In the summer of 1988, my husband, Phil, decided he wanted to buy some hunting land in the vicinity of where he had been hunting. He contacted a Realtor and found a piece of property that excited him, so I agreed he could go ahead and buy it. It was a 160-acre old farmstead in northern Carlton County.

The farmstead was mostly wooded, but it had two fields around the buildings. When he finally brought me to see the place, we drove down a minimum maintenance dead-end road and had to straddle the ruts for fear of getting stuck. There was a long driveway at the end of the road, and what I saw wasn’t as exciting as what he saw.

I saw a fallen-down barn; a whitewashed and tar-paper cement block house; a rusty old mobile home, with tall grass up to my armpits and horseflies swarming around me; and a nice-looking tall silo. I looked at my husband with tears in my eyes. “This is what we bought?” I said.

With the help of family and friends, we worked at cleaning up the place, and I began to see its tranquil beauty. I got somewhat involved when Phil decided to build a deer shack, and told him that if he wanted me to spend time there with him, I needed to have some conveniences like indoor plumbing. He begrudgingly agreed. I also convinced him half-log siding would look great.

Phil proceeded to have plans drawn for the kind of shack he wanted. We had to remove the old trailer to make room for the shack. The old cement house is used for storage and the silo is now home for a family of pigeons. Family and some very helpful friends helped us build the shack.

One of our favorite things to do is enjoy our morning coffee on the front porch while watching the sunrise, listening to the rustle of the leaves in the trees, hearing the birds sing, watching families of hummingbirds buzz around like bumblebees from feeder to feeder. We can enjoy dinner on the back deck and watch wildlife grazing in the field behind the shack.

We do not have television or internet, and we really don’t miss it. We enjoy reading and sometimes playing games. The sky on a clear night is absolutely beautiful with its many twinkling stars. Phil has mowed trails in the woods and has made some food plots for animals. He also has trail cameras out most of the time; we never know what kind of wildlife we will see.

It has become so much more than a hunting shack: It’s a hobby farm, a quiet retreat, a place for family gatherings, a base for fishing trips, a place to enjoy lots of wildlife, and our own little slice of heaven. We are retired, and spend as much time there as we can.

Marion Stumo, Blaine