Slab wood cabin? Suggestions? Advice?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Jagger, May 14, 2004.

  1. Jagger

    Jagger Well-Known Member

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    Hello all,

    I've been looking into a cheap quick cabin to build. In a remote area without power. A building that will be mainly 3 season. I had thought about lots of different things. A tent or a wigwam is out of the question. Lived in both for several months, it leaves much to be desired. My requirements or i should say my wife's requirements are Walls, roof,floor (other than the ground or dirt) and a solid lockable door. Seems simple enough. We have a camper 20foot. It's a trailer. We were going to take that with us, but we r unsure now. I got the camper it's a 1968 model, real cheap. I can triple my money easily on it. I bought the camper in the middle of winter, now that its camping season the price is at its highest. We have remodled it and cleaned it up real nice, the wife made new seat cushions and curtains. We painted it and made it rodent proof etc. With gas prices so high, i was considering just selling it so i wouldn't have to haul it 750 miles to our new place in MO. I think i will save alot of fuel costs as well as strain on my truck.

    I was thinking of building a slab wood cabin to live in while we build our humble log cabin. I think i can put a a small 10x12 slab would cabin up in a few days. Using a pole frame kinda construction. Chink the slabs with clay/straw mixture. Proably for ease and to save time i'll install a pallet floor. They r numerous and free. Most are made of oak. I can then cover this with thin ply-wood or fill the gaps in the pallets with more wood from dismantled pallets. The roof would Be small logs/poles for the rafters. Shed type roof. Then some recycled tin or old moblie home siding also works well. This shelter is just mainly to sleep in. We also will set up a large lean-to. To do most of of our food prep, and general living quarters. This cabin will eventually turn into my fur shed. Where i can skin and process my furs and hides from the trapline, and store most of my trapping equipment.

    Once we build this little slab cabin. We plan on building a log cabin of approximately the same size witha sleeping loft. Do any of you have any suggestions? Comments? Maybe have a better idea? I would love to hear about it. Has anyone built a slab building?

    Jagger
     
  2. Kirk

    Kirk Well-Known Member

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    Jagger,
    I would keep the trailer. If it lowers your gas milage by 5 mpg it should cost around $50 extra to take it. This seems like a reasonable price to have immediate shelter when you get to the land. A trailer that old has depreciated about as much as it is going to, so if you sell it in a year or two you should still get the money out of it.
    It sounds like you have a great plan and a wonderful adventure ahead of you. I wish you the best of luck.
    Kirk
     

  3. Ozarks_1

    Ozarks_1 Well-Known Member

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    Jagger,
    Keep the trailer! As already noted, it's immediately liveable. Plus, it has a sort of "normal" feeling to it - which may be important.

    I built a small hayshed (slightly larger than what you propose) from slab wood ... NEVER AGAIN!
    I believe it would be very difficult to make a slabwood cabin insect, rodent, and snake proof.

    Your roofing idea is good, but make sure you fasten the tin down much better than you think necessary. Straight-line winds and micro-bursts which tear poorly fastened roofing off are NO fun!
     
  4. FolioMark

    FolioMark In Remembrance

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    Jagger: Your plan is sort of what we did to start out on our place. Instead of building a shed we bought a little 8x12 wooden garden shed, put a window in the end opposite the door and built a bed platform under it with cubbyholes underneath for storage. We put a wide shelf on one side suitable for a desk, countertop work surface and an old kitchen cupboard under one end for pots and pans and a few groceries. We hung lots of stuff on the walls and on a little platform on the rafters. In front of the door we put up a cheap screen house we got at a yard sale. That was our living space, room for a table and folding chairs. We cooked on an open fire out front of that and made a little work surface between two trees.
    When we were done with a visit we would pack the whole shooting match into the shed and padlock the door and the drop shutter over the window. We never spent a winter there but it was fine from spring until past thanksgiving.
    The trailer would be a nice finished space which is a comfort, but there is some benefit in building your own little shelter even if its crude. A real step into homesteading. Good luck. :)
     
  5. Jagger

    Jagger Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions.

