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Heading to wilderness to start off grid homestead  RSS feed

 
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   Hi there, We are a family of four adults. And we are moving wooded raw land. Quite a ways out. Our plan is to build an off grid homestead. We are skilled homestead veterans. But moving to the woods in Ky at the 1st of March and essentially bush crafting in primitive shelter is sorta out of our skill set. My daughter is an herbalist, specializing in health and wellness. Hubby is a carpenter,builder,furniture maker. I am chief cook and household keeper as well as planner, etc. Son is every ones helper and pack animal. LOL 
    We are hiking in so everything at the first will have to be carried. So it is important to use as much natural materials as possible.We have one 18 ft tent. We are planning to build a quick primitive a frame/ridgepole shelter to put a tarp over and put the tent inside. Spring storms here can be tough. Honestly I am open for all suggestions. But at this moment I am sorting stuff at our sold house in the burbs. And really drawing a blank as to what is important enough to pack into the base camp.
    So please do share any essential supply lists or info that comes to mind. Everything we own is going to storage till tha house is built. We are expecting a warm dry portion before next winter. Feel free to ask questions. The land has ample trees of all kinds , standing and fallen. Thanks Gigi
 
pollinator
Posts: 1443
Location: northern California
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I have twice started homesteading on raw bushland beginning with a tent.  Both times I had several months advance planning and access to a vehicle and the sites had driveway access, so my situation was a bit different that way.  I hauled a lot of materials in from off-site, mostly from dumpsters and other free or cheap sources, and my first buildings on both sites were based around cardboard, plastic, and carpets from town dumpsters which can be layered to make durable sheathing.  Hiking in is a different situation.  Is there even a trail that you can take a wheelbarrow, or better yet a garden cart in?  This will improve the efficiency of getting stuff in there over packing in on your back.
    Getting the tent or other temporary shelters up off the ground a bit is important for warmth and dryness.  I used pallets for this, covered with a couple of thicknesses of cardboard and carpets to make a relatively flat "floor" on which the tent can be pitched or stuff stacked up. Stringing a tarp on a rope or a pole between two living trees, provided there are some the right place and distance, is something I did several times....trees are better than posts since they don't rot.  If you cut the tops off just above where the ridgepole is placed, they will grow back out and you won't have to worry about the posts swaying in the wind. 
     Plastic and tarps are useful, lightweight, packable and cheap (or even free if you know the right dumpsters....mattress and furniture stores) and will keep the rain off you and your stuff.  Layer them with fabric of any sort...old sheets for instance, laid over the plastic to shade it from the sun.  Tuck rocks into the corners and edges and wrap twine around from the other side to tie it off...stronger than a grommet.  Use nuts or wood chunks etc. if your land doesn't have pebbles.  Baler twine is endlessly useful on a homestead from the beginning stage onward.  Again, light weight and worth packing in.
     Good tools are always valuable, and I'm sure your carpenter husband knows this.  Working with bush timber is different than lumber from the market though and a few hard-to-find tools might be really useful....a drawknife comes first to mind for peeling the bark off of poles (poles last much longer without the bark).  Similarly with kitchen stuff....not all of it is amenable to cooking over a campfire, like pots with plastic handles!
    Food will be an issue, unless you've got plenty of land and are experts at foraging and hunting. Most mainstream food is bulky, containing a lot of packaging and water.  Think about bulk dry goods, such as "preppers" stock up on....whole grains, beans, dried fruit, salt, sugar, etc.  Calculate the amounts and buy in bulk in good sealed containers.  Think about how you will prepare these into meals that people will happily eat, day in and day out, until you get gardens and other food systems up and running (a matter of months, at least). 
     What about your water source?  Spring, creek, rainwater catchment, have a well dug, etc.  all have their benefits and drawbacks.  A backup to the main source is highly desirable.
 
gardener
Posts: 1057
Location: Middle Tennessee
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Super glue. It's liquid stitches and is great for putting cuts and minor lacerations back together. Keeps dirt out way better than bandages. There's a medical version but it costs more than regular super glue. Hopefully you'll never need it. :)
 
master steward
Posts: 4336
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Hello Kim, is THIS the same property? 

Sounds like a true adventure.  So no road built? You will be hauling/ packing everything in? 

I would say tools, like saws, axes, hammers, etc., campfire cooking stuff, large Tupperware tubs or even open top 55 gallon drums for storage and to keep things dry.

Do you have a clean water supply? We use "sawyer" filters at our place.

Solar garden path lights are great for lighting the area at night. I put them up on poles/ trees, about 8 to 10 feet off of the ground.

Do you have bears ,lions, other large predators in the area? If so guns might be good for protection.
 
Posts: 1495
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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forest garden solar
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Shelter - On-site, trees/wood to start fire and make handle for stone axe, stone for stone axe, trees for pole and stone for chisel to make a house frame, and stone and dirt/clay and grass for cob wall and floor, and grass for roofing, vines and bark for rope/twine. Ultralight 4 season backpacking just to get there

Water - Ceramic Filter/Life Stray for surface water, containers for storing/boiling.

