Burial is the no maintenance way of keeping the water from freezing. Even if you have no slope, if you bury it, you have now moved the water from an inaccessible 200’ to an easily accessible 8’-10’ below ground. You can run a battery powered Rv pump to supply water to your Rv and it won’t use much power and you could put a cheap hand pump pitcher pump as a backup.
I’m off grid and my water is 17’ deep. I have an Rv pump a couple feet above the water and it pumps it to the trailer we live in. I use a marine battery to power the pump and I only have to charge the battery every couple of months.
My water line to the trailer is buried 5’ deep. If we leave during the winter, I turn off the switch to the pump, which is at ground level, open a faucet in the house and a faucet on the outside of the house. I go down in the well, pop off the line to the pump and allow the water to drain back so no water is left in the line.
It is common to have two pumps. One being the deep well pump that moves it to the surface, the second a pump to supply pressure from the tank. As stated, the tank acts like a battery that stores water.
I’d personally backfill around the tank, then make an umbrella of 2” pink styrofoam over the top to keep it from freezing in very extreme temps. Maybe overkill, maybe not. Where my place is in North Idaho we rarely see colder than -5, but I’ve heard it has reached well past -40. Where I work in North Dakota I once saw it -73 on the thermometer and when it was that cold a backhoe drove over the septic tank of the trailer I was living in, driving the frost down to the tank. The top of the tank was 7’ deep and the tank froze. It was two or three months before it thawed out. A layer of insulation (and perhaps fencing off the area above the tank) would have prevented that. It sure was cold going to a portajohn til spring! Perhaps even cedar bark would work if you have a local sawmill or pole mill you could get it from.
Speaking of that, I’ve heard of people burying their water line, backfilling a foot or so, then throwing a small tree (3”-4” in diameter) on top and backfilling to the surface. The wood stops the frost from being driven down to the pipe.
Talk to Backwoods Solar Electric or at least get there catalog which is a good resource.
You can set up a DC solar powered deep well pump that runs directly off of solar panels. The panels can be mounted to the roof of your shed. When the sun is out and your tank isn’t full, it will automatically fill it. It can be controlled by either a float switch or a back pressure switch that senses the height of the water in the tank.
Do you have a slope on the property? If so, bury a tank at a high point and let the solar pump fill it. You can either gravity feed from that or use a second pump to pump from for irrigation or drinking water.
There are tanks that usually can be purchased from local farm supply stores that are ribbed and intended to be buried underground and used for drinking water. They range in size from 500-2500 gallons.
As stated, milk is the best. Works for being sprayed with pepper spray as well. I’m very sensitive to peppers and can’t eat them at all. When I went through training and had to be pepper sprayed, I used milk for my eyes, which gave relief fairly quickly. However, my face was on fire for 7 hours. Most people it only last 30 minutes to 2 hours.
I don’t think you would be able to include the mobile home in any structural load bearing way. It would just save you money on interior walls and infrastructure.
As far as wood goes for making a berm shed to put the trailer inside you’ll have to scrounge. In my area there are lots of pine trees. The trees are planted very thickly, then someone buys a property and decides they want to put a house on it, so they “park” it out, thinning out the small 3” diameter trees for fire prevention and to make it so you can look through the forest. Many people in my area will cut these trees for people and then haul them to a fence post mill to be made into fence post. There is even a government program that will pay the tree cutter to do this. Those trees would be the perfect size to use for roofing a berm shed.
For larger logs, perhaps talk to tree trimmers and see if you could haul off trees they cut down, just tell them what diameter and length you want and you’ll have to be quick about getting out to them. This will require a flatbed trailer or a very heavy duty rack on a pickup. A lot of tree trimmers have skid steers they can use to load you.
Also, developers clear house lots or commercial building lots. They will pile up the logs to burn and they are often free for the asking.
Another source is right of way crews that maintain power line right of ways.
Right after storms there are often many trees blown down that are free for the taking. In our area there are state and national forest. If the tree is on state or federal land and it blows down into the road right of way, it’s fair game. Saves the state the money of dealing with it.
