Clearing Out our Survival Retreat and a Look at What We Stored There

Ever wonder what a prepper stores at their survival retreat? We visited our retreat and here’s a look at the supplies we cached there.

Over the long weekend, we made the long journey to our survival retreat and recovered some supplies we had cached there. Most of them had been there for less than a decade, but some items had been there since before Y2K.

Now that we have our permanent prepper property, the retreat property will be sold. This trip to remove our personal property was the first step in that process. We also met with a realtor and she gave us some ideas on how she would market it. Thankfully, she agreed that we should sell it “as is” and while we won’t be making any renovations or major improvements, she made some suggestions of what might make it more marketable without the need to spend much money. We hope it will be on the market in June.

Continue reading “Clearing Out our Survival Retreat and a Look at What We Stored There”

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.

Continue reading “The Best Time to Start Stocking up on Firewood”

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.

Continue reading “The Walls are Up as Chicken Coop Framing Continues”

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.

Continue reading “To Mask or Not to Mast, that is the Question”

Spring Shows Up For a Few Days, the Tease

The yellow blooms of forsythia in the valley below us herald the coming of spring, but our mountain locations keeps it at bay.

I came down off our mountain to go shopping and realized it was spring in the valley. The forsythia was blooming. Willow trees had ribbons of green along their branches. When I got to our village, a few ornamental cherry and pear trees in front of houses were blooming.

On the mountain, spring has not yet sprung. In the woods, there are hint of it; red along the tree tops from the maples and touches of green in the undergrowth as small bushes. It’s as if they want to get a jump on the sunshine started soaking it up before their broadleaf cousins could intercept it all, and there was sunshine aplenty. It made me wish for bees. This would be their first real chance to gather pollen and perhaps some nectar and to rebuild their colony after the long cold winter.

While temperatures in the low 60s are welcome, we cannot get carried away. We are not done with the cold weather yet, as it is more than six weeks until our average last frost date. Already the five day forecast shows night time temperatures dropping back into the 20s before the weekend. With my luck, we’ll have snow.

Continue reading “Spring Shows Up For a Few Days, the Tease”

Outdoor Work Resumes as the Weather Warms Again

Warm, dry weather means its time to work outdoors, so we recently picked up where we had left off with the garden fencing project.

Work on our fencing project, the bee yard, and the chicken coop continues. We have installed H-braces for our fence corners and gateposts, as you can see above. We also seeded both white and crimson clover to provide a nectar flow for the bees. This will be in addition to flowers we will plant later. Because we live in a heavily wood area, I expect the bees will collect most of the pollen and nectar from the trees.

Installing the H-braces was pretty easy. I measured the distance between the posts and cut the bar to fit. Then I drilled one post, stuck a 10-inch long nail through it and into a hole in the end of the brace. This serves to hold one end of the brace in place while I leveled the post and marked the point to drill on the opposite post. Then we drive another big nail through that post and into the horizontal brace. This looks nice, but doesn’t accomplish anything until you use fencing wire to add some tension to the H structure with some fencing wire and a ratchet.

I watched at least half a dozen YouTube videos on how to do this, including videos sponsored by fence companies and by random homesteaders and farmers. I then proceeded, and it went pretty smoothly. We’re ready to pull fencing, but I’m going to wait until the chicken coop is finished.

Continue reading “Outdoor Work Resumes as the Weather Warms Again”

Prepper Diary March 17: We get a Cold Snap for St Patrick’s Day

Despite the recent warm weather, we find that winter is not over as temperatures turn colder and fog heralds the arrival of rain and snow.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! My wife is making corned beef for dinner tonight, and I am very much looking forward to it. We will also have soda bread scones and it would not surprise me if she makes cabbage. She briefly bemoaned the lack of green beer, but that I will not miss.

The Weather Turns Colder

While we are not getting the two-to-four-feet of snow they had in Colorado and Wyoming, it has turned colder and wetter, making things damp and chilly with an occasional coating of fog. These are the blah days of March, when it is neither roaring like a lion nor mincing like a lamb. 

