Let’s Build a Cabin!

May 13, 2021 – Leelanau County, Michigan – Written by Jim.

When we last wrote, we had hopes of exploring a few new spots to us on our way back to Michigan. The weather had other plans, as we had a large snowstorm headed in from the west that threatened to block our path. We picked up the pace and left the southern Michigan storm in our rear view mirrors.

Once we were on our property, we hit the ground running. Our goal this summer is to get as much done as we can on our new cabin! We have been in touch with our subcontractors all winter, and it wasn’t long before Vince and his crew from Peninsula Excavating broke ground.

This is the last photo taken before that took place, about 5 minutes before he showed up. When he walked what we had staked out, he was concerned that the slope on the east side was a bit too close for the walkway we had planned on that side of the house. While he and I were scratching our heads, Diana headed to the other side of the house and eyed the copse of trees that was mostly leaning toward the building site. We quickly decided to get rid of them. Vince pushed one over with his loader and left the rest of them for us to deal with. That allowed us to move the house west 3 feet.

Within a few hours, we had ourselves a big sandbox! Most of it was a sand and gravel mixture with a couple pockets of football-sized glacial rocks.

We even found a large Charlevoix stone! This is actually coral from when Michigan was covered by a shallow sea. This rock is between 250 million and 450 million years old! We think it deserves a place of prominence in our cabin.

Once Vince headed out, we started cutting those trees. There were 11 of them of various sizes, and my intention was to fell them onto the driveway.

Since they were leaning away from the driveway and the wind was blowing from the wrong direction, 10 of the 11 ended up in what will be our bedroom! As the tallest of them was a diseased ash tree, it was a wise move to get rid of them.

Next up was our mason, Jim Ricketts. Here he has our footings formed up and ready. The inspector came first of the following week and approved the open footings, so we were ready for concrete…

…which is now complete. The next step will be for Jim to lay 7 course of block on top of these footings, which we are hoping will take place early next week.

The other thing we’ve been doing is bringing in our materials.

With the price of lumber being so high, we debated painting BRINKS on the sides of our truck! There were several loads like this. We did have the doors and windows delivered, along with the floor I-joists and framing lumber.

It sure is handy having forks for the bucket of our tractor! Those I-joists are 34 feet long and fill our barn from back to front. They just clear the overhead door’s safety beam.

The best story of the start of our build was when we received a call that our cabinets were being delivered. They weren’t supposed to come for another month, so we had to scramble. With the way the supply chain is so hit and miss, we felt it was wise to get them ASAP. They are RTA (ready to assemble) from Lily Ann Cabinets, in Adrian, Michigan. They actually had a showroom in Clearwater, Florida that we visited this past winter. When the rep from the trucking company called, he thought we could easily transfer them from their truck to our trailer. (The trucking company typically delivers curbside, as they are full sized semis). When the actual driver called, he was a bit worried about that idea. Doing that at the end of our driveway was not an option, as our road is on a hill. So we looked for a parking lot. We ended up at Leelanau Fruit Company, a local fruit processing plant. A gentleman walked out with a puzzled look on his face and I explained what we were needing to do and asked permission to use his parking lot. Just then, the truck driver pulled in. The man then ended up talking to the driver, and it was decided between the two of them that he would instead unload them at the dock with a forklift. Once that was completed, he used the forklift to put them on my trailer. These were three pallets of heavy cabinets!

How cool is that? And who was that man? None other than Glenn LaCross, President of Leelanau Fruit Company. Another gentleman who worked there also helped out, and he just happens to live just around the corner from us. Both men have family ties that date back to the mid 1800’s in Leelanau county. We offered to pay him for his time and efforts, but he refused. We made it a point to purchase some products in their online store instead. If you are in the mood for some delicious dark chocolate covered cherries, check out Leelanau Fruit’s website here. They are pretty darned good!

And last but not least, we received our trusses! You may recall last year when we built the barn, the driver wouldn’t attempt to come up our driveway, so she slid them off by the side of the road. We brought them up one at a time with our tractor, as shown in the photo below.

