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Country Cottage: Natural and Off-Grid
Gays Mills, Wisconsin

The owners purchased this plot of land in western Wisconsin, with dramatic views down some
400 feet to the Kickapoo River below, to hike and camp and perhaps eventually retire to. In the meantime they wanted to enjoy the rustic comforts of a simple, natural cottage. The foot-thick walls are straw-clay and earthen plaster, the dark brown floor is stabilized earth, and the metal roofing directs rainwater for showers into the big tank sunk into the hillside at the rear.The framing for the sleeping loft floor are recycled timbers.

The owners are working to finish the handmade cabin bit-by-bit. Martin Jelenc with Acorn Construction of Belleville, Wisconsin worked with a local general contractor and led the owner's crew of volunteers who came to learn about nautural building techniques.

Above: The cottage is far from electric service, so the owner and friends first built a "solar shed" , then used it to power all of the construction equipment.

above: A guest climbs the hand-crafted heavy-timber stairs to the bedroom loft.

above, left: The 300 gallon rainwater collection tank, created by the owner.

left: A "truth window" that shows the inner wall material (above) is becoming a tradition with straw-clay and strawbale builders.