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 :

[ 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 :

[ photo by Jordy Meow on Unsplash ]

Pennsif’s Progress #641 – steem up for a solar rising…

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As a prepper and a homesteader the quest for self-reliance underpins all that I do.

That drives me to grow my own food, source our own water supply, design our own sewage system, burn our own wood…

Disconnecting, and going off-grid in the wider sense that @wwf puts forward, is my grand goal.

Taking it to that next level of going as far off-grid as White Walking Feather is achieving is a target I aim for. How far I get on that journey only time, courage and perseverance will reveal.

What I strive for in the here and now is the ability to disconnect from the electricity grid – or at least have the ability to do so in times of need.

Although sunshine levels in Wales are not remarkable, with the continually falling price of PV panels solar electricity economics are becoming ever more attractive.

So much so that last year I started planning, and costing a project with a local renewables company to install PV panels on the barn roof.

With the required battery banks and associated components the system has been designed to provide all the electricity for the barn as well as a 4 day backup supply for the house if the grid goes down.

The cost of the project was not cheap! Around US$ 12,000 with all the additional components, cabling and labour costs.

#### It was in fact this project that brought me to steem.<br><br>

It was around 18 months ago I started planning the project. I had just been introduced to the crypto world by a friend who persuaded me to buy a little Bitcoin.

As the price of Bitcoin started to move upwards I realised that this might be the vehicle that would allow me to gather enough money to build my solar offgrid dream.

When I came across a company in England ([Bimble Solar]( who took Bitcoin for solar panels I was locked in and fully loaded on the idea.

But I needed to buy more Bitcoin to ensure I had enough wheels on the wagon to really make this roll.

Very quickly though the plan came unstuck. After one transaction to buy Bitcoin my bank blocked crypto related transactions. Then I tried a different back and similar issues arose.

Buying Bitcoin for a novice in the UK was proving difficult.

Then I came across a couple of videos on YouTube (by @jerrybanfield and by @thedollarvigilante) both talking about steem as a place where you could earn cryptocurrency just by making posts.

I signed up in double time and just over a year ago I was up, running and posting on steemit.

It was of course slow to begin with but I stuck at it, dug in and kept on hitting the Post button.

As I busied myself day and night on steem, my little pot of Bitcoin kept on growing in value.

Just around Christmas I decided my steem wallet needed a bit of a push to make it to dolphin status (5000 SP) by the end of the year.

So I started converting my stash of Bitcoin into steem.

Bitcoin was peaking out at $18K+ when I converted to steem which was around $3 at the time. I jumped into the pool of dolphins.

A few days later steem shot up to more than double what I paid.

Super lucky! I suddenly had enough for the solar PV system.

If only I had sold then. But steem, I heard from all around, was going to the moon.

I hit the HODL button, and watched steem gradually slide down again.

So I kept at it, building my account bit by bit, steem by steem. Ready for the next big rising.

In the meantime my offgrid aspirations have begun to grow further.

I had the good fortune to have solar expert @makinstuff as a guest on my Alternative Lifestyle Show on MSP Waves Radio a few weeks ago.

Talking with Greg @makinstuff I have begun to learn more about micro-grids.

We have a stream running through our property. It is only small in flow, but it does enter our property 80 feet above our house.

If I could install some form of pico-hydro system I could mesh that in with the solar PV to form a little micro-grid.

And the two go together perfectly. The stream has maximum flow in the winter when the solar hours are at their minimum.

This sounds super tempting and could take us toward a total off-grid solution.

I have no idea yet on the likely cost of a hydro setup but I would imagine it will push the whole micro-grid and solar project up to the $20K ballpark.

With 10K Steempower I am not too far short of this. But I really don’t want to wipe out my steem account now.

If steem did head back to its $5 point, then I could use just half the account value to build my offgrid microgrid.

That really would make my offgrid steemdreams come true.

Come on steem, lets make the sun shine…

[Note : unfortunately Bimble Solar stopped accepting Bitcoin payments shortly after I found them – citing the volatility of Bitcoin as the reason.]

You might also be interested in some of my other posts :

[ stream photo by pennsif  //  solar PV images from pixabay – Creative Commons CC0]

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