Russ-Stick Farm Tiny Houses

Russ and Sherry may be familiar to anyone who reads the farming magazine and blog, Grit. The Michigan couple are known for the Russ-Stick Ramblings column which was named after their 40 acre Russ-Stick Acres farm where they live with their Alaskan and Siberian sled dogs in a small cordwood house named the Wee House. The 300 square foot Wee House has been their home for several years, but after last season’s harsh winter is due for a makeover, which they will cover in their blog.

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The Wee House in winter

Along with the Wee House, Russ and Sherry have an outhouse called the Wee Wee House, a summer kitchen, a meditation house named the Trapper, a guest house named the Bear’s Den and a small pump house—all built by Russ. All the homes are heated by wood stoves and The Bear’s Den is available for rent during winter months for $45 per night.

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Russ, one of his goats and the Trapper house

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The Bear’s Den

Russ plans to extend the Wee House to include an underground portion and even some space for their chickens and rabbits, who live on the farm with the couple’s lambs, horses, Silver Fox rabbits, goats, cows and pigs. Russ-Stick Acres also produces maple syrup, firewood and Amish made products including jams, rugs, bird houses and quilts. Their Grit column cover everything from animal husbandry to country recipes.

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Photos courtesy of Russ-Stick Acres

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Don’s Ash Cabin

Update new photo below 4/11/14

Don Richmond wrote me the other day about his cabin project and I wanted to share it with you. Here is Don’s story.

I was stunned by the similarity of the House of Fallen Timbers story to my own. I live in rural Southeast Lower Michigan, and my 2.25 acres has been ravaged by the ash borer problem. So last winter I had quite a few dead ash trees to cut down and clean up. Like David, I had plenty of burning wood, and I was afraid they would start falling down and causing (safety) problems, and I was also tired of how bad they looked, as well as having to clean up all the shed during windy conditions. But I got to looking at them, and at how many “straight” sections of log they had in them, and I thought “Hmmm…crazy idea, but I wonder if I could build a small log cabin from the straight pieces.” I also had seen Dick Proenneke’s PBS special, and was impressed that a single person could do that.

So on January 2nd of 2010, I started cutting down trees. A friend helped me, a guy who burns wood for heat, and I told him that if he helped me cut them down and cut them up, he could have all the crooked stuff to burn. It took a while, but we got them all cut down and stacked the straight ones in drying piles, and he got quite a few loads of excellent firewood out of the deal, which I helped him cut to burning size pieces and load onto his trailer. He was happy, and so was I.

Making a long story short, it’s 11 months later now, and I have ended up with an ash log cabin. The only thing I have left is to install the stove pipe so I can burn wood for heat in my Grandfather’s 1887 wood stove that I have in there.

The costs for building were minimal, as I attempted to (and took great pride in) using resources and materials I had already laying around or could recycle from other sources I could find. I did buy some things, like the USB sheets for the roof and floor, 3 insulation rolls to stuff between logs, hinges/handle for the door, but that’s about it. It was a great project, and I learned a lot, and gained great appreciation for the pioneers who did this type of thing for their families to provide them with shelter. I also pretty much did it solo. Besides the friend helping me cut down the trees and stack the logs, one other friend came one Saturday and did some odds and ends – peeling some logs, doing some notching, etc… – more because he was excited about what I was doing and wanted to learn how to do some of those things than out of necessity. Other than that, I did the rest myself, including the nut-busting-back-breaking moving around of VERY heavy hardwood logs. Luckily, I got through it without any big accidents, though not without some scary moments, particularly getting the real big logs up to higher and higher levels.

So I just wanted to share some thoughts and ideas on our projects. Congratulations on your own completions. I share and understand your efforts, and give you credit for all your work.

Sincerely,

Don Richmond
drichmond (at) altair.com

New photo of patio below.

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Appalachian Trail Shelters

In an initial armchair approach to preparing for some longer and tougher hiking trails (I’m starting to train for Mount Whitney), I’ve been reading some great books on people tackling the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail. The popular book “Wild” was fun, but I am really enjoying “Awol on the Appalachian Trail” by David Miller.

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David’s 2003 hike is documented in this beautifully written story that really brings the trail to life. He also goes into details about his “homes” along the trail since he rarely used a tent: the AT shelters that dot the 2,172 mile long passage across the mountain range. There are around 250 backcountry shelters along the trail where both section and thru-hikers can stay for free. Most of them are basic and open to the elements, but some are actually beautifully constructed and take advantage of views, light and airflow. Most of the shelters are near a creek or a stream and some have a privy or basic toilet nearby. They are kept clean and in shape by hikers and trail volunteers.

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The Long Branch Shelter in North Carolina. Photo by Hikinginthesmokys.com.

Most of the shelters have basic sleeping platforms, but no cots or beds. Food is either kept away from bears and other critters in boxes or hung from strings on the ceilings. Some shelters have picnic tables and food prep areas and most of them do not allow open campfires.

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The Icewater Spring shelter in North Carolina. Photo by Deep Creek Cabin Rental.

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A shelter in the Matane Wildlife Reserve, an extension of the International Appalachian Trail. Photo by the Ottawa Rambling Club.

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A shelter in Rangeley Lakes, Maine. Photo by Rangeley-Maine.

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The Derrick Knob shelter in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo by Wikipedia.

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The John Springs shelter in Virginia. Photo by Virginia Places.

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The Chestnut Knob Shelter in Virginia. Photo by Barbara Council and path-at.org.

 

Top photo: William Penn Shelter. Photo by White Blaze.net.

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]