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

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what the f***ing f***k?

WTF?!

I was up at the cabin last weekend and noticed this…

and this…

and this…

I noticed the damage in the corner, up under the eaves

and what’s with the corners?…

when you look closely at the exposed tar paper, there’s acorns shoved all the way up and down the side…

I have been hacked.

a little online research found the culprit…

Bear in mind that it has been 4 days since I was up there last. This damage has occurred in the last 4 days.  Pecky the Pecking Pest is a fast little bugger.

More online research tells me to repair the damage immediately. Apparently Pecky the Pecking Pest will start pecking then get bored and move a few inches and start pecking again. If he can’t break through to the insulation, he starts pecking again, a few inches away until he finds a nice hollow place to roost. I prefer to roast him but this must be fixed asap.

I run to the big box store and…

remove the old, warped siding, replace the tar paper, fill the pecked holes with Bondo…

since money is tight, my dream of Ipe wood siding will have to wait. I buy more 4’x8′ T-111 and slap it on, caulk the edges and paint…

Voila’… new back siding!

It’s not the siding of my dreams but not too shabby, plus it should keep the local vermin and riff-raff out.

I set up a spy camera to see if I catch the culprit…

nope…

nope…

YIKES!

WTF is that? alligators?!

AHA!

thoughts on the tiny tumbleweed towable trailer homes…

A few weeks ago I drove up to Bodega Bay, CA to see an actual Tumbleweed Tiny House in person. Jay Shafer and his Tumbleweed Tiny House Company have had a lot of media coverage in the past year and I’ve been dying to actually see one of his homes in person. A charming and quite talented couple had built Jay’s “Lusby” model home to sell and they held an open house…see the Tumbleweed post here!

The house was adorable…

The 7500 lb. house is easily towed by a 3/4 ton pickup truck!

Check out the high level of fit and finish, it was stunningly well-built…

The kitchen was small but complete and the bathroom was surprisingly spacious…

The interior was beautifully done, hand-crafted cabinets & doors, solid construction, open airy feel with light woods, high quality fixtures and all-around terrific finish work. The shower was unexpectedly roomy and the upper loft area would be a magnificent place in which to wake up!

For some great pictures, scroll down through the blog post on the Tumbleweed site and on the Pepper Clark’s For Sale page here! 
It was a brisk (ccccold actually) and windy day at the bay. A crowd had formed as soon as the house was opened so I only had a few minutes inside. The thought that kept going through my head was how well-designed and built the home was and at the same time, how tiny it really was.
I know there is a lot of downsizing going on now and these popular trailer houses are definitely much more solid than a standard RV trailer but it was reeeeeally small inside! I suppose the weight limitations would make a larger/longer house too heavy to pull with a pick-up truck. Still, I’d love to build a larger main cabin and be able to move it where and whenever I wanted.  I’ll have to give this all some thought.

Great job Pepper, Jay and that shy guy who did the finish carpentry!

…and a ha-ppy new yeeeeear!

I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching this past month, temps on my mountain have been very cold and nothing newsworthy has happened at the cabin lately.  Though I’ve been offline a lot, I finally snapped outta my Xmas blues and snuck back online to wish y’all a fantastic 2012!

While it’s cozy here in the Christmas Corner, a big work push will be happening up at my compound right after I recover from my upcoming annual Jan 1 hangover.

Hopefully 2012 will see an addition to the cabin (oh yeah!), more decking, a sleeping loft (inspired by my friend Ranger X’s cabin!) and the successful online-ification of the recently completed “James P. Garzo Memorial Power Generating Facility”.

Gather ye young-‘uns a-boot, pull that holiday goose outta yer oven and throw a cold glass of cheap Champagne on the fire for me!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone!

e. and 2011 are o-u-t!

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.

 

What kind of dog is that?!

I was sitting on my new patio set the other day when I realized I was being watched by a critter. I looked at it, it looked at me. It was kinda like a big skinny dog with HUGE ears, some kind of jackalope?? I grabbed my camera and snapped a few shots but it scampered off, down the hill and into the brush.

Guess I was lucky. It looked nice and it didn’t attack, but out in the wild, you never know what danger lurks in the bushes. I definitely dodged a bullet on that!

I was visiting family in Arizona last week and did some hiking on the Salt River outside of Phoenix. It was extraordinarily beautiful!

Saguaro cactus and plenty of scampering critters kept me on my toes, weather was a perfect 85 degrees and dry. I came back to California to find wet, grey and c-c-c-cold weather.

I was able to lay a large load of gravel around my new outdoor fireplace and do some spot repairs to the trailer’s rubber roof. Looks like we’re in for a snowy winter and I want to be ready!

Not much else is going on right now. Work is slow so I’m simply enjoying the fruits of my labor, staring at the view and meeting new furry friends. I’m planning a weekend with some of my “outdoorsy” homies before it gets too cold (I think Garzo is allergic to the snow). Now that the ground is wet, it’ll be a lot of fun to finally get a fire roaring.

Here’s to a very pleasant and restful Autumn!

e.

 

Why did the sirloin cross the road?

I don’t know why, but I am endlessly fascinated by the herds of free-range cows that roam my mountain. They’re awfully cute, timid but curious, very gentle and quite friendly.

I awoke the other day to a herd chomping on the dry grass around my cabin. Free lawn mowing, I say!

One adventurous cow tried to get into the tool shed but thankfully, she has no opposable thumbs and the door was locked.

It looked as though Ms. Cow had rubbed up against a newly painted green wall, fortunately not mine!

One teenager was fascinated by my new Pier 1 patio set…

In my spare time, I built a small diversion wall to direct the upcoming seasonal rains away from the cabin.

Next week I’ll buy some railroad ties and make a garden bed behind the wall. If you look closely you can see the 2 small baby oak trees that have sprung up there!

I LOVE all the oaks on my land and hope these 2 grow happily and healthily in their new garden bed.

I also stopped at Lowe’s and bought an outdoor fireplace for the c-c-cold upcoming winter nights. I’ll add some gravel and decorative paving stones around the area so my friends and I can hang out around the deck once the weather turns cold and wet.

When you are inside the cabin and a fire is blazing, it’ll almost seem like the fireplace is indoors!

quick note…look at the gorgeous view in the glass reflection, you can see why the cabin is facing North!

A shout out to all the new blog subscribers that were referred by the Westways Magazine article! My blog traffic has increased quite a bit since last month’s story ran. There are a few cool things on the horizon that have come as a result of the article but I’m gonna keep quiet so as not to jinx anything!

Now that my latest tv job is done, I have plenty of free time to chase cattle, work on the land and think up clever twists on old children’s jokes…

btw, “to get to the other side”

DUH!

🙂

Welcome Westways Readers!

It’s been a hot summer up on the mountain. I’ve been busy working, going back and forth to Los Angeles so I’ve not had much free time to get any “interesting” work done on the homestead.  This has led to a lack of posts since I reeeeally doubt y’all wanna hear about brush clearance and fence repair!

AAA’s member magazine, Westways, just published a story in their September issue called “This Small House” and included me in a section called “Pint Sized Abode”  and I’ve noticed a sudden rise in my blog traffic. I wanted to officially welcome any readers that have been referred by my mention in the magazine!

If anyone is curious how I built the cabin (or survived it, LOL), all my posts are all listed by month, from the beginning, in the sidebar to the right —>

Please feel free to email me at theurbanrancher@gmail.com if you have any questions, comments or ideas on how I can improve our small house community!

Now I need to get back to my brush clearance, fence repair and beer testing!

e.