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Small Cabin Forum / Member's Projects and Photos / Our New Property and Project
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bugs
Member
# Posted: 6 Jun 2009 16:08
Reply 


Hi All:

I am new to the forum although I have been reading and enjoying the various informative posts for a number of weeks.

In March of this year we purchased 240 acres of "waste" land in the aspen parkland of Saskatchewan. The land consists of a small area of old pasture and a slightly larger area of cropland, which we have rented out to a neighbouring farmer to grow hay. The main features of the property are a large 100 acre pond and some smaller wetlands and about the same amount of dense aspen bush that appears to be in its original state. The place abounds with wild life and birds. We plan on using the property as our own private park where we can sit and enjoy and study nature (I am an aquatic entomologist by trade), do nature photography, go canoeing and in the winter, snowshoeing.

We are presently waiting for the municipality to build an access road from the gravel road. At the same time we have them hired to bull doze a 500-yard trail through the bush to our prospective shed site on a wooded hill overlooking the large pond.

As I am inept with tools and there are no services on the property I hired a local company that builds sheds and cabins to construct an 8x12 foot shed. We want to use the shed as an overnighter for three seasons and as a warm up shelter for the winter snowshoe trips at 25C so we had the shed insulated. We plan on heating it with a small wood stove built and marketed by another local company. I have constructed "the important facility" (Still have all my appendages!!) which is based around the 'humanure" composting toilet principle. We also hope to add a screened in cooking shelter for the "bug" season and raining days.

I have attached some pix showing where Saskatchewan is, a map of the property and the view from our prospective shed site.
MapNA
MapNA
Map of property
Map of property
ShedSiteWest
ShedSiteWest


swanugly
Member
# Posted: 6 Jun 2009 20:19
Reply 


i bet that pond realy comes alive with wildlife . lets see some more photos when you get started . very nice

CabinBuilder
Admin
# Posted: 7 Jun 2009 14:19 - Edited by: CabinBuilder
Reply 


Welcome to the forum, bugs.

Nice view of the lake!
Looking forward to see more picture of you property and cabin project.

Walnut
Member
# Posted: 7 Jun 2009 20:07
Reply 


100 acre pond - wow! I'm jealous.

cabinbasics
Member
# Posted: 7 Jun 2009 21:46
Reply 


I heard those Canadian ponds are loaded with pike, walleye, and more. Maybe not cause it's a pond and not connected with other bodies of water, but there must be something in there! Beautiful shots!

CabinBuilder
Admin
# Posted: 8 Jun 2009 09:57 - Edited by: CabinBuilder
Reply 


Quoting: cabinbasics
...Maybe not cause it's a pond and not connected with other bodies of water, but there must be something in there!

If pond is not connected with other water bodies then it would make sense to stock it with fish.

bugs
Member
# Posted: 8 Jun 2009 17:51
Reply 


You are right "cabinbasics" there is some of the best fishing in NA in Saskatchewan as well as some very good waterfowl and big game hunting.

I think the pond may be too shallow to allow any fish other than minnows and sticklebacks to over winter. There is a beaver lodge on the pond so there must be some water under the ice during the winter. We are planning on going for a paddle this coming weekend so will be able to see how deep it is and what bugs etc are living in the pond.

I will post some more pix soon. Most are from the early spring so the place looks pretty bleak.

bugs
Member
# Posted: 9 Jun 2009 12:10
Reply 


More pix. As you can see the property is quite extensive with lots of types of habitats. We first visited the property, prior to purchase, in March during a snow storm. It was worthwhile tho as we were able to snowshoe over the pond and through the bush and check out all the game trails made by deer and moose.
Marchvisit01
Marchvisit01
Marchvisit02
Marchvisit02
Aprilvisit
Aprilvisit
Mayvisit
Mayvisit


cabinbasics
Member
# Posted: 9 Jun 2009 16:18
Reply 


Nice pics - plenty of snow melt to feed those ponds!

bugs
Member
# Posted: 22 Jun 2009 08:23
Reply 


Part I
It has almost been a month since we had made it out to our property. The last time we were there in May the leaves had yet to come out on the trees. We almost did not recognize the place. As you can see from the pictures road that runs by our place is a pleasant country road bordered by farmland and bush.