Food - multivitamin-mineral, sugar, koji+kefir microbes, oil and huntiing tools, wild plant and mushroom identification, small/large game hunting skill+permit?, fishing tools+permit?, seed to start your vegetable garden.  

Fire - I dont think a sulfur tip match is going to cut it, cob/clay rocket stove

Protection - possible gun for coyotes and such, general knowledge in dealing with bears, snake and such

Clothing -

Energy - Flexible solar panel,
 
Miles Flansburg
master steward
Posts: 4336
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Also check out this youtube channel, lots of great ideas.

Primitive technology
 
Kim Bowen
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Documenting everything for friends and family.
OK, First it isn't the same property. hat deal fell through and we have been two years getting ready to try again. But it is close to the other one. We plan to make a temporary water catchment with a tarp at first. We have a homemade ceramic filter bucket for water. We had planned a trappers cabin but decided a more primitive A frame would go up faster and get us out of the weather the first day. Thanks for all the input, I will consider each and every suggestion. We really want to do this with as little change to the natural environment as possible. There is ample trees of all ages and size, and ample flat rock as well. Makes me think the copperhead population might be healthy there. So we will have to keep  paths and yard clean. Lots of Bobcats, seldom a bear or big cat. Lots of coyotes and dear as well as turkey.  I plan a palisade around the fence to protect the garden from dear. Feel free to fallow us on Youtube and please be free with comments. I am looking to make jerky and pemmican and used bulk and dried foods. Grow, and dry. It is allot to learn but it feels so right. Thanks Kim/ (Gigi)
 
gardener
Posts: 1796
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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You will definitely want to get yourself some some good bush tools to carry in.  I would suggest, since you are hiking in, to get fiskars axes, which are really light, and also quite durable.  Get good files to sharpen your axes.   Get yourself a few good saws of various types.  Everybody should have a good bush knife and know how to use it effectively and safely.  You will want to have strong clothing, and lots of it.  I would carefully pack clothes into a rubbermaid type plastic tote(s); this can double as a wash basin/sponge bath tub as well as a place to store drygoods in at a later time.  I second the suggestion of baling twine.  If one person carries in a role of it, that will last a REALLY long time.  The suggestion of grommet free tarp tying are perfect.  Learn or bring a small pocket book to learn, knots.  There are a few that I use all the time, including the a simplified trucker's hitch, which I make with a fixed loop that can be ratcheted from with a loose end that has gone around a stake or a tree.  Unlike a true trucker's hitch, my loop is not easily undone, but it is very easy to tie the loose end to it in a safe slip knot.   I can whip a fixed loop where I want it, and ratchet a tarp tight, and tie it off securely but with the possibility of changing it in a very short time frame.  If you are going to string up a large tarp, you are going to want to have multiple strands of string underneath it, or a good well smoothed (so it doesn't abrade your tarp) ridgepole.  Whatever you do with your wood framing for a tarp set up, you have to do whatever you can to protect your plastic from abrasion, particularly in winds that will thrash your tarp.  The tighter your tarp is, the less thrash damage, and the better your tarp will shed water and fine woody debris and leaves from trees.  You can put soft moss or flat bark or anything else between your wood and tarp to pad the transition to avoid abrasion.     
 
Posts: 304
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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Best thing you can consider is an access road. If its clayey, use 11/2 inch rock as the base. Its hard to work with but forms a great base for a track.
 
Kim Bowen
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Can anyone suggests an edible wild foods book and or cook/preservation book
 
John C Daley
Posts: 304
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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As an experienced bushman, I am startled at some of your questions.
So I have to ask, have you spent lots of time living in the bush, camping, living off the land.

It seems to me you may be starting too far behind the starting line.

Maybe you need to build a small structure for survival and get more prepared?
Hiking things in is tough, maybe a dedicated small machine, quad bike, old ute would be best
it would be far more efficient use of time and effort.
You could use that to build a small track as well.
I think in the end you will need a formed track since its a permanent living site, in the past habitation lasted for relatively short periods, say a season, so tracks were not needed to be formed.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1428
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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This really sounds like a challenge to me. 

Some of my thoughts:  Do you have a safe place to park your vehicle?  In case of an emergency, you don't want to get to it and find it has been stripped.

How far are you from the nearest town with a hospital?  Local place to get water?

Have you tried some dry runs at places like State Parks with primitive camping?

A neighbor of mine several years ago was going to hike the Appalachian Trail so he spent several months walking up and down our road loaded with a heavy pack.  Have you done something like this?
 
Posts: 182
Location: Stone Garden Farm Richfield Twp., Ohio
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"We are skilled homestead veterans."
" ..sold house in the burbs."
"Can anyone suggest an edible wild foods book and or cook/preservation book?"
"...really drawing a blank as to what is important enough to pack into the base camp."
"Makes me think the copperhead population might be healthy there."

