This is the cabin I built and stayed in alone for 8 months in 1994 on 550 acres in east central Tennessee. The series runs some 1200 pages and until
now I have never really put it all together. The survival diary that the series is based on was a small part of a much larger, more ambitious, reason
for the solitude that was based on the stupid idea that I had something to prove to myself. At the time I really had no idea what I was getting into
and although prepared I was truly alone and the mental adjustment was something I have failed to see addressed anywhere in this forum.
I am just going to post parts of this long, long work and see if there is interest enough to continue.
This cabin was built entirely out of split cedar logs taken from the land and the only power tool used was a chain saw. During the 3 months of
summer/early fall construction I spent considerable amounts of time locating things I would need and planting various seeds and crops in open areas
along with marking trails which was one of the smartest things I did in hind site.
This is family owned land that is somewhat useless as it is mostly cedar groves, bedrock limestone exposed on the surface along with countless crags,
draws and steep dangerous cliffs. This land is similar to what one would find up and down the Appalachian chain and is normally rented as a hunting
preserve. Four hunters have lost their lives on this land mainly because they had no business being in the woods at all made worse by the fact that
they had a gun in their hands.
I knew I would not run out of water as this type of land is loaded with natural springs, inviting but oh so dangerous caves of every size and shape,
and I had enough basic food that I could survive without having to kill anything. I started with a 55lbs pound sack of gritted corn, 30lbs dried wild
turkey meat and basics that only the natives, settlers and solders would have had. I knew how they survived and food would not be a primary concern as
I had planted more that I could eat. I had 8 gallons of kerosene and 2 lanterns along with a 1887 vintage .410/22c over and under shotgun/rifle that
the solders called a squirrel gun except theirs were black power. I never fired a shot.
Here are a few of the topics:
Attitude. The most important part of any survival plan yet I have failed to see it addressed in any of the threads I have read here. The most
dangerous aspect of wilderness survival is the mental anguish brought on when you finally are forced to accept your situation. Depression can be fatal
before any real challenges are faced-and no one is immune. All the bluff and bluster about your abilities(mostly to yourself) can come crashing down
in a fatalistic plunge into self doubt. Food, water, shelter and personal safety mean nothing if your not programed to adjust your attitude and remain
calm, avoiding panic and understand the real time solution begins with one simple fact-that you are alive.
In military training survival motivation is always wrapped around Esprit de corps (disambiguation)and being part of a team. The thought that your
death-coming from mental anguish and the depression that always follows-would endanger your fellow comrades is a huge motivating factor taught to
military men through time.
This same disambiguation could come into play if, perhaps, you were in a situation with a child that there only chance to survive was that you
remained calm and let the depressing affects of an uncertain future pass and remain positive.
One of the main projects I had planned was a long, long essay on fear that was a derivative of real life events I had written about in the past. These
fears, and how they correlated through these events, and had real life psychological effects that can, and do, predispose a big part in survival
situations. The human mind is simply too complex to avoid stimulation for any self imposed amount of time. Meaning-you have shelter, food and the
basics to survive-however what about feeding your brain all the stimulation it is so accustomed (addicted) to receiving. This essay is over 8000 words
and shows examples of how survival training can focus the mind to occupy itself based on experiences from prisoners of war, individual that went into
hiding for long periods, self imposed recluses, mental ill but highly intelligent persons, military training manuals and interviews with persons who
have endured long periods of time without mental and psychological stimulation.
Basically, it's a modern day take on cabin fever and how easily fear can be internalized, in survival situations, with tragic results.
The area I was in really made fire production a simple matter even in total snow cover. Red Cedar grooves with exposed bedrock limestone made
producing an ember from a spark somewhat effortless once you got the hang of it. I have buckets of horse shoes I have found over the years and I had
one with me that I found while constructing the cabin. Skinning the cedar bark and allowing it to dry then shaving( with a very sharp edge) the
outermost edges to produce a hair kinder that can be made into a small ball. Hunting around the exposed bedrock until I found a spoon like indention
and placing the cedar hair in the indention with a separate rock as a backstop. Then grinding the horseshoe until I got it down to the primitive
iron-with a serrated hunting knife-I simply struck the spooned area with the exposed iron and made a spark that landed on the backstop rock and fell
on the tender. It worked the first time I tried it although the fiber burned much quicker than I thought so I had to modify. The second attempt
resulted in the spark landing on my right hand and burned it like only crudely made iron can. Once you have done it-and most importantly have
confidence you can do it again-it is never will a problem afterwords. That method was for the wood I was in at the time and a different situation I
would require a different method. The point I discovered was that an old horseshoe-the more primitive the metal the better-can start a fire in most
The Kaskinampo Indians that were native to this area were a brutal, warlike and fearsome tribe that dated back thousands of years and generations.
