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The Nickel Tour
We've been in our new home, on a 5-acre wooded lot, in Yellow Point, on Vancouver Island, for nearly a month. Join us for a virtual, web-tour of the property.
Oot 'n Aboot the Hutton House
For the first time since we've been married, just over 5 years (where has the time gone?), we're home OWNERS, instead of renters. It's also the first time we've lived on acreage and we're excited about that too. We've been here less than a month, but we thought we'd post a brief online tour of the property, for our far-away friends and family.
If real estate is about location, location, location, then we've got a great spot. Yellow Point is an absolutely fantastic, picturesque, pastoral setting. Parks, farms, an English Pub, Lodges, Bed and Breakfasts [1 2 3] ... it's all a short walk or drive.
The 5-acre property is pretty nifty. There's a beaver pond, a seasonal creek, a clearing, woodshed, pump house, chicken coop and play house. There are many tall cedar and Douglas fir trees and oodles of places for Alex to explore.
Check out our new home in the woods!
We're on the lee side (east) side of Vancouver Island, so we're in a bit of a rain shadow (every bit helps when you're in the pacific northwest). The property is off of Yellow Point Road and about a 20-minute drive from Nanaimo (to the north) and Ladysmith (to the south). It's near the tip of the Yellow Point peninsula (which is more a bump into the Haro Strait, than a finger).
Here's a Google Map satellite image of our area, to put things into perspective. (The lat/lon is close to our true location along the Yellow Point Road).
Our street currently has about eight other occupied acreages, plus a very large parcel at the end of the dead-end road. However, they're in the process of subdividing that large parcel, into another 10 or so (5 acre minimum) properties. Now, there's rarely ever a car on our street and most folks live in houses which, like ours, are set back from the street some distance.
There's a long gravel drive to our house. You cannot see the house from the road. It's entrance is gated, but we have never closed it. From the road, the driveway looks like it heads into a treed tunnel, with low, overhanging coniferous branches. When we drove in with the U-Haul, we were concerned it wouldn't fit. Although it scraped a few branches, we got to the house without a problem.
Heading down the drive, you come up over a small rise, past a couple large cedar trees and around a short curve. There, below in a clearing, lies the house, a circular driveway and a few scattered out-buildings. This is our home, which we've named: "Hutton House".
The name is in honor of the original occupants, Scottie and Cathryn Hutton (and their three kids), who built the house with their own hands, some 20 years ago. It's a very English thing to do (name a home) but this is British Columbia and gee, it seems they should get SOME credit for having built it themselves!
The house is about 2400 square feet, which isn't small. It's got 3 bedrooms and a bath upstairs (one of which, we're using as the "office"). Downstairs is a family room, with a wood-burning stove and bay window, galley kitchen and formal dining room, which has another wood stove insert. Off the dining room is another bedroom (the guest room). There's a full bath and laundry facility, on your way out to the attached garage.
It's a nice house, but the floor plan is a bit quirky. It's built solidly, but like many do-it-yourself homes, lacks some of the quality finish-work. (Most people are so sick of their HUGE project that they're eager to move in and put off doing much of the finish work. With some notable exceptions, the Hutton House is the same.)
The focus of the this tour are the grounds, so let's head back outside.
The house is built on a bit of a sandstone rise and has a drop-off behind it and to the east. The back of the house is heavily treed and the previous owners put in a fenced dog-run, along much of area. The circular drive makes up most of the "front yard", though there are planter gardens and a gravel "patio", on the west side.
Around the cleared yard, are a bunch of out-buildings. There's a woodshed, which (fortunately) came with about a cord of wood, mostly cedar. This was a relief to us, because we're going to try and heat the home using the wood stove, as much as possible. Most of the rooms have electric baseboard heaters, but they are expensive to operate. Why use them when we have such great access to downed timber?
"We only ever bought 3 cords of wood," Cathy Hutton said, "the whole time we lived here. With five acres, there's generally more than enough dead fall to cover your firewood needs."
Scott has spent a good bit of time around the woodshed, chopping big logs into chunks small enough to fit into the wood stove. Cedar is easy to split into logs or kindling and smells great. We've added about another quarter cord, since we've lived here. The woodshed is a great place to keep it dry, during those stormy winter months.