Above are some of your own quotes. You wrote you are "homestead veterans". But your house is in the "burbs". You don't know what tools you'll need and be able to back pack in. You don't already know what to forage, or even what book to read about foraging, cooking, preserving. You think there might be snakes that can kill you, but you don't really know. ---And that's just a partial list of what you don't know. 

You want advice? Get a heck of a lot better prepared and knowledgeable before you try to do something that the vast majority of pioneers failed to do in, during the settling of America. Take some classes, do more primitive camping. Learn to build a fire in the rain. Learn plant identification and use. Etc., etc., etc. A place you could start is ~ www.survivalschool.com. You may know enough to attempt what you propose. But, I think it highly unlikely you know enough to be successful at it.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1495
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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I would say give yourself some buffer.

Give yourself alot of time to build a shelter by spending alot of money on a ultralight 4 season tent. So that you can be warm, being cold/wet can really take you out of the game. Also get 4 or at least 2 tents. So that people can have privacy and also so that some redundancy exist in cast something unexpected happen.

You might have some contraption that can harvest rainwater and purify it, but go ahead and get life straw+ceramic filter water bottle, so that you can use any stream, river, pond, muddy puddle, even pee if needed, it will not be for long term but it will give you some buffer.

I know that you will probably get unlimited amount of food but bring some dense food like multi-vitamin/mineral and oil, hopefully you never have to use it, not too sure about your protein needs though, but some grub, worm, fish or squirrel should be enough protein, (but not enough calories obviously).


1) Try expensive ultralight backpacking for 2weeks and survive right now in the winter. Return to the "city" decompress and restock
2) Then move up to cheap primitive wilderness camping for 2 weeks still in the winter, return to the "city" and make notes of how to improve
3) Move to the next level without the 2week limit and camp for months
Personally I think it is easier to find water in the winter, there are less snakes and ticks and such, it is easier for me to find and hunt deer, it is easier for  coyotes and bear to see my group and avoid me, most animals dont have young to feed and they are less protective and thus less dangerous. So I think that winter is the best time to do a 2-week trial run. Also remember that when you move in march you will not be able to eat the gains/tubers/seed/fruits of what you plant for a good 90days (12weeks), so a 2-4week trial in the winter shouldn't seen as .....

Assuming you have all the wilderness camping skills and you have done it for 4+ week at a time.
Then you will have to identify what you will need your tools for
1)quickly build a house/shelter, to build a long term house
2)to take care of sewer,
3)to harvest water,
4)to get meat and
5)to get stable plant food,
6)plus get fuel,
7)protection and
8)maybe how to take care of shoes/clothing needs

What type of housing do you plan on building, that will help to know what material, tools and substitutions that could be made
How do you plan on taking care of sewer, solar compost tiolet, let it float, septic tank, random covered deposits.
For water do you plan on using a bladder to bring it up from a stream, digg a well, rain+tank catchment, at the source with a lifestraw, solar distillation,
And for your meat, will you focus on grubs or do you need a gun to hunt bear or maybe just a fishing line.
For stable crop, while you might be able to identify or even grow enough greens for the 1st 90days what about the bulk calories?
I might get a sat phone and solar panel like alot of mountaineer guys, but that might not be a need and so just tarp for deadlog is enough
 
Kim Bowen
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Just to clarify a few things, My husband and I started learning skills as children and we have only been in the burbs for 6 years. We are NOT greenhorns or city slicker, wannabes. And we could probably camp/craft some of you out of the water. Don't need trial runs in a state park, which when I think about it is kinda funny, but advisable in some cases.   We bought our first raw land and moved there with tents and a grubstake, two babies and my 75 year old Mother, living from the land and building mostly from the land. Raised our babies there. We do know camping and we know tents, we know homesteading. We have had, not only a trail run, but we have lived it. We bought our prior land raw and sold it when my Mother became ill and needed medical care I could not provide. So we bought a home badly in need of repair in the burbs and have remodeled it in the 6 years and sold it with enough money to pay cash for our new piece of land. Now we have grown kids able and willing, and hungering to do it all again. We have a well established knowledge base of off grid living and know almost every aspect of homesteading to some degree. We have done tons of camping and off grid living.
  That being said, we are a bit out of shape having been 6 years in the city, and we are not 30 anymore. But we have advantages as well. We are in better health and have more energy that when we were 30. (Go figure) We have two strong healthy kids to help, I no longer care for my Mother and don't have babies. And we are armed with memory of many mistakes we made homesteading before. What we do want to do is grow in Bush craft skills. permaculture skills.  We can hunt, butcher animals, and build fires, we understand acquiring and purifying water.
     I am sorry I did not make it plain that we have experience before, trying not to be too lengthy. 
  Also, we will be 30 min, from hospital and shopping if need be. It is Not the Alaskan Bush or remote to the extent of isolation in extreme situations. The 17 acres has utilities at the road which we are positive we do not want.  So maybe I have calmed some fears. ((What we really want is to deepen our experience.)) Starting our homestead with camping and primitive structures is ideal. We do not want the easy route , we are not afraid. It is about learning some primitive technology and getting back to the most basic forms of life and sustenance. Getting real and up close with nature, without gutting it like a hog.( I have built more fires in the wild then most seasoned hunters, many with less than dry tender.) I promise.
     -The first day we hope to build a structure to cover the sleeping tent to protect it from storms or dead fall branches.
    -We intend in first month to create a trail wide enough to get a utility vehicle and small wagon in.
    -Parking our vehicles on the road is an issue. We haven't figured that one out yet.
    -In the north we did not have poison snakes, although I know them and there habitat from a child
    -Gardening and homesteading does not mean you know wild foraging and primitive preservation of food.
    - It takes 3 times longer to do most anything than you think , so setting up a base camp that is long term and somewhat comfy is ideal. Ideas welcome.
    - More knowledge on building with logs would be helpful, and using raw building materials from the ground.
    - Also tools that go along with such a build.
    The point is I am not so smarty pants as to think I don't need good advice or that good and knowledgeable company is not agreeable. I am not worried about failing as some of our poor pioneer forefathers did. I have already won that battle. But I really want to add a whole lot more of Danial boon and Davy Crockett to the mix. We could have just bought a small farm and went back to gardening w/chickens,goats ,cows and hogs. But we hunger for more a deeper experience. So feel free, all advice is welcome. I have watched every flavor of homestead life for years. From wild men in the bush to , college yuppies with a million dollar grubstake. I know the scoop, but I also know that if it isn't about the experience you have already missed the boat.  Thanks Y'all for the worthy advise , please do keep it coming. Gigi
   