Another source is pallet materials. Some areas have companies that produce a ton of pallets and crates. Some crates use 10-12’ long 4x4’s. This could be repurposed into decking for a roof. A pallet breaker tool can be purchased at Home Depot or online for taking the slats off efficiently, and an air denail gun will make quick work of removing the nails from the slats so they can be reused.
Another great source for wood is tearing down houses or barns. Be careful here though, it’s easy to get in over your head! It is a LOT of work! However, if you have the time you can do a little every day after work for a few months and you’ll have a pile of lumber that is well cured. Old homes often have rough cut lumber, and some have 1x12 decking on the roof that would work very well for decking your roof and sides. I helped tear down an old Victorian home one time that had really nice lumber in it. An uncle did this as well, tearing down several houses, and built three houses for himself and his two sons.
With resourcefulness you will be able to come up with the materials. Make sure to protect the materials well, put pallets on the ground to stack the lumber flat in so it’s protected from ground moisture and doesn’t warp. Billboard tarps can be purchased for about $50 online and make excellent heavy duty tarps to protect everything with. If you know someone at an outdoor advertising company you might even get them for free, but if you do don’t let anyone know about it! Your source will be dried up in no time.
Hi this is Mary, Jeff's wife, and just adding to his comments above of our tour to Wheaton Labs nestled in the beautiful mountains of Montana. The first words that come to mind would be "inspirational and informative". And did I say "beautiful"? We were taken along smooth, frequently trodden winding paths kicking aside a rock or two now and then. Thankfully it did not require the fitness level of a marathon runner to make one's way up the hills where we visited a variety of well built structures interspersed throughout the land. There were clean, cozy cabins made of cedar with neatly made bunkbeds that would pass the inspection of any drill sergeant. Homemade curtains and dried lavender tied with ribbon dispelled any looks of a barracks, though, and more reminiscent of light touches of romantic country decor I would say. Chic without the shabby. This city girl from New Orleans had no qualms using the bathroom facilities better known in these parts of the country as outhouses. Quite the upscale in outhouses I might say and I've been in a few since moving to the Pacific Northwest. You can even visit an outhouse with a picture of a pig doing a jig fashioned by a former artisan - "The Dancing Pig" facility. Although we brought our own lunch, we were treated to freshly baked pizza hand rolled by Erica and topped with fresh vegetables and mushrooms to name a few of the toppings. The pizzas were baked in a rocket mass heater which has nothing to do with the aerospace industry! You will have to see it for yourself as well as so many, many interesting sights and experiences as well as friendly people. Live entertainment was provided by Paul with his informative explanations and if you were having a particularly bad day he would throw in a few cuss words for you at no extra cost. I could go on and on here, but if you're thinking of a second honeymoon retreat, a walk in the woods to restore your health, or to try out your hand with various homesteading and permaculture projects, Paul graciously shares his land at a minimal cost with those who'd like to experience and experiment. So pack up your work ethic and integrity if you plan to do the latter and leave any delusions of grandeur at home with the chickens unless you have permission by the landowner to bring Henrietta along. Down South some people like to put fake pink flamingos in their yards and so maybe a plastic chicken could be your own personal imprint to leave with Paul as part of his next tour. Thanks Paul and company for the great time!
We enjoyed the tour! Thank you Paul for taking the time to show us all around, it’s quite impressive what you’ve accomplished! I must say that I felt like I was walking with a walking encyclopedia! Your depth of knowledge is quite impressive!
Jocelyn, thank you for being a wonderful hostess. When I heard about your injury I was concerned that meant I wouldn’t get to meet you, but I’m glad you went on part of the tour with us.
Erica Wisner, thank you also for being a wonderful hostess. I was impressed with your humbleness and “down to earth” attitude. My wife and I really enjoyed talking to you. I forgot to ask where Ernie was, I wish I could have met him as well. Our condolences on the loss of his mother. Excellent well illustrated book by the way! Nothing less than the quality I expected with y’all’s depth of knowledge. I’m glad you had a copy on hand I was able to purchase.
