Thursday, March 31, 2011

Episode 14 - Vehicle maintenance and tips to save you money

Welcome to another episode of the Be Prepared Channel. In this podcast we talk about how the global supply chain can affect you and your vehicle. We talk about tips and sources of information that can save you a lot of time, headaches, and money. Recommended things you should know, and things you should consider having on hand in your spares kit for your vehicle. And of course we touch upon upgrades/improvements to your vehicle that potentially could make your car more efficient, and more reliable.

Useful URL's to sites referenced in this podcast: (hypermiler central!) (the modder's home for all things you can tweak) (Home for the Honda Insight, my current project car) (home for all things turbo diesel in the car world) (great place for consumer reviews on vehicles so you can get an idea of what the common failure or problems are with any vehicle, one you own, or one your planning to buy)

In the News:
Obama fails 'Nixon to China' budget moment
Top 10 Dying Industries
Fed to Name Banks That Sought Funding During Crisis
Threats Claim Nuclear Bombs Hidden All Over U.S.
Going Broke: Treasury Down to $58.6B in Cash
Obama in 2002: Toppling Brutal Dictator a 'Dumb War'
When Gold Becomes Money Again
Home Price Declines Deepen in Major US Markets
Gadhafi Push Tests the Coalition Strategy
CIA Operatives Are Aiding Rebels
Radiation Traces Found in U.S. Milk
The Inflation Knuckleball
Massive Capital Wave Approaches Gold
G-20 Criticism of Fed Easing May Be Muted at Meeting in China
Ohio House passes collective bargaining bill
Lawmakers Resume Testy Budget Talks to Avert Shutdown
Real Estate Crash Catches Up to U.S. Municipalities
Japan Weighs Entombing Nuclear Plant on Chain Reaction Risk
Bill Gross Says Treasuries Have Little Value, Echoing Buffett
Qaddafi Forces Gain on Rebels as His Foreign Minister Quits
Wisconsin Anti-Union Law Faces New Hurdle
How Low Will Home Prices Go?
Big Banks Lose: Mortgage Risk Retention Doesn't Expire
As Housing Recovery Lags, Rental Business Set to Boom
Chinese demand powers global gold market
Gold, silver still influenced by Japan gloom
Obama signs secret order giving the CIA the green light
Arming Libya rebels not allowed by UN resolutions
Obama calls for cut in US oil imports by a third
Israel fears the alternative if Syria's Assad falls
CIA officers in Libya are aiding rebels, U.S. officials say
Case-Shiller: Home Price Double-Dip Materializing
MBA Expresses "Profound Concern" Over Risk Retention Proposals
Obama authorizes secret help for Libya rebels
Fed drains $750 million of reserves via reverse repo
Ohio Legislature approves bill limiting bargaining rights
Stricken Portugal 'lacks the cash to meet debt payments'
A New Plan for Homeowners That Protects Taxpayers, Too
Greenspan and Barofsky on Mending the Financial System
The New American Ghost Towns
Microsoft’s Odd Couple
In Libya, CIA is gathering intelligence on rebels
Syria's Assad offers no concessions, blames protests on 'big conspiracy'

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Product Review: Palram Cold Frame Single

Here is the promised video review of the Palram Cold Frame that I purchased for doing my starter plants this year. I purchased 3 of these, but in hindsight I would like a "do over". Here is my review of this product:

Permaculture Plant Guilds - My own learning and planning of our tree guilds

Welcome to another episode of the Be Prepared Channel. Today I am thinking about the next steps as I am thinking through the planning and placement of beds, plants, trees on my little postage stamp lot. Permaculture is new to me and really only heard about it somewhat a year or so ago on Jack Spirko's show The Survival Podcast. Jack does an awesome job every day and brings a lot of great content to the community. Knowing how much work it is to do a simple podcast, or to put up some video is really overwhelming and Jack somehow manages to knock it out every day. Well Jack was the one that really brought permaculture into my own world. I was already focusing and learning all I could about organic gardening and just getting my head wrapped around that shift in thinking. One of the things that becomes obvious as you look at organics and trying to integrate conventional wisdom of growing things with organics is that we honestly create a great deal of work for ourselves. We transport in materials, and soil supplements, we spend a lot of time and effort trying to create soil and an environment for growing plants that requires a lot of work. Jack said one day on his show... STOP DIGGING! And that we are just creating work for ourselves. That got my attention, but didn't really push me to the next steps of understanding more fully what that meant.

