Letter Re: The Sustainable Rural Cabin

Many people spend a considerable amount of time making evacuation plans, but seldom are people properly prepared when they arrive to their destination. The purpose of the article is to incorporate proper site planning into your rural cabin. All factors are broken into general relationships allowing the user to adjust the factors to meet the unique conditions at your rural retreat. All factors are overshadowed with the emphasis on silent security. By incorporating these fundamental ideas, you are ensured a safer and prosperous retreat location.

Selection of Property
Landscape conditions vary widely. Effective site planning works with existing site conditions while minimizing exposure to potential security issues. Initially, the retreat will be located on a south facing slope with moderate slope conditions. Avoid building on ridge lines or flood plains. The water source should be nearby, or located at the retreat location. This will minimize time spent hauling water in the future. Existing vegetation should be disturbed as little as possible, especially at the vehicular entrance to the site. Most site entrances will eventually begin to erode or grass over, so take care to eliminate initial tracks inward. The site location must also be secure from view of major highways or commonly-traversed areas. The surest way to encourage others to investigate is have them easily see your location while passing by.

Designing the Outer Periphery
Once the secure site has been selected and purchased, development can begin. Evergreen windbreaks should be planted to block winter winds. In many locations in North America this will be in the north, west, and east directions. Deciduous windbreaks should be established southward to provide shade from summer sun. After fall leaves drop, the home is naturally allowed to warm from the sun. An orchard should be established just inside the confines of the windbreak. If the retreat eventually grows into a working farm, additional expansion for your garden and livestock should be left open.

Designing the Inner Periphery
The rural retreat can grow to be as large and complex as money allows. I have broken the design into six main quadrants. All areas share a relationship to the adjacent quadrant, and are thus interconnected. Quadrant one is the cabin or home. It should be built to reflect an architectural style commonly fond in your region, as to not garner unwanted attention. Large, deciduous trees should shadow it. A basement would be ideal, given that soil conditions allow. To the left of the home will be a patio of impervious material (brick, concrete, etc). this will serve as an outdoor work space and lumber storage. Underneath the patio, a common cellar and/or cistern should be located. Underground storage will provide additional food supplies during cold, waning months. To the left of the patio will be the barn, or outdoor work shed. This facility will also house the solar power panels, inverter, and battery bank, since wind power may draw attention and risk mechanical problems. The barn will also allow a secondary outlet to the cellar for additional security reasons. Just to the north of the barn will be a perennial herb garden. They should be established early, then allowed to flourish until needed. The next two quadrants to the left will be vegetable garden space. They allow your crops to be easily accessed from the home, while being watered as necessary. A deer-proof fence should fall in between the spaces of the buildings and wrap around the inner periphery as necessary. Be careful to keep at least twenty feet from surrounding fence to nearby windbreak trees. This layout could be adjusted for existing site conditions. For example, flipping the layout right to left may work better for your site, but do not flip the layout north to south. The house would then be too close to the adjacent windbreak, providing a security problem.

The information provided outlines the minimum requirements for a success rural retreat. Be careful to maintain the relationship between parts, but feel free to adjust as natural site conditions dictate. Remember avoidance is the best security measure, so by reducing your visibilities, the chances of success are greatly enhanced.