Friday, August 31, 2012

World Wide Preparation

I have noticed on my stats page that I have a great number of blog viewers that are from outside of the US. First off, thank you to everyone that reads my blog! Secondly, since I have noticed this I thought it would be proper to clear up something.

I have made it clear that I live in the Midwest USA. My region is full of farm land and dairy farms for the most part. We have some inland bodies of water but nothing that is too large. We also have the Mississippi River which is about 50 miles from my location with some of its tributaries much closer to my home.

As I prepare for things to hit the fan here, do the same where you are! As I write about my climate, and terrain think about how they are similar or how you can adjust your own needs to fit in with the tips I am giving to you. 

When the SHTF in the US, there is a great possibility that the entire world will be impacted; this will be because we are at war or because of some sort of outbreak. 

My fellow readers from abroad you too need to be prepared for what might one day come to your part of the world! 

Surprise at the grocery store

If you read my blog you understand the message behind it, if not I will reiterate it to you. 

At any given time an unannounced event could take place that would end our dependence on the grocery store, for this reason my family will prepare to be self-reliant in many areas of our life. 

We are still preparing to be self reliant and are not yet fully capable. So last night I had to run to our local grocery store to grab a few things that we needed around the house. While I was there I noticed that for a Thursday night at 7:00 the store seemed kind of busy. Not thinking too much about it I went about my business and started placing the items off my list into my cart. 

While I was looking at the meat cuts and deciding which ones I wanted to use for our weekend meals I overheard two females talking about the storms that were headed to our area. These storms are the leftover rains from Hurricane Isaac, which struck the gulf coast earlier in the week. As I was eavesdropping I heard one of the women say that she came to get bread in milk in case the weather got bad.

As I was listening to this it dawned on me that I had not even considered this storm to be anything more than some rain. Then it dawned on me that due to my new outlook on the importance of prepping I have learned to ignore media induced fear and prepare for what the media will not see coming. 

I moved on through the store and as I approached the other end of the store where I was wrapping up my shopping experience I heard a man on his phone talking about the same thing! I was really troubled at this point. 

I took something from this trip to the store. If people in my area are running to the store to stock up on items because we are going to get some tropical rain for a few days, I do not even want to think of the chaos that will follow a real natural or manmade disaster! 

I also realized something that I have known for a while but last night it was thrown in my face! The news will always make something that is not that major seem much larger which will induce a great amount of fear into the viewer causing even more chaos. 

Disappointing Rain Barrels

Where I am located we have been in a drought all summer. This drought is about to get a nice kick in the butt with this rain that is left over from Hurricane Isaac which will hit my house any time now. It is projected by our newscasters that we will see anywhere from 3-5 inches of rain over the next few days. While I tend not to listen to the weather man, I am making an exception in this case only because it is clear on the radar that the storm is still rather big. 

The disappointing part is I do not yet have my rain barrels in place so all this wonderful rain will simply run off my gutters and run into the yard. 

Even with me missing this rain I have made it a point NOT to complain about one thing during this storm. If you live in the Midwest US you know exactly what I mean! How can I complain about us getting rain??

So even with the rain barrels not being completed yet I still want to say to you all HAPPY SHOWERS!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Great Article on the Psych of Preparation

This is a great article on the psychology behind prepping. 

"I am fascinated by the driving force behind decisions based on stress and morals/ethics.  For me, the idea of emergency and disaster preparedness is a no-brainer—something we should already be doing and always looking to improve.  But many of my contemporaries, family, friends, and readers don’t feel the same way."

Supermarket/Pantry Prepping

While you are prepping you might wonder, what foods can I get from the store that will help me during the first part of the end of the world scenario. I have sought out that information for you and have compiled it into a list for your convenience.

How much food you plan to get is entirely up to you but as a guide let me give you some advice. You know how I feel about urban areas, but I still think about you so I recommend that you should get at least 3 months of food per person. If you plan to bug out as soon as the SHTF, which I recommend, you do not want to have to worry about lugging around tons of food with you so you may want to prepare by going to a rendezvous point at sometime and bury some food for later pick up, I will cover this in a later posts titled "Burying to Survive".

If you plan on being in that one spot for quite some time you could stock up to 6 months to a year, but you will have to adapt to a steady rotation of goods so that nothing grows old. Here are some items that you should look into stocking from the super market so that you start off on the right foot.

This information was gathered from books as well as other internet sites and compiled to benefit you!

You can start your stocking by getting some harder grains that have a shelf life of 7-10 years. 

Soft White Wheat
Dry Corn
Durum Wheat
Hard Red Wheat

These softer grains have a shelf life of 6-8 years and need to be kept in a cool dark place in sealed containers.

Oat Groats,

Some basic items that will last from 3-6 years 

Canned foods such as tuna and soups
Powdered milk
Freeze dried herbs
Peanut butter
Canned Vegi's
Ramen Noodles (trust me you will want them in a life or                          death situation) 

You will need some pasta and flour for their nutritional value, these items if stored properly will keep for around 8 years

All Purpose Flour
White Flour
Whole Wheat Flour
White Rice ( up to 10 years)

Some other things that will be beneficial to your diet are beans, which can hold a shelf life of up to 9 years if stored in a cool dry place and are not exposed to oxygen. 

