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Temporary inexpensive housing while I build my house?

 
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I'd never used a backhoe before my buddy loaned me his tractor with a back hoe.  He graded my cabin site because it was a joke for me to attempt that (higher level of skill needed).  But digging holes was easy.  Within a half an hour it becomes pretty intuitive and natural.

If you're doing a big swale/berm, I'd get a bigger machine.  They kinda work the same so if you can scoop 4x the dirt per scoop, it'll likely save you money by the end of the day.
 
pollinator
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I've always wanted to use heavy equipment so I would like to build a berm, BUT unless we have a wet spring that pile of dirt that is a berm will blow a lot more dirt on me than the road will. I'm not sure how much water I can divert from the windmill (and I don't know how to divert water from the windmill (yet)) or what plants the 'gyp' water (sulfur + calcium) will readily grow. There is a 15-20' high pile of Eastern Red Cedar trees(Juniperus Virginiana) and god only knows what else besides poison ivy at the 'S' on the map, upper left. This pile is from the county clearing out the culvert area and regrading the slope along the road just south of the 'S'. The tenant took up the fence so they could work and now it's on the inside of the new barbed wire fence, urg. The pile is about 3/4 mile from the proposed RV site. I know from driving back roads that that pile if left alone, will still be there in 30 years unless it burns. The wind and heat and dryness of the plains are preservatives.

Greywater I will put straight on the ground. I don't know if there is a way to water the berm with greywater. I'm assuming there is some way to get water the 750' from the windmill to the RV site. It might be wiser to put the RV just east of the windmill? I think there is a bit less traffic on the county road east of the windmill as most of the gas trucks turn south. Then too I'm a little further from the well pad across the East-West road.

What is the simplest sewage for the RV toilet? Can I dump blackwater into a pit latrine and when it's full, just move the RV over. Then I could plant trees in the pits? I don't have a vehicle that is happy towing and would probably have to go 20 miles to a dump station. I'm not opposed to building a pit latrine and just using that. No building regulations in this county that I have found.

If I put the RV where I really want it - on the West side of the North - a 1/2 mile further from the neighbor's smelly open pits for gasfield ick, there is currently no water and electric is a 1/2 mile away and $15,000. So I would have to figure out electric and hauling water. But I could dispense with the berm as the land is somewhat higher than the road.
Farm-map-with-landmarks.jpg
[Thumbnail for Farm-map-with-landmarks.jpg]
2000'elevation @ proposed RV. 750' from the windmill to proposed RV site.
 
pollinator
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@ denise - well not sure i got the grasp of all those details, but i have some thoughts in response to your post.

if you have a large amount of trees and potentially a lot of other dead organic matter, like other trees to clear, brush and brambles, you might consider making a Dead Hedge.

the Dead Hedge is sort of an amorphous thing, i mean theres a million different ways to put all your dead trees and yard clippings together to form a barrier.
some nice neat versions, to just a pile of trees, brambles and especially good for certain reasons, thorny plants and trees, like blackberry or rose clippings.

the advantages of doing this are
= free, a big one,
some wind block/privacy/boundary marking
the materials will eventually rot away into soil, organic
and you can use this as framework and protection for new living hedge...because animals and grazers and other things that like to eat baby plants can't get into the dead hedge enough, or even see your young plants. the dead hedge protects the young plantings from grazers and whatever else.

and then plant things along the edges, living hedge plants like - rose, blackberry, certain trees, berry brambles, bushes, grapes, and of course anything else you want to weave into your future Living Fence.
as they grow they will take over the dead hedge, which will provide some shape to the future living hedge/fence.

another way to go with this is to make the dead hedge, and make it short, and then cover this with an earth berm, doing a huge hugel type bed. bury all the dead headge in soil...and have fun learning to master the excavator  or whatever else you use to cover it.

i agree with the others. a huge earth berm is a good idea. then you can build a fence ON TOP of the earth berm. and eventually...or just plant your hedge on top of the earth berm.

i dont know how bad dust would be, but once it got planted and had roots...well the roots of all the established plants should hold it together...although ? idk.
 
