Verdon and Renee Hasleiet of Rochester stand in the entryway of their new log cabin located between Lanesboro and Whalan.
Verdon and Renee Hasleiet of Rochester stand in the entryway of their new log cabin located between Lanesboro and Whalan.
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Heading down Fawn Drive, the red roof first catches your eye. Then the whole home becomes visible, built into the hillside and at one with nature.

You realize it's a log cabin with a lower level, main level and loft. The porch that sits along the main level provides a wonderful overlook of the Root River valley, as well as a trail cut into the woods to reach the Root River Trail just below the home.

For Renee and Verdon Hasleiet of Rochester, it's a taste of home. Both are originally from the Peterson area. When Verdon was first teaching, they were in the Mabel-Canton area. Now they're both retired. Verdon taught and coached cross-country and track at Elgin-Millville - and later the consolidated PEM School District - for 29 years. Renee was a bookkeeper there.

They lived in Elgin and have been in Rochester since 1998. But around 15 years ago they purchased the property on which the cabin now stands.

Renee explained, "We had some friends who purchased land first. They brought us down here. We thought it would be fun to be back in home territory... and with the biking and canoeing. We're both joggers."

Verdon added, "We had to buy this land. I wanted to buy it."

For many years they would bring a camper down. "But it was our dream to do that all along - to build. We were saving for that goal," she noted.

Their route to the property took them past an Amish place in the Utica area that displayed small log cabins and offered to build them.

"We always thought it would be fun to have a log cabin here." Renee said the Amish typically built the smaller log cabins on their home site. So the couple talked to them about building a larger cabin on their Lanesboro property.

John Borntrager, their carpenter and crew leader, explained he had built before on a site with a blueprint created by someone who worked at a lumber company and "knew the ins and outs of building with logs." They talked to that man and he drew up blueprints.

The cabin is around 2,250 square feet. They decided to use pine logs. Renee said they are actually called D-Style logs, or simply D-logs and feature a smooth, flat surface on the inside, as opposed to the rounded log on the exterior side. The pine car siding used throughout the rest of the home's interior matches well and completes the look.

Renee said, "We wanted a real cabin in feel and look rather than using sheetrock inside." The logs are thick and the only insulation used is with the roof.

They thought it would be neat to have a loft in a cabin, so included that. Renee said when entering the cabin, "the fireplace is a nice focal point." It's a gas fireplace that includes a spot in the chimney for a TV. Each stone of the fireplace was laid separately.

Much of the work on the cabin was split between various Amish craftsmen, along with area businesses and service people. Renee loved the look of knotty alder at their son's home in Iowa, so went with that in dark woodwork, doors and cabinets to contrast with the light pine. They purchased the woodwork and wooden floors from Root River Hardwoods in Preston. Andy and David Junior Yoder of Utica built the knotty alder cabinets, while Harley Yoder did the doors.

"The kitchen cabinets are my favorite part of the cabin... and the outside view of the porch," Renee said.

She and Verdon chose stainless steel appliances. Renee said they're attractive and also a popular style today. She always wanted an island, so that was incorporated into the kitchen. The countertops are granite.

They started building in July of 2011. They came down a lot. In essence, Renee served as a general contractor making sure the Amish crew was there and had the supplies they needed. Also, she scheduled the sub-contractors. They included Dan Anderson with Community Electric (now retired) and Vis Plumbing and Heating, both from Lanesboro. The cabin is heated with LP gas.

To save some money, Verdon said they did all the staining on the outside of the cabin themselves - and joked that he's now pretty good with using a 40-ft. ladder to get to the peak. They put on two coats with help from relatives and kids. They'll add the sealer in the future.

Now that the cabin is almost completed, what do they think?

Verdon said it was "pretty much what we expected" and that he looks forward to being there.

Renee added, "We love it... I like it better than we expected. Now we need to enjoy the fruits of our labor."