Surviving in So.MO. during winter : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

If I had to pack up and head for southern MO at the first of the year, could I survive alone (well, with 3 big dogs and 6 cats) in a tent? This is not how I had it planned, but I can't see myself finding an apartment here that allows dogs and cats, only to stay a few months, and then move to MO in May. If I'm nuts for even thinking about it, just say so. If you think I can do it, any advise would be greatly appreciated. I was thinking a 12x12' canvas tent, with either a kerosene or wood stove. I don't care about electric or water, I just want to get out of here. Maybe straw bales stacked around the outside?

-- Cathy in NY (, November 04, 2001


You can do pretty much what you want, if you want it bad enough, but that would be tough. Do you have that kind of gumption? You said you don't care about water, how would you clean up? Would you be able to get wood? Can you heat with wood or kerosene in a tent? A couple in the state park where I used to work died from doing something similar, they didn't vent well enough, make sure you do that.

On the other hand, that would definitely be exciting, lots of memories and character building.

Can you find a used trailer/mobile home? Would that work better?

What about Gail? Is he in the position to help you with anything?

Hope yo get lots of good advice.

-- Cindy (S.E.IN) (, November 04, 2001.

Oh Cathy! I'm so sorry you are feeling this way.

Yes, of course you could survive, but it realy wouldn't be much fun. If you stacked bales in a southern facing exposure like a pole barn, and put a roof frame over the bales with tin on top at a heighth that allowed for a smoke escape from a small tent stove, you would be okay.

If it really comes to this, please email me and I may have some other options for you.

-- Doreen (, November 04, 2001.

You could survive...what about an insulated Tuff shed type w/ wood stove? I'm pretty rugged but I'd like a real roof instead of camvas.

-- DW (, November 04, 2001.

What in the world is in MO that is important enough to put your health at risk? Also know that if you are planning on staying in a tent, it better not be in a state park, they usually close in the winter and the closer you get to FL the more tough they get on any kind of fires, etc.

-- stephanie Nosacek (, November 04, 2001.

Sure you'd probably survive ok but I wouldn't recommend it. Heating a canvas tent is somewhat futile. You'd need to have very good ventilation and canvas won't hold heat in so you'd need a fire going constantly. You'd want to put your tent up on a wood platform if it's going to be up that long. I spent 3 months in a tent like that but it was summer in VA so there wasn't many hassles. You may be underestimating your need for water and if it dips below freezing that adds more problems to water storage. Why not get rid of the dogs and cats or find someone to take them in for a while? That'd be the sensible thing to do since it sounds like they've become a burden that's affecting your shelter options. I like dogs and cats too but I sure wouldn't put myself in a bind like that over them.

-- Dave (, November 04, 2001.

Stephanie, I own land there. I'm having problems with my landlord/stepmother that are forcing me to make this decision.

-- Cathy in NY (, November 04, 2001.

Yes, Cathy, you could survive if you plan well. Especially as you have Gail for a neighbor. It would be uncomfortable, but you could do it. When we lived in Tok, Alaska, (which has a *much* longer and colder winter than Missouri) a family up the road from us had lived in a tent the first winter they were there, with a couple of small children and a baby in diapers. Actually, they had two army tents connected together. And they insulated over the top of the whole setup somehow, I don't remember how. Somewhere around here I have a little book of poems called "Tent in Tok", that the mother wrote about their experiences. We met another fellow up there who had been living for two years in a rough shelter made of plastic sheeting and brush. Felt sorry for him, as he was waiting to get hired on a forest-fire fighting crew and didn't make it; he said he'd only had about $200 in income for the year. He looked reasonable healthy but a little gaunt.

Some tips. Make sure you have a cot to sleep up off the ground. It needs to have a foam pad or something for insulation under you. And you'll be able to store stuff under the cot, too. Make sure you have LOTS of warm bedding, because you won't be able to keep a tent warm no matter what you do. You can, however, safely sleep outdoors in extremely cold weather if you have good warm bedding. Take a hot water bottle to bed with you if you are cold when you first go to bed.

Yes, if you have a stove in the tent, you must make sure that you have good ventilation. Don't close the tent up air-tight. You'll get condensation if you do, anyway. No tent stove will hold a fire all night, so nights will be cold, at best.

