Living the Old Life

By Briney Bischof

Martin Bellmann
Martin Bellmann stands in front of the woodshed he is building. The shed is made with reused metal siding and will keep the wood they use to heat the house in the winter from getting wet.

Martin Bellmann has a self-sufficient lifestyle. When Bellmann talks about the inspiration behind his log cabin he says, “I’ve always had a strong interest in the old ways of doing things, in a way of living that was slower, gentler, self-sustaining, and more in balance with the rhythms of nature.” Bellmann lives this principle with his everyday life.

Eva Bellmann watches the weather before they go to Ashland to cut up downed trees, which they plan on using for different building projects in the future.

He continues to say that he finds the American frontier and the lifestyles associated with it very interesting and he has always wanted to do the pioneering thing.

Bellmann and his wife Eva Bellmann live outside of Jamestown, Missouri in a log cabin that he built himself 10 years ago, according to him. He says the cabin itself is made partially from the corncrib of the barn that used to stand on his property.  The cabin did not have electricity until seven or eight years ago and it did not have running water until last year, Bellman says.

When talking about why he composts Martin Bellmann says “We live in an extremely wasteful society. It’s hard not to see that, in the long run, this is self-defeating.” And he goes onto say that “To live as part of nature is to live within the cycle of life, not to attempt to break out of it.”

Martin Bellmann pours the stain from black walnut hulls into a bin that contains cloth. When the cloth is dyed Bellmann will make a hunting shirt like those worn by woodsmen in the 18th century, according to Bellmann.

When they are not at home working on their property Martin and Eva Bellmann do handyman work, such as cutting down trees and working construction jobs, according to Martin Bellmann. But Eva Bellmann says that both of them would like to work at home [in the future].  She says that “nothing is done,” when they are working on a job away from home, that there are still chores to do when they get home.

When Eva Bellmann talks about projects she says “It takes time,” and makes the distinction that it is time and not money that the projects take. According to Martin Bellmann there is less than $2,000 invested in building of the log cabin.

Martin and Eva Bellman work on their property on projects like building their woodshed, where they now store their canoe and supplies of wood, which they reused the siding from the barn that had previously been on their property and logs from the same barn to make the structure, according to Martin Bellmann.

The next big project that Eva and Martin Bellmann says that they want to do is to add onto the log cabin. Eva Bellmann says it will probably take them about three years to complete. She conjectured that they might do the add-ons in steps, first adding the kitchen and then the bathroom and then her room. She says that it depends on how much time and money they can spend on the project.

Martin and Eva
Martin and Eva Bellmann head back towards the log cabin before they leave for the day.

Martin Bellmann says that he sees the future add-on being made from cob, which is a material that has properties that are similar to clay. The structure could also be made with straw or a mixture of straw or cob, according to Martin Bellmann.

Martin Bellmann grew up in what is now Maryland Heights, Missouri, which is in St. Louis County. In 1981 during his third year of college he transferred from the University of Missouri – St. Louis to the University of Missouri in Columbia.

The wood stove in the Bellmanns' kitchen before it was in use. Once it started to get cold the Bellmanns started to use it. Eva Bellmann misses the storage space that it had provided.

Eva Bellmann is from Karlruhe, Germany, which is near the French border, and she lived in St. Louis for two years before moving back to Germany in 2004, according to her. Eva says that in 2006 after being introduced through her friends, they started talking and emailing in November 2006.

She moved back to the United States in September 2009, according to her. She continues to say that when she came back to Missouri she brought four suitcases of her things. She says that Martin had brought some of her things when he was going from Germany to Missouri, but most of her things are still in storage in Germany.

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