View from the deck on a glorious morning in early June.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Paradise for sale

An early morning in June, right in front of the deck.

If you came here from Property Guys or MLS in search of a real farm, my apologies.
I had to choose between the categories "mini/ mobile home", "vacant land" or "ranch/farm".
There is no category like "Mobile home on acreage" or even better: "Wannabe seventies' back to the land  homestead." 

Some people call their real estate “The acreage” or “The property”. 
We always called our 10 acre chunk of mountain paradise The Land. 
It has been wonderful to live here, but the time is coming to leave it. 
The husband died, the children are thriving in Metro Vancouver, and I am getting old and lazy. I have bought a lot in the village and am looking forward to car free life with a small intensive garden.
The land deserves younger energetic stewards, ideally handy and able to wield a chainsaw. 

So here goes, an attempt to save everyone time by answering every FAQ I can think of. We are aiming for brutal honesty here, no sales nonsense.

First things first.

Location: a rural neighborhood just South of Nakusp, an easy ten minute drive from town.
The neighborhood of Upper Crescent Bay is peaceful and feels far away from the world, yet if you have to you can walk to the job in town. 

Legally the Land consists of two lots of 5 acres each, rather 4.90  after a strip was expropriated for a road allowance.  

The legal description of the place is as follows:
Western lot, mostly empty:
lot 77  Plan NEP 959 District Lot 398, Kootenay Land District.
PID: 015-921-255
Assessed value $133,600.

Eastern lot, the one with buildings:

Lot 78 Plan NEP 959 District lot 398, Kootenay Land District.
PID: 015-921-263
Assessed value $217,800.

Asking $349,000  AS IS. 

We bought the place as a whole. It should remain so for now for reasons to do with water.

All buildings and gardens are on lot 78. It just happened that way. However, the well sits right on the border between the two lots. This year, for the first time, the assessment mentioned a building on lot 77 that has to be the pump house.


Water can be an issue on this ridge. We bought the land in November 1970, after a hot dry summer. My husband, Chris, was a geologist. He had taken a course in hydrogeology. Chris  borrowed an auger and drilled into a spot in the field below. If water  was there within a certain depth it should be good  enough for a household at our level. Later a local dowser picked the same spot for the eventual well.
The image below, taken from the fence line of the field below us, clearly shows the depression that is caused by a mostly underground watercourse that starts at our place. The land slopes down to this field. The well sits where this depression emerges from our place, just above the road.

The water course originates at the top of Lot 77. There is a depression where a pond forms in early spring. Mallard ducks used to come nest there in the early days, before we were surrounded by neighbours with dogs.
From the vernal pond the water goes underground. The land gently folds in on itself, like a small watershed. You can tell where the watercourse is by looking at the fold in the land and at the vegetation. In the course of the years a lush grove of cottonwood has grown up. It can be seen here in the background. May is so beautiful here it hurts.
In the very earliest days Chris just dug a hole in the ground halfway the slope, and we filled buckets. For your entertainment, a photo of the earliest water system,  prior to well drilling and culverts and pipes and power and so on. We were living in a tipi at the time. Those were the days!
We did not have a lot of money and just had a shallow well dug. No drilling, just a culvert sunk into the ground. The water is a bit hard but clean and delicious. We have been drinking it for forty five years without ill effects.

After a dry summer we have to be careful, but the only time we actually ran out had to do with a pump malfunction. By this time Chris was incapacitated in extended care. Replacing the tired old pump was all up to me. The genius (sarcasm) who installed the new pump had omitted a cutoff valve that automatically turns off the pump when the level runs low. It ran dry. This was after the freakishly hot dry summer of 2017. Many neighbours ran dry as well. We will never know if it would have happened while my husband managed it. The summer of  2018 was dry as well. B.C. basically burst into flame, remember? I had water then.

It would be easy to supplement the well with a cistern filled from eavestroughs on the barn. So much water comes off a metal roof even in a single rainstorm in a dry year. Supplying two households would require more complicated measures.

Gardens and Trees.

I promised total honesty, so first this: This is not farm land.
The Waterfield family  gave this as their reason for sellling it. The soil is sandy and stony, the slope just a bit too much to work easily with a tractor. 

Gardening is different. Sandy soil is hungry soil, but it drains well and is easy to work. 

Good gardens happen when bracken roots and rocks are removed and compost is applied. Several neighbours have animals that produce more manure than they can use. 

Raspberries are prolific. 

 I never got an orchard
 together, but wild apple trees flourish. The large fenced garden is on the top plateau by the old cabin. What cabin? Wait a moment...

The fence is about 50 x 40, the established garden beds 20 x 50. Below, seen from the other side.
A smaller area at the level of the mobile home never got fully fenced, but I have a greenhouse there. Just this year an extra frame has been put to use as deer fence. 
The greenhouse is actually a Clearview car shelter by Shelter Logic. I take the cover off in November, a cover will last about 5 years that way. I had to buy a new cover and ended up with a second frame, which will serve as a deer fence frame this year.  The plan is to put the top garden mainly in clover and focus on digging up perennials to take with to the new place, plus some greens and beans close to home.

Browse this blog to have some fun at my expense and to see what you have to start with. Much more is possible. 

These photos were taken in September 1975.  It shows the South facing view in all its sunny glory.  One area on lot 77 had been left in trees.  That spot was too steep and rocky to even try cultivating. You can see the tall trees in the top right hand corner. Note how the land dips down a bit and then rises again. 

We call this small section of older trees the Magic Spot. It is like a small sacred grove.

