Pennsif’s Progress #604 – Get out of oil, dad

https://pennsif.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/oil-well-pixabay-591934-450×253.jpg

Our boiler broke down again on Friday.

It is the third visit from the engineer this year.

Luckily we have a maintenance contract with Worcester Bosch the manufacturers – but they are getting more fussy now.

The boiler is only five years old and it is supposed to have a design life of 15 years but the original installer appartently didn’t do a very good and it has suffered ever since.

We have been trying to get off oil more or less since we moved here. The ever growing cost and the obvious fossil fueled environmental impact don’t taste right.

When we moved into this old, cold farmhouse there was a 10 year old oil fired Rayburn heating the house and the water. It took up a big chunk of floor space, guzzled truck loads of oil and on the coldest days sounded like an angry jet engine landing in kitchen.

But it was what we had and we didn’t have money to replace it.

Our dream was to move to a solar thermal / wood burning back boiler combo. We got an engineer in to plan it out and give us costings. But the south facing roof wasn’t strong enough to support the panels so fixing that added to a budget that was already out of our league at the time.

That plan was put on the back burner.

Then one winter’s day about 5 years ago the Rayburn blew out. That phrasing might be a slight over dramatisation but it was a sudden and catastrophic failure that involved water and oil pouring out on to the kitchen floor.

With the sudden loss of heating and hot water in the midst of a cold Welsh winter we had to make the quickest decision for a replacement boiler.

Alas with the money we had available, the speed of installation and the lure of a government boiler replacement grant of £400 our only viable choice was to replace the Rayburn with a modern oil fired combination boiler.

No time to review our solar and wood plans. That had to wait for another day.

That day may now be approaching fast.

Although today’s fix – a broken valve – was carried out free of charge under the maintenance contract, the engineer, following company policy was obliged to inform us quite forcefully of what changes we will need to implement to continue to be covered.

The list was suprisingly long – a new guard in one place, a new valve in another, moving the gas cooker as it is too close, adding this and adding that… All things that were not needed when the boiler was installed only 5 years ago and the cooker just 18 months ago – both by registered and certified engineers.

And the real kicker… in about 18 months our oil tank will be illegal for domestic use. It is single skinned, unbunded and worse of all measured in gallons which takes it just over the 2500 litre domestic limit.

For the new tank and all the other adaptations required we will be looking at approaching US$ 7000.

The time for change is fast approaching.

If we will have to be spending that sort of money to keep our wonky oil fired system running legally I would rather find a bit more money, ditch the oil and finally and joyfully head into the renewable offgrid world of wood and solar.

To reinforce this conclusion I put the question to the engineer (from the company that makes and services these oil boilers) – “With all these extra requirements and costs, should we be ditching oil now?”.

“If you were my dad, I would say get out of oil as soon as you can,” was his reply.

Sound advice, but do I really look that old ?

He even threw into the melting pot that he is installing an air source heat pump and solar PV battery setup in his house.

“Get off-grid as fast as you can” he exhorted as he loaded up his van.

Sounds like I might have had a prepper in the kitchen and I didn’t even know it!


Farewell to oil

It is looking like the time to say goodbye to oil for heating our house and our hot water is coming real soon.

I am going to check out the air source heat pump option but my natural leaning is towards the solar and wood combination. Mainly because we have an almost infinite source of wood here.

The one big elephant of course is cost.

I haven’t had full costings recently but I am suspecting we will be in the US$ 15k plus range to buy all the kit and get it installed.

That is a big chunk of change that we don’t have to hand.

You may have read in my previous blogs that the main reason I initially joined steem was to raise the capital to move us forward on our journey to our offgrid renewable nirvana.

Here comes the big fat steem dilemma. $15K is the total value of my steem account all in and powered down.

But that wasn’t the plan. If steem got to $5 then I could take the capital needed with only a third of the account and leave the rest to grow.

So where do I go from here?  Just sit back and hope steem rises?

That would be the wonderful path to take but with current progress I fear I might have passed into another world before steem reaches that moon.

Steem on and all that…



You might also be interested in some of my other posts :
MY RADIO SHOWS
MY PROJECTS

[ images from pixabay.com ]

Pennsif’s Progress #606 – Dreaming of nothing, or very little at least

I love organising. I love sorting out. I love getting rid of things.

