Farm Update


This is a picture of my gg grandparents log cabin where they lived and raised a 7 children. This cabin was located just 10 miles from our current farm.

This is a picture of my gg grandparents log cabin where they lived and raised a 7 children. This cabin was located just 10 miles from our current farm.

First off, I want to apologize for not posting anything for a while. Lately, I have been feeling like a ship with out a rudder. It’s because I can’t make up my mind on what type of housing we want to build on the farm when we start to build a year from now. My wife said she is fine with the what ever we build so its just me who can’t decide. I know a lot of you follow this blog because of the pole barn house that we have planned to build from the start, and we still might build it, but it hasn’t always been my first choice for housing. I have always loved log homes like my great great grandparents built in 1865 in the picture above. I just thought the price of these would be out of the picture for us, but after a lot of research I have found some options that make it more affordable to us. It will still cost at least 30,000 more to build than a pole barn house, mostly because of the basement we would put under the log home.

This classic look of an old log cabin from yesteryear.

This classic look of an old log cabin from yesteryear.

This log home is from Meadow Valley Log Homes out of Wisconsin and for about 47,000 they will deliver this to our location in Iowa and build just the log walls, second floor log floor joists, and log stairs. It will look a lot like the pictures below when they get done.

03-08-02b 03-08-02e

Before they come there to build the home my wife and I would have to build the subfloor deck and porches on our basement foundation like below

Then after Meadow Valley built the shell, we would have to put in the rafters, roof sheeting, and roofing material and then put in the windows and doors. We are planning to start this next September and we would have to get it weather tight before winter hits.

This option is only affordable if we do the rest of the work ourselves. My only concern is will my 60-year-old body be up to the task.

I still don’t know which direction we are going to go yet, but I know time is running out and I will have to make up my mind one way or the other by the end of October this year. I will keep you all informed.

About Gordon Milligan

I am a retired conductor for a commuter railroad in Chicago IL, I now live in and have bought a 40 acre farm in South Central Iowa that I have built from the ground up. My wife and I are trying to raise and grow most of my own food using sustainible and organic methods. I have a blog that journals my journey to becoming a farmer.
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20 Responses to Farm Update

  1. misguidedute says:

    I love the looks of the log cabins, but if you have to chink the walls every few years it can be a lot of work.

  2. Thanks for responding Jon, you are right the maintenance you have to do on log homes are one of its draw backs. You have to re-stain a log home ever 4 to 5 years and redo the chinking if it calls for it. This one wouldn’t use chinking but does need to be caulked between the logs with an oil based caulk. This is one of the disadvantages over a pole barn house which wouldn’t need any outside maintenance.

  3. Jewels says:

    Sorry you’re having such a tough time figuring out what type of housing to build on your farm Gordon. Although I don’t know all that it would entail… gosh, it would be an absolute dream to have a log home! Wishing you the best, and some clarity as you weigh out all of your options…

    • Thanks Julie, its mine dream too for a log home even though it will be more maintenance. I know my great grandfathers place didn’t use any stains or sealers. He probably just had to re-chink every few years and that log home lasted for almost a hundred years. The key is to have good over hangs to help protect the logs from rain and sun.

  4. Trudy Schaefer says:

    Hi Gordon,
    I just found your blog (pole barn house inquiry led me here). And I have really enjoyed reading your past posts. My 59 year old husband and I plus our 10 year old daughter bought our little acreage 7 years ago in northwest Iowa. We have 5 and a half acres and like you, have spent all our vacations coming here to do projects. We’re lucky as I grew up in the area and have family members who were willing to help us maintain it in our absence while we lived in Denver.

    We had the exact same date goal to make our move here of July 2015. However, we visited here in April 2014 for spring break, and made the decision then that we couldn’t put in even one more year in the city. We threw caution to the wind and moved here June 30, 2014. Our 2 and a half months here have been filled with hard work, expenses, and adventures. And we are all three absolutely thrilled to be here after planning our move for so many years.

    I had been planning to start a blog about it all, and reading yours has fired me up. When I get it started I’ll pop back in and leave a link in case you’re interested.

    Our farm (as we call it, though there is no real farming being done on it yet) has 2 houses (only one of which that is habitable currently, and it is a tiny 1 bedroom), a big old barn, a partially torn down corn crib, a machine shed, a garage/shop, a building I’ll use for my chickens next year, and a little “summer kitchen” I’m converting into my office. We’re living in the 1 bedroom house for this first year until we decide whether to try to renovate the other bigger house, or knock it down to build new. Problem with that idea is it would require financing, and currently we’re really enjoying living mortgage and rent-free.

    We are on river bottom land with good rich soil. Our place is flat, surrounded by corn/bean fields, with nice timber and rolling hills in the near distance. We’re down a dead-end road with no neighbors in sight, but a small town only 1 mile away, and Sioux City only 30 miles away when we must have our Starbucks fix.

    Please keep blogging, I can just feel how much you and your wife are ready to make the move.

    And by the way, the log cabin is beautiful but the thought of you guys starting the finish work in September in hopes of having it all buttoned up before winter is daunting. Although maybe if you still have your motor home as an alternative in case you get caught off-guard by an early winter you’d be fine.

    Wishing you all the best.

    • Hi Trudy, I love it when like minded people find my blog. Its people like you who know how we feel when we want to get out of the big city to live a more relaxing and healthy life style. Your place sounds great and I love that part of Iowa. Wish we could leave right now and do what you and your husband have done, its agonizing to get up everyday to a job your heart is not into. but I would take too big hit on my railroad pension.

