The reason behind my lack of involvement the past few months

tortadise

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Busy bearded man I have been the past few months. Some of you already know about the move down south.mwell some do not. I decided as director of the non profit I established in 2004 to not allocate any more funds in the growth and expansion in north Texas. Sold the property and purchased 16 acres in south Texas. Better climate, cheaper cost of living(lowest in the nation actually) and just more room to expand into a full public zoological institution. Well anyway, of course my mom I have to take care of, so I needed to build her a tiny cabin on a portion of the property. We will go through some of that process in this thread.

A little about the property first. It's located in San Benito Texas. The property is 4 miles north of the international boundary of Mexico and United States. 5 acres of the 16 are a huge pond, the other remaining acreage has a 3 acre garden maintained by the previous "renters" which are now the facility care keepers. They're an elder married couple from Vera Cruz Mexico, which are of Mayan decent. So they are very organic and very very into nature and the earths fortunes in which it provides. They grow thousands of species including medicinal herbs, plants, and 100s of edible organic greens, veggies and fruits.this was a huge selling point to me of the purchase, of this property. I first saw it thanksgiving evening after making a 10 hour drive south from Dallas. Luckily I speak Spanish, long story short they were beyond thrilled that I offered them to stay in the house on the property free of rent as long they like if they helped with the tortoises, growing food, and tending to the property, and whatever plants they planted are legally mine but that I have no interest in making income of what they sell to make their wages. They only make income off selling what is grown on the property and sold to locals. I'll go over what's in the garden in a caption of the photo below.

So anyways again. The organization has depleted the DBA of "North Texas Tortoise Sanctuary & Conservation Center" and we're currently operating under a new DBA but have not legitimately completed the website and public launch(y'all are the first to hear of it)

San Benito Wildlife Conservancy is our new operable DBA under our non-profit umbrella. So keep that in mind when you don't see the old name. The property is in a migratory path that receives over 3000 species of birds and every single species of North American butterfly. The property has ocelots, numerous species of bats, cars caras, Ospry, Eagles, parrots, indigo snakes, American alligators, lots of coral snakes, and over 300 year old ebony trees and of course Texas tortoises. A true gem and relic of land. I haven't seen the species of owls living in the palm tree patch overlooking the pond, but the care keepers have been visited by the USFW stating they have a tagged owl on the property, it's a species that has less than 40 remains in the natural territory. Very very very awesome to have such endangered natives species thriving all over the property.

Ok let's start of with a bunch of photos. It's kinda mixed with tiny house work and tortoise work. In general it's a mixture of living and tortoise set up preparation.


The chosen site for an additional approach and driveway for my moms tiny house began with clearing trees.
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It seems terrible I know. But all the trees we removed were inhibiting growth of the ebony trees. We cleared the underbrush and smaller trees that were strangling the big endangered guys.
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Utilized the backhoe I rented for a week to dig in a new approach storm drain for the driveway entrance.
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Then the following day was load after load of caliche gravel for the driveway. 8 15yard trucks later and some tractor work an instant driveway(this process seem so quick and simple on this thread, but this was very very tiring work for 2 days of cutting, burning and clearing to get this stage.
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Before all this slave labor was done, this spot I'm standing in couldn't even be ventured into without machete or chainsaw. I've got some sweet scars all over my arms from the branches and overgrown forest just working my way into the thicket. Those are all ebony trees with a few ficus trees mixed in.
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Not sure if North American ebony are endangered, but I know South American and Indian are critically endangered trees. They're extremely beautiful trees. This property was a orange grove 57 years ago and abandoned. The only 4 ebony trees on the entire property near maturity that are well over 300 years old are near the house, this land is massive nesting ground for scarlet ibis(referred to as North American flamingo) they're very cool birds. Well ebony fruit some tiny berry like seed pod that the birds consume and obviously deficate and germinate the fruits. So naturally the 3 ebony relic trees were spread by the ibis and other migratory birds allowing the property to be overtaken by these majestic huge beautiful tropical trees.

Here's one of the relic trees. They grow very very very slow. The ones that are 60 years old are only about 8-10" trunk girth. This one is almost 32" there's 3 total this size.

A 57-60 year view of ebony forest aged trees.
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One of the 3 relics that supplied the forest of ebony
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Ok enough nerding about the awesome trees. We will go over some remodel work of the temporary tortoise building.
The property had a house constructed 60 years ago. Well back then they did stuff right and big. Beside the house stands an independent garage that's 1200 square foot. So I utilized this building for the destined placed for the tortoises and s temporary setting before I constructed the welcome center and zoological house.