denise ra
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Leila hamaya I appreciate your brainstorming on my behalf! That said, I have some big issues with living next to a huge pile of dead cedar and other trees. I would have to dig a LOT of soil to cover this pile that is 20 - 30 feet long by 15 - 20 feet high. That soil pit would be an erosion problem because that is the nature of Dust Bowl soil which long ago lost its topsoil. Uncovered, the pile is a fire hazard - Eastern Red Cedar burns like kerosene. Next is the thought of how many snakes might be living in that pile - yikes, five kinds of poisonous snakes in my area, four of them rattlesnakes. On the plus side, that pile could protect the RV from the setting sun if I got close enough to it, but I don't think it's worth the fire risk. If I could use equipment big enough to dismantle the pile and bury the logs and use that soil to build hugels that would be great. The county operator was running a D8 when he made that pile and my concern with using some smaller machine is that the pile would roll onto me. I will have to study it more when I get there. I thought about dragging logs off the pile, but I'd have to climb it to chain them up - no way.
 
leila hamaya
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ah i see. well it is some food for thought.

also i was thinking there was other over grown land that you would be clearing.

cedar is not the best choice for hugel, not at all. you could try to bury some, but hugel would be better with a different type of wood.

but what it is good for is building, is it big enough to be milled? can you find someone to take it off your hands and maybe even pay you in cedar boards?

i would think, if it is a huge pile of mature straight ish usable wood, you could find someone who would be happy to haul it off, at least.

smaller pieces could be chipped into a cedar mulch.
this is better for walkways than for gardens, because cedar is peculiar wood. it doesnt break down like other woods, which for garden purposes, makes it less useful.
but cedar mulch is great for walkways or where you didnt want things to be growing
 
leila hamaya
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well sorry all we have wandered far off out topic, if anyone minds...
 
denise ra
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leila, getting someone else to take the wood is a good idea. I will ask around. I wonder if cedar chips would work for the driveway; it would be nice to have them for the yard which is currently pasture with lots of soil between plants.
 
gardener
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I'd go with an old used Class-C motor home.  Like, 30 years old.

1.  It's already insulated and weather-tight.
2.  They are out there all over the place and relatively inexpensive -- $3,000 or so for something that doesn't run, $5,000 or so for one that does.  
3.  If it doesn't run, that's OK.  Just tow it into place and level it.
4.  You'll have a water heater, a bathroom with toilet and shower, a functioning kitchen, and a refrigerator.  

They sleep 6 (uncomfortably), so if it's just for yourself or you and a partner, it would be very adequate.  Ditch the sofa-bed mattress and go with a standard queen mattress so you'll sleep well.

For additional insulation, I'd stack a wall of straw bales around the perimeter 3 courses high.  Heck - you could even put a layer of bales up on the roof for additional insulation.  And next year you'd have that straw for your garden.
 
gardener
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That cedar could be a blessing.
Twin rows driven into the ground,  backed by cardboard and or burlap, etc,  could hold soil and not rot for for decades.
OTOH,it seems like getting rotting biomass into the soil could address  a lot of issues.
Is there any source for biomass,  like woodchips that aren't cedar,manure or brewers waste,  something that will hold water while vegetation establishes?
If there is, the reasons for building a berm increase,  as the hole to be filled with biomass could come from the construction of the berm itself.

Dumping black water in a hole seems like it could contaminate your ground water.
A urine diverting bucket toilet is "the standard" for tinyhouses and homesteaders.
Pit composting the poop/carbon that would come from that is pretty balanced.
Plant it with fast growing trees to start your own wind/dust break.


This leads back to the dusty berm problem.
If you build by the electric and water, irrigation should be doable.
750' is a long way, but only by city standards.
I can't tell for sure,  but I imagine the elevation changes are minimal.
A mildly elevated header tank at the windmill might be able to feed the trailer.
Trailer grey water could go into a sump pit or tank,  and a sump pump could water the berm.

If you build a berm,  covering the berm with plants just makes sense.
Siberian peashrubs  can survive in Oklahoma's zones and high winds, plus it is know as a good hedge,  windbreak,  erosion controller, good source,  nitrogen fixer etc,  etc.
A pile of carbonous material, buried beneath soil, protected by  burlap, planted in peashrubs and watered by greywater might solve your dust problem, and create a lot of value.
It might also be more work than you want.

