We decided that this would be a great place for a small leisure cabin. So we bought a 10' X 20' building with a four foot porch and windows in each wall and a house type door. We spent a couple of months building tables and shelves and a bedstead and a large deck and a smaller deck and we installed a generator and a solar panel for electricity and we put in propane cooking facilities and built a fire pit and stocked the cabin with food and drink and living utensils of various kinds. We added a hammock to the yard and a picnic table to the smaller deck.
After we put in a computer system and books and games and a potty chair for the bathroom and stacked firewood beside the fire pit, it began to feel like home. We began to split our time between living in our family home and in our mountain cabin in the hollow. We put a sign beside the door that said Dolce far niente. That is an Italian phrase meaning "pleasant relaxation in carefree idleness." Literally it means "sweet doing nothing." We tried to take that to heart.
We spent many happy days and nights there. We could take naps and hike in the fields and in the woods on the mountain and take pictures and watch wildlife and we played card and board games together and played lawn croquet and horse shoes and cooked many a delicious meal over the open fire. We had cast iron grills and griddles and skillets and a fire tripod with a hanging dutch oven in which we experimented with various slow cooked stews.
On our hikes and around the cabin we saw deer, coyotes, turkeys, cattle, bobcats, raccoons, possums, snakes, bear, foxes, rabbits, squirrels, wood chucks, hawks, vultures, crows, frogs, box turtles, many song birds and field birds and other critters.
Since our cabin faced to the east, sitting on the porch or deck at night we could watch a huge yellow moon rise over the mountains to the front and we could often hear owls and whipperpoorwills and sometimes the wail of packs of coyotes against the background of tree frogs. Sitting quietly watching the fireflies over the fields and in the trees in the woods with the stars overhead and watching for planes among the stars was a pleasant experience, and a good way to rest before bed after a day's exercise hiking in the woods and fields or cutting and splitting firewood.
We had a wind chime hanging on the porch and we had small propane heaters for cool mornings or when we decided to stay there in the winter. We had a radio for listening to the news and weather and an mp3 player for our favorite music. There was no television, refrigerator, air conditioner, microwave, oven or internet.
We took sponge baths with a large wash tub and we had snacks and canned goods and dehydrated freeze dried backpack complete meals. Eva liked to do jigsaw and word puzzles and we had puzzles there on which she often spent many happy hours along with reading her favorite books. We had over 200 full length movies and hundreds of old TV shows and other books and videos on the computer which we liked to watch while lying in bed at night.
The drive of almost a mile from my house to the cabin is easiest along the side road that runs in front of my house because there is only one gate to open and if I drive over the farm fields to the cabin I have to open two or more cattle gates depending on which fields the cattle are allowed to graze. That side road dead ends after half a mile when it enters my farm but in that half mile it curves away from the farm and there are three houses along that stretch of road. One is occupied by an older disabled couple who are looked in on by community health care workers daily. One is occupied by a single mother with children. The third is a rental property owned by a lady from a nearby town.
The gate to our property at the foot of Sewell Mountain.
The road to the cabin with Jack's Knob ahead.
The Cabin in context
The cabin from close up.
The View from the Cabin
Inside the Cabin - Dining, Kitchen, computer table
Inside the Cabin - unpacking on the bed
There is a small opening in the woods below the cabin just over the hill. We call it "the garage". We keep the truck there for three reasons. First, it is shady and it keeps the truck cool. Second, it gets the truck out of the way so it doesn't spoil the view from the cabin. And third, no one can see the truck if it's in the woods so no one can be sure if we are at the cabin or not. We think that might discourage prowlers.
The old red truck inside the garage
We keep food cool in an ice chest brought from the house with plenty of ice and we bring water from the house daily, if necessary.
We don't have enough electricity for a refrigerator, just enough for low energy light bulbs and to run a laptop for a few hours per day. The solar panels produce from 150 to 250 watt hours per day depending on the cloud cover and the time of year. Of course, if necessary, I can run the 1100 watt propane generator in the shed in the yard. However, it is noisy and more expensive to run.
The generator in its shed with the wash tub hanging on the side.
The fire pit and the wood supply.
The woodland beside the cabin.
Another view from the deck in front of the cabin.
Note the pond to the right in the field below.
And there is a creek in the trees along the left side of that field.
The Pond below the cabin in the early spring.
The books include:
and the games include:
How I make chili over the campfire in the yard of the cabin.
I keep the fire going all morning and after lunch I get out the cast iron skillet and begin heating the ground beef on the fire in the skillet while I put the other chili ingredients in the 6 quart cast iron dutch oven. These include three cans of spicy diced tomatoes, 2 cans of dark red kidney beans, one can of onion soup, celery flakes, chili powder, ground cumin and tabasco sauce. By the time I have all that mixed in the dutch oven, the ground beef has browned, so I drain off the fat into the fire and stir the ground beef into the chili mixture. I put the cover on the dutch oven and hang it on a cast iron cooking tripod over the fire to simmer for the rest of the afternoon stirring and adding water as needed.
Building up the Fire.
Now it's Burning.
Ready to Eat.
Half moon as seen from the cabin deck.
A view from the cabin in the autumn.
Another view from the cabin in the autumn.
The shelves I built in the cabin.
The bed in the cabin at Christmas.
The kitchen in the cabin.
The first snow of the winter at the cabin.
Wild turkeys below the cabin.
Ducks on the pond below the cabin.
A heron on the pond below the cabin.
Moonrise at the cabin.
A deer on the road just below the cabin.
Wild turkeys on the road just below the cabin.
A few llamas pass by the cabin.
A squirrel in the yard.
Click on the picture above for the video.
Other critters seen at the cabin.
A load of hardwood logs off to the sawmill.