Garbanzo Beans
Mung Beans
Black Turtle Beans
Blackeye Beans
Pinto Beans
Kidney Beans
Lima Beans
Adzuki Beans

Finally you have the foods that you will want to have for various reasons that hold a shelf life for much longer if stored correctly

Liquor (I suggest a few bottles of Jack but you store what                   you want) 

While prepping at the supermarket think of other items that are not food related that you can stock up on to make life easier for you once the SHTF. I will compile a list of these items for you in an upcoming post titled "General Store Prep Items".

Rain Barrel Progress

Thanks to the generous downpours that I got at my house this weekend I was able to miss some great harvesting. Although I was unable to have the rain barrels in place I was able to get them all cleaned out, which proved to be easier than I thought it would be. 

To clean my rain barrels I simply put the hose in the barrel and filled it up, then I dumped it. I also used a flash light to look down into the barrel to make sure that all the previous contents were gone. I used my 'High Powered Spray' setting on my spray nozzle which worked well at spraying off the sides that I could see. 

With that being completed I was about to start the construction when my dog got sick and had to be taken to the vet. After our visit to the vet I had to medicate him back to health which he is finally, slowly, coming to today. 

Next on my list is to move the barrels into place and begin doing a dry run with my pipe and determine if the position is correct then I will do the final installation and begin my rain harvesting. 

Making more paper to fund the projects!

 I sold 6 more barrels today putting my in the green on my investment. So I am now $20 ahead, but I have to subtract the $14 I had to pay for a new power cord for my laptop so I am $6 ahead.

I cannot complain though!

For my next project, the water filtration system, I am keeping an additional 55. Gallon drum to house the filtration system. So for other materials I am estimating I will need maybe 20-30 dollars in additional materials. So I can still get two completed projects by making the initial investment.

Friday, August 24, 2012

It will spread faster than the news can report it

Just know the possibilities. 

Safe guarding my rain barrels for filtration and consumption

In order to prepare my rain barrels for water consumption by myself or my family I must follow the same guide lines as I did when safeguarding from algae and mosquitoes.

The key to this will be the storage for the water. I cannot store my drinking water in this barrel long term because I am unable to treat the water while in the barrel. I will have to relocate the water that I plan to filter as soon as I get the amount of water I am looking for. 

how I plan to do that is to use 5 gallon buckets to relocate the water. I will run it through the filter and then store the water in different containers. 

The important part is to protect the water from additional contamination and to move it to the filter as soon as you can. You do not want the water sititng idle for too long, you would like to get the fresh rain water into the filter and utilize it as soon as you can. 

I will cover water filtration tips in upcoming posts, as of now know that you CANNOT DRINK THE WATER WITHOUT FIRST TREATING IT!

For more information see Safe guarding my rain barrels from Mosquitoes and Safe guarding my rain barrels from algae growth.

Establish jobs

From now until the time that the end arrives it is important to give duties to your family. It is important to start this now so that when that possible day comes it will just be another day of being self-reliant.

On a whole other level this is great for your kids! My kids and I do things together and we do it in a hierarchy fashion; I am the boss and they are my employees. They love this because it gives them a chance to feel needed and as if they are a part of something productive, plus when WE complete something it is something that WE did together. 

When I talk with my kids about what we are doing I do not tell them that we are working to prepare for that event that might one day come, instead I tell them that it is important to do things on our own! This will not only help them be prepared for when they have to be self-reliant, it will also help them appreciate what we have because we have made it on our own! This will also cut down on the fear that kids can develop, remember they are very creative and can worry a lot!

This will be key when the time come that you have to live completely off the grid! You and your inhabitants must establish a rule system and hierarchy of control. Now I do not mean control as in you are the new dictator, I mean you are the foreman of the group! It will be your duty to make sure people are doing their work, and people are getting things done. At these times we cannot have people that do not want to help out; we also need to make sure that people know that if they need anything that they have someone to go to.

Tailor the jobs to the individual, for example, my wife would be in charge of medical concerns since she is a nurse; I would be in charge of outdoor essentials such as food and water since I have taken time to study these things, and my kids would be in charge of being there when we need them! You would need to find a person’s strengths and build their job from there! 

Chances are you will be living with your immediate family as well as some other family members, unless God forbid your family members become victim of whatever causes the current state and you are left alone. In any event you might come across strangers that want to join you or your group. This will be a tough thing to deal with because essentially you are playing God with their lives! If you have an established leader and a sense of democracy it will be easy to choose whether or not to let the stranger in but it you are a group of people all over the place with no sense of leadership it will be a constant power struggle as to who makes the final decision. 

That is only an example of one tough decision and trust me when the time comes there will be tough decisions daily!

Now when the stranger becomes part of the group you can easily assimilate them in to your lifestyle by already having a clear set of rules and a power structure within the group. You can say these are the rules, this is what we expect from our inhabitants and this is the benefits of our group, you can now choose if you want to participate.

How you run your individual group will be up to you, the only thing I recommend is that you do have a clear set of rules and you DO establish roles for people because when additional crap hits the fan you don't want to be stuck dealing with it then. 