So here is the podcast for today's topic. See some of my notes and ramblings below and some of the video clips that might make permaculture clearer if it is new to you.

So finally I did watch Geoff Lawton's Greening the Desert and the follow up videos posted on this permaculture experiment that transformed a desert space into a growing, thriving microclimate in the desert. That really got my attention and then I started digging for more videos on YouTube to help me crash course on this concept. Here is one of those videos on greening the desert:

Bill Mollison the cofounder of Permaculture did this show called "The Grave Danger of Falling Food" that was also an eye opener. Here is part 1 of 5 of that show:

Now once you get your interest up and start thinking about it then it starts to make you realize that conventional wisdom on how we plant and grow things might just be a bigger part of the problem than we realize and that in order for nature to be sustainable there are stacking functions of plant, animal, bacteria, micro organisms, insects, people, and the environment that make things work. In other words everything requires something else as a helper, companion, supporter in order for things to work and work effectively. Our conventional way of thinking in mono crops, or single plant species is not duplicated often in nature and with good reason. So today I want to talk about what I am learning and attempting to understand which is call plant guilds. In this case I am specifically focusing on tree guilds for my own lawn space. There are lots of conversations about this topic on, and you can get a crash course primer in the book called Gaia's Garden. I don't pretend to understand a fraction of what I need to know on this topic and one of the biggest challenges I face is the very limited land space I have to put these guilds. So I am still trying to figure out tree spacing, and that will dictate on my little landscape the location of these trees.

Lessons from the 3 sisters(or is that 4?):
Honestly I can vaguely remember being taught something about the 3 sisters guild and that native Americans taught settlers about this relationship of plants. The 3 sisters are corn, squash, and beans. This intentional design offers several things to each plant. First corn offers shade, and a trellis for climbing beans, and it has been discovered that the roots of the corn release compounds into the soil that actually feed the bacteria that the beans use to accumulate nitrogen. Squash also provides weed suppression, shade, keeps the soil cooler, and helps retain moisture. Now it has been found that there might have been a 4th sister in this planting arrangement. The 3 sisters brought in animal, plant, and bacterial elements, but the 4th sister introduces beneficial insects. This forth plant is the Rocky Mountain Bee Plant. This plant is found near Indian Anasazi settlements and many have noted that anyplace you find this plant it is near former human settlements. So it is believed that the use of this plan is wide spread. It is a tall purple flower that attracts pollinators, the leaves, flowers, and seed pods are edible. The Inca and other new world peoples used the plant Amaranth as the 4th sister. The stacking, inter-relationships that these plants represent make each plant stronger. A university study of the 3 sisters showed that when calculating caloric production of a mono culture of corn vs the 3 sisters that the 3 sisters produced 20% more calories for the same space. So we start to see how a monoculture of plantings strips soils of nutrients, the plants do not get the help that they need, and aren't as productive as if we combine them with complementary plants.

To be honest as I read this in Gaia's Garden it just clicked and makes sense. The challenge in my space is to figure out how many different ways we can use guilds, and complimentary plants in a limited space. I do plan to have some conventional raised beds this year for growing things, but I will be starting the experimentation with guilds in various places in my landscape. The combination of these guild relationships can reduce the work needed, improve growing and fertility for the plants involved, and hopefully start to form a sustainable food forest in the process.

What has me bothered?
Small space and trying to shoehorn big things into it! So my big focus at the moment is trees, shrubs, and bushes in this landscape and making guilds part of that makeup. Then once I have the placement, and large plant choices made then I will know what other space I will have to work with as this layout develops. So I am thinking about trees and common guilds.

