When we built our current home in 1992, there were very few rules and codes that could damage or destroy our dream of doing most of the work in building our cabin ourselves. Times like that are rapidly disappearing and those who build now must endure permits, inspections, delays and forced compliance. The dream of building your own home could be more complicated than just knowing construction techniques nowadays. Read our story.
We thought we were doing the right thing when we moved to a remote area to live 19 years ago. The community is a landowners association with some who desire to change a beautiful remote-living area on acreage to resemble what they left. We thought living in an area with covenants and rules would protect our investment, but one should recognize that living remotely in a covenant community offers both positive and negative aspects.
Wildfire is our greatest threat living in the mountains with all the dead vegetation and dead trees providing fuel. Here in Southern Colorado, where population density is less and forest growth is thick, sensible people plan ahead to mitigate wildfire risk. Plan ahead with these tips for wildfire mitigation.
We provide bird houses for nesting birds and they provide us with insect control.
Our changing weather pattern at high elevation.
It takes special diligence and caution to keep domestic pets safe when living with wild predators around.
Learn what biodiesel can do to a fuel system if not properly treated against gelling.
Tiny homes range anywhere from 80 to 400 square feet and are sometimes built on a trailer chassis and sometimes built to go on a more permanent foundation. It is a relatively new concept and if we believe what is being said about the tiny home, its popularity is growing like wildfire.
Since moving to the mountains of Southern Colorado, we have encountered many black bears and because of those encounters, we have learned much about the species. I find it incredible that bears and other smaller critters can hibernate. Our winters are sometimes 7+ months long and for any animal to put itself into a dormant state for that long is simply amazing. Read more insights into how bear hibernation works.
More than 20 years ago, we made the decision to live a more simple life. Living in the big city, we had accumulated many possessions that had, at best, limited function. When we decided on a more uncluttered and simple lifestyle, we called an auctioneer and had him auction off the majority of our possessions. When we moved to our small cabin in the mountains we were immersed in nature.
Homesteading in the mountains can be inconvenient, dangerous, challenging and lots of hard work.
In our many encounters with black bears, we have had no serious incidents. Achieve harmony living in bear territory by staying calm and giving bears favorable distance.
We put a lot of thought into being prepared for mountain winters and it requires a lot of work to be fully prepared.
Drones can be used to survey areas to develop more accurate maps. They can be equipped with heat sensors and used in search and rescue at far less cost than putting people out there searching for those lost. This post counts the beneficial uses of drones, or airborne robots.
There is one time of the year in the mountains that is special and above all other seasons in my opinion. Fall time in the mountains is invigorating and refreshing. It is the season the invigorates all five senses. For a little Rocky Mountain fall-time inspiration, read on.
Can animals actually tell us what the weather has in store for us?
Introducing a new dog to your existing dog or pack depending on how many you have is not always as easy as it seems. I am neither a professional dog behaviorist nor a trainer but I do observe our canine members and believe there is a proper way to bring in another fur family member so the chances of success are greatly improved.
Lessons learned from watching birds.
Our experience in purchasing a tractor for our homestead.
We had a visit from a deer that looked to be in bad condition and the result was fibromatosis, a non-life-threatening skin condition afflicting mostly young male deer.
How we environmentally maintain our wood lot.
We took some test pans of dirt to see if we had any gold coming out of our springs. Sure enough some small pieces of gold.
Two issues to consider before heading out to high elevation. Altitude sickness and snow melt issues.
Gardens are possible, but having a successful garden at high elevation presents a different set of challenges.
Using the right component improves the chance of success when gardening.
Cutting firewood in the winter opens time for other activities during the short summer and fall seasons.
How we discovered a cut-glass prism that told us the exact first day of spring by producing rainbows.
Going from raw undeveloped land to a functional homestead is hard work, but it's rewarding.
Gardening at a high elevation presents challenges such as harsh sun and a shorter growing season.
We have found that there are down sides to legalization of marijuana in Colorado.
We use the winter to mitigate our wildfire exposure as opposed to the summer when we are involved with other needed tasks.
How we repurposed an old leaky wood stove to use outside to cook meals on.
Dovetail joints that are hand made are a strong woodworking joint.
