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Old 06/15/11, 11:27 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 4
New Homesteader NEED HELP

My wife and I prepareing to buy some land in the Black Hills, since we are close to winter we need to quickly get our shelter erected.

My quick plan is to put up a Q hut (with insulation) use wood or pellet stove for heating. And propane for everything else if i can not get the power connected quickly.

Water we will use cistern until spring, and for waste we are planning on using a composting toilet system as our permanent waste system.

Not sure what I am missing we are just going to try, and get through the first winter and start building our home in the spring later coverting the q hut into barn or storage.

Any advice that could be provided would great help.

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Old 06/15/11, 11:48 PM
texican's Avatar  
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Carthage, Texas
Posts: 12,322
Welcome to HT!

I've lived (for a short while) in a quonset hut, in the wintertime... Insulation? It was irrelevant. When it was 17 below, the oil fired heater was blasting away at full force, and my beard would freeze solid ten feet away. It was completely impossible to keep rodentia out.... the insulation, thankfully was 'sealed' in the canvas, or they'd'a stripped the insulation out in a week.

Is it even spring time there yet? Read a lot of places up north there still getting snow.

If I was hitting the ground tomorrow in the Black Hills, I'd be going for a substantial home... I have a portable sawmill, and I'd visit the local forest service office and look for firewood permits or salvage logging in cutover areas...

Figure there should be five or so months before it freezes up... being this late, getting a garden in this year might be iffy. Would get it 'started', and get orchards and berry patches in... fences if livestock were in the picture...

But, "I" would want a stronger shelter.... especially if wimmen folk or chillens were present...
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Seneca
Learning is not compulsory... neither is survival. W. Edwards Deming
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Old 06/16/11, 12:17 AM
naturelover's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 7,802
What size of Q-hut are you thinking of?

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Old 06/16/11, 04:55 AM
MullersLaneFarm's Avatar  
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: NW-IL Fiber Enabler
Posts: 10,215
Even in a Q hut with insulation, I'd seriously consider putting in another barrier on the outside walls and overhead to help keep the heat in. The smaller the area, the better. And get one of those fans (I've seen them in the Lehman Bros catalog) that work off the heat of the stove to help move the warm air around.

Invest in very thick, warm sweaters and hats and long johns! Do you know if the cistern will freeze up this winter?

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Old 06/16/11, 07:35 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2011
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Sheesh may I should look i nto a different type shelter? thank you
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Old 06/16/11, 08:12 AM
Tricky Grama's Avatar  
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: N. E. TX
Posts: 31,762
Just wanted to say welcome; have you considered TX?
My book is out! Go 'like' it on FB:!/pages/Goo...83553391747680
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Old 06/16/11, 08:13 AM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: W. Oregon
Posts: 10,057
How about a small garage, insulate it well. Have a nice small warm workshop for later. I framed for the roll up door and just closed it in to start. Doesn't take a lot more time or effort. I have also built a "Master" bedroom as a cabin and added the "house" later....James
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Old 06/16/11, 09:20 AM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Indiana
Posts: 18
Look into portable buildings. many around here, main name I can think of is Yoders.
they sell basicly garden sheds or yard barns, but they have a few models (12 by 16 or 14 by 20) that are basicly small cabins. just a shell with a door and a few windows, but that could be a fine small cabin to overwinter in if you insulate it and a small heater.

after your house is built, you could always convert it to a summer kitchen, a storage shed, or even a guest house.

otherwise, why not look for a small mobile home to use untill you have the new place built
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Old 06/16/11, 10:11 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: VA
Posts: 6,971
What do you want as a garage or workshop? Consider something that is easy to insulate. Personally I would build or buy a small shed like the ones Home Depot have with a loft. Sleep up the top, have a woodstove and cooking, living space down stairs.

It's much cheaper to figure out what the materials are in buildings like that and build it yourself. Home depot will actually give you a material list.

We are a family of 5 and lived in a 500 sq ft cabin for a year. Loved it. Sawdust toilet etc.
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Old 06/16/11, 12:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 330
Do you guys have any winter survival skills? I'm not trying to be mean, but I come from that area. You could very easily die. A toilet will not compost when frozen solid. I don't think you will have a cistern either. The ground freezes very deep. Also, if you get snowed in off somewhere, you will be on your own until it thaws out. I've seen deep snow stick around for months. Also, whatever you build for shelter will have to withstand a snow load and be insulated to the hilt. You will need a large supply of food and fuel. Just make sure you are prepared well. I just don't want to hear about some people going out there and freezing to death.
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Old 06/16/11, 12:08 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Missouri
Posts: 489
I don't know how much a Q-hut costs, Lowes has a very nice cabin for sale for around $7000 for the shell, insulation and dry wall is not provided.
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Old 06/16/11, 12:09 PM
linn's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,441
Maybe you can find a used single wide trailer that is in good condtion.
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Old 06/16/11, 01:23 PM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Indiana
Posts: 18
Originally Posted by linn View Post
Maybe you can find a used single wide trailer that is in good condtion.
and park the trailer inside of the Q-hut. the hut will help break the wind from getting to the trailer, just make sure your vents make it all the way outside.
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Old 06/16/11, 01:58 PM
I am a Christian American
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 2,972
Have to agree with texican and others regarding a more substantial home. I was born in the Black Hills....everything is extreme..cold, wind, snow etc. Beautiful country but wintertime is deadly.

Seriously, I am COMPLETELY dressed!

