David in Israel on “When the Only Tool You Have is a Hammer” Syndrome, and Building a Post-TEOTWAWKI Shelter

One of the most frightening aspects of attempting survival especially in North America is surviving the survivalists. These pseudo-survivors dutifully stock up arms and ammunition at great personal expense but fail to do any other planning expecting to presumably live off of the spoils of the MZBs (mutant zombie bikers) who they eliminate. A physical therapist once gave me a bit of wisdom about his trade and people in general; “every back problem looks like a surgical fix to a surgeon and chiropractic care is the sure cure to a chiropractor”. (Clearly the good doctors do not do not fall into this category.) There is an old saying: “When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem tends to look like a nail.” In the same vein if your only survival tool is a well stocked weapons battery every problem looks like a gun fix. The hungrier and colder you get, the more you may fall into the MZB category. Consider a proper USFS type Pulaski tool, which is a combination axe and digging hoe. This tool is at least as valuable as any firearm to a survivor!

The biggest weakness for the first few weeks post-TEOTWAWKI is the lack of proper shelter. The land upon which your domicile will rest is discussed elsewhere we need to think of appropriate solutions for the area you are planning to relocate to if it is required. These solutions being prompt at best will allow even the “grasshoppers” a chance to have a more livable dwelling if they have to bug out.

Your Car or a Tent

The tent not so bad for a short stay–around a week–but your tent is best saved for last unless it is of a heavy canvas or military type. Provision for heating must be considered. A military Arctic tent and wood/diesel stove is designed to be sledded into a remote area by a skier. Your vehicle provides cramped quarters and extremely fuel intensive heating, unless you have a camper van or canopy for your truck this is also a week at best type venture. A big benefit initially for being inside your vehicle is quick retreat.

Prefabricated Shelter
If given a little warning a small utility shed could be dismantled and loaded onto a trailer. Check your shed now to see if this is a possibility. A better solution is to order a small shed with a proper door and maybe a window and long overhang for a porch. These can be loaded onto a trailer or even a pickup bed and assembled at your selected retreat. I place the greenhouse in this same category. You will need food. During the winter, vitamin malnutrition is a serious problem, several hundred dollars spent on a shed and another few dollars spent on a decent greenhouse can make the difference.

On Site Materials
If your are a very successful hunter (highly unlikely for the first few years post TEOTWAWKI due to massive survival over hunting) the tepee might be an option to replace your tent. A better option in many parts of the USA, Europe, Canada, and Russia is the log cabin. The log cabin is reasonably simple to build and requires beginner skill for a small home. Practice is very useful it would be worth your time now to build a log doghouse or even table top model to give you practice for the real thing.
Without a modern hardware store window glass, hinges, rebar or spikes for joints, a cement chimney and a solid door will be difficult to improvise. The main tools required is an axe, plumb lines, marking tools, compass, and rule. All of these except the axe can be easily improvised. Four large, man-movable rocks with a flat surface will suffice for the corners of a small cabin something 3M x 4M,. Anything larger would require additional rock foundation on the long sides. A proper lock-notch reminiscent of Lincoln Logs can stand in for spiking if none are to be found. Work in one direction with the stacking alternation top to bottom so fit is better on every layer. Don’t worry about gaps under around 5 cm as you will be stuffing mosses between every layer for wind-proofing and insulation. After the house is built make a jam-stick to force more moss or similar material into the gaps. If you can, wait until the wood is seasoned then mud it over. (Green wood shrinks and would require re-stuffing and re-mudding.) A roof can go from pine boughs to sod to shingles depending upon time and materials, if you had the foresight to include thick plastic or tarp in your gear this when sandwiched between pole layers makes for a decent temporary roof liner. Pad it with sod to prevent wear and punctures. Forget about peaked roofs unless you are in heavy snow country where a log A-frame would be better, tall roofs waste all of the heat near the top while you are freezing. A short building with a shed roof is better. Your door is a difficult addition to the cabin, a dig under is simpler but less comfortable, lag bolts for the frame plus cross placed lock logs (think the short Lincoln logs) may make this safer. Consider a combination dig-out and short door for your entry with buckskin to cover the opening. A fire ring inside your cabin and a buckskin flap vent hole in your roof will allow you to heat and cook but BE CONSERVATIVE WITH THE FIRE! Clay and stone might be used to build a chimney fireplace but be wary of the temptation to improvise by using mudded over wood for a fireplace. A bed is made by making a mini cabin in the same rectangular shape of your bed with a roof of poles cover with 10-20 cm of boughs cut when they reach nearly pencil
size 8-9mm. The largest dangers with an improvised the cabin are collapse and fire. Consider bracing and cross members in a un-spiked cabin. Be careful with fire.

TEOTWAWKI could happen anytime. Have shelter and food preparations made. Install a mobile, shipping container, shed or other shelter on that piece of land. Don’t be a grasshopper well armed and trained survivalists with no stored food or shelter are the scariest MZBs of all. Hunger and cold allow people to justify the most outrageous decisions. Even easier to justify decisions such as armed robbery when your family is hurting. We will all stand to be judged by the Creator of the universe in the end.