Making New Year's resolutions for a remote homestead.
No homestead is complete without our canine companions.
Putting a safety fence around a woodstove keeps small children and pets safer.
Building garden boxes that keep critters out.
Using manual control of weeds as opposed to chemical control.
Selecting a tree, reducing it to logs, milling out the logs into lumber and using that lumber for specific projects.
Building a closet from lumber milled from standing dead trees.
Living in the mountains or remotely requires physical endurance as well as being fit.
Though wolves are commonly misunderstood animals, not all of what you hear is true.
We have a large population of hummingbirds in the summer and observing them and their flying antics is amazing.
Make a winter checklist to follow in preparation for winter in the mountains.
The benefits of owning a home wood mill and the economic advantages if you have available timber.
How we convert standing dead trees to usable lumber.
How we prevented birds from flying into our windows.
Should you do it yourself or hire a chimney sweep to clean your chimney?
Learn how to clean your own woodstove and chimney.
How a single purchase of a magazine in newsprint in 1970 changed my life.
How we were adopted and befriended by a deer.
How having a rhythm and routine assists in accomplishing difficult tasks.
How to report application violations of herbicide abuse.
How to flush a small engine and repair a clogged carburetor.
Tips that we have learned gardening at a high elevation.
How to cope mentally with living in a remote location.
Is a pressure washer something that would be beneficial on your homestead?
Other than the four regular seasons there is a fifth season in the mountains called mud season.
Taking time to reflect on the past brings renewed appreciation to the present.
Two homesteaders discuss their experience with the weather applicable to their mountain homesteads in Washington and Colorado.
Ed Essex and Bruce McElmurray compare their weather experiences living at 4,200 feet and 9750 feet elevation respectively.
Two homesteaders from Washington and Colorado comment on their greatest weather fear in the mountains.
Ed and Bruce compare the weather and its impact on their mountain homesteads at different elevations and mountain ranges.
Bruce McElmurray and Ed Essex collaborate on how the weather dictates to their mountain homesteading.
Calculating the amount of mountain snow to actual moisture.
It takes commitment and determination to live remotely in the mountains.
Learn the basic skills useful for mountain homesteading.
Mountain homesteading in a remote area.
There is hard work homesteading in the mountains and the weather dictates much of those challenges.
Transforming a tree to lumber and then to a piece of furniture.
Snow in the mountains is different than snow found at lower elevations.
Living remotely with wild animal encounters and how to come out safely.
Selecting a power option for your homestead.
Homesteading with dogs in remote mountain living. Considerations in providing a good safe homestead environment for your cherished pets.
Cabin Fever: noun, ‘Boredom, restlessness, or irritability that results from a lack of environmental stimulation, as from a prolonged stay in a remote, sparsely populated region or a confined indoor area‘.
Viewing elk herds from the comfort of our home.
We love our lifestyle and all the hard work that is associated with this lifestyle is just a small part of it.
There seems to be limited testing done by the EPA on the toxicity of some chemicals.
Coping with SARDS (sudden acquired retinal degeneration) in dogs and practical ways to help a blind dog.
A sudden onset of a canine eye disease called SARDS leaves dogs totally blind very suddenly. Bruce McElmurray explains this disrder from a personal perspective.
When defining the term homesteading, consider the various options available.
Don’t let this tricky pipe slow down your projects — these CPVC basics will help you ease into those plumbing repairs.
Are GMOs good or bad for civilization?
Are GMOs good or bad for civilization?
From log to the mill to the project in no time at all.
Choosing homesteading as a way of life and what it takes.
Taking personal responsibility for private-property protection in light of ongoing climate change and the hazards associated with same.
Spring time is a time to experience the newness of life and living in the Sangre de Cristo mountains amid the wildflowers, birds, green woods and new birth.
What I learned in the process of seeking restoration of a beautiful stream while dealing with governmental agencies.
Tree rings tell the tale. It is nice and green here now but our plants and weeds are acclimated to semi arid and have deep roots.
Riches sometimes come from natural resources - not always connected with dollar signs.
This stone fascia is a practical solution for wildfire prevention. It's attractive and uses local natural resources.
Ours is a great country and I don't think defined by politics but by people like the ones from our small county who served and are little known.