Jeremy The Ant, it was a pleasure to meet you as well! You’ve got a lot of work ahead of you but you have abundant natural resources there to do it with. Go get em!
C.E. it was a pleasure to meet you! I’m sure you’ll have Wheaton Labs on the list of eco vacation spots to go to before long. I know I wouldn’t mind spending a night in a WOFATI some time in the future. I often thought Mike Oehler should have done that.
Phillip, I enjoyed our conversation afterwards. It was a pleasure to meet you.
I reckon I could keep going down the line naming each of you and I don’t mean to leave anyone out but all in all an awesome tour and it was great to meet everyone.
Now if y’all will excuse me, I’ve got to replace the axle on my skid steer today so I can get busy on some earthworks before the inspiration wears off!
Sounds good, we’re looking forward to it. I haven’t seen an email with directions yet, I might need that before I get to Missoula. Directions or not, I’ll be headed your way early in the morning. I trust I’ll get them before I arrive. Ha ha
I waited a bit late to pay, right when y’all are very busy, so sorry about that. We look forward to seeing everyone.
We’ll pack our own lunch.
i have been in Mike Oehler's original house as well as the rest of his experimental houses and the Ridge house he was still working on when he died. His original house he used a home treatment, copper something or the other, and used fir and larch poles along with a few other species that he had cut two years earlier to use for building a log house. He changed from log to underground and used the same wood. He used his PSP: Post Shoring Polyethylene method. He treated his post, wrapped it in two extra heavy duty trash bags and set it in the hole. His property is all sand, so the post was packed in sand. I forget what year he built it, maybe 1976? Anyway, it is still standing and sound today. In all those years he has only replaced a post or two. He has very good drainage, so I think that is key.
On his ridge house he used the same method, but he started the project around the year 2000 and ran out of funds. The post set in the ground unprotected from the elements for several years (I think 6 years?) before he was able to continue construction. On that house he had to replace several post, but that was 14 years with almost half of the time spent unprotected.
I've seen articles where people charred the bottom of the post then painted used motor oil on that portion before setting it in gravel in a dug hole. I think that would be a good option.
I’m waiting to see if my two friends want to go before I pay since I didn’t know if there was an option to add people to the party later.
No, I haven’t been to Wheaton Labs before. Though I know it’s not a requirement for this event, I have listened to almost every podcast with the exception of the one you have to pay for to find out Paul’s political viewpoints and a few others.
I recently completed a Geoff Lawton PDC and my wife is doing her Master Gardener internship.
We live off grid and hope to get a 700 sf yurt dried in this summer. Mike Oehler came out to my place and gave me some ideas, but I decided to go with the yurt (which originally was his) as I can get the materials for free from work to build the roof and the interior.
I plan to come for the tour Sunday and bring my wife and a friend or two. I knew Mike Oehler, so I’d like to see the WOFATIs along with all the other things.
Hopefully I’ll get the fiberglass yurt built this summer that I bought from Mike’s estate.
Earthship Biotechure has an app for iPhone or android called Simple Survival Earthships. It cost $9.99 and has complete description of all the systems of an earthship as well as detailed plans that can be printed off for several different styles of earthships that utilize rammed earth walls out of car tires and a domed roof using rebar and concrete. Well worth the price I think. They continue to update the app, an updated plan came across just this week. A small 400 sf simple survival shelter runs about $20,000 in materials, though that does include solar, water, toilet, etc., all the systems complete to survive with.
I personally don't like the prospect of swinging a sledgehammer that much ramming up the tires, but that is just me. Otherwise it has solid concepts. My personal favorite is my now deceased friend Mike Oehler's $50 and Up Underground House book. As Paul Wheaton has done, combine Mike's concepts which are very sound with John Hait's concepts he outlines in his very good book Passive Annual Heat Storage and you will have an inexpensive house that can be built in a fraction of the time that an earthship style house is done in unless you have 50 friends willing to help you for a whole month.
