Description of what it was like when we lived there….
1750 sq ft underground house…includes 12 x 48 ft solar greenhouse, root cellar, compost toilet, 2 woodstoves, gravity fed spring water
A 14 x 24 ft cabin with sleeping loft
Long established organic farm/garden & orchard
Lots of fruits and other perennials
Canning and food preservation tools and supplies
Huge homestead book collection
1750 square foot underground house with attatched solar greenhouse, flowing creeks on each side, suitable for micro-hydro. 14×24 foot cabin on the edge of the woods, overlooking the garden on one side, creek and woods on the other.
There are 10 acres, approximately two acres of field, the rest woods. The field has a half acre orchard with apples, plums and pears. There are also blueberry bushes, filhazels, raspberries, gooseberries, highbush cranberries, rosa rugosa (for rose hips) and lots of wild blackberries. Other established plantings include a big patch of Jerusalem artichokes, several herb beds, perennial flowers, rhubarb, horseradish and a bazillion comfrey plants 😉 The woods are balsam fir, spruce, hemlock and maple. The back of the property has some really interesting rocks and ledges. A few yards past the back boundary is a VAST (Vermont Association of Snow Travelers) snowmobile trail. There are miles and miles of ATV trails accessed a mile or two away. Lakes and ponds are in every direction.
There is a washing/packing shed for cleaning the garden vegetables, a solar chicken coop, a two seater outhouse and a rustic gazebo in the field. Small tool shed in back of the underground house. There is a school bus on the edge of the woods/field converted for living in. Great for farm workers or visitors.
For many years, this place was run as an organic community agriculture farm. The soil is wonderful. I never used pesticides or herbicides on it…even organic. Many years of manure, compost and rock powders have made the soil rich and productive. Much of the field is in raised beds.
Interesting features of the underground house….composting toilet, sunken iron bathtub, gravity fed spring water, an 8×8 root cellar, 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, craft room and a harvest kitchen/dining room with propane gas stove. Under the stairs is a tool storage space. Electricity and telephone to the house. Dish satellite. We lived here for years before we got electricity and all those systems are still in place for life without it, if necessary.
There is a large woodstove in the greenhouse that heats the whole house, plus a small woodstove in the living room, both have full masonry chimneys. In the living room is a 12 foot tall wood closet. It is filled at ground level from outside, then accessed in the house near the woodstove. There is also a wood door near the big woodstove, with a chute for filling the greenhouse with firewood. The big stove has a rock wall alongside it to help retain heat. There are also 55 gallon drums of water in the solar greenhouse. These absorb heat on a sunny day or when the woodstove is going, moderating temperatures and releasing heat when the house gets cool. No fire is needed in spring or fall because of the solar greenhouse.
In the summer, the house is nice and cool. In the winter it stays snug and cozy because there’s no place for wind to get through. The main roof of the house is underground, planted with grass and wildflowers. The harvest kitchen addition has a metal roof, as does the entryway and craft room. There are windows in every room. South facing clerestory windows run the length of the master bedroom and harvest kitchen. The airflow is such that adjusting doors and windows is enough to circulate heat or cool breezes.
The house is made from upright cedar logs inside. The roof is of spruce, fir and hemlock logs. The walls and ceiling are rough cut lumber, waterproofed on the outside with a rubber membrane. Everything is insulated. Inside, the house looks a bit like a log cabin. It’s post and beam construction.
There is no developed driveway back to the underground house. We call it a woods road. I ride to and from the house on my ATV and there is also a 300 yard walking path from driveway to house. We do drive trucks back there on ocassion and the road could easily be made suitable for a regular driveway. We just never wanted one.
The 14×24 ft cabin is well built and insulated. It has an open floor plan on the first floor and a sleeping loft upstairs. It is already wired and has a circuit breaker box. The electric pole is only a few feet away. It comes with an incinerating toilet, but there is also a two seater outhouse within jogging distance 😉 There is a spring next to the cabin that needs further development.
This is a beautiful property. The garden faces the Worcester Range, with Hunger Mountain as the center of attention. We are part of Maple Corner, famous for its tasteful calendar of naked men 🙂 This is a fantastic, close-knit community in the town of Calais. There are regular potlucks, dances, BBQ’s, plays, etc. Curtis Pond is a mile from the house. It’s a 1.2 mile long lake. There is a maintained community skating rink there in winter and a swim area with swimming instruction in the summer. There’s also a VT fishing/boating access area. The surrounding countryside is crammed full of lakes and ponds and farms. This is the kind of place most people only dream about! 😉 It’s only 10 miles to downtown Montpelier, the smallest state capital in the US with a population of about 8000. It’s 1 1/2 miles to Worcester village and the general store/gas station and 1 1/2 miles to the Maple Corner General Store.
When you first open the door, there are on flue tiles on each side, buried in the floor. Perishable food like milk or mayo can go down inside even in summer and be cold enough to stay fresh. For best results, we have insulated wooden covers on top, with hanging baskets attatched. If you look carefully in the bottom of the tile next to the root beer soda, you will see a casualty….a mouse that fell in. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep a lid on it!
The root cellar walls and shelves are made from native, rough-cut cedar.
Compost (Sawdust) Toilet
There is plenty of reading material nearby and the tote is full of sawdust. We *really* have a sawdust toilet that has the stuff compost outside. The only smell is for a few seconds when the pail is dumped in the barrel….and it’s not as bad as you might think 😉
Our toilet is in a wooden cabinet with an air pipe to the outside. Whenever someone poops, that is covered with sawdust. In the past we have also used coffee bean hulls, shredded newspaper, dirt and leaves. Whatever is used should be high in carbon. Sawdust and planer shavings are free and look nice.
Whenever the 5 gallon bucket is full of pee, poop, toilet paper and shavings, the bucket is taken outside to a 55 gallon barrel and dumped in. It takes one or two years to become odorless, wonderful compost. At that point the barrel is only about one third full. We use this compost to fertilize the wildflowers on our roof and the trees in our orchard. I’d rather not use it on food….although it looks like it would be fine. We probably have a dozen barrels for this use.
Compost Bucket near food prep
Pull out bucket for a big load of compost
Lid attatched to arm hinged to wall
Inside the underground house
Underground house kitchen
Kitchen table and food walls
Visitors over for a meeting before remodel
Heather painting ceiling to be brighter
Walls of books
Greenhouse woodstove and rock wall
The computer/sewing/craft room
Ouside the underground house
Two seater outhouse
Inside the outhouse
Hoop house in the field
Octagon when it was for dwelling, chicken house to the left
Yurt being built
Hippy school bus dwelling