Friday, September 27, 2013

               I intended to post  this rambling little essay as a comment in the final TOD post about Randy Udall and his house, but  it would have been unduly long , and it wasn't finished in time.

               I    knew all my grandparents quite well,, and many of my   great aunts and uncles , and some of my great grand parents, and  visited most  of the homes and farms they lived in and worked on  early in the last century. Only a very few of  my relatives back then  were prosperous enough to build the sort of houses   that are often restored these days, and nearly all of that  small handful of  more elaborate houses were allowed to rot down, or deliberately   burnt,  when the younger folks  got prosperous enough  to build new houses.Remodeling such an old house to modern standards is quite a job, and  doing it right generally costs considerably more than simply building  a new modern house.

              The land held then  by my extended family still exists  very much as it did then, with the exception of there being many more houses in the neighborhood. A large portion of it is still in family hands.The cropped  farms have mostly been abandoned to go back to forest, or converted  to    industrially scaled  orchards or beef cattle operations whereas a hundred years ago   local people   lived  primarily by supplying their own needs and sold a few  crops and  few head of livestock  for cash to supplement  their own production  of food, clothing, furniture,lumber, fuel, and so forth.

          I spent my  early years in a house typical of the time and place, one of the  very last ones constructed after the old board and batten fashion in this locality.  My Dad   was glad to get a  parting gift of a hilltop  acre and a half   cut  from one corner of his own   Dad's small farm.We still live on this same hilltop  acre and a half, which  has  some  things to recommend it but all things considered, it is poorly located in terms    low cost low tech  sustainability, compared to other similar houses constructed by family members in earlier decades.... We have a  great view from the front porch, and  if the wind were steadier, we would be  well situated for wind power.The solar resource is excellent, except for  the shade trees  planted around the old house,  when it was built in 1950.When I'm able to install some pv, it will have to be  ground mounted.

     Daddy bought the lumber  for our the original board and batten green oak   house  from  a local logger and sawmill operator, who in turn    bought the standing red and white oak timber from a nearby  landowner. The logger  felled the trees with a new fangled chainsaw,  and dragged them out with a team of mules to  his little mill, which was powered by an old automobile engine . Every thing about  the mill, except the   saw itself, and the carriage that   moved the log into the blade, was  worked  by muscle power alone.When  all the good trees within  a quarter of a mile or so of the mill were  harvested, the usual solution was to move  the mill ,  although  by 1950  some larger mills were  supplied with logs hauled in by trucks  from as far as ten or twenty miles away, and some logging crews  working on   the easiest  terrain were using tractors to drag out the logs.Daddy loaded  the  rough sawn boards  by hand  on his daddy's one ton flatbed  farm truck and  hauled them directly to the home site.

     Prior to 1940, all the timber harvested locally was felled  by hand with a one or two man  cross cut saw,  trimmed by hand with an axe, and then bucked to length, again by hand,  with the cross cut saw.A crosscut saw is a  far more efficient tool than an axe for felling trees , and axes were  not  customarily  used, locally,to fell trees   during the lifetime of anybody I knew, or their parent's lifetimes. A few logs were occasionally loaded onto heavy wagons in the days before trucks became commonplace,and hauled  a few miles  to a steam powered  mill. There weren't any water powered sawmills close  enough by to  haul logs to them, although  flour mills were common.When the nearby trees were harvested, the miller just hooked his mules to the mill   and  hauled it closer to the still standing timber in order to drag the  felled  trees   more efficiently.

      One of my great grandfathers earned his living firing the boiler  of a steam  mill with the slabs left from the milling of the logs. I never knew him except as a very old man, but even at eighty, you could still see that  he must have been an incredibly strong man in his younger days, with  muscles and hands as hard as the  slabs he handled like toys  all day long . I expect that if he had been attacked by a modern day mugger, he would have  laughed and    grabbed the mugger at any spot he could have put a hand on, and clamped down  until the mugger  screamed  for his  momma, or the law, or anybody at all,  to save him. Almost any man  who worked in the woods or on a saw mill crew could have done as much, and as easily.

        There were a few  honest  to Abe Lincoln log cabins built    close by here  previous to 1900, and     a good many   log barns and sheds and split rail fences  after that, but none of the old folks I had the privilege of talking to ever built a log house for themselves , because by 1900,  lumber and nails were cheap enough to be the easiest and best  option.Building a  frame  house was far easier and far faster than building a cabin, and in most cases, there were not enough suitable trees on the small  properties where new homes were built   to construct a decent cabin anyway.Lumber is far and away easier to move  and handle than entire logs, and a good portion of the work involved in sawing it out is offset by the savings in labor involved in logging  fewer  trees.A tree too big, too small, or  too crooked  to  serve as a cabin log  can still yield a generous bounty of  good boards: and a log sawed  into boards goes at  three or four times  farther than one used intact when building a house.