You want a fly over the tent. That will reduce condensation inside, and it will keep it from "leaking" during rain. Make sure your tent is strong enough to hold up under a snow load, or under high winds. Build a deck under the tent if possible (and insulate it with something). Ditch around the deck, or around the tent if you can't build a deck. I think with three large dogs and six cats you will have a hard time with a small tent. For one thing, we have learned from experience that it's hard to keep animals out of food if it's down where they can reach it. You tend to forget that when you are used to having everything put safely away in cabinets and the refrigerator.

Your water and your food will all freeze. Plan accordingly. Come summer, if you still don't have a house and electricity, you will need to devise some way other than a refrigerator to keep things cool. Consider how you are going to do laundry. Doing it by hand in cold weather is miserable, going to a laundromat in town is a hassle and can be expensive (though since it's just you, it won't be so bad as for a family). Consider how you are going to do dishes and baths in a frigid, cramped tent.

You'll probably need another tent to store stuff in that won't fit into the tent you are living in. Or a couple of big tarps, or something.

Make sure you have spare boots and socks ready to change into if you get your feet wet. Living like that, you can't afford to let your feet sit in cold wet boots. You'll end up with trench foot, if you don't lose toes or something.

I'd go now, Cathy, if I was you. If you can possibly manage it. The weather won't have turned really cold yet, and it will be a lot easier to get your camp set up and get firewood in, and so on. Plus traveling will be easier now than in January (been there, done that).

Go for it!

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, November 04, 2001.

Cathy , take a deep breath and calm down first .Then start thinking .How about a small trailer {travel} that would be better than a tent .Now would also be the time to buy as it's end of the season .I only wish I had a place for you to stay .

-- Patty {NY State} (, November 04, 2001.

I see quite a few small travel trailers for sale for well under $1000. Once in a while I see free ones. I even see free trailer homes once or twice a month. Maybe you could start now by putting a wanted ad in the local paper down there. The area might also have a weekly classifieds paper.

-- Dave (, November 04, 2001.

We spent a winter in a 5th wheel camper in Michigan. It can be done. The tent would be a real stretch but I think it could be done. I would definately get it up off the ground (your floor anyway) because a good rain on frozen ground would really flood you. Pallets with several layers of carpet on them would help.

Personally Cathy I would just not move until spring. Look how hard it is for landlords to kick out welfare tenants. I would just hunker down and say sorry.........can't move until spring. I am probably enough of a snot that I wouldn't pay rent either.

-- diane (, November 04, 2001.

Cathy...I lived in Missouri for 15 years..the only difference between NY and MO in the wintertime is the accents of the picture yourself with all of your animals in a tent where you are right now and that will be your experience in Mo as well. I do not see as much difficulty with three big dogs as I do with 6 cats..cats have a mind of their own and I cannot imagine so many cats willing to stay put in and around a tent..I'm afraid you would lose some or all of them Having been in many grossly unpleasant situations myself over the past half century, I can empathize with you in knowing that feeling that you MUST LEAVE NOW NO MATTER WHAT! I have also found that whenever I felt that way, it was invariably wrong. Missouri has blizzards and ice storms..tents do not do well in either.If you had a small travel trailer and the necessary equipment to provide safe heat for yourself 24/7, then it would be interesting at best and uncomfortable at worst....My advice is to take several deep breaths and rethink your situation. NOv, Dec, Jan, Feb and half of March and you are out of muss, no would take that and more for anyone to have you evicted..stand your ground, grit your teeth, and be smart.....God bless.

-- lesley (, November 04, 2001.

Cathy, a first, last and deposit will go a long ways toward lumber to build a suitable shelter as in one with a real roof and floor. I don't think a tent will hold up for an entire winter and then where will you be? I can tell you from experience, a tent does not hold up at all with dogs and cats in them!

Just stay put and save your money. Let the wicked stepmother give you an eviction notice. Even after 30 days, she still has to go to court for eviction papers and someone to serve them, then it is another 30 time you REALLY have to leave it is at least 90 days free rent. Just leave the place clean when you leave. Then you will never have to deal with her ever again in your whole life. It is her loss, she chose greed over valuable relationships. Don't let your pride and your sorrow for your father chase you into a bad situation.

