Return of the Prepper #8 : Proof of Egg

Today we got our first egg of the year.

That might not sound such a big deal, but it is still January, it is still cold, it is still winter and we only have one chicken.

So well done old girl!

As I mentioned in a recent post I am experimenting with cutting down the externally sourced feed.

I am now just giving the hen and her companion guard goose corn every other day. Instead I am giving them more food scraps and providing piles of compost for them to dig through. I am also investigating meal worm breeding again.

Their compound is over a quarter of an acre so they have a good area to roam around, scratch and graze.

Although we are vegetarian rather than vegan we don’t tend to eat that many eggs these days. Half a dozen eggs per week will more than enough.

In the brighter, warmer days our one remaining hen will just about manage that. But to give us a bit more resilience and longevity on the egg front I will be looking to get another two or three hens in the spring.

I hope they will get along together.

We probably won’t get a rooster at present, particularly while the goose is still about. When he goes I may reconsider that particularly if we are wanting to raise some more chicks by then.

If we do start getting a surplus of eggs with the extra birds we could always pass them on for vaccine production.

With the current coronavirus outbreak growing so rapidly, once a vaccine has been developed it is going to be all eggs on deck…

I was going to write about the dramatic growth of the coronavirus again today, but the situation is changing so rapidly I feared I might I get my facts scrambled.

It is turning into a very serious situation. Definitely not something to yolk about.

If you do fancy a little horror story before bedtime, check out the graph in the bottom left corner of this webpage…

In the meantime it’s goodnight from me, and it’s goodnight from Jim.



[ images from @pennsif ]

Return of the Prepper #4 : Prepping in Old Age – how to prepare for that?

I am not old, but I am not young. I will be 60 this year and I know life is changing.

My health is not too bad, no major life threatening ailments for either my wife or I. But we both have minor issues that have the potential to get more serious and more impacting on our lives and lifestyles.

Part of our prepping is planning for all eventualities. One of these is declining health, and particularly mobility.

Our style of prepping is very much focused around the bugged-in, homesteading, grow your own, self-sufficiency model.

That does require quite a bit of physical labour – chopping wood, shifting compost, digging beds etc.

While I can still do most of it, a back injury is already preventing me from lifting and carrying heavy weights for any distance. This is likely to get worse over time.

So we must plan, and adapt. Find ways to achieve the same but with less manual labour.

In the garden for example I am, as much as possible, moving to perennial crops that will stay put in one place and continue to produce food year in, year out without much physical input.

I am also moving over to the ‘no-dig’ method of growing food as promoted by Charles Dowding…

At some point when funds permit it would be useful to invest in a powered wheelbarrow to allow me to move heavier loads more easily.

I didn’t even know these these existed until I did a search on Amazon and found there are quite a range of models available. Alas mostly in the region of $1000 and upwards. They are mostly battery powered so potentially could be charged from solar PV.

Something like this might be good…

If we really want to go to town, my dream list would include an electric gator type vehicle for moving around our property. I don’t know how much these cost but an adult sized one of these would be good…

There is probably a whole bunch of equipment we might want to get in the coming years to make prepping lighter on the body. A log splitter for example would be useful.

Perhaps the ultimate older person’s preppring gear will be an exo-skeleton. In my Future Diary 2030 series I thought these were a thing of 10 years time, but I have now discovered they are already arriving in Japan…

The physical labour side will be a major part of prepping in our advancing years but there will be many other areas to consider. Some I am already aware of, some I am not.

Building up stocks of any medications we may need to take regularly is one thing to plan for.

We might also need to consider how our diets might change. Also our mobility and what sort of vehicles might be best suited for us.

Most of these issues do have something of a negative twist to them.

However one area where I think there might be some positive gain with getting older will be community networking.

As I gradually move to retirement and cut down my employment, I should have much more time to get involved with local organisations and activities. I am looking forward to taking on some volunteer roles in local community groups. This will be a great way to improve our connections in the local area.