      You should start a blog, you will love seeing your own progress and please let me know when you do, I would love to follow along for the ride. You are also right it will be a daunting task to get the log home weather tight before winter hits in full force. I do come from a large family and have several brothers who have already said they would be willing to help and we will be staying at my friend Tom’s place who has two pole barn homes and he is going to rent one out to us while we get the place ready to move into.

      Keep in touch and good luck to you.

  5. It’s a huge decision, and one you’ll probably live with for the rest of your lives, so I understand the agonizing. Sorry, I’m no help, but I can say I LOVE the photo of your great-great grandparents’ cabin! Kudos to them for raising a family in it! Personally, we opted for something lower maintenance, and now that we’ve added the pastures and animals, I’m glad the house needs less maintenance. There’s only so much time in a day, and we move a lot slower now than we used to. 🙂

    • Hi Susan, I know who you are what ever blog you sign in as, I also know what you are saying about the maintenance issue. I know I won’t feel like doing any of that once I retire, but my desire to have a log home is over riding my thinking on all the hard work it will Intel. It will be just once every 4 to five years. I am still not sure what we will end up deciding to do.

  6. Zephyr Hill says:

    Sorry, that was me! Wrong blog log-in!

  7. Jocelyn cromwell says:

    I too love to read your posts. And the comments from the others. Very inspiring on many levels for me. Planning and living your dreams. I have always been drawn to the organic nature of a log cabin. I want to say good luck with your decision but I think its made.

  8. Hi Jocelyn, thanks for commenting and I was just thinking the same thing today, I am leaning more for the log home but I can’t say for sure if that’s the way we will go. I say this because I have been back and forth with this so may times before.

  9. Langela says:

    LOVE the old photo! I’ve always wanted one just like it on our place. I also like the idea of a log home. That being said, I’d really think hard about it as I was entering retirement. Your body will only get more tired and there is a lot of upkeep needed. Would you be able to pay someone to do it a few years down the road? If you have the means to do that, then go for it. But if it’s something you’ll always have to do yourself it may get to be too much. Would kids be willing to come down and help with it? Also think about the time of year you’d need to maintain it and how busy you might be at that time of year. Have you been able to talk to anyone who owns one about what it actually takes to maintain it? They’d be able to tell you how much time it takes to do the necessary work. It may not take as long as it sounds or it may be a much bigger job than you thought. Anyway, food for thought. Let me know if you head that way and need help with the deck, etc. The kids and I are good workers! Well, I’m good at delegating. From a chair. In the shade. With my feet up. And a drink in my hand. Good luck with your decision. Let me know if I can help.

  10. Thanks for your input Langela, you always have good insight, on things. I have talked to others about what it takes for the up keep on the logs. You use your standard garden sprayer that you fill with your stain and you start at the top of your log wall and work your way down. You then back brush with a mop and then you wait until it dries then put on a good sealer that still allows the logs to breath. That’s about it for my understanding. If you do it right the first time, then its not that hard when you have to do it again in 4 to 5 years.
    Your comments about helping has sparked an idea, maybe I can see if there is any of my other readers who would be willing to help out with the build. What do you all say? Any volunteers?
    Langela I could sure use your Mr Farmer on this:) he is one handy guy.

  11. purlygirl2 says:

    I absolutely love log homes and I’ve always wanted a log home. It is my second favorite style, second only to ultra modern prefab which I know you detest and would never go for. Whatever we do, we’ll do it our way and it will be just a wonderful as our current home.

  12. Bill says:

    I love the old photo and I can sense your excitement. Connecting your future to your family’s past that way is a beautiful thing in my opinion. Wishing you wisdom as you make your decisions and peace once they’re made.

    You’re doing the right thing by taking your time and carefully thinking it all through. I was so impatient that we rushed a bit on choosing our builder, home style, etc. There are some things I’d do differently now. But having said that I think it’s also important that once you’ve made your choice don’t waste time second guessing it.

    Looking forward to seeing and reading about your new home someday soon!

  13. Thanks Bill, I appreciate your input.

  14. Mark says:

    Hope all Is well. We still are working on our pole barn home. I still have no regrets on building it for our home. I gets Little more cozy every day.

  15. Hi Mark, thanks for your comment. I would love to see what your pole barn home looks like. I could add it to one of my post about these homes.

  16. John says:

    I heard your part of your comment where you mention that you feel you might be a little limited in the intensity of physical work that you might be able to do because of your age — and so I want to chime in here with a possible suggestion — think of this suggestion as a “Maybe” or a “Perhaps” or a “We shall see.”

    I have checked out a map of South Central Iowa and it looks like there is a working Amish Community at Bloomfield.

    I had a friend in Kentucky who wanted to build a new silo on his farm and he hired a crew of Amish guys to build it for him. They were reasonable — they worked hard and got the whole thing raised and finished in less than three days — and the only reason my friend needed the help is because he is not in all that great health himself.

    I am just throwing this out for whatever it might be worth — I was thinking maybe you could get some of those Amish guys to help out with raising part of your new log cabin if that is the way you decide to go.

    On the same note — I had a friend once who acquired a military surplus quonset hut and he did some remodeling work on it and made it into a unique but very livable home. He put this thing up in the country on some acreage and his business was excavation — he and his wife worked at the excavation business together digging basements and lakes and ditches and what have you.

    O.k. Mr. Milligan I just wanted to throw a couple of cents worth of opinion into the mix here in case you might find any of it to be interesting or helpful.

    Good luck and God Bless.

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