Yaak, Montana: “A River Runs Through It”

350,000  2 acres  Woody Chain 

You are looking at Woody Chain’s Yaak Homestead, set up as a retreat in the remote Northwest corner of Montana. James Rawles and the Redoubt movement are a part of the inspiration behind this property as well as my decision to leave the rat race and build a business helping others become more self-reliant. Our Homestead is perfect for anyone seeking the beauty of the wilderness, solitude, and off-grid sustainability.

This home is professionally built as an Energy Star Passive Solar Design, meaning that it collects heat as the sun shines on the south face of the building and retains that heat in its materials. As a result, part of the home’s heating, cooling, and lighting energy comes directly from the sun. The South facing solar room, a beautiful addition, is designed to be used as a greenhouse or a family room/office. The exterior is low maintenance, made from Western Red Cedar shiplap, and a well-insulated R-36 roof and floor combine with R19 walls to make for easy heating in the sub-zero winter weather.

Inside, the open modern floor plan provides a light, airy feel and comfortable living space, with large vinyl sliding windows providing excellent views and ventilation in the summer, while maintaining warmth in the winter. The bathroom has been remodeled and includes a Jacuzzi bathtub with heater. The kitchen has a large refrigerator and electric range (both of which can use LPG), as well as a wood cookstove installed nearby. The orientation of the house is also set to take advantage of the sun’s position in the winter, in order to keep heating demands low. Combined with in-floor radiant heating and ceramic tile throughout, the home is very comfortable in the winter as the floors are always warm.

The home is equipped with an NTI Trinity Combi 150 LPG super-efficient hot water boiler, which also heats the domestic hot water. The domestic hot water can also be tied into a solar hot water system, and is pre-plumbed to do so in the future. A 1000 gallon LPG underground storage tank keeps the cost of LPG low, in addition to keeping the tank protected in the event of a wildfire. Average fuel use per winter to maintain 70 degree temperatures is about 500 gallons.

A woodstove provides you with peace of mind and additional warmth. There is also a 40,000 BTU Austroflamm Integra European free-standing gas stove that is thermostatically controlled to turn on in the event of a power outage, and will keep the place from freezing until the power returns.

The home is wired for the grid, which runs to the property, and is a grid-tied home with 240 volts 200 amp service. There are six phone lines in the home, as we ran our own business (Obadiah’s Woodstoves & Alternative Energy) from within the home. The home can also effectively take advantage of wireless internet access, perfect for those who can work from anywhere and want to stay connected.

Importantly, if you lose power from the grid, you won’t even know it. In the event of a grid power failure, the inverter automatically turns on and runs on batteries until the power returns. This is a hybrid Grid/Off-Grid alternative energy system: If the grid totally fails, a diesel generator with 1000 gallons of fuel combined with the solar system can keep the lights on for several years.

The water that flows from the faucets in this home comes from a private well and is some of the best water you will ever drink. When it was first tested, the testing company called us back and asked, “Where did you get this from? It’s the most perfect water we have ever tested and is bottled water quality.” The pH is perfect, the mineral content is perfect and no water softener or other purification is necessary.

Montana has long been known for its quality water, and you won’t be disappointed by both the drinkable and recreational kinds: The river that flows alongside the property is picturesque and reminiscent of “A River Runs Through It” (an Academy Award-winning film about Montana, starring Brad Pitt). There’s a swimming hole right in front of the homestead that provides a cool, relaxing place for you and yours to frolic in and cool off during the summer. A small waterfall at the base of the hill, less than 100′ from the home, provides a light tranquil sound of rushing water 24/7 during the spring, summer, and fall.

Also outside is a redwood hot tub, running on wood-fired heat with a LPG back-up boiler, that sits on the edge of the hill and perfectly overlooks the river. An enclosed pump house provides for access to the wood-fired boiler while keeping you out of the weather when you tend to the fire, and is set-up for solar hot water to be installed in the future. A nearby bath house with an enclosed 4×6′ cedar sauna is another place to warm your bones and melt off any stress of this modern world we all try to live in. Staying stress free and healthy is important to the quality of life we enjoy, and this homestead makes sure that you have plenty of ways to do just that.

In addition to all of this, a finished guest cabin sits on the property. Built in 2010, this cabin is finished to a high quality and has a gas fireplace, wood cookstove, and electric heat. It also contains a bathroom with shower and a small kitchen, great for guests or as a rental for extra income. Three other outbuildings provide additional space for the generator and battery bank, as well as the inverter. One outbuilding can be utilized as a small workshop, and there are two additional structures used for storage, one of which could easily be converted into a bunkhouse.

The property is situated with over 1000′ of river frontage on one side and a great view to the south, where you sit on a bluff overlooking a valley with the neighbor’s homestead and garden area. This bluff sits at the base of a mountain, 20′ above the North Fork of the Upper Yaak River (which flows from Canada less than a few miles upstream) and flood plain, keeping you out of harm’s way while still on flat land. You have a perfect southern exposure for additional greenhouses and places to plant gardens. In fact, the lower bench of land next to the river is some of the blackest, richest soil you will find anywhere and perfect for your summer gardens. To the north you have another 1000′ feet of forest frontage, part of the Kootenai National Forest that can be explored as often as you like, which creates a little park/amphitheater setting right in your own yard. The property forms a 2 acre pie-shape that connects to the millions of surrounding acres in the national forest, wooded with Douglas Fir, Larch, and a sprinkling of Lodgepole Pine.

The Yaak valley is serviced by Life Flight and we cleared a landing pad less than 600 yards from the property so that helicopters can land nearby. Medical response in the area is rapid despite the remoteness, thanks to several nearby Life Flight bases (Sandpoint, Coeur d’Alene, and Spokane). Our friendly neighbors also include a registered nurse, a veternarian, and a world-renown heart surgeon.

Make no mistake, this is the wilderness. You are three miles south of the Canadian border and have Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho, to the west; Libby and Troy, Montana, to the south; and Eureka, Montana, to the east. All of these towns are at least one hour away with ideal road conditions (which are rare from November through February). Hospitals are located in Bonner’s Ferry and Libby, while emergency medical centers and airports are found in Kalispell, MT and Spokane, WA, each about three hours away. If you prefer not to fly, Amtrak train services run through Libby.

This homestead may be in the wilderness, but the few neighbors you do have here are friendly and look out for each other, without ever being intrusive. Better yet, they are hardy and self-sustaining, with the Montana “can do” spirit that makes this the perfect environment for a retreat or get-away home. The Survival Homestead is for sale today, and you won’t find a better way or place to live.