Just keep moving...just keep moving!
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Old 06/16/11, 02:01 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,623
Consider putting up a barn, and getting hold of an old traded-in travel trailer - doesn't even need to be roadworthy - have it trucked to you. Park the trailer in the barn. It should have a small propane fridge and stove. It should have 12Volt wiring too. If you get some 12V LED lights, you could run your lights off a 12V car battery

Or wall off one end of the barn, put in a cheap and nasty concrete floor, and divide it up into a kitchen/family room, a wash-room (shower and laundry), and a toilet. Get the fittings as salvage from a torn-down travel trailer. If you do that, maybe (I don't know the weather, so use your own judgement) you could pitch an old (army?) wall tent or two inside the barn, as bedrooms.

Come to that, there are lots of people who live in an apartment in a barn. If that sounds feasible, you don't need to worry too much about winter weather - provided you've got the barn up, you can rough it somehow while you're finishing-off the apartment inside, under cover. All you need to get by is a multi-burner camper stove, a garden spray to use as a CabinFever/WIHH shower, a sawdust toilet, a heat source (maybe a propane or kerosene heater, maybe only a brazier made out of an old 4-5 gallon oil drum, or a rocket stove), and an enclosed space to live and sleep in - tent, or something tacked together from plastic sheeting. Be very careful of burning anything in <b><i>small</i></b> enclosed spaces though. Make sure you have a carbon-monoxide alarm and spare batteries - cold weather reduces the voltage they put out, as if they'd gone flat early. I gather keeping food cold is not going to be a problem during winter.
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Old 06/16/11, 02:58 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: SW Michigan
Posts: 16,464
Pole barns are fast and pretty inexpensive. You might look at one of those also.
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Old 06/16/11, 04:00 PM
In Remembrance
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: South Central Kansas
Posts: 11,076
Originally Posted by Stubby View Post
Sheesh may I should look i nto a different type shelter? thank you
Welcome to the forums. Old 1,000 to 2,000 bushel grain bins can sometimes be had in farm country for very little. If the kind with the steel floor they can easily be moved on some kinds of flatbed trailers. Wouldn't take much to spray insulate one which would also seal out any moisture leaks. If not for older ones sometimes leaking a little, one could also add a perimeter wall of wood studs and cover over with whatever and then insulate with blown in cellulose to reduce cost. Once the new perimeter wall area was insulated a ceiling could then be added and plenty of cellulose blown in on top of it. The grain fill opening at the top would be a natural for flue venting if it is center bin.

Bracing for windows and doors would be needed. Old glass doors as ports from some washing machines would give a nice look.

Mother Earth News has had some articles on grain bin conversion homes.

That one is pretty fancy and there would be no need if you will be living in it for a few months only. In your cold country those windows would provide much heat loss.
My family---bEI
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Old 06/16/11, 04:28 PM
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Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 538
Even though I live in Az. , it is in the very ne. section and about 6,000 ft. Sometimes lots of snow, and since the dirt road is never plowed, let alone even acknowledged by the county, we can be here for weeks at times. Coming from lake tahoe where seeing 10 or more feet of snow all winter long makes me tell you a little trick. First of all, if you have never lived like this, you need to plan well. If everyone tells you 15 cords seasoned fire wood, stock 30. Propane, they tell you 200 gal, well , that wouldn't even make it two months here. We get down to -25 in case you think we don't really know. Still nothing like what you will run into in the Black hills. You will most certainly want to have a few spare things for back up, such as heaters. Even if you only get a couple of tent heaters and 5 gal propane tanks for super emergancies etc. First aid kit.

Even Silverton , Colo. Winters are so bad, all but about 20 people leave for the winter. No driving in or out. Mail and rx's brought in once a month by helo and that is it. They all close up their houses , drain all water and all move into the old hotel and wait it out.

Keep in mind communications are an absoulte must ! Maybe a good two way radio with external antenna to get hold of the nearest fire or law station for a real emergancy

Be sure to have a good bolt action rifle, ammo, cleaning kit, and also a really good pistola with shells etc. Snow shoes, ski ensolite underware, lots of wool socks and sweaters, really good snow pants and parka. Barclava's for your heads and a couple of pair of good snow goggles to protect your eyes. Several pairs of gloves and etc.

Are you getting nervous yet ? No ? You well should be. I wouldn't even consider moving up there without a permant shelter, large propane tank, generator, snowmobile, and at least 6 months worth of food. Also don't forget to take a lot of books and games as there will be many many days that you will be totally snowed in. I do mean snowed in. People that are not used to it have been known to go crazy, so you may want to consider that also.
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Old 06/16/11, 04:30 PM
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I love South Dakota
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 5,317
Welcome to HT - you don't say, but I'll assume you are familuar with winter in SD/Black hills.

It's a beautiful area, isn't it?

I'm still trying to get my garden planted, so I don't want to even think about next winter yet!

Last edited by Macybaby; 06/16/11 at 04:39 PM.
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Old 06/16/11, 05:07 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Michigan's thumb
Posts: 15,887
I think I would go with building an insulated garage. It can be put up quick. Start asking around and getting prices. I would also put in a concrete floor with in-floor heating. You will need a hot water heater, but you won't need a furnace. You can use propane or maize to heat the water. If you are going to have the garage attached to the house, you can simply put all of the infloor heat stuff (large water heater, mandibles etc) in the garage so you don't have to do it when you build the house, just add the extra lines. Because the floor is heated, you don't have the problems with loosing all your heat every time a door is opened. When the garage becomes a garage, you simply mix that line to 66 deg (or less) while keeping the house around 70 deg (even lower).
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