Prepper Diary May 13: Is Firewood An Inflation Fighter?

Anything that you can buy now and keep for a couple years will help you resist the undertow of inflation as rising prices threaten to drag you under.

We’ve been experiencing the opposite of Indian Summer. Maybe we should call it Eskimo Winter. In other words, it’s still cold and dreary. Over the past ten days or two weeks, we’ve experienced below-normal temperatures, frost warnings, fog and rain. We probably needed the rain, but I would have preferred it be spread out some.

In between the raindrops, I finished both the end panels for the exterior of the chicken coop. One includes the chicken door. Both include a ventilation hole at the top. I hope this is enough to promote sufficient air movement. The front will have open windows, but we’ll have to see how they do when a cold wind blows, the rain comes down in sheets, or the snow arrives.

I also cut the access hole and made a door we can use to access the nesting boxes from the outside and built the divider panels that can drop in to split the coop into two sections.

Then I picked up some more lumber to make perches and sketched out my plan. I have not yet built them, but hope to do so before I put the walls on. That may have to wait until warmer weather, which we expect next week, allows us to paint.

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Prepper Diary May 8: Chicken Coops, Bee Hives, and Cold Weather

The weather interferes with our plans, but work progresses on the homestead as we continue to ready for our chicks and bees to be delivered.

After a couple days of rain, yesterday dawned dreary and cold, but I had hopes I would get to work outside. The “late afternoon showers” arrived early, cutting my plans short. I hand to stop measuring the chicken coop to cut and fit exterior panels. I had time to install the three chicken nesting boxes pictured in the main image, above, but not to cut any wall panels.

These nesting boxes came from Tractor Supply and cost about $20 each. They are plastic, so they should be easy to clean and won’t mold or rot. The slanted roofs prevent birds from roosting (and pooping) on them. 

The boxes were easy to install and should be easy to remove or move to another location. I don’t expect to do that as I am cutting a slot in the siding and installing a flip-open panel to allow easy access to get the eggs from the nest. If I move the nesting boxes, then I’ll have a hinged access for no reason.

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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.

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Prepper Diary February 7: As More Snow is Forecast, we have to Repair our Fireplace Insert

Stuff never breaks when its convenient. That’s why a good prepper can improvise and McGyver his way back into business when something fails on the homstead.

Looks like we’ll be waking up to more snow on Sunday, possibly another six inches or so.  Good thing we went to town when we did! 

As I have mentioned before, we have a big wood stove in the basement and a smaller fireplace insert upstairs.

The fireplace insert is a Buck Stove model 74 and uses a blower to blow warm air into the house.  I have disliked this approach because it requires electricity to function and without electricity, the insert produces almost no heat at all.  Adding to the complexity, the stove uses a thermostat to turn on and off the blower.  Apparently, it won’t go on until the temperature reaches 140 degrees.

Lately, my wife has been complaining that it’s taking longer and longer for the blower to kick on.  I’ve been thinking that maybe the fire is not hot enough, until yesterday when the blower did not go on at all.  I check it out, and the fire is merrily burning away, yet the blower is off and hardly any heat is entering the house.  Talk about a waste of firewood!

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Prepper Diary January 16: Preparing for the Storm

More winter weather is headed our way as the blizzard that struck the Midwest travels east, promising snow and plunging temperatures.

It’s been a busy couple of days on the Pickled Prepper Property as we prepare for the coming storm.

Now you can interpret that as the metaphorical storm brought on by Inauguration Day or the physical storm that the Weather Channel has named “Winter Storm Malcom,” but the truth is that our preps are pretty much the same for either one: Stock up, batten down, and prepare to ride it out.

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Prepper Diary January 14: More Water Woes and Log Splitting Choices

I get to look forward to another chilly, muddy adventure climbing a mountain to repair or spring-fed water system.

Around 10:30 on Tuesday, I noticed that the water pressure had started to drop again.  That means I have to climb the mountain tomorrow, locate and repair the leak.

Having done this before, I have no issues with it.  I am well equipped with spare parts.  This time, I am going to bring the propane torch and if inserting the replacement fitting is as easy as I have been led to believe it is with a bit of heating, I will re-do my original repair as well.

The good news is that tomorrow will be the warmest day of the week.   The bad news is that it will probably be the muddiest as well.

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Prepper Diary January 5: A Change in the Weather

The sun breaks through and that’s just the beginning of the good news. Plus, thoughts on ATVs, OpSec, and mutant viruses.

It was a busy day yesterday.  The big news is that we are officially grandparents.  My eldest daughter had a 6-pound 13-ounce baby girl.  The poor little thing is in the infant ICU with underdeveloped lungs but seems to be doing OK.  Maybe when this COVID mess is over, we’ll actually get to see them.

