The depths of frugal living?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by roughingit, Apr 6, 2005.

  1. roughingit

    roughingit knitwit

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    I have been lurking here several months now, but just signed up today. A little background. I'm very interested in homesteading, but need to finish school and all before I can even think about getting my own land. In the meantime, I've taught myself how to cook from scratch (when I was young, homestyle cooking meant going to Denny's, because everything cooked at home was from a box), learned simple crafts, practiced postage stamp gardening, and am reading up on animal husbandry and and other useful skills.

    My latest project is born partly out of lack of other options, wanting to get back to basics, and a general love of the outdoors. My roomate will be moving when she graduates, and I do not have the money to stay here, nor to come up with the first and last needed to move to another place. There is a large amount of land very close to where I live that is uninhabited except by a few squatters. This land is mostly hilly plains, with some valley bottom, brushy brambly areas and some stands of trees and is part public and part private. I hike back there almost everyday during good weather and sometimes not so good, and partly inspired by hearing about that guy from Utah, I keep thinking what an awesome place to live it would be. I have a great deal of outdoor background and skills, but it will be a big change, even for me. This area is within easly hiking distance to a shopping center that has a good Winco, mail box place, and a laundrymat, and I can ride my bike to the local university (I do distance ed from a college out of state through the military because it is cheaper) to get internet access and do my homework. (I have friends check out most of my textbooks from there for me and only had to buy one book this term)

    I've found a site, and set up my tent and a tarp and have been taking things up there in preparation for my fulltime move there next month. I just got a pre-paid cell phone so that the Guard and potential employers have a way of contacting me and will be renting out a small 5x5 storage space for important documents and military gear mostly.

    So far everything is going well, but I do a have slight problem with the slope of the hillside. I've set up on the flattest secluded area I can find, but the slope still makes it difficult to sleep and makes my bag and I slide down gradually in the night to wake up smashed against the tent wall. I'm wondering if anyone here might have any suggestions, seeing as there are a large number of campers here and people who experimented with alternative living while they built their house. Any other suggestions or comments are welcomed too.

    For the sake of berevity, more background and ideas that I've been kicking around can be found here: http://www.livejournal.com/users/roughingit/
     
  2. SW Ohio

    SW Ohio Well-Known Member

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    If your under pines and have a rake flatten/level out under your tent with the pine needles. Sounds like you are having fun.

    Welcome to the site.

    Brian.
     

  3. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    This was my dorm room for most of my four years of college, couldn't have afforded to go any other way.

    [​IMG]

    Out of necessity, I've overnighted on some pretty steep slopes, at times propped behind a tree or two or in some cases even tethered to an outcropping rock. It's no way to try to sleep in the long term.

    Guess if it was me, especially in squatter mode, folks will more likely leave you alone if you don't alter the terrain so much that you can't easily put it back the way you found it. So to me that would leave out digging a flat spot. Alternately, you might create a temporary flat spot by anchoring a log and backfilling with duff of something that you can scatter when you move on.
     
  4. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Perhaps you could put down a short length of 4x4 at the foot of the sleeping area, and run some stout boards across it up to the head? At the head end, let the boards rest on the ground so that you have a flat area. Put a roll up pad across the boards so it is softer,

    Mind, a 2x4 will flex and I don't think they will be stout enough.
     
  5. Shepherd

    Shepherd Well-Known Member

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    Glad to see you've decided to post, Roughingit. You SURE are a brave soul to consider such a move!

    You plan to leave your belongings, tent, everything there all the time while you're gone? You feel safe enough to be there alone?

    About your sloping bed situation, would a bag of mulch spread out under the area (under the tarp) help to level it out?
     
  6. Cindy in KY

    Cindy in KY Well-Known Member

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    Hi there. Can you put the feet-end of the sleeping bag down on the lower side, and then you'd have your head uphill. Put all your 'stuff' on both sides of you to keep you in place. I like to sleep with my head a bit higher anyway, better circulation for your arms & legs. Turn your tent around so the zippers at the high side, and slide right down in. :)

    I love your teepee Bare. What's that black thing up at the top?
     
  7. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    Cindy beat me to it - sleep with your feet downhill. I end up scrunched down wherever I sleep, so it doesn't bother me to wake up scrunched into a ball in the morning. It's sure more comfortable than waking up with your face right next to the tent wall.
     
  8. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    I don't think that works well you guys. Everything is nylon shelled anymore and trying to camp on a slope can be very problematic. One is likely to wake up in creek a mile further down the slope.

    I loved my tipi too Cindy, unfortunately canavas has a definite lifespan. The black thing is nothing. I scanned it from a slide and must have missed something either on the slide or the scanner.
     
  9. healing herbals

    healing herbals Pam in OK

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    So, did you sell your poles, bare?
     
  10. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    Yep, 'fraid so. That was more than 30 years ago. Over the years, I went through a lot of poles because so many folks wanted to buy or swap for mine. In later years I was pretty involved in barter faires and rendevous and I'd always go with two sets of poles and seldom return with any. There are abundant Lodgepole Pine thickets in my area.
     
  11. Rick

    Rick Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Bare-

    How did you construct your Tipi, was it a kit, or plans, or did you design it?
    How much do you think it would cost to make one these days? How long did it take you to construct it?

    Thanks,

    Rick
     
  12. Cindy in KY

    Cindy in KY Well-Known Member

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  13. snoozy

    snoozy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You can find some really sturdy shipping pallets, particularly at book publishers/distributors. Made of 1.5 inch planking. Get maybe four of those and get them level at your site, and put your tent on that. You're up off the ground, thus drier, warmer and in the event of a downpour, no worries about getting flooded.

