A Family Builds a Log Cabin

Log cabins remind me of what makes America great—the pioneer spirit, the gray area between civilization and the unknown; in other words, the frontier. The nostalgia surrounding log cabins is well-deserved. For me, they never really lost their appeal. The log cabin represented an independent, exploring, adventurous, brave spirit. Today, it represents the same thing. In a way, it may be a little rebellious. The pioneers knew there was something better out there awaiting them.

It’s the same today as it was back then. Today’s “pioneers” know there is a better way to live—that there is more to life than what they’ve become complacent to. People today are longing for what the pioneers had in family life, adventure, and independence. Personally, I don’t have an off-the-grid mindset, but I love some of what it promises.


Recently on Instagram, I posted a picture of my log cabin and received more comments and interaction on that post than I usually do. Maybe just seeing it touched the souls of men and women that long for the peace associated with the life of the pioneers.

Granted, the pioneers had it tough. They had to stay alive without any help! They were forging a path into unknown territory with no food except what they grew, caught, foraged, or harvested. It was worth it to them. For many people today, harkening back to a more sustainable kind of lifestyle seems attractive. Even though they were faced with much danger, the focus of the pioneers was simple: find food and supplies to make shelter and clothing. There is something appealing about that, especially in today’s fast-paced world of technology. Don’t get me wrong, I love the luxuries in today’s world: air conditioning (a huge priority for me here in Alabama; so much that I got the best one I could, off of unclutterer), my stove, electricity, hot water, and even television. But sometimes, I can feel a need to detox from it all.

Scott and I are both pretty high-strung people. We’ve really relaxed through the years, but we are both still pretty accomplishment-oriented. When our kids were all young, we realized that we needed a way to escape the rat-race. So, we built a log-cabin. Yes, I know—something else to accomplish. At the time, we had five kids under ten years old plus one on the way. I remember sweating bullets and chinking the logs in my humongous state, many months along in my pregnancy. One of my daughters kept putting her fingers into the chinking. Her sweet fingerprints are there to this day.

The first step was digging a fresh-water well. To get to a good reservoir, we dug 173 feet. Water makes everything better! Scott ordered white pine timber beams from the Amish in Ohio. He then cut them into the correct lengths to fit the foundation, which was a 30’ x 15’ rectangle. After laying the foundation from the rocks on our land, we had a contractor place the logs with a crane. After the roof went on, my step-dad and Scott cut metal plates for crossbeam support for a loft.

Scott and the boys built out the loft, stairs, interior walls, porches and windows, put in the electrical lines, plumbing lines, and gas lines, and then laid the floors. A septic system was a must, so that went in as well. We all took part in chinking the outside and inside of the cabin, then painted it. After all that, it was time to bring in the kitchen! We bought a propane-powered stove, refrigerator, oven and lights. We added a generator for additional power for the air conditioning. Solar panels were used to charge the battery for the generator. Voila! By George, we had a cabin. The stories those walls could tell.

You can see why this place was so hard to to sell, but what an awesome experience and challenge. My family learned endless lessons and got a great education in building, much like the pioneers did. They learned what hard work and sweat can do—A LOT!

Escaping to our paradise was salvation in many ways. Having such a large family and adding to its number every two years makes for a very full and busy life. Scott and I chose to go against the grain a bit and said “no” to many great things. We limited the kid’s individual activities and in lieu of those, experienced life on our own property. The kids learned all about building, hiking, tracking, and managing the land. I realize now that I owe a lot to that place.  But now that we’ve said goodbye I know we’ve got more discovering and adventure ahead of us and LOTS MORE LIVING TO DO!

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