The burlap as a geofabric makes reminds me of the idea of using burlap sacks and soil stabling plants to build a earth bag structure.
A wall of such sacks, planted with willow, alfalfa,  peashrubs, etc,  could be your windbreak.
Irrigation seems like it would be needed.
This would take  lots of hand labor.

Here's another idea.
A wall of IBC totes, stacked two high.
Set up as sub irrigated planters, azolle ponds or Kratky hydroponic tanks.
Huge thermal mass,  windbreak,  easy to grow in.
Potentially expensive, I get mine for 20 bucks,  but they are NOT foodsafe.
Two parallel walls and a reflective tarp could make for real relief from heat,dust and wind.
If it's not too humid,  evaporation cooling might be used.

Back to the black water.
How about a vermiculture filter?
An IBC tote filed with woodchips and worms,  has proven to be an excellent substitute for a septic tank.
It should be insulated, and is often buried, with an overflow pipe to release the filtered water.
This might actually be preferable to the dry toilet, water infused with wormy goodness could really help your fertility.
 
leila hamaya
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yeah without seeing your huge cedar pile it's hard to say anything, but i would be looking at it like free building materials.
if the trees were mature enough, possibly some lumber, if you found someone with a mill.
if the trees were mature enough you could even sell it.
even if not that large... the  peeled large truck pieces could be enough to support a roof, you could build a roundwood structure, or use those peeled logs for the posts and beams of a tiny house.

or future decking, build a chicken house, etc etc etc.

but at the very least...if you just dont want to deal with it...i definitely think you could get someone very happy to haul it away, if thats preferable. there would be lots of small stuff too...and that could make a lot of nice mulch for paths and walkways
 
denise ra
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Marco Banks:

For additional insulation, I'd stack a wall of straw bales around the perimeter 3 courses high.  Heck - you could even put a layer of bales up on the roof for additional insulation.

I have heard that mice and other rodents will be attracted to the nice warm underbelly of a strawbale-perimeter under an RV. And then perhaps the snakes would love to be under there to eat the rodents. I like snakes but detest mice in the house! And it stinks when a snake poops under your house! And then there is the ongoing attempt to reduce the odds of burning up in a wildfire.

leila, I like the idea of a "dead hedge" but again, fire is a big concern on the plains where the average windspeed all year is 13 mph. This spring it blew 20mph most days. Last year about 5 or 10 miles east of me 230,000 acres of prairie and pasture burned.



 
denise ra
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William Bronson:

OTOH,it seems like getting rotting biomass into the soil could address  a lot of issues.
Is there any source for biomass,  like woodchips that aren't cedar,manure or brewers waste,  something that will hold water while vegetation establishes?
If there is, the reasons for building a berm increase,  as the hole to be filled with biomass could come from the construction of the berm itself.  


Yes, when I move there I will start looking for businesses that have products left over from production. I imagine the ranchers get everything that is edible by cows, but I will always have my eye peeled.

William Bronson:


If you build a berm,  covering the berm with plants just makes sense.
Siberian peashrubs  can survive in Oklahoma's zones and high winds, plus it is know as a good hedge,  windbreak,  erosion controller, good source,  nitrogen fixer etc,  etc.
A pile of carbonous material, buried beneath soil, protected by  burlap, planted in peashrubs and watered by greywater might solve your dust problem, and create a lot of value.
It might also be more work than you want.

The burlap as a geofabric makes reminds me of the idea of using burlap sacks and soil stabling plants to build a earth bag structure.
A wall of such sacks, planted with willow, alfalfa,  peashrubs, etc,  could be your windbreak.
Irrigation seems like it would be needed.
This would take lots of hand labor.  

I will have lots of time once I get the RV settled and before the tenants cattle arrive. Then we'll see how much physical labor I am in the mood for.

William B:

A wall of IBC totes, stacked two high.
Set up as sub irrigated planters, azolle ponds or Kratky hydroponic tanks.
Huge thermal mass,  windbreak,  easy to grow in.
Potentially expensive, I get mine for 20 bucks,  but they are NOT foodsafe.

