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Cave Mark #2


Having given up on the pentagon-shaped structure detailed in “cave mark #1”, I decided to try a tepee-shape for mark #2.

I’d made a five-cane “tripod” in about five minutes, so thought that’d be a good basis for the next effort

Soon gave up the 5-point idea; too hard to spread the sticks and have them balanced on uneven ground. Laid out the supplies:

Decided that single canes wouldn’t be strong enough, so I lashed two canes together, narrow end of one to thick end of the other (this time I’d gone down the local shop and bought three balls of cotton string, which was a lot better all round: held the canes and didn’t cut my fingers so much).

The canes weren’t exactly straight when I’d tied both ends together

They needed to be tied together along their length as well. Really needed to lash them at 2-foot lengths, but didn’t have 2-foot cane to measure length, only 4- and 6-foot (of course I could have gone indoors and got a tape measure but didn’t think of it!).

Put the 4- and 6-foot cane together at one end, which left a 2-foot difference on the 6-foot cane. Tied the 8-foot canes at that spot, then used that tie to move the “measuring canes” along to get the other ties.

(It would have been a lot easier if I’d got the tape measure, but it was more “fun” this way)

I had a thought about tweaking the traditional tepee frame design to include a door, rather than just a hole in the cover – wanted an easier way to get in and out and had an idea for a “porch”. Out with the 4-foot canes:

All bits done:

That used up 40 metres of string – more than, as I ran out and had to finish the last half-dozen ties with that damn nylon string.

Used 6-foot canes for the base: doubled those up, too, tied at each end and middle – I had to make the end ties inwards, to leave room to tie the ends to the uprights.

Tied the uprights together – found a “how to” on tripod lashing, but this was four poles, so had to adapt it (more accurately, bodge it). Had some probs getting the poles to stand square cos I’d not tied them properly.

Tied one base cane to one upright – used different cord so I could tell which was what for later tweaking.

Then another upright to the other end of that cane, and so on round the square; tried to make the sides that I’d decided would be the entrances lower, easier to step over, but had probs with how much space there was to work with.

Finally all done:

Then to decide where to place the thing – it was light enough for me to lift and shift around, trying various locations.

Snag: the garden’s not level – I’d made the structure level for the ground I’d built it on — but that wasn’t where I intended it to be. When I moved it, the difference was obvious:

Did try to push the uprights down so that they’d stand level, but I’d tied the tops too well, they wouldn’t shift enough for all four ends to stand firmly on the ground.

Besides – even with 8-foot canes, there was only just enough headroom for me to stand up:

And anyway, there’s no way to fit a 4-foot door high enough to be any use! To put it four feet up would mean a serious overlap on each side at the top; to put it where the uprights were four feet apart would mean having a doorway about two feet high!

So I need another rethink: I had thought of something square, to give enough headroom and working space, but the feedback from the first blog has given me lots of ideas that I didn’t have before, which are still simmering, so I’ll wait and see what floats to the top.

More blog posts by franl155

Previous post: DIY Cave Mark #1

Next post: cave thatching



Have you thought about using one of the walkin veg and fruit cages for the framework Fran and then go from there, see if you could add your screening for the privacy part, even add some living willow to the sides....

6 Oct, 2014


good thought, Lincs! hadn't thought about fruit cages at all.

had thought idly about awalk-in greenhouse , but not sure how stable it'd be without the shelves to brace the frame,

Just Googled "walk in fruit cage" and the early results look promising.

Of course I'm making a mountain out of this whole thing - part of my prob is where to place it, and it has to be only semi-permanent ("leave things as you found them for hte next tenant") which didn't help at all.

6 Oct, 2014


As long as you don't use a concrete base they cannot class it as permanent surely...

6 Oct, 2014


True! I'll have to sink the uprights in a bit, but it should be self-supporting; can use guys and pegs if need be, got enough of them!

6 Oct, 2014


You don't give up easily do you Fran ,cue to call OH to read 2nd installment ,actually I think a fruit cage would work you could plant privet round it which would be evergreen ...

6 Oct, 2014


I'm sorry Fran, but you did make me smile ! I hope you don't give up on this ! A fruit cage would be a good idea ! And you would get the height and your door !

6 Oct, 2014


@ Amy - nice touch! I've looked at fruit cages, and the smaller and more affordable ones seem to be low veg ones, which would be a bit of a squeeze!

then thought: but what would i do with all these canes? don't think i'd need 50 8-foot canes in the usual way of gardening, let alone 100 each 4- and 6-foot - well, a few of each of those, but surely not that many!

answer: make my own "cage"? square-ish box, made to my own dimensions and available space, covered - and then plants around it

@ Rose - lol I smile about it too - even if not at the time! This is something I really want to do, and i'd better get a move on, as Samhain, the pagan New Year is at the end of October, and i want to be "in residence" by then!

6 Oct, 2014


You better get a move on then Fran ! lol

6 Oct, 2014


Fran you have earned the Goy Prize for Innovation and Effort, even if it hasn't quite worked yet...

6 Oct, 2014


First prize for effort - hope you manage to work it out. look forward to the next instalment!

6 Oct, 2014


Thanks Rose and Stera and Wendy.

lol Stera, I'm working without a map here, so I'll keep trying until bits work, then put all the working bits together!

