Thursday, June 28, 2012

Obamacare.......O What a Mistake !

This is the current Supreme Court.   Perhaps a lifetime appointment is too long. We'll have to look into that too. They apparently want Obama's long hands in our surgeries, our gyn visits, and everything else, when he can't show relative competence in anything that prior presidents have done.  What's next ? Shall we let teachers practice medicine because they want to, and they are in close physical proximity to our children and it's therefore cheaper and expedient ?

       My mother was a British gentlewoman.  When passing the point of being highly peeved, she would never have uttered the words, "I am pissed !".   Instead, when she reached the point of maximum peeve, and beyond simply cross, she would say that she "was pipped".   I did not realize, until I watched the Jeeves and Wooster series, that others used the phrase.   Today, I am beyond highly pipped,  I am an utterly disgusted American.   Here in what used to be the "land of the free and the home of the brave", it is looking a little more like the "land of no one free, and led by the depraved."   Today, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, saying that it is Constitutional.   How could it possibly be Constitutional to require the purchase of health insurance, or anything else ?    If they can do this, and simply consider it a tax, then what is next ?   Perhaps next week they can require us to buy an American car in order to stimulate our economy. The week after, they can require us to buy fat free mayonnaise.  Let's pass a law in order to make sure we all get quarterly colonoscopies !
            In the US, we really do have excellent health care.  Most of us have health insurance through jobs. Those of us who do not can buy policies which meet disastrous need. Those who are in a difficult situation, or between jobs, can go to a free clinic.  I work in a free clinic, and we render excellent care free of charge. Physicians and nurses render care on a rotating basis at the clinic. The materials are donated to us through the state, and drug companies donate the full supply of expensive drugs to our patients once our office staff proves via paystubs, that the patient cannot pay for these at this time. Long term poor or those who are very sick and without insurance, receive something called Medicaid, and they too receive care.
           There are access problems in the US.  People in some parts of Colorado can't see an endocrinologist as quickly as they might wish to.  People who want to see a free dentist might not have one in their state. There are the same access issues to specialty care in England, France, Germany, and in Canada when I was last there. There is no perfect system.  The US could do things which improve its access to health care for its citizens. It could better educate them in terms of how one obtains better health care. The strength of the US system has always been that if you go to your local hospital, and a physician diagnoses you with a variant of leukemia, and tells you that you should likely prepare to die, that you and your family can seek a physician and a specialty clinic somewhere the University of Texas, or the University of Virginia, or Johns-Hopkins or the Mayo Clinic, or any number of world class medical centers.  You endure a financial screening and you either receive your care through your insurance, or you are entered into an experimental program of treatment.  I cannot tell you how many patients of mine are alive today because we have an innovative system, and stay on the cutting edge of research. The difference between health care here, and in other nations is that health care for routine issues is likely the same. However, health care for unusual or grave situations, is likely to be rendered much more quickly here, and the patient will have the choices laid out for him and he and his family will choose them.
         I therefore completely oppose Obamacare. I just got off the phone with the office of Eric Cantor, whose office relates that a repeal of Obamacare is under careful consideration.  Adding a trillion dollar debt to a dying economy in order to take the choices regarding health care away from Americans, is not in the best interests of the US.
         There is a wonderful line in the second season of the series "Jericho".  Paraphrased it says, "This is not a stereo manual, it's the Constitution !"  Barack Hussein Obama might be a wonderful president for Kenya, Syria, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia or Indonesia, but here in the US, we like to make our own decisions about health care.  We don't need our government doing this for us.
           Remind me to take a second look at Belize.

This is Chief Justice John Roberts whose decision cast the deciding vote to uphold Obamacare.  He seems to think we can be taxed in any way the government likes. He also does not believe in state's rights.  Virginia has long since passed a law which prohibits anyone from requiring us to buy health insurance.  This might not be the kind of person who should be on the Supreme Court for a lifetime.   Let's speak to our Congressmen about term limits for the Supreme Court. How could this be done ?

