By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
Tom Sneed’s log cabin has been almost 40 years in the making. And he’s not even close to being through with it.
“It’s like a drug addition, but probably worse,” said Sneed, 57. “I’m not going to say I’m obsessed with it, but I wake up in the night thinking about it. All I need is half an excuse to come over here.”
Sneed’s parents, Mary Ann Sneed and the late Jim Sneed, bought the 35 acres of land the cabin sits on back in the 1970s, when their son was in high school.
“Daddy wanted land in Pontotoc County because that’s where he was from,” said Sneed, who lives in Tupelo. “But they never came out here. My mom’s idea of camping is the Holiday Inn.”
Sneed’s father told him where the land was located and when he was in his early 20s, Sneed and his friends used to head there for the weekend to camp and drink beer and hang out.
“We started reading Mother Earth magazine,” Sneed explained. “We were hippies.”
They even got a start on a log cabin in 1976. They got the foundation built and walls up three logs high. Then they quit building.
And with no roof overhead, everything rotted.
Then one day about 10 years ago, Sneed and his middle son, Pete, now 25, were out at the property camping and Pete came across some spikes left from the original cabin. He asked his dad what they were, and Sneed told him the story.
“And Pete said, ‘You know, if you’d laid one log a year, you’d be through with this,'” Snead said. “And I realized it was kind of like life itself. If you think of everything in your life you’ve got now, but think of how long it took you to get there, you’d say, ‘Hell, I can’t do that.'”
But Pete got Sneed thinking about building a cabin again.
“When it comes to building, I’ve never had a class, never had a shop,” said Sneed, who works for Dutch Lubricants in Tupelo. “I guess it’s in my genes, just something I grew up with. When I was a kid, I built treehouses all over the neighborhood. In fact, that’s how this whole thing started again. I had all these structures in the backyard and my wife said, ‘Look, you can’t build anything else out there.’ So that’s why I started the cabin.”
An addition is born
Sneed and Pete began work on the 20×20-foot cabin in the spring of 2002 and had it finished by 2005. It’s equipped with electricity and water, but it has no bathroom – yet. It does have an outhouse.
The cabin is built of cedar that’s been cut off the property.
“Cedar is one wood you can cut today and build with it tomorrow because it’s so dry,” he said. “You cut logs in the winter while the sap is low. Sometimes it takes us two weekends to get some logs out of the woods. When you cut a tree down and hear that cracking – it’s like a religious experience. I’m lucky to have this place.”
After the cabin was finished, Sneed and his sons – in addition to Pete, he has Tyler and Sam, who also worked on the cabin – would often spend time there camping. Occasionally, he even talked his wife, Sandy, into joining them.
“But she wouldn’t spend the night,” Sneed said. “She said the only way she would stay here is if we had an indoor toilet.”
So guess what?
In August 2011, Sneed bought a sawmill and put it on the property. And he began milling white pine for an 8×16-foot addition that will house a kitchen and a bathroom.
“The sawmill is how we’ve been able to get all this done,” said Sneed. “We started building the addition this August and my part of it will be done in a couple of weeks. Then the tile guy has got to come do the shower.”
But he won’t be finished yet.
Sneed already has plans to build two bedrooms onto the back of the cabin.
“It’s pretty easy to change stuff on a cabin, easy to add on,” he said. “It’s not like a real house.”
And when this cabin is finished, he plans to build two more on the property, so all his sons have a place to call home.
“It will be like a compound, like the Kennedy compound of Northeast Mississippi, but we won’t get into that much trouble,” he joked.
‘Already in heaven’
Sneed spends just about every spare moment he has working on the cabin.
“I come out here at 7 o’clock on Saturday morning and go home about 7 o’clock Saturday evening,” he said. I come back out here on Sundays, too. If I can get off early Friday afternoons, I’ll come out here and figure out what I need for the next day. I’d move out here tomorrow if I had my way. I can be having a day at work, stressed out, on the verge of a panic attack. I can come through that gate and everything will be OK. I’ve told my wife if I lived out here I’d be a whole lot easier to live with.”
Sneed said he’ll cut timber all winter and get it ready to start one bedroom next year. He’ll also mill wood for the kitchen cabinets, although he doesn’t know which trees he’ll use yet.
“I tell people we’re building a log cabin and people say, ‘Where’d you get your kit?’ And I say, ‘There’s no kit. We cut our own logs off our property.'”
Sneed said he’s got no hard and fast deadline for the completion of his project, although he’d like it to be finished in the next five years.
“My hope and dream is to one day live here,” he said. “I can’t think of a finer place to die, and I feel like I’m already in heaven.”