkage failure and my folks hadn't given me the larger Stihl MS 291 C yet. That day was brutal. All work was done by hand with an axe and hatchet. I learned that day to haul more tools than I could ever need, there is no way to know when I might need to repair a saw or other piece of mechanical gear.

    Learning the importance of preparedness at the same time as learning more about self sufficiency.

    We are on our way learning every trip out there.
     
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  24. Geoffrey

    Geoffrey Guide

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    Thanks for all the encouragement.

    My kids have learned a lot already and are coming out of their comfort zones and are exploring the woods, weeds, ditches, and roads.

    It has been a good journey for all of us thus far.

    My wife is due in September and she has been busy each outing gathering raspberry leaves to make tea, the kids are helping and are learning about wild edibles as well.

    This will be a good life.
     
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  25. IAOutdoors

    IAOutdoors Supporter Supporter

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    Good luck to you and your family. This will be a rewarding adventure.:)

    Sent from my Motorola Electrify using Tapatalk 2
     
  26. hunter63

    hunter63 Bushmaster

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    You have just learned the way of the wilderness....if it can break, it will....one is none and 2 is one, a good start.
    Most lumber companies won't mess with small lots, unless you have high dollar trees, don't like to selective cut, and leave a mess.

    Do you research, but don't be surprised if no one shows up, or charges you to do what you want.

    I you think a day with hand tools is brutal, remember not long ago all work was by hand.
    Sounds romantic, but just a lot of hard dirty, dangerous work.
    Remember the first aid kit as well.

    And for all of you thinking about "A off grid homestead in the wilderness", being your dream....hopefully it's you wife or partners dream as well.....or you will loose 1/2 of it.
     
  27. Crazysanman

    Crazysanman Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass II

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    This may be the best advice yet!

    You're living my dream. I just moved from Baltimore city to the Denver area. I desperately wanted to buy a house up in the mountains and build a homestead. The wife had a lot of concerns - where would she find a job, would roads be passable in winter, would kids (3 teens) really want to be so far away from everything, and so on.

    I made a deal with the wife. We'd buy a house in town if 1. it had no homeowners association so I could do what I wanted to the yard (firepit) and 2. in a few years I would buy 5-10 acres somewhere in the mountains to build a cabin on for weekend retreats away from the city. This way we'd both get what we want.

    We made sure to buy less house then we were approved for so we will be able to buy some land. We close on the house in four weeks, then I can start looking for my mountain retreat.
     
  28. Geoffrey

    Geoffrey Guide

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    I agree with you on all counts.

    I too feel that there is minimum value to the timber so not a likely solution to bring in anyone else. We are still debating doing a large external burner/boiler so all the timber off three acres would keep that running for a while.

    I have a large and well stocked first aid kit and decent emergency kit but my truck has been without a dedicated set of tools. That will get added to the truck supplies at some point too.

    I am fortunate that my wife wants this lifestyle as well. We are also only 30 minutes from town so the distance isn't too great. We already make our own cultured veggies and drinks so homesteading and self sufficiency is in our minds even here in the city.

    Tomorrow I head out to clear more land so I will get a few more photos up.
     
  29. 1773

    1773 Guide

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    You learned very valuable lesson that will serve you well, my farm truck has so much equipment in it, it takes 10 minutes to move stuff around enough to get someone in the passenger seat and I am not that far from town but it eats up a lot of time to have to stop what you are doing and go get parts, tools, whatever. If your wife is on board as well, it will be a great experience for you and you are teaching your children some things that will serve them well as they grow up, they should have something that is sadly missing from many of todays youth, a work ethic. Also as has been pointed out unless you have some particularly valuable trees, which it didn't appear you did, it isn't cost effective to commercially log 2 or 3 acres, but you are right that is a lot of firewood, you could fall the trees, cut and stack out of the way the firewood you wanted and have a dozer clean and pile the rest of the mess. Keep the posts coming.
     
