Couples David and Jenna Jonas have lived mostly in a homestead, enjoying life off the grid.
David, at age 17, lived in the woods of Vermont for two years, where he built a cabin and learned to navigate and hunt animals without using modern tools.
He had been living alone for months, eating wild foods, when he met Jenna, his neighbor across the creek who had been exploring the Alaskan wilderness by foot, dogsled, bike, and boat for several years.
In 2012, they saw a listing on Craigslist for private land on a cliff above the Tanana River surrounded by state forests. They saw the land as a place where they could get food all year long, so they bought it and started living in a wall tent.
In 2013, they built a more permanent earth lodge.
According to David, log cabins are typical structures around the area, but not all places you want to build a log cabin have nice cabin logs, just like their property.
“That thing got you thinking what other kind of structure can you build?” David said.
They dug deep into the hill to benefit the earth’s relative warmth, used plenty of spruce trunks to line the home, covered it with sod for insulation, and made sure it faced south to get passive solar gain.
The small earth lodge has a homemade wood stove, sink, and bed.
It is powered by solar with enough energy for light and charging your phone and cannot accommodate larger devices. Jenna said that what she liked the most about their earth lodge was its simplicity, and nothing made any noise aside from the wood.
The couple initially spent around a thousand dollars to build their house and a little more on the spruce bow floor.
Jenna said it was a perfect starter home for them as they lived there for around seven years without getting sick of each other and decided to get married while living there.
However, as much as they loved to stay in that earth lodge, which they now call the Sun Lodge, they thought about starting a family and planned the bluff log cabin, which is their current home.
They started constructing a traditional log cabin with basic tools like a gin pole and crane. They used wood that is easily found in the area as it is expensive and challenging to build with foreign stuff.
It took them three years to finish the log cabin, but it was completed in time before Jenna gave birth to their daughter.
Upon entering their log cabin, you will be in their kitchen, where they have a wood stove for heating and another for cooking. It has wooden shelves with glass jars filled with spices and grains.
On the other side is the sitting area with a bed made of a futon and their dining area with a lovely wooden table.
Upstairs is their bedroom with a nice warm bed for them and their baby.
The log cabin also has solar panels that are bigger than what they had at Sun Lodge.
Their area is perfect for homestead living as it provides many resources.
At the beginning of spring, Jenna does some birch tree tapping, which they use the birch sap to make syrup and Meade.
In summer, they can harvest some produce in their garden, such as strawberries, beans, peas, carrots, and more.
Summer is also the primary fishing season.
Jenna said that there are lots of regulations about hunting and trapping that tell when they can look for specific resources throughout the year.
The couple also has a smokehouse where they preserve meat. They have many sources of meat. They usually hunt moose or beavers because it is close to their home.
In the fall, they can still harvest produce to fill their pantry for winter.
Their log cabin has a root cellar where they store a lot of vegetables, root crops, grains, chocolates, can goods, and more.
In 2014, the couple started offering wilderness guide services and accommodations in their Sun Lodge or handmade canvas wall tents. They also offer dog sledding, winter camping, aurora viewing, ice fishing, skiing, snowshoeing, and crafting, where you can make your wooden spoons.
Visitors to their hand-built wilderness homestead will learn about the genuine products, people, and ways of living that make our lives in the north rich and meaningful rather than just gorgeous landscapes and plastic stuff.
Watch their video (courtesy of Kirsten Dirksen) below to learn more about David and Jenna Jonas’ homestead living.
1 thought on “Homestead living: couple built a log cabin in Alaskan wilderness and started to live off the grid”
Very interesting to those who have never faced off the grid living. Well done.