Crazy Real Estate Market Caused by People Fleeing Cities

After a recent renaissance in which cities where THE place to be, people are now fleeing large, urban areas and are desperate to buy rural property.

After my recent visit to help clean it out, our retreat went on the market. (For those of you who are new to the blog, a quick recap: Our retreat is an old family property that has not been well maintained but is in a good rural location. We no longer need a retreat as we moved to our permanent prepper property in 2020.)

One day after the listing, we had an offer, just below our asking price. The next day, we got a second offer at our asking price. By the third day, there was a bidding war, and we ended up settling at about 10 percent above the asking price. A nice premium!

Coordinating approval of the offers took some time because what I refer to as “our retreat” is owned by multiple parties and I am only one of three on the selling side. Ever try to coordinate something among three people? It’s not any easier when they are all related.

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Long Term Storage Foods: Why Ingredients are Better than Mixes

We picked up some of old long-term storage food from our retreat this weekend, and it demonstrated why storing just-add-water mixes is a bad idea.

I am just back from another trip to our retreat. I turned the keys over to the realtors and picked up many of our remaining personal items. Some of these items are redundant, but I am dispersing as many as possible to relatives.

For example, I brought home a 20-foot extension ladder and an 8-foot folding ladder. I already have ladders this size, so they will go to my daughter and her fiancé, along with other tools. Kitchen goods, including two cast-iron pans, will go to my other daughter. I also brought home some scrap lumber, from partial sheets of plywood to 2x4s to pressure-treated 2x6s. None of them are eight feet long, but given the price of lumber today, I didn’t feel right about leaving them there. I hope to use them in building bee hive components.

I also grabbed two gasoline cans, which my wife groused about because we already have multiple gasoline cans, kerosene cans, and propane tanks. Maybe I’ll give these away. Not knowing how old the gas was, I took the empty cans.

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Don’t Wait for the You-Know-What to Hit the Fan, Barter Now

I’ve made some good trades with tools I no longer need to get tools I want. We don’t have toe wait for the STHTF to barter.

I’ve posted about barter occasionally, usually as something you do after the SHTF, when printed Federal Reserve notes (dollar bills to most of us) have no value. Today, I’d like to talk about it as something you can do right now.

You know the air compressor and the 18-gauge brad nailer I use to build frames for my beehive? I did not buy those, but I traded for them. (I bought the narrow gauge stapler.) A drill press I had inherited was sitting in my storage unit, and I did not want to move it. I knew another fellow who with at Lowe’s that allows him early access to returned items and clearance goods. He was interested in the drill press, so we traded my drill press (free to me) for his air compressor and brad nailer set (low cost to him.) We both saved money and walked away happy.

Currently, I am looking to trade my high-end Festool orbital sander for a full size nail gun suitable for framing. I also have a Senco drywall screw gun I am looking to unload because my current log house uses very little dry wall. Yes, I could sell these on eBay, but that’s a hassle and generates income that must be reported. I’d rather trade if I can find someone who wants one or the other of these items and has or can get the item I want.

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COVID-19 Cases Skyrocket in India as U.S. Numbers Drop

COVID-19 cases are overwhelming the healthcare system in India as smoke from funeral pyres smudge the sky. It’s a different story here in the U.S.

The average number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S. over the past week has fallen below 50,000. The last time the new-case average was that low was October 7, 2020.

Only 29,536 new cases were reported on Saturday, May 2, a new low not seen since September 2020. Meanwhile, hospitalizations and deaths have also dropped.

Vaccines Drop Off, Too

But cases are not the only thing dropping. A few months ago, not long after the vaccine program rolled out, the U.S. celebrated when it hit the milestone of giving 1 million shots per day. Before long, that doubled to 2 million. The daily total of vaccinations peaked at 3.4 million on April 13.

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Chicken Shortage Looms: Have we Reached Peak Chicken?

Americans are gobbling so many chicken sandwiches, its leading to a chicken shortage. Seriously.

I can understand why the complex supply chain that stretches from factories overseas to ports in the U.S. before finally reaching our local store shelves might fail. Multiple parts have to be sourced from multiple suppliers, each of whom in turn get their raw materials from different parts of the world. All the parts then have arrive at the same factory at the same time to be assembled into a finished product. Any failure in one step holds up the others. This is why a chip shortage is halting vehicle production in Detroit and other cities. It’s why we may see shortages and long lead times on everything from major appliance to popular toys for Christmas.

I would not call myself sympathetic to their plight, but I can understand both how and why it might happen when the supply chain has so many links.

A shortage of chicken, on the other hand, I don’t get.

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The Chicken Coop Moves One Step Closer to Completion

The weather turned warm and sunny, allowing us to continue to work on our bee projects and our chicken coop. We are now ready if the bees come early. The coop needs more work.

Over the past couple of days, I finished caulking the chicken coop, I painted the rafters and fascia that will be exposed, and I finally put on the roof. The corrugated metal roof was much easier than dealing with asphalt shingles, and we wrapped it up in just a few hours.

