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
- 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.