Archive for the ‘Wall Tent’ Category

Reflecting on Wall Tent Life

I will start this post by saying that we have wimped out a little bit.  We have had thunderstorms and flooding in the past two days so we decided to get a hotel room.  We don’t spend a ton of money on bills, so we could just afford to get a room.  It isn’t too painful to take a hot shower with water pressure either.  The painful part was spending money on the room when our house is about two days away from livable.  Either way, I figured I would take this opportunity to reflect on life in a tent.

Everything about living in a tent is different.  Nothing like living in a house at all.  Most of the differences were good ones though.

On the days I don’t go to work, we get up in the morning with the sun.  Canvas is not as good at blocking the sun as solid walls so the sun shines through bright.  Waking up to the sun and not the alarm is a wonderful thing.  The man goes outside and makes coffee in the percolator on the propane stove.  We all go out and sit around in our camp chairs and have our scrambled eggs and bacon.  We have bacon at least once a week so that we have the bacon fat for cooking in the cast iron.

If it has rained the night before, we hit the puddles immediately.  It is the kids favorite thing to do to find every speck of water there is to play in.  Otherwise, the trucks get straight to digging in the dirt.  Making roads, filling dump trucks, digging fish ponds… We also collect a lot of sticks, rocks, leaves, pine cones and anything else we can find.  We also like to watch bugs and chipmunks running around the property.

The man gets to work on the cabin or whatever other project we have going.  He finds ways to incorporate the tractor into everything.  There is a lot to do to get everything set up.  We spend a bunch of time looking for things.  Being in such a hurry to get the cabin built we haven’t had much chance to set things up in any sort of organized fashion.  I look forward to getting into to the cabin and forming some semblance of permanence.  Maybe a tool shed, some shelves and cabinets.  Somewhere to put all the stuff so that the stuff isn’t everywhere.

When lunch time comes we tend to eat sandwiches.  Every day.  We don’t really have much cold storage because we are using a cooler.  Sandwiches are easy to store all the ingredients for and the kids will actually eat them.  We drink tons of water, which works out well because we have really good access to water.  We have a large water filter that we have to fill up every day.  After lunch, if all the work is done, we head down to the stream.  It is a great way too cool off, just being near the stream is much cooler than out in the sun.  I can always use the excuse that we need to gather more water.  We collect stream water in gallon jugs for all of our water needs.  We haven’t done a great job setting up rainwater collecting due to lack of time, yet again.  But I love to be down by the stream for any reason, so I love to go collect water.  And the Man gets to truck the 30 gallons of water up to the tent site in his tractor, so it works out well for everyone.

Laundry day is always interesting.  We have figured out that the laundry needs to be separated into “clean dirty” and “dirty dirty.”  Otherwise the muddy clothes make my work clothes come out dirtier than they went in.  We have to go to the laundromat until we get something set up at the property.  When we have a chance to.  I lug all the dirty clothes down to the car and to the laundromat.  Then I lug all the clean wet clothes up the hill across the lot to where the clothesline is.  This, of course, means that I have to do laundry on nice sunny days.  Which I feel is a waste of a perfectly good day.

Dinner time is always a busy time.  Boiling water to wash dishes and sometimes to take showers.  Getting the kids to sit still and eat.  Gathering any trash from the day and bringing it down to the trash can so we don’t get critters.  Packing all of the food away.  Refilling the water filter.  The list goes on.  We have no luck trying to get anyone to sleep before the sun goes down because it is so bright in the tent.  The kids took a while to get used to the loud owls and so we used to be able to get them inside pretty easily.  Now all they want to do is stay out and look at the stars.  On nights when I don’t have to work in the morning, we do get to stay out and look at the stars.  We all love to do that.

This tends to be a typical day.  On days that the weather is bad or if we need supplies we have to head in to town.  I don’t like to go in to town if I can avoid it.  It is much nicer just to stay home.  On days that I have to work, I have to get up in the pitch black, get ready for work, and hike down to the car.  I have to add that the mornings are getting way too cold for this sort of thing.  I do look forward to having the cabin up and warm for when I have to get up so early.

