walden sign

I’m reading this series of articles by Lou Ureneck about him building a cabin in the woods of western Maine. In the one called “Building a Home for Another Life,” from December 10, he hasn’t finished the foundation and they have already had two snows.

I have wanted to build a cabin since I read Walden in eighth grade.

I had sent for plans, read articles on it, even sent away for those brochures on buying cheap land in Montana from the back of magazines, all before I had graduated high school.

But, I never bought the land and never built the cabin.

I agree with him that you build a cabin for “the satisfaction of making something with your own hands and the joy of living simply and close to nature, even if it’s just on weekends.”

A few years a go I built a stone wall along our driveway. It took me weeks to do. From clearing away piles of dirt by hand with a wheelbarrow hauling crushed stone and fitting together the stones one by one to fit correctly.  I enjoyed it very much. I especially liked figuring out how to make the squares and rectangles form a smooth curve as it neared the house, and building two stone steps. I stared at those stones and that imaginary curve for hours. Very pleasant.

He’s not the only one chronicling this kind of thing online. I found another site by Mark van Roojen. He’s a professor of philosophy at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. He teaches  metaethics, ethics and political philosophy. And he’s building a timber frame cabin in the Sierra Madres. (That’s his photo at the top.) I’ll bet he could tell me something about the Zen (or zen) of cabin building.

And Mark’s site directed me to Bob at wolfcreekcabin.blogspot.com who is beginning a timber frame cabin project in Montana and another  in Idaho that is well on its way.

Everyone is building a cabin but me.

I can’t see me doing any chainsaw milling like these guys. In fact, the more I look online, the more complicated this gets.

There’s the Timber Framers Guild , and www.HouseBlogs.net, the more ambitious Housebuilding Illustrated, Cedar Ridge Farm, a Bungalow Blog and the Massie House Timberframe blog too.

I think all I really need is something like the little 16 x 24 Michigan Cabin below.


After all, I wanted this as a way to help simplify my life. You know, my weekend escape, not my retirement home.

My friend Steve says I need to think about a tipi and sends me a link to some that has tipi that look bigger inside than the first floor of my house!

Or maybe I should buy a yurt.

But I don’t want portable. I want permanent. I want to build it, not assemble it.

Back to Lou – he’s writing that series, From the Ground Up, for The New York Times. Not exactly Mother Earth News, so I’m guessing that there are a bunch of other armchair cabin builders out there.

What would Thoreau do?

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