Building a Homestead--Any Suggestions?


July 1, 2003, 12:57 AM
Gun or home defense related suggestions, that is. It's five raw acres of woodlot in Willow, Alaska I'll be transforming into a home. First step will be the pioneer road, followed by the pioneer clearing. After that it's a 20' trailer, a portable Korean-war era insulated quonset hut, and a series of dog kennels.

By winter I should have a well, at least PART of a log cabin, and a large propane generator with a large propane tank. People do cap off rounds out there, and they do get drunk. So what's the real danger if a bullet should hit a big propane tank? I know, it would be bad. So what can I do to minimize the danger? Sandbags all around it? What about logs (i'll have LOTS of those)? Would logs just add shrapnel?

Other concerns are the best fencing to keep dogs in and goblins out.

Also, does anyone have nightvision? Is it worth the price?

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July 1, 2003, 01:14 AM
Our (pistol) range is on the other end of the property and pointed the other way from the propane tank. It'd be impossible to hit it from the range without shooting through a couple of trees and a house. Still, given my druthers, it'd be surrounded by a vine-covered cinderblock or log wall, just for peace of mind and aesthetics.

July 1, 2003, 07:21 AM
Check out "Backwoods Home" magazine. I think they're website is the same. The magazine is one that pretty much specializes in information on homesteading and such. I think the website is the same

July 1, 2003, 10:44 AM
Many propane tanks can be buried. Not sure what the difference is, but the gas company should know.

Various older-generation NVDs can be bought for not too much money. If electricity is available and reliable, "lighting up the world" might be a good alternative to NVDs that have questionable reliability.

Well-trained dogs are the best security adjunct.

Have a ball!

TFL Survivor

July 1, 2003, 12:31 PM
Thanks for the suggestions! Yeah, I discovered "Backwoods Home" a few months ago. Great stuff! Very practical.

July 1, 2003, 12:58 PM
If your in Alaska, the dogs will probably need the fence to protect them from Moose. Moose like to attack dogs.

I suggest you read Gary Paulson's books about Iditarod. Give you an idea of Moose/dog problem.

July 1, 2003, 01:42 PM
I know all about that. The one time I had a moose chase me down it was because some dogs had made him angry. THAT was an experience I won't soon forget!

July 1, 2003, 02:59 PM
Just get the type of propane tank that can be buried

Back home my step dad rigged up a planter with a false bottom to cover the part that sticks out of the ground, you'd have to look very hard to even know that it was there

You would probably have to deliberately shoot at the thing, with a deer rifle, at the right angle, to touch it off

July 1, 2003, 04:02 PM
I did something similar, but in a much less primitive area in north Louisiana on an old homesite of my grandparents. First thing I built/dug was outhouse, then gate at the highway, then cleaned up existing well, and started patching up old shed for a cabin. I use wood and cheap pot-bellied stove to heat it. (of course north Louisiana and Alaska are a bit apart).

The trend nowadays is to install fuel tanks above ground, and I believe that would hold for propane. The propane supplier will have some minimum rules you'll have to abide by, check with him first. Logs or sandbags should make fairly good protection but if you're looking at a .30-06 bullet or similar, those things penetrate quite a bit.
The government typically used blast walls of dirt to protect buildings from possibly explosions at the old ammunition plants. Sometimes the dirt was held in place with railroad ties. Minimum thickness I remember seeing was about 3-5 ft. of dirt. You might want something similar.
Most folks that live in the area usually try to be considerate about where they're shooting.

July 1, 2003, 06:33 PM
I like the idea of logs with earth over them. No shrapnel, and a darned good bullet stop that should stay up in the rain and snow.

Hopefully there won't be too many goblins. There can't be any more than the number I cope with now! But this IS the wild west, no mistake. It's also off the grid. No phone, no power, no address--just a dirt road! Once I"m set up, there could be a complete collapse of civilization and I wouldn't even know it.

July 1, 2003, 06:53 PM
Make sure you have Clear Firing Lanes..

You might encounter an Evil Moose. :evil:

July 1, 2003, 07:01 PM
Once I"m set up, there could be a complete collapse of civilization and I wouldn't even know it.

Sounds like my dream! just out of curiosity, what do you do for a living that allows this? Maybe I need to change jobs. How will you get on THR from your homestead?:confused:

July 1, 2003, 07:28 PM
Land is cheap, cheap, cheap. I'm getting five good level acres for under $12,000, with good timber on it. There's no way I could afford to buy pre-developed land, and frankly with no zoning and no building codes it often doesn't pay to buy land with cabins on it already.

July 1, 2003, 08:03 PM
My sister was once bitten by a moose.:D

July 1, 2003, 08:39 PM
I was gonna say to build a safe room, but it sounds like you have that covered. Dreamy. Good luck with it.

Why do moose hate dogs?

July 1, 2003, 08:44 PM
I think the old tanks that were buried underground were Butane tanks. Butane can freeze if it gets too cold. (So I heard) Propane doesn't freeze under normal temperatures, so the tanks are above ground.
I would just put up an earthen berm around the tank to protect it.
Knew a person back in Okla. who shot a large propane tank at an old abandoned farm back in the 1970's. He thought it would blow up like in the movies. It didn't. Later he got done shooting, or hunting or whatever he was doing; and drove away. As he drove away from the old homestead he ran into a pocket of propane that had leaked from the tank, and it ignited. It only flashed for 2 or 3 seconds, but he got 2nd degree burns over much of his body. Third degree burns in some places. Mainly his face and hands. That was a Dumbass thing to do.

July 1, 2003, 08:59 PM

Use the same idea the military does and build a rivetment around the tank.
Make a double log wall about three feet apart all around the tank and then fill it with dirt (requires much less dirt than just a standard berm as it doesn't sluff off so much). Warning the logs will rot eventually but if you look at some old root cellers it will take a long time.

P.S. If you keep piling dirt after it is full and let it only spill over the outside it will increase your protection and the natural folage will take root and hide the wall and tank from casual veiw.

July 2, 2003, 09:04 AM
Be sure to get a good chain saw, 50 cc minimum. I'm partial to Husqvarna, but Stihl is supposed to be good also.

July 2, 2003, 04:41 PM
I like SRYnidan's suggestion. You could actually do that around the whole living area or part if you wanted.

Might check out what Cooper says about field fortifications in To Ride, Shoot Straight, And Speak The Truth in or near the chapter on Tactical Residential Architecture.

I would suggest planting things right away that you wanted growing there. Perhaps fruit trees? Or thorny shrubs?

July 2, 2003, 04:52 PM
Or thorny shrubs?

Ha! All you have to do is transplant some wild devil's club around your place, assuming the whole five acres isn't covered with it already.

Then there is that other stuff - is it alder? - that grows up and out at an angle into the neighboring plant, so that it forms this inpenetable wall of criss-crossed branches.

July 3, 2003, 08:01 PM
Another reason so many propane tanks are in the exposed position is that in case of leaks the propane, being heavier than air, is more easily dispersed.

If you put in a hole in the ground or a similiar concept the propane will pool around your tank. Since propane in liquid form and in tank is not as unstable as propane vapour mixed with air you are less likely to have fireballs if you allow vapours to flow away.

Remember to site tank below your living establishments and other areas which might make sparks.

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