    I have been tossing this idea around for the past few days. We went camping on my two days off. WOW!! 2 whole days in a row even. I have a large bed topper on my truck. I can almost stand erect in it. I got it to haul the dogs in and other stuff, for our move. My wife and i started thinking why couldn't we just stay in it till we got the cabin built. The truck is a little cramped but possible.

    The big reason why we r thinking of getting rid of the camper is to make some much needed capital. I make very little $$. My wife is a stay at home mom, she is disabled. But she can work and has alot since we have been married, its just hard on her and by the time we pay a babysitter etc... she makes next to nothing. So i figure why bother with the second job. Plus we have to take him to and from the sitter more $$.

    When we leave for our land, next month (36 days to be exact) yes i'm counting. We will have bare bones for money. We will have all the tools and supplies we will need for a couple months. We are going to have 2 months worth of land payments set back. A small nest egg on top of that. And i mean small. Our move is not only something that we want to do it is also a matter of we have too. We have been living in this small cottage for free just paying the utilities. Our arrangement with the landlord will soon end. It cost an arm and a leg to heat this crappy cottage last winter. Landlord would not let me install a wood burner.
    The trapping season is done for another year. I make a nice little some wild crafting at different times of the year. I will be able to find a low paying like $6.00 an hour job easily, where we r moving. We cannot survive in this city, if i tsay here i'll end up in the homeless shelter with my family. This little peice of land is our salvation. It's do or die. This a real adventure, we have real pioneering spirit. We follow in the footsteps of our ancestors. We have found there ancient path, now we are ready to follow.We hear the call.

    So maybe you might understand our situation a bit more. If i can get $800 or so for the camper i'll have made a great profit, to help further develop our homestead. It's $800 we don't have. It may take a few nights of sleeping in the truck camper to get something built. it will be a hassle in the truck,but we can sacrafice for our dream.

    I realize that the slab structure would be not completely bug,rodent, and snake proof. But no structure of this type is. They are not a big deal to us. Mice and rats are easy to deal with, bugs too. You just gotta keep some snakes around to eat the rodents. A couple big old black snakes never hurt no one.

    My wife is still a little wishy-washy about the idea. She likes the idea one minute and not sure the next. Women?!?

    I'm still interested in hearing your ideas. I also thought about the garden shed thing too. I beleive there are company's in missouri that sell different buildings on payments and deliver them to your place. Maybe i can find a used shed. Let's hear all those great ideas you guys got. I need help and advice.

    Jagger
     
  6. FolioMark

    FolioMark In Remembrance

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    Jagger: I bought my shed from a mr. Green in Waynesville which is between Lebanon and Ft Leonard Wood. He advertises in the local Thrifty Nickel newspaper. He sold all kinds and sizes of sheds at quite decent prices and he delivered mine the day after I bought it as he knew we were on a short schedule.
    And he let me pay for it in two payments no questions asked. If I can find his ad or address I will let you know. And plenty of other folks sell sheds as well. You can do a lot living in a 12x16 shed for a short time.
     
  7. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Jagger you need to put the floor up at least 24" to allow room to keep the rodents under control and to let exess water from rain floww without flooding you out. second the slabs can be used and No chinking required if you can trim the edges flat,and somewhat true, a cordless type saw will do it.i would set the posts 24" in the ground. for stability. just remember that it needs to be sturdy.
     
  8. Jagger

    Jagger Well-Known Member

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    I got some other questions. About building the proposed slab cabin. What do you think would be the cheapeast flooring? Pallets on the ground, just shimmied and made level with the use of flat stones and bricks??? Then cover that with some recycled plywood or osb. This slab cabin will only be used for a couple months tops. Untill the log cabin is built. Once we move out of it it will most likely be a chicken house. I want to build it fast, and with little more than logs cut from the property and slabs that i import. On hanging the slabs, will i need to pre-drill holes for the nails? Or would i be better off pre-drilling and using screws?

