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Planning the Homestead Orchard  Plant the wrong trees, or plant in the wrong place, and it may be a 10-year mistake that you may never get to make right.

The Homestead Cookbook  A  searchable online cookbook loaded with homesteader's recipes and growing every day.

The Simplest House of All The first house should provide all the bare necessities, but few frills.   

The Missouri Journal

by Mark S. Chenail  

Like a lot of people who approach middle age, I started to wish for a simpler life based on the quiet of the country.  So a few years ago, my friends, Jon and Roger, and I, started to look for a suitable place, either an old house to fix up or some raw land to build on.  Eventually we found Neil Shelton's site at and we bought six acres with a pond at Origanna Woods, 17 miles from Lebanon in Laclede County. That was October of 1998.

We bought that first parcel sight unseen and the next March, we finally went down to look at it. Even in the gray of early spring, I could see how nice it was, and as luck would have it, Neil had 6 more acres across the lane for sale, so we bought that too. The new parcel came complete with an electric pole, an outhouse and shed and the log frame of a pole barn courtesy of the previous owner.  All this was set in a nice shady clearing and we decided that this was where we would build our house.  That old pole frame made a dandy arbor and we set up camp there with a nice fire ring and a few comforts and we started to make our plans and begin our improvements. 

This journal is meant to be a record of our plans and adventures and I hope to add to it as we go along, and the house grows and improves.

In August of 1999, we made our first improvement. We bought  an 8 x 12 wooden garden shed from Mr Green up in Waynesville. He has a huge selection of well built sheds and he will deliver them to your site. He brought ours on a huge flat bed truck and in less than 30 minutes it was all set up next to our electric pole and 30 feet or so from our pole arbor. It wasnt very big but it gave us plenty of space to store our equipment and it gave us a warm dry place to sleep if the weather went bad. 

In October, we added a 12 x 20 pole shed across the front of that little shed and by snowfly, it was closed in. This gave us a big room to use as a kitchen and living room and the shed became a sleeping room when we added a window on one end and a built-in bed.  These two rooms would become the nucleus of our house. 

That original structure is what you see in the pictures on this page. In the summer of 2000, we finally got electricity hooked up and run into the cottage. You cant imagine what a boon that was. NO MORE rented generator or building with hand tools.  I kinda miss the lantern light and we still use a lot of candles, but now we could have a refrigerator and a real stove to cook on.  We added some new windows and a side door and installed some old kitchen cabinets. Before we knew it, the cottage was too small again, and we started to think about adding more space.  Yeah I know, there's a motif there; so we made a concerted effort NOT to over-design and build.  I spent that winter planning the final addition.




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