Alternative Dwelling: Grain Bin Living

This is my first post, so if you are expecting it to be Yvette. It isn’t, its her husband Andy. I have a voice too!

Life has become weird. I seem to have digressed back to an earlier age for me of around 1992, a time of New Age-ism and alternate lifestyles. Gone is the house, most of our possessions, bin days and holidays. Now its a family consisting of Yvette, me, Katy our daughter and two dogs distributed over a wide geographical area.

Yvette is fighting the conditions ‘manfully’ at our new home on the very remote Isle of Gometra, an island so remote that some of the occupants of our neighbouring ‘big brother’ island of Mull have never heard of the place.

Its slightly fitting to use the ‘big brother’ phrase here as from our windows every morning – on a good day – we can see the three Paps (hills) of Jura silhouetted behind the Ross of Mull, the Island where George Orwell. – or to give him his real name, Eric Blair, retreated to after the war to write ‘1984’ in which he coined he phrase along with ‘room 101″.

Katy tells me that her friends from Oban High School, who come from Iona which is an small island very distinct on the horizon to the south of us across six miles of water, had never heard of Gometra. Even our nearest neighbours in terms of travel, on the remote west coast of Mull, say “What Gometra?”, in a way that emphasises that even for them, this is stepping of the map.

But I am not there, not yet. I am here! But where am I? Well that’s a closely guarded secret. A very badly closely guarded secret as the rural area where I am, nothing is secret for very long.

However I am grain bin living and quite enjoying it. Not that Yvette and I have decided to split up or live separate lives, but purely to finish a project that someone else and I thought of about a year ago when he mentioned the idea of building camping pods. I think originally I was tasked to take down one of his old barns that was demolished rather spectacularly one winters night by a storm, but I saw inside the barn, the remains of two twelve foot-wide circular grain bins and I had a thought.

It was slightly helped by the fact that I’d recently read the book ‘Cabin Porn’, in which there is, rather than backwoodmen and women in compromising positions, an mouthwatering range of cabin and alternative housing projects from around the world, and I think the first one was a grain bin conversion.

For those who do not know what a grain bin is, perhaps ‘grain silo’ would be more descriptive, but would perhaps overdo the concept of size. Basically these particular ones are 12 foot circular corrugated steel cylinders that can be any height but these are 12 foot and 18 foot high respectively. They also, and rather conveniently, have slightly conical roofs with round openings at the apex which make perfect skylights for watching the clouds through.

Anyway, I saw these and thought, they would make great things to live in and so we chose a very wet day to sling them underneath the arm of the tractor and move them to their new position near a pool.

And that is where they resided for six months during the worst of last winter, during which the cattle decided they made an excellent shelter also.

Come the summer, I was more able to return and needed to make some money as we had moved to Gometra, where jobs do not exactly grow on trees. (There aren’t many of them anyway). And so we started to convert the bins into something quite unique.

For quite early on, I was interested to see whether or not we could do something different and something I had not seen anywhere else. Single grain bins do make excellent living spaces, but two grain bins bolted together, now that was different!

In the next post I hope to show how they have gone from being cattle shelters to something quite unique.


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