Jon Anderson—Red Wing, Minnesota
I was born, bred, and raised in the great white winter wasteland—Minnesota—within a clan of narcoleptic Swedes who had an inexplicable fondness for the unique taste and snot-like texture of Lutefisk (Cod soaked in lye). Delicacies such as salad made using green Jell-O, carrots, Miracle Whip, and marshmallows as ingredients served with a side order of SPAM kabobs, were commonplace in our household. As you might have guessed, preservation of one's sanity under such harsh conditions required extraordinary measures, which in my case centered around consumption of alcoholic beverages and a wide array of pharmaceutical substances.
These days, I spend my weekends and employ both functioning brain cells building a hand-scribed log cabin—The Stump Ranch—on 40 acres in northern Minnesota
When I decided to build a log cabin, I was clueless. I wasn't much of a carpenter, I had never operated a chainsaw, and I was certainly not known for my mechanical aptitude. However, on occasion, folks have said that I am somewhat obsessive, extremely persistent, and when I decide on something, there really is no changing my mind. These are exactly the characteristics required of a guy or gal on a mission to build a log cabin.
The Stump Ranch is a dream, she lives just beyond my psyche—wanting, longing—she is integrated with the woods, she sits high up on a bluff, she is so close to the lake, she can feel the waves lapping up on the shore. Yet, The Stump Ranch is tucked back where no one goes—no one knows. I built her with my own hand. She stands sturdy; she stands tall. And, 100 years from now, she will still be standing
The Stump Ranch is unique in that she sits a few miles back in the woods and there is no way to get a vehicle any closer than a mile or two. Access is by foot, snowshoe, or ATV, which clearly makes logistics a challenge. This location makes even the easy tasks quite time consuming as you have to haul or skid in everything you might need. However, the pay back is peace and solitude. No one bothers me. There are no building inspectors, no neighbors, and no casual visits. To get to the Stump Ranch, you have to want to get there. To find us, you will spend a few hours hiking the woods and you best know how to navigate with your compass, otherwise you will find yourself hiking in circles. We have no use for the tourist type that drive up in their big-ass-Buick, sporting their high-waist Bermuda shorts and Polaroid shades, who expect to experience nature within a foot or two of their V8.
I've always wanted a cabin–wild, remote, and handmade. A structure crafted by one's own hands: the design developed from my thoughts and my desires. A building that when you slow down enough to listen and think, you can clearly see and feel the harmony between nature and the structure. Things fit; everything feels right.
My choice was hand-scribed log cabin construction. This was an excellent choice, except I had never done any ax work, I had never fired up a chainsaw, I didn't own a chisel, and I thought an adze was something you might encounter in a dark alley sometime after midnight. Yet, with a little persistence, a little desire, and the willingness to listen and learn, I was able to develop the skills and expertise necessary to build The Stump Ranch. If I can build it, anyone can.