My 1st home at Gray Stone Ranch

I bought the ranch in 2001 and began coming out on the weekends to clear a road and a place to begin building.  I stayed in a tent on the weekends and cooked on an open flame.  I found that this minimalist lifestyle was more relaxing and rewarding than anything I had ever experienced. This is when I began to seriously reconsider my system of values.

Then in 2002 my financial circumstances forced me to choose between keeping the ranch or keeping my 4 bedroom house in San Antonio.  The choice was easy. I listed house for sale.  It sold within 10 days. I sold what I could of my material possessions, gave away many others and put what was left (my tools and my books) into storage. Then I moved into the tent full-time.  2002 was marked by a lot of severe weather in the Texas Hill Country and on many nights, my dog, Elvis and I were forced into the truck to sleep as the tent was soaked by thunderstorms. But the nights we were able to stay dry were glorious.  I began to appreciate the complexity of the nature as never before.  I learned the habits of the night birds and the wildlife as night after night I observed them and eventually became familiar with their habits and routines. 

The cabin

 
In the Spring of 2002 after having lived in the tent for the better part of the Winter, I began building my cabin. My financial resources were stretched thin and my needs were small, so I decided to build the cabin myself. I had done some woodworking and furnature building but was totally inexperienced in construction.  I bought a couple of books and began learning enough to enable me to build a sound structure.  At that time I had no generator so I used hand tools. The process was slow and sometimes it seemed that I would never be able to sleep under a solid roof again, but after about 4 months of weekend work I finally got the little cabin dried-in and had a real roof over my head again.  This photo was taken when the framing was nearing completion.  The dimensions of my cabin were only 12ft by 12ft but I planned a vaulted roof with a sleeping loft which was 6ft by 12ft. Compaired to my tent the cabin was a mansion.

The cabin

 
I was commited to not borrowing any money in order to build my cabin, so I bought materials as I could afford them. In this photo, the only windows I had purchased and installed were the loft windows. The shed roof for the porch was attached, but the porch was still just dirt. I was reading Walden by Henery David Thoreau at the time so I didn't feel the least bit deprived.  Thanks to my hobby of woodworking, I had the tools and the ability to save money by building things such as the door myself.  The cabin was so small that on cold nights I could keep it comfortably warm with only the radiant heat of the Coleman lantern seen hanging from the porch roof.

The cabin

 
Here the roof is complete and the windows are all installed.  Elvis found his place right away on the porch and we both felt right at home.