Our Cabin

In our later life Eva and I began to have a little money ahead. We sold some timber on the farm and our investments in stocks and bonds and real estate and precious metals and crypto currencies began to pay off. During the process of cutting timber I hired a bull dozer to clean up some brush and sinkholes on the farm and I discovered, on the side of the mountain about a mile from the house that we now had a hillside that was secluded in a hollow but had a great view of the valley surrounded by green mountains from which you could see for over a mile without a view of any human habitations. All one could see were woods and fields and the occasional wildlife. That view had been blocked by a row of trees before the cleanup.

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 Garage

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 Bookshelf.

The books include:

The Games.

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.

Chili's Cooking.

Ready to Eat.

See other cabin campfire recipes

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.

A heron on the pond below the cabin.

A Red Tailed Hawk perched on a walnut tree limb near the cabin.

Black Vulture


Ducks 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.
Click on the picture above for the video.

A few llamas pass by the cabin.
Click on the picture above for the video.

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.

My Early Morning Ritual

It has become my habit when I arise in the morning to drive my 25 year old pickup truck about a mile up to our mountain cabin on the side of Sewell mountain seen here:

The Cabin in context

On the way to the cabin in the cool or cold morning air, depending on the season, I greet the day by noticing the state of the weather and the season and the land and daily or seasonal changes in all these and observing any cattle or wildlife seen along the way. I spend about half an hour or less traveling back and forth to the cabin and an hour at the cabin before breakfast.

That hour is spent basically doing four things:

  1. Fixing and drinking a cup of coffee spiked with cream and a shot of "Old Forester", 100 proof bourbon.
  2. Greeting the new day by sitting watching the sun rise, or not, as I and the cabin face to the East. If the weather is warm enough I sit on the porch of the cabin to drink and have an oatmeal cookie with my coffee.
  3. Planning the coming day and the coming week by referring to and copying a "to do" list of items from a previous card or cards to a 3X5 index card that I can carry in my pocket.
  4. Listening to the morning news and comments on NPR radio and using that as a brain stimulator to think about, not the news story, but the nature of a world in which these events could occur and writing my thoughts, if they seem worthwhile, to include later on my Brain Droppings web page.

This ritual prepares me for the day and, it seems to me, starts everything off right.

Cabin Cost

Someone asked me how much the cabin cost me. The basic cabin I bought for about $4,000. All the lumber and everything else I put in it including all you see in the pictures added about $8,000 in out of pocket costs and took me about three or four months of enjoyable work a few hours most days to build and install.