So it appears when teaching permaculture the common thing to teach on these guilds is to start off with something simple so as to explain it more clearly. This starting point is typically an apple tree guild. What is an apple tree guild? It is a tree and the companion plants that one should grow around a tree. Each one providing that stacking function of supporting and enhancing each other.

Your basic elements of a apple tree(or substitute any fruit tree here) is:
1. Central element(apple tree)
2. Grass supressing bulb plants
3. Insect and bird attracting plants
4. Mulch plants
5. Nitrogen accumulators
6. Nitrogen fixers
7. Soil fumigants and pest repellants
8. Habitat Nooks

So as we begin to assemble our first guilds here on my urban homestead we will try to share some video and explain what we are seeing and learning in this process. I hope you find this interesting and helpful as we will continue to share what we are learning as we put together some of our own plant/tree guilds.

In the News:
Well my intention for the news section was to draw some attention to some of my favorite sites and maybe send some traffic their way since my goal with this blog is to only inform and help people, and share my experiences along the way. My intention isn't to be a "news" site, but a how to, show it, demonstrate it, review it, and of course laugh at it blog. However it appears that some folks felt that even though I was crediting sites for the great news content, providing the URL's, and promoting my favorite sites that I was somehow stealing even though this is a not for profit blog and there is no business entity involved. So I decided to modify my code and just start grabbing public domain URL's with the news and will not credit anyone and avoid the worry completely. I can grab the news from all over the web and boil it down to post it here. This avoids any further worries of theft since I am not republishing any content from other sites, but simply posting the URL's which anyone can find anywhere on the internet. I hope this satisfies those that contacted me concerned about stealing and theft. Here is the newly boiled down list of headlines without any distinction of where it comes from or any redirects to other sites. It is sad that I am apparently not allowed to promote places I enjoy and hope that you will too, but I guess that is the strange world we live in today.

A Look at Case-Shiller, by Metro Area
Where Are Americans Most Miserable?
Broke And Getting Broker:
Home Price Declines Deepen in Major US Markets
More on How Inflation Turns Us Into Con Artists
The Inflation Knuckleball
March LPS Mortgage Monitor Report:
World War II Did Not End the Great Depression
11.4% of all U.S. homes are vacant
Consumers jittery about inflation and income
Utah: Forget dollars. How about gold?
Home prices near a double dip
The Unites States Possesses the Largest Energy Resources on Earth
Hedge Funds are About to Undress
At Plant, a Choice Between Bad, Worse
Allies Intensify Call for Gadhafi to Step Down
Amid Rebels, 'Flickers' of al Qaeda
How Can America Create Wealth If Our Industrial Base Is Destroyed?
Will Financial Problems In Portugal
Wow That Was Fast! Libyan Rebels
The Libyan Folly
Next U.S. Terror Attack Might Come From New Toys:
US house prices continue dramatic fall
Obama not ruling out Libya arms
Buffett Says Buy Businesses Over Long-Term Bond
Criticism of Fed Easing 'So Yesterday' as G-20 Meets in Nanjing
Dying Banks Kept Alive
Gold and silver consolidating at new highs
Radiation, Japan and the Marshall Islands
Obama Raises American Hypocrisy to Higher Level
Greenspan warns on Dodd-Frank reforms
Home prices fall across US
Opec set for $1,000bn [One TRILLION dollars] in export revenues
Long-Term Bearish on China and the US
Gaddafi issues defiant challenge to Libya conference in London
Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor
Syrian president sacks cabinet in effort to quell protests
US consumers use savings to pay for basics
How China Manipulates Its Currency
Republicans Don't Want the Deficit 'Crisis to Go to Waste'
Roy Moore Runs for President
Drop in home prices in January raises fear of double dip
Wisconsin judge halts state from moving forward
Cash for Clunkers 2: The Return of Government Motors
'Freelance Jihadists' join Libyan rebels
Housing-bust damage spreads
Team Obama, world police

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Episode 12 - When the world is going to heck - Stay Focused

Welcome to another episode of The Be Prepared Channel podcast. Today we talk about staying focused on our priorities as the world is going to heck around us. We talk about the work we are doing on the homestead, swales, directing runoff to swales and our yard space. We talk about the use of trees, gutters, cold frames, and of course some prepper technology we should all have which is something that is extremely high tech, renewable, solar... and you gotta get one... It's called a clothesline!

