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Living outdoors rent free  RSS feed

 
Simon Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 202
Location: S Ontario, Zone 6/7
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Last summer my girlfriend and I decided we would try living outdoors in our friends back yard/forest area. It went really well and now we are back for round two this summer. I thought some people on here might find it neat to see what we are doing, so I am going to post some pictures and answer some questions. Pictures will come up randomly, as they are spread out among multiple cameras/phones and I don't have constant internet access.

I figured I would start with what I have and go from there. So here are a few pictures of the setup process and more will follow. We are pretty well set up now, so I will get some up to date pictures soon.
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Got the big tarp up
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Got the living room tent up
 
Simon Johnson
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Location: S Ontario, Zone 6/7
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In the first picture, in the above post, you can see the bedroom tent on the platform we built in the background.

Here are a couple pictures of inside the living room tent as we set up. I set up a plywood floor so we could have chairs and tables without wrecking the tent floor.

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Couch and shelf
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Dining table and shelf
 
Simon Johnson
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Posts: 202
Location: S Ontario, Zone 6/7
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Here are a couple pictures from inside the living room tent with all the stuff moved in. We have 140 watts of solar panels powering one 130 amp hour battery. This set up has worked very well so far. As you can see in one of the pictures, I have my stereo hooked up and it works great when during sunny days. I can crank it up and listen for quite some time without getting too low on juice.
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Front enterance
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Couch side
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Table and power side
 
Simon Johnson
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Posts: 202
Location: S Ontario, Zone 6/7
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And here are a couple pictures of the outdoor kitchen area. You can see the easily cleaned counter top and the propane stove for cooking. We also built an insulated box, buried it in the ground and then put the cooler inside the box. This set up seems to work well at keeping things cool. We make ice up at our friend's place and switch it out every few days. The cooler also comes out easily for cleaning. In the last picture, you can see the bedroom tent. We have our bed, dresser, and chest of clothes in there. This tent is up on the deck to keep it extra dry during the stormy days.
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Kitchen counter
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Cooler
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Bedroom tent
 
Simon Johnson
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Location: S Ontario, Zone 6/7
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In this set of pictures you can see the shower, the compost pooper, and a shot of the nice river view. The pooper was built out of scrap wood, steel, and nails we had lying around. We have a garbage can under the seat to catch the goods, and sawdust to sponge up the nitrogen. It is working excellently. The shower is a solar bag type that we fill up with water from the river and set in the sun to warm up. Then it gets hoisted up with a pulley.
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Pooper
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Shower
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River view
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 395
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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Simon Johnson wrote:Last summer my girlfriend and I decided we would try living outdoors in our friends back yard/forest area. It went really well and now we are back for round two this summer. I thought some people on here might find it neat to see what we are doing, so I am going to post some pictures and answer some questions. Pictures will come up randomly, as they are spread out among multiple cameras/phones and I don't have constant internet access.

I figured I would start with what I have and go from there. So here are a few pictures of the setup process and more will follow. We are pretty well set up now, so I will get some up to date pictures soon.


Not to sound snarky or anything (because really, I'm just curious), but what was your point in doing this? I mean, you weren't exactly roughing it from the looks of things, so wilderness survival skills don't enter the picture. Was this purely to save money, or were you doing this as a kind of practice homestead to see if you like the simpler lifestyle? If the later, I would seriously suggest losing about 75% of your stuff. Most of the 21st century junk we accumulate is unnecessary, and merely ends up being that much more stuff you have to worry about being lost, stolen or just in the way. Trust me, I know this from experience. A couple of clothes changes, a few dishes, a couple of chairs, etc. Own enough to do what is necessary but not so much that YOU end up working for the HOUSE, instead of the other way around.

By the way, what did you do with all that when summer ended? Did you end up having to move all that back indoors when you left? I hope you had a big truck and lots of friends!
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I got the idea that they were looking to save money on rent. This looks like lots of fun, thanks for posting!
 
Zach Muller
gardener
Posts: 778
Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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bike books chicken dog forest garden urban
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Simon, that is pretty cool. I like the ice chest hole and may have to try it out myself. My wife and I have set up our tent and camped in the yard a few times, but you guys went all out!

I guess since it was in a yard there were no worries of curious people or thieves?

This type of setup reminds me of a large homeless camp in my town that is down by the Arkansas river. As a kid I stumbled onto it while trucking through the woods and remember that rush of mystery having found inhabited areas in such a surprising place.
 
Zach Muller
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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Maybe for the winter you could try a rmh in a teepee?
 
Simon Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 202
Location: S Ontario, Zone 6/7
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Deb Stephens wrote:Not to sound snarky or anything (because really, I'm just curious), but what was your point in doing this? I mean, you weren't exactly roughing it from the looks of things, so wilderness survival skills don't enter the picture. Was this purely to save money, or were you doing this as a kind of practice homestead to see if you like the simpler lifestyle? If the later, I would seriously suggest losing about 75% of your stuff. Most of the 21st century junk we accumulate is unnecessary, and merely ends up being that much more stuff you have to worry about being lost, stolen or just in the way. Trust me, I know this from experience. A couple of clothes changes, a few dishes, a couple of chairs, etc. Own enough to do what is necessary but not so much that YOU end up working for the HOUSE, instead of the other way around.