    I did this when I camped on my land before I bought a 20' shipping container to live in. I even had a small pallet in a leanto for the dog!

    And if you can't find nice pallets like that, get the ordinary kind, place them level, and sit a sheet of plywood on it. Accomplishes the same thing: gets you level and off the ground. Costs next to nothing, makes your life better.
     
  14. BamaSuzy

    BamaSuzy Well-Known Member

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    The main thing that bothers me about this is that you say where you are going to be "squatting" is some public and some privately owned land....

    You know, that land belongs to somebody, I'm talking about the privately owned land. Maybe somebody is just keeping it until they can leave the city and homestead....but the thing is it BELONGS to somebody....

    I would have a real problem with somebody camping and living on land I was paying on or that I owned without my permission...How will you fill when you finally finish school and are able to buy some land and folks show up unannounced and uninvited and decide to live on the land....

    My husband and I both work our butts off every month, both on and off our homestead, to make our house and land payment....

    If this is government land I think you should be able to camp anywhere you want but if some of this is private land, think about what you're doing....just because somebody isn't living there regularly doesn't mean that land isn't special to them.....
     
  15. cc-rider

    cc-rider Baroness of TisaWee Farm Supporter

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    Exactly what I was thinking. Actually, I was thinking ---- "hmmmm.....I wonder if he is on MY land while I'm still working in town to be able to afford to move there...." I'd be pretty ticked. Even if he didn't hurt anything.

    Makes me really nervous......
     
  16. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    I didn't make the tipi Rick, I bought/traded for it from an outfit called Blue Star Tipis in Missoula, Montana where I attended school. It was one of the first ones that they made. Then the company was nothing more than a couple energetic people with sewing machines. I sorta followed their progress over the years as I needed new parts and believe they got pretty big. I don't think they are in business anymore, at least under that name.

    Without going through the effort of Googling, I'm certain that there are plans and books on the internet with different patterns for sewing your own. As far as cost, I don't have a clue anymore but I imagine cost vary widely depending on quality and how many bells and whistles you get for it.
     
  17. OldYellersGhost

    OldYellersGhost Well-Known Member

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    Cindy. I was wondering the same thing...
    I thought it was a black bird of paradise perched up there.

    Bare, what did you go to college for, that would require such a sacrifice? Looking back, was it worth it it all now?

    Roughing it, Good luck!
    Say, how do you shower?
     
  18. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you really want to do it frugally, why not caretake for someone? OR stay with an elderly person who just needs things like help getting the groceries. I know folks that are always looking for farm help and would offer nice bunk if they could just find someone that wasn't crazy, a meth addict or criminal. IF you can just SHOW UP there are lots of possibilities.

    If you were my own son, I'd warn you against doing such a thing on someone else's property. First, it's immoral. Second, it's dangerous. I know many folks who keep a gun handy and think nothing about "protecting" their property. Do you feel as if you could afford to "LOSE" everything you own in that tipi during the day while you are gone?

    You can find a dandy place to live for free or something close to it with a little asking. IF you belong to a church, ask your pastor if they know someone who needs a little help at their place. There is a caretakers journal that tells you where folks are looking for someone to house/ranch sit.
     
  19. roughingit

    roughingit knitwit

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    Bare hit the nail on the head with the slippery nylon. Even sleeping with my head up and my feet down, wheeeee......by the morning I'm smashed up against the bottom and quite stiff. I think that the previous person who camped here may have attempted to level it themselves looking closer. I think I will try backfilling with duff and see if I can fix it a bit that way. Doesn't need to be perfectly flat, just not a slip and slide. I'll be making a gutter of sorts on the uphill slide by dragging some biggish branches (no logs here since I am not going to cut anything down) and lining them up so that the water will around around them.

    As far as the land itself goes, I knew I'd get some flack for that, but perhaps I should explain a bit further. The land is a mix of public and private and not well marked as to which is which. The private portions of land belong to a housing corperation, not to a private individual. They are not developing this area currently and I have found no where mentioning that they are planning to soon. They are clearing the forest in a flatter area across the small valley and putting up tract housing. They area that I am in is not being developed currently because it is not "profitable" and construction is not allowed in riparian areas.
     
  20. roughingit

    roughingit knitwit

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    All the people I have seen looking for farm hands or care takers want someone who can drive. I have no one to teach me how (my friends don't drive either, or just don't have a vehicle, since there really isn't a need around here with the bus and bike lanes) and cannot afford the local driving school's prices (hundred bucks an hour anyone?!) Someday I'll learn, but that time is not now. For now my own two feet and trusty bike get me where I need to go.

    I am not leaving anything of value at the site. Military gear, important documents, etc will left secure in the storage unit. Anything that is left up there will be replacable, but there site itself is unlikely to be stumbled upon by a casual hiker. You cannot see the tent nor the trail leading to it from the main trail. Even when you get to the trail that leads to the tent, you can't see it until you are about twenty feet away. Anyone who goes through that much effort is likely to be a squatter themselves, and as such will hopefully leave the site alone if it is neat and tidy. I've been doing a lot of trash clean up as well from previous squatters around the area in general to give at least something back to the land. These places are long abandoned, but they people who used them failed to clean up after themselves. I will not be one of those.

    I do not know how long I will be doing this. There is a good chance that I might be able to work at the local Scout camp or do firefighting with the Guard over the summer. That would take me out of prime camping season and lesson my chances of someone finding me considerably. I plan to stay out until I have my bills paid off (and I have not been accumulating any more either) and some savings again. Camp or firefighting would help out a great deal towards that end as well, but I'll be living outside until then.