Nestled in the heart of Montana’s wilderness lies a hidden gem that has become a haven for those seeking tranquility and a chance to reconnect to nature and to each other. Known as “The Shanty,” this self-built cabin stands as a testament to determination, creativity, and the allure of off-grid living. For over a decade, it has provided a unique escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life, offering guests a chance to experience the serenity of nature in its purest form.


Twelve years ago, the journey began on a large chunk of Montana’s untouched land. There were no roads, no electricity, no buildings, water, or septic – just endless possibilities and not a lot of money, so naturally Garrett and I had to build it all – OURSELVES. 

While Alla was still working in South Korea, Garrett, with the guidance of his dad (Jeff) built The Shanty Cabin with lots of re-purposed wood. Some of this wood Garrett and Alla had fallen years previous, while living in Northern Montana. It was transported here and some of it was even turned into tongue and groove flooring boards by the Amish community, which still lives near Rexford, Montana.

Initially, The Shanty was a place to spend summers, away from working in South Korea. When Alla visited the following summer, she was impressed with the weather-proofed design, the unique bookcase that turns into a staircase to climb into the loft and the fact that not only Garrett did most of the work himself, but also that he didn’t break the bank doing so.

$400 is what it cost to erect the Shanty Cabin, an amount we could barely scrape by at the time.

“Those first few summers at The Hohnstead were the most challenging for me (Alla). It all felt like SO MUCH WORK and no play, when all I wanted to do was relax and read on my vacation…”

Did we have a vision for what later became The Hohnstead?


Every summer we returned from overseas and worked on what needed to be done, what we could afford, with the amount of time we had (usually 2 months at a time).

The Shanty was the first cabin that started it all, we honestly can’t believe that it is still standing, haha!

Living in it for 2 months at a time was nice and all, but brewing out of it felt like the coolest DIY thing, which also provided the background for Garrett’s Homebrewing Course, which was originally created for Udemy, but now all those videos (and new ones) are available for FREE on his Youtube Channel – I Brew U Brew with Garrett. 

Any Shanty Upgrades since 2011?

  • White paint on walls to make it feel brighter and cleaner
  • Accent colors and patterns in window curtains, pillows and other accessories (red and polka dots) were added for that funk factor
  • Newly milled lumber siding was added in the loft to cover up OSB sheets (thanks to one of our guests, Alex from Delaware for helping getting it done. We f@#%ing love when guests get into the DIY mode with us).
  • We took off the railing, which we felt like impeded on the view and built up the rock wall with a garden, so guests don’t fall off the deck while inebriated from a concert or from doing substances while on vacation (true stories).

Updates Continue

  • New window was added on the bottom floor to bring in more light and open up mountain view.
  • The most recent update, Garrett and I worked on, was replacing the old deck with Trex Composite boards.

Composite Decking by Trex is a game changer, because:

1. It doesn’t give you splinters the way wooden boards do.

2. It doesn’t need to be painted and re-painted for continuous maintenance.

3. It has 25 year warranty for fading and warping for residential installations (10 for commercial). 

AND if you can believe it that when buying these during the pandemic years, they cost as much as wooden 2×6  🤯

Which brings us to the reason why we wrote this Shanty update, we have a new video that Garrett and I have created for you!

It highlights the Shanty through the years and takes you on a tour of this beloved cabin of ours. 

Old man Shanty as we like to call him has been so much fun to maintain and host guests from all over the globe and we’re so thankful for the support of our new and returning guests for helping us build The Hohnstead over the years and making it into our MOST FAVORITE JOB OF ALL!

Check it out: Exploring a Rustic Retreat: Tour of Our Self-Built Montana Cabin in the Woods

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