Fortunately, most of their murderous aggression, was focused on themselves and other offshoots of the Cherokee Nation. They traded and intermarried
with the White man and some skirmishes took place however they thought the settlers were quite pitiful warriors and basically ignored them.
Dissemination of smallpox lead to their destruction by the start of the 20th century.
They perfected a food known as pemmican that basically was pounded dried meat, wild berries, steamed roots with fat and bone marrow compressed into a
rawhide pouch. This food pack was about as nutritious a thing you could eat and would keep indefinitely. During my 8 month survival excursion I had
some success with this product using dried wild turkey meat, bone meal, blackberries, wild strawberries, boiled pear sap and hog fat. The skin side of
the fatback made a good pouch however I never found a good way of sealing the pouch as they did.
Both Confederate and Union solders spent many winters here and-especially the Confederates-had constant supply issues. They made do with what they
could find around them. The root of the endive plant, the French called chicory, which originated in Ancient Egypt was a staple grown all over the
south and had dozens of uses, and still grows wild today. Mostly know as a coffee substitute and as a vermifuge it also added to the solders ladium
potions-which I was also able to make however the process is somewhat complex.
To my experience, realistic survival gardening, begins and ends with what you can find in your area that is already established since any real
survival situation has no guarantees that tillable land will be an option.
Whippoorwills- A southern country name for wild peas. A cross of blackeye and purplehull peas once established in the flora they reproduce at an
amazing rate-3 or sometimes 4 crops a year. Like all podded peas-Pisum sativum-they are unhealthy for cattle and horses and eradicated in pastures
when possible. Still they grow everywhere and are only kept down in areas of high deer population.
Wild turnips-The worlds most prolific tuber-actually a false tuber- is without a doubt the most hated to those who were forced to survive on them-and
nothing else for months at a time. The green fecal matter they were the end result of for both Union and Rebel solders became a focal point for all
their sad drinking songs along with pittance for their commanding officers, who often ate much better than the common solder.
Although I gave up alcohol over 25 years ago I did allow myself to make a supply of ladium for emergency use and I was able to make about 8 ounces
that really helped with injuries that are going to happen regardless of how careful you are. I started planting poppies along with fall turnip green
fields and allowed them to winter over and they mature in early spring along with the greens. Of course the Confederacy was so dependent on both (
turnip greens and gritted corn along with whatever meat they could harvest sustained them through out the winter months) and some of the wild poppies
here are decedents of the Army's efforts to do with what they had, rather than what the could have delivered. Of course, widespread addiction to
opiate potions was a huge problem for both Union and Confederate Armies. I steamed and mashed sassafras root and using a primitive distill method was
able to produce an active agent(in place of grain alcohol which the Armies used) to combine with the opiate paste to produce a powerful narcotic. The
8 ounces made 4 portions in which I used 3 and saved the rest to add the the next seasons brew-therefore eliminating the need for an active agent. 1
of the doses were used for a bad foot sprain and 2 other were consumed during a time of bad depression around Christmas. I go into detail about this
production of what Milton called "the giver of pain and delight" in his translation of this primitive vice. Dried poppy pods were found in the
Valley of Kings burial chambers and among the Mayan ruins. They may have been used by the earliest of our ancestors as cave paintings in France
Gofer grapes-The fruit of the Virgina creeper vine can be fermented and distilled into a powerful medicine. While not a narcotic like ladium it was
used as an antiseptic and taken orally as a painkiller for tooth extraction, childbirth and of course drank for intoxication.
I am out of room on this post if interest is shown I will post more of it.