My family and I have gone through Mike Oehler's houses several times and I am still impressed.
Another good place to look at ideas is Open Source Ecology's website. They built a rammed earth construction house very cheaply, and the plans and concepts are all posted free for the reading.
I recall him mentioning rewriting the book now that you say that but I didn't know the title.
I wish I could read his last one, I know Alex was concerned about the expense of publishing it on a gamble as to whether it would sell or not.
The ridge house had really come along since I saw it last. I like the design.
I plan to build a smaller underground house on my place. Mike helped me pick the spot about three years ago, then shortly after that I had an accident and TBI that put everything on hold. I slowly getting back going so I hope to carry it out in the not too distant future.
Shortly before the accident I took a log truck load of logs to a owner operator sawmill to have it sawed up for the house. While I was down the man sawed up my logs and sold them! Still haven't got anything out of him, so I might have to purchase another load of logs and start over. Maybe I'll use my chainsaw mill this time, I don't want to lose another load of logs!!
I agree Jesse. That is a beautiful piece of property. If I had the means I'd buy it myself. The Ridge house really isn't far from completion.
The original house he wrote about in his book needs some repair, but could easily be livable as well. Also, there is the I completed survival shelter that is in good shape, though it needs a few more boards and backfilling. A lot of potential there I think.
Putting in a drilled well is $10-20,000 in this area so I'd do that if I owned the property.
I know Alex wants to follow Mike's wishes as much as possible, I pray that she can find the right buyer.
A couple of weeks ago I read Mike's book again "The Hippie's Survival Guide to Y2K". I got a good laugh as I read it, I could hear Mike's voice as related in the book about going to the city council in Bonners Ferry and talking to various people about the need to prepare. I think that book could easily been rewritten as "The Hippie's Survival Guide" and marketed again. I thought there was a lot of good advice in it.
Though Y2K didn't happen, the potential of losing a job or other personal disaster is very high for each of us, and his suggestions in the book were very good. Another thing I liked was his discussion about the ills of Industrialization and how he thought that homesteading was the cure for that, which I agree with.
I recently again ran across some material from Open Source Ecology about the 50 tools to build a civilization. How I wish I could sit with Mike and talk with him about Open Source and the potential there to help the little guy. He always had some insight that I liked.
Mike had a dream of multiple families living communally on his property, all working together. He built the ridge house with that in mind, and subdivided his land into parcels so each person/family could have their own.
Unfortunately, it is easy to dream up something but the execution of that dream is another matter all together. The family has tried to follow his wishes as much as possible, but the carrying out of this part of his dream wasn't possible for them to pull off. Thankfully, they ARE able to continue publishing his books as that would be even a greater loss if they went out of publication.
I respect whatever decision they make regarding his property. I hope that it will go to someone who will finish the Ridge House, the culmination of Mike's work.
I believe the family plans to sell the property. Mike had high hopes of someone carrying on his dream, but that did not come to pass unless someone purchases the property and carries on. There is quite a bit of value in big timber on the property as Mike thinned a few times but never clear cut, and he left most of the biggest trees. His original house needs some maintenance, and the ridge house needs to be finished. Accessibility is a problem in winter, and there is no well on the property either.
My idea with the RV is not to make it part of the structure. The structure will be an Oehler style pole building underground. The purpose of putting the Rv underground is to immediately have the benefits of heating and cooling from being underground and fully functional until the remainder of the structure is built.
This is similar to what I intend to do. I live in a 40' travel trailer. I intend to build an Oehler style structure around it with wood, leaving one end with a wooden wall to the outside that I can dismantle.
I intend to have a greenhouse hallway along the southern side, with a second layer of windows to the house to buffer the heat.
The kitchen and living room will be built, then the RV pulled out and bedrooms built in its place.
I think it is very doable and I've already drawn up plans on paper to do it.
In our area the waste transfer stations have a pile of wood you are allowed to scavenge from. There is brush, logs, construction scraps, etc. Also they have an area for bricks and sometimes you can get firebrick, cinder blocks, etc. If nothing else there is always a lot of rubble there that would be good for a driveway base or filling potholes.