    
     
 
 
 
Anne Miller
pollinator
Posts: 1428
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Now that you have clarified ... this maybe on the lines of what you are looking for.  Lists of things needed for someone moving to Alaska, but might be handy for you:

http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=126134


I would recommend a Come-along, it will be worth its weight in gold is a vehicles gets stuck, slips in a ditch, even moving trees, etc.  A snatch em strap might be handy too.
 
Posts: 45
Location: N. Idaho
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Well...
One of the most heartbreaking things that happens is carefully packed stuff molding, being ruined by rodents / porcupines / bears, its despiriting and wastes a hell of a lot of time and resource, so..... live out of a pack, and DONT carry it in untill you can use it or have adequate shelter built for it.
For wild edibles look up the site; http://www.eattheweeds.com/
A mule can be used as transport / crane  if your have the time and forage for it.
Don't wear out the menfolk using them as muscle, damage incurred now lasts a lifetime, buy snatch blocks, rope, and learn to make adequate ramps,  tripods,  to lift heavy objects. sheaves make a heavy load light, if slow.
Buy a brand name chainsaw (of adequate size... A Stihl 311 or larger) and several chains, one gallon of gas makes two hours of sawing, = 6 hrs backbreaking chopping, or whipsawing.
A broad axe bites deeper and takes less time IF you have the muscle to use it. A Pulaski is invaluable when it comes to clearing roots.
When you build, build tight, less than perfect is an opening for rodents, / bugs. Expanding foam is your friend.
Adequate foundations are below frost line or completely floating.  If you put material in contact with earth that can decay...it WILL decay, easier to do it slowly and adequately than hurry through it and try to repair it in old age.
It sound like a hoot!
If your family is personable, a documentary of your adventure can generate a revenue stream in either video or print format, a person dedicated to a camera is one less set of hands to work so put it in the balance....


(Remember hormones are a brutal master! Many months of free labor can be wrung from an attractive daughter...if the local swains know of her existence!)
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1443
Location: northern California
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I would highly recommend perusing, reading, or acquiring the book "Camping and Woodcraft" by Horace Kephart.  First published some time around 1916, it is a mother lode of information about wilderness living that is difficult to find all in one place anywhere, except perhaps the internet!  Chapters on building shelters and cabins from forest resources with hand tools, foraging wild edibles, preparing and using animals of all sorts, even a whole chapter on knots!  If I had to backpack into the woods and could only take one book with me, this one would be a serious contender!
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1495
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Ok your 17acres have:
1) road access at the property line
2) a deliverable address for Amazon/Fedex? (do you need to call the county to get a mailbox? Cost if any?)
3) utility at the property line (I know that water hookup for me cost $30,000, so I can see you not wanting to go that route)
4) 30 minutes drive to the "city"/hospital/walmart/hardware store/P.O. box/storage space/woodchip/free labor
5) ATV/utility vechile+wagon
6) backcountry 4-season camping gear + years of skill/experience


-Do you also have a storage bin/shed? Where do you want to keep the tools?
-How far into the property from the road can you drive and park your vehicle?
-If you cant drive into your lot and you plan on doing some grading, road-building?