I know 2 different families that live out year 'round like you are thinking of doing. One family in a rough log A frame with tin roofing and about 10 layers of shredded tarps and canvas, the other couple in a scrapwood framed, carboard walled iron roof shack. Both have woodstoves for cooking and heating. These are their choices and they are okay with it, but my oldest daughter just about cries when she sees it.

-- Laura (, November 04, 2001.

We moved our stuff back to MO last December...after 14 inches of snow had fallen. Doesn't happen all the time here, but our winters cycle. The oldtimmers around say we should expect the same because of the persimmon seeds:). Personally I wouldn't want to rough it that much...

-- Lacey (, November 05, 2001.

Thanks for talking me down off the ledge. And you're right about the deep breaths. I asked about a tent mostly because I could have put it up by myself. I've never been in a situation where I thought I might be evicted, and I've worked sooo hard to be financially responsible, all my adult life, working 2 jobs, etc. I keep thinking that this can't really be happening. She's furious because I've made a fuss about not having any heat! The furnace crapped out back in May, and I contacted the lawyer 4 times (June, July) trying to avoid the nightmare I'm facing now. I have to miss 1/2 a day of work today so the heating company can give her an estimate on a new furnace. Who knows how long it will take to actually get it installed. The idea of paying her rent makes me ill.

You know what she said to me a few days ago? "Your father was right about you all along." I didn't give her a chance to say another word. Now, my Dad and I adored each other, and he often told me he was proud of me. I just want to show you the sick mindgames she's playing. She knew how much a remark like that could hurt me. I can't/won't stay here. My sweet sister offered to let me camp in her attic, so options are showing themselves already. Thanks for all your help, and who knows, I may still end up in a tent in May.

-- Cathy in NY (, November 05, 2001.

Cathy, God bless you. Thank goodness you have calmed down. "Go for it!"-- indeed--Kathleen ought to be ashamed of herself. Cathy, Leslie and the others gave you some good advice. Now, in case you get into another tizzy and change your mind over some snitty comment your she- devil stepmother might make, I want to give you a warning:

Here in Anniston, Alabama (Alabama, mind you, the Heart of Dixie, the Sunny South) our most famous Jezebel, a woman serial killer named Audrey Marie Hilley met her death several years ago when she broke out of jail and FROZE TO DEATH on a doorstep in downtown Anniston, ALABAMA.

Never, never, put yourself at the mercy of the weather: it is not your friend.

-- Rags (, November 05, 2001.

Hello Cathy, In all fairness to you and you safety, I would recommend you try to hold out until March-April. Winter in Mo. is tough. Meli, Caroline and I spent last winter here (Ozarks) living in an old camper. We enclosed underneath but, the pipes froze several times and even the septic froze. We put sheets of insulation inside over the windows and though it blocked out the sunshine, it did help keep us warmer. The first snowfall came on December 12th (12 inches). Our road was so bad that we could not drive out of it until Jan 4th. Ice everywhere! Coyotes everywhere too. Conditions like these would even be worst if you lived in a tent. You should have prepared for the move earlier. You will need firewood and it is not picnic to cut firewood in the middle of winter. You will need access to water. At least a running stream or river. You will need access to food. Unless you prepare for winter here, you could quite possible die! The area I live in has nothing nearby. We prepare all summer long by canning, freezing, cutting firewood, etc. Just so we do not have to go out in the severe weather in the winter. There is very little employment in the winter. Most of the work in the area is seasonal at best. I am self employed as a handyman and last winter I did not work for three months! Are you financially ready for that situation? Sincerely, Ernest

-- (, November 05, 2001.

in many states you can withold the rent if the landlord doesn't repair things like the heat. You might want to check around for a renters legal aid type agency. It'd take her much longer than 30 days to evict you. If she's going to play hardball like that, I'd step up to the plate. There's really very little she can do to you.

-- Dave (, November 05, 2001.

New a lady in NJ who got divorced, and it took almost a year for husband's bank to actually get her out of there.