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  30. 1773

    1773 Guide

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    I don't see how people live with homeowner's associations, I was talking about a little get together we had at the farm for the 4th and one of the people in the conversation commented that they were surprised the homeowners association would put up with that, (a bon fire, cookout, fireworks and there might have been a gun or two shot at some point in the day as well, and no I don't have pictures I forgot my camera in the other vehicle) I pointed out to them that my wife and I own the land we were both "party" to the party and we were the "homeowners association" and if you weren't an invited guest you were a trespasser. They said they had parked their truck, (just for the evening and its a nice truck) beside their house because they had company coming over and needed the room and the homeowners association threatened to fine them for that, I don't see how people live like that.
     
  31. amusin

    amusin Guide

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    they live like that cause they want to be able to tell their neighbors not to have loud parties or paint their houses colors that clash
     
  32. Geoffrey

    Geoffrey Guide

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    We were out Friday night and did some more clearing.

    The driveway is now cut and cleared in to where we will start opening up the property.

    This trip out we did a picnic lunch too which the kids enjoyed.

    My very pregnant wife and young kids did a great deal of work moving and piling brush as my father and I knocked down trees and stacked piles of wood that will someday heat our home.

    It was a productive evening out.

    We are still working on one roadblock before we can really start clearing and building. Alberta has a new home warranty program that every new home must be covered under. This is a government requirement and like anything government level it is not simple or affordable. ;) We will keep researching to make sense of the new program and in the mean time we will keep slowly clearing and opening up our future homestead.
     

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    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
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  33. hunter63

    hunter63 Bushmaster

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    It's always fun to get going and see some progress.....
    Keep in mind....a "shed' is really handy for storage....or a emergency bunk house......just saying.

    Used this shed since 1991, and along with a travel trailer provided a base to work on thing as well as a hunting camp.
    Small addition room on the right contained a sawdust toilet (Refer Humanure Handbook) or Port-a-potty.

    Blue drums (one inside a box) provided roof collected water for use or solar shower, now heated with a electric water heater.

    [​IMG]
     
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  34. coloradospyderco

    coloradospyderco Tracker

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    You've probably already seen his Youtube channel before, but Wranglerstar has a homestead in Oregon and he does videos about the daily things he does like logging, timber framing, woodworking, restoring vintage axes, gardening, and other things homesteaders do. It really is the best channel on Youtube and it's the only one that makes you feel welcome and a part of it. Congratulations on your new property and adventure! Good luck to you and your family.
     
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  35. BeardedK

    BeardedK Tinder Gatherer

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    Congrats! You've got a lot of work ahead of you, but in the end it'll all be worth it. Good luck to you and your family!
     
  36. Pipsissewa

    Pipsissewa Scout

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    I think owner-builders might be exempt from carrying the warranty as long as you don't sell the property during the warranty period. Not sure though; check it out.

    Congrats on finding a wonderful place and best of luck to you and your wife on the pending birth of your little bushcrafter! :41:
     
  37. cobbsteve14

    cobbsteve14 Scout

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    That looks awesome. Your living the life so many of us dream about.
     
  38. Geoffrey

    Geoffrey Guide

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    In theory yes I can apply for the exemption, however no lender allows the exemption. The government setup the exemption however it puts the entire burden on the lender. If they foreclose the bank cannot sell for 10 years since no one will write a new policy on a house after it is built. It is a catch 22.

    We are still slowly clearing away trees and picking away at the home warranty mess.

    It will take time but it will be worth it.

    Found two nice young spruce trees after clearing some trees this week. We will need to transplant them so they don't get destroyed once we bring in the heavy equipment.

    I will get some more photos up over the weekend.

    Thanks for all the encouragement.
     
  39. Geoffrey

    Geoffrey Guide

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    photo 1.jpg

    A few more trees down

    photo 3.jpg

    Tools of the trade. Nothing beats a good chainsaw and an 8.5" 870 shotgun. ;) non restricted here too.

    photo 2.jpg

    The kids have a nice little "Easter Bunny house" set up there now

    photo 4.jpg

    We built a little shady area and some place to get out of the rain too
     
  40. Vintagebushcraft

    Vintagebushcraft Scout

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    Nice 870. I have never figured why you can have that and I can carry my sbh 44. However we would be criminals in each others country.
     