Gonna be multiple posts because it's so large. So be patient.
 

wellington

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Wow Kelly. Looking great. Miss ya here, but so so happy for you and the torts, that we are glad to cover for you. Sounds like a great place already and what a great place it will be. Congrats again.
 

tortadise

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Here's the garage and new temporary tortoise building.
Roof had to go of course.
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The inside is great. They constructed the house and garage both in a method called til wall. What tilt wall is, you form up on the ground like you pour a slab and pour it, then tilt it up. All the walls are solid concrete. A little reframing and squaring up and the roof is good to go for new 28 gauge metal standing seem roof,
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Little felt action and boom ready for the metal
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And of course the inside I gutted too.
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Some experimental tortoise tables( I don't like them)
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Moved some walls and made a separate incubation room, storage room, and of course laundry room for the care keepers and my mom. It's a huge garage. The room to the left in this photo is the incubation room and to the right is tool storage(I have a shitload of tools)
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Then of course I needed to put the big guys somewhere. So I framed a 14'x 38' extension on the back of the building for a greenhouse. The weather is quite warm year around down there.mso they get to be outside way more than Dallas.
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Little siding roof and window action and boom.
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Insulate and plywood the walls then divider it up. This material is pretty cool for the roof. It's a new UVB passable limited half life material developed by a small company in north Texas. It's completely recycled and completely "indestructible" plastic if you literally bend it smash it, step on it it will completely reform to its original state. UV passes through it and does deteriorate it. Pretty cool.
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And of course we have to do electrical for all those 112 4' UVB bulbs I have.
Being concrete walls I had to use EMT pipe. I put every plug on a switch. There's 3 total switches per shelf of tortoise table. 1 daytime(UV) 1 daytime heat(Mercury Vapor) and one night time(CHE) this is one section of wall.
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Can't forget about painting the outside nice and tropical green.
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bouaboua

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I'm going to mark, watch this thread and follows.

Congrats and waiting to be WOWs and WOOs of your every update.
 

mike taylor

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I fill like I've seen this somewhere before . ha-ha So how close is the closest motel or hotel by your new place . So I can make the trip to help out .
 

tortadise

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Then of course on Christmas Day had to venture back up to dallas and load the 4th Uhaul. I loaded all the torts up in a 20' covered trailer. What a beating of a drive.
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14 hours later solid straight. They arrive to the temporary set up of modified pallet racks. Work great. The humidity is extremely high year around so no worries of being too dry or cold.
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And of course everyone feels right st home. Even some next day egg layers.
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And a news years eve hatched leopard tortoise. 1 of 68 awaiting to come out.
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And oh yes I've veered off of course. Now let's talk about the garden. For the last 3 weeks I have not purchased a single green, fruit, weed, or pellet(besides the turtles and some fish for the carnivores to consume) for any tortoise thus far. It's fantastic. Just fantastic.
3 acres of organic plentiful weeds, greens, fruits, and veggie for the humans and the tortoises.
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I counted them. 68 mature 9-10' tall variated opuntia spineless cactus. Oh yes it's heaven. I eat it, the tortoises eat it, we all eat it, just so good.
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And of course over 35 papaya and 50 guava and 34 mango trees for the tropical guys and big bird( the macaw)
Take a look at that papaya tree. That guy right there is only 1 year and 2 months old. Over 14' and yields 60 pounds of fruit every month. The soil is the most fertile I've ever encountered even more so than Central America it's fantastic.
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Elohi

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What an amazing place! Nice job man!
 

bouaboua

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Wonderful.....It is only 40 some miles from McAllen TX. that is less then an hour drive.
 

tortadise

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Ok now back to finishing my moms tiny house.

After all the clearing I found a nice spot. Then needed to dig s hole for the septic tank. I decided to do it myself because all the trades were too expensive. I am after all a general contracter and do everything myself anyways. So of course with the backhoe I rented I dig away. Look at that soil. Mannnnnnn it's nice.
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Found a good deal on some block bought s mixer and boom septic tank in(well took about 3 days really, concrete bottom then block walls, then had to make the top and trench the outflow gray water lines)
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And of course the lid. Just a typical rebar mat every 12" on center and 4" thick, let dry for a few days then drop it on top of the tank.
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Ok enough about the turd tank lol.
I had my builder friend build my moms tiny house to be delivered a few weeks before I made all the preparations for its delivery. I wired it up, plumbed it, then spray foamed it before it was delivered down south.
It's a wee one. But me being s builder I can manipulate tiny spaces into the most functional thing.mthe property is beautiful and perfect weather year around so who needs a huge house when you have the outdoors right?

This is the house. 558 square foot 1 bath, 1 bed, full bath, walk in closet, and full kitchen.
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Closet is accessible though bathroom.
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Spray foam the walls and underneath for a vapor barrier and total R value of R-19. It's like an icebox and heat box when cooled or heated with very very little effort or power.(yes that's a stain glass window at the head of the tub. My mom requested it. It's kinda cool but took some extra custom waterproofing steps)
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And the delivery down south since it's ready to go.
Took about 5 hours to maneuver it around the ebony trees. Nifty little machine they had.

