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Fianou Oanyi
Posts: 24
Location: Australia
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Hello,
Our plan is to find a block of land and live in our tent while we build a cob house. We want to be able to be onsite, save money and build slowly, and be able to get to know the land and develop our relationship with the place, learning about the light, air flow, water flow of the site before we build. We look forward to being able to have a better connection with the earth. We are going to go on a camping holiday and see if we can find the place our heart sings while our house is on the market. Once it is sold we can buy a block of land and get started. We have an area in mind to head to, where I grew up, but are open to somewhere else taking our fancy. The weather there is pretty mild, subtropical. It can rain a bit, but the winters are pretty mild with warm sunny days and cold nights.
Does anyone have any good ideas or tips they could share before we go ahead and move out of our house and put it on the market? Has anyone lived in a tent?
 
Will Meginley
Posts: 115
Location: Concord, New Hampshire
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food preservation forest garden hunting tiny house trees woodworking
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Because of my work I've probably spent almost as much of my adult life sleeping outdoors as indoors - usually without even a cloth roof over my head unless the chance of rain was high. Some of that has included nights so cold my sweat-soaked leather work boots literally froze solid beside me, and I've woken up a time or two to find several inches of snow on top of my sleeping bag. It is absolutely possible to spend quite long periods of time comfortably without a solid roof over your head, even in cold weather. A good sleeping bag and sensible clothing will go a lot further than most people would believe. And a tent will probably add 10-15 deg. F to the temperature inside just from the body heat of one person.

That said, it's nice to be able to come in out of the rain. And not have to constantly be swatting flies away from your food or mosquitoes away from your ears.

Here's my two cents:

- No cooking inside the tent. For starters, it's a fire hazard, and can give you carbon monoxide poisoning if you're using open flame and don't have adequate ventilation. Also, it makes your tent smell like food - and unless you want unwelcome and possibly dangerous guests in the middle of the night you don't want your tent to smell like food. Here in the US we have bears, wolves, coyotes and such. I know there you at least have dingoes. Cook and eat outside. Preferably downwind from the sleeping/living areas. Animals will generally approach from downwind so they can smell any potential danger. Let them get to your kitchen first rather than your bedroom.

- On a related note, don't store food inside the tent. Invest in a bear box, animal-resistant containers, hang it from a tree in watertight bags, or leave it in the car. Toiletries that smell like fruit or flowers would probably be better stored somewhere else as well.

- Put the pooper downwind as well.

- If you're going with a canvas tent, I'd go with one that you can roll the sides up on. Otherwise they can be brutally hot when it's warm outside. I prefer double wall backpacking tents so that I can omit the rain fly and just have mosquito netting when the weather is hot and not rainy.

- If your tent doesn't come with mosquito netting built in to the windows and doors I would at least consider getting a net to cover your bed.

- Don't wash dishes, bathe, or use the restroom within 30m of any body of water. I'd go even further if you're up a steep slope. Use biodegradable soap.
 
Fianou Oanyi
Posts: 24
Location: Australia
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Thanks for your suggestions, its certainly encouraging.
We have a pretty decent tent, 3 room, so good for our family of 4, pantry box for foodstuffs, was planning to build the composting toilet and then the bathroom first, then an outdoor cob kitchen and rocket stove. Living in the south like we do now I have discovered the wonders of wool blankets and thermal underwear.
Luckily we don't have the scary animals you have there! Yikes! Luckily dingoes don't live where we are either. Trying to think what we do have to worry about. spiders and snakes maybe? Drop bears?
I am a little worried about wind, storms, and occasional hail.... I suppose we can always pack up the tent in a bad storm.
 
Will Meginley
Posts: 115
Location: Concord, New Hampshire
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food preservation forest garden hunting tiny house trees woodworking
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Fianou Oanyi wrote:
I am a little worried about wind, storms, and occasional hail.... I suppose we can always pack up the tent in a bad storm.


A valid concern. Most of the large, multi-room tents I've seen are very boxy - not a good shape for wind resistance. There are some things you can do to mitigate that. First off, pay attention to the weather and learn where the prevailing winds blow on your site. Particularly storm winds, which often come from a different direction than normal winds. If normal winds are fine then you'll probably want to plan for storm winds.

- Location: If you have forested land onsite, set your tent up in the trees, but not near any dead trees that might fall over on you in a storm. The trees will dramatically reduce the wind felt at ground level. If you camp at the edge of a clearing, do so on the upwind side. Avoid camping in saddles, gullies, chimneys, canyons, and other V-shaped landforms that funnel wind. Ridge tops are also not generally a good idea, because you'll have no protection from any direction, and the wind will almost always be blowing. Set up your tent so that the most frequently used opening faces downwind.

- Shape: Round and/or dome shaped tents will hold up better in high winds. A big square tent will act like a sail, putting more stress on the tent poles and possibly uprooting poorly placed tent stakes or snapping inadequate guy lines. Tents with a rounded roof will also hold up better against hail since it will just glance off rather than striking dead-on.