Also if you plan to be a leader of your group, then LEAD them! Be that power point of your group! You do this by having two things (1) strong social skills, you do not want to dictate you want to guide (2) strong listening skills, a powerful leader is only as strong as the group he leads and (3) primitive knowledge, by this time you will have to know how to make new things from nothing! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Safeguarding against predators

When the time comes to be prepared to survive off of our animals we need to make sure we keep them safe from predators. I have already, in my prepping stages, been a victim of predator attacks. I have lost two hens and some eggs to some sneaky little animals. Luckily I was able to replenish my flock this time around, next time I might not have that luxury. I am going to cover some points about protecting your land from predators.

After losing my chickens I sought help from a family member who is employed by the USDA. This family member's job is to trap and tag wild animals in heavily populated urban areas, as well as to terminate certain wild animals in these areas to account for population control.

In the event that there would be an event where government and control fail you would not have to follow any guidelines and will be able to do whatever you need to be sure you keep your food supply. Lucky enough this is not YET the case, so at this point you still need to follow state and federal regulations. 

In an urban/suburban area the (Illinois Department of Natural Resources) IDNR recommends hiring a nuisance wildlife control operator to remove the wildlife causing the damage. To contact one of these individuals you should contact your local IDNR office which can be found by visiting the IDNR Website. Once there scroll to the bottom and select your region. Currently the IDNR is working on establishing contact information to specific offices but you will be able to find contact information by going to your region. 

In a rural setting the IDNR recommends removal of the wildlife during the open hunting and trapping season, and will likely turn down your request for a nuisance depredation permit in a rural area. Since you will be instructed to do this you need to use precautions. The traps you should use should not be able to harm your domesticated pets or your children if they would come into contact with it. I use two different live traps that cannot harm anything, but it can contain whatever gets into it. 

Once you trap the animal you need to use proper precautions to ensure that you do not get bitten or harm an animal that you plan to release back into the wild. 

Here are some links to follow for Illinois residents that can instruct them on the guidelines of hunting and trapping. 

Information about hunting and trapping in Illinois can be found at this site: Hunting Opportunities in Illinois.

Information about open hunting and trapping season dates can be found at this site: Current and Upcoming DNR Seasons.

In upcoming posts I will instruct the reader on baiting ideas and describe ideal placement of traps to catch your predators. 

Always know that mobility might become reality.

The rule of thumb for any Urban dwelling survivalist is to be able to be gone from your home with all of your basic survival needs within 30-45 minutes of any major attack. 

Here is the thing. You people live in an area that will be the center point of mass chaos, unlike us rural people. The chaos will hit us eventually but it will begin where you are. For example let’s look at Katrina again. During the hurricane and the aftermath of the hurricane the government could not get to the scene to supply aid, so with lawlessness the "thugs" will prevail. They will thrive in this setting because they have no reason not to. To these people survival is not as crucial; these will be the people that come to your home and steal your TV and stereo while leaving your food behind. The problem is to get the TV and stereo they will not hesitate from using violence. 

It is not an uncommon thing to seek comfort goods when you have the mentality that you will be able to use these goods once the power grid and a since of structure returns but once these people realize that there is no return you need to already be gone!

The chaos that followed Katrina is a perfect example of what could happen in any city in the event of a natural or manmade disaster. To me it seemed like the US Govt. and all the Emergency Response agencies to actually get to New Orleans and give aid. Imagine for a moment that 10 or 20 US cities were spontaneously hit by an attack or natural disaster, do you think the government has a protocol plan for this type of emergency? I know that individual cities and states will be able to react but they will be so flustered with responsibilities an armed robbery or murder will not be as high of a priority as fighting off the culprits of the attack of sifting through rubble to find survivors. 

In other words I would not place too much trust into protection from the government or police. 

So for this reason you need to be ready to go at the drop of a dime, before you are (1) victim of a crime (2) victim of a martial law!

Some things you can do to prepare yourself to be ready are to have a simple survival pack ready to go some things you need to be sure to have are:

7-10 days worth of food and water for each person in your traveling party
Some type of defensive weapon, most preferably a gun and ammunition
Gas for your vehicle
A hand crank radio
Cellular phone with Solar Battery Charger
A pocket knife as well as another knife for skinning and close quarter’s protection

If you are truly wanting to prepare for something that MIGHT never come you could have this stuff ready to go at all times in a covered trailer that you can pull behind your vehicle. Make sure this trailer is hidden or in your yard where people cannot see you loading it, I would hate for you to be targeted right away!

Another thing to do when you need to travel quickly is always make sure your vehicle is ready to go! Imagine calmly (we survivalist don't panic when the crap hits the fan) loading your family into your vehicle, hooking on the trailer, getting on the highway and next thing you know you are closer to the epicenter of the chaos and you break down because you forgot to get that tune up you've been meaning to get. 

So leaving the city because of the violence is a definite! Another reason you might have to leave is that as soon as people begin to realize that this is how it is going to be, that there is no aid coming for them, they will start looking for goods and they WILL be using any means unnecessary to get them! 

So your urban garden is nice and your urban chicken coop is a wonderful thing, but if I were you I would also have a backup plan and my back up plan would include some natural rural settings! 

However, we rural dwellers need to be ready to go too! It will not be as sudden as an urban dweller would need to be but if stuff starts moving towards your area and you are unable to defend yourself; you need to have another location that you can move to! In that case I would suggest the same materials and things to pack with you. 

