Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Emergency water access

Well folks I have been talking with a plumber out on the farm regarding some things that I would like to see done as soon as we finally get this loan closed with the bank.... I wish these guys would hurry up and get this scheduled to close so we can get busy. Of course there seems to be a run around about info they should have collected in the prequalification stage of a home loan. Well they are asking for it now so we are trying to fill in gaps that shouldn't even exist at this point which makes me wonder what is going on over at the bank... But I digress... Today we are talking about water...

Getting access to water in an emergency:
We have talked about having water storage in the past. So I am not going to cover these specifics in this post. This is more of a post about something I have learned so far in the process of thinking about being prepared. So I asked the plumber about installing a hand pump to install on the well casing so that we could pump water by hand in the even of a power outage. I found the following pumps to be available for this purpose:

Bison Pumps

With the Bison Pumps they advertise the fact that you can mount on a well that has a submersible electric pump in it. So I called up the plumber and asked them how deep the water is in the well on the property we want to buy. Of course the response was that they weren't certain that we do mount a pump. So I provided them the URL and they called Bison. Sure enough you can mount a hand pump on a well.... But here is the catch... You have to have a casing that is 6" in diameter. It appears that the people who sunk this well on the farm only used a 4" casing. I was informed that all of the wells they have done in the area are all 4" casing. Now I don't know if that is a fact, but I have seen the top of the well casing and it does appear to be only 4". So my plan to attempt to install a hand pump on this well has been thwarted for the time being. So unless I had a new casing put in or I drill a new well I am stuck.

The purpose of the hand pump is that you can still get access to water in your well if the power goes out. Now I can try to work around this with a generator. However that is still something that would rely on energy inputs. So I will have to give this some thought as time and money permits a way to work around limitation. With the Bison Pump you will need to know the depth of the water in your well to determine which pump you would need or if it would even work for you in your well. Here is the advertisement for Bison Pumps:

So I thought I should share with you this limitation on the hand pump. If your having a well dug then make sure that it has a large enough casing so that you can install a hand pump. If your looking at a home/homestead/farmstead this might be something you will want to look at as something to know going into the purchase or if your looking at renting a place with a well and considering something like this as an option. This would give you some options if you plan for it in advance.

So that is the water access installment on hand pumps and what I am learning so far. I hope you find this info helpful.

God Bless,

Time to stock up, and preserve it while it's fresh

Well it is that time of year. Gardens are pumping out the green beans, the cukes, and lots of other great garden goodness. Now is the time of the year to start stocking up. If you have a garden you know what I am talking about, but if you weren't able to do a garden this year then your not out of luck... You can find a local farmers market and stock up while the stocking is good with great fresh and local food.

Well this time of year is a good time to find those bargains on the canning jars and supplies. I have seen them at Chinamart, Farm King, and seveal other places. So now is the time to go and lay into a supply of jars. You can never have too many jars, lids, and rings. So if you haven't already done so now is the time to get out there and get you some and start thinking about canning up some of those lovely beans and the other good stuff coming out of your garden or head over to that farmers market and meet your local farmers.

You can find your local farmers markets at a sight like:

One item I stumbled on a little while back that really makes fast work of cutting up things is the Chop Wizard. I find I use it all the time and is really a great time saver for food prep and should help make some of those cutting tasks a little faster for canning.

Vandalia Chop Wizard

Now frankly I didn't see the advertisement for this one on TV, and many times that stuff turns out to be junk, but this actually seems to work and I can recommend it. So far it has made dicing onions, tomatoes, and potatoes a snap, and makes short work out of chopping stuff up for a salad.

I just bought one of those inexpensive slicers to experiment with for doing sliced veggies for the dehydrator. I will have to post more on that later once I have had a chance to play with it.

I hope your summer has been fun and enjoyable and that you were able to do some things to help you prepare. Nothing has improved on the economic front so every day that hasn't gone completely to heck is a good day to prepare, learn some skills, and help family, friends, and your community.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Signs of the times

Occasionally you run across a news piece and you just cannot help yourself. You just have to laugh, or cry, or break something.... Well this news piece really just exemplifies what I mean:

Government Salaries Double private sector incomes

Once upon a time you obtained a government job knowing you weren't going to get paid very well, but the benefits were decent and they usually had a pension. Also the size of the government was much smaller with only a small fraction of the population working for the government.

Today the largest employer in the country is the government(city, county, state, federal). This is the first time in our nations history that this has ever happened. Now to add insult to injury we find out that federal employees now make on average double what people working in the private sector do. This is outrageous!