It is clear that if you have never been political before, that it's now time to let your Congressman and Representatives what you feel.  We are indeed "Running Out of Time"


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Don't Put Your Preps All in One Basket

This is not Carol's fire.  I have been unable to open the attachment she sent. of the fire damage.

      One of the drawbacks in living in the country is that often, a firetruck can't get out to outlying area quite as quickly as they might in a suburban one.  This situation can furthur be exacerbated by the fact that in much of rural America, it would be cost prohibitive to install fire hydrants.  Therefore, rural fire fighting, in many areas, is limited to the use of pumper trucks which carry water from local lakes, ponds or rivers. This can limit the amount of water held by the pumper truck with which to fight forest and brush fires and with which to protect barns and houses.  The other issue is that anything from ignition of grasses from target practice, to lightning, or  careless handling of cigarettes can start fires which spread quickly.

                 This week, one of our friends, Carol,  from a rural area in Tennessee had her house burn down. She was notified of the fire by barking dogs, and it is felt that the fire began in the compressor of her freezer.   She believes that she has lost a cat, and two of her dogs are missing.  They may have run off frightened by the fire, and they may yet return.  Her other dogs survived, but her house, her clothng, her photographs, her computer, and ALL of her preparedness supplies are gone. Her Berkey, which was full, is missing it's handles, and it's filters are gone.  Her canning devices are metal blobs, and her canning jars look like modern art.   This occurred night before last and the objects in the home remain very hot.  She thinks she may be able to salvage one of the cast iron frying pans.  
                  Carol has little surviving family and was very good to me when my son Daniel, 12, died suddenly.    Jim Cobb, a mutual friend of ours, has created a way  that Carol can receive donations through Paypal.   Jim is a co-owner of         100% of what is donated will go straight to Carol.   She has no homeowner's insurance and has known quite a few challenges in the last several years.  Even just a few dollars will add up substantially, so please don't be afraid to donate just a few, if you can.

   The page to donate to Carol is:

I have donated myself, and it is an easy process, and Jim will make sure Carol gets it all.

                   Being the prepared and resilient woman that she is, Carol has reported to us many of the things which have occurred to her since this fire.  She has said that she is very grateful to have had a well stocked "Bug out bag" in her vehicle when this happened.   She also wishes to encourage us all to layer our preps.  If possible, keep your supplies not only in your house, but in outbuildings too,  perhaps in metal trash cans.
                   Carol hasn't said this, but I am thinking that we should all scan our family photos, and make discs of them and store them either with close friends, or in a safe deposit box.   Every one of us is vulnerable to fire.

                    I will post updates as I can.  Thanks for any help you can give, even just a couple of dollars.
Carol has few surviving relatives.  She is presently simply camping on her farm. She not only has nowhere else to go, but she needs to stay there in order to make sure no hot embers from the house fire start brush or forest fires, in view of the dry conditions on her farm.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

On Small Space Living

             It's been years since I have lived in a truly small space. However, my daughter has recently bought a home, and will be going from the farm, where we have generous interior space, to a home where less can be stored out of sight, and where careful planning for space will be needed in view of the things she will be bringing from the farm, to her first very own home.
              I remember living in very small space as if it were yesterday, and not almost thirty years ago.  We moved from a newer suburban brick apartment with reasonable rent, to a small summer cottage almost fifty miles from there. This home had been the only one in the Multiple Listing Book that we had been able to afford.  The wooded lot was on a mountain trail and on a slight incline.