Clay is hard to find here, but after asking around for 4 years I was given a couple yards from a man who had stockpiled 40 dump truck loads when a local mill was excavating close to the river and ran into a vein of clay.
After working 140 hours a week in the oil field, I cut back to 100 hours per week, then finally to 80 hours per week. It felt like "normal" as I worked that way for so many years. A on the job injury 15 months ago took me off work. I didn't realize how tired I was until I didn't have to go to work every day. Thankfully I got a paycheck from workers comp until the end of March.
Workers comp paid significantly less than my job and at first I didn't know how I was going to make it, but we adapted. After a year, workers comp dropped what i was paid by another $700. I really didn't know how we'd make it on that, but we adapted. Two days before April 1st I found out workers comp was dropping me and since that point I've had no income. I still have significant problems that prevent me from doing the work I once did.
I was really nervous about how we would make it, but it hasn't been a problem. Now I'm finding out how very little it takes to make it! We don't go anywhere unless it is for a job interview or such. A fill up in the car gas tank last a really long time! We eat a little lower on the hog, but I have 3 excellent cooks in the house and we have plenty of beans and rice and such that we bought in quantity and put up in buckets. We're not starving nor have we missed a meal.
We have chickens that free range and if we can find them we have plenty fresh eggs. Our sheep, goats, and rabbits all had babies so there is plenty of fresh meat when we need it and milk if we want.
Our only bills are land note, car insurance, phone and internet. I sold a few things to pay them. Student loans were put into forbearance. We have solar power, so no electric bill only occasionally do we need to buy gasoline for the generator if we have too many cloudy days.
I find that this stop in our income has brought a refreshing and a "reset". You find out what is really important and what isn't. It feels good to not be a consumer, constantly trying to acquire, and to realize that you have "enough".
I am looking for work, but now my focus has changed. I want a job that I can work just enough to cover the bills and I want to spend the rest of my time at home. Eventually I want all my income to come from home.
Thank you for posting that Jesse. I know it must of been hard to go through that. I can confirm what you said about him wanting a community on his land as we talked of that as well as I'm sure he also talked with others about doing the same. He had wanted me to move on his land with my family, but I was tied up developing my own property then sustained an injury that I've been off work from for more than a year.
His niece told me by email that she will continue the publishing of his books, but I don't know the status of his new books.
I really hope his vision is able to be carried on.
Alex is Mike Oehler's niece and is handling his affairs. Much to my relief, she will be continuing the publication of his books. I was worried the ball would be dropped and his books would go out of publication, but thankfully she is taking over that.
Indeed she would be an excellent source. She replied to me when I emailed.
I went by Mike's house this past Tuesday to try to find out more and to see if there is any help needed to wrap up his affairs. I talked to a neighbor and she said that a person was living there helping Mike at the time of his death. Evidently he fell in the shower and hit his head. His helper found him the next morning.
There was no funeral. If you need to cite a source you can cite me or I think there are some details about it on Sandpoint online on Facebook.
I left a note but have not heard anything back from Mike's helper. I'm sure all of this was very traumatic to them.
If anyone here knows of any help needed to wrap up Mike's affairs contact me at happyhigdons at yahoo dot com.
I'm so sorry to hear of my friend's passing! I still laugh when I think of how I first met him. I called several times hoping to get a tour but hesitant to impose. Finally I called and offered to pay him to allow my family and I to look at his houses. He called me back a couple of days later and said "I normally don't give tours, but the money helps!"
He only charged me a $100 then loaded me down with books and videos that exceeded that after I paid him. He was such a gentle soul!
He came to our house once, and invited us to his again for a meal. We laughed and talked and he really liked talking to my girls. He called me back this past summer and asked if any of my girls would like to spend the summer there and do the cooking for the woofers he was having, but my girls were busy with animals and 4H.
You will be missed by my family, Mike. Rest in peace. Those knees of yours were needing a break.
What is the soil like where you want to build? Is it the Georgia clay, sand, ?
