Our Storage Solution

This will be home sweet home while we build our new house.

This will be home sweet home while we build our new house.

We will be living in our camping trailer for two years while we build our new home on our future homestead.  As most of you know, there isn’t a lot of storage in a trailer.  We could rent a storage space for our furniture and household items, but that just seemed inconvenient since there will be times we need items that are in storage, and the nearest storage rentals are at least 45 minutes from our property.  It can also be costly.  Sheesh…  we could buy all new furniture for the price it would take to store it for a couple of years!

Then we saw a cargo shipping container that our dear neighbors Linda and Charles had delivered to their property and knew immediately that this was a perfect solution to our storage issues. After some investigating, we found that we could have one delivered to our property for about $2,400 all in.  It used to cost a lot less just a few years ago, but lately the  price of these containers have gone up because of demand. Here in California, lots of pot growers use the containers as sleeping quarters for their “trimmers” or drying sheds for their “crop”.

When our home is built and all of our furniture and household items have been moved from the container into the new house, we can then store our wood chipper/shredder, log splitter, shop tools, etc., in the cargo container.

Of course, if the zombie apocalypse happens anytime soon, we could also use it as a safe room! 😀

Cargo Container Storage Solution

This spot was fairly level, almost always shady, and had only a few trees that needed to be removed.

Before we had the container delivered, we needed to prepare a level place to put it!  It needed to be near the orchard, tool shed and our travel trailer, so we found a spot under tall pine, oak and fir trees that will shade the container, yet was fairly level.

The first order of business was to cut down a few small trees and remove the stumps.  Whew – easier said than done.  Beside the fact that all woodcutting was supposed to be done before 11AM (restrictions placed by CalFire because of high fire danger), we happened to be in the middle of a major heat wave for the first couple of weekends we worked.  So, we cut down the trees, then futher cut them into 18-ish inch long pieces for firewood before 11 AM, then spent the rest of the day bucking brush and stacking the firewood.

Shipping Container Storage Solution

Old stumps were broken up with a pick and axe, later to be ground up into mulch.

After all of the stumps were out and the ground had been raked fairly level (we did everything by hand with pick axe, shovel and rake!) it was time to define the landing pad for our cargo container.  The four corners were staked and extra dirt was brought in to level out the low spots. We used landscape timbers reinforced with rebar for the walls and filled the low spots with dirt from the high spots. This is the same technique Ray used when he built the retaining walls with landscape timbers where our travel trailer now sits.  If you would like to see how a retaining wall can be built with landscape timbers, check out this post HERE. Since we got the landscape timbers pretty cheap (on sale at Home Depot at $1.49 each – we bought a pallet!), in the end, the whole project ended up requiring a lot more muscle than money.  You should see my biceps!

I had to show this picture of Louie, our neighbor's dog. It was so hot when we were constructing the pad for the cargo container, that he would lay in each hole we dug around the stumps to remove them, so that he could absorb the cool earth.  Smart dog!

I had to show this picture of Louie, our neighbor’s dog. It was so hot when we were constructing the pad for the cargo container, that he would lay in each hole as we dug around the stumps to remove them, so that he could absorb the cool earth. Smart dog!

Cargo Container storage

The landscape timbers being installed.

We set three concrete blocks (six at the lowest corner) into each of the four corners.  This is what the cargo container corners will sit on.  Rebar was pounded about two feet into the ground and concrete was poured into the holes, holding in the rebar and reinforcing the blocks.  The cargo container weighs about 5,700 pounds empty, so we wanted to beef up the landing pad as much as possible.

Using a cargo container as storage

Concrete pads in, retaining walls up, dirt level… Ready for some gravel rock!

Cargo Container Storage

There’s Louie again on the cool rock. It sure was a hot summer! After the rock was raked level, we were ready to have the cargo container delivered! Yippee!

Then came the rock.  Ray hired an independent contactor (he was retired, but had his own dump truck and worked when he needed extra money) who brought up ten yards of road base gravel for a very reasonable price. He said he would bring us a “fat load” and he certainly did!  We ended up with a lot more rock than we anticipated, so we used the extra to begin rocking our driveway.  Our county will not issue building permits until the road to the build site is at least twelve feet wide, cleared fifteen feet high, and completely rocked, so with this extra gravel, we are actually on our way to getting our building permit!

Well…  sort of! 😉

Large Storage Solution using Cargo Shipping Container

It wasn’t easy for the driver to get his rig turned around and backed into the spot we had prepared, but eventually he did, and placed it exactly where we wanted it to be!