I was surprised at how much cooler the coop was once the roof was erected. Not only does the metal provide shade, it reflects much of the light and heat out of the building.

chicken coop with roof
After installing the corrugated metal roofing, we hung the T1-11 siding. The panels are just temporary and will be taken down to be primed and painted.

I also cut and fitted three of the eight exterior T1-11 wall panels that will make up the walls of the chicken coop. I still have to finish the other five. However, I paused that work because I need to buy or build the nesting boxes and door before I can complete the walls. I have to incorporate a hatch in the wall so we can get the eggs out or clean out the laying boxes without opening the coop.

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Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Ranked Hottest Emerging Housing Market

I’ve been to Coeur d’Alene and wasn’t impressed. But then, cities don’t impress me. My advice: Skip the intermediate steps and move rural.

This article in the Wall Street Journal that names Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, as the hottest emerging housing market in the U.S., beating places like Austin, Texas, and Raleigh, N.C. That amuses me.

Why? Because when we were looking for prepper property in Idaho and Montana a couple years ago, we visited Coeur d’Alene. From our perspective, it had several negatives, including its size. When we drove to the airport in Spokane, it was clear that Coeur d’Alene and Spokane are merging into one giant super city. It was a big solid block of surburnaism, and I expect it has gotten worse since then.

The city also had the cookie-cutter sameness that many large cities exhibit: The same chain stores. All the familiar chain restaurants. The shopping centers along the highway all look the same as every other shopping center in every other city. When we drove south on 95 and into Coeur d’Alene, we might as well have been driving into a city on Long Island or New Jersey. OK, so the downtown is nicer and the people are friendlier, but the area is now being flooded with Californians, so how long can that last?

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Building and Tracking Bee Equipment

With cold weather bringing a halt to work on the chicken coop, I worked in the shop assembling bee hives until it was finally warm enough to paint them.

Over the weekend, I assembled four deep hive boxes and 30 frames. I also built a spacer with a hive entrance, a bottom board, and a custom lid for a swarm trap. I worked inside as the cold weather dominated our area. Things are warming up and I will revert to working on the chicken coop again. My goal is to have the roof on by the end of the week.

I am having fun building the bee equipment, which surprised me. Of course, when I’m on my one thousandth frame some years from now, I might not feel that way, but I am enjoying it now. There’s something satisfying about working in the shop building something with power tools. I can see why so many retired men become woodworkers, and I think it is at least in part because they finally have time to do the job right.

Can you believe each frame required eight staples and two tiny nails? I was happy to have my pneumatic brad nailer and stapler, which I reviewed just a couple days ago. I even bought a second air hose so I could run both at the same time.

Assembling frames for beehives.
without a jig for use when assembling beehive frames, I use a hive body and a couple of 2x4s for spacers. It works well enough when you are just making a few dozen

To paint the components, I strung a rope between two fence posts and suspended the hive bodies over the rope. (See main photo.) I primed these yesterday and they are ready for their final coat. Once I paint two sides, I rotate them on the rope and paint the other side. I set the bottom boards and other items on the grass to paint them. My bee yard now has white rectangular outlines on it.

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India Sets COVID-19 Record, U.S. Cases Drop for Second Straight Week

While COVID-19 cases drop in the U.S., scientists worry that many of the unvaccinated Americans don’t want to be vaccinated.

In the past week, India broke the record for most cases of COVID-19 in a single day, surpassing the previous record long held by the U.S. This helped drive the world to set a record for the highest number of new cases ever, with 5.6 million cases reported per week.

Meanwhile, cases continued to slow in the U.S. Number is California, once the epicenter of the outbreak, have dropped to new lows, even as its neighbor Oregon is seeing the highest rate of case growth in the U.S. Michigan, the worst-hit part of the U.S., is seeing slight improvements.

The U.S. has reported 32.1 million cases, of which 58,353 occurred on Sunday. Deaths have also declined with 707 reported in the past 24 hours, for a total of 571,753. Globally, there 146.8 million cases and 3.1 million deaths. 

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Product Review: The Central Pneumatic 2-in-1 Air Nailer/Stapler

I could have bought a $120 Makita but I picked up this $30 pneumatic bar nailer/stapler at Harbor Freight Instead. Here’s how it performed.

When I was looking for a pneumatic staple gun to shoot 18-gauge narrow-crown staples into my beehive frames and other hive components, I tracked down the least expensive one I could find: The Central Pneumatic 2-in-1 Air Nailer/Stapler from Harbor Freight. It cost only $29.99. The comparable product from Porter-Cable is $99, or more than three times as much. The Makita version is $120—four times as much.

I would not describe myself as cheap, necessarily, but I do like to save money when my life or livelihood are not at stake. I don’t need to show off by buying expensive tools because very few people are ever going to see them. Keep in mind, I’m not going to the job site; I’m hanging out in my garage or backyard. Plus, I bought a box of 2,500 staples, I’ll be surprised if I use them all and need a fresh box. Perhaps a Mikita or another high-end brand tool would outlast this one, but after spending $30, I am satisfied that I got my money’s worth.

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