There is a clump of lady slippers at the edge of it, and I have harvested wild sarsaparilla roots.
This photo, taken some years ago, shows the layout of the parts that are in active use. Note the roof of the old house just visible on the top level in between the greenhouse and the trailer.

What the land wants to do is grow trees. It does that so well! First the surrounding forest seeded itself and a privacy barrier developed. I planted what I thought would be a hedge along the exposed Southern edge. This was easy. Dig up any volunteer fir or pine seedling, take it where you want it in early spring, stick it in a shallow hole and it will say: "Oh, you want me here? No problem!"

Unfortunately  trees don’t know when to quit growing. The splendid view disappeared. This photo dates from October 2018, just before some logging was done. 

I have never wanted to live right inside a forest. I like views and sunshine, which we had in spades the first years. My husband preferred the added privacy and shade. 

Once he was gone (he died in June 2018) I finally had my way. Yeah, sunshine! View! 

The sale of the logs paid for the work and then some.
Unfortunately the logging was done late in the season, and it got wet. This interfered with the proper piling of the slash. I had hoped to have it all cleaned up in spring, but it was just too wet. The area near the dwelling was mostly tidied up but there are some piles left. 
I did get the driveway some much needed gravel. The ugly piles on both sides of it are gone.
I hope anyone who comes to look at the place can use their imagination and visualise the remaining piles GONE. If I had the energy and skill to take care of that myself I would not be moving.

Even after all the work there are still wooded trails left. The land could easily supply firewood for a household.


Buildings and infrastructure and how it all got to be that way.

Let's be honest: for sale is a beautiful piece of land  in a great location with all sort of potential, a place to live while you build your dream house, and outbuildings that can be used with work. 
The mobile I live in now dates from 1976. It is 14 foot wide, two bedrooms, with an addition of the same width consisting of one bedroom and a covered deck. 
Over the years we replaced the forced air heat with baseboard heaters, replaced  carpet with laminate and put new bay windows in the living room. Kitchen, hallway and bathroom could all do with a lick of paint and new lino. The deck, ditto.
It is a pleasant space. Books not included. The snow roof has performed like a champ even during the extreme snowfalls of the last years. It sheds without any need for going up to shovel the roof. Too bad we did not have it installed until 2008. Damage was done by leaks before then. In 2013 we had extensive structural work done by local trailer expert Hilary Bitten and her crew. It is a nice enough place to get started in while you decide what to do next.

In the beginning there was a large empty field surrounded by forest on three sides, and then the tipi.
Read all about it here.

After the tipi, the owner built log cabin. It is still there, uphill from the mobile home.

Read about it here. It was home till September 1987.
It did have electricity and cold running water, but it never had plumbing, just a rockpit for grey water. I had been about to just let it fall apart, but there was a complication: the electrical line goes up there first, and so does the water. 
When we got the mobile home we did not want to look at a landscape full of poles, and we had the electricity and the water go underground from the cabin to the mobile. It has all worked just fine but one needs to know. 

By 2017 the old roof cover had disintegrated. Believing the place doomed I called BC hydro about the possibility of having a connection go directly to the trailer. They told me to find a local electrician. The well established electricians were all  too busy or not available, but a  man new to the valley answered the call. He came over, measured distance from the existing pole to the trailer, and told me it would require another pole and cost $5000, but for $8000 he could put a metal roof  on the cabin and save it. The cabin has deep sentimental value. I jumped at the chance to preserve it.

At the time I was still planning to stay here. Below, cabin life.

Another builder, too busy to do the work, had also expressed  the opinion that the place deserved to be saved. 
Well........The so called expert turned out to not be, and never mind the details, but that job could/should have been done better. However, the place has been dry. A handy person could have fun turning it into a workshop of some kind. Somehow it has amazing acoustics. 

 Then there is the barn. It started its life as a roof over my mother's travel trailer. When she sold it we inherited the roof and had walls made of plywood. It is divided into three sections, one open, for storing stuff, two where I used to have separate flocks of chickens.
Below, the path from the greenhouse to the barn and the top garden.

One more thing: Potential

I have so many ideas for what could be done to the place! If only I were twenty or even better, fifty years younger and  handier and better at Getting Things Done.

Well, I had my chances. Here are some ideas, just for the fun of it.

An easy way to earn some cash with  little investment would be to create a few level spaces and offer a camp site to self contained motor homes in summer. 

Provincial parks are being over crowded, there is a demand for this. Imagine being on vacation and finding this peaceful paradise to park in instead of a crowded site.

Trees grow like crazy here. Why not start a small Christmas tree farm?
Raspberries love the place. How about a U pick?
This root cellar was built elsewhere by a friend who took the whole homesteading thing a lot further than we did. I put it here because the land would be perfect for it.

The South facing slope would also be good for an Earth Ship style house and for solar power in general.  

The cheapest way to get a better house might be to dismantle the snow roof and the addition, haul out the exisiting mobile and replace it with a newer. not necessarily brand new, version. Reattach addition and somehow rebuild snow roof. 
I considered having that done myself, but then a bad hip day reminds me that I will be 80 in a few years. There is a time for everything. The village is calling.

Speaking of calling...
I prefer e mail for communication.
If the place interests you, contact me at 

Since I first wrote this I have enlisted the service of Property Guys.
They do awesome work creating videos and using a wide angle lens for indoor pictures.
Here is the link:

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful read, thank you for this inspiring and informative post.

    Best of health, enjoy life and everything beautiful around yourself.

    Best regards!


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