Having a strong and diverse local network is a key element of a good prepping strategy.

As this is a fast approaching area of prepping for me I would be interested to hear of any tips and ideas from other older preppers and homesteaders of how they are adapting in their advancing years.

Thank you.



[ image from pixabay.com ]

Return of the Prepper #3 : What am I prepping for?

In a comment on yesterday’s Return of the Prepper post, @livinguktaiwan asked what I am prepping for – “a natural disaster or for some unfortunate reason you have financial difficulties?”.

That is a perfectly reasonable question and one that I do ask myself regularly.

As a keen watcher of post-apocalyptic movies it is quite easy to get carried away with heroic visions of fighting off hoards of zombies, leading the resistance against invading aliens or being the gallant survivor whose immunity provides the miracle cure against some virulent plague.

But the reality of course will likely be much more mundane. With my age, health and limited resources and skills I would be unlikely to fulfil any such dramatic roles.

Prepping is about being prepared for difficulties at all levels – from losing one’s job and income to being snowed in on the mountain to strikes causing food shortages to everything beyond.

I have over my years of prepping developing a little ‘disaster scale’ to measure my prepping activities against.

I gave this scale the grandiose title of…

Pennsif’s Personal SHTF Scale (PPSS)

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

 

I am sure someone, some body or some worthy institution has codified this in a much more elegant and robust fashion. But this works for me and acts as my onboard scale for planning and prioritising my prepping activities.

Every prepper will likely have some variation of such a scale, and every realistic prepper will likely know what point on that scale that could actually deal with.

Personally while it might be bold and brave to aim for the big #5, in reality the best my family could readily cope with would be #3.

Moving up to the continential type threats of #4 might be doable with some luck and good fortune but I think it would be all survive and no thrive at that level.

So for the here and now I set the targets for our family preparedness squarely at be ready for level #3 threats. Maybe in some areas, overspill of our preps will move us up to #4.

Certainly, with only a casual glance at the news these days, with incidents in Iran, with the latest Chinese coronavirus outbreak and with ever hastening climatic dramatics, it is not difficult to make a strong case for seriously wanting to up our prepping activities to be ready for level 4.

That though can begin to get just too awful to imagine and contemplate.

That is the stuff nightmares made of.

Time, I am sure, to go to sleep…



[ image from pixabay.com ]

Return of the Prepper

As I mentioned yesterday, one of my resolutions for the year is to get back to the ways of the Prepper.

Before I came to Steem, prepping was very much my thing with a good dash of homesteading thrown on top.

I’m not a Doomsday Prepper guns and camo type. I’m more Good Life wind and two veg.

My prepping journey began in the 70s with John Seymour’s ‘The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency’ and trips to the Centre for Alternative Technology.

My early adult life took various twists and turns until, at the symbolic age of 40, we moved to our homestead in the hills. 17 acres and a lake on a Welsh mountainside.

The dream finally came true. I was where I wanted to be.

Alas life/work/business got in the way a little, and not all the grand plans fell in to place. But the self-sufficient, or perhaps better termed self-reliant, life has always remained firmly in our sights.

Now 20 years on, with the world getting hotter both politically and climatically, it seems an appropriate point to take stock and refocus our efforts.

We will be consolidating what we have already started, and we will be starting what we haven’t.

Food production will be ramping up, water provision will be expanded, energy generation will be initiated.

We will be starting in the middle and working out.

It does feel a little selfish to be focusing on the us, but I hope we can expand out from here.

Making more connections locally, producing surplus food to give to those in need, sharing resources and skills with others around with a similar mindset.

A big part of prepping is community. That is very much part of the plan.

We are not lapsed preppers by any means, but the last couple of year I have rather taken my eye off the ball at times.

But this year I am feeling rejuvenated and eager to get back on it.

Stay tuned for what comes next…



[ image from pixabay.com ]

Pennsif’s Progress #589 – Hothouse Earth – how can I prep?