  41. Nytraxs

    Nytraxs Tracker

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    Amazing. I am severely jealous but overly happy for you! Here in Western Europe building that amount of land would cost tenfold of what you'd pay in a nice part of the us. You are all
    Blessed to live in the states.


    I will be following your progress buddy! Good luck and congratulations.
     
  42. Geoffrey

    Geoffrey Guide

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    Thanks and I agree. Gun laws in general don't make sense no matter where a person lives.

    My 8.5" 870 is just over 26" overall so it is non restricted because it is a manual action and over 26". Silly laws.

    This little gun throws a HUGE fireball when you pull the trigger.
     
  43. Loboryne

    Loboryne Scout

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    I love this thread!
     
  44. Geoffrey

    Geoffrey Guide

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    Even in remote places like northern Alberta the real-estate industry over prices everything... City lots here are $80,000-$150,000 just for land! We did the best we could with our budget and got lucky however it took years of searching but we finally found a reasonably priced piece of land and we are just over 30 minutes to any city amenity we could need.

    Thank you for the encouragement.
     
  45. Geoffrey

    Geoffrey Guide

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    A few more trees down

    photo 1.jpg

    Starting to look like some place I could put a house

    photo 3.jpg

    Figure 4 trap I made during a break with just my Benchmade Presidio folder, not terribly difficult but certainly made me long for my saw or hatchet or Farmer

    photo 4.jpg

    Raised the roof a little with two poles, now I can stand up under my tarp to get out of the sun and rain

    photo 5.jpg

    Headed back out tomorrow, progress is slow but still moving along in the right direction.
     
  46. Slips73

    Slips73 Guide

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    any chance you could give me an idea of the size of 10 acres? My goal is to own land and do small scale farming, originally i wanted 50-100 acres, then i realized i cant really afford that with the job field im in/going into and that was ALOT of money and land,

    then i figured well 10-50, but now im thinking more around 10 acres as a max, somewhere between 5-10 acres close to national forest or public land (im staying out west)

    would like to culitvate an acre or so for myself, build a small cabin and have a few goats, chickens, quail, rabbits etc, and the rest of the acreage just a buffer zone between me and any neighbors


    is 10 acres enough/ is it big enough for you? i have a hard time picturing what 10 acres is like though i worked a farm that was 3 acres and it seemed quite large.
     
  47. btdallmann

    btdallmann Tracker

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    An acre is a little smaller than a football field.
     
  48. Geoffrey

    Geoffrey Guide

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    I worked out a to scale drawing of the 10 acre parcel and a to scale drawing of what we plan to open up for our small homestead.

    I will get that sketch posted tomorrow I hope.

    Our plot is a square, 10 acres is 48,400 square yards or 220 yards x 220 yards. It is a pretty big piece of land.

    Our plan is to open up around 0.5 acres for the house and yard, add to that a 0.75 acre garden, then a 1.75 acre combination of chicken coop/run as well as barn and pasture for a Jersey cow. Even a 5 acre plot would be a very reasonable piece of land.

    We looked at small homestead plans and found confirmation in what others have been able to do on smaller pieces of land.

    Screen-shot-2010-07-14-at-12.26.28-PM.jpg

    half an acre homestead.jpg

    Homestead Plan.jpg

    We looked at what could be done on these smaller lots and we feel we can do anything we can imagine on these 10 acres...

    Our goal however is to "upgrade" maybe in 10 years to a full 1/4 section which is 160 acres. At that point the goal would be to be fully self sufficient and fully rely on the income generated by the farm. Long term goal though, for now I know the 10 acres we have holds untold potential and will be a great joy for all of us.
     
  49. Bob Sundquist

    Bob Sundquist Guide

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    Congrats. I am looking forward to following your progress.
     
  50. FastAktionJakson

    FastAktionJakson Tracker

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    This is awesome! You're living the dream man!

    This is awesome! You're living the dream man!
     

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