     Furthermore,  by1900 a  framed house was  seen by as the  way to build and to live.Daddy probably would have found it impossible to convince his new bride  to move into a  cabin.Had he built  her a cabin, I might be younger by a matter of some  weeks or months.;-)

      S0- Daddy  hauled in a pickup load or two of big relatively flat stones from a couple of  the  piles that  lay  at the edge of  every field, and  those stones, skillfully stacked, became the piers on which his  new castle rested.The local carpenter  rattled up in his old pickup truck and he and Daddy worked from daylight until about two pm   more days than not on  the house, when Daddy  jumped in his own old truck, and headed to town to his second shift job.

         They  finished up in about  two months of intermittent work , and Daddy  moved his proud and  grateful bride into a spiffy  new two room board and batten  green oak house with a shiny "tin" (galvanized steel) roof,a "cinderblock" chimney,four windows,  and  even a front porch.Electricity arrived  just a few weeks later;Daddy  and the carpenter installed the wires inside the uninsulated sheet rocked walls  in advance.Running water  had to wait  quite a while, but since he had a pickup, a job in town, and plenty of jugs, Momma didn't have to make too many trips    to the spring  a quarter mile way down a steep hill with me tagging along and a three gallon pail in each hand.Farm women in 1950  were tough- they had to be. The purchase of some nearby land was a far higher priority than running water, and  we didn't  get our hand dug well until 1955. I  remember well  the excitement of  the digging of it.The well digger, a wiry little old Gypsy with  a perpetual grin , who was accompanied every where he went , except down the hole,by a comically friendly but awesomely  pugnacious looking (to a little boy)  bulldog, almost  drowned when a gusher of icy cold water broke thru  suddenly.
(Since then we have installed a pump at the lower spring- which is on a relatives land, not ours- and a gravity feed water system  leading from a spring on some land we bought which lies uphill from our house, even though we are on a hilltop.)

      All the other little boys in the neighborhood were temporarily  in awe of me when they saw me walk right up to that obvious man eater of a dog and  "wrassle"  while it growled happily  and pretended to chew my arm off.

        Now the whole purpose of this essay, originally, was to  comment on the sustainability and energy efficiency  of houses and farm buildings as they were constructed here  a century or so ago.So maybe I should reminisce less, and  stick more to my intended subject matter.  I don't know how long it took to  cut the trees  and   drag out the logs, but  I have some modest experience with this sort of work, and it most likely took  from  between  three and five or six man and mule  days , depending on the conditions the logger encountered.I know it took two long days and part of a third day to saw the lumber out, with three men, including my Daddy, working the mill.It took Daddy  a couple of hours more   to  unload the truck each evening.He  got off from his regular job the  week  the lumber was being cut,but he  can't remember , now, how he managed the time off. Construction of the house   took between forty and fifty man days, total.

          The site was already cleared, having been used up until then for pasture and crops.As nearly as we can guess now, so many years later, it took  about  eight  to ten months of his net wages to pay for  the hired labor  and  purchased materials,but he never spent  a dime  for  drawings, or permits, or  bookkeeping, or insurance, or real estate  agents commissions, or interest. He has never in his life  spent a dime on  rent or interest on a home mortgage.

      He did have to spend ten bucks  for a lawyer  getting his  his deed prepared and recorded.Ten dollars was a lot of money, back then, for a poor man working in a mill and trying to get established  as a farmer and family man.

     It's perfectly obvious that in terms  of the energy and materials  consumed in the building of it, under the circumstances   then prevailing,  that such a house is a bargain on the grand scale. I can't provide hard numbers, but  I can  make some in the ball park estimates for most of the job. The logger probably used  sixty  gallons of gasoline, and my grandfather's old truck another  forty  or fifty gallons  at the outside .The carpenters old pickup trick   likely took another forty gallons,  maybe less;he lived  close by. Daddy probably used   forty gallons or so    taking care of all the other shopping and hauling involved. The carpenter didn't even bring a power tool to the job.There was no power  available and it is questionable whether  he even owned a power tool anyway.