It had a magical back garden

 One could walk to a lake but nothing else was in close proximity.   The original size of the home was only about 400 square feet. The house was cedar sided, and had a small living room, a kitchen, a bathroom, and two small bedrooms.   As a summer cottage, it initially had only one closet.  It was inadequate in terms of space from the moment we moved in. I immediately sold our bedroom suite prior to moving in, and gave away my beloved large stereo system with massive speakers.  Then, we proceeded to get to work.  We decided to paint most of the interior in white. Then we made the living room an interior stucco with brown wooden trim, borrowing the look and feel of a Cotswold cottage. (Our daughter still remembers the stucco when she was very small)  The painted one bedroom the palest hint of peach and the other a hint of yellow.   The bathroom was already nicely wallpapered.
              When you live in a very small space you must consider all purchases carefully whether the items come from retail or garage sales. I quickly found that anything I needed, needed to be removed from bulky packaging. I cut the directions from the box and placed all of it inside a correctly sized freezer bag.  I did this with everything from food to shoelaces, and it made packaging and putting items you need to put away more time consuming than in "normal" housing.  We could not have our normal Queen sized bed, and needed to modify the original in order to fit the space, and still have some underbed storage for our shoes.
               In addition,. having a house the size of a New York apartment means that you will need to build a picnic bench outside and clip coupons, work on your taxes, and do many things out of doors. The setting was beautiful and so we did not mind.

Our kitchen had dark wood which was much more in vogue at the time, but one side of our kitchen played very much like the armoire kitchen you see here.  Although, we had a full sized refrigerator on the other side of the kitchen from this, and a large microwave oven on top of that.  (

                 Nice curtains, paint, and arranged furnishings went very quickly, but we soon found that the true deficiency in the house was storage.  We had a local carpenter build us a closet in the master bedroom, and the following week, he offered to safely affix plywood down on our attic floor so we would have storage, and access to essential items there.  (This particular attic permitted this type of finishing without being a fire hazard)   We kept many things in plastic trash cans in the attic. Ultimately, he built us a pulldown small ironing board, which we used very occasionally, but was absolutely great carpentry and ultimately a selling point.

                While we were there we undertook many projects.  Each day, when I came home from work, I shoveled out a bit more of the dirt cellar.  A basement room existed underneath the bathroom, where the electric hot water heater resided, but it certainly would have been helpful to have a basement underneath the entire house.  I dug out most of it over about a year until our builder told me not to do anymore until he placed supports under the house.   We did landscaping that was absolutely beautiful, and I am told is still there today.  We had insulation blown in from the outside, after temporarily removing a cedar shake. We had the house ducted from below and had an entirely new forced hot air heating system added. Prior to that we had one large furnace underneath the floor in the living room. I used to stand above the large register on cold days.  We also had the septic tank system replaced, or more accurately, installed in the first place.  It turned out that the septic tank we were using in the first year there failed, and when it was excavated to be replaced, turned out to be not a septic tank at all, but a metal trash can lined with newspapers !  We had modifications made to the line from the oil tank to the house, so that the oil would stop congealing before entering the house, as it did when the temperature there in winter occasionally was 30 degrees below zero.     (This first house was in Northwestern New Jersey's rural Ramapo Mountain range.)   We also had the entire house rewired and had the electrical box changed and brought up to date from fuses to a genuine regular sized house breaker box.
                By this time, my daughter had been born and one year later, our eldest son was born.  You have not managed small space until you have had two babies in 400 square feet.  In order to keep moving and organized, everything must stay clean, and you only buy what you will use. A great deal of the equipment people think is essential for babies, simply isn't.

"Cedar Cottage" was decorated in the English Cottage style, as is this room. Books are not only utilitarian, but they decorate small space very well.    ( )

