By Bev Sandlin, Ex. Editor
Back in 1989 Andy Millen bought 5 acres in the village of Fillmore, Minnesota, for less than $7,000. It came with an old house, sandpoint well, electric and propane furnace. Andy grins, as he calls it his “Broken Down Palace”–but it is paid for, and a man’s home is his castle.
He invited me in and we were greeted by his dogs and a rather sassy African goose. I heard the gobble of a turkey and turned around to see a big Bourbon Red Tom. It felt so homey in the middle of town!
The mens and womens outhouses.
The porch he built off the back of the outhouses with a fancy pruned pine growing through the roof!
He loves to entertain and created the perfect “man’s BBQ” out of an old iron wheel, set on a pipe in the ground with seasoned discs and an old stove grill to move around over the fire. Incredibly ingenious! And he makes those rustic benches himself!
In fact, Andy Millen is a woods craftsman and artist. He is able to “see” what the wood wants to become and with loving care he crafts with chainsaw, hatchets, and various knives to bring new life out of the fallen wood.
A friend just brought him some diamond willow saplings to make into walking sticks. And he proudly showed me the walking stick he still carries, his first. In the tenth grade he saw this stick (or is it a muse?) and made it into a walking stick that he carries to this day.
Andy now heats with wood and cooks on an old wood stove by choice. He has electricity, but he doesn’t need it. He has a propane furnace and stove, but he doesn’t need them.
He showers in the summer in the splendor of the pines in a solar shower he created himself.
And relaxes in his backyard beside a creek that runs through his yard.
And he spends time with his friends, doing what he wants to do when he wants to do it.
Bev’s Note: Looking for a BOL or a place to retire that is affordable? Fillmore County in Minnesota has about 18,000 people in a large county made up largely of bluff land and hardwood forests with 750 miles of creeks and rivers. It is temperate for Minnesota, being in USDA planting zones 4 & 5. The largest town is 2,500 people. The cost of living is fairly low and real estate is still very reasonable for what you get. Two years ago I bought 3 acres, pasture, barn, gardens, small 3 bedroom house with gardens and a trout stream–in town–for $102,000. There are downtown buildings in these small towns, often with apartments above them starting at $15,000! Home and seasonal business? Imagine if you could sell your home and come here and buy a similar home for 1/3 the price–and the rest goes into your retirement nest egg? For more information about Bluff Country in southeastern Minnesota, check out my blog at BluffCountryWoman.com!
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