Last night I read a headline on the BBC :

>> Climate change : ‘Hothouse Earth’ risks even if CO2 emissions slashed

It made me wonder, and it made me worried.

Some people dispute the science of climate change, many people don’t.

Either way, the hard reality is that weather patterns are wobbly, and the climate seems to be taking on a life of its own.

This summer for example has seen heat records broken with abundance across Europe. Even in my usually wet and windy Wales it has been super hot and super dry these past couple of months.

My neighbour came round last night and told me his well has run dry and he is totally out of water. Up on the hills his sheep are braking through fences trying to find water as all the springs that usually provide for them have stopped flowing.

On our homestead we are just hanging on, but our garden and our trees have been hit hard.

Whichever the climate science blows, as a prepper I need to be prepared.

I have a duty to my family, our animals and our homestead to ensure we are not put at any living disadvantage from our ongoing journey to an offgrid state of being.

First stop, water

As we have learnt this summer water is a key point of inflection as the climate makes its twists and turns.

We are not connected to the mains. We have a mountain spring that fills two 5000 litre tanks.

Alongside those we have an old well and a lake. While these give us some resilience it is not foolproof by any means.

I have long had plans to install two more similar tanks just below the first two. If we get another very dry summer next year these new additional tanks will have to move to the top of the investment list.

Having sufficient water is half the story. Getting it to the crops and the fruit trees is the more difficult part.

Hosepipes and watering cans are not an efficient way of distributing water over a large area. Installing some form of drip irrigation system, particularly in the polytunnel is a must.

Then comes winter…

While summers are likely to be hotter and drier, weird weather times will likely bring colder and stormier winter times.

Our house is a 200 year old stone farmhouse. It is not thermally efficient.

We need to continue work on the insulation for one part of our winter prepping.

More importantly we need to resolve our heating dilemma.

Currently we are using oil for our heating. But this is a costly, increasingly unreliable and environmentally inappropriate option.

With 15 acres of woodland some form of wood burning system will be our way to go for heating.

We have one woodstove and one open fire in our house, but we really want to move over to a full-on wood/biomass boiler solution.

We have had the quote for the biomass boiler installation but it is a big one, so we are not sure yet how and when that will come to pass. But it is on the shopping list and when steem moons to $10 I’ll be all over it.

And then there is everything else to do !

Prepping for climatic change is a big challenge. Will it come gradually or suddenly and catastropically?

I guess gradual, but if you watch the right movies you might think differentyl.

If it is sudden and catastrophic who knows what will go down. Mass migrations could become the order of the day. Crop failures and food shortages will become commonplace. Electricity brown-outs and power grid failures will be a regular occurrence.

There could be some rough times ahead…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pennsif’s Progress #591 – Reducing my footprint, increasing my impact

As I get older and the days tick by I find I am increasingly refining my goals in life.

At a certain point in life one realises that the phrase “you have all the time in the world” no longer has any bearing. Time becomes your most precious resource. And every day counts.

So dreams of opening a restaurant, or building a house with a balcony, or learning six languages, or writing a science fiction novel, or travelling to every continent, while still valid and potentially possible, have to be filtered.

The realisation, and acceptance, that you are unlikely to achieve everything in life you had hoped to is harsh but necessary.

I have now signed that pledge of acceptance and am narrowing my life plan to those things I do so want to achieve.

In fact that want is more than just a want, it is a desire I am fiercely whipping up into a compulsion.

Compulsion can be read with a negative inflection but as I mentioned in a previous blog I only have two modes of operation – full-on or not at all. I don’t do half-ar$ed.

So what I am going to do, I am going to do to the biggest, the best and the boldest of my abilities.

I have now settled on my two remaining goals – to minimise my footprint, and to maximise my impact.

Minimising My Footprint

I live on a homestead. We have our own water supply and we deal with our own sewage, we produce much of our own food and the percentage increases year on year, and we have planted 10,000 trees on our property.

