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I built this hut in the Pine Barrens of South New Jersey. (Gotta give the “Primitive Technology” guy a shout-out. It was his videos that inspired me do mine similar to his.) The total build took 25 and a half days. I still have a couple of things that I want to add, but I’m confident that it will bring me up to a total of less than 30 days which was my original goal.
In terms of tools, my objective was to prove that each component could be sourced and built using a combination of primitive methods and my Tracker T1 knife. Once the first example of something was done that way, I went to other hand tools to speed things up.
This has been a big project and I had no previous building experience. When I told folks what I had in mind for my shelter, many wanted to convince me to build something simpler to save time. I’m glad I stuck with the idea.
I did not enjoy cutting down all those trees, caretaking or not. I was convinced that the thing was going to hate me. I only had the upright pieces in and a single layer of bark over my head when I spent my first night in it. It had been a difficult day due to some personal issues. It didn’t even occur to me to savor the moment. And yet, as I laid down, I felt soothed. It took me the better part of the week to put it into words what was going on. My shelter felt like “medicine”. It made perfect sense in retrospect: each piece in that structure was prayed for a little or prayed for a lot. At times, I was so conflicted about cutting down another tree that I would be on my knees with my head resting against it as I explained my purpose and begged it for forgiveness. Tom came to take a look at my shelter in the fall. He seemed happy with the results and said that it reminded him of their Good Medicine Cabin when they were kids. Sure, there are some parts of this thing that resemble that shelter such as the survival cement, the upright saplings that the cement is plastered to and the shallow-angle roof, but I got the impression that there was more to what he said as it often is with him. Maybe, he also meant the “medicine” part.
Here are some interesting facts about what went into this project:
– 40 buckets of muck (55 pounds each totalling 2,200 lbs)
– 20 buckets of sand
– about 30 buckets of pine needles
– between 100 and 150 trees were cut down for this little hut
– it took 22 days to complete the main shelter and the frame for the work area
– 30 to 45 minutes to strip a 12-foot long bark from a tree.
– 2.5 days to get enough bark for one layer
– 2 shingled layers of bark stripped from harvested trees (in a caretaking manner)
– 20 trees per layer
– 1.5 hours to split a tree into two halves
– 2 and a half to 3 hours to drill a hole into a beam
– 2.5 days to cut enough reeds and posts for the heat reflector for work area and install it all