I dream of a being a minimalist.

But I am a prepper. I have a wife and three children. I run a business. I accumulate things.

Lots of things.

Accumulate | Hoard. There is a dangerous line between those two words.

As I prepper I accumulate. You need to store as much as you can of most things.

The key I believe is good organisation.

Organisation helps you find things when you need them, and it stops you repeat buying when you don’t need to.

Two of my main areas of prepping storage are food and medical.

For food we have food ‘layers’ of food storage :

  • short life, perishable fresh food for current usage
  • longer shelf-life and dried goods for current and medium term usage
  • bulk canned and other long shelf life goods for medium and long term storage
  • freeze dried good and MREs for long term storage

We have a pantry but that is full to bursting. The overflow is currently rather scattered around the house which is not good.

That needs to improve and get sorted very, very soon. It is important to have it well organised so I know what we have and we keep on top of stock rotation.

I am going to cover what I have in my medical supplies in a more detailed post in my medical prepping series but we do have a growing inventory of medical preps. First aid supplies, vitamins, water purification tablets, and more ‘precious cargo’ like antibiotics.

Currently these are all stored in two separate locations in plastic storage boxes. Not too bad but some stock-taking is definitely needed.

What about everything else…?

Clothes, books, business records, tools, craft supplies…. and all those bits and pieces that you just don’t want to get rid of.

I am not big on clothes, and this is the one area I can probably reach minimalist nirvana quite quickly. I have specific targets of how many of each clothing item I need and I quite ruthlessly send any surplus that is worn out or doesn’t fit to recycling.

Books are a more difficult one for me. I have a pretty ample library. But it badly needs sorting.

Business records are currently getting heavily chopped. I have everything stored electronically so a lot is going now.

Because the shelf holding the business files was collapsing my youngest daughter helped me fix it today. To do so we had to remove all the files. As there were returned to their after the repair heavy culling took place – almost a half of got the recycling chop.

That felt good.

As well as the efficiency gains, organising, sorting out and throwing out makes me feel good and lifts my spirit.

It makes me feel a little bit more that I control life, and not the other way round.

This summer’s project, with my youngest daughter on the payroll, is to really go on an organising and minimalising purge.

You won’t recognise the place come September.

So much will be gone. So much will be better. And I will be feeling on top of the world.



You might also be interested in some of my other posts :
MY RADIO SHOWS
MY PROJECTS

[ main graphic from unsplash.com // food tins photograph by @pennsif ]

Pennsif’s Progress #607 – 6 months on and the radio waves to everyone

In just under an hour I will be on air again with another episode of ‘The Alternative Lifestyle Show‘.

Amazingly I have now being doing the show for 6 months.

It really has been a super experience. I have learnt so much. I have gained confidence week by week.

And I have spoken to so many fantastic people of steem.

Together with my other show, My Life In 8 Songs, I have calculated that I have now interviewed almost 200 people.

When I joined steemit back last June I never dreamed I would become an internet radio show host. I came to steem to blog about prepping and homesteading and hopefully earn enough to buy a solar PV system.

It was in the first Homesteaders Slack group a month or so after I joined that I met @crazybgadventure, a British ex-pat living in Bulgaria. He had just started a radio show on the newly formed MSP Waves Radio on the new PAL Discord, and he was looking for guests. I volunteered.

Unfortunately CrazyBG had to drop out of the radio show before I got to be on, but a week or two later I heard @ma1neevent was looking for guests for his Wednesday interview show.

That then was my first time live on MSP Waves with Ma1ne and I loved it.

The bug had bitten.

The Alternative Lifestyle Show

It wasn’t long before I had my idea for a show for the homesteading and prepping community accepted by @globocop and @r0nd0n at MSP Waves.

The Alternative Lifestyle Show was born and heading for the airwaves.

When I first thought of the show title I had planned to put brackets around the word (Alternative) as I was rapidly discovering that what might be considered alternative in the outside world is pretty much the norm on steem.

Almost by virtue of being on steem you have to have a little bit of alternative in you somewhere.

