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

Archive for June, 2010

the long and winding road…

First off, the photos on this page are NOT Photoshop-ed, the colors and light on my mountain are truly spectacular!

It’s been a long year for me… unemployment, financial setbacks, an economy in free fall, heck…it’s been a hell of year for us all. There have been some bright spots though, I’m finally working again (yeehaa!), I won a fantastic wind turbine, and oddly enough my personal life seems to be the stuff of grand romance novels.

All in all, next to the chapter in the novel where the sinewy flesh is rippling and the bodices are popping off, my proudest moment was this past Saturday night at 9:30pm. The cabin has been officially slept in and I can joyfully report, a great night’s sleep was had by all!

True that the drywall is not spackled yet, the floor is still plywood and the plastic vapor barrier is not exactly what I want to see when I look up BUT I cleaned out all the tools and crapola, set up the air mattress, hung the drapes and spent a blissful night in my tiny cabin!

We trundled up to the mountain on Saturday morning so I could finish painting the tool shed a gorgeous Olympic semi-transparent stain in “Oxford Brown” (same as the cabin’s horizontal siding). No mice were able to penetrate the inner OSB barrier skin so I’m confident my tools and building materials will remain rodent-free for a good long while.

After a sweeeeet sundown dinner of chicken strips, potato salad and rum and cokes, we sat on the new deck for hours and watched millions of stars shining overhead. The air was chilled and brisk and the deck stayed strong and solid.

I actually did it! I dreamed of a small off-the-grid compound that I would build myself, by hand, and less than a year later I have a trailer and two buildings up and running. All are paid for and even my neighbors seem to be happy with my results. Seriously guys, if I can do this, ANYONE can do this!

I’m going to spend the Fourth of July finishing off the interior so the cabin will be guest-ready for my big end-of-summer BBQ bash. I’ll keep blogging although I hope y’all are not inside web surfing all summer but out in the sunshine, enjoying a gorgeous summer and breathing the crisp, clean air that God intended!

peace out for now!


What a tool…

Shed… tool shed that is.

Before I can finish the interior of my tiny cabin, I need to clear out all the building supplies, ladders and tools. My plan is to re-build the small tool shed behind the cabin and use it as a workshop/storage/windmill battery hut.

I arrive at the mountain and the weather is blustery, cold and simply gorgeous. I decide to sit and stare at the view for a while.

That while turns into dusk, which turns into night.

The morning brings sun and the sun brings me out to the shed.

My tool shed has become a favored toilet destination for every rodent on the mountain. Mouse feces and urine have formed small mounds which cover the entire shed floor (6’x8′) and rise about 4″-6″ high.


To avoid catching Hanta virus, I don my gloves, respirator, long sleeves, long pants, bandana and large floppy hat. I empty the shed and try to scrape away the feces mounds. WTF? This is disgusting and yet, even a shovel cannot dislodge the caked-on excrement. It seems to have bonded with the OSB floor. My solution? A solution of 100% chlorine bleach. I dump a full gallon of bleach over the entire floor. It sizzles, it fumes, it freaks me out, I run.

Five minutes later, I return with my shovel and voila, the feces piles begin to dislodge and disintegrate into a yellowish-green-ish-brownish soup. Oh, and it gives off the most wretched fumes.

I’ll spare the gory details except to say that eventually the floor is scraped clean. I wash it out with a bleach/water solution, prop open the doors and let it dry in the warm, clean mountain air.

My next step is to sheath the walls with OSB, then I’ll lay down a new plywood floor over the old feces-stained OSB one. By sheathing the inside, I’ll eliminate any access point for varmints and critters.

When building my cabin, it really paid off for me to save and store the left-over lumber and scraps in a well-organized pile. I covered it with a tarp so that the wood pile could breathe and not rot or get mouldy.  I now have enough left-over lumber to skin the interior, replace some cracked siding, replace the door frame and close in the gables on each side!

I close up the eaves with 2×8 blocks and stuff steel wool in all the cracks I can find. I re-built the door frame so when the French Doors (found them for free on a sidewalk in LA) are closed, they completely seal off the interior. Cost to finish this project? $0.00!

I took some time to cut back all the overgrowth around the shed and now all that’s left is to stain/seal the outside to match the color scheme of the new cabin! I have no more wood stain so I turn my attention to the cooler of cold beer waiting in the cabin.

In order to get to the cooler, I have to move THE BRAND NEW WIND TURBINE I WON!!!!!

It arrived a few days ago and it’s AWESOME!

There is a perfect clearing up behind both buildings where the wind comes right on through the valley. I survey the area and find a perfect spot to put the turbine, right behind the cabin. All I need now is the 30′ tower kit (and $400 to pay for it, LOL).

I Photoshop-ed in what I think it will look like when installed!

I need to knock off early and head back down to LA before dark, missing what I’m sure will be another glorious sunset on my mountain (and if you look carefully, there’s still some great lumber left in that pile!).