Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dinner and Relaxing by the Fire

Finally we had an evening where it wasn't raining and I got to light up, for the first time, my new fire ring I built. Had a few friends over for dinner and enjoyed the nice evening. In case you hadn't all guessed by now, I do love this little spot where I live!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Freeze Warning

Now that everything is looking good in the garden, it's supposed to freeze tonight and tomorrow. This is pretty normal for here in July. It's actually been unusually warm for much of the summer.

So, I tucked everything in under my frost covers and am hoping all my little plants will make it through the next two days! It stormed and rained water with bits of ice in it earlier today.

And snowed around 10,000 feet and above. You can see just a hint of fresh snow peaking out between the clouds up high. I'm just hoping there is not snow at my house in the morning when I leave for work. Below was the high today. And yes, this is July 27th. The joys of gardening in my area!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Finding a Home For Your Tiny House?

This may be the question I get asked most often by those who are seriously interested in the tiny house concept. (Others most often ask how my bathroom works.) How did I find a place to put my house? How did I get this ground? Do I own it or rent it? This is maybe the most important question for you to ask too. Yeah, making sure your roof doesn't leak, your wiring doesn't burn your place down, and your house doesn't collapse on top of you are great, and really matter, but if you can't put the thing anywhere once you buy it or build it, you have a problem. This was my biggest concern before signing off on buying my house. What if I got it and couldn't put it anywhere?

A homeless house? How sad!

Just to be clear, I am talking about the logistics, not giving legal advice. (See this helpful post by another tiny houser for more on legalities.) Laws are different everywhere, you will have to do that research and decide what you care about in your chosen area. 

There are a a few ways to park (I am assuming your house is on wheels and if you are building on a foundation, that you probably have land) a tiny house somewhere. On your own property may well be the most simple. Or course this involves having to own some land and not all of use do. Next would probably be to not really park, but to move all the time. There's a few folks traveling full time in their tiny houses, and as long as your chosen home fits in a parking spot, this should work. But I, and many others, want a bit of a more settled life even if our homes have wheels. RV parks seem to sometimes welcome tiny houses, others, not so much. And there are now a few tiny house communities. Some RV parks do give you the option of staying long term, but this does involve paying a monthly fee as do most tiny communities unless they offer the ability to buy a lot. And it seems that a lot of people interested in tiny houses are also looking to cut down or get rid of monthly rent. Lastly, you can park on someone else's land. This could be a friend or family, or a total stranger. And it could be in exchange for money or something else. This is the route I've taken. 

So how did I end up living in this really sweet spot? Especially in an area where most people I know are renters, not owners who would even have the option of letting me park it at their place? The ground I live on is not owned by me. I also do not pay the owners rent. Bartering can be a great plan for many people I think. I do ranch type work for them, some general oversight/care taking, and cooking. For now, and I hope it stays this way for a long time, we seem to both think we are getting the better end of the deal. I had inquired about parking on several different places that I thought were a possibility. I even had two offers to park on places that were just a little too far away from my job and life to be convenient. I happened to be discussing this with another acquaintance one day, and out of the blue was offered this spot, something that had never even occurred to me as a possibility. I feel really lucky. But here's some of what I think helped lead to that "luck."

Ask around. Put out feelers everywhere, even in area you don't think are possibilities. Talk to friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, use local classifieds, Craig's list, ask a local farmer or rancher who may have space and want a hand, an elderly person who may need a hand every now and then or just want someone nearby in case they fall or something, vacation homes where the owner may value having a set of eyes around full time, and anything else you can think of.

If you want to barter, and I do for many things, you need to have some kind of skill that's useful to others. For me this tends to be things like cooking, gardening, fresh veggies, physical labor (like haying, wood cutting, fencing), house/pet sitting, cleaning, or babysitting. There are many other skills you may have though. Woodworking, fitness coaching, guiding (hunting, climbing, fishing, camping), any kind of maintenance skill like being a builder, plumber, electrician, or mechanic, window washing, veterinary or legal knowledge, tailoring/mending, computer programing, painting, web building, photography, etc. have all been bartered by people I know for various things. You probably have one or ten useful skills already. If not, you can learn some of these things pretty easily with the aid of google and youtube. A good bartering relationship should leave both parties feeling like they are getting a good deal and this is a beautiful thing. If one of these things you are good at is something you really enjoy doing anyway, it's amazing to be able to trade it to someone who has something you want and doesn't know how to or enjoy doing the thing you are good at. "Create a life you don't want a vacation from," is something I heard a long time ago and can be a reality. If you are already doing things you like, it's pretty sweet. In case you haven't guessed, I am a big fan of bartering!