Thoughout the autumn months I worked through the technicals, got a better internet connection and built up contacts.

I was still lacking confidence but a chance encounter with my two year old self fixed that when @globocop invited me to co-host a series of 1960s music shows he was running.

That was a great soft entry into hosting a radio show.

We did about 10 weeks of that and then by the beginning of the new year I was ready to start my new show.

The Alternative Lifestyle Show debuted on MSP Waves on Friday 26 January with guests @redrica talking about homeschooling, @geordieprepper discussing prepping, @halcyondaze speaking about gardening and @thebugiq chatting about a whole bunch of other things.

@redrica, together with @ravenruis and @awesomehomestead, helped me track down guests for the first couple of months. Gradually that got easier as the show became more well known.

As the weeks rolled on the remit and the appeal of the show broadened. I have had guests talking about homeschooling, unschooling, anti-vaccinations, basic income schemes, veganism, GMOs, cannabis cultivation, dumpster diving… as well as the staples of homesteading and prepping.

The highlights for me have included the Ozarks special with @papa-pepper and a whole bunch of great steem homesteaders from the Ozark Mountains region of the USA.  The vegan special with @teamsteem, @krnel, @lenasveganliving, @ura-soul and others was an important show for me as it started me on my (almost complete) journey to becoming a vegan.

Having White Walking Feather @wwf and his Stewards of Terra Mater was an engrossing and very thought generating episode. Liberatarian Party presidential hopeful @adamkokesh was certainly a milestone interview for me. Interviewing @papa-pepper again for his second steem anniversary was another good one.

And tonight I have @surfermarly, @woman-onthe-wing, @jackdub, @makinstuff and @sir-thrive.

The show rolls on … and I am loving it !

Join me every Friday on MSP Waves, 10pm – midnight UTC.



You might also be interested in some of my other posts :
MY RADIO SHOWS
MY PROJECTS

[ main graphic from pixabay.com // photograph by @pennsif ]

Pennsif’s Progress #611 – Letting nature do its thing

I hadn’t visited the old orchard for two or severathree months now.

I moved the chickens from there to the new compound before Christmas.

We did some winter pruning in late February then I left it.

This old orchard has not been very productive for a more than a decade.

It was overcrowded, rather shaded, poorly situated, and suffered badly from a goat attack several years back when we were out one day.

We had rather abandoned it as fruit producing territory and been busily planting new fruit trees in more favourable locations around the homestead.

But there are still around 18 fruit trees in this old orchard – mainly apples but also a few plums, pears and greengages.

Two winters ago we began a program of restorative pruning. The big old holly tree that was blocking so much sunlight getting in was cut down to size.

Then we left this old orchard to its own devices.

This evening we happened to be walking with the puppy around the area and wow…

All the apple trees are heavily laden with fruit, there are greengages en masse, the plums look promising and only the pears have failed to prosper this year. But to compensate for the lack of pears we did find some blackcurrant bushes bursting with ripe and juicy blackcurrants.

Now we just dearly need some good rain to help swell up the fruits and we will have an orchard of true abundance.

The place looks abandoned and unkempt. I have not done my gardeners duty to keep it in good order.

But nature has done its job.

Nature is wonderful, nature is resilient, nature is what we need, nature is what we must respect.



You might also be interested in some of my other posts :
MY RADIO SHOWS
MY PROJECTS

[ all images by @pennsif ]

Pennsif’s Progress #617 – The 10 Mile Radius Project – levelling up for scavengers

When you watch any good post-apocalyptic movie or TV show a big part of the life of the survivors is scavenging.

They are always hunting for food, or petrol, or medical supplies … and usually get into some sort of tricky situation in the process.

I am sure you know the story, seen the movie and got the T-shirt.

Prepping in real life is not all about the post-apocalyptic scenario. We would have needed to hit a Level 4 or 5 event on Pennsif’s Personal SHTF Scale to be treading that path.

But as I said in my previous Pennsif’s Progress post I endeavour to prep for all eventualities and levels of uncertainty.

So prepping for a scavenging scenario is a go in my book…


Scavenging v Theft – when does the needle flick over?

Before I get into my idea on how to prep for scavenging I want to back up a bit and just take a reality check.

