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”

Texas Freeze Damage Assessment Continues: Time to do Your Own

As the amount of damage done to lives, livelihoods, houses, business and agriculture continue to climb in Texas, you may want to re-assess your preps.

Fallout from the Texas big freeze continues as the less-immediate ramifications of the cold weather and resulting power outages come to light. For example:

Almost 80 people died as a result of the storm. This count could increase as coroner’s offices determine the cause of death for people who died during the cold spell.

The Texas Tribute is reporting that this could be the most damaging disaster in Texas history, possibly exceeding the $125 billion in damage after 2017’s Hurricane Harvey.

Damage to agriculture could total more than $500 million dollars. According to the Wall Street Journal:

  • Ninety-eight percent of the Valencia Orange crop and 55 percent of the grapefruit crop in Texas were destroyed by cold, plus the cold killed blossoms, resulting in the loss of next year’s crop.
  • More than 1.2 million chickens or eggs waiting to hatch died because of the storm.
  • Dairy farmers had to dump 14 million gallons of milk had to be dumped, and some dairy cows got frost-bitten udders and were for beef. The lost milk means less yogurt, butter, cheese and other dairy products.
  • Exotic animals from retired monkeys to springbok and other African animals raised in Texas were killed as they experienced temperatures never seen in their native lands.
  • Farmers also lost vegetables and other plants that were in the ground.
  • The damage is already contributing to food shortages in Texas.
Continue reading “Texas Freeze Damage Assessment Continues: Time to do Your Own”

Lessons Preppers Can Learn from the Texas Big Freeze

Every disaster should be analyzed to determine what we as preppers can do to survive. Here are some initial thoughts regarding the Texas power outages.

Our hearts go out to the folks in Texas who suffered through the brutal cold spell this past week, many with no electricity or heat. A surprise ice storm or sub-zero temperatures are bad enough when all your utilities work, but the failure of the Texas Power Grid resulted in dozens of deaths and likely billions of dollars in damage.

Texas has a population of close to 30 million. At least half of them suffered power outages in this past week. About a third have been warned to boil their water. Grocery stores ran out of food and had trouble getting resupplied. Many restaurants are closed because they have run out of food and/or don’t have clean water. At the peak, Walmart closed more than 500 stores, most of them in Texas.

As unfortunate as this event has been, it provides lessons we can all benefit from. So, let’s take a look at that disaster and some of the things you can learn from it. Hopefully, these suggestions can help you avoid a similar situation in the future. If you took different lessons from it, post them in the comments below.

Continue reading “Lessons Preppers Can Learn from the Texas Big Freeze”

Bitter Cold Temps, Power Outages, Gas Shortages and How to Prepare for Them

Thanks to regulators and green energy policy, we can no longer supply enough power to meet peak demand for electricity and natural gas.

As people in Texas and elsewhere in the nation lose their electricity because it is so cold that their electrical generation company cannot make it fast enough, I have two thoughts:

  • I am glad we have a wood stove and three cords of wood on hand.
  • If you think this is bad, just wait. As we shift to green energy, rotating blackouts will become increasingly common as things like solar power and wind power are incapable of producing enough electricity on a consistent basis and cannot meet peak demand.

You can blame the cold weather on “climate change” or “global warming” if you want. More likely it has to do with sunspot activity. The of the cause doesn’t really matter. Being unprepared to meet the demands is a failure on the part of the highly regulated utilities. That failure, in turn, is at least partially the fault of the regulators and law-makers who dictate how private companies should run their business, govern their emissions, and mandate that they meet certain standards. Laws passed to disincentivize coal burning power plants are responsible for the millions of people experiencing rolling blackouts on the coldest day of the year.

Continue reading “Bitter Cold Temps, Power Outages, Gas Shortages and How to Prepare for Them”

Moving Water Doesn’t Freeze, Except in Our Pipes

We are forced to make more repairs and improvements on our gravity-fed spring water thanks to freezing temperatures.

I cannot count how many times people have said to me “moving water doesn’t freeze.”  It seems to be a mantra around here where many people rely on gravity fed water systems.  Unfortunately, our spring-fed gravity-flow water system continues to prove that this is not the case.

After my post on February 6 saying that we still had water, my friend Karl and I climbed up the mountain and found TWO different places where the pipe had not only frozen but had split due to ice pressure and was leaking.  (I guess I spoke too soon.) One of the leaks was a rather robust squirt.  The other was a slower seep, but it was downhill from the fist leak, so it probably wasn’t getting the full force of the water.  At each place, we cut an eight or ten inch section out of the pipe to eliminate the hole and the surrounding weakness and bulging caused by the freezing.  Then we inserted a new coupling. I

By the time we got up there to do the repairs, it was in the low 40s for at least the third day in a row, but a surprising amount of ice remained in the pipe.  We ended up disconnecting one of the lowest connections and letting the ice out.  We do this by holding the pipe up and letting the water build up a good head.  Then when we put the pipe back down, the water pressure blasts out a bunch of ice.  By repeating this enough, and doing it when it is above freezing, the ice eventually all comes out like an ice gusher.

Continue reading “Moving Water Doesn’t Freeze, Except in Our Pipes”

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!

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

Prepper Diary January 30: It’s Bitterly Cold, Making it the Best Time to Plan our Garden

Garden seeds sold out last year due to COVID-19 and there are hints that it may happen again, especially with heirlooms seeds. Plan your garden now!

I woke up early yesterday morning to alarms blaring.  Not the burglar alarm, but the alarm on three different uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), including the one that runs our modem, WiFi, and home security system.  I stumbled out of bed and, flashlight in hand, shut down the equipment, and silenced all the beeping.  Peeking out the window and noticed that it was snowing.

I took advantage of being awake at the early hour to throw a couple more logs on the fire and then promptly went back to bed.  If the power is out, you might as well sleep in.

As I fell back asleep, I thought to myself, “At least all my batteries are charged.”

Continue reading “Prepper Diary January 30: It’s Bitterly Cold, Making it the Best Time to Plan our Garden”

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.

Continue reading “Prepper Diary January 16: Preparing for the Storm”

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.

Continue reading “Prepper Diary January 5: A Change in the Weather”

Prepper Diary December 29: We Repair our Water System

Disasters never seem to happen when the weather is nice. We have to climb the mountain to repair our water system on a cold, wet, foggy day.

We ran out of water on Monday.

The water coming out of our faucets literally slowed down and then fell to a trickle.

I noticed while washing up after breakfast.  My wife had been doing laundry all morning, so I suggested she stop and we wait an hour to see if the water pressure recovered.

Nope.  An hour later and the water had stopped entirely.

All our water comes out of a spring, runs down a black polyethylene (PE) pipe to a storage tank.  A buried pipe brings the water from the tank down the 160 vertical feet to our house, giving us fresh, clean mountain spring water.  Something had clearly gone wrong with this system.

Continue reading “Prepper Diary December 29: We Repair our Water System”