We have traveled some fair distance on our journey to reduce our footprint on the planet.

But we still have a long way to go.

Our electricity usage is one area we are really keen to cut down on. In fact as I wrote about yesterday our goal is to move towards going offgrid – but frustratingly steem’s low price is holding us back on that at present.

The second big area I want to deal with is our use of petrol for car transport.

Living in a very rural area, reliance on public transport is not viable, so getting an electric car would be the next best option.

And if we could charge that car from our own solar electricity even better still.

There are a thousand other ways in which we can, should and will reduce our ecological and carbon footprint. But we are on the right path and I relish the challenge of day by day getting better and better.

Maximising My Impact

I have always been an activist, campaigning in one form or another for a better world.

I think I got it from my mother. She wouldn’t take any crap, and she was always getting involved in local community activities.

Much of my early adult life was spent working, at various levels, for one of Britain’s major environmental campaign organisations.

Then I took a few years out to set up a business and raise a family. But these past few years I have been retracing my steps and rejoining the battle.

And in the past year steem, particularly through A Dollar A Day, has opened a new channel to bring about some worthwhile change.

Now I am ready for action and I want to do more.

And more.

And more.

I have just today launched a new @communityaction project where I will be focusing most of my activity bridging the on and the off steemchain worlds.

Hopefully this will give me one more route to make a positive impact on the world.

I don’t want to have my name in lights or on a plaque on the wall, but I do want to do my bit.

And one day when my grandchild asks that fateful question “What did you do Granddad to save the planet?” I will be able to answer “Everything I could”.

 

 

 

Pennsif’s Progress #592 – Come on Steem, I want to save the planet

Today I have been invited to guest on the new Meadows & Makers radio show hosted by @makinstuff and @jackdub.

Greg @makinstuff mentioned he would like me to talk about my plans for installing a solar PV system on our homestead.

I have written several times before about my solar plans and how they were the initial driver for me to join steem.

Back at the start of 2017 I was looking at ways to save up the capital needed to invest in a solar PV and battery system to start our homestead on the journey to becoming offgrid for electricity.

A friend introduced me to Bitcoin that was just beginning to take off at that time, and along with the discovery of Bimble Solar who were taking Bitcoin payments, crypto looked like the way to go to raise the funds for our solar adventure.

But after only my second Bitcoin purchase, my bank blocked any further crypto purchases.

Then as I was looking for new ways to build my crypto-stash I came across Steem on YouTube. Earning crypto currency just through blogging seemed a whole lot better than buying.

I signed up. I was hooked.

Many, many, many, many hours of steeming away, and the super lucky timing of the conversion of my original Bitcoin investment into steem, allowed me to reach Dolphin status at the very end of 2017.

At the start of 2018 steem was topping out at over US$7 and my wallet value was looking rather handsome at around US$40,000.

That would have paid for the solar PV system – and for the biomass boiler I’m looking at now.

Should I have hit the sell button then?

It was tempting but I am ethically opposed to killing dolphins. So I hung on. With the upbeat mood, the moon talk in every corner of the steemiverse, $7 looked like it was the bottom not the top. $100 steem was definitely on the cards.

Little did I realise that the steem price would begin a slippy slidey path all the way back down to where it is now – just thrashing about in the shallow sub $1.50 waters.

So I have kept at it blogging, vlogging (a little bit) and pumping out radio shows to double my stake to over 11,000 SP – currently worth around $13,000.

I have just gone back to the quote I was given early last year by the renewables company. Totally by chance it was just under $13,000.

  • 9 PV panels (2.3Kw) = $2500
  • Lead acid batteries (600Ah capacity) =  $2000
  • Outback inverter/charger & solar charge controller = $4500
  • Cabling from barn to house = $500
  • Labour = $2500
  • Tax @ 5%

So if I squashed my account flat and powered down completely, assuming steem didn’t fall further during the 13 week power-down period, I could get my PV system paid for by crypto and steem.