I say a 7-10 day supply of food and water only in a less severe catastrophic event. If you KNOW that there will be nothing out there once you get out of the city limits then take everything you have! But you should have the 7-10 ready to go at all times! You can always add to it later if needed. 

Rain Barrel Update

Well the best thing I did today concerning the rain barrels was sell 3 of them! So I am $10 ahead from my barrel purchase but still $40 behind in the entire construction. Besides the sale I made no progress today!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Planning the Next Project

The rain barrel system will be completed very soon. Once they are completed I will have to watch to be sure they are working correctly but I do not want to just be idle while waiting for the rain. I have made a commitment to be able to survive in the event of a catastrophe. I gave myself one year to meet this goal, so within one year I want to be at that point. With that being said, I do not want to simply wait for things to get done, I want to do them.

For my next project I plan to salvage and build a water filtration system. I do not have to have it available to me for everyday use right now, but I want to get it complete and have the materials available to me in the event of an emergency.

Why am I choosing this project to be next?

Let’s talk logistics here; a human can live for 3-4 days without water. In the event of a catastrophe I might not be able to be outside salvaging parts for a filter system for a few days possibly weeks depending on the circumstances. I would like to have this system available to me and ready to be quickly assembled or already ready to go as soon as I need it!

I will begin to study the ideas of creating a water filtration system that will be safe for my family.

Rain Barrel Progress

Today I got out my ladder and cleaned out my gutters that I will use to get my rain water from. I also took a broom on my garage roof and swept the shingles to get rid of any loose particles that might go into the gutters when the rain comes.

While doing this I also took measurements of where my barrels will be placed and established a mental layout of all the materials and placement of everything.

I will be ready to begin the construction this weekend.

One thing I am going to try to do before this weekend is power wash the barrels. This will have to be done before I construct the system. If all goes as planned by this weekend I will have a fully functional rain water harvesting system in three different locations, all serving different purposes.

Chicken farming tips

Being self reliant means that you have to be able to provide food for your family and whoever else is living with you. Chickens are a great source of food that you can continue to utilize over and over again. From chickens you can get both eggs and meat while having your hens produce new flocks which will replenish your food supply.

It is important to keep a healthy flock if you plan on utilizing this resource. One of the most important things to be sure you have a healthy flock is to make sure you supply your chickens with fresh water and food daily. These are no brainers, hopefully! Getting past the elementary part of chicken raising, I would like to share some good tips with you about maintaining a healthy flock.

1)  Keep a clean coop for them to call home. I clean my coop at least once a week just to be sure I keep away unwanted bugs and small rodents that are attracted to the feces. Cleaning your coop does not mean you have to get out the power washer and squeegee, but what you do need to do is sweep up the feces and remove it from the living quarters. In some cases if your coop is heavily soiled you might need to use soap and water, just be sure that you dry the area after working with the soap and water, this will help keep the scratch and straw from getting wet causing a bigger mess. During this time you also want to clean out the nesting quarters and remove any cracked eggs that might be there. Replace straw or scratch and leave them to spread it around.

2) Clean the waters during the time that you are cleaning the coop, you might as well do it all at once. When cleaning the feeder and waters use mild dish soap and some scrubbing. The waters will get gooey over time and need a good cleaning.

3) Clean your feeders at least once a week. My rule of thumb here is not to fill the feeder from the last filling unless I clean it out. Do this to prevent unwanted bugs from infesting your feed.

4) Keep your feed away from possible infestation. I store my layers feed and scratch feed in a large trash can with a secure lid and my cracked corn in a tote with a lid. You want to make sure this is done to prevent mice from eating and pooping in your feed.

It is important to care for you flock, especially if you are in a post-apocalypse scenario where they will be part of an already scarce source of food.

You also want to be sure you feed them well so that the food that you do get from them is of good quality!

To trade or Not to trade

When the time comes that you need to survive, you will have to think about things you need, things you don’t need and things you would like to use as bartering tools.

You will have people in your area that you are familiar with that you know have goods that you would like to have. For example where I live I am surrounded by dairy farms and have a few neighbors who raise goats. I could benefit from the goods produced by the animals or having one of the animals for myself.

Some of the other things you might want to barter for are things like:
Fresh produce you did not grow
Guns or ammunition

The point is as prepared as you want to be, you are going to eventually need some additional supplies. Because of this reason you should keep an up to date inventory of all your goods at all times! With this list you can know what you have that you are willing to get rid of and what it is that you need the most. 

Most likely in a post-apocalyptic setting there will be some people that are traveling traders. You will want to be prepared to work with these people quickly so that they continue to return to you when they are back in your area. These will be the people that still work by the principle "time is money" so you want to not waste their time. 

You also want to be up to date with your neighbor’s needs and wants. If your neighbor and his family have a never ending surplus of milk from their farm and you have a never ending surplus of eggs you can work out a weekly trade with them. 

There are some risks to trading though. By trading with people your goods will be known to strangers. One possible way to work through this is to never let another person see your surplus of goods. Always have a small stock somewhere easily accessible that you will invite them to see. This will give the impression that you have only a scarce amount of goods, when you actually have a large surplus stored elsewhere. 

