Tiny Cabin: Fire and Rain

One week we’re burning the brush pile in 39-degree air; the next, we’re sweeping water from the cabin floor in a humid 75 degrees.

Completing the rafters last Saturday was a high point in our cabin building. My brother-in-law came to help, and by afternoon all 18 rafters were up. The day could not have been more beautiful, even if the sun left its mark on our bodies.

We knew that six straight days of rain were ahead, so we covered the cabin with a tarp and put some plastic sheeting over the floor. The rain began Tuesday night, and when we went Wednesday afternoon, the land surrounding the cabin was a lake.

The water went past our ankles and soaked Chuck’s pants to the knee. Luckily, I had my rain boots on, though I discovered the left one has a hole.

In spite of our bungee cords, the tarp had blown off one side and rain was pouring in. There were already several inches of water on the floor. Using a long pipe as an extension, we were able to move the tarp over the rafter peak and re-secure it. We splashed back to the car knowing that five more days of rain lay ahead.

There was a possibility that the water would keep rising until it engulfed the cabin floor. In that case, we decided we would haul in more dirt and rebuild. Though we would like a cabin built on land, we also considered that we might have to build on a trailer bed. We decided that at some point we would have to cut our losses and run—how many thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours are we willing to spend on a thorny Bradford pear plantation?

Thankfully, the waters receded and we didn’t have to act out any of our worst-case scenario plans–at least not yet. More rain is forecast for tonight, and we will have to see how well the floor dries out this week.

 

Flooding and the Tiny Cabin

Some people romantically refer to their home as a “castle.” While our 10′ x 16′ space is not exactly palatial, we do now have a moat.

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I can view my glass as either half-empty or half-full. On one hand, the land we purchased is and always will be low-lying. We did receive an excessive amount of rainfall in a short period of time and a number of counties were under a flash-flood warning, but Arkansas is no stranger to strange weather. This won’t be the last time something like this happens.

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On the other hand, the area of the house is not flooded. Our moving dirt with a rented Bobcat and our hours of shoveling gravel paid off. And unlike our first drive onto the land back in May, our car did not get stuck. Yes, the yard is one big mud puddle, but it isn’t quicksand.

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I foresee more gravel in the future, and possibly a dock made out of pallet boards…but first, four walls and a roof.

A Ton of Work…Literally

5-22-15 driveway with partial rockA few days after our sinking episode, we called a gravel truck. The problem: because the clay was so soft, he couldn’t gradually release the rock so that it spread evenly. He just had to dump it. While he went for another load, we spread it with shovels, shoes, and gloved hands.

We hadn’t expected anyone to be able to come out on such short notice, much less deliver multiple loads. Otherwise, we might have had more hands on deck! Instead, it was just the two of us. We had planned to spend the day clearing the new site for the cabin, but we knew this had to be done. More rains were on the horizon, and the driveway was basically a 6’ x 22’ mud hole.

The air was cool and the day was lovely, but after spreading the third load we were worn out—and the driveway was only half done.

Then, the mayor of Higginson himself showed up—tall and serious, with a resemblance to Tommy Lee Jones. He was in the neighborhood because around the corner a stretch of houses were having some sewer problems. [With a composting toilet we won’t have to worry about that!]

He exuded silent confidence while sizing up the situation. He told us he’d be back with a backhoe, and five minutes later we watched, mouths agape, as he smoothed out the freshly-dumped load.

5-22-15 driveway with rock

We asked if we could make a donation to the town, but he wouldn’t take any money directly. Instead, he said, “If you want, go to City Hall and make a donation to the 4th of July fund.” He seems to take his civic position as one “for the people.”

Thankfully, our cabin-building schedule was only tentative, or else we’d be behind. At the moment, we’re under a severe thunderstorm warning, and up to five more inches of rain are expected this week. We’ll go out to the land on Thursday to see if our new site is still above water.

Water, Water Everywhere

driveway 5-13-15

Driveway 5-13-15 before

Driveway 5-13-15 after

Driveway 5-13-15 after

We finally made it back to the land today. Searcy has had crazy rain–6-8″ in the past seven days. A portion of the property is under water, but thankfully not where we intend to build the cabin.

Once we build the cabin and set up the rain barrel, we should be able to collect about 8,000 gallons of water a year [~250 sq. ft. of roof x .62 x 50″ annual rainfall = 7,936 gallons].

Cabin Site

Cabin Site

Next week, we’re going to brave the weather and camp on the land. We’ve cleared away all the small trees and brush; now we need a chainsaw. We’ve staked out the spot for the house and have to decide the path for the driveway. Once it’s cleared, we can have a load of gravel brought for the foundation.

Then it’ll be time to start building.