COVID-19 Ticks Upward in U.S. Is a New Wave Starting?

The bad news is that COVID-19 infections are once again rising int he U.S. The good news is that they are rising very slowly.

COVID-19 cases ticked upward in the past week, with an 11 percent increase in reported cases over the past 14 days. Hospitalizations also were up by 9 percent. But you’d have a tough time noticing the change as the media is largely ignoring the story.

Funny how they TRUMPeted ever piece of bad news in 2020, but in 2021 they remain silent.

Speaking of trumpeting, the Drudge Report was trumpeting the news that research from Israel shows that the Pfizer vaccine is less effective against the South African variant. (The actual article is more tempered than the Drudge Headline, seen above and says a larger sample size is needed to be sure.) But the nightmare that new variants can do an end run around the vaccine seems to be one step closer to being true.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the chances are at least 1 in three that we will see another wave of COVID-19 cases in he U.S., although I expect it will only rise to about half the height of our January peak. That’s not good, but it is far better than Europe is experiencing. It could also be bad for summer vacations, spending on travel and leisure, and back to school.

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A Slight Change of Plans

I’ve posted 465 times since this blog was founded in March 2020, and haven’t missed a day since November. That could change in the near future.

With the arrival of spring and the need to do more work outside, I’m going to be much busier than I have been all winter and during our COVID-19 lockdown. The result is likely to be fewer or shorter posts.

(For more details, refer to the latter half of yesterday’s post where I address turning hobbies into work and the dangers of getting carried away.)

I still expect to post multiple times per week, but the frequency may vary or be inconsistent based on the weather, meaning more posts when it rains. Posts will continue to cover:

  • Prepping
  • Homesteading, including:
    • Chickens
    • Bees and Beekeeping
    • Gardening
  • Guns and ammo
  • Economic topics that relate to prepping, including inflation, shortages, and fiat currency
  • COVID-19 and any other epidemics that might come along (like Ebola)
  • Product reviews
  • Book reviews
  • Posting news and YouTube videos of interest to preppers and homesteaders

Thank you to our many loyal readers, and please hang in there.

How to Avoid Losing Your Authentic Self and Getting Carried Away

Did you leave the rat race only to find you moved it to your backyard? I see this in YouTube creators who drift away from their authentic selves in pursuit of subscribers and the all mighty dollar. Avoid this trap and get back to your roots.

I have started to jokingly refer to watching how-to videos on YouTube as going to “YouTube University.” Over the past two months, I’ve stepped up the number of videos I watch on a variety of homesteading topics, such as:

  • The many aspects of beekeeping
  • Raising chicks and setting up a brooder
  • Building sturdy gates for our garden
  • How to set up the framing and rafters on my chicken coop
  • How to install fencing including corner braces
  • Building raised beds

Much of this is stuff about which I have an idea, but I find YouTube helps me confirm that what I planned to do is right or it sets the bar higher and builds my knowledge. For example, when I started raising bees in 2009, I had a book on backyard bee keeping, but not much else. Today, I can pull up almost any topic I want and watch several videos on it. For example, my understanding of the development of a bee from an egg onward and how a bee’s role in the hive changes based on its age has been enhanced by watching beekeeping videos. SO has my understanding of mite control.

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The Best Time to Start Stocking up on Firewood

The winter is almost over and we have not used our wood stove for a week, but that doesn’t stop the firewood deliveries.

I just had a cord of firewood delivered, but I don’t plan to burn it until next winter. My plan is to have a cord delivered every few weeks until I have at least six cords on hand for next winter. I want to give them at least six months to dry out and season so they will burn better. In fact, if I don’t burn some of it until the following winter, that will be even better.

I was expecting fairly green wood, but it wasn’t bad. Much of it had reportedly been harvested from dead standing trees. This load was a mix of oak and hickory with an occasional piece of maple thrown in. It should make excellent firewood by the time winter rolls back around.

Ironically, we haven’t completely stopped burning wood yet this spring. This weekend, temps will drop again, so I’m sure I’ll be back to burning fire in our wood stove in the basement. It’s been 66 or 67 in there; if the indoor temp drops to 64, I’m firing her up.

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So You Want to Raise Bees: What are your Objectives?

Many homesteaders and preppers raise bees. Are they right for you? What are possible objectives for raising bees? What are the start-up costs?

I’ve decided to take up the hobby of beekeeping again because it fits well with our current lifestyle: We have moved to a home in a rural location, we have plenty of land, and I have the time to give them the attention they deserve. Because I raised bees before, I have some experience, enough knowledge to be dangerous, and a good bit of equipment, reducing my startup costs.