    Hmmmmmmm.......maybe i should just take the camper.....Hmmmmmmmm........I could use the cash too.........?????????????????

    Jagger
     
  9. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

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    My 10' x 14' toolshed that I built may give you some ideas. You can see it at http://community.webshots.com/user/hoop_john

    My "Foundation" exists of chunks of red oak firewood chunks. The floor is rough cut 1" pine. The floor is roughly 20" above the ground. The toolshed is completely portable.....if it had to be moved somewhere.

    Be realistic in your expectations. Nothing gets built QUICK. I think it took me about 7 days to build my toolshed.
     
  10. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    Jagger I've been through this truthfully I would bring the Camper.You will be getting here in the Hot part of the Summer,working and trying to put up a Shelter for Winter will be very trying.

    Slab wood is sap wood that will rot fast and curl badly.You should be able to get Rough Cut Oak for less than .40 Board Foot.I would use Barn 29ga. Metal for the roof,not Corrigated,it will always leak.Just use a Chainsaw to cut your boards,and a Big Framing Hammer to nail them together with Galvanized 16 penny nails.

    You should be able to get enough Flat rocks to stack up for your Piers to get your Floor off the Ground.Personaly I would use 3/4 inch Plywood for the floor,won't dry and have cracks like the Oak.

    10X12 doesn't leave much room to turn around in,but its a start.I would build it to where if things don't work out on the Log Cabin,I could build on to this.

    As far as Water I would catch Rain Water in Plastic Barrels or one of those Big Tanks that you put in the back of a Pickup.

    This is basically what we did when we first moved here.

    big rockpile
     
  11. Jagger

    Jagger Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the advice. It's another day 35 to go.

    I think we might take the camper. I know i will not be able to build somthing with .40 board foot for lumber. I realize that is way cheaper then a lumber store, but its still out of my league. At this time anyhow.
    When i said quickly i meant 5-10 days. Maybe i should go back to my green cordwood cabin idea. It worked once. I'm alos thinking of building the cordwood within a post and beam support then infill with the green wood, no mortar and just cover the exterior with foam insulation or the fiberglass board stuff. This is the same method that Rob Roy used in one of his first houses. I have also considered cob, but it is way to slow.
    I am at wits end with this. So many desicions. So many what if's. All i need is the one thing i dont have $$$$$$$$$$$$$$.....bummer

    The log cabin thing will work out, it has no choice. I have no choice. My mind seems like it is going to explode at times. I am so anxious and worried. I'm all balled up inside. This move is a huge risk, it will change our lives, there will be no comming back. There is nothing to come back to. With gas price at 2.10 a gallon it will cost alot just to there. I know that it would be better to wait yet another 6 months or a year a saving and scrimping but i can't. We cant affford to pay someone $500 a month for a 1 bedroom apartment. And still put gas in the truck and food on the table, let alone clothes on our backs.

    I hate the position im in. Seems like the price of everything keeps going up except my wages. Well i've ranted enough i got to get ready for another 12 hour shift at the steakhouse.

    What about a square bale straw house. just the staw.in a frame??
    Do any of you know anything about strawbale roofs?

    Thanks
    Jagger
     
  12. There is an article on the Dollar Stretcher web site about a family who built a cabin on thier own property. They found thier little peice of heaven, moved in with a camper/trailer, built an addition to the camper. They used materials on site to build the cabin, and the last room addition was the addition attatched to the camper. There are pictures.


    www.stretcher.com
    then go to the bottom of the page where the "main index" of atricles are. Under "Voluntary Simplicity" there is an article called "Building your own log cabin" by Paul and Mary Paxton.

    This is one of my favorite sites, even tho some of the articles can be quite dull and repetative. HTH

    ------Almostthere
     
  13. Pigeon Lady

    Pigeon Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Jagger, will you keep us updated on your move and how it all goes? I'm on the edge of my seat reading your posts.