And yet the people of this country cannot figure out how we reached this point with our debt and unfunded liabilities? Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are bankrupt. The government spent your money and left you with a pile of IOU's. Today you have more people living off the government than in the private sector and to add insult to injury those working for the government make double the people that pay the bills? The private sector is where jobs and money are created, and the government is product of the real economy. The government is not some self sustaining independent thing that has a life of it's own. It is a parasite that needs an economic host to live on and the host here in the US is dieing. The government is killing the host.

The housing market is still collapsing for the most part across the US. Some places have firmed up, but generally speaking the decline persists. Foreclosures are up 6% over last year, house prices are still falling, and the shadow inventory of homes that are on the banks books are at all time highs. People have stopped paying mortgages and the banks are just letting them stay in the homes just to avoid having a vacant home sitting and being vandalized. So residential real estate is still in bad shape. Well commercial real estate isn't fairing so well either. We hear this week that the company that owns 3 malls across the country lost one to the Federeal Reserve program called Maiden Lane where we the tax payers get stiffed into buying defaulted assets. They already own properties like Red Roof Inn in the Maiden Lane program. Well this mall owner lost one property in GA, and now it appears they are about to loose a mall in MN and CO. The one in CO is in Colorado Springs called the Citadel Mall. Yet we hear the Federal government telling us that hard hit areas like CA and CO are recovering and that the economy has bounced back. Sorry folks it just isn't true, and the mall parking lots are still largely vacant, and many larger retailers are leaving the malls. So while Jim Kramer and other talking heads are out there touting how resilient commercial real estate has been they know that things are not well. I hate to break it to them, but a few bright spots in a few major metropolitan areas does not make for a commercial real estate recovery... I mean how many vacant commercial properties do you see in your area that are vacant or for lease? Then ask yourself how well the commercial real estate market is.

Despite all the stimulus the unemployment rate is climbing again even after trillions of dollars in stimulus has been spent. All we have to show for it is a massively increased debt and nothing has been fixed. Most of that stimulus went into the pockets of bankers who are desperately trying to sure up their balance sheets that are filled with derivatives products that are completely worthless. They know the day of reckoning is coming and hope to be able to weather the storm with the free money the Federal Reserve is pumping into them daily. The bank bailouts continue as these banks borrow money at 0% and loan it out to consumers an high rates. Have you looked at your credit card statement lately and seen the rate they are charging?

When it becomes obvious that the free money flow to bankers isn't enough to help them they will be back asking for more bailout money. Of course they are going to continue to tell you that if we don't give them the money the consequences will be unbelievable and unbearable. Are you going to fall for it again? Are we going to let them tell us that the real problem is that we need to control this problem on a global level and that we need a global bank? Are we going to let them then come along just like they are now in the EU and tell us that the real problem with the Euro zone economy is that they don't have a single government entity calling all the shots? They are ever centralizing their power, and using every crisis to increase their control. Each crisis is used to make us do what they want... and when your the one creating the crisis it really looks good for them.

Funny thing in this fake recovery is that many corporations are reporting increasing profits. Top line revenue has not increased(their sales are not improving, except overseas in China and India) for the most part, they are getting the increase in profit from cutting expenses. This means even more jobs are heading overseas. These multi-national corporations are saving their cash and restructuring their debts at new low rates. They are sitting on a mountain of cash which is the highest we have seen in 50 years. Why do you suppose they are doing that if the economy is so great? I mean if you listen to Washington, the Federal Reserve chairman, or even the Treasury secretary they all tell you the recession is over. They hope that you won't notice what is really going on. They hope that you don't recognize the fact that if you subtract out the trillions in deficit spending the government is doing that it would be obvious that we are in the Greatest Depression. Many people are already living in TEOTWAWKI, check out this video:

See the funny thing is today you get a food stamp card and can get access to food at your grocery store. No standing in food lines. Do you think it would be obvious today that we are living through the Greatest Depression if the 45 million people getting assistance were standing in food lines all over the country? Do you think then they could still deny that the train left the tracks a long time ago? What about those that have had their unemployment benefits extended to 99 weeks and they are still adding on... Do you think that it would suddenly be obvious that the number of people unemployed is staggering if they went back to the normal 6 months unemployment benefits? Can you imagine the level of homelessness and the tent cities we would see right now?

So to see a figure that government employees make double what the private sector does is just a clear sign of the times. The trajectory into a SHTF world is in fact on track. Not many people can go through a hard time, pull out the credit cards and think they can live off of them for long and think that they will be able to recover from it, and even fewer will be able to pay back all that money they borrowed while living this way. Yet somehow the US economy is somehow the exception? That somehow we can defy all the odds and continue to live on debt, hire more people onto government payrolls, and pay them twice what they would make in the private sector while racking up massive piles of debt and live to tell about it? Sadly folks I don't think it is going to happen that we can recover from this level of disconnect from reality. Unless someone wakes up fast and puts the government on a massive diet and we start tackling these huge debts and broken programs the future is not going to be brighter for our kids or our grandkids.