   Now you can still buy a new sawmill for ten thousand dollars, today, similar to the one  used to mill the lumber, and such a mill with due care lasted it's owner most of a lifetime, so the  use of the mill added very little to the embedded energy cost of the house. A forties vintage pickup  generally lasted ten years at least, , and the two pickups used on the job were certainly driven less than a thousand miles in the   building the house, even including the carpenters commute..My grandfather's  larger truck was  needed for a week or so  total, but it was actually driven  no more than twelve  hours  or so, including three trips to the sawmill and  two trips to a building supply store to haul in the sheetrock, metal roofing, windows,nails ,  and other materials.All the materials, excepting the lumber, were  purchased for cash on a single invoice after haggling with every   builders supply - all three of them- within  an hours drive.Daddy borrowed most of the purchase money interest free  from his own Daddy and  his proud new father in law.There can be no doubt that the energy embedded in this house was a very minor fraction of the energy in a new one of similar size.

        In terms of the portion of his income consumed in the building of it, it was a world class bargain  compared to a modern house built and financed in the usual way.Other than the ten bucks he paid "lawyer Cooley" to prepare the deed to the property,  Daddy never spent a dime on a survey, permit,  real estate  brokers commission, inspections,  loan origination fee, points, or any of the other  unfortunate  but often  times necessary foolishness that has come between people and a home of their own over the last half century.

         In our case, because of the limited  space available on the 'home place"  it was necessary to   move the old house   to make use of the precise spot it sat on for the "new" house  we still live in today.Otherwise it would have likely been added onto and modernized, and occupied today  by a family member .When the great day arrived, a truck hauled up a small  bulldozer, and Daddy ran a couple of borrowed logging chains  thru holes chopped with  considerable difficulty  thru the walls. The dozer, snorting and pawing  and puffing black smoke, dragged the house- on rollers made from small logs cut on our own land - a  hundred feet  to get it out of the way.This resulted in some cracks appearing in the sheetrock and a couple of broken window panes, and the doors jamming,but otherwise that board and batten green oak house stood the equivalent of a powerful earthquake   with no damage at all.

           We lived in it for  about three months while the new  house as going up, and used it for a barn for twenty years or so after that , and finally burned it to be rid of it- due to needing the space. It was still  rock solid  when we burnt it. (Just in case of any  confusion-Daddy did own some farm and woodland and of his  own by that time,but all of our his original farm land is located a mile or so away.Our shop and  primary storage buildings  are on  the original acre and a half we actually live on, plus the  house , lawn, pump house, pool,  grape arbor, flower beds,garden spot, chicken coop, two detached carports, some fruit trees, and various machinery sheds.The acre and a half is pretty well used up, now.)

    Now if you are wondering how long such a house can last, I must say I can only guess, but a couple of hundred years sounds reasonable to me, with some repairs along the way of course.The one Momma grew up in is still standing, after being abandoned for  fifty  years or so, and I could could put it into livable condition  in a week or two.It's worth a few electrons and a few minutes to understand why such houses are so durable.

   There's no better place to begin than the beginning, and  our old house was built on fieldstone piers stacked  without mortar.Those stones  were here millions of years ago, and they will still be here a million years from now, unless somebody grinds them up for gravel.With a totally open "crawl space", and the piers being at least two feet tall, it   generally stays   satisfactorily dry underneath such a house in a temperate climate, so long as it is  properly placed in relation to the slope of the ground, or  a shallow drainage ditch is dug  to carry away  roof runoff and  ground water.

    Termites may  get into the wood, but in most cases locally, they didn't- not so long as the house was occupied at least.Even if they do,   white oak  lumber is so much stronger than the   sorry pine used for framing these days that even a termite riddled  real  oak  two by four  is still  as strong or stronger than a so called  present day pine two by four  which is only one and a half by three and a half inches. Red and white oak were used almost exclusively for three reasons ; ready availability,   great strength, and  excellent  resistance to decay, so long as the  wood is kept reasonably dry.

       Chestnut was  even better, so far as decay went, but small landowners  were reluctant to cut their chestnut  trees  because they supplied  nuts for  the table and for market,  and for the  ever present pigs which  provided most of the meat on the  table.Chestnut was out of the question by 1950, as the last of the blight killed old dead trees had long since  been used up.