What usual tool are needed:
A) Backcountry 4-season ultralight camping gear (tent, water filter, firestarter),etc
B) Farming/permaculture tools (broad fork, shovel, level for contour, machete, etc)
C) Lumberman tools (saw, rope, axe, etc)
D) Carpentry/Homebuilder tools (hammer, nails, saw, level, chisel, etc)
E) Homesteading/Food-Prep tools (dehydrator, seeds, canning-pressure cooker/sous vid, gun, etc)
F) Hunting/Foraging Tools (Fishing line, gun, etc)
G) Primitive Tools (nothing, just knowledge to replicate all of the above from on-site)
 
Kim Bowen
Posts: 26
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Incoming advice so helpful. Will detail and discuss all with hubby for lists  and study. Tomorrow is His last day at work untill house is built , so we can get down to business. Please do continue.
 
Posts: 9
Location: FL Native - bought land in NC and on Lookout Mountain in AL
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I'm glad I read through entire thread, to understand you have history and skills.
I have camped from childhood on, and can tell you that true backpacking in every thing is tough. Some where around 30-40 lbs is about all you can carry in on your back; which makes you second guess everything!!
I'm a firm believer in hammock/ zip-in netting tents with a line over it to tarp a rain/ snow tarp over and a tarp on the ground to keep everything on the ground dry. All of that and the ropes to suspend it all weighs less than a lb, and your back will thank you. Because of when you are starting a cold weather sack would be nice, and double to use on your bed when you build a house.
You will need food in bear/ cat/ bandit (raccoon/mice) proof containers. Everyone should pack that in, so they understand how precious it is. A rocket stove is probably something your husband should practice making at home now, because it's easy to build; can be made quickly and you can bring some things with you and gather other parts and it uses small twigs that any can gather, as opposed to using firewood for everything, which requires work and is better not green wood.
If you are trying to do with out power tools, I'd bring a cross saw with 2 blades: rough and fine toothed, a large drill with spare bits, small 6 lbsledge hammer, bolts/nuts, nails, hammer. I get a book on timber-frame construction and read it now; it's the closest thing to what you are doing.
Are you trying do an organic garden? I'd read about a food forest now. I'd consider excellerated composting by using chicken feather meal and either leaf litter, sawdust, pine straw( whatever you have on your land and water, to develop your soil.
I have taken foraging classes, and have lots of notes/ photos from that to help on identification; things look very different from seedlings to maturity and fruiting. Be very carefull about identification. I would not risk mushrooms, until you are very sure. This is something maybe your daughter the herbalist would enjoy focusing on?
Let me know specific issues you would want info on.
 
gardener
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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I second the Fiskars axe, I have a Fiskars splitting axe, sharp, light, works excellently, though expensive. I presume they make felling axes as well.

You will need at least a pulloff from the road, if not a full driveway to the house site. 17 acres is not that big, how far from the road is your house site? You say you have plenty of flattish rock; I have found that to be a truly excellent base for a roadway. Several layers, joints staggered, with the biggest rocks you can move at the base and gravel on top, will give you a heavy duty road forever. If there are soft areas you need to cross, this will be important. On higher ground you can do with much lighter roadbase.
 
Posts: 61
Location: SE Alaska
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Sounds like an adventure.

Living on an island in Alaska I have lots of friends who live some variation of the off-road off-grid life style or have cabins they've built in a similar manner where everything has to be sourced on sight or hauled in on your back (sometime if you've chosen your sight well by boat).  So while I live on a road in a small town I do have plenty of this type of experience from helping out with friends places or just my own weekend/vacation time.  Just to let you know where my advice is coming from. 

The very 1st thing I think you need to figure out is how are you going to get to the site.  Have you had the chance to fully scout your property?  Do you know what the best access route is?  Does the site have any streams, gullies, steep hillsides that might have to be crossed?  Are there any really dense areas with lots of brush/vines etc. or areas with large blow downs.  Is it better to skirt around these areas or spend some time clearing them?  A good cleared access trail is going to be well worth the time you spend developing it.  Remember you're going to be traveling across the route in all weather (that little trickle you can step over now might become a knee deep torrent that is going to be dangerous to cross with a fully loaded pack after a spring rain).  That low area might turn into a boot stealing mess after a few weeks of hoofing across it in a damp spring.  Figuring out the access and spend you're first days on site creating a nice trail is going to save you so much physical strain and injury risk over the next weeks as you're carrying in heavy loads.  It doesn't need to be a highway but a nice footpath...cleared of ankle killing roots, pack snatching brambles, and boot sucking muck holes.  Something you can push a wheelbarrow or pull a small cart or sled along could be a big help.  Sometimes carts are more hassle than help when moving loads, all depends on the terrain. 