Overnight Snow

Welcome to the Be Prepared Channel. Well we received a small amount of snow overnight which was a welcome thing to see. We have not gotten very much snow this year. Temps have been very cold this year, but not much snow or precipitation to go with it. I should have gotten a shot of it first thing this morning, but was lazy.

Survival Blog Economic and Investing Headlines:

But I don't think that silver is yet in a speculative bubble. The true value of silver and gold haven't changed substantially. Rather, it is paper money that is losing value. I believe that the value of the U.S. Dollar and the world's other fiat currencies are simply diving into a chasm, following an orgy of government over-spending. The current bull markets in silver and gold are just reflections of the ongoing destruction of the Dollar and the world's other pager currencies. For this reason, even if there is a major correction in silver, I doubt that the bottom will be any lower than $20 per ounce. The silver market fundamentals support my outlook. Silver is scarce and become more scarce with every passing year. (Which, by the way, is one of the reasons why I recommended that my readers ratio trade out of physical gold, and into physical silver.)
Do you remember my warnings about "creative" ways that legislators might find to solve budget crises? Brace yourselves. CBO: Taxing mileage a 'practical option' for revenue enhancement. (A hat tip to J.H.B. for the link.)
My cousin in England sent this: Proof That Gold Is Not a Bubble
G.G. flagged this: Morning Note: Gold Replacing Dollar as World’s Reserve Currency?
Also from G.G.: Buffett Warns: The Dollar Will Decline
Stocks Falter Despite Improving Economic Reports
Oil Slides as Rebels Take Libyan Ports
More People Signed Contracts to Buy Homes in February
How to Detect Fake Silver
US Closes Small Bank Bringing 2011 Total to 26

Patriot Radio News Hour News Headlines:
Why The European Union Is Doomed
German Elections Put EU Solidarity at Stake
Obama Seeks to Bolster Public Support
Obama explains Libya incursion
Ron Paul believes Libya intervention an 'impeachable' offense
Al Qaeda leader foresaw chance to capitalize on Arab uprisings
Obama Arming Al Qaeda?
Libyan rebels promise oil exports,
Syria: dozens more dead, US and France divided
'Arab spring' drives wedge between US, Saudi Arabia
Iranian Video Says Mahdi is 'Near'
Meanwhile, in Israel…
Anti-cuts protests shut down central London
Will This Breakout In Gold Be Authentic?
US Treasury's Geithner to visit China March 31
Bernanke to Speak Out More to Explain, Bolster Policies
Life as we know it in America is about to change
Disposable income falls as prices jump, data show
FDIC's plan for 'skin-in-the-game' loans
Administration proposes banks spend $20 billion to fix botched foreclosures -- By Patrice Hill-The Washington Times
Stiglitz: Budget plan a 'near suicide pact'
Survey says U.S. financial house in state of disorder
Harry & David files for bankruptcy
Unemployment’s Rising Toll on Families
Who wants a union? Not Southern autoworkers, it seems
The collapse of Detroit
Caterpillar CEO: Illinois budget hurts business
Obamacare is crony-care
Loudest Obamacare cheerleader wants out
Shrinking Medicaid funds pummel states
In Prison for Taking a Liar Loan
Donald Trump: I've got my birth certificate,
Media Matters' war against Fox
Is Media Matters breaking the law in its 'war' on Fox News?
Virtual war a real threat
Who's looking in on you?
Duck And Cover
Radiation levels at Japan nuclear plant reach new highs
Plutonium detected in soil at Fukushima nuke plant
Radioactive rainwater recorded eastern US
At Reactor, Toxic Pools Threaten to Spill
Damaged reactor may be leaking radioactive water, Japan says
Japan government slams Tepco on radiation reading
How Dangerous Is Japan's Creeping Nuclear Disaster?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Stripped from the Headlines - My Favorite Sites

Welcome to another episode of the Be Prepared Channel. Today is just a real quick update on progress at the homestead over the weekend and today. The weather was kinda wet and cold here for once so I admit I stayed in the house and ate stuff I shouldn't have... Which just made me carb load and feel like I had the flu all weekend. It really was my own doing as I knew my binge on dried fruit and nuts was going to be more than my system could handle, but I did it anyway. Live an learn!