      The wood stays dry- at least dry enough- in a properly built green oak house to last indefinitely, because the eaves or overhangs are  wide enough to keep nearly all of  the rain off the walls, and the tightly nailed vertical battens    prevent  wind blown rain from soaking in  between adjacent vertical boards.  It's damp under such a house only when it is raining, and  the wood gives up any excess absorbed moisture fast when the humidity falls off, given the entirely unimpeded circulation of air.There was  seldom  any question of excessive dampness within such a house due to the fact that the water supply and associated  plumbing were minimal or non existent,and the  constant  flow or air inside and out due to the loosely fitted doors and windows and the many  crevices between the boards.. In our own case, when he once was able to pay for having  the well dug , Daddy ran a single galvanized cold water line to the kitchen sink,  which drained thru a galvanized pipe into the pig pen located as far way, down hill, from the house as he could put it. We didn't get a proper bath room and septic system until he was able to build the new  house.

    If you ever experience a  windy zero night in an old cheaply built board and batten house , you will instantly understand that  the one thing  nobody will ever complain about  is the house being stuffy.On a really windy day, you couldn't light a cigarette in one of  them without skillfully cupping your hands around the match.So long as the roof was intact, they stayed  bone dry. Ours was considerably better than most older ones, ,in terms of drafts,  due to being sheet rocked;  you only had to cup your match and cigarette  if you were  near a window or door.

      A galvanized steel roof  is more or less a lifetime investment, if it's good quality- meaning there is is plenty of zinc on the steel. Such a roof does need  a coat of paint after the first twenty years or so, and another coat every ten years or so after that, but  painting a roof is only a semiskilled skilled job of the sort any farmer or mill hand usually takes care of himself.

    Now let's take a look at the very similar house my maternal grandfather built  about 1925 or so.The lumber  in his case came from trees he logged himself, from his own land, which dragged a mile or so- a very long way   to go with a big log and a two mule team- to a steam mill set up in a nearby  tract of timber.  He hauled the lumber back on his wagon, and he built his own house with the aid of his brothers.His own Pa,  my great grandfather, was the  boiler operator and straw boss of the mill, and the sawyer too, on occasion, and it has been said with a wink that the mill was heard running on a couple of Saturdays when the owners were known to be elsewhere.The foreman  would certainly  have known about it, but he would also  likely have been  more than willing to help  out  a well liked employee  because in such a small and tight knit community, he could safely assume he and his own family would get an equally valuable returned favor.I expect he got a very good deal when he took his  corn  and and buckwheat  to be  ground into  meal and flour at the closest  mill which just happened to be owned and operated  by my  grandfathers new father in law.;-)

        Now some people  see this sort of thing as stealing, but the people who work on such jobs don't, necessarily; they see it as  justice obtained in the only way they can get it.Back then,they  generally left  such jobs after a few decades bent,broke, and partially crippled, while the generally absentee  owners  got older and fatter without lifting any thing heavier than a pencil.If you got seriously hurt, which was a very common occurrence, well, it was  tough luck and maybe a ten dollar severance, if you were uncommonly lucky about the severance, and don't come around here no more.

    So- my "Old Pa" , as we sometimes referred to him to distinguish him from various other Pa's,  probably spent less than six  month's cash wages (mostly earned working part time for other local farmers) building his first house.It would have been even less but wages were only a pittance around here back then.I doubt if he bought anything at all except the nails, windows, door hinges,locks, brick  for the chimney,and  a couple of hundred feet of galvanized water pipe. The pipe was used to bring gravity powered water from the spring  to the house, and my grandmother to be   enjoyed literally constantly running water  from her  first day in her new home.
      The tap was seldom ever turned off ; she just moved the spout from one side of the sink to the other.The drain was arranged so that the water could be directed into the  field located downhill from the house when irrigation was needed;otherwise it flowed into the hog lot adjacent to the  field, and   from there any runoff  was absorbed by the woodland located sill father downhill.

     The trees just down slope of the hog lot grew quite a  bit bigger  than those a little way to either side.Hog manure is a good fertilizer, but nobody used it to any extent  mostly because  it is so messy and troublesome  to work with.Just about every speck of  manure from the usual chickens, cows and horses or mules  was  spread in gardens and fields.
       Mountain folks back then  kept their milk and other perishables right in their springhouse as a general rule.My Granny could keep hers in a wooden tub full of constantly replenished cold spring water, and the overflow  made for a nice cool  hot weather mudhole for the hogs kept another couple of hundred feet down slope from the house. 

       Old Pa didn't even buy metal for his roof- he split his own shingles, which he learned to do as a boy.He hauled a lot of his  shingles on his own Pa's wagon to town , along with  the apples , corn,and  potatoes  his Pa  sold, and thereby  had saved  money in hand to buy his own land before he won my grandmother's hand.