The only complaint I really have about the tent is that I get nervous about the trees around us.  We took down all the dead ones and there really is no worry about the trees, but I still do.  I’m fine until there is lightning or heavy winds.  The trees are all healthy and will likely be standing for many more years, but I still don’t like it.  At least the cabin is a solid structure.

I really will miss the tent though.  It is nice being out and hearing all of nature.  I love the shadow of the trees in the moonlight.  I love that there is almost no point in cleaning.  You can not keep a tent that is set up on gravel, with two kids, free of sand.  I don’t even bother trying.  I love eating outside every meal.  It will be a little sad moving into the cabin, but I think the cold that is just about here will make it a little easier.  We are also talking about setting the tent up on a platform closer to the stream to have a summer camp.  Then we can sleep down there on clear, calm nights and just enjoy it.


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Here is a quick tour of what we have been doing around here in the past week or so.  We haven’t got any big stuff set up yet, but we are here and starting to settle in.

These are some views of the wall tent with our basics set up inside (before the kids settled their toys in):

DSC_0002 DSC_0004 DSC_0001 DSC_0003Our lovely, quick setup grill.  My favorite part.


We have to walk up all kinds of hills to get between the areas of the property, so I am starting to set up a staircase from the tent to the play area, kitchen, and future cabin.  We have tons of slate everywhere so there will be many more stairways of this kind in the future.


This is the site we have cleared for the cabin.  We were talking about cutting down some trees so that we had a view, but we decided that the trees were more valuable as a wind block.  This area is also a great place for bats.  We have a few of them circling around devouring mosquitos.  The trees will also do very well as places to hang the bat houses we haven’t got yet.


I finally have a clothesline.  Not terribly easy to access, but it is a clothesline.


Shower house and composting toilet.  The other bath house had to come down because we put it in the loggers way.  I guess it will make good firewood.  And now I can build another bath house.  Good practice I guess.


A little decorating to make this place more homey.


Hopefully there will be much more to share really soon.

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The finished tent, minus the tie downs

The finished tent, minus the tie downs

The #1 goal of this year is to get our wall tent up to live in until the tiny house is livable.  Not finished, but livable.  Today was the very special day that we started, and finished, the wall tent construction.

The foundation

The foundation

The angles all laid out

The angles all laid out

The rafters

The ridge poles

The ridge poles

The rafters

Luckily, our logger asked if he could help right about here.  Made things much easier for us.

The legs on one side, the canvas, and the rainfly part way on

The legs on one side, the canvas, and the rain fly part way on

Just need the ridge poles and rafters for the awning

DSC_0223 This is where we realized it was inside out and had to take it back down.  There were hints along the way and nobody noticed.

Turning it right side out

Turning it right side out

This looks a little familiar

This looks a little familiar

This is where we had a little accident and some bad words. (more to follow)

It was easier the second time

It was easier the second time

The angle blew right out the wrong spot

The angle blew right out the wrong spot

It needs some interior work, but that will come tomorrow  or the next day, tomorrow is supposed to rain.  We also need to work on the outdoor kitchen and all of those fun projects.  We have about two weeks to do all this before the logger is done in the spot where the tiny house will go.  If anyone has any tips on canvas repair or how to divide the tent so the kids have a bedroom at night please share!

The finished tent, minus the tie downs

The finished tent, minus the tie downs

Check out the site before!

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Here it is! My future bath house!  I think I may have mentioned before that our tiny tent house would be too small for a bathroom.  I need a bathroom.  Therefore, I’m planning (and hoping) for a bath house behind the tent house that has heat and hot water to shower and give the kids baths.  If I find a big enough cheap enough bath tub then we can take baths too, but I’m not pushing my luck yet.