So yesterday afternoon I did wander outside to see that the snow/ice melting off the roof of the house was coming down the gutters and pooling and not going where I wanted it to go. I will get around to getting my gutter project with rainwater catchment system going this year, but in the mean time one of the gutters is perfectly lined up just above the swale we built so I began digging to make a channel for the water to follow away from the house and down into the swale. About 30 minutes later I had it working and I had a little trickle of water making its way down to the swale. I should have video taped it, but I will show it to you more later as I will definitely want to improve this so that I direct the water where I need it in the landscape.

Next project got underway today. I had the tree service guy back out to remove my second elm tree that will end up becoming the base for my hugelkultur bed, and will be the liner and mulch materials for a lot of other beds and swales here. So that tree has been cut down and now the real work begins for us around the house of moving it to where we want it and turning it into workable materials. I will get some shots of what this all looks like and get it posted up on the blog.

So that kinda wraps up the happenings around here at the moment. I am working on a project now to gather up some of the news and headlines from some of my favorite sites and make sure that they get the recognition they deserve. I am hoping to write a little script that will start scraping some of the headlines from these sites and post the links here so that you can quickly follow them from here. I don't know how successful I will be but let's give this a try and see how this works out. Let me know what you think.

Surivival Blog(Economics and Investing Headlines):
G.G. sent this: End of the Dollar?
Some severe gloomage, over at Zero Hedge: The Dollar Will Collapse Within 3-4 Months
Dr. R. highlighted this item: Connecting the Dots … Grain Shortages & Food Inflation Quietly Accelerating Due to Perfect Storm
Greg C. flagged this: Fears rise that Japan could sell off U.S. debt
Of particular interest to SurvivalBlog readers in the hinterboonies: Postal Service to Cut 7,500 Jobs, Close Offices
Asian Shares Higher After Wall Street Closes
US Experiencing Uneven Job Growth Across States
Oil Hits Highest LevelG.G. sent this: End of the Dollar?
Some severe gloomage, over at Zero Hedge: The Dollar Will Collapse Within 3-4 Months
Dr. R. highlighted this item: Connecting the Dots … Grain Shortages & Food Inflation Quietly Accelerating Due to Perfect Storm
Greg C. flagged this: Fears rise that Japan could sell off U.S. debt
Of particular interest to SurvivalBlog readers in the hinterboonies: Postal Service to Cut 7,500 Jobs, Close Offices
Asian Shares Higher After Wall Street Closes
US Experiencing Uneven Job Growth Across States
Oil Hits Highest Levels Since Recession
Private Corporation Official Admits Impending US Bankruptcy
US Consumer Confidence In US Falls More Than Forecast On Rising Fuel Prices
When Silver Investors Finally Wise Ups Since Recession
Private Corporation Official Admits Impending US Bankruptcy
US Consumer Confidence In US Falls More Than Forecast On Rising Fuel Prices
When Silver Investors Finally Wise Up