- Barriers: If you park your car upwind it will give you some windbreak protection, particularly if it's a taller vehicle like a van or a box truck. You can also make a temporary windbreak using three poles and a large tarp. Combine that with a tarp over the roof and you can have protection from hail as well, plus some outdoor storage space or an outdoor room. Most of the time when a tent fails during a storm it's because a pole snapped, particularly the light-weight aluminum ones. Anything you can do to reinforce the tent poles or prevent the wind/rain/hail from exerting pressure on them makes it less likely that they'll break. Barring a hurricane, the fabric will probably be fine.

And yes, if you know there's a major storm coming you could always strike the tent and find a hotel room for the night.
 
Fianou Oanyi
Posts: 24
Location: Australia
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Thanks so much for your sage advice! I will keep it all in mind.
 
Rose Pinder
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Location: Otago, New Zealand
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I'm jealous, sounds like a great plan.

Are you talking about the camping while you are travelling or once you are on the land? They're two different things in my mind eg at the land you can build infrastructure to protect you during storms or have an backup shelter.
 
Fianou Oanyi
Posts: 24
Location: Australia
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Rose Pinder wrote:I'm jealous, sounds like a great plan.

I am glad, because right now this week, I am rather terrified! We moved down here and took the plunge and the risk 3 years ago. It was crazy stressful and we leapt into the void and were okay, but ended up living in a tent with nowhere to go approaching winter for about a month. We ended up staying somewhere lovely and meeting some great people travelling through the camp site. It was private so there were no limits to the length of stay like a lot of public camp grounds. But a storm undid us, we packed up and luckily a complete stranger took us in and we camped on her loungeroom floor for 2 weeks. Somehow we were able to buy an old housing commission house with no money under a scheme and have somewhere to live. Could have worked out well as the house is real cheap. We'd have the mortgage payed off in a few years, It wasn't the plan at all, but we couldn't get a rental, so go figure its easier to get a mortgage than a rental contract. But we really don't like the area... its very conservative and closed and we don't feel at all at home. Its not a place I want to raise my beautiful rainbow boys. Its also not very satisfying a lifestyle and we never wanted a mortgage. So lessons learned we are a little wiser this time round, but it feels like we are leaping back into the void again! I know to trust, and that we will be rewarded but I am still scared. Its not so much "letting go of pebbles to find gems" in my mind right now, as "come to the edge he said, we are afraid, they said.... they came, he pushed them and they flew" .... well I hope we will fly. My heart still yearns for a proper connection with the earth and to develop my Dadirri. I am scared but hopeful.

Are you talking about the camping while you are travelling or once you are on the land? They're two different things in my mind eg at the land you can build infrastructure to protect you during storms or have an backup shelter.

No I mean camping once we are on our land. Yes, it's what I had in mind. How to go about camping more permanently. I thought maybe build a toilet first, power and a water tank, then maybe a bathhouse/laundry, then start the main house?
 
Jessica Crowder
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Will Meginley wrote:
Fianou Oanyi wrote:
I am a little worried about wind, storms, and occasional hail.... I suppose we can always pack up the tent in a bad storm.


A valid concern. Most of the large, multi-room tents I've seen are very boxy - not a good shape for wind resistance. There are some things you can do to mitigate that. First off, pay attention to the weather and learn where the prevailing winds blow on your site. Particularly storm winds, which often come from a different direction than normal winds. If normal winds are fine then you'll probably want to plan for storm winds.

- Location: If you have forested land onsite, set your tent up in the trees, but not near any dead trees that might fall over on you in a storm. The trees will dramatically reduce the wind felt at ground level. If you camp at the edge of a clearing, do so on the upwind side. Avoid camping in saddles, gullies, chimneys, canyons, and other V-shaped landforms that funnel wind. Ridge tops are also not generally a good idea, because you'll have no protection from any direction, and the wind will almost always be blowing. Set up your tent so that the most frequently used opening faces downwind.

- Shape: Round and/or dome shaped tents will hold up better in high winds. A big square tent will act like a sail, putting more stress on the tent poles and possibly uprooting poorly placed tent stakes or snapping inadequate guy lines. Tents with a rounded roof will also hold up better against hail since it will just glance off rather than striking dead-on.

- Barriers: If you park your car upwind it will give you some windbreak protection, particularly if it's a taller vehicle like a van or a box truck. You can also make a temporary windbreak using three poles and a large tarp. Combine that with a tarp over the roof and you can have protection from hail as well, plus some outdoor storage space or an outdoor room. Most of the time when a tent fails during a storm it's because a pole snapped, particularly the light-weight aluminum ones. Anything you can do to reinforce the tent poles or prevent the wind/rain/hail from exerting pressure on them makes it less likely that they'll break. Barring a hurricane, the fabric will probably be fine.

And yes, if you know there's a major storm coming you could always strike the tent and find a hotel room for the night.




I hear that yurts are very wind resistant due to their shape and construction.
 
Rachel Dee
Posts: 34
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Jessica Crowder wrote:
I hear that yurts are very wind resistant due to their shape and construction.


YES! I have lived in a yurt for 3 seasons - fall, winter, spring - and there was a HUGE windstorm. The yurt was in the middle of a field and things shook a lot - poles falling down and such, but nothing more. In the morning, we saw that some buildings in the neighborhood had missing shingles, trees had fallen over, garbage cans sailed away.

We didn't have anything "holding it down" (guy lines strung onto big stones) and it was fine.

I'm excited to go live in it again!
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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