A pole structure goes up the quickest and cheapest, especially if you have the trees. Billboard tarps can be picked up free or cheap from sign companies. There ought to be plenty available in Atlanta. The billboards come in 10x30 and 14x48. You can quickly cover your building site when you are done with one, not to mention using it as a building material.
You have a lot of rainfall there, so drainage is important. If you go underground, I'd put in a french drain. One advantage of underground is that perhaps a tax man might not be able to find it.
What type of trees do you have? Are there any 9" to 12" in diameter, especially a hardwood like oak or sweet gum? Sweet gum twist terribly when sawed into boards, but they make excellent post when left whole. When I lived in Louisiana the temporary bridges they built when repairing the original ones used untreated sweet gum as post
Underground is my favorite building structure. I've toured the Earthships in New Mexico and I'm friends with Mike Oehler and have toured his houses here in North Idaho. I love the endurance and performance of Earthships, but the amount of labor and expense to build one is out of my league. Oehler's structures (and Paul Wheaton's WOFATI'S) are much more accessible for a poor person, and the supplies to build one could be skidded up a mountain trail by a four wheeler. If you walk Mike Oehler's property, it is steep! The kids rode in the back of the truck to the top and I thought they were going to slide out. He has several structures on the steep mountainside that he packed everything in by hand.
He has plans for a 10x10 survival shelter he built that is in his DVDs and workbook, and I believe he has it in the Hippies Survival Guide to Y2K. One of the neatest structures I took pictures of was a little shelter that was built in a 3 day workshop. A couple with a small child lived in it for over a year. I've got pictures on my blog of it and some of his other houses.
Will it be heated? Perhaps heat would melt it off. If not, just be diligent to knock the snow off everyday. What about bending cattle panels over your pipe then putting the plastic on top of that? A 4x16 cattle panel is about $25 or so.
One thing I'd input is for your ventilation, put it at the highest point. Mike Oehler does this in his $50 and Up Underground Greenhouse and Mike Reynolds does it in his Earthships. Heat rises to the highest point, so provide plenty of space for it to escape. At the same time provide some earth tubes or other means to draw in fresh, cooler air.
Earthship Biotechure just released an app for their Simple Survival house that is pretty neat, and its affordable at $9.99 for your mobile device. It gives the plans and thinking behind a simple survival shelter that is similar to what you have, just more to it and more expensive probably. They estimate the complete cost for a one room house with a toilet, rainwater collection, solar, etc. is about $20,000. I'm sure you could build an Oehler/WOFATI design much cheaper and incorporate much of the same design ideas.
One thing I think is missing though is windows from two sides. It is important to have light from two directions, and this is often missed in the "first thought" underground houses as Mike Oehler says. Oehler has many good ideas of how to accomplish this. I think the understanding finally dawned on me when I got his DVD set, cut out the little paper drawings and started putting them together in the exercises he does on the DVD. I've got (terrible quality) pictures I on my blog of when we toured Mike Oehler's houses. Hopefully soon I'll get a post up with pictures of the Earthships pictures when I toured them in New Mexico a couple of years ago.
The Earthships do capture their own rainwater. Mike Reynolds is in Taos, New Mexico with an annual rain fall of only 7" and it is enough to supply all the needs of the occupants by reusing the water, even though it has a flush toilet.
Speaking of water, my family of four uses around 300 gallons a month for us and for all the goats, chickens, sheep, and rabbits. We do use more during the summer for watering the garden and the animals drink more.
I have some pictures of a teeny tiny earth integrated (as he would prefer it called) cabin on Mike Oehler's place. He gave my family a tour there summer before last and I took some (terrible) pictures. It is a small bunkhouse. Shed roof with earth on top, bermed up to the windows on the sides, and the front a normal face. It has two twin beds, a wood stove, and not much else. It was built I think in a 3 day workshop he put on years ago, and a couple with a small child lived in it for a year. Much better than a tent, but not very big.