My objective is to raise bees for their honey, which I expect will provide us with a resource during tough times. That resource may be as simple as added calories that can be easily preserved (honey stores forever), or it may be as a means of barter. It could be an important natural sweetener down the road since we won’t be making maple syrup or raising sugar cane around here.

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The Walls are Up as Chicken Coop Framing Continues

More sunny weather allowed us to make substantial progress on our chicken coop yesterday. We expect to pick up with roofing late next week.

Work on the chicken coop continued thanks to the nicest weather we’ve had in all of 2021. All four walls are framed and up.

We also experimented with different lengths of rafters for the roof and the overhang. We settled on a 7-foot roof. It stick out about two feet in the front and 9 inches in the back. You can see the 2×4 we pinned up there to give us an idea of what it would look like.

Today’s post is going to be a photo essay. Enjoy.

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Warm Weather Allows us to Make Excellent Progress on our Chicken Coop

Back to the grind stone–or should I say nail gun? Warm, dry weather allowed me to get back into the field and work on framing the chicken coop.

On Monday, I took advantage of the warm weather to work on the chicken coop. It was a productive day in which we finished the floor and completed framing both the front and rear walls, which are the load-bearing walls.

We started our framing with the rear wall, pictured above, because it was the most straightforward wall having nothing but studs on 16-inch centers. The front wall had two 32-inch opening which we will use to access the interior of the coop for cleaning it out, maintenance, and to check on the chickens. I inserted 4×4 headers over these openings. We used our experience from building the back wall to work on the front wall.  It went together well, and I will provide photos in a day or two once we get it in place on the floor.

top and bottom plate
We marked the location of our studs on the top and bottom plates of the rear wall. This help ensure everything aligns and the walls is square.

The 5-foot 4-inch height of the front wall used studs that were 59.5 inches in length. I had bought several 10-foot 2x4s, so we could cut two studs from each one. For the back wall, an 8-foot 2×4 yielded two 43.5 inch studs with minimal scrap.

The rough openings for the doors ended up being just under 32 inches wide and are 38 inches tall. Based on our elevations, this is plenty of room for me to stand in front of the opening and use a rake to pull bedding out. 

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COVID-19 Continues to Spread in Europe, Latin America and Michigan

While COVID-19 cases remained relatively steady in the U.S. this past week, Europe and Latin America continue to struggle with the virus.

After the initial outbreak in China, our coverage of Coronavirus has focused on the United States (31 million cases), where we are based, and Europe, which has had a terrible outbreak (44.2 million cases). Lately, the extent of the infections in Brazil (13 million cases) has made the news. Now, we learn that Latin America and the Caribbean have surpassed 25 million cases. Their death toll is second only to Europe.

In Europe, things are especially bad in the Czech Republic, where the lockdowns and curfews remind many older residents of the repression they suffered under the Communist regime. The country reportedly has the highest number of deaths per 100,000 residents in the world.

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To Mask or Not to Mast, that is the Question

I can’t count how many times I walk up to a store and see the mask sign, forcing me back to my car to get my mask. We’re seeing those signs come down.

We went to the hardware store today, a place I seem to visit weekly to pick up fasteners and other hardware, and as I parked the truck, I told my wife she didn’t need to wear her mask. This surprised her, but went with it. Sure enough, none of the employees were wearing them, and I only saw one customer wearing a mask–around her chin but not her nose or mouth.

There was some point in late January or early February when I went into the hardware store and noticed I was the only one in there wearing a mask. Ever since then, I’ve left it in the car. For my wife, It was her first public outing without a mask in months.

After we left the store, my wife commented that it felt weird not to wear her mask. Not freeing, mind you, but weird.

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Book Review “World Made by Hand” by James Howard Kunstler

Sometimes you pick up a book and its difficult to put down again. This book definitely roped me in and grabbed my attention. A great read!

The book World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler is a tale of good and evil, hope and despair, tenderness and love, and mysticism and the supernatural. It overflows with remarkable, well-developed characters and has an interesting take on life after the electricity stops and the cars cease to run. I found it to be a post-apocalyptic story unlike any I had read before.

I was so impressed with this book and the author’s exceptional story telling ability that I did little else but read, putting aside two other books I was reading, so that I could finish it in a day or two.

In many books about the end of the world, the calamity—how the world ended—drives the story. This one is a departure because World Made by Hand is a character-driven story. The people that populate this book make the story compelling, and it would remain as captivating if it took place in the 1850s. That it is set in the near future after a collapse is a bonus.

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