    As a wife with a little boy, I would want to hang on to the trailer at least until you had some other form of useable shelter up. You'll be glad of that soft bed to collapse into at the end of the day. Little comforts go a long way when you are in such a stressfull situation. And without them little annoyances mount up and feel like major pains in the rear.

    With all the outdoor skills you have, have you thought of giving classes? Many people would pay to learn how to tan hides and such. Also see if there is some kind of living history museum or heritage center in the area they may be in need of someone just like you to demonstrate those skills.

    I got a shock the first time someone gazed in amazement and asked
    " How much would you charge to teach me how to knit?" I thought everyone learned to knit at some point in their growing up years. Now I see an income opportunity I'd never thought of. These days people would rather pay big bucks to "take a course" than sit down with a book of instructions and figure it out for themselves.

    Praying for a safe journey for you,

    P.
     
  14. Pigeon Lady

    Pigeon Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Here's a thought depending on how you feel about having strangers on your property. Make some posters to put up at the local store or bait shops:

    HANDS ON CABIN BUILDING WORKSHOP Taught by experienced woodsman.

    "Come learn how to build a simple inexpensive woodland getaway from scratch using materials at hand' Blah blah blah....Date, time, $20 per day ( or whatever) Bring your own lunch.

    "Don't miss out!" -Your name - "has lifetime experience in hunting, trapping, tanning, taxidermy....."

    "Here's you're chance to learn from an expert"

    "Homemade stew and toasted marshmallows on the camp fire at dusk. If you play the fiddle bring it!"

    Heck if 5 people show up you'll have made a bit of extra cash and got some free labor. Then offer classes in the other things at a later date.

    My imagination gets the better of me sometimes, but thought it would be something for you to think about.
     
  15. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    jagger ,think about the rats and other vermin. you need the floor off the ground not on pallets. trust me that would be a hotel for the rats to breed and mess everything of yours up. keep the floor off the ground. use cut off ends of log to sit the floor on . for heavens sake don't invite the rats and there friends to you home.
     
  16. Ruby

    Ruby Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Jagger, we were you at one time. In 1980 we paid down on one acre. Paid 25.00 a month for a year then my husband lost his job. We had no place to go, couldn't afford rent so his last paycheck we decided to move to the land. It was covered in pine trees, and underbrush. We had to hack our way with a machete just to get back where we could set up a tent. We had an 8-year-old daughter, and stayed in the tent. My husband stayed there and started clearing off the land and I found a job at a convenince store. "Very low pay". At night when they would close up the sandwich area, if they had any thing left they couldn't sell, my boss gave it to me. Lots of nights my husband and daughter would stay up until I come home and eat the sandwiches I brought home.

    After a few weeks living in the tent, my husband found a job. We lived in the tent from August, until November, (Texas heat). We found a pop up camper for 300.00 and moved in that. The next spring we bought a school bus with no motor and had it towed on to our land. Gutted it and made living quarters. We stayed in that for 2 years and then bought a mobile home. We lived at that place 8 years.

    It will be hard but you can do it. It will take determination and lots of will power. I admire you for having this dream. Just see it through while you are young enough to do it.

    I second everyone else on keeping your camper. That would have been very nice if we had, had one instead of a tent.

    The pallats might work for a floor if you get them up off the ground high enough to keep down ground rot.
     
  17. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    There are lot options. For instant cabin, I'd go with old school bus (or couple full size van bodies), garden shed, or old single wide mobile home (my neighbor paid $50 and got free delivery on a 12x60 as people that did own it were going to have to pay to dispose of it). Its rough but dry. Personally I think the school bus makes very strong cabin. I lived in one in upper Michigan for couple years. No insulation, but wasnt horrible to heat. Since its all metal, you can have wood stove right up against outside wall.