Be willing to live in a rural or at least less urban area. This is pretty simple and common sense. You can't hardly find a spot to park a compact car in New York City, there's not much space to tuck a house in anywhere. If you really prefer to live in the heart of a big city, you may be better off looking for a small apartment than trying to live in a tiny house. There tends to be less strict rules in more rural areas, and it's easier to tuck a little house in somewhere without bothering anyone. Well maybe a moose... My spot is in something of a legal grey area in my particular location. Living in an RV is not allowed, but housing for ranch help is. So I keep it tucked in out of sight, am quiet and tidy, and have had no problems so far. Hopefully it stays that way.

Be a good neighbor. If you are neat, tidy, quiet, considerate, clean, etc. most people are going to be more willing to have you on their property. I have some friends and family that I know and care about, but would never want to have living on my ground (if I had any that is) because I know how they live and care for the things around them. 

Uh, no. You can't move in to my place. Sorry.

Have a house that looks nice. I know, I know, esthetics are very subjective and individual (and maybe you think my place is ugly, that's fine, I like it), but it doesn't look like a RV, trailer, shed, etc. It looks just like a "normal" house, just very small. Some people really do care about this.  Having a "cute" house is going to help some people be much more open to the idea who would not want some shiny white RV parked out back. No, I'm not saying RV's are bad and you shouldn't live in one, this just is one consideration for some people. Just look at all the "reality" TV shows featuring tiny houses now. Clearly, a lot of people who do not live in one and are not building one do however find them fascinating.

These are some of my thoughts on how I found my particular location. If you have more good ideas or experiences, please let me know in the comments and I'll add them to this post to help others. Best of luck to all of you looking for your own spot!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Another Big Dinner!

This was our dinner the other evening. Bacon and onion wrapped ground elk loaf. And fresh kale from my garden. And some gluten free pesto pasta. It's been so nice to have fresh stuff from the garden to eat! So far I've been able to eat kale, spinach, lettuce, radishes, herbs, broccoli, beets, swiss chard, and one strawberry. 

Freshly rinsed baby kale.

Meatloaves ready to pop in the oven.

I'm hoping to get a good enough crop of basil to make some of my own pesto this year. 

Kale tossed with garlic and stir fried in bacon grease. Did I mention I'm glad I have a bit kitchen? And that I use it a lot? 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Dear Lauren,

 I loved your post first of all! (Read Lauren's original post on her blog.) I laughed heartily while reading it and even harder when I read it out loud to a friend. But, since you said you were actually wondering if it's all peaches and cream, I thought I'd respond. I suppose that I am a "fancy tiny house live-er" especially as I purchased my house built for me instead of going the much cooler and more time and labor intensive route of building my own. (More on why I made that choice here.) And mine is larger than some at 229 square feet. Maybe some do not think mine is a "fancy" house, but I do, so here goes.

 In short, to answer your main question, no, it's not all peaches and cream. I actually find only about 80% of this lifestyle to be peaches and cream. The other 20% consists of things like emptying my composting toilet, needing to fill my water tank by hand when it's -20 F outside so I can finish washing the sink of dishes I was halfway through when the water ran out, washing my hair in cold water at 5 am so I don't have to run the somewhat noisy water pump for warm water and wake my friend who doesn't need to go to work for another two hours, and occasionally wishing I still had a microwave and washing machine. But, as I said, that's only 20%. The rest, I really do love. And I honestly don't mind that 20% that much, though it is there.

 Now to specifics. Unfortunately I don't think my house has ever been featured in Dwell or on Buzzfeed, but I might look happy if it was. I almost never lie awake at night since after working long days either at a busy restaurant or in my garden, I fall asleep within seconds of laying down. This leaves me little time to contemplate my ceiling which is actually 41 inches above my bed, though my bed is indeed over the kitchen sink. My shower however is separate from that kitchen sink, and while it is fully functional, I only use it as storage since I shower at the gym or a close friend's house to reduce the amount of water I have to haul. The only time I've thought maybe I made a terrible mistake was after signing the paperwork on the loan that allowed me to buy this place. (See here again for why I made that decision.) Never since having actually moved in here have I had that thought.

 I fall short of even 250 square feet. My place is 229 if you count the lofts. Only 169 if you just count the main floor. Farts. I have my own if I choose to eat too much dairy and then am thankfully I live mostly alone! And cook mostly dairy and wheat free. I do have a close friend who lives here about half the week. He can indeed have some terrible farts as well and they are not solely dependent on Mexican food. However they are usually worse when we go backpacking together and are sharing a tent that's only about 3 and a half square feet. The precludes the ability to even walk 3 feet away, but you are left with the option of running into the surrounding woods.