Keep your list handy of the needs you are hoping to get when a trader comes along and if you can, always test the product before the trade is final! Let’s say you have been waiting for the trader and last time you two did business you asked them to be on the watch for a gas powered chainsaw and some gas. Before you make the final transactions ask the trader to start the chainsaw up! 

In the end you will almost have to trade to get certain products. Plus there will be those certain things that we as modern humans do not want to abandon, such as chocolate or fresh coffee or that sealed bottle of Jack that will cost an arm and a leg but you cannot pass on it!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rain Harvesting Construction Update

Today was a rather busy day around the household so I was unable to make any additional progress on my rain barrel system. I did get a nice downpour of rain this morning so the ground might be a little softer now which will allow me to truly asses the ground. 

I am hoping to make additional progress on this project tomorrow! 

Safe guarding my rain barrels from algae growth

This post is the second post of a three post series highlighting possible dangers of water barrels if certain precautions are not taken during construction. 

When constructing the rain barrel possible infestation of algae needs to be taken into consideration. Depending on the usage of the water in the barrel algae might not be that bad. 

If the water is being used for your garden there are very few concerns since the algae holds additional nutrients that can benefit your plants. 

The possible concern here is that mosquitoes can infiltrate your barrels and place their larva in the algae. If that turns out to be the case look at the Safe guarding my rain barrels from Mosquitoes post. 

If the algae is causing problems in the spigots you can treat the water with bleach. To do this you want to add about 2-3 ounces of bleach to your rain barrel. Once you do this you want to be sure your barrel is full so that it becomes diluted enough to not become harmful to your garden.

You can also make sure that no debris gets into your barrels by taking precautions such as using screens or nylons and caulk to seal off any openings. 

The upcoming post will highlight using the harvested rain water for drinking purposes. 

Offense scores the points but Defense wins the game!

We all remember when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and we watched a whole city crumble with no control over what was taking place. We watched from the comforts of our homes while millions were forced from their homes with nowhere to go. We saw people resorting to looting to survive and some just to have extra comforts. That was one city dealing with an event that forced them from their homes. Imagine if an event took place that ended super market reliance. Eventually those heavily populated urban areas are going to be evacuated and people will come towards the more rural areas. 

Since the masses will be coming towards those of us that are prepared for these events its important to remember that human nature is to survive. I know many people are not exposed to the darker side of people in real life, but let me tell you that people WILL come to take your things if they see a weakness. 

Remember I am not a militaristic person so I do not have great tips on how to establish a glorious fortress! What I do have is a basic knowledge of how to prepare my house. 

First thing you have to consider is who can you trust? In the worse case scenario you can trust no one except those closest to you. However, in less extreme scenarios you can trust people you know but what do you do when someone you do not know approaches your house?

This is where your discretion can come into play. You can give the person food and shelter and try to establish a new relationship with this person in hopes of securing more man power to tend to household chores or you can open fire on him if he does not get moving within 30 seconds of being warned. 

In both cases there could be consequences to your actions that you need to take into consideration. In the first case when you open your home to the stranger, you expose your weaknesses within your home. That person can find out that while all your doors are securely enforced your side door is only locked and is easier to open in the event of an emergency. Then this person might return within a week with backup knowing this weakness and break into your home to steal your goods. 

This person might also take advantage of your offering and then move on his way only to inform others of your kindness which will bring other strangers to your home in search of a free meal and clean drinkable water. 

In the event that you open fire on the individual you might be subject to retaliation by a group of people that the person was associated with. In the end you might be putting your family at risk simply because you did not take the time to communicate with the person. 

The actual home security should be taken seriously! I gave you the scenarios first just to make it real that people will come whether they are friendly or not! Some of the things to consider is boarding up windows but leaving gaps big enough to see though or to fit a rifle through if needed. I would also spray paint the windows black so that light during the night is not shown on the outside of the house. Another thing you might want to do is establish a vantage point. For me I would put a hole in my roof with a trap door so that I could get on the roof through the attic without going outside. 

You also want to set up a warning system of some sort letting you know if someone is on your land possibly trying to steal your resources. Something like this would be hard to set up without the use of power. You would be best off going back to the dark ages and establish watch times for family members or others that are with you. This brings me to my next tip for security; if the event is not some kind of medical outbreak invite close friends or family to move in with you. In times like this power will come in numbers! 

In the end remember Offense scores the points but Defense wins the game!

Communication plan is important!

So the event, whatever it may be, has just taken place. Here we are in the dark ages again! Say goodbye to the luxury of calling your friends just to say what's up, or texting a coded message to your friend where you end it with YOLO, or LoL TTYL.

So what do you do? I guess you could just quit caring about that good friend who is several hundreds of miles away. Okay, I know, that is not happening! Especially if that person that is a few states away is a family member, especially your child. So what do we do? How do we let them know we are okay, or better yet find out that they are okay?

First and foremost make a plan. If you learn anything from this blog learn this:

Most events that will be life altering will come without warning. It is your duty to prepare yourself and your family to deal with these things!

So with that in mind let me talk about how we can (1) set up a plan (2) get into contact when phones and internet are not available and (3) what to do when you do not have a plan.

When an event happens it will be crucial to be ready. Here are some steps that my family is taking to prepare ourselves and I would recommend it for you.