How do the IBC totes hold up to the sun?

William B :

Back to the black water.
How about a vermiculture filter?
An IBC tote filed with woodchips and worms,  has proven to be an excellent substitute for a septic tank.
It should be insulated, and is often buried, with an overflow pipe to release the filtered water.
This might actually be preferable to the dry toilet, water infused with wormy goodness could really help your fertility.

This might work well if I can hook it up to the RV sewage line. I will search permies for links on setting this up. Thanks William.



 
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This is a pretty great thread.
I recently moved to a new to me, old house that needs remodeled. We ignorantly tore out the good bathroom, thinking the new stuff would just fly together. Well it was around 8 months for the tub/shower to be done.
.
Anyway, why I am posting on this thread?
I need a shed to keep my stuff, my stuff. They even steal little boys bikes from the back of the house around here.
I like the idea of the steel container that gets a paint can overhaul. It's wet in western West Virginia, so a roof and pad is a good idea for it.
.
I also want to dig one of those swim ponds that uses natural plants to keep it clean. I like the idea of renting an excavator and getting used to operating it, digging it myself.
 
pollinator
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> rv

Per Travis et al.  

I might only add that, IMO, clearing and leveling (mostly) the ground under and somewhat around the rv would/should include hacking down all clumps of vegetation - basically down to flat dirt. A light sharp mattock helps a lot taking clumps down/out; BTDT. This is not for the sake of flatness per se, but rather to make easier and more effective the next step: laying heavy (6+ mil, maybe doubled up) black plastic over the ground under the rv - and probably 2-3' beyond. The site needs to _not_ be a hollow because you don't want a pond under the rv. What you do want is flat area, easy so see, no growth at all, very not-inviting to critters of any kind. This will make a huge difference in the "critter pressure" both mammal and buggy, on the rv. It will also, maybe, allow a person to slide under the rv to repair and check on stuff without too much trauma. But like in painting, it's all in the prep. Get the site flat with a tiny slope and the rest is duck soup. Peg the edges, lay a cute & cozy border of rocks holding it down, bring in a pallet of cheap 12x12 cement tile from the local Borg... The important thing is clear, flat, NO GROWTH, water runs off. A couple layers of carpet would probably work for no-growth provided it definitely drained; might get a smell to it anyway, though, and it would get bugs.  Or just pour a cheap slab, 2" or so, one bag at a time. We called it "rat proofing" when we did it in crawl spaces and it worked pretty well.  If I have to do it again, I may spring for the cheap concrete tile and lay them tight enough to turn away a field mouse...

Hay stacked around the rv doesn't have to be touching it to make a wind break. Put an 8-10' wall 20-30' away on the windy side; make it 4+' thick and guy it down if you think the wind's going be too much. Travis mentioned dog tie spiral states. Seems to me 30" of 3/4" (maybe even 1/2") rebar would work well and cheaper; bend the top  6" back over 180d more or less and pound it into the ground so you get a sort of eye to run guys through.

A lot of people put "skirts" on rv's that will be parked for a while. If you put something under the rv smooth and hard enough to really discourage rodent digging, you might get away with the skirt w/out bringing in too many "guests". The skirt helps a lot keeping things less cold in winter.


FWIW,
Rufus
 
William Bronson
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IBC totes hold up rather well to sun,  but painting them black,  for winter thermal gain, and wrapping them tightly in a reflective tarp for the summer  could be a good idea.
Hmm,  I said tightly wrapped because wind wreaks havoc on tarps.
Another thing to buy that might get wrecked,and another seasonal task.
Maybe grow some vines up it instead.
I have grapevines I'm training to cover the West side of my house, which is made of 8 inches of brick.
They help prevent solar gain in the hottest times of year,  they don't harm the brick,and if I can beat the black rot the grapes keep getting , I'll get a crop.

Anyway,  the totes I have outside are not covered,  but I have no fear of them disintegrating.
They are cut around the circumference to about 2 feet high, filled with a layer of up ended buckets,  followed by potting mix and topped with pavers.
They function as huge planters that I can walk on,  effectively adding about 26 square feet to my back porch.
My clothes washer empties into one of them,  and a willow grows out of the other...
Yeah,  I planted in the wrong place!
The water goes through the potting mix,  then it's diverted to the mulberry tree.
No lack of water where I live,  but we do have an over taxed sewer system,  and I love to tinker.