By installing laminate flooring we have a floor that cleans easily, is attractive and durable.
While far-fetched, this is an absolute wildlife true story. Maybe it's coincidence, but I don't think so because I was looking into those warm friendly brown eyes.
How we determine springtime at 9,759 feet elevation.
Heating with wood in a cast iron stove.
By observing the birds and wildlife we learn valuable lessons to apply to our lives.
Fishing can be good therapy for us.
Why we adopt rescue dogs.
How we deal with unexpected incidents.
How we focused on attaining our dream homestead.
We enjoy sledding and snowshoeing in the winter as outdoor activities.
Our true story about Junior a very unique deer.
A good idea that could work for wildfire mitigation.
Where we find a wealth of information for projects and enjoyable reading.
Outlining our process for locating a suitable location for finding a new homestead.
As we look into the future we prepare for a flatter terrain for a new homestead.
How our electronics save us space and provide even more room in a small home.
Rewarding volunteer efforts involving German Shepherd Rescue.
We have slowly replaced out dated fixtures and the Rialto toilet was the final step in getting more environmentally compliant.
A short description of why we prefer small city living over large city living.
How prepared ahead of time for remote living and what was required.
Our experience with our local cooperative.
How we live in the mountains during the winter.
Views around our property that make autumn an enchanting time of year.
The final result of a reporting a water violation and having a creek restored.
Our experience in living with bears.
Dealing with a government agency to save a creek.
Contemplations on what we eat and why we pay close attention to our food.
Thank goodness for good friends who will share their garden harvest with those of us less skilled.
The challenges that we encounter trying to grow a garden at high latitude.
Where we go to reflect on life and relax.
Reflections on 15 years of mountain living.
A brief story of how a creek was damaged and how it was reported to the authorities properly.
A contribution for wildfire mitigation.
Taking a ride on an old steam engine.
A story of one of our camping trips to Torreya State Park, Florida.
How our community has planned ahead for wildfire contingencies.
How we have taken measures to mitigate and reduce our wildfire exposure.
Meeting in person a long time Mother Earth News reader.
A brief description of Manuel and Mary Ann's straw bale home and its efficiency.
How we expect the unexpected and turn blow down trees into lumber.
We enjoy observing and creating habitat for wild birds.
How we clean out chimney on our A - Frame house with a steep roof.
How we persist until our 11 cords of firewood is accomplished and then re structure our lives.
How our friend John Dougherty took a normal covered utility trailer and converted it into a camping unit.
Comparison between old ways and new technology.
The final in a 6 part series on Ft. Garland, Colorado
Living in a community that has those who served in the armed forces and make good neighbors.
A surprising number of amenities found in a small town complete with western hospitality.
What we have found as an advantage of having a rural hardware store close by.
Reasons why we like to shop at our local grocery.
Living in possibly the best place in the USA.
Preventing allergy causes as opposed to treating the symptoms.
Some of the difficulties we encounter in gardening at a high elevation
How we cope with heavy snow in the mountains.
We wade through deep snow to trim limbs and cut dead trees and nothing goes to waste.
How we prepared out homestead for the best wildfire prevention possible.
What we do inside on a blustery day outside.
I learned life lessons early in life as a newspaper delivery boy. Valuable lessons that carried on though life.
What we do on snow days in the mountains when it is snowing hard outside.
How we milled lumber, made a gate and installed the gate during a break in the weather.
Proper insulation pays long term dividends.
Our typical day living in the mountains in the winter.
We use available time in the winter to preform routine maintenance on appliances and tools.
How to select and find the right pet for you. Non professional guidelines.
How important our tractor and snow thrower are in keeping us from getting snowed in. Our local cooperative.
How we avoid cabin fever by doing volunteer work and enjoying the beautiful outdoors.
How we had to adjust to a smaller home, the isolation and quiet.
Comparing a covenant community against living rural without covenants.
Making good decisions on how we use our land. Keeping it natural.
Many decisions go into remote living to decide if it is right for you.
Our selection of a house, downsizing and getting the home built.
How we approached buying our property, clearing and selecting a home site.
Communication and honesty is essential to decide important issues like a complete lifestyle change.
