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

Posts tagged “extreme downsizing

me and my big mouth

cabin close

A few weeks ago I was asked, by a very nice girl, if I would want to participate in a tiny house lecture/Q&A in Los Angeles. Being the publicity houndwhore that I am, I agreed.

With that in mind, if anyone in the Los Angeles area is not too drunk at 1pm this Sunday March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day for those of you in Rio Linda), come on down to Atwater Village, have a cup of coffee, and watch me make a fool out of myself for 45 mins! (you’ll have to buy your own coffee though). I’ll talk about my process, my cabin, and if I don’t get too nervous and wet my pants, I’ll answer questions about everything tiny house.

In case I suck and bore everyone to death, there’s a second lecture after mine about earth-building homes by a very cool and clever couple, it looks like they build fantastic hobbit houses from this picture on Facebook…

Screen shot 2013-03-14 at 1.04.31 PM

Robert and Mireille from Earth Works Building will be speaking about the history of natural building traditions. From cob, adobe, and clay ovens, to newer methods like sandbag structures, recycle friendly earthships. Learn how surprisingly inexpensive, fireproof, and energy efficient natural building can be and the vital connection it makes in building community. http://www.earthworksbuilding.com/ 

Clearly they will be more interesting than me so this event should be well worth the drive (and if it’s not, we can always start a food fight!)

For you Face-place fluent types, there’s a interweb page about it…

https://www.facebook.com/events/138936376278864/

Tiny House lecture

Lecture is free.
Lunch is pay-what-you-want.
Q&A to follow both presenters.

The event is being held at “Thank You For Coming” at 3416 Glendale Blvd, in Atwater Village, a short walk from either Silverlake or Glendale, I hear that the food is fantastic.

Like the cool kids always say, be there or be square!

e.


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!


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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


May Cows and the Lazy Days of Almost-Summer

Well May certainly has slipped by quickly! It’s been a busy work season for me in LA so my mountain time has been reserved only for rest and play, not much cabin work going on. The cows have been out in force lately too, lots of cute baby ones running around. With so many roaming through my land,  I really don’t need a lawn mower, I just watch and let ’em graze. They’re all so cute, so friendly and so delicious!

I did manage to put up the stained siding on the power shed. I’m not wild about the color but re-staining will have to wait for another day, May has been all about R&R.

I also put a fresh coat of paint on the mini-deck. After a harsh winter it had started weathering…I just can’t have my friends sitting on peeling paint now can I?!

All in all it has been  a glorious spring and I’m looking forward to another spectacular summer. Heck, I may even get the solar panels and wind turbine installed!

Hope everyone is having a safe and glorious Memorial Day Weekend.  I also want to send a big shout out to all our military brethren and their families…thank you for your service!

Now go grill a big steak!

e.