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Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

A Year in the Round: A Few Things I've Learned

1. Living in a tipi is pretty neat, but it's really nothing special. Though it may not be for everyone, everyone can do it. Imagine living in a single room without TV or internet, with a hole in the ceiling, and in a ghetto. But instead of people outside hustling all night, it's opossums and owls. Once you jump those hurdles, it's pretty much the same. 

2. There will be spiders.

3. Shake your bedstuffs vigorously EVERY night before bed (see number 2).

4. Aside from your drinking water, I've found that you (and two dogs) can very easily live on one gallon of water per day. That includes brushing your teeth, doing a little dishes, a little water for cooking, and a quick shower. If you have smaller amounts of hair than the nest atop my head, or take fewer showers, you can live on much less.

5. Probably don't get a puppy as you're moving into the tipi (see Twig the Terrible). But a mature, sensible dog is an absolutely indispensable companion. They will combat loneliness, be your alarm, and may play homeland security later. 

Rude and much less rude 

6. One tea light candle goes a long way. I've spent many an evening under the light of one tea light candle; reading, doodling, and just hanging out. Your eyes adjust surprisingly well when taken out from under artificial lighting.

7. Get to know your neighbors; the wildlife and the people. Know the difference between a raccoon sound and an Eastern screech owl sound. Know what snakes and spiders in your area are poisonous, and how do deal with them. Memorize the way to your nearest neighbor's place so well that you could get there at a flat run in the darkest dark.

8. You will become intuitive in your sleep. Where before you wouldn't rouse if a freight train derailed in your living room, you will jolt awake if you feel an insect (or arthropod!!) buzz across your foot. Lucky (or maybe not) for me, the horses graze next to my tipi all night. When they spook or snort, I hear it. Jeez louize, I can actually feel it! Last night Folly spooked an opossum away from the tipi (I know her hoofbeats in comparison with the other two horses). That was pretty sweet. 

9. That being said, you will sleep very well. The diurnal beings we are, our bodies naturally want to go to sleep soon after dark and wake with the sun. If taken away from electronic distractions, that's just what it will do. I don't even have an alarm any more.

My first night in the tipi 

10. Depending on where you are located, a gun isn't a bad idea. At the very least, have pepper spray and a big knife.

11. You'll begin looking at the sky, and weather in general, in a totally different manner. You become more sensitive to the breeze, to clouds, and to pressure.

12. When you live without electricity, listening to music becomes a special treat. Homemade music is a priceless luxury, and it should always be that way.

13. If you do this or something like it on your own, you will get lonely. It's a force you're gonna have to deal with in your own way. Learning to just hang out with yourself is hard, but it's possible. I'm still figuring it out.

14. Living in a tipi sure as hell isn't the "simple life" everybody keeps talking about; either I'm doing it wrong or somebody started a rumor...!

caleb moses
9/5/2011 12:45:03 AM

Nat, I love following your blog. Congrats on making most popular read. I always look forward to your updates and hearing about your adventures. One day I'll make it to your mountains, and can't wait to see your home when I do.

james reynolds
9/2/2011 5:24:55 PM

This would be an awesome experience that I would love to partake in. Unfortunately, my health is such where I could not survive for any length of time in a Tipi alone. I have many medicines that I have to take on a daily basis, I am on a liquid diet for life :-( so I would need to run to town every month or so for medicine refills. The electricity I could do without no problem(no problem meaning I do not NEED electricity)...still, I would love to try doing this one day. The only thing that would make me nervous, is when winter comes. I get cold easily( I think the problem is, that I'm too skinny-need more fat in my diet), so I would be afraid of freezing to death. Other than that, I think I could learn to adjust. It would be tougher for me than it would for a normally healthy person such as yourself, but what good is life without a few challenges? :-) By the way, I enjoyed reading this. I'm envious of you for being able to do this.

tom thorne
9/2/2011 12:56:57 PM

I'm not sure about a tipi, but I have considered life in a yurt. Sadly, my health wouldn't permit me to go completely without electric, since I require the support of a bipap machine to sleep. I envy you and wish you well in your adventure. I wish more people would learn to appreciate and commune with nature. It would make for a better world.

jim lockmiller
9/2/2011 11:21:31 AM

After my divorce in the early 90's I lived in my tipi for 2 and 1/2 years. They were some of the best years of my life. Spiders aren't the only thing you have to check you bedding for as I found out early on when I threw back the bed covers to find a snake curled up in the middle of my bed.

bruce mcelmurray
8/15/2011 8:40:01 AM

You have discovered and captured the essence of remote unique living. We have lived in a hard sided cabin in the mountains for 14 years as of today. What you say is true and after a while you begin to contemplate and appreciate what you are surrounded with each day. I wish I had discovered this type of living when I was your age. Congratulations on your blog, it it right on. Much of my blogs are the result of being tuned in to my surroundings. It is the wisdom of the ages that is passed down to those who are willing to participate. Our wildlife is not totally harmless, we live with bear, Mt. lion, wolf, lynx etc and have learned to get along with each other. To have a deer eat from your hand, or a bear sit down 20' away and watch you work, is an example of how species can get along and respect each other. Your future is in for a eye opening experience and subject to much learning and understanding not avaible in a class room. Enjoy your blogs.

natalie morris
8/10/2011 11:56:19 AM

Teresa, yeah I think moving a whole family into a tipi might be a little rough. But, it might be fun to plan for future getaways someday! And I have another blog, too, which covers a lot of my daily drivel. It's on my bio page if you ever wanna check it out. Thanks for stopping by! :)

teresa chandler
8/9/2011 10:29:03 PM

I'm really enjoying this series. While my family is not in any condition to make the move to something as simple as a tipi, it's still a great look at really paring down to basics, and how it is done.