Indeed, I do have some clothing, shoes, etc. Remember my shower (which is not the kitchen sink)? Most hanging clothes are in there. Shoes and coats hang on a rack by the door, and I have drawers in my stairs where I keep socks, undies, tee shirts etc. Overalls are not really my style nor are Birkenstocks. Though I'm a big fan of bare feet and barefoot shoes and wear things like my homemade mocs and Xero shoes, it's also winter here for half the year and I have big snow boots too.

 I have two towels actually! Two washcloths too. Though like I said, since I shower else ware, they hardly ever get used. And when I need to wash them, or anything else I use my Wonderwash (see my laundry setup here) which lives in that shower under my hanging clothes. Not in the creek that flows just down the hill from my house, though I do have a creek and my whole little spot is pretty whimsical!

 No, my house is not always perfectly clean. See this post on "A Lived in Tiny House" for some more shots of it in much less tidy states. I do however find a neat and tidy area relaxing, so I do keep it that way the majority of the time. This was true in the big house I lived in before as well. But in any of my photos you can see that I have more than one cooking pan (and most other cooking related things), a whole shelf of books, and at least 5 pillows. I do only have one couch, a few blankets, and one framed photo of myself laughing, but it's not in front of my house sadly. 

 In a small space there is not a lot of privacy, true. But you can go into the bathroom, which is also not the same as the kitchen and close the door. Or my bedroom loft where it is walled off from the downstairs with a set of cupboards. You can of course still hear almost anything from anywhere, but there is some visual privacy. Again though, I live alone most of the time, so my partner and kids never get on my nerves! Ditto on the boinking. Could be done in my comfy bed (or the couch, or in the kitchen, on the swing outside, or.....), no problem. But with no partner, it's not happening and the non-existant kids wouldn't mind anyway. I will not deny that any space sharing, especially small become much more complicated when you multiply the people occupying that space.

The bed. I have one! And it's a whole 41 inches from the ceiling. It's a full size though I could fit a queen mattress in there if I wanted. I've had guests sleep on it too and everyone agrees it's comfy. Oh yeah, I do have guests. And some family! Where I put them depends on the person. My little sister and I just shared the bed when she visited, no problem. All (four) of us sisters shared beds growing up. My three brothers had their own room. My friend who stays at my place part time and I alternate sleeping on the couch which transforms to an extra bed and in the "bedroom" loft depending on who has to get up first the next morning. First one out sleeps downstairs. The guest bed/couch is also comfy, I sleep on it a lot myself. And then I have two whole separate guest houses that sleep up to 6! 

Ok, this guest house isn't worth much in the winter, granted, but it really is fine in the summer. And if any couples visit, (a few have plans to but haven't made it yet) I'm happy to sleep in the tent and let them have the whole house. I do go sleep in tents just for fun much of the summer. And there have been a lot of dinner guests or visitors who haven't spent the night. Kids, adults, no problem. I just don't have 40 people over at once which I did sometimes use to do in my old house. Unless it's warm enough to spend time outside, it seems to work best to keep the group to 6 or so people at a time. And most people seem fascinated, not afraid. At least with my house even if not with me.

As far as the zombies go, I live in rural WY. Everyone here has is a real cowboy and always armed to the teeth. You don't need a permit to carry concealed either. I think the zombies will all stick with big metropolitan areas without grizzly bears, mountain lions, cowboys, and aggressive moose. So I'm not too concerned.

Be honest? Sure. I just want to live out my life doing things I enjoy, including work I enjoy, and not be tied to a place, job, debt, or anything else specific that would limit my other choices. I like some modern convinces a lot. Like my wifi, my macbook, my two nice digital cameras, my van, my hot running water, and many more. I do also find life fulfilling doing some things in a much more old fashioned way. Like growing my own food, making some of my own footwear, cooking meals from scratch, reading books made out of paper, and so on. Do I think the things I enjoy or dislike are universal? Nope. Everyone has different likes, goals, and preferences. That's one of the beautiful things about having a tiny house. You can customize it to what you want to do in life and take it where ever you want. I hope you are able to live in your own tiny so you don't have to be jealous of people like me anymore. Now that I got some work done, I'm off to enjoy the rest of my peaches and cream life. And yes, I do love living in my tiny. Best of luck! 


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Outdoor Hang Out

I've got a pretty sweet spot to hang out outside of my house now. Complete with a fire ring as of yesterday, a swing, recliners, small tables, and some citronella candles to keep it all bug free!

Just waiting to have a fire some lovely evening.

It's got a great view of my house and garden. I've already enjoyed sitting here to talk to friends, watch kids play, read or write, and enjoy some food.

Also, my little neighboring nest's occupants are growing feathers so fast, I'm sure they will be leaving soon!