I am an honest citizen, so I have to take a mindcheck on when I would consider it appropriate to start scavenging.

Scavenging too early would really just be another term for theft or looting.

On my Personal SHTF Scale that I published in my last Pennsif’s Progress post I am pretty sure I would be looking for a Level 4 or Level 5 event to be totally comfortable with taking other people’s stuff without permission.

Thinking further on this, and taking into consideration the needs of family and the likely lack of available law and order (WROL anyone?), I might see even a Level 3 event as my morally acceptable entry point into active scavenging.

The line for me would though still be whether the owner of what I was wanting to take was alive… and present, or likely to be returning anytime soon.

Pow – there’s a big puff of greyness shot up there.  How would I know if they might be returning to claim possession in the near future?

And what if it was a matter of live or death for my family?  Vital medicines for example? Water, food…

The 10 Mile Radius Project

I live on a homestead where I plan to stay. Bugging-out would be a super last resort.

On the homestead we are stockpiling and building as much resilience and self-sufficiency as we can.  But if those high level bad times do come a-calling I am also making plans to be as effective as possible in scavenging the local area for additional supplies.

Learning from the movies, the key to successful scavenging is knowing where to go as quickly as possible.

You need to know where the supplies you want are located and how to get there and back with maximum speed.

The key to all this is knowing your local area.

To help with this I have started my ‘Ten Mile Radius Project‘ to systematically search and document the useful resources potentially available within a 10 mile (16 km) radius of our homestead.

The choice of 10 miles as the radius is calculated as the distance I could comfortably walk there and back, laden on the return journey, in one day at any time of the year. This assumes the worst case of having no other means of transport.

Ten miles radius gives over 300 square miles of territory to search and document.

My starting point is the local Ordnance Survey map and a piece of string to mark out an approximate 10 mile radius centered on our homestead.

I use this as a basis for searching and recording useful resources.

If you haven’t got a paper map to hand, check out this great online radius drawing tool to get an idea of the area included in 10 miles around where you live :

The 10 Mile Radius Project – what am I looking for

I am using a mix of ways to search the area – on the ground visits, paper map examination, Google Earth maps and satellite images, local directories, local newspapers and an array of other online sources.

Most of what I am looking for, and recording, is quite obvious :

  1. Gun shops
  2. Hospitals, doctor surgeries, veterinary practices, pharmacies
  3. Petrol stations
  4. Agricultural suppliers, hardware stores and anywhere that might stock generators and batteries

All of these are top level resources that will be early, prime targets that would likely be picked clean very quickly.

I haven’t even mentioned supermarkets and other food stores as they will be emptied within a day or two – even in lower level emergency event scenarios.

If you want to take this project concept a stage further you can turn it up a notch or two and hover on the edge of just plain stalker-mode.

When you level up to Elite Stalker Prepper you might start to …

  • Find out where all local doctors live – they might keep some emergency medical supplies at home. Likewise community nurses and vets.
  • Check out local gun clubs and clay pigeon shooting clubs. Can you find out where the members live – there might be guns in them there hills.
  • Track the farmers, farmers, farmers – they commonly have guns, red diesel tanks, and electric fence batteries.
  • Look up Pest Controllers –  they often have guns.

The list goes on. Limited only by how far off the scale you are prepared to go.

The Big Red Bottles – My Personal Favourite

I live in the countryside where very few people are connected to mains gas.

Some people have large Calor Gas tanks, but many people use bottled gas.

While it is not transportable on foot, if the means are available grab all you can.

We use 47kg propane cylinders for our cooking. On average we use one bottle about every 6 – 8 months. We keep three at any one time.

An even more interesting use of propane is for electricity generation. Diesel and petrol are likely to disappear quickly. Fewer people will be collecting the gas cylinders. And the gas is safer to store and doesn’t, as far as I know, go off like liquid fuels.

LPG converted generators are readily available, for example in the UK :

There are many resources available to convert petrol or diesel generators to run on gas, for example :

And there are several videos on YouTube showing how to install conversion kits, for example :


So now I’m a red bottle spotter.

When I am out and about in our local area I make a note when see any gas bottles – homes, farms, public buildings, blacksmiths, caravan parks…

And of course bottle gas suppliers – you can look these up online as well.