The place is extremely peaceful and alive with birds and their songs and insects now. The mosquitoes were not too bad while we were sitting on the tailgate of the truck but venturing into the bush the came at us in swarms in the morning. We followed the narrow trail we cut through the bush to find that many of the stakes we had pounded into the ground to mark our prospective driveway/lane to the yard site had been knocked down by a moose, judging from the hair and tracks, that found our trail to its liking. Since we cut the trail when there were no leaves it was hard to see our flagging tape at times through dense bush as you can see in the image.

The place is really peaceful............. And then.
Looking N
Looking N
looking S
looking S
bush edge
bush edge
trail
trail


bugs
Member
# Posted: 22 Jun 2009 08:26
Reply 


Part II

Like some squealing, squeaking, yellow Godzilla the bulldozer pushed through the trees knocking down everything in its path into the ditch. In less than 40 minutes the bulldozer had creaked an access to our property complete with culvert.
cat 01
cat 01
cat 02
cat 02
culvert
culvert
approach
approach


bugs
Member
# Posted: 22 Jun 2009 08:28
Reply 


Part III

After the bulldozer finished the approach from the road to our property it turned and lumbered off into the bush following the trail we had set out. About 550 yards later it arrived at the yard site and cleared an area for our shed and outbuildings to go. Within 4 hours the work was essentially complete.
lane A
lane A
lane B
lane B
lane C
lane C
lane D
lane D


bugs
Member
# Posted: 22 Jun 2009 08:30
Reply 


Part IV

It was great to be able to drive with our 4x4 along the lane through the heavy bush and stop at our new yard site overlooking our little lake. There are a few hills that need the grade reduced and some rocks to be pushed aside but the bulldozing is almost complete. We are going to get a grader in to smooth out the lane a bit to make it easier to drive on. We are planning on seeding the lane to grass rather than graveling it. This should make it more natural and likely will be cheaper as well. We will need to get about 10 yards of gravel in for the yard site and to put our "little cabin" on. Which hopefully will be delivered in the next couple of weeks.

It is a great feeling to see the project underway finally after so much planning and bushwhacking. The lane, although looking very destructive, is just a small part of the bush land we have and it will soon grow in and cover up much the devastation. We plan on cutting up many of the trees pushed over for firewood to use in the fire pit and the wood stove we are putting in the cabin.
yard01
yard01
yard02
yard02
yard03
yard03


bugs
Member
# Posted: 29 Jun 2009 10:53
Reply 


Got out to the property again this weekend and dropped the privy off. The privy is 3x4 and will use a composting system therefore no digging of a hole/pit and it can be moved easily until we find just the right place at the yard site. It is a basic outhouse plan/construction but for a suntuff roof. I wanted a standard shingle roof but my wife wanted a skylight so the privy is bright and "gay".

We then went for a two hour canoe ride around our slough. It is very weedy and only 6 feet deep at its max. No fish were seen not even minnows. Heaven for a sloughy old "bugger" like me though. Lots of bugs to look at. The water was almost like glass with damselflies/dragonflies everywhere and black terns flying around feeding on them. We had a big shock when we spooked an otter off the shoreline into the water. Otters are not supposed to be in this part of the province. They were trapped out years ago supposedly. Since there are no fish in the slough it is either just passing through or eating the huge numbers of frogs that are around. Anyway a real treat for us and makes the property even more special.
privy01
privy01
privy02
privy02
pond02
pond02
pond03
pond03


CabinBuilder
Admin
# Posted: 29 Jun 2009 13:58
Reply 


Wow - view pictures are beautiful!

bugs
Member
# Posted: 2 Jul 2009 18:11
Reply 


Happy Canada Day Eh!

