Starting Our Homestead In Nova Scotia

Categories: Homesteading

What to do for temporary shelter was a top concern. Living in a backpacking tent for a year wasn’t going to cut it. Since we have a great deal of experience with exploration wall tents (we lived in one for 4 months seventeen years ago while we built our wilderness home) we bought a 14’ X 17’ tent and set it up to be just like a house. I am doing my best to chronicle our efforts on my website and have 2 posts explaining how we built a tent platform and how we set up the interior complete with the internet, toilet, and kitchen. 

I’ve read some of the discussion on this site about tiny homes and trailers. An expedition wall tent such as ours is another option people might consider. We beefed up the frame that holds up the tent and is ready for gale winds, torrential rains, and snow. We are confident in our set up. It’s perfect for our needs but is well-suited as an emergency backup shelter too.  

I ordered a new electrical system including batteries and solar panels. I took some of our panels and wired them together for some energy. For now, they are temporarily laying flat on the ground in an array frame. I built a stand to mount the solar charger, inverter and electrical panel and all are wired and playing nice together. It's always good when powerful electronics and electrical gadgets are wired together but don't require a visit by the local shiny red fire engines to put out a fire! 

While the excavator was out, we decided to utilize the machine to dig our 30 orchard tree holes, dig the asparagus bed and pull stumps and boulders from the garden plot. It is a brutal undertaking to take forest/shrub land and try to make a garden out of some of it. There is a thick mat of vegetation that stops our rototiller cold. A small plot takes me a day to grind through. Plus there is a considerable rock to dig out. Tedious work but we have our first garden in with the usual assortment of veggies. Potatoes, carrots, lettuce, radishes, spinach, tomatoes, peppers etc. We aren't expecting a great harvest but it's nice we were able to get something planted. Any vegetables from the garden are a bonus at this point. So far we’ve enjoyed radishes and peas.  

Additionally, we had the excavator dig our well. That was quite an experience. We have a new friend in the area who taught us how to witch for water with a pair of bent coat hangers. We are both skeptical people but when we unknowingly pinned a source of water within a couple of feet of each other, we were surprised. That surprise turned to amazement when the excavator started digging and there was a strong flow of water about 14 feet down. Wow! Presently we are using a hand pump to draw our water. For now, we use it for everything except potable drinking water. Once we get the water tested we should have a pure source of drinking water. 

The big push is on to cut, split and stack as much firewood as we can. In 37 years, there have only been three times when I didn't have multiple years worth of dry, stacked firewood. The first year I moved to Maine, our first year in the Saskatchewan wilderness and now here, our first year in NovaScotia. I don't like the feeling of not having years worth of firewood ready so you can bet I will keep driving hard until we have years worth of dry firewood cut and stacked. If I was to get hurt or sick, at least we will be set to heat and cook for a long time. You might remember we not only heated our house with wood, but we had a wood cook stove which also heated our domestic hot water supply. We will have the same type of stove and set up in our new house. So dry firewood is paramount!  

The real house has been highly contemplated and after a great deal of study and research, we've decided we will go with an ICF (insulated concrete foundation) house. In other words, the house right up to the roof line will be insulated concrete. We should be able to withstand hurricane force winds especially since we will have a hip roof all the way around. That style roof should help shed gale to hurricane force winds. Being somewhat sheltered nested in a young forest will help the cause too. 

To date, the house foundation has been dug out, I built footing forms and then we poured the concrete footings. We’ve built out previous 2 homes but never had to deal with concrete trucks. That was a whole new experience. We hired an experienced crew to help wheel barrow load after a load of concrete into the forms. The foundation is too important to mess up and concrete can set up pretty fast so best to have some pro help on that part of the job. 

We’ve made considerable progress in a relatively short period of time. We’ll keep plugging along. Can we have a roof over our heads by Christmas? Stay tuned. We’ll see if we can pull it off. As always, I'm happy to chat. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your summer! 

Ron and his wife spent 17 wonderful years living 100 miles in the Canadian wilderness on a remote lake. They are now building a new homestead on the Nova Scotia coast. As part of the back to the land movement that originated in the 70’s, they have spent their adult years living the homestead dream.

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