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

new trees, darker days and the reality of it all

Thanksgiving for me has always been bittersweet. I love turkey feasts and the gathering of friends and family. At the same time, I dread the onset of shorter, darker days and the cyclical unemployment that comes when Hollywood goes on holiday. This year, it seems, will not disappoint in its consistancy. I took the above photo yesterday afternoon on my drive down the mountain. The warmth of the afternoon is at odds with the layer of cold dreary mid-day mist, sort of how I’ve been feeling lately.


I am thrilled to have met a fellow wilderness devotee and my alleged doppelgänger. He has agreed to let me blog about him if I use the pseudonym “X”.  He contacted me through the blog and we have recently met and shared war stories.

X is close to my age, size & shape, bought a similar sized parcel of remote forest land on a neighboring mountain, was a freelance creative Hollywood professional for much of his life, and has now begun the transition to the wilderness living by building a 120 sq ft off-grid cabin which he recently doubled in size. Our similarities continue on into minute details but I think y’all get the idea.

X convinced me to plant some fresh trees on my land so I decided to do just that. 10 in all.

I spent a day digging and planting and another day raking watering and mulching. It was one of the most fun things I have ever done. I’ve never been one to garden but after spending time with my hands in the earth, I was hooked. I understand why so many older women in their golden years delight in grooming their prize azaleas, rose bushes and hydrangeas. Count me in, ladies, I’ll even wear the big floppy hat!

These are some of my new babies before and after they were covered in a layer of mulch…

X tells me that they will grow a few feet every year so I planted some near the cabin for shade and ’cause they’re pretty.

The days are now get dark by 5pm so I’m glad my new outdoor fireplace is working like a charm. It’s throwing off heat in the face of my 29 degree nights, as well as illuminating the cabin when I retire indoors for bed!

One of the things I don’t read much about in other tiny house blogs is the feeling of isolation. I love the solitude, peace and quiet of my land, heck, sometimes I drive up there on a slow night just so I can wake up to the sound of quails and the smell of the mountain air. Truth be told however, after a few days it gets lonely. Ryo Chijiiwa on his “Laptop and a Rifle” blog touched on this subject early on but many other small living pioneers rarely mention it.

Is it just me or do we all get lonely out in the woods? I know many of this new “tiny” community are paired up and living with a partner but my life is complex to the point where I’ve not been able to settle in with someone who can just drop everything and run off to the woods forever. Maybe it’s just the inherited restless nature of my soul or maybe I need to commit to living in either city or on mountain. Either way, lately I seem to be driving myself up and down a familiar road,  going intentionally back into the cold but familiar mist at the bottom of my mountain.


11 responses

  1. Frank

    Love the new trees and I envy your lifestyle. I do love the solitude and plan to build a small self-sufficient cabin in the woods in the near future. Went out to look at the property last weekend and fell in love with the trees and brush all over again. Thanks for posting this, I needed a boost on this cold Georgia day.


    November 30, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    • I was working in and around Atlanta for a month this summer and LOVED it! Georgia is a gorgeous state with lots of lush, woodsy, rural land. It is I who is envious!

      November 30, 2011 at 4:20 pm

  2. Jenn Jennings

    I’ve found solitude to be something from within. With the hustle-bustle of modern life assaulting us all the time, it weirds us out when that blissful silence of nature is the loudest thing out there. You’ll get used to it. And then you won’t be able to live without it.

    November 30, 2011 at 6:01 pm

  3. Suzanne

    Well, I live in a tiny condo in the city (though I’m aiming for a tiny home soon) and I get lonely about 15% of the time. Sometimes living alone is peachy. Other times it’s just desolate. So I guess the venue isn’t the thing–we just crave human connections. Happy Holidays to you!

    November 30, 2011 at 6:28 pm

  4. andrea


    I read your blog on occasion and must say you’ve done a lovely job. I like this post, the days are dark here by 5:00 when I get home from work, and I’ve moved back to the city for the winter. I can’t wait to get back to my 12 acres and clear, plant, think and live. I miss the solitude, the relaxation that hits immediate when I arrive, the lack of “homeowner” stress (lots of that in my city place), and the sense of space and awareness I have out there. a post on mine recently.

    I am curious though, you seem to have a big electrical system for a tiny house, what in the world are you running that requires such a big investment of solar. wind and an outbuilding?

    November 30, 2011 at 7:29 pm

  5. Tracy Lawrence

    I can relate on the point of loneliness and riding the fence between the city or mountain. I too love the solitude of the woods, but need a companion.

    November 30, 2011 at 7:55 pm

  6. Our solution to isolation is a tiny house community. I live on 5 remote acres surrounded by tree-farms with 5 other tiny-house minimalists. There is a conventional main house (900 sf) to gather in and be sociable and keep the property “legal” in our area. The tiny houses are scattered about the land, each with it’s own little yard, etc. most are off grid.

    December 1, 2011 at 9:51 am

  7. Mollie Herambourg

    Great post! Nice tress, try a furit tree. It is wonderful to get more than shade. Self sufficiency and all that. I recently lost the place where I was living, Lost a marriage at the same time, and a cat. Oh, and my father died during that phase. I am staying with a friend for now. Going out to the back porch late at night when I get home from work around midnight. Only the stars and the sound of geese honking as they fly wherever they are going. Even there, in the city, you get a feeling of lonilness. Is it from all the loss? Or rather, a quiet realization that we are ultimately a spec in a great and wonderful universe? Can’t say for sure, but saving $$ to buy land to build my own small home. In the meantime, I’ll send a good thought out to you as I look at the night sky.

    December 1, 2011 at 1:09 pm

  8. i like your open-ness.

    December 1, 2011 at 10:31 pm

  9. I’ve been following your blog for a couple of years now and I have really enjoyed your progress. I moved to Terlingua, TX from the Bay Area after purchasing 20 acres in the BIg Bend Area. I’ve been wanting to construct a cabin there and so I have been collecting information and gaining inspiration from sites such as yours. Out here it is remote. When I first moved here I was alone but after 40 something years of being solo I was used to it but I still yearned to have that someone to share it with. Well, my wish came true in a sense but he didn’t share that enthusiasm for the area, the desert, the remoteness or the nature. Even though I have someone I still enjoy and miss my alone time. Enjoy your solitude since you also have the choice to be with people as well. Moderation and perspective are everything. Keep up the good work and enjoy it. The end result is the sweet something we get to enjoy but the journey getting there is where we learn so much more.

    December 3, 2011 at 2:04 am

    • thanks Charlton, it’s a very diferent life, ain’t it?!
      btw, Terlingua is some mighty great country!

      January 1, 2012 at 9:41 pm

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