Patriot Radio News Hour( - daily podcast is awesome!)
26th Bank Failure of 2011:
200 arrested as hardcore anarchists fight police long into night in Battle of Trafalgar Square after 500,000 march against the cut
Will Financial Problems In Portugal Cause The European Debt Crisis To Spiral Out Of Control?
NATO Takes Command of Libya Operation as Allies Step Up Attacks
Gadaffi's Curse Keeps Haunting Washington
Nicolas Sarkozy reignites row over Nato military role
Libya: a make-or-break moment for Nato
US hands command of Libya air strategy to senior female officer
What Will the World’s Tyrants Learn from the Libyan War? Get Nukes!
Yemen’s Saleh Describes Nation as 'Time Bomb' Nearing Civil War
Syria protests continue
Why The Euro Will Survive
US Dollar Under Acute Pressure
What's Really Driving the Gold Price?
Accumulate Gold and Japanese Shares
People’s Bank of China Positive On Gold Due To ‘Value Preservation’; Concerned About Euro, Dollar And Paper Currencies
Gold And Silver Are Thriving While The U.S. Dollar Is Dying
J.P. Morgan Chase, HSBC May Have Gained Billions
How Can America Create Wealth If Our Industrial Base Is Destroyed? 50,000 Manufacturing Jobs Have Been Lost Every Month Since 2001
Temporary Unlimited Coverage for Noninterest-bearing Transaction Accounts --
Consumer Sentiment Sours, At Lowest Level in Over a Year
Fed's Fisher Sees Signs of Excessive Liquidity
Massachusetts job fair canceled because of lack of jobs
FDIC Proposal: Pay Borrowers $20,000 To Walk Away
Mortgage Servicers Resist But Cut Debts
Housing Market Cycle: Much Worse This Time
Nevada's boom and bust leaves 167,000 empty houses
It’s Tracking Your Every Move and You May Not Even Know
Radiation forecasting links: WeatherOnline to check updates
Fukushima crisis:
Radioactive seawater surrounds stricken plant
Why 95% of Japanese May Not Suffer from Radioactive Iodine Exposure
Radioactive Cesium With A Half-Life Of Approximately 30 Year

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Permaculture swale - Construction

Welcome to another episode of the Be Prepared Channel. In this episode I show you how I dug my permaculture swale, cardboard sheet mulched, wood chip mulched, layered on thick layer of manure, sprinkled on a layer of peat moss, leaf litter and mulched wood and turned it into the bed/swale. Then topped it off with some finished compost. I hope you find these videos helpful. I appologize up front for the sound quality. The wind was howling here for the last couple of days and made recording as I went kinda tough.

The swale was dug across the hill of my yard so that we capture all the rainwater as it flows down hill. The objective is to dig out a depression that retains the water as it comes down the hill. We have layered on like a lasagna multiple layers of biomass to absorb all of that moisture possible. I live in a high plains desert and the soil is hard as a rock with no biomass or organic matter in the soil. A pick axe just bounces off of this stuff so hand digging it with a shovel and pick axe takes a lot of time and effort. Hopefully this first completed swale works as planned. I will probably put a layer of straw on top of it to suppress weeds and other growth until it is finally warm enough here to put seed and plants into these beds.

We will be working with several raised beds and a hugelkultur bed this year that I will show you as we construct them in the next few weeks. So we have lots of projects to share with you. I hope you find these videos informative and helpful.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Beginning the Urban Homestead - Some video of my place and starting our homestead transformation

Welcome to the Be Prepared Channel. I have been promising you guys for a long time to do some video. Frankly the battle to do a nice high quality video production like so many people are doing is just overwhelming as far as the time available and to do a polished job. So you know what? I decided to heck with it! I have a cell phone with a camera, so I am going to just shoot some fast unpolished, shakey, rough video and just share it. If you guys like it and it is useful we will expand the number of shoots and product reviews so that you can see the things we are doing around the house in our "Year of the homestead". We are taking a bare bones basic house in a high plains desert environment in Colorado and we are going use permaculture to attempt to green the desert. So I want you guys to see what I have been working on so far and what it looks like at these early stages so you can see the progress and the outcome of this experiment as we attempt to transform desert lawn into a thriving growing space with minimal watering(goal is no watering, but we will see how it goes).

So I hope you enjoy the videos. I took a few more but they apparently exceed the YouTube size limit so I will have to reshoot those and get the posted. Let me know what you think and what you want to see as we go along with our projects. If your in the Colorado area and have some projects of your own happening give me a shout and I would love to see what your doing and maybe shoot some video or do a podcast with you.

Permaculture Beginnings - My Front Yard

Permaculture Beginnings - My Backyard

Prepper Essentials - Composting and compost bins