Once you know where you trail is going to start you need to consider a staging area.  I would suggest a short access drive and a clearing where you can leave a vehicle.  Something just in a bit from the main road and not visible from the road would be my 1st choice.  A short drive that you can gate or just hang a chain across might give you a bit more security.  Again it doesn't have to be fancy but a cleared area with space enough to turn a vehicle around.  I'd actually make this my 1st camp site.  Spend the 1st week or two right here.  Build a small shed here.  You're going to have times when you want to store loads near the road while you're waiting for muscle/time/weather conditions to get them to the main site.  Sometimes you'll leave these in your car but there are going to be times when the supplies need be on site and the vehicle may not always be there.  You're going to be spending a lot of time packing loads, taking everything out redistributing weight, figuring out how to fit that last thing or two into this load, realizing you can't even lift the pack off the ground, and leaving 1/3 of what you bought behind for the next trip in.  You don't really want to be doing this on the side of the road.  You also mentioned an atv and or cart.  Having a shed to leave these in near the road is a good idea.  Or just a covered carport type pole barn where you can organize your loads when it's wet/raining, snowing, etc. and store supplies out of the weather.  A simple timber structure should go up pretty fast.  You could just roof it with a tarp for now and take the whole thing down later if you don't need it long term.  Or finish it off with a real roof and maybe a storage loft for a permanent structure later.    Most people want to jump right into building at their more remote site but a good parking, staging, and storage area with road access is really something you're going to always need and want.  It'll make your life so much easier if you just spend some time on this first thing. 

So after I wrote this I reread your description and the fact you mention your site is 17 acres and has at road access on one side. So now I'm confused.  That's really a pretty small area.  I was thinking hike in as it would take you hours/miles to get into your site.  But then a realized on 17 acres you're never going to be more than a 15 min walk from the road.  Kinda changes the whole perspective.  You'll easily be able to hike back and forth to the car and/or staging area multiple times a day if you need too.  So not such a big deal to stress about what you bring in first.  Also much easier to just set up a nice base camp in the staging area near your vehicles.  No need to carry in your tents, sleeping bag, cookware, food, cloths, and all your tools on the 1st day.  Leave all that a base camp.  Set up a nice kitchen and a few creature comforts, like a good table/cook surface/worktop, if you're with your vehicles you can arrange for a few bigger heavier items (like a table, heavy dutch oven to cook in, etc.)  Maybe a few camping chairs, thicker foam pads or a few extra blankets to sleep better.  String up some large tarps and create some wind and rain protection. 

Slow down, spend some time making base camp comfortable and just exploring the site.  Don't try to start cutting down trees and building a structure on day one.  Get to know your site.  Really spend some time evaluating the trees.  Which ones do you really want to fell and which ones do you want to keep. Work on your trail and access.  Go back to base camp every night and cook a nice dinner and get a good nights sleep. You're going to be working really hard, going to want a lot of calories, and a way to ease sore muscles.  Allow yourself a bit of luxury while you're in base camp. 

Plan to hike into your main site every morning with just what you need for that day's project.  Plan what you're doing and just take the tools/supplies for that project.  Have a few projects lined up and an list of what you'll need for that project.  If you have extra room in your pack take a few supplies for the next project on the list.  Come out each evening with an empty pack and the next day take in a bit more.  You'll quickly have all your tools and big supplies at the site, especially if you're not trying carry in food and personal goods all the time. 

Start with felling some trees, take your chainsaw, axes, hand saws, etc.  Everyone has different preferences for what type of axes they like.  Some of it is just personal, how the ax is balanced, how heavy it is, the strength of the person swinging it etc.  Do you and your family know how you prefer to fell trees?  My husband and I each have different ways we like to fell trees and different tools we use.  The big chainsaw is nice for large trees and bucking up firewood.  But it does wear on the arms and shoulders.  Our lighter smaller saw takes longer to cut each tree but I can use it all day without the muscle strain the larger saw gives me.  A good sharp ax can actually be quicker when felling small trees.  Axes for felling are different than those for splitting firewood, and those are different than ones for timber framing, etc.  Also each person is going to have a weight and balance they like best.  I'd say don't try to buy and carry in all your tools at once. Get one or two basic items and start using them.  See what really works best for you and for your children (they are not likely to be the same for all of you). You're not going to be off in the remote wilderness.  You can easily take a weekly (or even daily if you need too) trip into town and buy, trade, or borrow tools and supplies.  Or really take your time and make your own as you need them.  Then you won't have wasted time, money, and effort on bringing in things other people told you you need but that don't fit your building style, or the local conditions, or whatever. 

While you're living in base camp you can also get your daily routines down.  Which pots and pans really work for how you're cooking.  What is the best way for store and filter water for your group.  Do you really use those buckets or prefer these totes?  Same thing with clothes, and sleeping gear, etc.  You're likely going to find some things you think are essential you never use, or you like one stye of tool better than a different one.  Maybe you much prefer a fixed blade in a sheath over the leatherman you thought you'd always use.  Leave these things at base camp and then plan some trips into town to trade, sell, barter things you're not using and pick up the things you really need. 

1st task, Clear and level a nice area where you can work.  You're going to be dragging around logs, debarking, trimming, measuring cutting, stacking, sorting, etc.  Having a cleared space to work is important.  Build some simple devices to help you. Some sawhorses, log holders, some block and braces to move and hold your logs. Maybe a shave bench.  Pick a site between a couple of good trees and sting up some rope.  Hang a tarp to shed all that spring rain.  You'll be able to keep mostly dry and work in difficult weather. 