1. Have a safe location that you can meet up with loved ones in the event something would go wrong. Make this location an isolated location that your family members know well. In the event of a national tragedy there could be a great deal of chaos, your first objective should be to get together and make an immediate plan from there on how to deal with the situation.

2. Set up an out of state contact by knowing a person's address, phone number, and email address. This is beneficial for when the power grid is started up again. You will be able to contact this person to find out the status of his/her area. We should all know that you should only trust a quarter of what the media tells you so get a good source to give you reliable information.

3. Try to upgrade your phones to have 3G or 4G coverage. In the event that the phone lines and power grids would be down, this type of service might still give you the opportunity to communicate with others via email or social media.

4. Purchase solar powered phone chargers. This will allow you to keep your phone charged when the power grid is off line. We do not want to waste our power from generators or other power sources on charging phones. 

5. Purchase a hand crank radio which will allow you to preserve battery's for other uses and will let you stay up to date on possible situations in your area or the area you are concerned with. 

6. Utilize social media! Twitter, Facebook, My blog ;-), any one of those things will give you real time updates that will keep you informed of need to know information pertaining to the areas your loved one is located at. Subscribe to Fema on Twitter. Also look to subscribe to your local Chamber of Commerce's, or local sheriff departments if available. Most importantly subscribe to your other family members.

The next plan to have is how to contact a loved one that is far away from you. This one is a little tougher because with communications completely down what can you do?

The first thing to do is utilize modern technology 3G and 4G services might still be available, continue to utilize social media!

Your next option is to establish a travel plan and talk with this person about this. An example of a plan would be to set a time limit on communications such as, If I do not hear from you within a week I will begin to travel in your direction. I will come to you please do not come to me as we do not want to unknowingly cross paths and miss each other. 

*We will discuss travel precautions in a later post* 

Then there is use of the HAM radio. If you plan on using this form of communication you better start going on that NOW! Now I am not an expert here so take this information with a grain of salt, but I did speak with a close friend who is licensed to have a HAM radio just never actually got one, plus I read some materials. 

To operate a HAM radio you have to be licensed by the FCC. In order to get this license you have to pass a test (obvious). From what I have read some people are licensed within a matter of a week. So great you are licensed for usage, now you need to get a set up. You could use a handheld HAM radio which would not take that long to get but if you want a home based one wow! Those are the things you see when you are driving by someone's house and it looks like they are broadcasting a radio station!

Now while the actual license is free the equipment is not. From what I have seen online you can spend anywhere from $200 up to $6000 for a HAM radio set up. 

Your greatest chance here is to find someone with a HAM radio and establish a relationship with them so that you can go to them when the time comes. 

Here is a link to the ARRL Website, by going here you can learn more about obtaining a HAM radio license. 

Outside of those things, contacting a distant loved one will be tough when there is not a power grid. The most important thing again is to be prepared and have a plan set up with them that they are aware of!

Finally we will address what to do if you do not have a plan. 


Morning entertainment turned reality check

My wife leaves for work at 5:15am. Before she leaves I wake up and make her a lunch and coffee. During the summer I would go right back to sleep and wait until one of the young ones would wake me with their little footsteps creeping towards the cereal cabinet; however, now that school is back in full swing I just stay up. 

This morning I was browsing Netflix to see what was new on there to entertain myself while I waited for the 6am hour to roll around. While browsing I saw "Red Dawn", and got kind of excited because I have not seen that movie in quite some time, plus who doesn’t love seeing the crew from "The Outsiders" taking to the screen again?

But it was not the acting that got me thinking! What got me thinking was the quickness of the attack. Don't get me wrong, I am not in fear of being attacked by Cuba and Russia! What I am in fear of is the fact that these things happen without warning. 

Even on Red Dawn it was a buildup of events that were seen by the public as it would be for us, for the most part. We would know that if we had a major dispute with lets say China that there is the possibility of an attack. 

Lets change the game a little, let’s say there was an outbreak of a new flu virus like in the movie Contagion or like the outbreak in one of my favorite movies 28 Days Later. You might have a few warnings telling you to be prepared for the worse, but how long before it gets to you do you have to prepare?

Or worse case scenario. You wake up in the middle of the night because your ceiling fan kicked off. You realize the power is out and guess it must be some issue with the power line since it is not storming. You look at your cell phone to see what time it is and find that you have no bars and no 4G coverage. You get out of bed and look out the window to see nothing but black. You guess that all the power is out and want to call a close family member to see if they have power. You make your way to your land-line phone to call. When you lift up the phone there is not a dial tone. With no way to know what is going on you go back to bed and hope that the power will be on in the morning. 

When you wake up in the morning there is still no power. You begin to get the kids up for school and turn on your battery powered radio to hear the weather for the day. When you get to your station on the radio you hear the Emergency Broadcast Signal. As the news breaks you hear of mass chaos breaking out in the streets of major cities. The news informs you that as of 12:01 last night America's power grid was disrupted and there was a collapse of governmental power. According to the news broadcast, there will be no immediate relief in sight but people should remain in their homes or away from major cities for the time being. 

That scenario is similar to the Y2K scare, but most people were skeptical about that due to the media hype behind it. Imagine this scenario as having absolutely NO Warning! 