I elaborated on my system because I think two of these totes,  split in half,  could give you a huge(52square feet) greywater garden/porch/filter.
If you expanded that porch to wrap all around your trailer,you might then build a shadehouse and/or trellis over everything.
My own totes have a half built greenhouse over them with shade from the grape vine and mulberry tree, but it seems like shade from the start woulf be good for you to have.

Information on the backwater filter used to be scattered and hard to come by but this site addresses  that:

http://www.vermicompostingtoilets.net/design-construction/

They actually say to NOT bury it , and cite some good reasons for that.
They also have a greenfilter after the vermifilter tank,  essentially a leach field of sorts
I think I'd use something more like this:

http://recycledhomesteading.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-gravel-less-septic-system-we-came.html?m=1

Or this:

http://oasisdesign.net/images/img_book/BDgraywaterElevation.gif
 
denise ra
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William B:

They are cut around the circumference to about 2 feet high, filled with a layer of up ended buckets,  followed by potting mix and topped with pavers.
They function as huge planters that I can walk on,  effectively adding about 26 square feet to my back porch.

These are not set into the ground, they sit on the ground? Do you also cut the IBC metal cage in half and keep it on the tote to support the tote? I wonder if the contents would get too hot in OK summers.

I went to the Vermicomposting Toilets website and I would like for this to work. They recommend insulating the worm bin and keeping the temperature range at 20-25 degrees Celcius. That is 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit. I would have to bury the IBC with the worms and air condition it in Oklahoma summers! I swear it's 100 all summer. Unless there were some way to use the well water from the windmill to cool the worm IBC?

William, why do you suggest the gravel less septic system over the vermicomposting greenfilter bed?
 
William Bronson
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denise ra wrote:These are not set into the ground, they sit on the ground? Do you also cut the IBC metal cage in half and keep it on the tote to support the tote? I wonder if the contents would get too hot in OK summers.


I set them directly on tamped earth and  level them with stones, brick or tile.
The cage is a must, the plastic needs the cage to do its job.
Totes are almost 46" tall,including the 4+ inches of steel "pallet" on the bottom.
I scrap that pallet part and split the remaining cage in half horizontally.
This will leave you with spiky tubing sticking out.
In your application, I would rest the cage on these points and press them into the ground.
I have cold weather to worry about more than hot, so my insulation(scrap pink board)goes inside the cage, between the earth below and the plastic tank.
I don't use them as filters in the winter,no room for a mulch basin, too much in water in our winter anyway.

denise ra wrote:I went to the Vermicomposting Toilets website and I would like for this to work. They recommend insulating the worm bin and keeping the temperature range at 20-25 degrees Celcius. That is 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit. I would have to bury the IBC with the worms and air condition it in Oklahoma summers! I swear it's 100 all summer. Unless there were some way to use the well water from the windmill to cool the worm IBC?

William, why do you suggest the gravel less septic system over the vermicomposting greenfilter bed?



Does Oklahoma have a tradition of root cellars?
If so, they might offer clues to keeping the worms cool.
A IBC tote, insulated with foam panels and banked with earth might stay cool enough.
Running a coil of the supply line around the tote before bringing into the building would offer some cooling, but that's getting rather complicated, which is contrary to the point of this system.

The greenfilter I would use, but I  favor the bigger areas of exchange and flow that barrels offer.
I would probably favor half barrels cut horizontally, connected  with pipe, or directly, side by side.
Big areas for water to infiltrate into the greenfilter, and the potential for access panels as well.
The gravel less septic system  is definitely buried too deep for our purposes, we are distributing already filtered water, to the  the green filter which is made up of much the same material as the vermifilter.

BTW, my only actual experience is with IBC tote filters, not vermiculture filters per-say.
My filter got a hand full of red wrigglers when I started, but I haven't seen them since, but I'm feeding them laundry water, which is heavy in chemicals and light on nutrients.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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