Cabin - Before

Weekend Homestead: One Year In

By Erin Huffstetler | 10/16/2015 | 10 Comments
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We started working on our weekend homestead just over a year ago, so I thought it would be fun to take a look at at what we’ve gotten done, as well as what we hope to accomplish next.

Remember this hideous before picture? Yeah, you might say the cabin was a bit of a fixer-upper. There wasn’t a back wall; some of the roofing tin had been stolen; and all of the windows had been busted out. But this cabin had one major selling point: it was free. Yep, it was in such bad shape, it was thrown in with the purchase of the land. That was enough to get us to take a closer look at the cabin, and, it turns out, it was actually really well built. So, we came up with a plan to fix it up, and we got to work.

Cabin with Flooring Removed

We patched the roof. We tore up all of the weather-damaged flooring, and replaced it with new.

Back of Cabin - 1 Month In

We built a back wall for the cabin.

Reframed Front Wall

We tore out a rotten section of the front wall, and rebuilt it.

Inside of New Side Wall

We tore out one of the side walls, and rebuilt that, too.

We scoured curb piles and yard sales for replacement windows, and only had to buy four out of the eight windows we needed.

Cabin Floors

Once we wrapped all of those projects up, the cabin was finally closed in. We celebrated by picking up some floor paint (on sale, of course), and painting all the floors a cheerful green.

Finished Side of Cabin

Then, we turned our attention to the outside of the cabin. We’ve been slowly reinstalling all of the oak board and batten siding that the cabin came with.

Cedar Siding Progress

And I’ve been hanging cedar shakes on the backside. It’s cheaper than oak, has a long life, and will age out to match the rest of the siding. I can’t even begin to guess how many nails I’ve driven at this point, but I’m almost done!

Farm Table in Cabin Kitchen

We’ve been furnishing the cabin a bit at a time, mostly with things that we’ve gotten from curb piles, yard sales and thrift stores. Over fall break, the girls and I redid a farm table and a corner cabinet that we rescued from a curb pile.

Living Room Floor

We bought a wood stove for the living room last fall; and I’m hoping we’ll get another one installed in the kitchen this fall.

Well Drilling Rig

When our carpenter bee traps went viral in May, we sold enough to have a well dug on the property. We haven’t bought a pump or run the electrical and plumbing yet, but it’s a step closer to running water.

Since our cabin sits on 35 acres, our progress on the cabin is only part of the story.

The property sat vacant for 11 years, so it’s taken lots of work to get the property whipped back in shape.

Mowed Field

We bought a bush hog last fall, and then an older riding mower in the summer. Those helped us to tame the three cleared acres that sit at the top of our ridge, as well as our hiking trails. After so many years without mowing, the ticks and chiggers were terrible in the beginning. We’ve seen a huge improvement since we’ve been keeping things cut short.

Firewood from Clean Up

I did a bunch of UserTests to save up for a chain saw. It’s gotten plenty of use, since we bought it. Gotta love when cleaning up yields loads of free firewood.

Picnic Table - Repaired

I’ve been looking for several picnic tables for the property, and so far I’ve found two. One came from a thrift store, and the second one (shown here) came from a curb pile. It had one broken board, which we replaced for around $5.

Fire Pit

It sits next to the fire pit that I built out of rocks collected in our woods.


Last week, my husband set up this arbor at one of our trail heads. It was a curb find, too.

Bath House Porch Before

The property came with a tack house (another freebie), which we’re using as our bathhouse. We built a composting toilet (that probably deserves its own post sometime), but otherwise we haven’t done much else to that building yet. We did, however, replace the bathhouse porch, recently.

New Bath House Porch

All of the wood for the new porch came out of a curb pile. Pretty nice find.

How to Grow Mushrooms on a Log

Over fall break, I set up two towers of mushroom logs in the woods. This is our first farm project of many to come.

And that’s pretty much what we’ve gotten done over the last year. Before I go on to what we hope to accomplish next, I’d like to take a minute to discuss the speed at which we’re tackling this project. There are so many websites that show these miraculous transformations that seem to happen over night. They’re fun to witness, but let’s face it: unless you have deep pockets or a strong stomach for debt, that just isn’t realistic for most of us. So, this will never be that type of project. We’re tackling things as we have the time and money to do so. Sometimes I wish we had more done (mostly I wish we were on to the fun finishing work), but there’s a lot to be said for the slow approach. When you have to work hard for each step, it makes you appreciate things more.

What We’re Going to Work on Next

We have a couple big projects coming up, that we’ll be tackling as money allows.

When the previous owners put the roof on the cabin, they didn’t install any decking under the tin. The roof does its job of keeping the rain out, but in the fall/winter when it’s cold outside and warm inside, condensation builds up on the underside of tin, and drips on everything, including us. We’re going to remove the existing tin, put down sheathing and then install new tin.

Once we knock this off of our to-do list, we’ll be able to insulate the walls, and we’ll finally be able to bring our thrifted leather sofa up to the cabin.

A friend of ours offered to help us wire the cabin for free (it’s part of what he does for a living). Once we’ve dealt with the roof, we plan to take him up on his offer. We’ve been buying electrical supplies for a while now. I’ve also been scooping up finishing materials, so we’ll be ready to tackle the walls once the electrical work is done. I can’t wait to show you what I have planned.

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  1. wow, girl, you have come a longggg way!!! great job too. cant wait to see it when its finished.

    will you be planting a garden in the spring? y’all have quite a find there.

    take care, stay safe and warm. cant wait til the next post!

    • Thanks, Sue. And yep, I think we’ll probably start our garden there next spring. I’m eager to get an herb garden going, and can’t wait to start an orchard. So many plans!

  2. The transformation of the cabin is stunning. I actually thought you might have to knock the old existing structure down and start from scratch. Marvelous job Erin.

    God bless.

    • Thanks. Yep, it was in really rough shape when we started. I think we were probably the only people who thought it didn’t need to be knocked down 🙂

  3. LOVE the summary of the past year! We are PROUD of you!! I must confess – I was one of those who said “you need to just bulldoze that piece of house down”. Glad you proved me wrong!!

  4. I’m so impressed at what you’ve accomplished so far. I know it feels like slow going to you but from my observational perspective you’re making amazing progress at a great clip!

  5. Wow!! What an amazing (and very cool) transformation. Can’t wait to see more progress. You should be very proud of yourselves!

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