First thing you build on your site is good weatherproof and rodent proof storage.  You need a good safe location to leave tools.  Tools left in the elements rust like crazy.  Small rodents love to chew tool handles and leather work gloves.  Moths and other bugs will happily destroy clothing.  Everything will want your food supplies.  If a mouse or squirrel can chew into it they will.  If you make it safe from rodents a raccoon will figure out how to open the latch or lift off a lid, plenty of critters will dig into sheds, or climb walls, etc.  So before you leave anything on site make sure you have a way to secure it from rain and wind as well as whatever might want to eat it, chew it up, or nest in it.  Once you have a secure shed you can start bringing in tools and supplies.   IF you're staying at base camp at 1st you don't need to worry as much about food storage right off.  Just eat most your meals at base camp and just bring in lunches and maybe a handful of backup/emergency items in case you need an afternoon snack or end up staying out through dinner. 

I wouldn't bother with a temp sleeping structure.  Anything you can throw up in a day or two is not likely to be small and cramped.  Plus not too likely to be very weatherproof nor keep out the bugs.  And bug are going to be your biggest enemy during spring and summer.  The tent will likely serve you better.  A second tent would be a good idea.  You and your adult children might each like their own living space.  Plus it gives you a safety backup option when one tent collapses under high winds in the middle of the worst thunderstorm of the century.  A hammock with a bug net over it is a really comfortable way to sleep in the summer.  Plus you can easily move it around if you want to spread out, have some personal space, or just take advantage of a different view now and again.  A thermarest type mattress in a hammock is really nice.  Adds just a bit more support and some warmth from cool breezes. 

Spend your time and effort on structures you are going to want to keep around longer term.  A good workshop/large shed would be high on my list.  You can always string some hammocks up inside it if the weather is really bad to sleep and take them down to work during the day.  Do you have any timber framing experience?  A simple timber framed structure would be a great 1st building.  Get up the frame and the roof.  Now you have a nice dry area to work and/or sleep. Then spend some time to finish out the walls.  Cordwood walls might be a good option since you have timber.  Or wattle and daub.  Do walls with some insulation value and this building will be a snug place to spend your 1st winter.  Later you'll have a really nice year round shop or maybe one of the adult kids would prefer to continue using this as a living space. 

An outdoor kitchen with a covered eating area and secure food storage would be next up for me.  Will make life around camp much better and still be nice to have and use even when the house is built.  I'd build a clay dome oven if it was me.  Really nice to bake in and if you have clay soils on site everything could be sourced right there.  Its an easy way to slow cook/simmer things for hours since they hold their heat so well.   bit of time to stoke up the fire and get it nice and hot in the morning and then fill it with pots of beans and rice, a roast or a good stew in a dutch oven, etc.  Close it up and walk away.  Come back a dinnertime and everything will have slow cooked/simmer all day.  When you're working all day it's nice to have a meal that you can prep and then doesn't need any tending until it's ready to eat that night.  Or fire it up, bake your pizza for dinner, load up some loaves of bread, they'll bake while you eat, take out the bread, and load up your pots of rice, or some grains or porridge and go to sleep.  They'll cook overnight and you'll have a warm breakfast the next day. 

Do you have any tree felling experience?  That's where you're going to need to start.  You can build some simple structures out of raw wood but most types of building you're going to need properly prepared and aged logs.  Most people spend a summer felling logs (or sometimes a winter as some trees and building types benefit from cutting the trees when there is no sap running during the winter).  Then dragging them to a storage area, debarking and prepping them, and letting them dry for a season or two before using.  If you want to be in a structure this winter you're going to be building with green wood.  This is ok for some building types but you need to understand how the wood is going to dry, and in the process shrink, warp, and crack. This might differ depending upon what tree species you'll be using.   A big concern if you're going to mill any and use boards.  Less of a concern for timbers, might be a concern for poles.   Maybe your husband knows this already from his carpentry experience but building things with milled 2x4 is a different ballgame than starting by cutting down the tree.  If you do build with green wood you're going to need to leave the timbers exposed for at least a season or two so they can properly dry out.  That means you're not going to want to finish a house, plaster, insulate or seal it up right away. 

