practice makes perfect

While the DH just bought an electric powered Traeger pellet smoker, I’m still working with my “alternatives”.  And just ordered a 400w Goal Zero so I have a portable unit for keeping my Trike charged on the road, and for other portable needs.

Earlier this year we had to change the bib on our 1100 gallon water tank as it was leaking badly.  The bib on the 1000 gallon tank is leaking as is the bib on the 350 gallon tank.  Now, we see one leg on the 650 gallon horizontal leg tank is buckling and cracking as the earth has shifted under it.  So this morning we are emptying it with deep garden watering and the rest will be pumped into one of the other tanks.

and that leads back to the Yeti 400.  Right now, we have no rain.  Have only had two rains this year so far; the first one filled the tanks, the second one added about 100 gallons to them, but they were already 1/2 empty by then.  So what would we do if we had to refill the tanks?  Ride down to the creek, fill up bottles and bring them home and transfer them.  the yeti 400 will allow me to use a pump leaving the bottles in the back of the Trike (or car if we have fuel) and transfer that water into the tanks rather than having to lift and haul.  Still a lot of trips to fill 3000 gallons of tank!!

Of course, SHasn’tHTF, and we can just turn on the house hose bib.

PLUS, the Trike has an electrical problem and I’m discovering that I can barely peddle myself up a hill, much less the Trike with a load!!

While out on the Trike yesterday (practicing going up hill on human power alone), stopped at a garage sale and picked up a new Coleman two burner stove, with 2 medium (about quart sized) gas cans for $20.  We already have a couple of older ones, this will go into my Westy – if we ever get it back on the road.  That is going to be set up as a bug out vehicle. With forest fires raging around us, am constantly reminded how necessary that may be one day and not every place will take the dog . . .nor does she want to be just any place; she is a barker!

but before I put it away, want to make sure I know how to use it. Its been years since I’ve done so.

cause practice makes perfect.


hard work

Did some work in the garden today – transplanting, feeding, watering, trimming, dealing with problems, etc.

Then set up the solar oven to cook chicken breasts for lunch.

with more than 2 hours spent all together, it occurred to me how much harder this would all be if I were going for full self-reliance; feeding us for a year from our land, rather than just supplementing what we are able to buy.  How hard it would be to bring in water if we couldn’t just turn on the taps and the water tanks were empty due to drought.

How the single boysenberry plant, the single blackberry plant, the two grape plants are not really enough for more than  a special treat once a year.  how many potatoes I’d have to plant to have enough for a year.  How already I’ve lost two plants to what I think is Verticillium wilt – was it from the manure/compost I added to the pot or were they contaminated seed potatoes?  At least, being an isolated grow bag, I can dump that. No isolating a section of my limited grow space for 7 years!  Meanwhile have planted a salvia in that bag, don’t know if it will succumb, but if it does, may help me better diagnose what has gone wrong!

Last year we put in a new raised (as in standing counter height) bed next to the kitchen, but I keep forgetting to water it.  Had set aside a small section of the main garden for beans, think I’ll put some pole beans in there and use the new bed for bush beans.  There is already a crop coming up in the greenhouse, along with some zucchini and tomatoes.  Matter of fact, we picked and ate a zucchini after a 34F cold night!

But our ancestors had to use other methods to extend their seasons and they had to work long and hard, day in and day out.  No putting the watering lines of a timer while they went on vacation.  and this doesn’t even begin to take into consideration the long time consuming process of house cleaning!

No wonder as the years went by they were ready to embrace the time freeing miracle appliances of refrigerators, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners!

and demonstrates to me, once again, while I need alternate power around here, because at my age, and I’m not getting younger!, I will want to be able to keep that vacuum, that refrigerator, those lightbulbs, going no matter what happens in the future!

goal zero

Unfortunately, my Yeti 1250 deal was not such a deal.  Something is wrong with it, and while service is saying bad battery, I think its something else.

Neither here nor there, as they are going to replace the unit – supposedly.  Said they would send a label, but its not happened yet. Being a heavy unit, I’ll have UPS pick it up here.

hmmmm, maybe they meant they would have UPS pick it up with the label in hand?  Guess I should get it packed up either way, huh?

solar oven

Did not use this much during the winter, but we are now at that time of year.

Yesterday did a piece of pork for pulled pork; cooking it for about 7 hours at 200F, and then heating it up this morning for today’s lunch.

Now have seasoned ground beef strips in there for making jerky.  When I do jerky for the dog just use the air dehydrator for as long as it takes to get crispy dry.  Put the jerky strips in the electric dehydrator yesterday for 12 hours and now they are in the solar oven.  The instructions said oven for 1.5 hours at 200F per side.  So much fat is coming off them, I’m going let them cook in there until the fat is pretty much off the meat – as it is the fat that would go rancid and put the taste off.  its definitely tasty stuff!

another goal zero

Know there are all kinds of opinions about alternate power sources, and I’m not going to get into that conversation other than to say have considered my capabilities and have gone with the Goal Zero.

Not too long ago bought their Yeti 1000 Lithium at Costco – where it is just $999.99 vs the $1250 Goal Zero sells it for.

Meanwhile, my old Goal Zero with the lead acid battery, the battery had died. Gave it to a friend, who only has to replace the battery, which gives him a short term power option for his very limited needs.

