Can a city boy build his dream homestead on a mountain, by himself and with no mortgage?

OMG, it works!…part 2 (wildlife on parade)

my long weekend of construction continues, despite my aching arms, legs, wrists and back…


Morning:  First order of the day is to finish the other 2 walls and get the cabin all boxed in. The rear wall is a simple 8′ high x 10′ long and slams together in minutes. I lift it into place easily (no headers, 4×4’s or 2×6’s, LOL). The final wall has the door in it so I am very careful measuring the header and stud placement. It slams together quickly and also lifts into place with no back strain!


I notice a mother cow and her baby have wandered over to eat my grass, it’s only 10 am and I’m off to a roaring start!

With the sky looking ominous and rain coming tonight, I decide to hold off on the OSB sheeting and put up some rafters so I can drape plastic sheeting over the structure. I’m using Simpson connectors (H-1Z) to attach the rafters.  I didn’t want to notch out each end of a 16′ long 2×6 and these metal plates will simply connect the boards to the top of the walls.


I get a few up and notice that the measurements are off on one side by 1 1/2″. This means that the last 3 rafters on the driveway side will be cock-eyed. I re-measure and somehow the math doesn’t add up. Hmmmm? Turns out the overhang on the front driveway side is 1 1/2 shorter than the others (all should be 12″).

I rip off a few mis-nailed connectors and head to the hardware store in town (9 miles over windy 2-lane roads) for some replacements. Upon my return, a large older man on an ATV is waiting at my gate.

He introduces himself as Bob, the owner of the ranch across the street (200 acres and his house is on the back side of the mountain). He’s quite jovial and heard my hammering and wanted to see what’s up. He is very interested in my cabin and then blurts out the following…”Have you seen my dog, a speckled hound? She keeps chasing that darn bear down onto your land”.

Now I would have said “Run for your life there’s a bear on the loose!” but I remain calm and ask about the bear.

“Oh those darn things? They’re always getting into my trash and tearing things up. Molly (his hound) loves to chase them!”

So now I know why there was a hound dog running around my property for the last 3 days.


Sure enough, Molly comes tromping up the hill, tail-a-waggin’. They leave and I suddenly have the uneasy feeling that I’m being tracked by a family of irritated displaced bears. Now I’ve never seen a bear up there but there were 2 major bear attacks on people last year after a forest fire burned through a few ridges over.

I convince myself that between the hammering and the generator noise, the bears are scared of me.

With one eye looking over my shoulder, the rafters go up without a hitch and by 2pm I’m sheathing the walls with OSB!


By 5 pm, the sun is setting and my work today is done. Time to cover everything in plastic, have a beer, start cooking dinner and contemplate the day.


I stand inside the cabin and marvel at how quickly and easily it is all coming together (in spite of the threat of bears). It starts to drizzle so I throw up the plastic tarps. I need to cover my other lumber pile so I head behind the trailer into the hollow.

I’m back there in the dark, in the hollow and start to think, ummm, what about those darn bears? I get a little frightened as it’s now pretty dark out and start shining the light all around me at the clumps of underbrush and low-growing oaks. Kind of spooky.

I head back up the hill and shine the light off to the right and straight into the eyes, (head and body) of a full-sized mountain lion, standing not 50 feet away. OMG. WTF. I freeze, all goes still and my adrenaline kicks in. I start to scream and swear…”GET THE F#*K OFF MY LAND…WHAT THE F@&K ARE YOU DOING!!!”…on and on.

The lion runs off away from me and I walk quickly (not wanting to run and become prey), back to the trailer.  I lock myself in, shaking like a leaf and start to open beers.

Bears, my ass.

It’s a long cold, wet, sleepless night.


Morning: The threat of wild animal attack has me a bit shaken so I sleep in late. I enjoy coffee locked in the trailer while the rain washes away my scent from the ground.

A break in the rain gets me out to put up some more OSB but my body is exhausted and my wrists can barely hold the hammer. It’s time to pack it in, head to the hot springs and get a good congratulatory soak.

I drive into town and eat a HUGE meatloaf special lunch, call home to alert my loved ones that I’m still alive and finally head back down to Los Angeles. The framing is done, the sheathing is almost done and I am proud as a peacock for not getting eaten alive.

If my newly-acquired hammer-caused traumatic carpal tunnel syndrome heals quickly, I’ll be back up there this weekend to finish up the roofing, door, windows, and house wrap.


Budget note… I brought $800 with me and spent all of it, including meals, truck and gene gas, extra saw blades, a few tools, more nails and the plastic sheeting ($100, yikes!). I still need to buy the door ($250 steel door with one lite glass), the house wrap ($100) and roof felt ($50).  I’ll post my spreadsheet on costs in a few days, once I get it all entered.

I noticed that since Tiny House Living and Rowdy Kittens linked to me, my reader traffic is going through the roof!

Thanks to Michael Janzen, Tammy Strobel and everyone who’s following me for the support…I’m throwin’ a big party at the cabin when it’s finished!


Click HERE to read the entire blog…

6 responses

  1. I would be very scared to bump into a bear… south of sweden we don´t have any animal to be scared of.

    October 15, 2009 at 2:35 pm

  2. John

    I must say, I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time… Thanks for that. I am really enjoying reading about your progress. Good luck and keep hammering!

    October 15, 2009 at 7:35 pm

  3. Andreas

    Sounds like a basis for a movie! Now you only have to meet a partner, loose what you have built so far in a storm(or by the wild animals!) and then have your new found friend/girlfriend call all her and your friends and then they save the day by building a new house with you. Then you realize how much you appreciate the subject of your romance/bromance and then we slowly pan to the beautiful view of the valley in the sunset.

    I would watch it!

    October 15, 2009 at 11:07 pm

  4. Pingback: Tiny House Living , Archive » Urban Rancher – 4 Walls and Roof Framing

  5. Percy

    Hysterical. Great way to see a big cat and you did the right thing. Sounds like all you need is a big old knife, some bear spray, and maybe a little hand gun to make noise and you’ll be fine. Hope all you predators can get along with no bloodshed. 😉

    October 16, 2009 at 4:45 pm

  6. Andreas

    No new posts for quite a while. You haven’t been eaten by a mountain lion have you? That would suck, i really like your blog!

    October 27, 2009 at 1:16 am

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