    The only electrical   appliances my Granny had   when electricty first  made it  to her home in 1945  were a refrigerator and washing machine.The two lights in the house were used sparingly indeed  in order to preserve scarce  nickels and dimes.

         Once the juice arrived, a  single one horse power  electric motor was  put to use  driving a variety of farm   machinery by moving it  from one machine  to another ,  including a corn sheller, a homemade table saw, a grinder used to sharpen tools, and an apple grader- a machine that  polished  and shined the apples by running them thru a series of   soft bristled buffing wheels, and  sorted them   by size by  running them across   chaIn conveyers with different sized openings. The  very littlest "cider" apples fell thru the first chain's inch and a half openings; the ones that made it across the last one of four  were "three inches and up".

        Old Pa  had the luxury of  being able to pick  the best spot on his  twenty acres for his house, and settled on  putting  his original house in the second best spot  with the plan being to eventually build a better one on the  better spot.Both houses are still standing, and the newer one is  occupied by one of his grandsons.One of my uncles lived in the old house until  the mid sixties when he built a new house of his own; it's been  abandoned since then except for occasional use as a barn.

            Old Pa's  farm, which  is still intact and still in the family,  lies on the lower portion  of the  southern exposure of the mountains, which in this immediate neighborhood run  more east to west than southwest to northeast  as the Blue Ridges obviously does, if you check a map. Only about three acres of the whole place are  even close to level,  and a third of it is   steep indeed, while the rest is  moderately sloped.

            The original house sits on a sunny western facing slope,  close to but not on the nearly level southern  most part of the land.It's perfectly situated to make the best use of the winter sun.The whole place is  well sheltered  from high winds by the bulk of the mountain to the north, and substantial  ridges which extent out north to south   from the mountain itself to the east and west of the farm, a mile or so apart.It gets pleasantly  warm  there on any sunny winter afternoon if there is little or no wind, and yet there is usually a night breeze  during hot weather as warm and cold air masses  flow up and down the mountain slopes.

     If all this good fortune in respect  to the  terrain and microclimate sounds a little to good to be true as a matter of luck, it's because it  luck had only a little to do with it. One of the very first (white) men who settled here in this precise spot   was a Quaker by the name of Ralph Levering who   went exploring  looking for a place perfect for growing apples and he  found it- right here. The details of how my extended family wound up here are lost now, but there is little doubt that this fine man had something to do with it, and the rest  was just a matter of Old Pa having the money some forty years or so later  when this choice (by his standards)  land lying close by to  his own pa's farm came on the market. 

          Everything that had to be toted and hauled  , with the exception of field  crops grown  to the south of the house, was deliberately located at a higher elevation than the house, and therefore an  "easy down hill drag" to the house and barns.Old Pa  might have built the house  on the nearly level ground at the southern edge of the place  edge, but it this precious  almost level ground was reserved for field crops, and   this lower lying land is   chilly and damp on frosty nights to a noticeably  greater extent than  the spot the  house  sits   a couple of hundred feet removed  upslope.
    Now the  importance of that "easy down hill drag" can only be understood  by understanding that the primary means of on the farm transportation on a mountain farm  at that time was a "ground slide"- a horse or mule drawn sledge made on the place from saplings with  hand tools,  usually about  four feet across and six or seven feet long.A horse or mule  could easily drag  a ground slide up a steep slope empty or lightly laden only with a few hand tools and perhaps a dozen fence posts.
        Dragging such a slide  down hill even fully loaded with  a ton of pole length firewood or   crates of just picked apples  was  not a problem at all, , as it  slipped  easily along on it's slick runners over  the grass.Dragging a  fully loaded slide  up hill was a different matter altogether- a horse killing job to  to be avoided if at all possible.  Trips along more or less level ground were dealt with by hauling an appropriately sized load . It was common for such a slide to be used as many days as not. During  apple picking season, Old Pa's was kept in near constant use, and during the winter it made many a trip to the steepest upper slopes for firewood.As the trees were cut back, the pasture for the usual   two horses or mules  and the family  cow   gradually grew larger.

   Old Pa owned a sturdy wagon of course but   it  just wasn't maneuverable enough  to work his  steep mountain side orchard, and trying to haul a load down off of a steep  hillside in a heavy wagon  was  begging for a serious accident.Hence   the  wagon was little used on the farm itself, but it was indispensable for the necessary  trips to   the  nearby mill  to have the meal and flour ground, or to town to sell the produce of the farm.Granny wouldn't have missed any trips to the mill, since it belonged to her father  and was within a stones throw of her childhood home and her mom. If she  happened to be in the family way, or the weather happened to be especially nasty,  it was also used to attend church on Sundays, but most of the time the family walked that mile and back, given that the Good Lord intended the horses and mules to have their own  day of rest. Mountain farm people in those days thought no more of a two or three mile round trip walk up and down hill all the way than  most people today think of the quarter mile or less they walk  in an air conditioned supermarket buying their groceries.