The weather has cleared up and we actually had a bright, sunny day, even if it was a bit chilly.  We went hiking in our immediate area, exploring the land on both sides of the creek and up and down the road.  We stayed mostly on our land and the road.  I kept my eye out for fallen trees that would be easy to harvest and throw into the back of the truck to take back home.  Fallen wood is good because it is already dry and seasoned and I am burning wood like it is going out of style.  Plus, we prefer not to cut live tress unless we need them down for some other reason.

Looking at harvesting firewood up the mountain really drives home the need for a four-wheeler.  The problem is that I can buy enough firewood to last seven years for the cost of a UTE side by side.  Throw in maintenance, fuel, repairs, etc., and I can probably buy 10 years of firewood.  Of course, buying firewood isn’t as self-sufficient, but then how long would a UTE and fuel last after a SHTF situation?  I expect we would be better saving the gas for the chain saw and maybe an occasional generator run.  Maybe I should get a sled and harvest when it snows.

Maybe I’ll keep my ears open for a used UTE.

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Prepper Diary December 27: Our Focus on the Temperature and the Wood Stove Continues

Our wood stove is cranking out the heat, keeping the cold at bay. The pile of red-hot coals generate the most heat while the logs that are burning brightly will soon be coals themselves.

I woke up at 3:56 a.m. Saturday, which is very unusual for me as I usually sleep straight through the night.  I figured I was worried about frozen pipes, so I padded into the bathroom flushed the toilet and ran some water in the sink.  It was 48 degrees in there.  Brrr!

I remembered years back when I lived in an apartment I rented for $150 a month while I was a junior in college. It was so cold inside you could see your breath in the bathroom.  When you bathed, you had to run the water on hot long enough that the steam would fill the room.  Only then could you dare to undress.  This wasn’t quite so bad in our bathroom, but it sure wasn’t good. 

I went to college close enough to Canada that you could drive there to buy beer.  That year, it snowed every day in January.  We don’t expect that kind of weather here, but both my wife and I have plenty of experience living in cold weather.  It’s just not recent experience. Still, we wanted to move somewhere it wasn’t so hot.  Looks like we can check off that box.

At 4 a.m. the upstairs fireplace was still burning merrily, so I added two more logs, ran downstairs, popped more wood in the stove, and went back to bed.  Thankfully, the covers were still warm, and I quickly fell back to sleep. 

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May you have a Very Prepper Christmas

We are enjoyed a white Christmas, which is both a blessing and a little but of a curse when you live on a steep mountain. This is the time of year when you wish you owned a snow machine.

We are enjoying a white Christmas, as yesterday’s rain turned into snow late in the evening and has been blowing around every since.  Well, “enjoying” may be a bit of an exaggeration, as we woke to 12 degrees outside and 59 in the bedroom. It was definitely a morning to snuggle under the down comforter and stay in be a while longer.

Our plans for Christmas dinner with some of our new neighbors are postponed over concerns that some of the neighbors at the bottom of the mountain will not be able to make it up and down.  The Christmas gathering has been rescheduled for Saturday, but it would not surprise me if it gets pushed back to Sunday.

We celebrated Christmas early when my daughter was visiting, and now we are celebrating late with neighbors.  Today, I expect we will continue to eat leftovers and perhaps spend some quality time together in front of the crackling fire. 

However and with whomever you are celebrating, we wish you the best of holidays and encourage you to take a respite from the year that was 2020 and enjoy the day.  Turn off the news, log out of twitter and Facebook.  Spend time with the people who are present.

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Product Review: How the HA Kindling Cracker Stacks Up

We found the Kindling Cracker to be a safe and easy way to chop kindling. Great for people with little or no prior experience or who may be uncomfortable using an axe or hatchet.

Model Tested: Extra Large

Rated 4 out of 5 pickles.
Rated 4 out of 5 pickles.

Over the years, I’ve split a lot of wood and chopped my share of kindling.  I’ve used an axe, a maul, a sledge hammer, and wedges.  For kindling, my go to is a hatchet, and I have them in several sizes and designs. 

These days, I’m thinking seriously about going hydraulic for wood splitting, but I haven’t finalized that decision yet.  Before I invest in a power splitter, I want to see how much wood we burn in a winter, how much it costs me to buy it, and what size and quantity of firewood I can harvest on our land.

But kindling is another story.  After looking into a number of alternative ways to split kindling, I spent a little over  $100 to buy the HA Kindling Cracker XL.  This handy device is made in New Zealand but sold here in the U.S. in stores and online.

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