We spent our first day of no work at the property on Canada Day (Jul 1). It was great to sit and finally enjoy the property. We hauled out some old lawn furniture we had and put it to good use. It was a great day. After another paddle about the place we sat and enjoyed the view until a couple of friends came out to visit us and we toured the "cropland". We had not been to this area of the property for almost a month. Due to wet conditions it had not been seeded as planned but this turned out to be a benefit as killdeers were using the area for nesting grounds. One of our friends is a native plant researcher and he found an orchid that he had not seen before as well as a couple of other plants he was looking for. So the property is now becoming scientifically important as we hoped it would.

Now we are busy getting cost estimates for 20 yards of gravel to be delivered to the yard site. Hopefully that will happen next week.

The images are of me sitting enjoying the view under the umbrella. A hummingbird found the colours fascinating and would hover in around it. Wonderful to watch.

The second is of the old trail through the bush. Compare it with the earlier picture taken in the spring of the same trail. We can barely find the trail with all the leaves out now.

Picture 3 is of the cropland. Our land stretches to beyond the trees on the horizon. We have yet to explore that wooded area. But hope to soon.

And the last pic is of a killdeer nest we found in the cropland.
Enjoying the view
Enjoying the view
Thick bush
Thick bush
Unused cropland
Unused cropland
killdeer nest
killdeer nest


bugs
Member
# Posted: 9 Jul 2009 14:26
Reply 


There has been a flurry of activity at our property. Our cabin builder phoned late last week that he was bringing in our small cabin early this week. I had to quickly find some gravel to put the cabin on. Luckily I found two companies that were willing to deliver 22 yds by semi or, the other, 10 yds by tandem truck. I explained our lane to them both and the semi guy checked it out on the weekend and said, "That was no place for a semi!!" So it was down to the 10 yd tandem.

Early Tuesday morning, with heavy rains and tornado watches and warnings all around, we were at our property to meet the "cabin guy". He quickly leveled much of the yard site and our lane with a bobcat. Fifteen minutes later the gravel arrived and the first procession up the long drive way began. Ten minutes later the bobcat had leveled the gravel pad. Just got to love those little beasts.
tandem arrives
tandem arrives
up the lane
up the lane
10 yds of gravel
10 yds of gravel
level pad
level pad


bugs
Member
# Posted: 9 Jul 2009 14:29
Reply 


Just at dusk the second procession arrived with our small cabin. The team positioned everything for the next morning and the cabin spent its first night at the yard site on the trailer.
Arrival
Arrival
up the lane with the shed
up the lane with the shed
shed at the site
shed at the site
evening light
evening light


bugs
Member
# Posted: 9 Jul 2009 14:32
Reply 


Next morning unloading began at 8 am. There were a few tense moments as the cabin veered off the ramp but with some luck it was finally pulled off the trailer and onto the gravel pad.
unloading 01
unloading 01
unloading 02
unloading 02
unloading 03
unloading 03
unloading 04
unloading 04


bugs
Member
# Posted: 9 Jul 2009 14:40
Reply 


A couple of swings with the bobcat and the cabin is at its resting place. We are enclosing the foundation with in metal cloth to reduce the chance of something deciding to set up house underneath. Out side dimensions are 8x12. The siding and interior are cedar. It is completely insulated. There are four vinyl windows that open and one "picture" window. We are planning on sealing the cedar, putting a screen door on to improve the airflow and add more light, eaves troughs to catch rain water, bunk beds and finishing the floor. Then comes work on the gazebo.

Still lots to do.
final positioning
final positioning
small cabin and outhouse
small cabin and outhouse
another view
another view
inside view
inside view


CabinBuilder
Admin
# Posted: 9 Jul 2009 16:09 - Edited by: CabinBuilder
Reply 


Thank you for such detailed posts, bugs!

bugs
Member
# Posted: 15 Jul 2009 21:23
Reply 


Another Sunday spent up at the property. We were busy with getting the cabin cleaned up so we can stain/seal the cedar and with vermin proofing. So while friends of ours went for a paddle in the canoe in the warm summer sun we slaved away.

We are using 1/4 inch wire cloth attached to the cabin side and buried about 8 inches deep in the gravel base. Hopefully this will discourage some of the residents from moving under the cabin. Note in the picture the road mud sprayed on the cabin by the move. We are finding this tough to get off and it seems to stain the cedar.