The Mission Wolf sanctuary is a special place that takes in wolves who have been unsuccessfully domesticated. I can tell you that having a 150-pound timber wolf kiss you on the lips is an experience you won’t quickly forget, but the fact it liked you enough to do that is even more amazing when you consider what men have done to the wolf.
Receiving seed catalogs and dreaming of warmer weather and growing a garden.
Caulk tool that works for me. If for me it should work for anyone.
History and those who may have crossed or used your homestead before you discovered it. Treasure is where you find it.
Our good and bad decisions on selecting a dealer and a wood stove.
Life really is good when you live on a dirt road.
Senior sledding down our driveway.
The third and last of a three part blog on chemical herbicides.
Trying to interpret and understand scientific reports and their failure to come to a consensus.
How potentially dangerous chemicals are tested and are they really that safe for humans or not.
Removing large quantities of snow. For more on how we cope with snow check out our personal blog at www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com where we post regular updates on our life here on the mountain.
Why are you adopting a dog? For more on pet ownership see our personal blog at www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com.
When the electricity goes out it helps to be prepared to deal with circumstances.
How the small town atmosphere can enhance your homesteading and living.
How a non writer can with effort contribute in a small way. To read more on our life style go to www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com
Finding a company from an advertisement in Mother Earth News and how it benefited us. .
Examining an community for your homestead.
How a small group of committed people can truly make a change for good.
Different noise we must adjust to living in a remote area.
How I have gone full circle from coal heat, heat pump to wood heat.
Being adopted by a deer is so different it is life changing. Can a human actually love a wild animal and can a wild animal love a human? My experience says so.
In the beauty of autumn comes a time of preparation for winter. The many necessary tasks to be prepared if you are self sufficient.
Where we go to recharge our batteries and restore our soul.
Cooking breakfast outside on the woodstove.
Fun is where you find it, in this case it is a hay ride for the family along our trail.
How we put the happy in The Happy Homesteader.
It is important to take time to reflect on those things that are important to you on occasion.
Addition to our family and our homestead. Echo a GSD with a new chance at life in his furever home.
The US Pro Cycle Challenge is a major cycling race that brings cyclists from all over the world including the recent winner of the Tour de France.
Photo of a bear with a pack rat that is about to be lunch. Thanks to a friend for sharing it for us all to see.
Our area is abundant with history. We have a limber pine tree nearby that I estimate is over 2,100 years old and still very much alive. History - we have an abundance of it.
Hiking to the top of our mountain, the breathing view, the soothing effect.
Growing raspberries and other vegetables at high elevation and the challenges.
2,4,D Amine 4 is not a safe product. Read the multiple page information sheet if you can read tiny writing and hieroglyphics.
Spending a day having fun prospecting for gold, enjoying the outdoors, exploring a ghost town and the high mountains.
Firewood, the major yearly task when you heat with wood.
Firewood, the major yearly task when you heat with wood.
Taking time to just have fun and enjoy life in the face of serious living.
Where have our bats gone? We miss the benefit of having them around and wish they would come back.
40 years of reading Mother, the value of accumulation of reading the contributions of others during that time.
Practical use of a wood mill on the homestead. The benefit of cutting your own lumber.
The virtues and wisdom of having some projects done by professionals -vs- rather than attempting them yourself. While many can and do their own installation, occasionally it is better to have professionals do the job.
New wood stove, another unexpected advantage of downsizing, and Murphy's Law.
Wild flowers in bloom in high country meadows. Wild iris in profusion.
Carpenter ants: an alternative to chemical treatment. Living within the environment and not attempting to destroy or change it.
Wild strawberries are a tasty treat.
Tree stumps, reminders of special moments and birds contribution to life.
Being prepared for canine emergencies.
The process of evaluating needs for successful downsizing.
Pack Rats, cute, tricky and destructive
Sometimes you have your plans changed for you, so don't put off tomorrow what can be done today.
Gardening challenges at high elevation.
Homesteading with wild animals and how to cope with their antics.
Wood stove considerations that should be considered before you purchase a stove.
The daily realities of living in the mountains.
If you have questions on how we accomplished our dream - ask us maybe our experience will help you. We welcome questions on how life is in the high mountains of S. Colorado. Please visit our personal blog for more information on us.