Building my House


Just the process of how I built my house. Now, I’m not a very good carpenter and had no clue what I was doing, and I did use allot of materials like glass windows and plywood, and I did use a chainsaw for most of the cutting (I used a crosscut saw too…but back then I didn’t know how to properly sharpen it so it took a lot longer than it should have I realise now, haha), so it’s not entirely coherent with our beliefs. But like everything it’s a step closer and a work in progress.


Almost all cedar, cut 12 and 14 foot lengths. The interior of the cabin is 10 by 12.


Maine Aug - Sept 2011 001

Maine Aug - Sept 2011 005


This is what I was living in through the Summer while I was building my house. The actual cabin itself only took 14 days altogether to build, but they were spread across the whole Summer.

Maine Aug - Sept 2011 053

Maine Aug - Sept 2011 055

I didn’t do the roof in any way I’ve seen it done before, but it seemed like the most intuitive way to do it to me. It’s very strong and has held up well in any case. There’s a little loft two-thirds of the way across the inside that you can’t see in any of these pictures.


Maine Aug - Sept 2011 058


Some of the cedar shakes I was making. I tried so hard to make enough to cover the roof, but I was running out of time before Winter and really needed a roof, so I went with some plywood a neighbour had left over from a project of theirs they never ended up using and gave me. Between how twisted the cedar was (they logged all the best wood off the property before I got it) and how bad I am with a froe, they didn’t turn out too well. I still have the pile, I split it into kindling and use them for plates to eat off of and such. Ah well, I’ll count it as practice for next time.

24 Sept 2011 003

24 Sept 2011 041

And the inside. It still doesn’t look too much different from that in there, asside from the massive pile of books. I ended up building it for next to nothing compared to how much it usually costs to build a house except the cost of chainsaw gas, most of the materials that didn’t come from my land I got for free from other people. The windows came from the dump, all the 2×4’s I used in building it were excess from building my goat barn on the old property I lived at before this one, the stovepipe and a couple rolls of tarpaper came from a shed a friend of mine was tearing down, and my father had the fitting for the pipe to go through the roof. I did buy the plywood for the floor and the screws, though.

Next one I build will be ALL the right way, with nothing but an axe and materials all straight from the land. I’m away working to pay off my land right now, but when I get back I hope to finish building a wigwam I was working on and move in there instead.

Some wool off my dogs. I’m using a crochet hook instead of a drop spindle because I’m not terribly good at spinning and the staple length for Samoyed wool is much shorter than sheep wool. Still, with a high twist count and double ply it’s really quite strong. And extremely soft and warm, much more than sheep wool.

There’s about 33 completed yards of yarn in that picure, and when I finished that pile of wool I had around 55. I’ve got one more pile that size to spin, then I’m saving up the wool to make a piece of clothing. From what I’ve heard, Samoyed wool is seven times warmer than sheep wool so they don’t recommend making clothing 100% out of it, so I figure it’ll make good Winter gear when it gets -40 out here in the Winter, eh?

This is that blanket I took all those previous pictures on, it wasn’t finnished then but it is now.

The Amaranth patch is doing well!

I just got back from a course on canoeing at a local survival school. It was wicked fun, and I learned an awful lot, but it was so expensive there’s no way I’ll be able to go back any time soon. Poling canoes is real fun, I’m going to be doing allot of that on my own to get to some of the more remote gathering spots. The teacher also was willing to teach about survival skills not directly related to the course, like flintknapping. I found out there’s a source of chert nearby, too. There’s also a source of greenstone, which the local indians used to use to grind axe heads. Being able to make my own greenstone axe and chert knife will go a long ways towards being entirely self-sufficient. My most immediate project is to get a big bunch of birch bark though. That way I’ll be able to cover the wigwam I’m living in this Summer with that instead of the tarp I’m currently using. I had been using balsam fir boughs thatched over the roof, but they leaked in heavy rains, and recently the needles started falling out so I took them down and switched to the tarp.

After I went back home yesterday I went to go visit some friends and we decided to eat some junebugs, it was pretty delicious, but not nearly enough meat on them to make it worth it. May have been the way we cooked them though, since they sort of collapsed when we fried them. They tasted a bit like sardines.


Homebuilding: A report on various structures

There are several different ways in which shelters can be constructed.  Most importantly, of these various types each can be created from whatever resources on finds on hand in the environment.  Creating the shelter that best suits the needs of the owner and is constructed in such a manner that is both sustainable, as in it conserves as much resources as possible, and two is durable enough to withstand a high degree of wear and some degree of severe weather.  When considering such a design it is useful to reflect upon the housing that various indigenous peoples and that of certain roving nomadic bands. Of these types it can be divided further into at least 4 major types.

