The Creation of “Corten Country”… One Home at a Time.

25 May

We’ve been talking a lot lately about ISBU homes built “out and beyond” the subdivisions normally inhabited.

The way we see it, the benefits of living on your own land – in an ISBU  home you built with your own hands,  – growing your own food and (gasp!) making your own power far outweigh the “conveniences” of “urban sprawl”…

Many of you understand what we’re talking about. Some of you are “more optimistic” about where things are headed. We hope you’re right, but we’re going to prepare for hard times by taking on more personal responsibility, “just in case”.

Despite what your relatives tell you… us “Alties” (alternative housing fans) really aren’t part of  “the lunatic fringe”.

(Okay, our buddy Owen Geiger may be a little crazy, but he’s “crazy like a FOX”.) LOL!

For the most part, us “alternative home builders and dwellers” are  a cautious lot.

We have to be. We do what we can with what we have, using common sense and careful optimization of what is usually termed “reclaimed or repurposed materials”.

In layman’s terms, we “scrounge, scaffold, scrap and scour”… until our homes perform the way we designed and built them to.

 Look, I’m not gonna mince words;

Times aren’t getting easier and despite the liberal media and the rants of politicians… there isn’t any “magic bullet”.

Times WILL get harder. Those who recognize that and plan accordingly will have a much better chance of dealing with whatever circumstances present themselves. This “hard earned luxury” will hopefully allow them to help others around them.

A buddy of ours “in the Eastern part of the US” is making progress with his ISBU Homestead.

We’ve been working with “JH” for a long time now, helping him get all his ducks in a row. “JH” isn’t a “nut” or a “dreamer”. He’s a red-blooded, G_d fearing, middle class American who sees the times changing. He sees unemployment killing towns. He sees inflation driving up food prices. He sees values changing – seemingly with the quickly changing  direction of the wind…

Like us, “JH” sees America changing.  

Truth be told, “JH” is one of our favorite people around here.

“JH” is a “grass roots” kinda guy.

He doesn’t trust anything that he can’t build with his own hands. He knows the value of a hard day’s work, and he knows that by providing for himself and his family, he’s not going to be dependent on anyone for anything, no matter what comes.

Like us, “JH” believes that hard times are indeed coming.

So, he’s quiet about HOW and WHERE he’s shoring up, But, his heart is in the right place and he’s a smart guy. He knows that others need to see progress, to build confidence.

“JH” is a guy near and dear to our hearts.

He recycles just about everything that isn’t nailed down. He pays for his progress with sweat equity and he uses common sense and ingenuity to solve problems.

As we’ve watched him evolve, we’ve been poking him for pics to share with the tribe, so that others can see the great steps he’s taken to build a sustainable, affordable homestead to shelter his family, come what may.

After a lot of arm-twisting, he’s starting to pony up the photographs.

“JH” says;


I have been a little reluctant to show pics of the work. If the situation gets bad, my “out of sight – out of mind” place may be the place to be.

I need to paint an exterior dark red south facing outer ISBU wall white to reduce the heat inside and to reflect light for plants. I am thinking of putting a greenhouse against the container and using it as a support wall. Would be small for now, maybe 8×16 or 24.

I just deer fenced in 1 acre total from two garden plots. I took advantage of the natural land topos and captured the rain in a series of dams with pipes. Had 70 loads of tree company mulch delivered free. Engineered staggered beds for water retention (and conservation). Plants are taking off. Will eat fresh green beans, potatoes, and squash tomorrow for Sunday dinner.

Here is some from my two garden areas on the two downward slopes from boxes. Pics are taken from the tops of my containers. Rain water flows to each bed from three directions down a slope, fills, then flows through a pipe to the next to fill all the way down the hill. Used chicken wire, metal fence posts, and bamboo for deer fences. CHEAP. Wood chip mulch was delivered for free and it is a foot thick between the raised beds which are 1.5 ft thick of top soil from the land. Really holds moisture in between rains for weeks and keeps the weeds down. Win-Win. Plenty more is turning to compost for future use. I plan on having the richest soil possible in a year or two using compost and other additions as I go. I have a pull behind 36″ tiller and an old lawnmower for the tractor. CHEAP. I can till the whole place now in a couple of hours. Terraces, mulch, and pipes control erosion.

Needless to say, the place the coming along nicely.

I have a long way to go on the boxes. Work in progress. I will do the (ISBU)  interiors in the off season and the deck on top as I go.
Been focusing on the garden and food production as the Bible says to do first.

We are eating the first vegetables now. Good stuff. Gardens are something to brag about. The way I have engineered things, they should only improve in fertility/output over time. I have one acre in production right now. I may do the greenhouse in addition. Plan, gather info, optimize, and work.

That is just how I do things.

I am growing cantaloupes, beans, peas, watermelons, corn, peanuts, potatoes, blackberries, raspberries, grapes, apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums, blueberries, peppers, radishes, squash, figs, etc. on the place. Total garden area is about 1 acre. Additional area is wheat for a dove field and turkeys. We hunt the place which has plenty of wildlife.
Boxes are a work in progress. Been getting the garden up and running mostly.
I don’t mind helping others but I don’t want a lot of people showing up at my little secluded spot getting my stuff. Only takes one to ruin my work. The only security is out of sight out of mind since I don’t live there yet. I like my privacy.”

(Note: I’ve reformatted the narrative.)

“JH” is taking steps to insure his family is safe, secure and well fed.

“JH” is doing it on a tight budget, and he’ll create a sustainable, affordable and most important COMFORTABLE environment that his family will be proud of for decades to come.

Are YOU?

If not, every day that you aren’t acting on your desires is a day lost…