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Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties > How to Make Beaver-Mat Huts Without Tree Injury

How to Make Beaver-Mat Huts Without Tree Injury


In building a shelter use every and any thing handy for the purpose; ofttimes an uprooted tree will furnish a well-made adobe wall, where the spreading roots have torn off the surface soil as the tree fell and what was the under-side is now an exposed wall of clay, against which you may rest the poles for the roof of a lean-to. Or the side of the cliff (Fig. 23) may offer you the same opportunity. Maybe two or three trees will be found willing to act as uprights (Fig. 24). Where you use a wall of any kind, rock, roots, or bank, it will, of course, be necessary to have your doorway at one side of the shack as in Fig. 23. The upright poles may be on stony ground where their butts cannot well be planted in the earth, and there it will be necessary to brace them with slanting poles (Fig. 25). Each camp will offer problems of its own, problems which add much to the interest and pleasure of camp making.

Beaver Mat

The beaver-mat camp is a new one and, under favorable conditions, a good one. Cut your poles the length required for the framework of the sides, lash them together with the green rootlets of the tamarack or strips of bark of the papaw, elm, cedar, or the inside bark of the chestnut (A, Fig. 22); then make a bed of browse of any kind handy, but make it in the manner described for making balsam beds (Fig. 7). You will, of course, thatch so that when the side is erected it is shingled like a house, the upper rows overlapping the lower ones. Then lash a duplicate frame over the browse-padded frame and the side is complete (B, Fig. 22). Make the other side or sides and the roof (C, Fig. 22) in the same manner, after which it is a simple matter to erect your shack (Fig. 22, and E, Fig. 22).

Fig. 22. Fig. 23. Fig. 24. Fig. 25. Fig. 26. Fig. 27. Fig. 28.

Shelters adapted to conditions. The beaver-mat and the fagot shack. Shelters adapted to conditions. The beaver-mat and the fagot shack.

The great advantage of this sort of shelter is that it is much easier to do your thatching on the ground than on standing walls, and also, when done, it is so compact as to be practically water-proof.

Fagot Shack

The fagot shack is also a new style of camp and is intended for use in places where large timber cannot be cut, but where dwarf willows, bamboo cane, alders, or other small underbrush is more or less plentiful. From this gather a plentiful supply of twigs and with improvised twine bind the twigs into bundles of equal size. Use these bundles as you would stones in building the wall and lay them so as to break joints, that is, so that the joints are never in a continuous line. Hold the wall in place by stakes as shown in Fig. 26. Use the browse, small twigs with the leaves adhering to them, in place of mortar or cement so as to level your bundles and prevent their rocking on uneven surfaces. The doorways and window openings offer no problem that a rank outsider cannot solve. Fig. 27 shows the window opening, also shows you how the window-sill can be made firm by laying rods over the top of the fagots. Rods are also used across the top of the doorway upon which to place the bundles of fagots or twigs. Twigs is probably the best term to use here, as fagots might be thought to mean larger sticks, which may be stiff and obstinate and hard to handle.


After the walls are erected, a beaver-mat roof may be placed upon them or a roof made on a frame such as shown in Fig. 28 and thatched with small sticks over which a thatch of straw, hay, rushes (Figs. 66 and 69), or browse may be used to shed the rain.

One great advantage which recommends the beaver-mat and fagot camp to lovers of nature and students of forestry lies in the fact that it is unnecessary to cut down or destroy a single large or valuable young tree in order to procure the material necessary to make the camp. Both of these camps can be made in forest lands by using the lower branches of the trees, which, when properly cut close to the trunk (Fig. 121), do not injure the standing timber. The fagot hut may be made into a permanent camp by plastering the outside with soft mud or clay and treating the inside walls in the same manner, thus transforming it into an adobe shack.

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