We knew winter was not over, but that doesn’t mean we were looking forward to its return. Making matters worse, it is the time of year to do our taxes, something I never enjoy. Thanks to our move, it is often taking three weeks to get mail forwarded from our old address to our new P.O. box. That means our incoming tax documents are late. Ah, the joys of paperwork.

Continue reading “Prepper Diary March 17: We get a Cold Snap for St Patrick’s Day”

A New, Local Queen and Bees to Strengthen our Hive

When we went to pick up the bee hive components I had ordered, we found a source for local queens and bees to help our hive start off strong.

We picked up our beehive equipment today, but even more exciting is that I have found a new source for our bees. Instead of a three-pound package of bees from a big national company, I am buying a nuc from a local beekeeper.

The bees will not be ready as soon, but I am excited about a local source for two reasons: First, a nuc gives me a head start over a package of bees, and second, I expect to get better queen genetics. Let me explain:

Bees, Hives, Frames, and Brood

Starting with a nuc (short for nucleus, or the core of a hive) is far better than three pounds of bees. The nuc comes with five frames of brood and honey, which means new bees will hatch over the next few days, and the honey will provide stored food. A package of bees would have to start from scratch and build up to this point.

Continue reading “A New, Local Queen and Bees to Strengthen our Hive”

Extreme Drought Hits Western U.S., Plus New Solar Ideas

Much of the Western U.S. is in a severe to exceptional drought and unless some serious snow falls in their mountains, we could see an impact on the food supply

Food Storage is one of the pillars of prepping. It’s a foundational, meaning something you should have before you stockpile things like extra tools, items for barter, or gold or silver. A supply of potable water for drinking, rehydrating food, and hygiene is even more critical as you will die of thirst far before you starve to death. This is why preppers group them together as food, water, and shelter.

As we head into 2021, an extreme drought in much of the Southwest is raising concerns about water shortages. (See the main image, above, which is part of a larger, more complete report available at https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.) Because water is required to grow vegetables, fruits and nuts in California and other states, a drought may negatively impact the food supply this coming year. Add to this the possibility that fingers of drought will continue to reach into the Midwest and plains states, and you can see how the grain might also be hurt.

Ironically, last year it rained so hard many farmers were not able to get corn in the ground in a timely manner. This just reinforces the point that our feed supply remains weather dependent.

Speaking of weather, let’s hope the West gets some heavy snow before winter is over; they need it to refill the snowpack and their reservoirs. And let’s not forget that drought conditions also can lead to an increased risk of wildfires.

Continue reading “Extreme Drought Hits Western U.S., Plus New Solar Ideas”

Warm Weather Brings Family, Gardening, and Target Practice

When the fall warms up, we call it Indian Summer. What’s it called when we get a preview of spring? I call it time to get a jump on outside projects.

We just spend the better part of a week with my daughter, her fiancé, and our new granddaughter. It was the first time we met the baby, and the first time they had been to our new house. My future son-in-law helped a great deal with the fence post installation. Being young and strong is a big help, of course, but having a strong work ethic is just as important.

It’s been more than 25 years since I last spent any significant time around a baby. I am amazed at how much stuff you “need” today to have for your baby. It’s clear consumerism gone crazy, spurred on by supposed experts and Instagram moms marketing the latest “must have” products. For example, today there is something called “tummy time” where you stick your baby on their belly and let them squirm to strengthen their neck muscles. But to do it correctly, you apparently need special tummy time pads. In the old days, we just stuck them on the floor, carpeted or not. If they bonked their little heads, well, that would teach them to keep their head up.

I have to admit that the Keurig-like device that dispenses warm water to mix with formula is pretty neat. And the new bottles that have some interior mechanism designed to prevent babies from sucking in air seems to minimize burping. Toys controlled by apps on your phone seems a bit much to me. Must we computerize everything?

Continue reading “Warm Weather Brings Family, Gardening, and Target Practice”