Bootjack Cabin

The story of a young couple (and a baby) building a modern cabin off the grid in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Cabin Hospitality

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You come to us and we’ll make you dinner.

This has been our motto this winter. Our little man heads to bed and our friends make the trek to our cabin. We’ve had friends from San Francisco, from Madison, from London, and of course from Calumet. It’s been a treat each time to break bread with these friends, to share a sauna and enjoy the quiet winter evenings. If you’re within drivable distance from our neck of the woods, stop by. We’ll feed you and we love the company.

Alone in the Woods with a Baby.

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We live surrounded by beauty. Deer wander up to the cabin, the snow keeps falling and it’s so quiet that you can hear your own heartbeat. This is indeed serenity. But it is also tremendous isolation. This is where I’m learning how to be a mother to four month old Abel Wilder. It is both wonderful and incredibly difficult. We are still figuring each other out, the newness causing many moments of humor, frustration, anxiety, exhaustion, and immense joy. Like many mothers I am with my son day and night every day, every week. Caleb works from home which is such a blessing, but I’m still in charge of the little guy all day. Our days are spent watching him grow and learn, keeping up with our cabin chores, and spending hours trying to get Abel Wilder to sleep. I can’t tell you how many lifetimes I’ve spent in this corner of the cabin, rocking, hushing, swaddling and nursing our son. We have a one room cabin with huge windows – not exactly conducive to nap time. But each day I’m getting better. I am learning to let go of expectations, enjoy the moment and constantly change tactics. Most of all I’m learning how to relax and take it a day at a time.

Town is 16 miles away so usually getting out if the house means going for a walk or a snowshoe. On tough days, I put Abel Wilder in the carrier, strap on my snowshoes and head for the trees. He is truly a child of the north. Nothing settles him like the crisp winter air, the shush of my feet in the snow, and the motion of my body. This little boy will have acres of woods to play in. Just thinking of that makes me smile.

Salt Cured Egg Yolks: Part 1

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I’ve never had a cured egg yolk, but being a fan of cured things in general I couldn’t resist trying. A quick google lead me to try a simple 50/50 salt-sugar mix. I will leave the yolks in the curing mix in the fridge for about 24 hrs and then hang them in cheesecloth at room temp for a week or two until they are firm.

Happy Vernal Equinox

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On the first day of Spring, we’ve received one of the largest snowfalls of the year. In 24 hours we got about 24″ of snow. That is 2 feet! (or .6 meters for the rest of the world). I went to get firewood last night and sank to my knees in new snow. It is really amazing. When we put our dachshund Tugboat outside, she completely disappears. We easily have a total of 4-5 feet of snow on the ground right now.

But I say, Let it Snow! We are well stocked on food and firewood, we don’t have any business in town, and the giant windows of the cabin make it a perfect place to watch the snow fall. This evening we will have a sauna, jump in a snow bank, then snuggle up with a cup of tea and a fun show or good book. Being snowbound in the cabin is one of the most pleasant things I can think of.

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Free Cabin Plans from the USDA

USDA Cabin SketchThis summer I would like to find the time to build myself a “free building.” Our one room cabin is wonderful and cozy, but since I work from home and we have a very happy (and vocal) baby, a second place to work and to provide lodging for guests would be nice.

The plan is loose. We had a lot of snow this winter and I’ve seen several collapsed outbuilding in the area so I think I can scavenge and recycle most of the materials I will need. The limitation of free  will make it a fun challenge and will force the materials to drive the design. It will be modest building probably not bigger than 20×20 with a simple gabled roof.  Once the Spring hits, I will be out driving around collecting what I can and spending my evenings and weekends building myself a shack. It might actually turn out.

A Frame Plans

A Frame Plans

 

While thinking about the design I found a massive list of free cabin and house plans provided by the USDA. They are not complete building plans, but something to get you started. Some of them date back to the 1930s.  Its not just cabins, there are plans for a wood box, a fall out shelter, even sketchy plans for a parking lot.

Check it out: Free Cabin Plans from the USDA

Lake Superior in February

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I love that we live 3 miles from this.

Winter in the Cabin

Sausage Fest

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Some friends from Madison came to visit and brought some of the best sausages and cheese we’ve had in a while. I am inspired to get a small curing chamber up and running.

Lightening the Load

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Shoveling the roof.

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Though we built our cabin roof to withstand up 90 pounds per square foot, well above code, I am doing a bit of shoveling today. It’s a nice afternoon and takes some stress off the building.