Temporary structures

These are one off shelters of any kind, designed for temporary use, but sometimes can be modified from longer term usage. These usually require the least amount of energy and resources to construct and destruct. Examples:

    1. Lean to
    2. Modern two man tent
    3. Quinzhee(snow shelter)

      Inside a quinzhee shelter

      Inside a quinzhee shelter

Semi permanent structures

These can be quite durable however they tend to be able to be either portable or perhaps are unable to withstand (or be habitable during) bouts of poor weather or other environmental factors. These can require a large amount of effort to construct but typically are created with materials found on site and are designed for minimal maintenance. Examples:

    1. Yurt (portable)
    2. Wigwam
    3. Adirondack or three faced shelters

      An three faced shelter

      A three faced shelter

Short term permanent structures

The major difference here from semi permanent structures being these structures are designed for repeated use however are not intended for year round habitation. These structures may be seasonal or even only used during certain parts of a trans human cycle. These can require resources from off site in order to increase durability and sometimes require annual maintenance to upkeep. Examples:

    1. Yurt (Non portable)
    2. Igloo (In nomadic or trans-human settlements
    3. Mountain Huts

      A yurt made of modern plastic.

      A yurt made of modern plastic.

Long term permanent structures

These are typically the most resource heavy and can require the most materials and expertise to create . These however are used for long term settlement style dwellings. Long term structures are usually designed to stand up to the highest degree of locale environmental challenges. Examples:

    1. Cabin
    2. Stilt house
    3. Long house


      A recreation of a native longhouse

Each of these structure types has certain benefits associated with it. There may be benefits in terms of the speed and ease of construction or in regards to the resources required in order to construct such a structure. These, benefits must be analyzed before construction should commence. If for instance, one lives in a climate that is constantly below freezing then constructing a shelter that is made of ice such as an igloo could become a regular long term permanent structure. However, if part of the year it is too warm or if part of the year it becomes to harsh to live in cold conditions and migration is needed, then such a shelter may become a short term or even constructed to be temporary. There is an implicit assumption made in these lists and that is that the knowledge, tools, and resources are at the disposal of the individual or group that is constructing such a structure. These like with food are part of an intricate network and if built upon to tenuous of a foundation of knowledge or skill may become difficult to reproduce, maintain, or even construct in the first place.

Aside from the resources and expertise required there are other considerations to ponder.  Is this home going to create more work via maintanance, is a good starting question. Also, one must also consider whether the effort in building and maintaining will in some ways keep the person tied down and attached to a certain spot.  This may cause unneeded attachment to a set of circumstances, land, or even a structure.  If a strucutre is impermanent than it may cause less psychological attachment to the structure and way of life that it enables and in some cases requires.  Modern cities are an example of how this can get out of hand.  These are particularly long term settlements that are sometimes built without accessing the long term environmental effects.  This sometimes leads to large scale human decay, waste, and suffering.  This does not always have to be the case with human settlements or structures but becomes the case when a certain mandate or preference to lifestyle is considered before other important factors in structure building.

As always comment and ask questions and more posts of this sort will certainly be in order.

See also

The Problem of Problem Solving blog post and check out this link for more information about this sort of thing.



The problem of problem solving

One important thing to consider about our group is that we do have some views that may oppose those of the “modern or western” world.  This however is not exactly the case.  In fact the only reason this might appear the case is because of perhaps of the axiom we occasionally subscribe to, “If something appears to be broken, or if there is something happening that you disagree with, do not complain, but work towards solving the problem”. The idea is to become active in attaining a solution.

In practice this means learning about many differing sets of skills and becoming used to the idea that sometimes what appears to be an easy quick fix (such as using a power drill or purchasing all of ones food) is actually a short cut that will lead to just more problems down the road. For example, food is an essential for any human and completely needed for survival.  For much of the world food is actually quite sparse at least in terms of what modern agriculture provides to these people. Agriculture however has propped up populations in these areas far beyond what is should be.  In some cases perhaps modern agriculture is the only reason people can survive in certain areas at all. This problem tends to compound upon itself very easily, as I will show. First and foremost, having abundant food will lead to population growth at least in the short term( as small as one generation). This will then extend population beyond which could have been provided if the land was just hunted and gathered upon, small scale subsistence farmed, or even types of nomadic pastoralism.  Then if these people have began a certain type of food gathering method, it may limit the knowledge of other methods from the society.  For example if food being supplied to these people in the form of food being delivered and sold in local markets, they are then more dependent on not merely the food being delivered but all the problems associated in maintainable such a system.  Thus compounding potential problems.  This coupled with the inability or at least limited capacity to get the food from the land and the larger population created by the food network can lead to potential devastating consequences.  This does not have to follow such a slippery doomsayer sort of lay out but it is just used to illustrate the point that interdependent networks that require a knowledge, skill, and resource base that is not possessed by those who require the effects of the network can be limited by changes in this network.  Thereby, it become more difficult for individuals to act as they are limited by agents who seek control to maintain the delicate balance that has been struck.  The Earth does hold abundant resources however and the human capacity for learning and adapting is quite high so fortunately we are able to subsist.


The Ryup aim however is to have a society that is based off of as few of these tenuous networks as possible. One that is hyper adaptable, sustainable and maintains its own skill and knowledge base.  This sometimes seems to conflict with the goals of other groups, however it is not pertinent to object to or even actively fight these groups, what is important is developing the skills,the knowledge, and the resources to a live within these limits even if they are self imposed to attempt to maximize sustainability, adaptability, and ultimately survivability. If you are interested in more of this sort of thinking perhaps you could read Garett Hardin’s Living Within Limits   or contribute to this blog or our upcoming wiki site which will include skill manuals and other related information.