Raising Billy Creek

                                       Kenny's Story:

Kenny had cancer when he was five years old and they had to remove a kidney.  In 1968 medical knowledge was not what it is today and they performed blanket radiation on him.  This procedure burnt and scarred all of his internal organs and at 50 years of age he was told that his organs had the apperance of someone 80 years old.  After a brief intestional illness his liver failed and his heart  stopped beating for the last time. Kenny was 54 years old at the time of his death on July 20th 2017. 

           Kenny was a free and adventerous spirit

Despite the health challenges Kenny faced in his life his amazing spirit was infectious.  He was a welder and fabricator and had a wonderfully creative mind. He could create anything you asked him to. He was always willing to try something new and loved the challenge of new projects.

               He loved nature and the wilderness

Kenny loved the great outdoors and especially liked fishing.  He could catch fish when no others could and we often had wonderful fish frys with family and friends.  His favorite place to be was the woods, fields, lakes, rivers and bogs of Minnesota.
             Kenny was loved by all, people and animals

The tremendous amount of friends that Kenny had was incredible.  Everywhere he went he made new friends and he would do anything to help  friends and family. He was always there if you needed him and would also go out of his way to help strangers if the need arose. 
He was a very kind, helpful and patient man.

Kenny had a large soft spot in his heart for animals and they loved him and again, everywhere he went, as with people, he made new animal friends.  They flocked to him.

                                              Our Story

                                                Soul Mates

From our very first meeting Kenny and I were inseparable.  We enjoyed so many of the same things especially as we both have adventerous spirits and an unbounding love for nature.  We spent many, many happy days together exploring the woods, lakes and canoeing Minnesota's beautiful rivers.  Our favorite thing to do after a long day was to take a drive in the woods to let nature sooth our souls.  We would plan and dream about our future and what our next projects would be.  After nearly 15 years together we deciced to move to  more of a wilderness location.  Our search for a new property led us to Billy Creek.  We both loved it immediately.  I had a small inheritance so we were able to put it as a down payment on Billy Creek.  We only had 6 months to come up with the rest of the cash that it would take to finally call it ours.  We were both so excited about the prospect of owning this wonderful property that we sold as much of our belongings as possible and worked extra long hours to achieve ownership.  We put every penny we could muster up towards our dream.   In March of 2017 we finally were able to call Billy Creek our own.  Putting up the private property signs was a proud day for us and especially for Kenny.
                                              Billy Creek

Billy Creek is an amazingly diverse propery with a beautiful creek(Billy) running through the whole length of the 25 acre parcel.  Almost from the beginning of land ownership in Minnesota the site has been a sawmill.  There are open areas, wooded areas, pine and tamarac stands, hardwoods, bog areas and so much more.  The amount of native plant life is astounding with many, many native wildflowers gracing the propery. 
Kenny and I worked very hard in the few short months from April 1st-July 20th 2017 when he was alive, to start fixing up the little house on the property.  He jokingly called it the two story tent.  We needed a place to live, although primitively, while we worked on the property and until we could build a cabin. 
                          Progression of the two story tent

Unfortunatley the tiny house had been vandalized sometime before we owned the property and there was a lot of work to do before we could stay in it while we worked at Billy Creek.  We were able to clean it up and fix it up enough keep the weather, critters and bugs out.

                               Billy Creek Progress

Our next step at Billy Creek was to start a cleanup of all of the left over mess that was created from the sawmill activity.  We cleaned up tons, it seems, of old logs wood scraps and bark and other debri. After a lot of that was complete we, with the help of friends, limbed all of the pines to promote their good health.    We enjoyed a back to basic life style so we decided out next priority would be a garden.......as this would be our winter food.....but the land was so raw where we wanted to put the garden and I had a great many perennial flowers that I wanted to move to Billy Creek.  The first thing Kenny did was to build a greenhouse.
Then came the hard part.......clearing and cleaning up the garden area.   We had the garden finished and ready to plant by the 15th of June.  We had piles of cedar logs so we used them to create raised beds.  We filled the beds with sawmill sawdust that had turned into the most beautiful loam over the many years.  We found an amazing pile of it behind the sawmill site pushed over the edge of a ravine.  We had to haul it up from there to fill the beds.
                            Progression of the Garden