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And all nestled in and leveled up.
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Now it's time to get it finished.
Sheetrock
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Then texture it and trim it and paint it,
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And my mom has always wanted a little cabin in the woods. So I added s nice little wood V groove ceiling and just sheet rocked the walls. You will see it finished later.
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Then cabinets and light fixtures after the paint and stain is done.
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Followed by tile of course too. Slate tub and counter tops. Looks awesome and organic.
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The wood ceiling looks good too. All eco friendly low watt LED lights were used.
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Then the bamboo flooring install commences. Tiger stripe is the name of this bamboo. Pretty stuff. Gabriel is a great helper.
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I routered and hand made open shelves instead of upper cabinets in the kitchen. With such a small house upper cabinets would of crowd the entire kitchen. Add a little corbel and rustic iron brackets to support them and they look awesome.
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The bathroom sink is awesome. I got it from an import trade store. Hand blown glass with a leaf imprint bowl top mount sink. Very organic.
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tortadise

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Then of course you might ask. Well that's a tiny house, what are you gonna do if its raining or dreary outside. Ummmmm hmmmmm add a huge porch.
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And of course roof it the same and screen it in. Metal screen doors on both ends. On end the door leads to a 1/2 acre fenced area I fenced in for the dogs. There's lots and I mean lots of predators on the property. The roof on the porch will also get the v groove wood ceiling to match the inside. 1875(circa) wood burning fire place for those 3 weeks of 45'degree winter nights(hahahahahahahhaha)
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tortadise

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That's pretty much it. Not bad for 5 weeks of work. Upcoming is a 10,000'square foot welcome center and reptile exhibit construction, 18 kilowatt solar off grid system, and huge parking area for public tourism. We're currently under review and approval for federal mammal, reptile, avian, and state as well rehabilitation, facilitation, possession and release, and conservation USFW tagged facility funded and sponsored to educate, facilitate, release, and posses native and non native endangered mammals, birds and of course tortoises and reptiles. So yeah. Any questions?
 

tortadise

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I fill like I've seen this somewhere before . ha-ha So how close is the closest motel or hotel by your new place . So I can make the trip to help out .
Very close. But there's room in the house. Not the tiny house, the property has a 1400 square foot house the screw are keepers live in. But it's all good they're awesome. Homemade everything. Tamales out of this world. I did forget to mention, there's chickens and turkeys for eggs, and meat too. I need to take more photos. But the next few months will be very busy as usual. Eventually I'll get some photos of everything for everyone.
 

bouaboua

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Indeed. But you being in California you can fly southwest to Harlingen and in 15 from getting off the plane be at the facility.
Looks like my wife and I need to schedule a visit soon.................:<3::):<3::):<3::)
 

bouaboua

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Then of course you might ask. Well that's a tiny house, what are you gonna do if its raining or dreary outside. Ummmmm hmmmmm add a huge porch.
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And of course roof it the same and screen it in. Metal screen doors on both ends. On end the door leads to a 1/2 acre fenced area I fenced in for the dogs. There's lots and I mean lots of predators on the property. The roof on the porch will also get the v groove wood ceiling to match the inside. 1875(circa) wood burning fire place for those 3 weeks of 45'degree winter nights(hahahahahahahhaha)
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Amazing, Amazing, Amazing! ! ! ! ! ! !
 

bouaboua

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That's pretty much it. Not bad for 5 weeks of work. Upcoming is a 10,000'square foot welcome center and reptile exhibit construction, 18 kilowatt solar off grid system, and huge parking area for public tourism. We're currently under review and approval for federal mammal, reptile, avian, and state as well rehabilitation, facilitation, possession and release, and conservation USFW tagged facility funded and sponsored to educate, facilitate, release, and posses native and non native endangered mammals, birds and of course tortoises and reptiles. So yeah. Any questions?
When the next phase (welcome center and all other building) will start? and estimated competition date??
 

tortadise

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When the next phase (welcome center and all other building) will start? and estimated competition date??

I've just barely scratched clearing the area. That portion of property luckily does not have many ebony trees where the suitable location is for the structure. I absolutely love those trees and will not cut them down. I'm in the design stage right now, but have to break ground this spring at the latest. The federal regulations for solar installment change in December 2016 so this ihas to be installed this summer. Which requires a structure to house the 18 panels. The wind turbines(4) can go up without a structure, but multiple mobilizations for the solar contractor can get costly. So need to have everything constructed by early summer. Obviously it won't be finished and ready for about a year or more. I found this entire operation soley myself. But that should soon change, which was a huge part of purchasing this property. Growth and expansion. The Dallas location was limited and maxed for any sort of future expanding. The next 5 years we will go global too. Starting with Mexico and wood turtles. Working on a massive land purchase there to move some biologists to study and preserve the rubida and Mexicana box turtles. For turtle nerd friends alike here your always welcome anytime whether it's open or not.
 

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