- Associated Press - Sunday, April 19, 2015

JUNIATA, Neb. (AP) - Cousins Evan Adler and Jordan Peak couldn’t wait for spring to arrive.

Weeks before March ushered in spring, Evan, 13, and Jordan, 12, both of Juniata, found themselves outside building makeshift forts in a wooded area near Jordan’s great-grandmother’s house. In years past, the boys had made smaller forts and this year started out the same.

But fueled by ideas from watching people build things on the Discovery Channel, the boys wanted to make something larger near the beginning of March. They set forth to build a log cabin.

“We wanted one that’s going to hold up,” Evan said. “We decided to go big or go home.”

Armed with an ax and hand saw, the boys cut down several trees by hand. They would spend 30 minutes to an hour or more cutting down a single tree.

After school or on weekends, the boys walked to the construction site. Sometimes, the weather was cold, but they just tossed on coats.

They stacked the trees together like Lincoln Logs, only the trees aren’t notched. The joints are bound together using whatever they could find at the time. Some are nailed together. Some are tied with rope. Some have scrap wire coiled around the joints. Scrap metal along the base serves as makeshift siding.

To make a railing up the hill on one side, the boys cut down a pair of young trees about waist high and nailed another length of tree. For steps, they partially buried chunks of concrete, the Hastings Tribune (https://bit.ly/1DN9sM2 ) reports.

After putting up the walls to about chest high, they pieced a roof together using scrap wood gathered from around a house family members tore down two weeks ago.

Since they aren’t old enough to drive, the boys loaded the boards onto a handmade skid and dragged the load several blocks to reach the cabin.

Jordan, the shorter of the two, used a stone as a stepping block to reach the roof when nailing in the pieces.

There was a lot of trial and error as the boys explored different ideas on building the structure. When it turns up a bit short, they toss in a chunk of wood to make up the difference. There have been cuts and scrapes aplenty, but no injuries serious enough to deter their work.

“We try to do it,” Evan said. “Sometimes it fails.”

There are gaps between the trees that make up the walls, but that doesn’t concern the boys. In their minds, it’s like an impenetrable fortress. Assessing their work, the boys are proud of the cabin.

“It’s pretty amazing, knowing that we started from nothing,” Jordan said.

Evan’s mother, Melissa, liked to see the boys spending time outside rather than playing video games in the house. She said her father loved nature and often took his grandchildren on nature walks. Grandpa also started Evan on building tree houses.

Of course, the boys enjoy video games, too. They also are involved in sports. Evan plays football, while Jordan participates in basketball and football.

“Instead of sitting in the house all day, you can get outside,” Evan said. “One day, we were out here a good 12-hour day.”

On Friday, the boys found an animal skull. Evan plucked it up and set it on top of the cabin’s roof.

“That’s new,” he said. “It’s going to be a decoration.”

___

Information from: Hastings Tribune, https://www.hastingstribune.com

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