    Now  even though virtually every house built close by here after 1900 or so was built  from milled lumber,  a lot of barns  and sheds were still built out of  logs  up into the thirties. A barn did not need to be as weather tight as a house, nor as well constructed in any other respect;  almost any tree close by and of a suitable size could be  incorporated into  a poor man's barn.There were many such trees to be gotten rid of by  burning them , in order to clear the land, unless  they could be used for  such a barn or for firewood on the home place.All it took to build such a shed or barn, if the trees were handy , was a lot of brute labor, plus a few dollars  for tin for the roof in most cases.Both money and jobs were scare, so the local farmers kept building them thru the thirties.Just about all of them have rotted away now-  termites and rot tend to destroy a log barn faster than one built  well  off the ground on piers using  good  rough lumber.Plenty of thirties vintage  framed barns are still in use. 

      Split rail fences were common before 1900, but by that  advanced modern  time just about every farmer could afford barbed wire, which  made a far better and far more durable fence- and a fence  which could be constructed  in a fraction of the total  time. Cedar when it was available was much preferred for fence posts  due to its extreme  resistance to decay,  with black locust being  an excellent second choice.Cedar is scarce in this locality,  but black locust is plentiful.A black locust fence post  made  out of a mature tree with a lot of heartwood will last up to fifty years; but such a tree is too large to make a  properly sized post, and so the usual solution was  to split them into halves, thirds or quarters , Abe Lincoln style.This was of course a lot of hard work, but it was off season work,  done at a time when there was not much that needed doing on an immediate basis .The labor involved in splitting the posts was mostly  offset  by   felling  fewer trees, digging smaller post holes, and  greatly eased handling of the heavy posts. 

    Now it seems unlikely we will be going back to such a simpler time    and simpler way of life  within the foreseeable future, but  other than the   long arm of the law, expressed as  building codes and zoning regulations, there's nothing to prevent anyone who  wants to live on a small mountain farm from building a green oak board and batten  house today.

         I felt like  a little rich kid living in the one my daddy built. ( I didn't know any better then of course!)   We seemed to have everything a person could ever want-  plenty to eat,  cats and hounds to play with, an endless forest to play in, a wonderful almost  red hot stove to   stand by  shivering while I got dressed after rolling out from under  four or five  hand made quilts   on  zero winter morning. 
There were  kids near enough by to have  playmates  when school was out, and we lived over such games as  playing    Tarzan on wild grape vines, although one of my cousins did  break a shoulder and a couple of ribs  when  the vine he was swinging on broke.

     There are still a few of these old houses in use. Virtually all of them in this neck of the woods   have had  modern bathrooms and septic systems added on.

      If I were in need of a new home, I would be perfectly satisfied to live in  a new green oak house , if it were   updated with modern wiring, insulation,plumbing, and windows, and I expect I could build one for not more than half the cost of a typical new house of comparable square footage.

      It would have gravity water from a spring , and a woodlot  upslope.It would be nestled in a south facing hollow where it is warmer  and less windy in the winter than  more exposed locations. It would have plenty of deciduous shade to  keep off the hot summer sun.There would be a garden spot downslope , to take advantage of the gravity water,  and fruit trees scattered about.

    And given that times have changed, it would have a solar domestic hot water system, and the biggest pv array I could afford.It would have a ground water heat pump, the ground water supplied by the ever flowing spring, to supply heat when I need to be away, and when I'm finally tool old  to cut my firewood and feed the stove.

            The excess spring water would be run thru pipes embedded in the floors and ceilings,  providing me with a somewhat cooler house during our hot summers  energy cost free, and from there it would go on into a small pond stocked with  bass and blue gill for the table.

   It would fit into the landscape gracefully, pleasing the eye better   than any vinyl clad or brick monstrosity ever could.

1 comment:

  1. At the time I posted this I dictated it in a hurry to my sister over dinner while cooking and she got the details wrong about the logs. Daddy and his own Dad did the logging and hauling cutting the trees on HIS dad's farm.

    Since then I have learned to actually type instead of hunt and peck. Should have corrected this but for now just exploring the software to see how it works.