    Anything you build will take minimum 2 week unless you have experienced helpers. Many places here in Ozarks have an abundance of stone. Its intimidating if you have never done it, but really nothing more than a jigsaw puzzle to interlace the stones for best strength. A 16x16 stone cabin with stone floor shouldnt take huge amount of time especially if one person lays the stone, one person mixes mortar, and others gather stone of various sizes. Design it so you can add to it easily. I

    When I moved here 15 year ago, I lived in tent for week while friend and I got $300 16x16 plywood shell of a hut with dirt floor up. (believe me, you dont want a dirt floor, make a stone one which is whole lot better) Unfortunately that shack probably would be 3 times cost now so not good bargain. Anymore, I would rough it little longer in tent and put up a stone cabin. Use 3 to 4 inch diameter trees for rafters. Some slab wood across that to nail to, and then home split shakes, old corrigated tin, or even cheap mismatched asphault shingles from salvage lumber place.

    One other option I just thought of. Hoop house out of wire cattle panels covered with tarps. People make them for greenhouses or cheap temp barns or have heard of some living in them. Very cheap and very quick. Do search here and on TodaysHomestead.com and just general google search. Unfortunately like all steel materials, cattle panels are going up in price, but still cheap quick way to get shelter.
     
  18. trtalbott

    trtalbott Well-Known Member

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    I would put up a small pole frame structure, with a block stem wall(helps with rodent problems). And use your shed style rafter idea. You can collect cinder blocks just about anywhere. Just ask around. Sometimes college dorms throw them out after students leave. (students use them to build small shelves and to block up their beds to add more room in their dorms.)
    Poles for the structure can be found at a local power company for pretty cheap, if not for free. After this cover the thing with t-111, not osb.
    I would also pour a concrete floor with a bag mix.
    I wish I was closer, I love building things. I just finished my 1500 sq.ft. house for under 50,000 and its worth 3 times that.
    Have fun.
     
  19. Jagger

    Jagger Well-Known Member

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    Hello everyone,

    Thanks for all the feed back and well wishes.
    Pigeon Lady i like your idea of a class kinda thing. I have alot of different abilities and i do enjoy showing people new things. I'll have to ponder that for awhile. I would kinda feel funny charging people. Hmm i don't know???

    Well i have decided or i should say we have decided, to keep the camper. We considered alot of things. Your all's comments and suggestions really help me sort some things out in my head. It really does help to hear feedback from other folks. I read my earlier posts on this thread and i realize i was just seeing $$$$ signs. And i figure if the worst happen if i would to become injured or something. The camper is already there, easily made winterproof. It has a furnace(propane). It also has a propane/110 volt frige. I have spent a few winters in smaller campers, before i was married.

    My work has kinda got me bummed out. My GM offered me a job today,a different position. She knows that im planning on moving. So she offered this position to me said ther would be more money and i would get even more hours. It would also be a position that i would enjoy working in. I'd get to work a normal morning shift. I'll have to wait and see what she really offers. It would take a good raise and it would also would have to include some additional perks. I am very determined to follow on with our original plan, our dream. I'm not willing to sacrafice what i have been preparing for. For the past several months, we have been organizing, planning, buying equipment getting everything we will need ready to go. Since we left the homeless shelter last october, this has been our main drive, our only goal everything that i have has gone into this. I try to keep my focus on it. I actually think that i have been preparing for this event my whole life. That going into the woods and starting a homestead is part of my destiny. I at some point in my life, would like to start some kind of foundation program that will help families help themselves. Like those that are in homeless shelters or living on the street. I would like to have a sanctuary, a school, a place of kindness and knowlege. Where we can help others that have fallen on hard times, show them alternative building techniques, gardening, all subjects relating to self-sufficency. To show people that they can and should help themselves, by providing them the necessary skills. Or something like that. I too let my mind wander and my imagination runs rampant.

    I have so many questions that run thru my mind during the day. Sometimes it seems that i doubt myself and my abilities. I often already know the answer to my own question, if i just sit down and think about it. I often use this forum or so it seems lately to vent my thoughts. So forgive me if i ramble on endlessly.