So that’s my little hobby of the moment.

Is it prudent and resourceful?

Or too wierd and stalker like?

Have I been watching too many movies?  Or am I earning my hardcore prepper stripes?

In every good prepper there’s a wierdo just waiting to get out…



You might also be interested in some of my other posts :
MY RADIO SHOWS
MY PROJECTS

[ photo by Jordy Meow on Unsplash ]

Pennsif’s Progress #619 – Why do I prep – Pennsif’s Personal SHTF Scale

I have been a prepper all my adult life.

It started with watching Terry Nation’s never bettered BBC TV series ‘Survivors’ in late 1970’s.

I grabbed a copy of Richard Mabey’s Food For Free book and I was up and running.

In various ways, and to various levels, I have kept on prepping ever since.

Over the last decade or so, as I have got older and the earth has got rougher, my prepping has been accelerating at an ever faster pace.

Moving to our homestead at the turn of the century was a hyper-catalyst on our prepping journey.

The independence, the isolation and the insulation that our homestead provides is a critical key on our path to self-reliance.

There is the convergence and the divergence at the heart of it all.

On the one hand we strive for self-reliance and self-sufficiency in these ‘normal times’ just so we can STICK IT TO THE MAN as some would say.

But underlying and underpinning our quest to off-grid our lives in full @wwf ungrip style is the desire to be ready and to be resilient for when the ‘normal times’ become the ‘bad times’.

What are the ‘Bad Times’?

I use the term ‘Bad Times’ as a family-friendly euphemism for SHTF – When the Sh*t Hits the Fan.

Bad Times can come in many guises and in many levels of severity.

Like all good preppers I endeavour to prep for all eventualities, but like all realistic preppers I know I can’t.

That does not mean rolling over and turning the other.

It means doing the best with what you’ve got.

Pennsif’s Personal SHTF Scale (PPSS)

I am sure someone, some body or some worthy institution has codified this better than me but I have my own personal ‘scale of threat’ that I prep for.

I’ll aim for the big #5, but if in reality I can nail down #3, or even #4 at a push, I know I’ll have prepped my prepping best.

Threat Level Threat Area Examples
0 Family house fire, death of immediate family member, loss of main source of income, major illness
1 Local major flood, explosion at a chemical factory
2 Regional widespread flooding, terrorist dirty bomb, severe earthquake
3 National extreme weather destruction across the country, multiple terrorist attacks in several cities, government collapse, cyber attack on the electricity grid
4 Continental outbreak of war with Russia in Europe, major pandemic, terrorist detonation of a nuclear bomb
5 Global major meteor strike, worldwide pandemic, outbreak of nuclear war between USA and Russia / China

 

Everyone, everywhere should, one hopes, be minded to take care of Level 0 possibilities.

Ideally responsible families might make some provision for Level 1 threats.

Beyond that you are beginning to earn your prepper stripes.

I’m all in and shooting for #5.

Prepping for the really big one is a mental challenge of the first order.

It’s all risk and reward, opportunity costs, getting your priorities right, hoping, praying and thinking it through.

The common voice I am sure will retort “that ain’t going to ever happen…”.

But it might.

A level 5 event is not impossible.

It may not be that likely, but if you sit back and think a while it is not too difficult to string together the news headlines that would take us there…

That is why I prep.



You might also be interested in some of my other posts :
MY RADIO SHOWS
MY PROJECTS

[ photo by Jordy Meow on Unsplash ]

Pennsif’s Progress #622 – Security in Numbers – can we build a community on our homestead

Harking back to the topic of security once again might seem repetitive.

But security in all its forms and manifestations is fundamentally what prepping is all about.

Security of food, security of water and security of us – my family, our animals, our homestead.

Picking up once more on the comment by @bobydimitrov in a previous blog :

Your food stockpile is just a club swing away from being someone else’s. … Even if you keep an arsenal in your house, you cannot possibly keep a band of marauders from taking your stuff and your life.

This fact is so totally true, and must absolutely be addressed. In any ‘Bad Times Scenario’ it will most likely be a safety in numbers game. As @bobydimitrov says :

People will never survive as loners, or single families. At the very least I’m thinking groups of 10-15 families living together in a small space. And even that probably won’t be enough to fend off marauders.