And we have erected a token two legged vermin prevention system. At bit flimsy at the moment but with time we will sink some bigger posts and put a locking metal gate across the approach. Not sure if it will do much good if the intruders are not going to heed the signs it does not matter what we put up they will still trespass. Saskatchewan just passed a new trespassing law that if people are caught trespassing it is a $2000 fine. But you have to catch them first with the police present.
canoe
canoe
vermin prevention
vermin prevention
gate
gate


Vince P
Member
# Posted: 16 Jul 2009 14:52
Reply 


Quoting: bugs
We are finding this tough to get off and it seems to stain the cedar.

Hey Bugs,
Have you tried Simple Green? Spray, leave it on for a while, then scrub and rinse

bugs
Member
# Posted: 27 Jul 2009 10:33
Reply 


Our project continues to move forward slowly.

We have so far only been able to get out to the "cabin" one day a week. With travel time this leaves only about 6 hours or so to work on things with very little time to enjoy things. However we do appreciate all the deer, elk moose, fox and coyote tracks in the lane and around the cabin. The muddy raccoon prints on the picnic table and all the chipmunks, snakes, frogs and numerous waterfowl and lbj's (little brown jobbies) singing to us from the bushes.

We now have the cabin stained on the inside. The outside has yet to be done (Will try Simple Green to get rid of the mud stains as Vince P suggests.)

Yesterday we hauled out laminate flooring (Got a super deal at the Habitat Reno store of less than 1$/sq ft for a product made in Belgium.), a screen door (Again from the Reno store for 75% less than new.) and parts of our pergola/cook shelter. I built the pergola at home using bolts for the main beams so I could take it apart and haul it in the truck to the site for reassembly.

Leveling of the pergola site, which I was dreading, was straight forward and erecting it was simple as I had remembered to label all the parts. I used pressure treated wood throughout. It is 8'x8'x7' high (With the cement blocks adding another foot or so to the over all height). There was essentially no cutting needed (Thus saving potential loss of digits.) except for the 2x4 spacers. I used hangers for top so all spacers and rafters are flush so we can easily tie a tarp over it for shade or in case of rain. Down the road we might put a plywood roof on it.

So now with the "cabin", privy, picnic table and pergola the place is starting to look very much like a campground.
levelling
levelling
the result
the result
result part 2
result part 2
campground
campground


charliefarlie
Member
# Posted: 8 Aug 2009 02:17
Reply 


hi bugs,

have been reading your posts with interest ! what a lovely piece of land you have. Could i ask where you got your cabin from or did you build it yourself ? We too live in Sask and looking for a cabin just like the one you have...but a bit new to this and don't really have the time to build ourselves...! i would be really interested if you got your cabin locally !! good luck with the project Bugs !

bugs
Member
# Posted: 8 Aug 2009 16:57
Reply 


Small world charliefarlie!!!

We got our garden shed built by Buildings By Design from Perdue. I was quite impressed by the time they took with me even though I was just ordering a souped up garden shed. It looks like they did a good job and everything was according to the plans I gave them. All we had left to do was the floor. They even delivered it themselves to ensure our site was prepared properly and to keep costs down. They make everything from basic 6x6 garden sheds to $$$$ 1200 square ft homes.

bugs
Member
# Posted: 8 Aug 2009 17:00
Reply 


The "proof is in the pudding" as they say. We spent three nights on the Aug long weekend at our property. Although it was raining and muddy the time was a success.

Thankfully I had hauled up a truckload of cedar mulch that we were able to spread under the pergola and make a path to the shed to avoid some of the mud.

We finished the floor with laminate flooring from the Habitat Reno store. Once we got the hang of it installation was straight (hopefully!) forward.

For sleeping I initially made a classic bunk bed with the lower bunk at 17 inches so it could be used as extra seating and the upper bunk about 45 inches above to allow for people sitting on the lower bunk. This was a hulking mass to say the least and took up one entire end wall of the shed plus blocked a window. A friend's comment "Bunk beds!!! How romantic", made me reconsider my design. In England we have often slept on a double bed, which stored as a single bed with one side stacked on top of the other. So following this plan I made 8 inch legs for the 2x6 ft plywood bed frames. When stacked together during the day the beds form a 17 in high "couch" for sitting or afternoon napping. The 8 inch clearance enables us to store sleeping bags and thermorests in between the beds during the day and there is also storage on the floor under the beds. To protect the sleeping pads I laid down runner mats over the plywood. The whole thing works slick and takes up little room and wall space.

