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]

Tiny House in a Landscape

tiny house in a turnip field

Our Tiny House in a Landscape photo is from Hugh Wolfe. Not really a house, but it’s still a small structure which could be a house… well it would need a good bit of work… it’s in the middle of a farmers field (turnips).

Morning fog 10/19/14…

Fog lazily rolling around the neighborhood motivated a five minute drive to a favorite photo location which I’ve shot previously, *Out amongst the turnips* https://plus.google.com/116041918731282968084/posts/LQ7QYJJWshh

Literally sitting on the berm of the road listening for approaching vehicles I took several composures but preferred this one for the Queen Ann Lace in the foreground…

Post processing brought out the desire to create alternative images, one using Macphun’s Tonality Pro and another more traditional B&W with NIK’s Silver Efex Pro…

Enjoy?

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Yurt Life

Our good friends and fellow cruisers Eben and Genevieve Stolz live aboard Necesse, a 41′ Morgan Classic sailboat, with their two little girls Arias and Ellia. They share a passion for simplicity and adventure traveling the world with their tiny floating home.

I was reading Genevieve’s blog, It’s A Necessity, and discovered a recent trip they made to visit Eben’s brother Jair, and his family up at their mountain property in Golden, British Columbia.

Jair and his wife Mel have built a yurt, fully equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, wood burning stove, a bedroom and a loft. They haul their water, live off of solar power, their toilet is not your regular flush toilet, their shower is bucket fed and they are living completely off the grid while they save up enough money to build themselves an Earthship.

The following article featuring the Stolz Family Yurt was originally published by Genevieve Stolz <HERE>. Article and photos republished on Tiny House Blog with permission. *All pictures courtesy of Jair Stolz.

Yurt Life Revisited. By Request.

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It seems there has been some great interest in how our other Stolz family lives, yurt style. It is true that against our better judgment, when we come across something new and strange, what do we do? We gawk at it. So let me allow you to gawk at the yurt in the privacy of your living room.

In my original post on Yurt Life I gave a brief glimpse at how my brother-in-law Jair, his wife Mel, and their two kids, Nova and Asher, are living. They have chosen to live as off-the-grid as possible, and found the yurt to be an ideal home as they save money up to upgrade to building their Earthship. To live in a yurt you don’t have to love yak fat or be a hipster-woodsman, although Jair’s beard did get slightly out of hand at one point. They chose it because it was a cheap alternative, an eco-friendly way of living, and it is cool as heck.

Like everything else in life, having good contacts is a huge bonus. With the help of friends that own a lumber yard, and many friends for manual labor, they managed to save a fair bit of money in the building process. They built it from scratch.

I’m sure that many people would consider a yurt a “tiny home” but with the main floor being around 800 square feet with an additional 100 sq feet of loft space this place isn’t actually that small. And its about 24ft tall from the ground to the tip, which gives you that vaulted ceiling airiness.

One of the things that struck me when seeing this place was the amount of cross pieces required to make the wall portion. Here I thought they had bought them pre-made and just had to bolt them together, but I was totally wrong. They have 125 cross pieces making up the inner wall, each with 9 holes drilled in to them. That means Mel and her friend Dee had to stand at the drill press for hours perfectly aligning every one of these holes. That’s insane!

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The women, hard at work at the drill press.

It took them about 3 months from start to “move in”, and then follow up, of course, the smaller random jobs that they can accomplish while living in the yurt. Jair equated the time to: building the base = 1.5 months of lazy work, the walls = 2 weeks of lazy work, the roof = 1 afternoon with 6 friends helping, and the insulation and cover = 4 long @#* days. And for a little extra motivation to get er’ done while they were building their yurt, they squeezed their family into a 30ft trailer as a temp home.

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The temp trailer settlement while the yurt was underway.

Since they were willing to put in the hard work to build this place themselves, and to take the time to look for good deals, they built their home for about $13K. That was for everything from the gravel underneath, to the solar power, to the yurt cover (which is actually a slightly modified vinyl cone-shaped grain bin cover). And don’t assume that you couldn’t do it because you don’t have the know how. Neither did Jair, but the Stolz men are industrious. They will learn what they don’t know and make it happen. They are amazing like that.

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If this scenario seems dreamy to you and you are keen on doing the same, there are a few things to keep in mind before you jump in head first.

Yes, it is dreamy, they are living up in the woods, with no one around, living off the earth and sun, and doing what they find important for their family. But like boating and many other “odd” lifestyles, living off the grid comes with some harder duties that may not be for everyone. Such as hauling a bucket of your poop out of the house to the compost area, lugging jugs of water in and trying to conserve it (meaning shorter showers, and efficient dish washing), or using a smaller solar power system, restricting you in your energy usage, and totally denying you the use of anything with a heating element (goodbye toast) or plugging in your diesel truck on freezing Canadian mornings. It is hard work but satisfying in a wholesome kind of way.

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The temporary bathroom, until it could be relocated to inside the yurt.

What did they not expect about the yurt life:

The beautiful snowy wonderland that surrounded them last winter, in the mountains near Golden, had them walking a lot more than foreseen. The entire driveway up to their place is about 1.5km long, but with the snow, the last 500 meters of that was completely impassable for about a 2 month period. They had to park their cars at that 500 meter mark and use a snow machine, quad, and their legs to get to and from their yurt. Even their 4×4 was useless. There was just too much of the white fluffy stuff.

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It was a neat experience getting to stay in their yurt and seeing all the similarities that yurt life has to boat life; just swap out snow for ocean. And it is nice to know that if ever we get real sick of what we are doing, there is always the “winter getaway” option.

If you have more specific questions about what and how Jair and Mel did all this, feel free to ask and I will try and get the answers for you.

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The base being built, after the gravel was put in.

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Choosing the view for the kitchen window.

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For more articles and photos from the Stolz Family, be sure to ‘LIKE’ It’s A Necessity on Facebook <HERE>!

Would you live in a yurt? Leave a comment!

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]