DIY







Building a Homestead: A Dream Come True

Life is grand for the Stevenson’s. They have a handmade log cabin, a barnyard full of animals and 10 forested acres.

| February/March 2006

  • Ronnie’s son, Casey, and her nieces enjoy taking rides in the donkey-drawn cart.
    RONNIE AND TOM STEVENSON
  • Ronnie Stevenson on horseback.
    PHOTO: RONNIE AND TOM STEVENSON
  • The completed log cabin.
    RONNIE AND TOM STEVENSON
  • Glory the dog watches over the chicks.
    RONNIE AND TOM STEVENSON
  • Tom Stevenson holds a newborn donkey.
    RONNIE AND TOM STEVENSON
  • Bernard loves to play football.
    RONNIE AND TOM STEVENSON
  • Casey and Alyssa Stevenson hold old truck springs used to peel logs for the cabin.
    RONNIE AND TOM STEVENSON
  • Daisy May with her foal, Samson.
    RONNIE AND TOM STEVENSON
  • Ronnie Stevenson, who delivered Samson, gives him a kiss on the nose.
    RONNIE AND TOM STEVENSON
  • Barnyard high jinks.
    RONNIE AND TOM STEVENSON
  • Bernard pulls the cart.
    LIZ KROEGER
  • One of the cats sits on Bernard to get out of the snow.
    RONNIE AND TOM STEVENSON

Seven years ago, my husband, Tom, and I were living in Merrill, Wis., with our children, Alyssa and Casey, when we decided to buy a piece of forested land. At that time, we were just looking for a place nearby where we could build a cabin and spend weekends, but we ended up with a year-round home. We now live on 10 beautiful acres in a log cabin that we built ourselves. We also keep animals, including donkeys and chickens. We love living a quiet life nestled in these huge timbers; the time for reflection suits us perfectly.

We found this place during a long search for just the right property. To decide if you want to buy a piece of land, you really have to walk across it, because you never know if the perfect building spot will be just over the next hill or on the other side of a swamp. The type of land we were looking for had to have enough trees to construct a log cabin.

Building a Homestead Cabin

Soon after we finally found and purchased our dream property, we started building the cabin. It took us two years to complete it — working mainly on weekends — and the finished result is about 600 square feet.

Tom had enough building experience to know exactly what needed to be done to build the cabin. Together, Tom, his brothers and some of our new neighbors selected and cut down about 60 aspen trees. Aspen wood starts out fairly soft, but after it is cut, it dries until it becomes brick hard. We peeled off the bark using old truck springs — the stripped trees smelled wonderful! After the wood had dried for a year, a friend brought over his portable sawmill and sawed the slabs off the logs on three sides. We later used some of the slabs to frame the windows inside the cabin.



Tom stacked the cut logs on the perimeter of the foundation — with a strip of foam insulation between each one — and drilled a spike down into the other logs to hold them together. We were able to save money by collecting used windows and doors for the cabin. Our roof is metal, which is wonderful when it rains — we can sit and listen to the patter of the raindrops.

Moving In

Our decision to live in the cabin year-round came about three years ago, when Tom had lost his job and we needed to quickly consider our future plans. Moving into the cabin seemed like the natural next step, and we feel very fortunate that everything worked out the way it did. Tom now works about 45 minutes away, and our son, Casey, goes to high school in nearby Phillips, Wis. Our daughter, Alyssa, is in college now and lives in Milwaukee.






mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: October 13-14, 2018
Topeka, KS

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE









Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard
Free Product Information Classifieds