I spoke in a previous post about [the importance of local community](https://steemit.com/steempress/@pennsif/pennsifsprogress627-security-itmuststartwiththelocalcommunity-b0myt42qpz). That will be important but it can only ever be part of the whole security solution.

We are blessed, and lucky enough, to be stewards, guardians and owners of a largish house, an attached coach house, two barns and 17 acres of land.

That was not just by chance. From the beginning of our time here I have always had in mind that the property might eventually become home for more than one family.

Although financial, time and family limitations have so far held back any major developments, we are soon entering a “new phase” as our children begin to move away to the next stages of their lives.

This presents the opportunity for developments I have long been contemplating to turn our property of one family into a community of several.

The starting point has been the old barns (and there is another one on the other side that this photograph doesn’t show).

These could readily accommodate at least eight people. Of course for planning reasons, in the here and now, these would not be permanent residences but temporary accommodation for holidaying family, friends and guests.

We even have had an architect draw up full plans for the renovation and conversion. He got rather carried away though and came up with a Grand Design costing over US$ 350,000. This included such embellishments as a glass atrium and even a lift.

This was a somewhat more extravagant development than we had envisaged. His plans have been carefully stored in a strong cardboard tube and instead we have begun the work in a more piecemeal, practical and affordable fashion.

The coachhouse at the end of the house has also been planned up for a more modest conversion to accommodate another couple of people.

With a fuller utilisation of existing buildings we could with ease accommodate 4 families, or around 15 people.

That still leaves the 17 acres around us. Erecting new buildings will be difficult with planning regulations but less permanent structures would be quite feasible.

I have long had a dream to build two cabins of some sort – one tucked in the corner at the end of the old pig garden, the other down by the lake.

Exactly what form these buildings might take I am not yet sure.  I have been looking at a number of options – straw bale houses, log cabins, timber framed, extended sheds…

On The Alternative Lifestyle Show last week I listened with great interest to @basicstoliving’s plans for aircrete dome houses.

Another route, which would certainly be easier from a planning point of view, would be to go for semi-mobile tiny houses.

It is certainly going to be an interesting journey exploring alternatives and eventually turning them into actual dwellings of some nature.


Who will live in them?

Once all the living places are complete we should be able to accommodate 6 families with around 20 people in total.

That still doesn’t achieve @bobydimitrov’s suggested 10 – 15 families but it is a step in the right direction.

The big question is who would live in the various buildings?

In good times some would be reserved for our children and their future families. The rest would be ideal for AirBnB lettings which would also bring in a little extra income along the way.

But what about if the Bad Times come.

The starting point of course would be our children.

By the time all these developments come to fruition they will likely be starting their own families. They will be given first refusal.

Our extended family are all in other countries and other continents so it is probably unlikely and impractical that they would want to come here.

The next port of call would be friends. We don’t have a large circle of friends. And many of our friends live on similar properties to ours and would likely be staying put.

So that begs the question who would want to come here and who would we want to come here?

It is a question that best needs answering long before Bad Times might come, not when they happen.

I wonder, I wonder, I wonder…

Maybe we should start a little steem prepping community?

Perhaps some sort of steem ‘timeshare’?

There was a very good project proposed some months back on steem – Kin-Shep – Steemit Hospitality Engagement Platform – for people to swap temporary ‘work’ for accommodation on homesteads around the world. Alas it seems to have faded away, but I think the concept still stands strong.

This is just the beginning of this story.

Much, much, much more thought, contemplation, discussion, exploration and perhaps experimentation needs to come next.

Whichever way it cuts and falls it presents some very interesting possibilities.

I would be happy and a half to hear your thoughts and ideas on this..



You might also be interested in some of my other posts :
MY RADIO SHOWS
MY PROJECTS

[ all images by @pennsif ]

Pennsif’s Progress #624 – Our Water Supply and all our backups

Wales, where I live, is renowned for being a rather wet and rainy country.

So as a prepper going off-grid for water has been comparatively easy.

We have our own water supply from springs, and we deal with our sewarage via a septic tank. We are not mains connected for either.