I had a sligth setback over the weekend - external tap leaking back into the kitchen, half-covered teh floor beore I saw it; no emergency phone number so had to turn the stopcock off and leave it off all weekend till I could report it Monday morning. And I'm on a water meter! Got to phone the water company to ask them not to count that! (reason there's no emergency phone number is that all the bunglasows are equipped with "granny alarms", which I completely and totally forgot about, even though wyhile standing by the phone making desperate calls the alarm box was directly in front of my face about a foot away! not used to having help that close)

So not done much outdoors last couple of days, but will get stuck in tomorrow - got to clear the ground that i've finally decided will be the location, and make sure there's a patrh round it - which is a story in itself, took up outer layer of the patio there, only propped up on bricks and with old concrete lumps and very old dirt underneath, so now I've started i've got to clear that row - which will give me some spare paving slabs for something or other.

6 Oct, 2014


Have you seen the living willow structures?

you use long willow withies, if you use fresh they often root, then as they are so pliable you bend them into the shape you want and wind them together , I think tying them together as you go, in the summer you have a leafy shady shelter.
needs maintenance of coursebut could be a fascinating project.

Just put willow withies into google and look for living structures.....

7 Oct, 2014


I've seen living willow domes, both in GoY and Google. The "cover" seemd to start a couple of feet off the ground, and I suppose they'd drop leaves in autumn-winter: I wanted "total cover" all year round.

Also thought about non-living willow - they need to be soaked for days to get them pliable enough to bend, so one has to buy the "bath" to soak them in. Most of those domes I've seen are fairly large, larger than I'm thinking of, so there'd be some pretty drastic curves - unless I did a circle and just bent them to arch at the top and tied them in place. I have been thinking about it!

I might do that as a semi-permanent structure, once I've worked out where to put it and what shape to make it - for that i need to do some "prototypes" - easier to make mistakes with stuff I don't hae to unplait and uproot!

7 Oct, 2014


You could buy a small tent....

7 Oct, 2014


I think you can wrap the dry willow then leave it out.......or get it now while its still green, its been a good growing year this year thanks to
the wet weather earlier in the year, my friend is a willowweaver and can get it for free from someone local to her if she cut the withies herself

8 Oct, 2014


I suggested a 'wigwam in' your private wood a while back. For that you would need poles that are longer than garden bamboos(there are much larger ones available) and some form of covering like a light tarp and a ground sheet. The picture of you standing in your trial structure seems to indicate your floorplan needs to be larger Fran. Best of luck with your enterprise Fran.

8 Oct, 2014


@ Stera, I have three tents - a dome, a hike tent and a mini-tent that's not yet been out of the bag, sigh. The hike tent can be pitched flysheet only, but it has a pole in the middle of the doorway, which made getting in and out a bit of a sideways limbo, and that was years ago when i was a lot fitter! For the dome, the fly ties on to the poles, the neds of which rest in the tent corner starps, so the poles can't be put up without the tent being there (just thought - I could try planting the ples in the ground to see if they'd stay put on their own).

but really, I want to chill out with nature, and that would be easier if I weren't surrounded by plastic and nylon!

@ Pam - that sounds good! I really need to check out what's local - there are farms around, maybe one of them has lengths of straw or similar ...

@ Dorjac - so you, did, I remember now! I've been clearing my "private wood" a bit lately - there seems to be some kind of structure there, planks at angles around one tree; maybe kids have made a "den" that can be cleared out and adapted.

it's not the floor-space, really, it's the amount of *usbale* floor soace - if the walls go straight up, then all the floor can be used.

i had a thought and dug out something that's been in the shed since I moved in. not going to say here what it is, in case it doesn't work - lol besides, this is a teaser trailer for the next chapter ...

9 Oct, 2014


Just had another thought Fran. On the Grand Designs house building thingy on TV they have built whole houses of hay bales. Some hay bales, transparent corrugated panels and some tarps and hey presto one warm shelter. Just beware of the fire risk! If you planted hazel twitches all round it no one would know after a while. I prefere our gazebo myself but not welcoming in winter.

10 Oct, 2014


I'd come across "building with hayhales" in my seraches, and on QI - they've bult whole houses out of them - they're draughtproof, fireproof, and insect-proof - lol and wolf-proof, too!

Not sure how large the average bale of hay is ,but I suspect that to get the internal space I want would mean taking up half hte garden.

Also seen "earth-bags" on an eco site: sacks filled with soil and stacked to make walls - also used to make whole houses, so I assume that the bags must be tamped down to firm the contents for the next layer to rest on. mostly they're plastered inside and out when complete.

Again, wasn't sure how big a bag should be, or how many I'd need - certainly enough to lower the garden a couple of feet!

I even thought of turf houses: I'd been thinking about taking the lawns up anyway, so why not use the turf? was a bit put off by reading that you had to put a sheet inside, under the roof, to stop bits of dirt and insects falling down your neck!

10 Oct, 2014


Hi Fran

Just had a thought have a look on line at bird hides think this must just what you are looking for! Best of luck

10 Oct, 2014


thanks Wendy - i did find some "waterproof leaf mesh", but wasn't sure how "waterproof" mesh could be! but that's the kind of structure I'm thinking of, a one-person one.

11 Oct, 2014

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