    I started a diary this week. I am handwritting it. I plan on maybe writting a book in the future. I would love to be able to communicate with you all via the web. At least a weekly thing. I thought about getting a digital camera, that way we could send photos of things to my wifes family and a few friends. I have many people at my work who are interested in what i am about to embark on. They have so many questions. Not your a nut questions, but honest, sincere questions that they want to know more. I give advice where i can. They all want me to keep in touch and to send pictures of the progress.As well as posting them somewhere you all could see too. But i dont know how to do that. So i figured the best deal would be a digital camera, or would just having a plain jane 35mm (which i have already) and have the film developed on cd.??? I don't know much about the digital thing except that its pretty cool. What can i get a bottom line digi-camera for??? money-wise.???

    Well i'm done , for now

    Be good,
    Jagger
     
  20. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

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    HJ makes a great point..... never count out the cattle panels and tarps, some folks i know here in Central Idaho have lived in one for several years, while saving $$$$ to build their house among other things. these can be used for several purposes really, and make great chicken tractors, cauae they can be moved easy enough daily if need be to keep the pullets on grass, and still provide shade and shelter from elements. They can make starter green houses as well, the wire supports the tarp or plastic better than a wood frame can. And living in one you may want to modify it somewhat, bowed over you get about 6 feet wide by 6 feet high by 54 inches long, if you build a small wall 3 feet high you can widen out the room, and still achieve a higher center cieling hieght over 7 feet giving you more space to boot!

    As a log house builder i can tell you that any cabin you intend to build will take you 3 times longer than you expect it to, maybe 4. As a person with a sawmill i can tell you that even slabs from my sawmill wont be the best thing to use, as they contain splits, checks, rot, and uneven edges [if i could get a board out of them they would not be thrown away]. as a log house builder i can tell you that the best peelers i know can slick peel dead trees to the tune of about $200.00 a day at .50 per foot. It takes a year to dry a green log after it is peeled and then it is good to peel them again to get the mold off them..... this is not to say a person cannot build with green logs, but shrinkage will get you.

    As a peson who lived in a rock quarry in Colorado for a few months, i seen the neat little cabins built 100 years ago by the quarry miners that are still standing after all those years, and would not hesitate to rework something or build one on my own to live in.... like HJ said its just a jigsaw puzzle. And those cabins i am talking about did not have and mortar in them.... perhaps at the time they had mud but it was just odd size flagstone stacked up as walls and the roofs were hewn lumber/timber from the small pine trees that grew there.

    Read a few things at www.kurtsaxon.com about surviiving on a small amount of dollars to avoid famine, it may come in handy, then outfit yourself with the tools to use his knowledge..... which may mean striking a deal with the current landlord for a other month and taking the higher paying job.... being ready to move into that camp trailer if needed, if they say not an option.

    It sounds as if you have the ability to make a go of it, however you may still need a few extra tools to get the job done, which may be in the form of different knowledge or in the form of actual tooling to make it happen... i dont know, its your decision, examine your options. Where you are moving to may be flooded with folks who are willing to work and nothing is available to any outsider.... i dont know where you are actually headed, i do know that some places are like that... ask "simpleman" here on the forum he is back in Orlando after 3 years in the ozarks.... but everyone is different and so is every place and so are the times..... so many variables.

    Since you are keeping the trailer, is there a RV park where they will rent you the space by the month... is done around here, and the cost nightly is $15, monthly is $300 which includes water, and power, and sewage hookup..... and they have showers.... also our local lions club made 3 hookups available in town for tourists, all they ask is you dont stay more than 2 weeks at a time, and make a donation towards the electric you use... most folks never pay anything.

    Maost pallet wood is thin oak and will shatter when stepped on, is hard to plum up and rots when placed on the ground for any length of time..... there are exceptions to every rule.

    sorry for the length, much more than a couple cents thron in this time but the spirit so moved me.

    William