How are we going to be remembered by our kids when all we have done is saddle them with debts because we were too selfish to live within our means? Instead of demanding more government programs to help us maybe we should have been working harder as families, churches, and communities to address our issues as they came up instead of increasingly looking to the state and federal government for help. Will we learn? Will we act in time? I can only hope, and pray that someone is listening and willing to do what is needed to divert a catastrophe. I don't want to see our world transformed into the end of the world as we know it(TEOTWAWKI), but the future does not look bright.

So what have you done today to prepare?

God Bless,

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Raising Livestock - What is realistic?

Welcome to another episode of the Be Prepared Channel. Well we have been busy with our farm purchase and plans. We are still under contract on our farmstead so I thought we would share a little about that and to talk about raising your own livestock as part of your preparedness plan.

Latest Farmstead News:
Well we are still under contract for our farm. There were some areas that had been identified in our inspection report with the house that the sellers have rectified. The well and septic inspections came back with some issues that the sellers are working to get resolved. I have the plumber working on fixing some other things on the property such as a water hydrant near the barn and replacing the pressure tank that appears to be weak and could cause problems down the road. So we have the plumber working on that. I found out this week that farm insurance is different than homeowners policies alone. So I am shopping for an insurance company that does farm coverage. Otherwise it appears that things are on track. I decided to blog the farm specific business on a separate blog so that we don't bore you with the farm specific business:

Food plan - raising livestock?
As part of our sustainable food plan we need to ask ourselves what we plan to do when the freezer is empty, and the store shelves are bare? And what meat that is available is too expensive to buy... Then what do we do? Raise our own meat.

Now if your a vegetarian you may be at an advantage in your food plan to a certain degree because it can be easier to accommodate growing vegetables depending on where you live and how much space you have, however it may be a little more complex in trying to ensure that you get adequate vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins with a vegetarian diet on a year around basis. To sustainably support 1 person on a vegetarian diet from a garden you need approximately 4000sf of garden bed space. This is for 1 person, and will allow you to adequately rotate garden beds to allow soil to rest and to rebuild the soil. This means approximately 1200 sf of land in in production at any given time. Now multiply this by the number of people you are caring for... So 4 people in a household would be 16000 ft of garden space with 4800 sf of space in production at any given time. So the space needs are still not small even if on a vegetarian diet.

When you cannot get fresh veggies year around this can make things a bit more challenging. Now in a post TSHTF world we are talking about a stores don't have things on shelves, your food no longer safely or reliably makes the trek the 1500+ miles to your dinner plate you have to change your eating habits and consider what you need to do to ensure you have food. So that means we will be forced to eat things that we have stored, and those things which are in season that you can grow. I have family members who are vegetarian, but I don't think they have really contemplated how their diets will change if they could not buy what they want year around at the stores. So now is the time to think this through and how can you make this sustainable and ensure that you have adequately considered the space needed even if your a vegetarian? What about your water needs to water plants? What is your water collection and storage plan? So by all means vegetarians don't get a free pass... They just don't have to calculate the complexity of animals into the equation.

I am not a vegetarian, so I welcome meat in my diet and in my food plan. However to make this work we need to think through some of the ways we can do this. Of course we can freeze meat and store it. However if the grid goes down and the gas for your generator is gone that freezer may not be too helpful. The power requirements to run a freezer on solar and wind can be quite high so you would need to anticipate that load on your RE system now. You can preserve meat by canning it. This is an option, but honestly this is good as a fall back plan, but nutrition is lost in any food preservation plan such as dehydrating, freezing, or canning. The best source of nutrition is fresh food when you have it. Having your own supply of fresh meat will likely mean you have a relationship with a local farmer, or your raising it yourself.

Depending on your situation and where you live, the land space you have, and the natural resources available to you there are different possibilities.

Small space, in town or city:

Larger space, small farm

Some things to consider in your plan for livestock:
Do these animals require special feed, grain, or supplies that you do not have in your storage plan or cannot grow or supply from your land? Chickens require grain in addition to grass and insects. Rabbits do not do well on a strictly graze diet as many varieties have not be subjected to a graze type diet. You should seek out growers who have specialized in animals and breeds that have that ability to live on grass and natural occurring forage. So any livestock you consider think about the year around feeding, watering and shelter requirements. Carefully consider your space and how you can maintain a sustainable environment without external inputs of feed and water. This will be critical in order to understand what you can or cannot do or afford at your location and with your resources.