Actually felling trees in the spring might be the worst time to do it.  Sap is running quite strong and the cambiun layer is going to be swollen with sap.  These means the trees will be really wet and heavy.  It also means if they dry too quickly they'll be more likely to warp or crack.  Cutting and prepping a bunch of spring trees then exposing them to a really hot summer conditions is likely going to be a problem.  Drying logs in shady area where they are not exposed to direct sun is often recommended to avoid temperature swings and rapid drying.  If you're using those logs in a structure when they're green they are going to be immediately exposed to sun and little protection from summer heat/rapid drying.  The plus side to felling in the spring is that the bark slips/peels off really easy because it is so wet and swollen. If you can then let the logs age in the round you'll have less work.  Sometimes it's better not to debark the logs as this will slow down the drying of the outer layer and keep it more compatible with drying on the heartwood.  Again this can depend upon species and time of year the tree is cut.  High sap content wood is also more prone to rot and more attractive to insects because of the higher sugar content in the wood.  I'd at least wait until summer when the trees are fully leafed out to cut any.  Growth is much slower then so the water/nutrient needs of the tree are reduced and thus sap content compared to the spring.  Plus cutting trees in the spring is just no fun.  Everything is full of sap and sticky, sticky, sticky.  You'll be covered in sap and pitch...which is almost impossible to wash off.  Even worse so will all your tools.  If you're using a chainsaw you're going to have to replace the chain often and soak and clean them so you'll have to have more spare chains in the rotation and spend a lot more elbow grease freeing the chains and bars.  Axes and saws are a little less trouble to clean but they will get coated with sap and bits of dirt and grit will stick to them or between the teeth and they will dull faster.  You'll still need to clean and sharpen them more often.  I cut sown some pine this last spring and bucked it up for firewood.  That stuff bleed everywhere and made huge mess of my tools and me.  Even after 10 months of drying there are still streaks of sticky sap on all the cut ends.  I've gotten to the point in the woodpile where I've starting using this pine and it's still a pain to handle.  I keep forgetting that it's mixed onto the wood pile and get my hands sticky whenever I go to pick up a piece without my gloves on.  I also got a nice glob of pitch and a stain on one of my better coats because I grabbed an armload of wood and carried it in on my way past the woodshed not thinking about the fact I was wearing my better coat and there was that sticky pine in the pile.  I can't even imagine trying to build with this stuff or using the sticky poles in a structure. 

Almost everyone I know that builds up here starts by just spending the 1st summer on site, doing prep work, and felling trees, maybe building a few simple storage sheds and a tent platform, possibly doing some foundation work and/or rockwork.  Then they come out for the winter, let everything age, dry, and settle.  Then the real building happens the second season when everything is prepped and ready.  Now Kentucky winters are not the same but it is going to get cold and wet and probably some snow and freezing temps.  Building a structure that is good for the winter starting from the trees is no easy task in one summer.  If you're also trying to improve the land, build some garden beds, forage, hunt, and preserve food, put up a winters supply of firewood, and so on.  Its a huge task! And possibly not the right way to do it from a timber strength and longevity point of view.  Just something to think about and consider when you're planning where to spend your first winter.    

Ok I feel like I've written a novel and barely even gotten started on all the things I could tell you.  But don't want to preach at you if you already know a lot of this.  I haven't even started on started on foraging and wild edibles which is actually a passion of mine.....
 
Kim Bowen
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Sorry it seems I have been missing. We had a bump in the road with the paper work on our present property. It took about a week to resolve the issue. But WOOT, problem all solved and now we are back on track for a double closing on February 28. I am printing off all the replies so we can comb them and not miss any good advise. Don't hesitate to write the book, we more than appreciate it all. I am considering trail foods for the first week because it will be all hands on deck to build our phase 2 camp shelter. Luv Luv all the comments.
 
Kim Bowen
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Just an update for those who have been kind enough to fallow. So much has happened and we have been so busy that I couldn't get back to fallow up with you all. The house sold and we did have a double closing on our sold house and our new land. So we are proud owners of the 17 acres free and clear. All debts paid, We are rich in land,trees and happiness, and completely house-less. LOL   But as it is we have stayed on the land about five nights in hotels a few nights that were in the 20's. Not ideal but I am not taking any chances on getting sick. So we also have been going out for about 3 days and nights to clear trails and haul in supplies. We have set up a base camp and are ready to start on our first structure. The weather has not cooperated and we had a bit of a winter storm and ended up coming out about 11pm in what looked like a blizzard and making a 2 hour drive to a hotel, going about 30 mils an hour. But we are thrilled and are ready to make a stand and get a house of some sort by winter. You can fallow us on out YouTube channel. A video is posted above. It is not 100 % what I had hoped for in the way of bush craft survival.  But we are camping , cooking over an open flame and have endured our fair share of cold nights. We are in it for an off grid homestead not gluttons for punishment. Anyway, follow us on You Tube or Facebook to get updates. Scott is out today hauling in free slabs and the family is headed back out tomorrow to get one room put up. The tent is only endurable at about 45 even with out base-coats and boggins on as we sleep. Looking foreword to a cabin.Thanks for everything. Gigi
 
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Alder Burns
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If you are starting out in just a tent and it's cold out, get a BIG pot of water over the campfire in the evening and bring it to a boil.  Cover it and tote it into the tent, setting it on a pad or a piece of cardboard or something so it won't melt the floor.  This will heat the space very nicely for the first part of the night.  Getting out of bed is still cold though!  This is what we did for the first couple of weeks on our previous homestead in Georgia, when we got back there from a sidetrack and were finishing up a cabin in November and December with plenty of nights in the 20's.  Oh, yeah, and the two of us had four cats and a puppy in the tent with us too
 
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