The garden is producing beautiful flowers and vegetables

                                             My Story

Kennny was the love of my life.  Our dreams and life style were so intertwined.  I feel as if my world came to an end when he died. The heartbreak is overwhelming and  I can so understand how easy it can be to just freeze up or just run.....run far away from all of the heartbreak and pain.  Unfortunately it doesn't and can't happen that way.  I have given my life a great deal of thought since he left and I just can not give up our dream and just walk away.  The thought has entered my mind many times what I want the property at Billy Creek to stand for and become.  Kenny loved it so much here and I as well and we both had decided together that we wanted it to remain as pristine as possible so that our children and grandchildren could enjoy all of it's beauty.  I have not wavered from our dream.  Although it will place many hardships upon me and may not be the easiest road I have decided to stay at Billy Creek and continue to make our dreams come true.  

                 Billy Creek as a nature preserve

I have decided that  my future and the future of Billy Creek lies in creating a sort of sanctuary/ preserve for native Minnesota plants, animals and insects and all other forms of native life.   I hope to turn it into a sort of retreat for artists, naturalists, quilters,  or for whomever would love to come and learn and enjoy it's beauty.  Nature has an incredible way of soothing and healing a soul that may be in pain and agony.   This will also be a place for people that may need to reconnect to their inner selves. I want to re-introduce, propagate and plant native plants and flowers.  It will be a place of peace and contentment and a place to reconnect with our maker. 

                                      Billy Creek today...........
It is extremely hard for me to ask for help but I am in a position where I need help.  Winter is coming on and the tiny house at Billy Creek is just not going to be a place I want to be in the dead of winter without some help.  I have an amazing group of family and friends that have volunteered their free labor to ready Billy Creek for winter.  They will be building me a studio and utilities addition on to the tiny house as I will need septic, water and a studio space to create my art quilts and sewing classes that I teach online or any of my other creative ventures.  I will not be able to heat with wood as we did when Kenny was alive so I will need to have a propane furnace/heater installed to stay warm.  As I said earlier, my family and friends will do the labor but I need to come up with the cost of the materials.  I already have some of the lumber and items that will be necessary but I still

A well
A septic system
Sheeting for walls and roof
Sub flooring
Propane furnace/heater
Toilet and bath fixtures
Water Heater
Miscellaneous building materials such as nails, screw, joist hangers, tar paper and unaccounted for(as of yet) building supplies
Plumbing supplies
Some electical supplies

I already have.....

Framing, joist and rafter lumber
some insulation
Foundation cement and blocks
Some electrical supplies and wiring
Roof tin
tongue and groove basswood for the ceiling
Electrical panel box and breakers
A window and door
...........and a whole lot of determination!!!!!!!!!!

I must add that a group of my family and friends were here this past weekend to level the tiny house(the two story tent as Kenny called it) and to do the concrete foundation pads and prep work.  All of the framing lumber  is being sawn by Kenny's dad Ed at his sawmill.  Kenny and I had sawn some lumber a few years ago that will be used also.   I want to thank everyone for all of the help that has been given to me.  I am so very greatful and words cannot express what my heart feels for so many wonderful people.

                             The spirit of Billy Creek

I hope that the end result of Billy Creek will be to bring other people happiness in some way.  I want to continue my art and photography and be able to share it with everyone.  I hope to produce note cards in the future of our beautiful flowers and hopefully this will lead to many other things that can benefit people and those who love and cherish our wilderness. Kenny's spirit lives on at Billy Creek.

Thank you all so much and I will be giving a CD/DVD of some of my nature photograpy free of charge to anyone who contributes $25.00 or more to my cause.  Thank you all for any help that you can give me.  Every penny will make a difference and you will all be remembered in a special way for your help.  I plan on some sort of a memorial up at Billy Creek for all of the people who have so generously contributed to this cause.  You can follow the progress of Billy Creek on Facebook if you like. ...... Marilyn Lee
                   THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM
                                        ALL OF YOU!!!!

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Marilyn Lee 
Big Falls, MN