I also have a few pictures of his survival shelter which is 10x10. The pictures for it were even worse so it is hard to get a good idea of what it actually looks like other than seeing the boards and post.
It is important to have light from at least two sides, especially in such a small space if you don't want to go crazy. Maybe also make a covered outside patio to extend your living room outdoors in good weather. Perhaps you could even put greenhouse hoops using PVC pipe off the front face that would give you a warmer area to sit in the winter and a place to start plants early in the spring. Take it down when summer arrives.
We live in a 40' travel trailer with my wife and two of my kids and we manage quite well. We are totally off grid, use a bucket toilet inside for emergencies and an outhouse outside. We have no running water unless you count running out to our storage tank to get a bucket of water.
A shallow dug well can be cheaper. In my area, there is a water table less than 20' deep.
I got a quote of $300 per day for the digging (should be do able in a day), and $1000 for the cement tiles to stack in the hole.
Shallow well pumps are much cheaper.
Also, if the water table is deeper still, but less than 50', one can hand drive a well with a sand point.
I tried uploading pics from my phone I took a couple of weeks ago but it didn't go.
I took pics of the Mandan Indian tribe's earth lodges in New Town, North Dakota.
They are built in an octagon, just like yours. The outside ring has post about 5' tall spaced maybe 8' apart. There are logs connecting the top of the post together.
In the center are four post in a square, with logs connecting them together in a square on top of them.
Around the outside, short poles are leaned against the perimeter. Then, longer poles are laid from the top of the outside plate (the octagon), to the top of the inside plate (on top of the poles arranged in a square).
This forms a circle at the very top, which they left open as a smoke hole.
Inside the square in the center was a huge fire pit.
The poles were covered with thin branches, straw, then about 6"-12" of dirt.
This is what they lived in with winters getting down to -60 or even colder.
Two hunting buddies worked in an office together with a man that was a tremendous braggart. No matter what you said, he would always try to prove that he knew more and was better at it.
After years of listening to the blowhard, the two buddies decided to set him up. They started talking about bear hunting. Sure enough, the braggart took the bait, and waxed eloquent about bear hunting.
The two hunting buddies told him, "Great, we are going bear hunting after we leave work tomorrow. We need someone that can show us the how it is done, so we are bringing you!"
The braggart tried to weasel out of it every way he could, but the two buddies wouldn't let him out of it, so finally his pride got the best of him and he agreed.
The braggart was in a sweat, as he had never hunted, or even fired a gun, in his whole life! As soon as he got off work, he went and bought all the gear he thought he would need for the next day.
The next day after work, the three of them loaded up and headed for the mountains, getting to the cabin after dark.
Early the next day, the braggart got up early and sneaked out, thinking that perhaps he would get lucky and shoot a bear before the other two got up.
He hadn't walked very far down the trail, when lo and behold there was a huge fierce bear, charging straight at him! He threw up his gun and pulled the trigger before he suddenly realized he had not even loaded the gun!
He threw the gun towards the bear and turned, running for his life back towards the cabin, screaming "Open the door, open the door!"
Every step he took the bear was gaining ground. One of the hunting buddies heard his screams and opened the door. Right as the braggart got to the top step, he tripped and fell flat on his face, and the bear went right over the top of him inside of the cabin!
The braggart quickly jumped to his feet, pulled the door shut and hollered "You all skin that bear, I'll go get another one!"
Jarrell, TX was hit by an F5 tornado in the 90's, and 26 people died, mostly on one street. A man I know, Gabrielle, was terrified of the possibility of getting hit by a tornado, so he dug a cellar hole directly in the middle of his concrete foundation house, and rocked it in with limestone. When the tornado came, his wife and son and the neighbor's wife and son went inside it and were about the only survivors in their neighborhood. Absolutely nothing was left of the homes, even some of the slabs were peeled up, as was 2' of topsoil and the the asphalt road.
That being said, why not use rock and a slipform to make a cellar that is intergrated into the house? Build it into a back wall and cover it with the earth berm.
Do you have rock on your property? Are there any farms in the area that have picked rocks out of the field that they might let you have?