Space and food requirements
Part of this equation is being able to humanely raise meat for consumption. This means the animals in your care should be able to express themselves as animals, a chicken should be able to live like a chicken, a cow like a cow, and a pig like a pig. So make sure you calculate the space these animals need adequately. The feed requirements for these animals can be overwhelming if you have to buy and store it. For example the amount of food and water to raise a cow is enough to make you do a double take. 12 gallons of water a day, 30 lbs of dry matter, and of course a cow needs a lot of space. So carefully consider your real options with the space you have, the types of things you will be able to provide these animals to sustain them, or if you need to buy and store foods for them remember to put those things in your storage plan.

By raising some of your own livestock you will be able to keep fresh meat at your homestead year around. You don't have to worry about preserving the food, refrigeration, canning, or freezing when the animals are still alive and you can harvest them as you need them. With smaller animals such as poultry and rabbits you can harvest them as you need them further reducing the need to find a way to preserve it. This is far more complex with larger livestock such as pork, sheep, cattle which are far too large to consume quickly so you have to have a way to preserve these foods once you harvest them. For many of us having access to fresh foods will be the key to moving beyond a bunker mentality of just surviving and into living life. We need to adequately plan our food plan to take advantage of fresh foods when we have them available to us. We should consider our options when it comes to meat and how we can ensure that these items can continue to be available to us.

I will be doing an installment this coming spring highlighting our food plan as we begin expanding our farm into livestock. We will show the pros and cons of each type of animal we choose and how they can fit into your food plan as well. I hope you will find this interesting and helpful in determining what you can do with your own preps.

God Bless,

Monday, August 9, 2010

Matt Simmons - He will be missed

Well the news broke this morning that Matt Simmons a well known oil investor and peak oil expert has passed away. I just wanted to give my condolences to his family and to say that Matt's insight and expertise in the area of peak oil will be missed.

In some ways it was Matt Simmons and his analysis of the world oil supply situation that helped push me to begin prepping. It was his analysis of the energy supplies, their limited nature, and how close we are to reaching that tipping point that helped move me past just talking about what is happening to actually doing something about it.

Once you start to learn about the limited oil supply situation, global growth, and the declining world oil production we start to connect the dots to how we depend on oil for everything it becomes quite scary. Matt clearly and concisely lays out the oil situation from the prospective of a man whose company makes its money in the oil industry. He wasn't a "Johnny come lately" analyst, but someone who's livelihood is based on energy.

I would encourage you to check out Matt's book and some documentaries he has appeared in which tell the peak oil story and why we all need to take action today to minimize our oil use, begin investing in alternatives to offset our dependence on oil. It is quite an alarming story and the possibilities are limited as far as how much oil we can offset with new technology. This all ties in directly to our prepper plans and make sure that we understand our dependencies, and the risks going forward. I believe we will certainly see oil prices skyrocket as global currencies collapse, and as China and India continue to grow and billions of people start using cars, trucks and many of the things that we in the US take for granted which depend on and use oil. This declining world oil production story will be headlines in this decade and our inaction today could cost us all dearly if we don't prepare and make changes to the way we use energy now. Matt is one of the pioneers that lays out the story as to why we need to be concerned with analysis of the facts and if we choose to ignore his warnings we do so at our own peril.

Twilight in the Desert - The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy
The End of Suburbia - Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream(Documentary)
A Crude Awakening - The Oil Crash

It is extremely important that we understand Peak Oil concepts, and how it will impact us in our prepper plans and how it will change our lives. Some say we have reached a point that we are in a "Peak Everything" state. Peak water, peak food, peak oil... How this peak energy situation impacts those other areas is quite obvious. 10 calories of energy are burned to bring you 1 calorie of food to your plate. Our world is addicted to oil. This means we need to develop local markets, local farms, local relationships if we are going to be able to adjust to this energy crisis. This story will only continue to grow more pressing as we reach that point where it is obvious that demand has outstripped global supply. At that point all bets are off and the conflict and competition for the remaining resources will be the headlines of the day.

Even today we see China investing in energy and energy exploration with their large cash reserves and bidding wars in Iraq for oil have been taking place with China coming out on top. Today we don't seem to be connecting the dots as to what this means to us, but it will become quite obvious in the not so distant future.

So it is with sadness that I learned that Matt Simmons passed away last evening. His insight, expertise, and analysis of the global energy situation will be sorely missed. Thank you Matt! You helped to wake me up, raised my awareness, and forced me to go beyond flapping my gums to actually doing something about it. For that I thank you... Rest in peace Matt, you did good!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Austerity Measures Garden