War, the Economy and Prepping

A man in front of a crumbing building in Ukraine
Like this building in Ukraine, our world has seen better days.

February 24th is the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and many expect it will mark a redoubling of attacks. Reportedly, more than three times as many Russian troops are in the area than they used in the initial invasion.

Depending on whose propaganda you believe, this will either result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of poorly trained Russian conscripts armed with rusty AK-47s, or it will result in an overwhelming wave of fierce Russian fighters cutting through the out-gunned and under-manned Ukrainians like a hot knife through butter.

My guess is the result will be some of each. Russia will take staggering losses but make incremental gains. The war will return to the evening news for a while, but by the time April or May rolls around the news value will have faded again and the two sides will have settled into the same old routine in new places.

Trench warfare rarely sees large gains, and when you come right down to it, much of what is going on is the equivalent of trench warfare: dug-in fighters in combat against an aggressor who eventually forces them to fall back to their next fortification where they start the process all over again.

I don’t see either side winning any time soon. We should encourage a negotiated settlement that lets Russia save some face, allows Ukraine to retain some pride, and makes the world a safer, and possibly wealthier, place.

Sputtering Along

Like the war in Ukraine, my preps have sputtered and slowed. I am well prepared, but the cost of being even better prepared is more than my budget can handle right now. That is largely thanks to inflation and the markets. We are watching our expenditures as our investments drop rather than grow. My expenditures this month are well below average. If I keep that up, I may open the faucet a bit in April.

I think my first purchase would be a roll of silver Maple Leafs or some 5 or 10-ounce silver bars. What I am seeing in the economy and hearing about the bank industry makes me think precious metals are the way to go. If a bank like Bank of America or Citibank were to suddenly suffer a significant loss on their investments, it could be a crushing blow to the economy. It would also undermine the people’s trust in the banking system and the dollar. That could cause a bank run, which will just compound the problem.

I know there are some positive signs in the economy, like hiring and employment, but I am not convinced that all is well. First, I don’t trust the number produced by the Biden administration. Second, as this article says, leading economic indicators fell for the 10th straight month and are the weakest they have been in two years. That doesn’t sound like a recovery to me.

My time is also being consumed by non-prepping activities, such as working on our taxes. I have also completed one freelance project and am starting another.

As I referenced yesterday, bee season is also heating up and that will occupy some time.

I find myself surprisingly busy for someone who has no full-time job.

More Firewood

I know, I talk about firewood quite frequently, but it is one of our most important inputs here on the homestead. Without firewood, life here gets harder and colder, if not downright impossible. As a result, we think about firewood for seven or eight months a year.

In any case, we received another firewood delivery, and this one has so many large chunks, I would estimate 75 percent of it needs to be re-split before we stack it. On the plus side, this load includes a number of logs that were cut from dead-standing locust trees. It is well-seasoned wood so old and dry the bark has fallen off. I’ve already burned six locust logs as a test, and it burned quite well, lasting a long time. Much of the rest of the wood is white oak that needs to be seasoned.

This weekend, I plan to pull my truck up to the pile. As I split what needs splitting, I will throw the locust in the back of the truck while we stack the oak and other unseasoned wood on the woodpile. Then I’ll drive the truck down to our garage and carry in as much locust as I can fit. That will allow me to extend our firewood for this winter and delay burning wood that has only been seasoned a few months.

I also found a new source for free pallets and picked up three, so my plans to increase the size of our woodpile are coming to fruition. I have doubled the size of one of our wood piles, adding between 80 and 100 cubic feet of firewood storage. That’s where I will be stacking this wood.