I would like to build a small cordwood hut for my bath house.  If you are familiar with cordwood buildings I did a post a while back about cordwood when we were deciding what to build.  There are a few links included there for some pictures and info.  We had a pile of trees that had been cut down because they were in the way.  They had been thrown into a pile in a rather swampy area and forgotten about.  When I decided a cordwood hut was a good option, I had to get the wood stacked and drying so that I could use it next summer or fall….  It is all odd wood and we don’t have time right now to chop it up, so here is the stack I made.  The Man did not care for my stacking methods, so I did it myself.  Not too bad, right?  Either way I think it is sturdy enough to make it through the winter.  We will soon find out.

The best part about this bath house is that I will get to try out rocket mass water heating.  I will build a rocket stove and a rocket mass heater first for sure, I will need the experience.  Then I will give this project a go.  If you aren’t familiar with rocket mass heater, here is a link to a post I did about them a while back.  Hopefully the water heating is just an added bonus to the rocket mass heater and won’t be a ton of extra work and money.  We will find out soon enough.

Here is an extra link to a page about rocket mass water heaters:


Well, thank you for letting me share my dream of an awesome bath house.  We will see how it goes…



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Looking to Tiny Houses

The temporary shelter we are looking at living in for about two years (haha) is a 16×20 wall tent.  We will put up a solid wooden frame inside, insulate the walls, and have a wood stove for heat.  I would like to set up a separate “bath house” that is connected by a small passage that is protected from the elements so we can take a hot shower and not freeze on the way back to the house.  There is not quite enough room to have a shower in the 16×20 and still function inside with two small highly active children.  We plan on getting a futon for us to sleep on and the children will have their beds that are sort of walled off from the rest of the tent and each other.  This is all we really know about the wall tent set up so far.  Obviously, with such a tight space, we are going to have to be very well organized.  It will be nice and toasty warm since it is such a small area, but it has to be livable as well.  So I look to tiny houses for some organization ideas.

Tiny houses have their own movement going on right now.  People move out of their regular sizes houses which average 2600 sq ft, into tiny houses which are more like 400 sq ft.  Our wall tent is 320 sq ft.  They downsize to these tiny houses for a few different reasons.  One is to save money.  Large houses are expensive to buy, furnish, heat, keep clean etc.  Tiny houses aren’t necessarily  a huge fraction less to build because of the fancy pop out beds and tables, but they are much less to heat.  I’m not an expert on tiny houses so I could be wrong about expenses, but this is what I have found so far.  Tiny houses also are much more environmentally friendly.  The building materials alone are much less just because there is much less of them.  And again, the heating aspect.  There is much more to this movement, but that’s not what this post is really about.  Here are some websites to check out anyways:

The Tiny Life

Small House Society

Tiny House Build

Tiny House Blog


Wall Tent

This is a very rough picture of what we have to work with.  Seems like a lot of space now, but all that is pictured are the beds.  No kitchen, no heater, no storage, no tables, no chairs…  We will be living full time here, so we have to fit everything in and still be able to move around here.  We have a big (small) job ahead of us!  By looking into how tiny houses organize, it gives us some ideas and advice as to how we should set up our “tent.”  Here are some links with some ideas:

Organizing Made Fun

Tiny House Blog

The Tiny Life

It seems like there are lots of nooks and crannies that are made into very useful space.  Most items are multifunctional, just like in permaculture!  You have to downsize quite a bit, of course.  There are also  quite a few built-ins.  I doubt we can really do much of this sort of thing being that we won’t have traditional walls, but maybe a couple things.  I think that folding items would work fairly well instead.  Like a futon instead of a bed.  I have also been looking into stacking crates and things for storage.  We may build a half wall to separate the kitchen/wood stove/no kid area from the rest of the house.  This could be used as storage for a lot of kitchen stuff on one side and kid toys and books on the other.  Tiny houses use a lot of hanging things from the ceilings and walls too.  I think with us building a solid wooden frame, we will be able to do this.  I will do an update once I spend a few hours going over the plans and get a better idea what we will do.





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