The day for delivery of the cargo container finally arrived last week.  We were so excited! The delivery driver had a bit of a tough time getting turned around so he could back into the site, but once he did, the container slid right into place.  Perfect!

We didn’t waste any time getting some things into the container.  As we are preparing our home in the valley to sell, we are trying to “de-clutter” and so we already have a few truckloads to fill into the container.  Once the house is sold, we will bring up the rest of the furniture we are keeping for the new house, and selling off all the rest!Shipping Container for storage

We are so excited that the time is getting nearer for us to move up to our future homestead and start building our new home.  As I look at the house plans, I can’t help but dream about our future.  I hate to admit it, but I have already named all of my chickens (Beulah, Melba, Phyllis and Pearl), though I don’t have them yet and the coop is still only a plan on paper!

Ah well, a girl can dream, can’t she?




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Light My Fire!

♪♪♫♪♫ Come on baby, light my fire ♪♫♪♫♫

Uh –      but please don’t try to set the night on fire!   🙂

We have been busy at our future homestead, preparing for the coming spring and summer. One chore is to clean up all the brush we trimmed from trees last summer and fall, to make our property more fire safe.  We have a chipper/shredder that works well with the small stuff, but sometimes we just get too inundated with all the debris and choose to burn what we don’t shred/chip.

We wait for rain to burn.  Why?  Because around here a forest fire is probably #1 on the list of bad things to happen – even in the winter!  There is a lot of forest duff on the ground, dead trees, and low lying brush that could catch with just a small spark.  One of the worst wildfires that have happened in our area in recent years was during a dry January.  And with the current drought we have been having, things are drier now than we have ever seen!

♫♪♪♪♫    I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.  I’ve seen sunny days                                       that I thought would never end  ♫♪♪♫♪

Great song!  Anyhow…………

With rain in the forecast (finally!) we called our county’s Air Quality Board to make sure the next day would be a burn day.  Since it was, we traveled up to our future homestead to do some burning!

How to burn brush

You can see some of the brush we needed to burn, and the tarps that we cover the brush with the night before it rains. The black ash is the spot where we do all of our burning. It is a large clearing, right where we plan to build our future home!

The night before we burn, while it is still dry, we pile up some of the dry brush and then put a tarp or old plastic tablecloth over it.  We also keep some dry kindling in our tool shed, and use this to start the fire right in the middle of the dry brush.  I like to use wooden matches to start the fire.  It’s almost like having small branches already burning inside the kindling!

As the fire gets going, we continue to add onto the pile, never letting it get too big or out of control.  We usually burn the leafy branches first, because we usually don’t get much of a breeze in the morning.  If there is a breeze, then we try to burn the leafy stuff when it is really burning hard.  That way the burning leaves that rise from the heat of the fire don’t travel very far.

Burning brush in the forest

Here is our burning brush fire. You can see some of the plastic gallon jugs full of water. Our neighbor’s dog, Louie, loves it when we burn brush on cold winter days!

We have an inground pool in our valley home and save all the empty gallon chemical jugs and take them up to the future homestead.  We fill those with water and set about 20 or 30 of them around the fire, just in case.  We also have a rake, shovel  and a pitchfork and are constantly patrolling the perimeter looking for branches or logs trying to roll out.

It only takes a few hours to get this job done, but we are pretty tired, sooty and wet when we are done. You notice there aren’t any pictures of us!  Ha ha.

This time we didn’t find any large critters in the pile.  Usually we find wood rat nests or deer mice. Once there was a small jack rabbit in the brush pile.  Rue the day when we find a skunk! 🙁

Safely burning brush in the forest

Once we are done burning, we spread out the coals then pour water on them until they are out and cold! Isn’t Louie cute?  He got too hot and had to lay away from the fire. 🙂

Since we don’t live up on our future homestead just yet, we ALWAYS make sure the fire is out before we leave!


I know some seasoned veterans will leave their brush piles smoldering for days, but we just don’t feel comfortable doing that.  So, once the burning is done and there are just a few coals left, we rake the coals out and pour the water from the gallon jugs on them.  The coals snap and sizzle and steam while we do this.  Since we are burning mostly hardwood branches and twigs, I plan to someday gather all of the ash before we pour water, so that I can try my hand at making lye for soap!

After all of the water has been poured on the pile (along with the rain!) and we know the fire is dead, we gather up all the gallon jugs to fill for the next time.

Burning in the Forest


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