Thursday, February 18, 2010

Heads up!

A neighbor up the road about a mile or so, (when you live in the woods everyone within a couple miles is a neighbor.) wondered what I was up to next. She'd noticed I seemed to anticipate things and prepare long before most people.

Here are the things she noticed. Before the price of electricity took a big jump I'd installed solar electricity for much of my needs. It wasn't the price hike that was the prime motivator for me, although that was a concern. The frequent blackouts were.

Back when the price of gas was under a dollar. I bought my first diesel car and converted it to run on waste vegetable oil. Transportation fuel is now a very tiny part of my expenses.

Those two things caught my neighbor's attention. She asked my wife what I was doing now. Stockpiling food, she said. I think my neighbor was a bit taken aback by that. That's her problem. It's been a good thing. Not that I've piled up a whole lot of stuff, but rice, beans, and wheat were super cheap and the price still isn't bad. If nothing else, my full pantry saves me a few bucks as prices climb.

One big thing living out here in the woods, I can't just pop down to the corner store every time I need to make a meal. We had company over the weekend and I didn't get a chance to go shopping. I baked some bread, a round loaf and a bunch of bagels. Cooked up some pasta to go with the bread. In the morning, I ground up some wheat and made waffles. Put a pea soup in the crock pot for the evening meal. It wasn't fancy food, but nobody went hungry.

About 3 years ago I figured ammo would get expensive and/or hard to get. Every week or two I'd pick up a bit of ammo. When the run on ammo started, I didn't worry about it. I had enough for target practice, hunting, and self defense.

The collapse in the housing market came as no surprise. During the boom, I was offered crazy money for the equity in my house. I must admit I pictured getting new cars, a kayak or two, buying new computers, and going on some exciting adventures. Thank God I resisted the temptation. After the markets went into a tail spin, I still had plenty of equity that I could tap into for a family emergency. Borrowed the very minimum needed to solve the emergency. Still only owe about 1/3 the value of the property.

Microsoft motivated me to do something that's saved a bundle of money. When Bill Gates introduced Windows Vista, I saw trouble brewing. Looked like there'd be a steep leaning curve and it wouldn't run on my existing computers. Early reports indicated it would be a buggy operating system.

I thought to myself, rather than learn Vista, I'll learn Linux. I set up an old desktop computer that wasn't doing anything. Over a 6 month period I tried 5 or 6 different versions of Linux. Two versions impressed me, Ubuntu and Puppy.

One day my laptop, running Windows XP, caught the virus from hell. None of my normal fixes could touch it. Fortunately, files had been backed up 2 weeks earlier. There was very little new on the machine, and nothing I couldn't recreate or live without. It was a perfect time to make the transition to Ubuntu. In four hours the computer was running again. Over the next two days all my old files were loaded and the computer settings tweaked to my liking. My computer runs so much better that I've been able to put off purchasing new equipment. That's been a big savings.

So what's the next bit thing coming down the pike? What am I gearing up to do next?

The next project is a good sized greenhouse. We've had a tiny garden, but it doesn't provide all that much food. To get any growing space at all required building retaining walls. Thin mineral soil has been enhanced with loads of compost. Our small garden plot has shown how difficult it is to grow food here in the north. We learned a lot.

A greenhouse will allow us to extend our short growing season. It'll keep the deer, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks and slugs away from our veggies. Last year it was so wet the slugs went crazy. There were huge slugs of a type I've never seen before.

Why the sudden desire for a greenhouse? Global food harvests have been down, way down in some places. The economy is in danger of a collapse like none have seen before. Peak oil is real. Only our development of non traditional fuels have kept things going -along with slightly reduced demand from the economic downturn. Much of that fuel has been achieved by turning corn, into fuel.

I can't do much about world wide conditions. I can do something about my household's condition.



  1. Thought you would like to know of a brilliant Garden protector....I like most gardeners suffer from slugs and snails in this damp weather and in fact now that the climate has changed all over the world we have the slug and snail problem all year round, I have tried beer traps, copper tape, and salt, egg shells, even throwing them in my neighbours garden ( Just kidding )etc,etc all these methods are not practical long lasting and are harmful to Children, pets , wildlife ,and our Environment. A new device to control slugs and snails called the slugbell placed around flowers and vegetable garden , they use both Organic or Normal Metaldehyde bug pellets and that the small amount of pellets needed will last up to three months.!!! as they don’t dissolve in the soil and Brilliant for our environment , I will try anything to keep my garden looking how it should whilst protecting natures cycle

    Michael from United Kingdom

  2. Thank you for the info. I'll look into it. Our beer traps flooded out and the slugs swam away -but now far away.

    The rain splashed soil all over the copper tape and slugs crossed right over it.

    Stopped calling it a garden and called it a slug ranch. From that viewpoint it was very successful.