by Gabrielle Songe
Each day I am blessed to awaken in my little cabin-on-wheels to look out the sliding glass doors at the morning sky dawning under the pitched roof.
For years, I have wanted a rustic home. Walking up to the cabin immediately after delivery I was struck by the fragrance of cedar emitted from the exterior siding. Following that initial impression I entered and noticed the scent of new wood throughout.
I still get tickled coming in and out of a room, looking around at the rough, pine trim everywhere, around doors, windows and corners giving the cabin the rustic appearance I long desired.
The central heat and air is all contained in an outside package unit save for a small heater in the living room that is manufactured to look like a corner fireplace below an entertainment center. In my younger years I would have scoffed at a “fake” fireplace. However, during cold winter nights it was joyful to turn on the flame and embers along with the heat. Now, I would not trade my fireplace replica for any other heater.
In the beginning with an eye on economy I eliminated the loft from my floor plan and later decided to include it—a wise choice. The loft houses my 10 rescued cats and kittens. My felines come downstairs in mini-family groups to eat, play and for their constitutional.
The loft also serves the crucial function of storage. I cannot imagine living without it since space is at such a premium.
In preparation for moving to my cabin, which is now on an axle, tied down and slightly less than 400 square feet, I discarded nonessential pieces of furniture and other belongings. Whatever does not fit in the smattering of drawers and cabinets resides in plastic containers. And there are a lot of plastic containers.
Actually I have only been living simply in this small space for six weeks. So there are still some boxes on the porch and many in the bedroom for which the contents have yet to find a permanent place. A few pieces of furniture are needed, such as a chest of drawers and a desk. Oh, yes, and some steps built to enter and exit the cabin. In due time, they will arrive. Of that I am certain, but more about that later.
Instead of having shelves built in the pine cabinets I opted for space savers, leaving one tall, narrow cabinet as a catch-all. In it are leads and a brush for the horses, newspapers for my 17 year old calico, Patches, who refuses to use litter, as well as plastic bowls with lids that just would not fit anywhere else.
Patches resides on a high place in the bedroom with my two cat-friendly dogs, Sam and Peek, sharing the floor. There is no bed in the bedroom. So it is a misnomer to call it such. There is a closet with a built-in set of drawers and mirrored doors that Peek thinks are there just for her to stare at herself.
I sleep on a futon in the living room that is a bed at night and a couch by day, or soon will be once it is assembled. You, got that right? Currently I am sleeping on the futon mattress on the living room floor.
Speaking of floors, because I have 13 indoor pets rather than oak flooring the manufacturer put in wood-grain linoleum. It is easy to sweep and to mop up spills, which goes to living simply. Oh, not the 13 indoor animals, but sweeping, mopping and cleaning surfaces since it only takes minutes to go from one end to the other of the cabin hitting all the high and low spots.
You see this is my second chance, a fresh start. After a couple of rounds of unemployment I lost the farm and searched ceaselessly for a job and a new home to house all my pals and me. Then miraculously an opportunity opened two doors down from us that included space for three adult bovines and two horses—all pets.
An older mobile home had to be removed from a one-acre lot with existing manufactured homes and long-term tenants on either side of it. Once that was accomplished, a new residence needed to be placed there.
Around that time I found Kent Griswold’s Tiny House Blog and began looking at manufacturers of small cabins. Since I am a baby boomer receiving social security, the recent foreclosure and unemployment proved a major challenge in acquiring financing.
By God’s grace, personal friends provided the funds with reasonable repayment terms and manufacture of the cabin began January 11. A month later it was delivered a day after a six-inch snow. The ground had to dry before positioning it on the lot and tie-down could occur. Next electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning needed to be installed, all at an expense—once again provided serendipitously or more accurately by a series of miracles.
We had a deadline to be moved from our former farm by 5:00 p.m. March 18. With only a month out from that date I created a plan and worked long hours clearing brambles, refuse and limbs from the land, fencing, moving pets and belongings, and succeeded, albeit exhausted, 20 pounds lighter and grateful.
Now my aspiration is to provide a good life for all 18 animals in my care through my blog site.
—A full-time writer and photographer residing in rural West Tennessee, Gabrielle Songe posts essays and photos of her animals, nature and her reflections at her blog site, The Brahma and me http://1writersdevotion.wordpress.com/.
I would like to acknowledge Gabrielle’s hardship as it must have been awful for her to lose her farm. Her resilience is outstanding and her ability to to start again with 18 animals is fantastic! Thank you Gabrielle for sharing your story and I wish you good luck in your future projects. —Kent