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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Surviving in the Woods - 2008

In the Fall of 2008, I moved into my 18th century tent for three weeks - or so I thought. Little did I know that it would last until the Spring of 2009.

Having just moved onto 7 1/2 acres in the Eastern Tennessee mountains, I was told that the outside shell of the cabin would take 3 weeks and then, of course, I would proceed through the winter to complete the inside. But it didn't happen. My budget didn't allow me to start over and therefore, I endured the winter of 2008-2009 in my canvas tent and then ultimately, a yard shed. With a bit of insulation and a propane space heater, it became "home" during a series of stalls and postponements.

Leaving my property was not an option to me as I had livestock to tend in a small valley of coyotes. But, I survived. And what I discovered is that I did not need a ton of possessions to do it. 

I got through the winter with:

  • 1 1/2 quart pot with lid
  • 1 very sharp knife
  • 1 fork
  • 1 spoon
  • A stainless steel cup
  • A bar of soap (replaced when need be)
  • Roll of toilet paper (ongoing replacement)
  • 2 1/2 gallon bucket
  • Sheep hides/wool blankets (my father's army blankets)
  • Can opener
  • Tomahawk
  • A hammer
  • A Ruger .357 mag.

I had some clothes in a suitcase, a few toiletries that I could fit in a small basket, and food that I could store in a box. A cooler sat outside as a refrigerator - particularly in the snow times. There was little else. 

In the mornings I fed the animals, stoked or built my fire (if it had gone out), and began the chores of gathering fire wood and carrying water from the creek down below.

I learned a lot that winter - not so much of what I needed, but the mindset that one needs for solitary survival. It's not necessarily what Society says you need; it's what our ancestors required. I can guarantee that they weren't nearly as nice as we believe they were, but a tough breed that made do with very little and invested in their mental and emotional strength.

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