In fact we have invested quite a bit in improving our infrastructure over the last 15 years.

When we moved here there was a single concrete water tank with a capacity of about 2,500 litres (550 gallons). This was adequate for the elderly couple that we bought the house from.

However with three young children, baths, showers and lots of dirty washing, we ran out of water the second year we were here. So we upgraded our water storage capacity to two new 5,000 litre (1,100 gallon) tanks.

A few years later we had problems with the septic tank breaking down so we had that replaced with a new bigger capacity tank. We make sure we get that emptied every couple of years at least.


As well as the springs and the tanks we also have a secondary mini reservoir and tank system set up on a spring-fed stream on the other side of the property. This is currently used for watering the polytunnel.

The old original well of the house is also still accessible and usable. It needs quality testing again but certainly would be suitable for all non drinking or cooking uses.

As a backup to the backup to the backup there is also the lake that I am sure would never run dry. Although that is around 60 feet below the house so we would need some serious pumping gear to get water up to the house from there.

Finally as a backup to the backup to the backup to the backup we also keep about 50 litres of bottled water in stock just in case…

So in terms of water I think we can tick the OffGrid box pretty handsomely.


Risk Points

Our only risk points would contamination or extreme extended dry summers.

In terms of contamination we have our water supply lab-checked every few years, we have a supply of water purification tablets and we a couple of water filters.

Extended dry summers while rare in Wales do occur here every ten years or so. When they do happen we activate our ‘Restricted Water Usage Protocols’. This involves only allowing short showers and no baths, cutting down on the amount of clothes washings, and using ‘grey water’ for toilet flushing.

I estimate these protocols cut our water usage by a third at least.

We have in fact just activated these protocols on Sunday as we have been without rain for approaching a month.

However when I checked the main tanks yesterday both were still full, but the weather forecast is saying at least another two weeks of hot dry weather so we will keep the water saving in place just in case.

As a prepper I am very happy, and very proud, to be able to put a big fat tick next to the Offgrid Water option.

This water independence also gives us the added bonus of no bills for water and sewerage.

When we first moved here we did make enquiries with the local water board about how much it would cost to get connected to the mains water supply. They came back with the tidy sum of £75,000 (US$100,000), and that was nearly 20 years ago.

No thanks Mr Water Man, we’ve got this one covered.



You might also be interested in some of my other posts :
MY RADIO SHOWS
MY PROJECTS

[ all images by @pennsif ]

Pennsif’s Progress #627 – Security – it must start with the local community

In my previous Pennsif’s Progress post about food security @bobydimitrov made a very good comment about security and being able to defend one’s food stockpile against the marauding masses if a society breakdown occurs.

Your food stockpile is just a club swing away from being someone else’s. Your greenhouse is a magnet for hungry bands of pillagers. Even if you keep an arsenal in your house, you cannot possibly keep a band of marauders from taking your stuff and your life.

That is of course a big concern. In that sort of situation we can only have food security if we have security.

Our remote location is both a blessing and a danger for us. Our nearest neighbours are one mile way in one direction and half a mile in the often.

The neighbours are too far away to even know if we were having problems… or are they?


OpSec

Before I joined steem I wrote my daily Pennsif’s Progress posts for many months on a UK Preppers forum. Discussions were always informative, often educational, commonly enjoyable and sometimes quite frank.

Security was a common topic for discussion – but ‘OpSec‘ was the always the watchword.

Operational Securty was of the outmost importance – never give too much information away, least you would be ‘uncovered’ and hoards of undesirables would be beating a path to you door.

So my big takeaway from that preppers forum was to keep a low profile and never say too much.

That is sound advice. So in answer to @bobydimitrov I will keep it general.

One family in a remote farmhouse – even with a truckload of guns – couldn’t mount any effective defense against hungry people with bad intentions.

But this is the UK, with very restrictive gun laws, so our truck won’t be full guns… maybe just airguns, catapaults, sticks and stones and bows and arrows.

But this is rural Wales where every knows everyone, most people have the same surname and sometimes you really have to keep up with the Jones.

The Local Community

So that is where security will start … with the community.

We moved here nearly 20 years ago and in that time we have been involved in a lot of what goes on in the local community.

