We have been starting to feel more comfortable on our homestead, though I still miss the home we owned in the valley for the past 25 years.
We have added shelves for more storage units in our travel trailer, which is our current “home” while we build our new home. Ray built me a nice shelf that fits over the sink for oils and vinegars and stuff, and then another spice rack to hold all those little bottles of spices and such. We also put one of those over-the-toilet storage thingys in our bathroom, which helps tremendously. Ray also built a drawer inside my closet so that I can utilize the space all the way to the back.
I will be honest with you – downsizing from a 2,400 square foot home to a 26 foot travel trailer has been difficult. It seems we are always on top of each other, especially now that winter is coming and we had to take down our dining tent and outdoor living gazebo. While we can still get away from each other on our five acres, we are side by side when in the trailer. Literally!
That’s the good news. The bad news?
Travel trailers were not meant to be lived in.
Case in point: Ray spent the better part of a month replacing the bathtub/shower in the trailer. Why? Mostly because of carpenter ants! Those little critters got into the wall studs of the trailer in the bathroom area. We aren’t sure if it was the ants that weakened the structure which caused the tub to crack, or if the cracked tub leaked and dampened the wood, attracting the carpenter ants. Either way, Ray had to replace a lot of wood and shore up the structure of the trailer before we could even address replacing the tub. Perhaps if the travel trailer had been traveling and not parked in one area for a couple of years, the carpenter ants may have found the trailer less tasty. That all happened in October, when it was still warm. Thank goodness, because this is how we took our baths:
We bought this stock tank waterer at our local Tractor Supply store. The guys at the store probably thought we were crazy when we sat in it to make sure we fit (especially Ray, who is 6’2” tall), but this was how we kept ourselves clean while the bathroom was being repaired! When Ray was halfway done repairing the bathroom, we stayed in a hotel while visiting relatives, and I will admit that I may have taken a long, hot, shower. Two in one day. I know we are in a drought situation, but those hot, wonderful showers were necessary for my sanity!
Anyway, with all the preparations and a new bathroom, we were ready for whatever winter was going to throw at us. We had plans to start clearing the site for our garden and the chicken coop, finish clearing where our new home will be built (the architect’s plans arre coming soon, I can’t wait to show them to you!), burn the brush piles we had amassed, and on cold, wintery days, read and research new projects, order seeds, etc.. Well, the cold, wet, wintery days have arrived, but we can’t get these chores done – yet.
Remember when I said travel trailers are not meant to be lived in?
Well, when we got our first snowfall, it was cold. Really cold.
Sure, we have a propane heater in the trailer, but it seemed it was running all the time – even when we had the thermostat set at 60 degrees! Our travel trailer has 2” x 2” framing and very little insulation. And the windows are single pane. Even with the miniblinds shut and curtains closed, we could still feel the cold coming in. Brrr…
To make matters worse, the air inside the trailer was very, very humid. Every time I did dishes, cooked, made coffee/tea or we showered, the warm water evaporated in the cold trailer air and caused extreme humid, which is not good. Our windows started weeping water. The metal door was dripping wet. Our clothes were always damp and, yes, even our bedsheets and blankets were damp.
This wasn’t going to work. It was only November, with the coldest months come, and I was miserable. And if I am miserable, poor Ray was even more so 😉
We decided that our best solution was to move into the tool shed.
The tool shed that has 6” very well insulated walls, a strong and very well insulated metal roof, a double pane window, and a sturdy bunkbed! Remember our little wood stove we bought? We would install that in the tool shed also! Instead of burning an exorbitant amount of propane to keep barely warm, we would burn free oak wood and stay toasty warm. Sounds like a great plan, right?
The only problem was that the tool shed was full of… well… tools! We had to build something to put the tools in, and found a great shed kit from a big box store on sale.
First, we prepared the build site by clearing off some of the leaf mold and duff and leveling the ground somewhat. Since this will not be the permanent location for this shed (it will be moved to my new garden/chicken coop area after our new home is built), we decided to just place it upon concrete blocks. When the blocks were all in place and the tops level, we did add concrete and rebar to the first two rows because of their low position on the hill, which helped make everything more stable.
The shed really wasn’t too hard to put together – that is if you can read a Japanese Cookbook! Luckily the illustrations were a bit better. We added extra joists and also bought heavy duty plywood for the floor. The walls are built on top of the floor, side walls first and then the back wall. Then, you raise the back wall and brace it. It was fairly heavy, but Ray and I were able to do it without too much sweat! Now it was time to raise one of the side walls and attach it to the back wall. Once this was done, the other side wall was next. Once this was done, we stood back to view our work. Not too bad!
The next thing to do is put in the shelves and loft, which helps shore up and secure the back and sides of the shed. Once the front of the shed was on, it was time to put up the rafters and plywood sheathing for the roof! The instructions said to use a comp roof, but we opted instead for a metal roof. We live in the middle of a forest, and metal roofs are safer in a forest fire situation. Also, every roof we have on our homestead is used to collect rainwater into large water storage containers, as will this shed. From what I have read, asphault (or some people call them composition, or comp) can leach toxins into rainwater. Since we use this water to irrigate our orchard, we prefer not to have toxins!
With the metal roof on, front doors hung and windows installed – this shed is ready for some tools!
And once the original tool shed is empty – we can fashion it into our tiny cottage! Here is a sneak peak of the inside of our tiny cottage:
I can’t wait to take you on a tour of our new tiny cottage! Stay tuned!
This is where I party: