by Ann Bucholtz
I bought the Little Cabin in 2003. It was a one room 20 x 30 ft. hunting cabin without indoor plumbing or electric and I paid $95,000. Utilities existed at the road about 100 feet from the cabin. My son and I used it as a summer camp cabin and each year I added an upgrade. One year water to a hydrant out back, another year electric to a power pole, another year a septic system. When visiting we would run a 100 ft electric cord to the interior to run a small electric heater (the wood stove was unsafe) and a small refrigerator. The homeowner’s association would not allow a compost toilet system because of my close proximity to the adjacent stream.
When I first bought the cabin, it contained old sleeping mattresses and had a broken window. Mice had moved in and it required deep cleaning to be habitable as a camp cabin. The cabin is situated on nearly 4.5 acres surrounded by National Forest, has year round access and is 3 minutes from a small Western town with amenities. Occasionally, the town runs horses and cattle down main street changing pastures! There is even a local rodeo every weekend in the summer as well as packhorse races for entertainment. Winter brings cross country skiing and animal watching.
In 2008, I added on a 20 x 30 ft addition to include indoor plumbing, a kitchen, a washer-dryer, and a sleeping loft. The contractor chopped down local logs, dried them at the local mill, and hand tied them into the original cabin to make a seamless addition. We refinished the original logs to ease the outside appearance and make it seamless. The addition of a new metal roof improved the fire resistance. We also cleared some adjacent trees and ground fuel. The property is part of the National Forest Firewise program where we manage the trees at the people wilderness interface.
The interior was done with liquidation materials and reused materials from a ReStore. The cabin is heated by a wood burning fireplace with a blower and ceiling fans are utilized to distribute the heat throughout the cabin. The contractor collected branches from the property to create the banister lining the bedroom loft. The ladder leading to the loft serves as a bookshelf as well. Furnishings were obtained from yard sales, Craigslist, and thrift stores. An original TieHack table and chairs that were in the cabin at time of purchase and were refurbished by a local artisan. The addition and improvements cost about $50,000.
Living in the forest brings its own challenges. Mice and rodents are constantly a challenge to keep from invading a property and destroying an interior. Large animals are a challenge to prevent feeding on trash or breaking into the cabin. This is a horse property and there is a corral to keep my horse and ride through the mountains. Plans are to move to the property as a primary residence in retirement.