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.

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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!!

short story as prepping tool

Have always wanted to be writer.  Specifically, wanted to be THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVELIST.

But as Mike Rowe points out, following your passion doesn’t work if you aren’t good at it, and I’m not.

Which doesn’t stop me from trying to write. At least I get out what ever frustration is rising to the surface and I write until its gone and that’s been good enough for the last 50 years.

My latest is attempt is a post apocalyptic novel.

Write what you know the experts say, so my characters are drawn from real life, the story takes place in my hometown.  This is a land of pollyannas; Reiki practitioners, Yoga instructors, Massage therapists, crystal healers.  Ex-hippies who did well in their in between lives have now retired, showing up at the Whole Foods store in town in their tie dye, birkenstocks,  and long grey hair. They buy organic foods, organic wine in great quantities and they belong to groups that seek to bring rainbow leaping unicorns into reality.

On the other hand, we have young idealists who live in campers, drive cars that say Save Mother Earth while belching out black oily smoke, and beg on the street corners or set up shop selling hemp macramé jewelry.

We also have a lot of homes that belong to rather wealthy people who are intent on saving the Earth and therefore are solar powered with giant arrays, and driving their Prius and Teslas if they really have boatloads of $$$$.  Town code prohibits Earth Ships like you see outside of Taos, sadly.

We even have a couple of Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes.

Average age of the population is 54. Lots of older retired folks in their 70s, 80s, and 90s.  Not actually the folks who are going to survive a great SHTF event.  Need to much medical care and on going prescription refills.

So it is within this setting that I’ve written about a woman and the loss of the national power grid on her 70th birthday.  and this is written looking back from her 75th birthday.

Amazingly, it has allowed me to go through a scenario with how well prepared am I?

There is a certain amount of Pollyanna in my story as I expect the capable in town, the solar power installers particularly, to come together to keep the water pumps going. That the local ranchers will work out a way to bring meat to the table. That the local farmers will also help supply food.  But distribution of the same is part of the story. Those who feel they deserve to have it because they are starving, but have no skills and no wish to even be a laboring body in exchange.  And those who are older and do not have the physical means to help. How do we cut out our neighbors?

But it does all fall back on what WE do at home.  We don’t live right in town, so some of the angst and chaos isn’t happening here.  We have to figure out how to heat our home (it takes place in January), how to get the garden up and running earlier,  how to cook, how to dispose of our waste – human and just plain old garbage, how to hunt and fish.  And how to do collect and bring home enough wood for all the above when it is our SOLE heating and cooking supply and we’re 70 years old!!

It turned out to be quite the eye opener and think I will do this again using different SHTF scenerios . . but first, am cooking up some beans and ham to can and dehydrate . . .

age and the prepping dream

Almost everyone has a dream for when they no longer have to work, or for when they have enough money, or , or, or.  They’re dreams right? for the future.

A lot of people step forward and begin living their dreams when they retire.  For those who have managed well, they get to retire in their 50’s.  Most don’t retire until their 60’s, mid to late.

For preppers, the dreams are things like bunkers full of food, a source of water, good soil for gardening, lots of ammo, etc.

Know someone who has just purchased his dream acreage in the high desert.  The only development to the land has been putting in a well, and electric to run the well.  The lots around him are so far undeveloped.  and he is 62.

Know he has plans for solar, greenhouse, chicken, some other livestock, barn, house of some sort, etc.

and I admit to some envy  -mostly because of his isolation.  People are really rubbing me wrong lately.

But began thinking of his plans.  How long will it take to get all this set up for full homesteading?  he’s 62.  If we works fast and throws a lot of money at it, less than 5 years to get a garden in, barns, chickens, livestock, manure piles, compost, root cellar, cisterns,  solar panels, batteries, wiring, some sort of grey water and composting toilet set up.  Then he’ll be 67.  He’s single right now, and while know he is looking for a partner on the land, he’s unlikely to find a hard working 40 year old  – unless its someone thinking the old man will croak and they’ll have this fine homestead . . . . . the preppers version of a sugar daddy . . . .

anyway, at 67, presuming he threw out a lot of money to get it done, how hard can he work this acreage? managing that livestock, turning those manure piles, moving the compost into his garden beds, harvesting, preserving, managing, etc.  And if he’s doing this mostly by his own sweat, rather than with beacoup $$$, really how hard can he keep going?

Five more years, how strong is he now?  how hard can he work?

and notice I’m not considering any health issues, presuming that fresh air, good food, and hard work will keep him healthy!

So my envy of his fulfilling his dream is countered by my being 68.  I’ve got arthritis and am losing strength in my hands.  Eye sight is going, cataracts are common for those living in the desert.  Husband is a year younger but he has stenosis of the spine, and his eyesight is also going.  hopefully, he’ll get his cataracts operated on this year.   both of us have noticed a loss of hearing (too much rock n roll!!)   We do not have beacoup $$ to spend on land and its development, even if we sold off what we do have now.  Even if we decided to go that way, I’d be at least 70 before we closed and moved on (it took mr. 62 about 2 years to sell his old property and then time to find the perfect new place).  70 years old to be starting to learn how to homestead, deal with livestock, plant and harvest and preserve.  Kill and skin and preserve.

What kind of strength will have? what kind of skills would be able to develop to counter our lack of strength and knowledge?  How long and far could we push our soft citified bodies?

So the dream is changed, reality sets limitations, and we move on in a different direction.   And lets be honest, with what’s going on in the world now, prepping does seem like it was a really good idea!

Think its time to check the inventory and see what holes I have in my stores . . .