The pergola worked quite well as a cooking shelter once a tarp was put in place to keep us out of the rain. But rain pooled on the tarp so we have put a shingled plywood roof on the pergola. Cooking on a two burner Coleman was a treat compared to the backpacking whisperlite that we are used to cooking on. And the view from the "cook shelter" added to the enjoyment even in the rain.
bed as a couch
bed as a couch
bed as a bed
bed as a bed
pergola cook shelter
pergola cook shelter


bugs
Member
# Posted: 8 Aug 2009 17:02
Reply 


Time for potty talk!!! In theory we are using a composting toilet system similar to this great Saskatchewan link we found: http://www.saskwastereduction.ca/resources/Composting/comp-toilet.html

The yard site is so full of rocks and roots it would be impossible to dig a conventional pit toilet. The way it works is a biodegradable bag lining a plastic pail is the "receptacle". We are using organic wheat based kitty litter and saw dust to absorb "liquids" and it seemed to also absorb much of the odour although the good ventilation of the privy also helped. After each use litter is sprinkled over the "deposit". At the end of the stay we dug a hole about 2 ft deep and placed the bag in and covered it up. We placed a pile of stones over top to mark the place. In a year's time or so we will check to see how well things have degraded. According to the link above by one year things should be pretty much composted. Also note the coffee tin TP holders that I think cabinbuilder suggested. And of course no privy should be without a relaxing, meditative view.
inside the toilet
inside the toilet
parts of the toilet
parts of the toilet
a view to relax by
a view to relax by


bugs
Member
# Posted: 8 Aug 2009 17:05
Reply 


So is this project going to be worth the effort and $$$$? We think so. The place is very quiet. The city sounds of wailing sirens, road rage and honking cars are replaced by the haunting howls of coyotes, honking geese, screaming hawks and scolding squirrels and chipmunks and an occasional cow bellow or horse whinny from the pasture nearby. Vehicle traffic along the access road seems to be less than 10 cars a day and we can barely hear them off in the distance.

Where we located the yard site gives us excellent views of the main pond with its waterfowl. One morning at breakfast we watched an immature bald eagle sunning itself on a rock in the pond. Snakes are using the bull dozed trees around the yard site to bask in the morning sun. Sunsets are gorgeous. In the evening, along with listening to howling coyotes, we watched bats flying around the yard and an owl flew silently through the yard.

The long lane that we had bulldozed two months ago is already filling in with young vegetation. (We have seeded it with reclamation grass to help stabilize the soil.) And judging from the myriad of tracks it is a major highway for deer, elk, moose, raccoons, fox, coyotes, etc.

Our friend, who is a native plant specialist, has surveyed some of the property and has found many plants of interest and is quite impressed with the habitat diversity. I have yet to start sampling the insect fauna, but from casual observations the insects are very diverse as well. And birds are everywhere. It looks like there is a mix of boreal forest, aspen parkland and grassland species. We expect migration to be quite spectacular to watch from our vantage point.

So in the end we have our own private park where we don't have to check out by 11 am, stay on the paths, pay for firewood or worry about noisy, partying campers setting up 10 feet from us. The shed keeps us warm (Body heat and a oil lantern seemed to warm the place up sufficiently.) and dry and sure beats our little 2 person-backpacking tent in the rain. And the solar powered radio and net book with dvd's on it keeps us entertained if it is too wet to enjoy activities outside.
view from bottom of the hill
view from bottom of the hill
yard site view
yard site view
view from the yard down the lane
view from the yard down the lane
sunset
sunset


hosssask
Member
# Posted: 12 Aug 2009 22:48
Reply 


looks great. i hope oneday to do what you are doing. nice to see other saskatchewan people living the dream. have fun and take care

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