But then like Snakes and Ladders I would be all the way back down to the beginning again.

I have faith, and science. I learnt at school that steem always rises. So I will sit tight, and keep grinding, til the highs return and the steemrays shine on my solar plans again.

 

 

Pennsif’s Progress #603 – Am I prepared for this crazy world?

Today’s headlines were quite an eyeful for any aspiring prepper.

“Wildfires in Greece kill 74 people”, “Many feared dead as Laos dam collapses”, “Japan heatwave declared natural disaster as death toll mounts”.

Is the world going crazy? Is the earth fighting back? Is Gaia seeking instant karma?

How much these tragedies are freaks of nature, and how much they have been brought about by human action, may be difficult to judge.

Are such disasters becoming more commonplace, or do they just catch my eye more often as I get older and I get more concerned.

As a prepper I will always have a heightened sense of concern, but as a father and as a citizen of earth it gives me ever more anxiety about how my family, my children and everyone I know will cope with this changing world.

Sometimes that anxiety spills over into outright despair.

I am for sure not yet a 5 star prepper, but I am considerably more prepped up than the average Jo on the block.

Yet when I mindport into the horrific settings of at least the first two of these headlines today I suspect in reality all my prepping would most likely not have saved me, my family or our possessions.

Could we have outrun the wild flames of Greece?  And even if we had our homestead would have been burnt to the ground.

Could we have escaped the torrents of water from the collapsed dam in Laos?  The same answer I fear.

And the 40+ Celsius temperatures in Japan?  We have struggled with the effects of the mid twenties here in Wales.

But these things will never happen to us…

Why not?  The world is changing. Mother Earth seems to be fighting back.

And as technology grows, we think we are getting smarter.

In fact all the time we are getting weaker and unhealthier, dumber and more dependent, lazier and more reliant.

Our society is becoming ever more fragile.

Our resilience is evaporating in the white heat of technology. 

Our chances of survival are diminishing.

But there is a way. I hope.



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[ image from pixabay.com ]

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 #609 – PSST – steem can make the sun rise

As I mentioned in a previous post I came to steem for the sunshine.

My big goal for the last couple of years has been to install a solar PV system to start us on the journey of taking our homestead off-grid.

But it’s a big investment and I came across crypto as a way to build the capital needed for my solar installation.

I found Bitcoin first and then came steem…

My year of steem has been one amazing journey.

I have learnt so much. I have met so many amazing people. My perspectives on the world have broadened a thousand-fold.

And I have changed. How could I not.

Every day, in every way, with every word of every conversation with every person I connect with around the world.

Venezuela, India, Philippines, Australia, USA, Denmark, Ireland, Argentina, France, Spain, Nicaragua……

In any single day I can be talking with people from 20 different countries, about 40 different topics.

Never before in my life have I been in a situation like this.

It is changing me. For the better I think. I can do little things. That make big changes.

I can put shoes on a child in Venezuela, I can put scientific equipment in a classroom in the Philippines, I can teach tree planting to children in Cameroon.

I talk. I learn. I think. I change.

You will hear so often on steem that old rusty adage – Come for the money, Stay for the community.

But it is way beyond community.

I am being assimilated. I am beginning to see the bigger picture. I am starting to feel the wider pain.

I am now plugged into the global brain.

So where do I go next – in this post and on steem.

I still want to get a solar PV system so I can disconnect from the grid.

Maybe I should look at SMT’s – they are all the rage.

Psst, have you heard about about Pennsif’s Smart Solar Tokens?

It is all about the money.

But not the earning. It’s about the giving.

It is about the amplifying and about the equalisation.

One dollar a day is all it takes. A packet of chocolate biscuits for me or a day’s food for a family of four on the other side of the world.

Never before has humanity had this magical tool. We can create wealth, and we can transfer it, for free, anywhere in the world, in seconds.

What power we hold in our hands. Let us show the world the power of steem.

Steem can make the sun rise.



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

[ all images by @pennsif ]

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