That is what crossed my mind this morning while watching Red Dawn. These events usually don’t give us the luxury of a warning. 

You have to ask yourself: What is the next step when both regular and cellular service will not work, when the power will not turn on, when there are no televised broadcasts, when radio broadcasts inform the listener they will have to go off the air due to lack of power, and when Google is no longer available to you?

Would you be prepared for something like this? 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Safe guarding my rain barrels from Mosquitoes

This post will be part of a three series event where I will highlight other harmful issues caused by rain barrels if certain precautions are not taken in the construction of the barrels.

A question was asked about my idea of building rain barrels. In a nutshell my reader asked what is the point of a rain barrel if it will cause mosquito infestations in my yard? GREAT QUESTION!

As I have indicated I am a family man, so I have many small children running around, plus my animals. One of the biggest concerns with this number of small things running around the yard is a possible infestation of mosquitoes in my yard. Not only are they a nuisance to adults they can also be deadly, even more to my children and animals! This has been a concern that I looked into since taking on the idea of building the rain barrels. I mean why fix one thing if it causes something worse? 

Before we get into how I plan to safeguard let me share a little story with you that I like to call "You my larva's daddy"

As you can see in the Life Cycle those devil little blood suckers actually have a neat little life.  I do not know about the logistics of the bugs breeding practices, but let's assume this is how it goes >> Mr. Mosquito and Ms. Sucker go out cruising the sky one night. During this little escapade Mr. Mosquito decides to make the moves on Ms. Sucker and sparks fly (on your arm of course!)

Or maybe it was like this

Who knows? All I know is the bite itches!

Following this night of romantic passages Mr. Mosquito receives a phone call from Ms. Sucker (use your imagination people!) telling him that she's pregnant and he is the daddy! Mr. Mosquito tells her there is no way and that he demands a blood test to prove it is his! As time passes it soon comes the time to give birth. Ms. Sucker has given up on getting help from Mr. Mosquito due to his lack of communication. Plus it didn't help when Ms. Sucker and the Misquitette gang did a drive by buzzing at his house and scared his mother to death, literally!

So the big day has finally come to release the new mosquitoes into the world so Ms. Sucker and her gang of friends went searching for some water. When they found this water Ms. Sucker squatted down and pushed those babies out. Once she does this she is so distraught about bringing daddyless mosquitoes into the world, so her and her gang fly to the front porch of the neighbors house.

Once there they huff some OFF! and get wild and decide to see how bad it can be when you fly into the forbidden blue buzzing light. It was at this time they met their electric demise and made the front page of the Mosquito Times the following day under the headlines "Innocent group commits suicide while under the influence of street drug OFF!"

So now we have these little baby mosquito larva in this pool of water where they live for some time underwater. While living under water they use their little demon sucker mouth pieces to poke through the top of the water to get some air. This continues until the little devils are big enough to break free from their watery larva at which time they fly to find the next innocent victim to torment and then the cycle continues over and over again! 


So, through my research I have found that there are a few different things that one can do to prevent a mosquito infestation. The first thing to do, which is the thing I plan to do, is to not give the mosquito access to the water to lay the lava. I plan on doing this by securing all pipes into the barrels securely and using nylons as well as silicone caulk to prevent a access point. I also plan to have overflow points at the top of my barrels with pipes that will lead away from the barrel to a ditch or field. I also plan on making sure my gutters remain clean by checking them at least every other week and placing a screen over the gutter down pipe inside the gutter. This will all be documented with pictures when I construct my rain barrel systems!

Other possible remedies are to use a mixture of vegetable oil and water and create an oil slick. This will prevent the bugs from being able to stick their little suckers up through the water to get access to air. 

One other thing to do is when you see that you have a mosquito infestation drain your barrels and start over. This can be a game changer if you are counting on that water and there is no rain in the forecast so it is best to simply take precautions so you do not have to deal with this problem!

The most important thing to remember is to make sure you have everything properly sealed and to make sure your overflow does not simply pool up right at your barrels! Or if you choose to use an open top system make sure that you have a screen down over the top and have your overflow below the top to prevent the water from rising above the screen. 

Earning my bones

I received an email today about my ad for the barrels. I have a person that is supposed to come by tomorrow afternoon and buy 3 of them. This means that I will have already paid for my barrels! Now I need to sell the rest so I can have my rain barrels for free! 

In order to break even on all materials I will need to be right around $80. When I hit that amount, whatever I make over that I will put towards my next project. I have three things in mind that will be perfect for the upcoming months. 

The first thing in mind is to establish some way for curing meat. This can be a somewhat easy task, but I have to take a lot of precautions! I will cover those once we get to that project!

The next thing I have in mind is building a small greenhouse. This will be perfect for housing my herbs and vegetables during the colder months of the year. This project would require some funds and a great deal of time. I was given some plans on how to build one for rather cheap, which I will share with all of you when the time is right! 

Then there is the third idea, establish a clean heating system in my outdoor workshop. Currently I have a natural gas powered heater. I plan to do away with that all together and use only a wood stove to heat my garage. I have the stove already, I just need to hook it up.

I will decide on which project to do when the time comes. I will also listen to my readers. What would you like to see me do? 