I lived for 3 months in an old popup camper one year - June, July, and August. Wouldn't want to do it in the winter, much less in a tent. Maybe call around to a few of the local mobile home dealers. Maybe they took one in on trade they don't really want and God willing you can get it for the setup fee just to take it off of their hands. Or, if you can find an outbuilding like I use for my office, you could live in that. It is built of pre-made panels that are basically 2 layers of steel sandwhiching 2 inches of foam insulation. Actually doesn't take a lot to heat it, is very sturdy, can get it with a window, and you can reuse it when you move out.

-- Eric in TN (, November 05, 2001.


NO, a tent is not a viable option. I had a close friend die here in NC during the winter of 1988. He tried living in a tent. Both he and his dog froze to death. I hope that you are not as hard headed as Doug was.

My aunt once got evicted she spent a winter in a womens shelter there in NY. She got to keep her poodle but the cats had to go. If you have absolutely no options private email me. I'll give it some serious thought and help you develop one or two.

Do not risk your life.!!!

-- Kenneth in N.C. (, November 05, 2001.

Okay Cathy I'm sure sorry you're in the position you are in but I understand perfectly.

Well, now they don't call me possum for nuthin' so here goes...

You need a good sturdy tent that is built for living in during the winter? Here are two url's from my book they supply tents with a hole for a woodburning stove and yes they are warm...I lived in one during the winter in a boyscout camp for a week. It got so hot at night we had to open the tent flap. Tents are large enough to live in Ex: Hospital wall tent standard size 14' 6" L x 11' H x 14' W comfortably sleeps 16 adults.

They have smaller sizes but hey if you are wanting to set up housekeeping go for it.

The second...

They manufacture and Egyption Cotton tent which makes a good "cold weather" tent.

Now, if you cannot afford or lift one of the larger wood burning stoves they manufacture a smaller one. It has a small woodbox in it and they are realitively cheap. I don't know how long it would take you to get it if you ordered it. They do have branch stores all over the place so you may be able to get it through one of their stores.

The stove sells for I think $39.99 from Northern Tools Catalog and they are online at: and right now they are having special christmas special where they are giving away an order a day! Maybe God would bless you with a free stove.

If I can help you come up with anymore info please let me know. I will check back often.

By the way, the tent that we lived in had a single layer wood floor made out of 2 x 6's raised up off of the floor.

If you want some practically free wood for building lean-to's or helping to block some of the wind you can go to your local sawmill and get cut-offs by the pickup truck load.

God Bless you and keep you safe and warm.

-- Stephanie Nosacek (, November 05, 2001.

Cathy, I feel for you. If you DO decide you have to move out, a tent will work, but as others have said, they don't stay warm once the fire goes out. There are "tent jacks" for the stovepipe to pass relatively safely through the roof.

I have seen complete mobile homes for sale for about $1000 on up. In bad shape, but liveable if they were cleaned up.

Some friends of mine, way back when we were all stone broke hippies, built a small shelter out of straw bales, with a plastic roof. It was TOTALLY basic, yet it kept them warm enough.

I would think that a very "cozy" shelter could be built, and much easier to heat than that of my friends, by making sort of dome or igloo, by making a circle of straw bales, then a second row on top of the first, with a slightly smaller diameter, then continue until the top is only one bale. Cover with a large tarp. Straw bales are excellentg insulation, and when you finally get into something more permanent, you can use the straw in your garden.

Best wishes, and I hope you can get things worked out where you don't have to leave.


-- joj (jump@off.c), November 06, 2001.

Hello Cathy, If you are still planning your adventure to Southern Missouri this winter despite what we have all suggested to you...this is what I would recommend for a temporary shelter. Make it yourself as to not spend the huge overly price cost of buying on already made. Make your self a teepee large enough to have a fire or woodstove in the center so that you can comfortably walk around. You can cut all you poles from the land and assemble them with relatively little effort. Wrap the poles with tarps allowing the top to be open so that the smoke can go out. On the inside you can insulate with whatever is available and affordable. Make the door flap so that you can tie it shut from the inside or the outside. This is probably the most economical shelter you can build that would withstand the wind and snow that occasionally settles here in the Ozarks. I am not sure exactly where you are moving too but, if I can help you with anything just let me know. I would be glad to help you put together the shelter and get you started for your new adventure! Sincerely, Ernest

-- (, November 08, 2001.

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