Keep the Yeti1000 in a cooler to help keep its temperature moderated, cause I’m not too keen about having the big lithium battery in the house.

And have been thinking of getting another and had been debating between another 400, or just going for another 1000.  Then thought about replacing the 400 with the lead acid one, as it can be chained, unlike the Lithium.  And then there is the question of disposal of Lithium batteries . . .

So, Goal Zero has “open box” items discounted.  new items but not in the original packing; like used for displays at shows, etc.   Had been looking for the Yeti400 in the open box (almost 1/2 the full retail!) but they didn’t have any.

So today, bit the bullet and bought a yeti 1250, lead acid, open box for less than $1000.  Heavy thing, comes with a roller cart.  Went with the lead acid because it is chainable, which means I can increase the total power by just adding in a battery of the appropriate strength – or two!  The max draw remains the same, the ohms and amp remain the same, but the total wattage is increased.

Sometimes it seems like a total waste to spend so much money on this stuff, but then again, if you start adding up the money you spent on water storage, food stocks, etc. it comes to a lot of money, doesn’t it?  and actually, I’m hoping to start switching over some of the household electric needs to these goal zero’s before we get to a “have to” situation!!


was never a conspiracy theorist until 9/11/2001.  And to this day, find it inconceivable that our supposed excellent intelligence system missed that event!  and either that’s true, in which case, our country is far from being as safe as we all hope we are.  OR  they allowed it to happen so “they” could begin to clamp down on civil liberties.

and with what has been happening since, the latter is looking more and more like the reality.

Having been a stupid, know it all, liberal anti-war protestor in the 60’s, I have room in my thinking to give the kids protesting today some slack.  Like us, they find themselves in a situation that they have no control of, and which no one seems to give a damn.

What I don’t understand, is the total support of media with unfactual information.  Am not going to say Fake News, but will say highly edited presentation of stories.  Like, Columbine will be brought up as an example of an AR being used in a school shooting – but not the fact that it happened during a ban on the guns!  Nor will instances of an armed person stopping a shooting from becoming a massacre.  Or the lack of reporting on a shooting involving a basic 10-22 rifle, used by a young man to kill his mother and friend because he wanted to see what it was like to kill someone!  The NRA is criticized, even condemned, but no one deems it necessary to point out that the NRA is the one that lobbied FOR the current background check system. but that the military and local municipalities are the ones failing to report people into it!

and so I’m left with the feeling, that once again, things are being manipulated to give the government more power over us, and the people less civil rights.  In this case, to truly try to disarm the populace.

I certainly do not NEED to own a gun.  I’m not using it in my work.  I’m not using it as part of my livelihood.  I don’t live in a crime ridden area.  Its not how I put food on the table.

But I lock my doors, have a smoke detector, an alarm system, a fire extinguisher, insurance, carry a spare tire.  Not because I intend to use them, but JUST IN CASE I ever need them.  My neighborhood would be considered upper middle class with a few homes being only part time residents.  We’re private.  and we’ve had break ins.  More than a couple.  We have coyotes, bobcats, and rabies in our wild animal population.  We’ve had mountain lions move through regularly on their way to water, and we’ve had bears foraging in the back yard.  We have homeless people camping in the forest regularly.  And the police, unless we are very lucky, are at least 20 minutes away and we no longer have an animal control officer.

So, while I don’t need a gun, I carry one, JUST IN CASE.  And I don’t think its appropriate for someone who lives in the urban environment, who has never been robbed, attacked, or otherwise threatened (over my almost 70 years have been more than once), tell me what I need to be safe.  And until they can answer the question as to how my giving up my right to security and safety is going to keep someone else from breaking the law, in such a way as to demonstrate its necessity, I’m going to argue against this direction of society.


How much water is enough?

Unless you are right on a creek, lake, or marsh, there isn’t enough.

Right now, I have 3000 gallons of water storage – not full.  Accidently left one 350gallon tank open and thoroughly watered a couple of trees, but left nothing else for later.

We’ve had no rain for a few weeks and none of any quantity is expected until July.  That’s right, its April and I’m talking July before we get rain.  It is the beginning of a drought cycle, and if we see major rains once or twice through out the year, we’ll be lucky.

Saturday I prepared one 3.5′ x 15′ planting bed.  This bed is completely lined with pavers to hold moisture and keep the digging creatures out.  dug into the soil a lot of organic matter including some manure (store bought, no horses nearby that we know) as well as some fine coconut fibre.  Buried 4 ollas in the bed, each intended to water an area of 2 feet around the olla.  Then I planted some chard seedlings, some eggplants and some tomatoes, leaving plenty of room for more plants.  The ollas were filled, the ground watered thoroughly, the plants drenched.  That was Saturday.  Today, Monday, the Ollas were empty.  As the ground is really dry, it will take awhile for that to balance out and today filled the Ollas and drenched the ground again.  Plus did another bed with ollas, and squash, plus a planter with small ollas and pea seeds.

I use Ollas, mulch, and shade cloths.  and my 3000 gallons will water my entire garden, for 30 days with care.  That’s it.  Just 30 days, the garden only.  My food source.

This year am cutting back on the garden some due to personal time restraints.  But SHTF, I will need every calorie that garden can produce!

and that requires water whether or not it rains!