There's also a building we call the "Hydro House", where the main power line comes from the road. There, it's split into two lines, one for the main house and the other goes down to the water well and pump house. Apparently, when you bring power onto a property, it must be connected to a "structure". Since the house hadn't been built, they made this smallish shed, which served this purpose. We've been using it to store flammable liquids, the chainsaw and other tools.
Heading down a short road, you pass a cedar, split-rail fence and two other buildings. One is a two-story play house, which the Hutton family called "The Happy House". It's a pretty big structure for Alex to play in, about 8 feet by 6 feet, with a ladder leading to an upstairs "loft". It's not as happy as it used to be, but come spring, we'll move it, give it a fresh coat (or two) of paint and it'll be happy again.
Down a ways from the play house, is the chicken coop. Unfortunately, there aren't any chickens in it, as the 6 laying hens and "worthless" rooster, went to some of Cathy's friends. So right now, the chicken coop is vacant. Rachel has been very keen on getting some chicks, but it too, will likely wait till spring. (We're thinking that a few colored chicks will be an excellent present for Alex, at Easter!)
Continuing down the road, a clearing comes into view, just beyond another outbuilding - the water well and pump house. This holds the 570-foot well, which was tested at an acceptable (but stingy) half gallon of water per minute. Apparently, the water well yields are quite variable, in this area. The guy across the street only had to go down 30 feet to hit "as much water as you'll ever need". Ours is likely deep, because it's through sandstone and shale and the driller was looking (and never found) a high-yielding seam.
The good news is that Cathy reported that they had never run out of water, so the well is sufficient for the house and the mobile home. The water quality is good, though (oddly) it's very soft and we have a difficult time rinsing off the soap. (If there's a water softener, we haven't found it. It just seems to be naturally soft water.)
Click for a larger image
The clearing contains a big pile of rubble in the middle of it, but aside from that, is a pretty level, open area that gets lots of bright sunshine. It's got tall grass and thistle growing in it right now. We're hoping to "mow" it once or twice a year, to keep the thistles at bay and the grass down. We think that the clearing would make an excellent second-building site, should we need one.
From the clearing, the property extends back to an old beaver pond, if one walks north, away from the road. The pond holds ducks, frogs, reeds, cat-'o-nine tails and we're wondering ... fish? We've not explored much back there, as the forest gets more dense and frankly, we've been too busy just trying to get settled.
Walking east through the clearing, along the roadway, you come to a seasonal creek. There's an old, broken-down footbridge, which leads to a trail that's cut into the hillside on the opposite bank. Our property ends at the top of the rise, on the opposite side of the creek and the "nature trail" parallels the property line, following the creek back to the road and leading to a dug well in the creek bed, which has another small pump house, used for irrigation (when it was all connected and operational). Right now it's in a sad state of disrepair, but the pump (which works) is still there and unconnected.
From the clearing, heading back to the road, one quickly comes upon the mobile home. I'm not sure how big it is. It's a trailerable single-wide affair, approximately 40 feet long, something like that. It's set on a cement foundation with an attached car port and front/rear decks. We're currently renting it to an older fellow whose been there some 19 years. His rent isn't much, but neither are his needs, and he's quite happy to continue living there and fixing the place if it needs repair.
There are a few other areas of the property to explore, the area between the mobile and the driveway and the corner of the property past the driveway, but neither are huge in aerial extent. Both are heavily forested with large cedar and Douglas fir trees. There are a number of deciduous maple trees too, which have added color in the fall.
There are lots of deer in the area and we spotted the first one, in our yard, just a couple of days ago. Mostly, we see them along the margins of the roadway, at dusk or at night, quietly browsing away. Though Vancouver Island has the densest mountain lion population in the world, our neighbors have indicated that there aren't any in this area (so we don't have to worry about Alex becoming kitty food, near dinner time). Whew!
We can't wait to start exploring around the area and have already made a few forays into the surrounding regions. We took Alex to a "pick-your-own" pumpkin patch, just down the road. We also took a small put-put ferry out to Protection Island, where they have a dockside pub, overlooking Nanaimo and the harbour, replete with a kiddie fishing hole (they provide bait and a rod for the kids)! Last week we took Alex for a hike along "Cable Bay Trail". Look for stories about all three, in upcoming articles.
Well, that's pretty much the tour of the place. We can't wait for more family and friends to stop by for a visit. If you're going to be in the area, just drop us a line via this site and we'll make sure to leave the light on for you. It sure is a pretty part of the world and we'd love to share it with you.