By the way, what did you do with all that when summer ended? Did you end up having to move all that back indoors when you left? I hope you had a big truck and lots of friends!


Hi Deb. I guess we did this for a few reason. Saving money was a part of it, but mostly it is a lot of fun living in your friend's back yard with a sweet set up and a nice location by the river. Not paying rent also allows us to work much less at a "real" job, and lets us have "free" time doing cool permaculture projects on the property. You also get a sense of living simpler, but I most definitely agree with you on the point about ditching all the stuff. We are in the process of working our way to the point of having just the bare bones. If you can believe it, we already got rid of a bunch of stuff...

And yes we did have a truck, trailer, and friends to move
 
Simon Johnson
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Location: S Ontario, Zone 6/7
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Thanks Zach. It is a lot of fun. I don't really worry about thieves, as we are pretty secluded, and if they did come down the river, saw our place and decided they wanted some stuff, that wouldn't be so bad either. We don't really have anything worth stealing. My stereo and laptop are pretty old...

I would love to get a rmh going in a setup like the tepee and go for the winter. Maybe one of these winters we'll get there, but it's a long haul of a winter around here. As for now, I guess we'll just have to get a place to stay warm in.
 
theresa penner
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That does look like a lot of fun. It is smart to save money for real living. I hae done this but not set up as good as yours. Good luck. More people should do this|
Theresa from Love, |Saskatchewan
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 395
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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Simon Johnson wrote:
Hi Deb. I guess we did this for a few reason. Saving money was a part of it, but mostly it is a lot of fun living in your friend's back yard with a sweet set up and a nice location by the river. Not paying rent also allows us to work much less at a "real" job, and lets us have "free" time doing cool permaculture projects on the property. You also get a sense of living simpler, but I most definitely agree with you on the point about ditching all the stuff. We are in the process of working our way to the point of having just the bare bones. If you can believe it, we already got rid of a bunch of stuff...

And yes we did have a truck, trailer, and friends to move


Hi Simon,
I completely understand the need to get out in a rural setting and just slow the pace down. What I said about all the stuff, though... that was based on my husband's and my own experience when we bought the land we currently live on. We moved from a typical house with a backyard in a nice neighborhood in a college town. Piled everything we owned in a rental truck and drove up here, dumped it all out on the ground (well, stacked neatly on pallets actually) and set up tents to live in until we could build a house. THAT turned out to take a lot longer than we expected, so we lived in tents (and later a very tiny travel trailer, as well) for several years. It was HOT as hell in summer and we froze all winter. (Try taking a bath in water from a barrel that you first have to break the ice off!!! You will begin to understand why pioneers only bathed once a month!)

After all those years of primitive--really PRIMITIVE--living, when we got to the point of actually having a place for all the stuff we had stored on those pallets, most of it was either eaten (or stolen) by mice, raccoons or whatever else needed a cushy nest made from clothes, cushions, appliance insulation, you-name-it... OR it was ruined by rain leaking in through microscopic holes we hadn't noticed. However, by that time we had forgotten what we had in there in the first place, and with few exceptions never even missed it. We could have saved ourselves the expense and trouble of hauling about 90% of that stuff if we had only known! It is surprising how little the things you think you need in the city actually get used when your life becomes one of basic survival. The daily routine of getting water, gathering wood and making fires to cook on and heat our living spaces, dealing with animals, getting a garden in, building a house--all of those require moving around. Who needs a couch or a cushy chair when you don't have time to sit in it? More pots and dishes just mean more things to wash in a dishpan full of water that you had to carry and heat. Same thing for clothes. (And with our lifestyle, jeans, t-shirts and boots were about the only practical items to keep--street shoes, dresses, fancy clothes of all types went to the thrift shop or were reduced to useful rags.) After awhile, we came to the conclusion that the less we had, the less we had to worry about maintaining. It is a very freeing thing.

Anyway, hope you finally do get to do the simpler life permanently. It can be tougher than you imagine sometimes, but in the end, if a slower, more thoughtful lifestyle is the goal, it is well worth it. And all that practice will come in handy!

By the way, where are you located? Just curious since you mentioned winter being a "long haul".
 
Simon Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 202
Location: S Ontario, Zone 6/7
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Thanks for that Deb. We are set up in Southwestern Ontario near Owen Sound. Snow starts in November and lingers around until April. There has been some talk here about getting a RMH / tepee setup going in the not so distant future. I was thinking a "portable RMH" like Paul built with the wood frame and gravel/stone mass. Seems easier to build than cob. Maybe one day......
 
Tim Clauson
Posts: 43
Location: Oklahoma
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We did something similar, but not quite to the extent. We started simplifying a few years ago. About a year and a half ago, we got rid of everything that wouldn't fit in out Chevy van and tent trailer and drove to Central America where we stayed for about a year. After coming back, we bought 10 acres and are living in a tent and a trailer. Had a lot less on the way back from Central America than when we left also. This with five kids.
You can see a lot of how we were before we left, during our time in Belize and after our return on our Youtube channel:
Homestead Kids
We absolutely love it! It is so nice not having a bunch of "stuff" to worry about
 
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