Homestead Updates and Prepping Thoughts

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It's always nice to open a beehive and find it full of bees! As the honey flow starts, the more bees there are, the more honey they will bring home.
It's always nice to open a beehive and find it full of bees! As the honey flow starts, the more bees there are, the more honey they will bring home.

I picked up a new queen from a fellow beekeeper last week after a beehive went queenless for no obvious reason. Five days after placing her in the hive I checked, and she had escaped her cage, as planned. All seems to be well. Other than the sudden lack of a queen, this hive was doing well and is full of bees. I expect it will make lots of honey this year.

With that issued addressed, all five hives that successfully over-wintered are in good shape and have supers on them. One is making an extraordinary amount of honey for this early in the season and already has three supers. (Supers are where bees make the honey we harvest.)

The two splits I made on Easter Weekend are coming along fine. Both raised their own queens from eggs and both queens returned from their mating flight and started laying. When I inspect the hives this week, I expect to give both of them a second hive body and frame or two of brood from a stronger hive to give them an added boost. They will miss the early honey flow that is about to kick off, but they should make plenty of honey in the second half of the summer.

Some of the tulip poplars have been blooming, but we had so much rain in the past week, I worry their blooms will either have been blown away or the flowers filled up with water which dilutes the nectar. The locusts are blooming 600 feet below our altitude and should erupt in bloom up here at any moment. Our blackberries have little white buds and should bloom sometime this week. The combination will give us plenty of honey for our June honey harvest.

Consumer Sentiment Crashes

Consumer Sentiment just crashed, dropping “unexpectedly” 9.8 points, the largest miss compared to what economists were expecting, on record.

So, how are you feeling about the economy? Are you in any of these groups?

  • People with more than $4,500 in unpaid credit card debt. That’s the average American owe. (Seems low to me.)
  • Someone unable to buy a house because of high mortgage rates, or someone unable to sell their house because they are “underwater.”
  • One of many eating out less frequently because of high prices, even at fast-food restaurants. The cost of a fast food meal is shockingly high. McDonalds is promising to bring back a $5 meal. I’m thinking it will be 4 chicken nuggets, a small fry and a small drink.
  • People who have stopped buying beef and are eating more chicken. The Wall Street Journal reported on this over the weekend. Of course, it may be a good thing chicken sales are eating away at beef sales since there isn’t all that much beef out there.
  • Customer of a store or chain that recently declared bankruptcy or just shut down and is now defunct. Some big names include Rue 21, Express, The Body Shop, 99 Cents Only Stores, Family Dollar, and Joanne (which you may know as Joanne Fabrics).
  • People whop pawned or sold something to raise funds to pay bills.
  • Employees who have lost their job, seen their opportunities for overtime decrease, or had their hours cut back.
  • Employees who want to change jobs but are afraid to do so because they don’t want to lose seniority.
  • Anyone feeling the pinch of rising gas prices, higher food costs, rising rent, or ridiculously high credit card interest rates

Precious Metals Prices Rise Again

Gold is heading back up, just $30 shy of $2,400 per ounce as I type this. Silver is also heading higher and has crossed $28 per ounce again. Apparently, premiums on Silver Eagles are going back up, meaning your best chance to buy Silver Eagles at a decent price is probably behind you. You can still buy them, but expect to be somewhere between $5 and $9 over spot. That’s expensive, but premiums were higher a year ago.

When bullion prices rose a couple weeks ago, it coincided with the Iranian strike on Israel and the Israeli response. It was considered a fear trade. So, what are people afraid of today? Many things, but mostly the demise of the U.S. dollar.

I believe it was Voltaire who said, “Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value: zero.” The smart money is beginning to flee the dollar and currencies closely aligned with it, turning to gold instead. Other physical goods that have value even when the dollar doesn’t are also worth considering. Many investors choose land or gold as a hedge. Preppers choose to invest in a retreat, food, ammunition and other preps.

Drones for Preppers

After watching how useful small drones are proving to be in the war in Ukraine, I’ve concluded that having a drone to use as a scout would be advantageous during an end-of-the-world scenario. Unfortunately, I don’t have a drone, nor have I ever flown one.

I guess I either need to recruit a youngster with drones and experience to join our survival team, or I need to make an investment and learn. I believe one of the local community colleges has a class to teach you how to pilot a drone and pass the FAA test. (In truth, it doesn’t look that difficult.) I don’t think anyone will check certificates after the SHTF, but that’s not the best time to learn.

But who am I kidding? I don’t foresee buying a drone any time in the next two years. {That’s about as far as my time horizon goes.)

I’ve heard buying Chinese-made drones is a terrible idea if you value your privacy. Rumor has it they send everything they see back to China. I guess I could learn on a cheap drone and then upgrade down the road. That way, I won’t be out as much money if I crash or run into a tree. With our winds and topography, this is probably somewhat challenging territory for drone pilots.

Solar Power Update

We’ve had two power outages in the past week and at least five over the past three weeks. It’s making us look forward to having the solar system installed so we can have whole-house battery backup. Our solar power system will act like a giant U.P.S., cutting in the batteries in less than 20 milliseconds after the grid power goes down. That is so fast the clocks on your microwave won’t reset and your computers and TVs won’t blink or crash.

Our solar power design has been approved by the engineers and was submitted to the utility for approval. Two different permits are also required and have been applied for at the county level. Depending on who you talk to, it will take anywhere from 10 to 60 days for all the various approvals to come in. That assumes they get approved. If the utility or county requests changes, it will set us back.

If the approval process stretches to the full 60 days, my personal goal of having solar power in place by Independence Day will not be achieved. I am choosing to remain hopeful, but like much in life, it’s hurry up and wait.

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