Those were 30 feet long. Well this year, our scissor trusses are a full seven feet longer! Kudos to Barb, the driver from this year, for walking the driveway with me. She really wanted to attempt getting them up the hill with her semi, but she realized she couldn’t make it when she saw the curves in our drive. So, we rigged up the tractor and went at it. Here is a little video of how we started out:

The little John Deere that could! The process of standing the trusses up onto the tractor was everything the two of us could handle (and a tad dangerous), so we came up with Plan B.

I built a 2×4 rack and screwed it to the front of our trailer. That made it so the trusses could clear the back of my truck. Definitely much easier and safer!

I was able to drag them on and off quite easily.

Hopefully we will be able to show some cement block and lumber going up in our next post, so be sure to stay tuned for that! Until then, safe and happy travels to all!

28 thoughts on “Let’s Build a Cabin!”

  1. So exciting! We are excited for you seeing where you are at and where you will be in just a few short weeks. Cannot wait to see the progress. Very nice of that fruit company to unload and load your cabinets for you. Someone that deserves a few orders from your readers for sure!


    1. We had quite a few campfires last year on that little patch of land; it seems unreal to think of our cabin rising up from it! Yes, it would be great if the Leelanau Fruit Company got a few orders!


  2. Wow and more wow. I just adore hearing about these adventures and the details just make me feel like I’m not missing out on this amazing experience! I just about fell over when I saw that rock it is so beautiful and magnificent I can hardly believe it! I am a rock lover for sure and now my Allyson fills her pockets with pebbles too! We sure miss Ms Diana and Mr Jim! Take care and until the next installment of the adventures at… Hey, what is your name for this homestead?! XO🙏🏽

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leelanau County is a rock hunter’s dream, Diane! I’ll bet I have 6 tractor buckets of softball sized or larger rocks from this year’s dig to use for landscaping. Most are sedimentary, which tend to split apart when exposed. Half the time, they reveal a fossil then they crack open! On the name: yes, we do have one, but are holding off on revealing it until a later date. Stay tuned!


  3. Jim and Diana Sounds like you guys have lots of work to do this summer. Love reading about your work on this project. Enjoy your summer and take a day or two to relax from all of your workload. Take care, be well, and stay safe. Fred

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow – I need to visit more often – this is a fascinating process! How wonderful, too, to be able to create your own home in this way. And brave. I’ve known a few people do it over here, but most don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We will be posting about it as we go, Mike. Be sure to follow along! The old houses in the UK are what make your country special! So much charm. Thanks for checking in!


  5. Way to go you two!! Love the “Cabinet” story😍 This is definitely a “Charmed” cabin and labor of love!!! Enjoy the journey…that is what it is all about!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Already creating wonderful memories and you don’t even have a roof yet 🙂 Agree that rock is very special and I know you and Diana will find a perfect spot for it in the new space. Fun to think of having campfires where your new hearth will be. You certainly have an engineer’s mind with all your creative work-throughs. Can’t wait to see it next summer. You’ll be so glad you captured all of these steps in photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was fun stacking the trusses in the order they needed to go up, and I was thinking where each one would be in the house. I’m glad we are having someone else frame the cabin, as I really don’t want to be on that roof. Going up on a scaffold to side it will be high enough for this kid, Jodee. We can’t wait for you to see it!


  7. You’re moving right along. How great to have to so much cooperation with all your deliveries. And how cool was that the president of the company helped out!! The people in Michigan were so nice duirng our few visits. As soon as I saw your photo of the rock I thought it looked like coral. Then to read that it was. Yes, that rock and the others you’ve found need a special display. Looking forward to follwoing your progress.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m reading posts in the wrong order but enjoying none the less. I had to smile at the mention of needing Brinks with your lumber delivery. Prices are really out of this world. Lovely to see the kindness of strangers in action. In turn good of you to share their website.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny story about Leelanau Fruit, Sue. Our bathtub came and we ran into the same issue where our driveway was too steep for a semi. The driver said “I have a pickup at Leelanau Fruit”, so off we went. Glenn was just as gracious as the first time!


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