The planning has begun but the drought is causing some concerns

Today I took the time to go to my locations for my rain-barrels. Due to the extreme drought conditions of my land I am not sure of the stability of the ground once the rain-barrel system is in place. It is important to remember that each barrel will weigh right above 450 lbs when full and I do not want the barrels sinking my blocks into the ground. This scenario can be a tragedy in two ways (1) I damage the ground at the location and will be forced to move my set up to a different location and (2) the barrels could tip over causing damage to the barrels, the building or God forbid one of my children.

So now I come to a crossroads where I must decide if I am going to use sand to level the ground and hope that it will also strengthen the ground, lay a layer of concrete or place the blocks on the hardened ground and hope that it remains stable when rains take place and the weight pushes down.

I think I will explore the idea of using a concrete base but this will cost me more money!! 

This idea will be pondered on some more tomorrow. I am setting my plans to begin the construction of the rain barrel system for this weekend! With or without the concrete foundation!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

This is a really neat thing these people have here! This is a group of people who have done something REAL! I found this while googleing around today and then saw it was covered by the Owl Creek Gazette.

Watch the video and surf around their site which can be found here Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

While you are surfing around notice the location. I think as my project progresses I will travel there for a weekend, to try and learn more ways to be self-reliant. 


Owl Creek Gazette

This is a cool magazine that I found at the super market today. There were some really neat articles in it. AND IT WAS FREE!

You can find their blog here

One article that drew me in the most was "The Power and Beauty of Wind". This was a Q & A article about, you guessed it, wind turbines. One line really caught my eye! 

"A word of caution here - this is not a project to be taken on by the weekend warrior - leave it to the qualified electricians and installers"

I can see what they would mean here, this can be a dangerous project, I mean you ARE working with electricity, but can't a single person take it upon themselves to study the ins & outs of a wind turbine and build their own? Maybe it's just a way to make sure people stay in business. What if 50 families in my area attempted to take on the task of being a little more self-reliant? It might lead to people being laid off, that's what could happen, but honestly, I do not think we have to worry about this, counting on others is so much more relaxing!   

All-in-all this magazine was very informative, and it's not only about being self-reliant energy wise. There are many other articles that highlight business owners that are interviewed about how they built their business, a great article on how to make sourdough bread and another section with some recipes. There is another article that was very informative about how to publish your own book.

I will read it again and I hope you check it out just to see if it fits your taste!

Did I mention it is FREE?

Funny trip with the barrels.

Today to get the barrels we had to travel into one of the more urban areas, which is about 40 miles from my house. When we got there the first thing that popped into my mind was, "I sure could go for a coffee." Why would that thought come to mind? 

Well the labels on the barrels told it all! 

Caramel and Vanilla flavoring and LOTS of it! So we loaded them up and tied them down and started our journey which included a stop a Lowes to pick up our other supplies. While we are driving you can smell the flavoring in the truck, so I can only imagine how the cars behind us felt. 

Wonder what people were thinking was being done with all of these barrels?

While we are parked at Lowes the whole parking lot was smelling like coffee, then when we drive to the pickup door every person that walked by was reading the labels. Now this Lowes is only a few city blocks from a Starbucks, so if a Starbucks employee is reading this and you had a massive rush of people today that were telling you that something just made them want a coffee, you're welcome!

The best part was after the barrels were unloaded I had to return the trailer to the owner and while I was talking to him he asked what it was that he was smelling. He then guessed it to be a caramel smell. He hit it dead on and the barrels had been off of his trailer for about an hour already!

A day of gathering

I spent the day today gathering materials for the rain barrel project. This required some travel but not much and in the end it will be worth it on two different fronts. The first benefit is I will be able to harvest rain water and begin my journey to self reliance. This material pick-up did turn out to be a little pricier that I thought it would be that is where number two comes into play. I was able to get 20 barrels for 20 dollars. Now one thing I found out when searching for rain barrel was that they are rather pricey. So this will be where I benefit. Since getting those massive babies home, which is a story in its own; it popped into my mind that I can mark up the remaining barrels 90% and still not be above other asking prices for used barrels. I might have to store them go a while but if I can sell the 12 I will not use for $120 I will not only get my rain barrel set up for free, I will have additional money to apply to other projects! 

So there we are more than enough to play with!

I wish that would have been the only money I needed to spend for this project to be successful but it wasn't. There are many components to the rain barrel system, which was detailed in the Water Barrel Materials Post. For the other materials I went to my local Lowes. After purchasing the additional materials that included cinder blocks and various PVC pipe and pipe fittings my total out of pocket cost for materials was $73 and some change. Well minus a few dollars for a couple sodas and candy for my little helper, but hey no labor is free these days! 

I am using 1/2 inch PVC 

For each set up which will consist of 2 barrels I will use the following 1 T, 1 90 Elbow, 2 Male and 2 Female adapter pieces, a shut off valve and a gutter adapter. 

Also with all of that I have some scraps that were in my shed that I will use for the overflow and the trip from the gutter to the barrel. 

Recycled goods!

Then the final components of the project that I got today were the cinder blocks. I got 16 of them and plan to use 4 per barrel. Just in case you do not know what cinder blocks are here is a picture for you. 

Now that I have all of the materials minus the pressure treated 4x4's I can do some dry runs with the layout and see how I would like to set up the future rain harvesting systems.