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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: misc.rural
Subject: Re: Just brain storming
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2006 10:50:25 -0400
Message-ID: <>

I have a place in the Tellico Mountains.  It has water, electricity,
indoor plumbing and yes, even a telephone. I would consider giving up
modern amenities only if forced to by conditions.  In my case, room
for the septic system was marginal.  The solution was to buy another
10 or so sq feet of land from the lot seller that was remote from the
cabin lot.  The well went there.

Unless you just want to spend your time at that million dollar view
screwing around with stuff, I suggest NOT trying to "cowboy" your
utilities.  You can forget solar in WV.  Like here, the sun goes
behind the clouds in about November and comes back out in March or so,
with a few sunny days tossed in for teasers.  Wind?  Probably not
unless you're lucky.

Generator?  BTDT.  It's fun to run your own "power company" for awhile
but it gets old rapidly.  Hauling fuel, the maintenance, the noise all
add up.  You find yourself not doing things and enjoying yourself to
avoid cranking the generator.  The alternative is leaving the
generator running all the time and feeding it all the fuel it takes to
basically idle.

I suggest utility power, a well and a septic system.

The minimum monthly power bill will be surprisingly low, especially if
you're on a rural co-op.  Mine's less than $10/month.  Do I willingly
pay $120 a year for the luxury of simply flipping on the switch to get
light?  ABSOLUTELY!  Back when the cabin was strictly a vacation
cabin, I flipped the main breaker when I left after draining the water
system and paid only the minimum connection charge.  Sure was nice to
return the next weekend or next month, flip the breaker and have the
cabin light up and the heat come on.

Like most folks in remote areas with unreliable power, I have multiple
sources of heat.  There's the fireplace insert for routine heating.
There's the heat pump for backup and for the occasional hot summer
day.  There's the stand-alone propane furnace for those instances when
I don't want to start a fire or just need to knock the chill off.
Finally, each bedroom has its own electric stack heater so that each
guest can control his sleeping environment, as I turn the heat off at
night because I like it cold.

Since installing the heat pump about 5 years ago I haven't bothered
filling the large propane tank.  Propane is very expensive when
delivered to a mountain top site like mine.  I have a couple of 100lb
portable tanks the basement that I can connect to the furnace if it is
ever needed again.  I doubt that it will be, as the heat pump does a
nice job of knocking off the chill and the fireplace insert (fan
driven by either the generator or UPS when the power is off) heats the
place under all conditions.

As far as sewer goes, unless your place is on a granite boulder or
something, take advantage of the sanitation advances over the last 200
years and put in a conventional sewer system and septic tank.  Why
step back in time and re-live all the hassles of the pre-septic era?
Dumping gray water down a hillside or over a cliff?  Absurd.  Gray
water can develop a stink of its own, especially in the heat of summer
and especially if you wash a lot of food product down the drain.

Rainwater cistern?  Let me get this straight.  You'd drink water that
had fallen through polluted air, picking up whatever soluble particles
that are in the air, and then landed on a rooftop that had been
collecting crap from the air since the last rain?  Surely you jest!
And I haven't even considered drought yet, something that has become
commonplace in the South.

Yeah, I know, the "old timers" did that but they were raised from the
beginning doing that and their immune systems were bullet proof.  And
the average lifespan was less than 50 or thereabouts.

You should hit water in under 200 feet up in those mountains so the
well won't be terribly expensive.  Drop in a submersible pump, fit an
underground wellhead, put the tank and controls in the cabin so that
they won't freeze when you're using them and then forget about the
water system.  If you keep lightning out of the pump it should last
for 10 years or more.  That's what I've gotten out of my submersibles
and my water is a bit sandy.

You need to remind yourself of the purpose of that place - to rest and
relax and enjoy the scenery and life in general.  It is NOT screwing
around with primitive utilities.  Hauling gas, cranking the generator,
sh*tting in a pot and hauling it out and trying to live with nasty
water does not fit in that plan.  Sure, it's quaintly entertaining the
first few times but then it just becomes a drag.


On 18 Jun 2006 18:21:33 -0700, "Flyingmonk" <>

>I have 11 acres on a mountain top in WV near Winchester, VA.  It has
>power and telephone lines right up to the front of the property which
>has 700+- ft of road frontage.  I'm thinking about building a simple
>cabin on the property to use and enjoy the million dollar view from on
>occasions, but do not want a monthly bill for utilities and such.
>Would like to have nice bathroom with shower and tub.  What do you all
>recommend for:
>ELECTRICITY:  generator? wind, solar power?...etc.
>WATER: well? rain water collection cistern?...etc.
>TOILET: outhouse? composting? incinerating? traditional piped to
>underground tank?
>GRAYWATER: piped out to drain down side of mountain? piped out to drain
>to ditch? piped to same tank as toilet? piped out to separate tank?
>Thank you

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