Our children have attended the local schools, my wife has learnt Welsh at local classes, I have been been involved in organising festivals and other community events. In any ways and all ways we have got to know people in the local area and they have got to know us. My mother being born here has given us a free pass in some areas as well.

And our near neighbours have always been helpful – pulling our car out of the floods, lifting delivery vans that have slid off our lane, coming by in their 4x4s when we have been blocked in by snow.

The local community, and our neighbours, are the foundation of our security strategy.

Distance can be an issue, but that is nothing that some CB radios or a network of walkie-talkies won’t be able to deal with.

So that is our Prepping Security Strategy, Part I.

Tomorrow, OpSec permitting, I will reveal Part II, and maybe even a glimpse of Part III…



You might also be interested in some of my other posts :
MY RADIO SHOWS
MY PROJECTS

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Pennsif’s Progress #628 – food security – my three pronged approach

I am a prepper first and foremost.

Being a homesteader for me is a key part of my prepping strategy.

Growing my own food is frontline for my food security plans.

If the bad times come and the supermarkets are emptied, as long as the sun keeps shining, the rains keeping falling and the soil doesn’t blow away I will keep growing.

There were several other reasons why we moved to our homestead in Wales nearly 20 years ago but having land to grow was one great big part of that equation.

I know though growing our own food won’t always be enough. Although we are moving towards almost full independence on vegetables, there are food production areas such as grains and fruit that will always be more difficult with our land and our climate.

Of course we will always be at the mercy of the weather, and pests and… my health for example.

So we definitely need more than one layer for our food security.

Food stockpiling and long term food storage are areas we are continually developing.

I would really like to grow our skills and facilities for canning but that is still in its infancy for us.

We’ve been making sauerkraut successfully with our surplus cabbage, and we have done quite a bit of dehydrating.

Freezing is our default, fall-back quick and easy method for preserving surplus fruit and veg.  We did use that a lot last summer and we had frozen veg from our garden for several months into the winter.

But we are still not producing enough from the garden to build large stocks and relying on electricity consuming freezers is not ideal.

Food Stockpiling

I do therefore take the ‘commercial’ food stockpiling route. I regularly make trips to a nearby trade cash and carry that I

have got an account with.

The choice of what to stockpile is always an issue but I generally look for long shelf life ‘neutral’ products like tinned fruit, beans, soups etc.  I also look out for good offers as well.

Tinned fish (especially sardines, tuna and sild) used to be firm favourites as protein sources but since I have become vegetarian / almost vegan that needs a bit of a rethink.

I also keep an eye open for good bargains in supermarkets – buy one get one free type offers etc. Amazon’s Subscribe and Save scheme with 15% discounts can be worth checking out as well.

I have also added cheap vitamins to our stocks recently.

All this I would class as the near/medium term food stocking strategy.

Currently we hold around 6 months food supplies. Which combined with what we grow and produce on the homestead I think could see us through 2 or maybe 3 years of society breakdown type food shortages.

I would very much like to increase our stockpiles and continually improve our food production resilience to head towards a five year food security setup.

Should we plan for longer?

That is an interesting question… they never seem to in the movies.

But when I look at some of the more hardcore prepper videos online, particularly from the USA, I really think I need to get to my act together and prep on hard.

Alas long term freeze-dried food is more difficult, and I believe a lot more expensive, to obtain in the UK than in the USA.

However I have been dipping our toes in the water and bit by bit buying supplies from Mountain House, LDS, Wise Company etc.

We still though only have maybe 3 months of long term supplies at best.

This will need some more serious investigation, trialing and budgeting to build up.

With the cost of freeze-dried foods I have even thought of investing in freeze-drying equipment. But that is only a fanciful idea at present.

So this is where I have got to with our family’s food security program.

Further along than most of the population I suspect but still a long way short of where I want us to be.


PS – while writing this I thought of another valuable element of a food security policy – foraging. But that needs a post of its own.

And what about scavenging…

And what about security !!!   If we’ve got food and the others haven’t, what comes next… Too scary to think for the moment.



You might also be interested in some of my other posts :
MY RADIO SHOWS
MY PROJECTS

[ all images by pennsif ]

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