           About that time, the electrician who had replaced and upgraded our electrical box encouraged us to have an addition built.  A very careful architect designed addition added needed rooms, and a large closet.  We also added attractive fencing.
           There are substantial advantages to having a very small home, particularly in the Northeast.  First, our heating costs were modest, in a place where they normally are not. Secondly, our taxes, were modest,. also in a place where they certainly are not.   Our home was commutable to New York City or to Pennsylvania, or New York State, and we frequently went to Montreal.   We were able to start the journey of homeownership with all of its learning, in our twenties, and still have friends come see us from New York, and till have sufficient money for home renovations. We also had two rather wonderful parties which spilled through the yard as well as the house.  Because our home was relatively inexpensive, I was able to cut my work schedule to very part time when our two eldest children, the "year apart twins" came.
We also learned to live frugally and in small space, which is something I think everyone should learn to do, regardless of where you eventually wind up living.
            For four years, the clean and neat lake cottage which had been used as a rental for couples coming out to the lake for a week or two, but had become our own first house, sheltered us. We had refurbished it, and placed an addition of almost 300 additional feet upon it.   Two children had been born while we lived there.  "The Cedar Cottage" for which we had paid  $33,900.  sold in four years, as a beautiful small home for $91,900.   Yes,  we did profit from its sale.  We took all that we learned in caring for it, and in terms of learning to live in small space, and moved to a new home which was much larger, with a much larger yard, in Virginia.
            Many years later, we were on a flight to Moscow, and a woman to the rear of us on the plane told us where she lived, and it was in the same area as our "Cedar Cottage".   She was a realtor, and had sold it again quite recently.  From the description she gave, I am certain it was our house, and I was delighted to hear that it continued to sell for much more money.  Fortunately, families which followed loved it as much as we did.

  We never forgot the memories, and the learning about small space living that were gathered there.  Our daughter will not be adjusting to as small a space living as we did, but she will, no doubt, have her own adjustments.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Why It Might Be Time to Ready to Go Off Grid

This is actually a 2.8 kW solar tied system, but it looks very similar to the generator tied back up whole house inverter system that we operate.  (

                   One of our sons (the one who came to us through adoption a couple of years ago, as a young teen) is occasionally frustrated by one thing or another. His latest annoyance is how frequently we have power outages here. He grew up in a Group Home, where I suppose the facility was a priority site for electricity, and he has no real memories of power outages, or how to cope in them.  At first I listened to him and gave him some positive strategies for coping, as I told him how everywhere in the US is experiencing more outages as repairs and upgrades to utility infrastructures are not being done.  Then, I listened to how often he said they were occurring. He was right.  In the last six weeks, we have lost power once a week during thunderstorms, high winds, or no discernible reason at all.  These outages have not been brief.  One was four hours, another eight, and two have been overnight.   Yesterday, we lost power in the morning when we were doing important internet business. It came back at lunchtime.  We lost it again around five, and when I reported it, the recording told me that "this address had already been reported as having an outage today, and that the power has since been restored".   They are apparently not set up for two reports of an outage at one address, in one day. It eventually came back at 3 am.
                   The biggest frustration is that without electricity, we cannot pump water from the deep well.  We do have a large military village generator, but this takes time to switch over and does involve a combination of going outside, and switching some things in our basement mechanical room.  Traditionally, my husband does this, and occasionally my eldest son does as well.  We also for a time, had a whole house inverter system which powered the house, sans well pump, during outages, but the incredibly lightning here in Virginia damaged it, and it requires replacement.

This is not our battery array, but you get the idea.   We have ours in a clean dry basement area.

                  Our plan here to overcome the perennially disappearing electricity which plagues the entire sparsely populated region, follows.

     1. Send for the hand pump well and have welldriller install it.  At least, we would still have water.
         This alone is a complex matter, and the subject of other posts as well.

The upper portion of the hand pump which will prime our indoor water tank for use during outages. This is what we settled upon:

     2. Repair and move the other whole house inverter down to one of the outbuildings where it can provide lighting on a regular basis to that building.

     3. Reorient each adult family member on the activation and safe use, and the maintenance of the large diesel generator.   Produce a guide manual and place it, in the mechanical room, so that any questions about the order in which things need to be done is quickly answered.  It seems that the two people best qualified to manage the military generator, are the people who aren't here during the outages !

     4. The lightning abatement is complete on the main house and the outbuildings, so we HOPE no additional lightning strikes will damage future whole house inverters.

   5.  This is the tough one....    Save enough money and order a new whole house inverter, of sufficient size to power the entire house during frequent outages, and BEFORE the marine battery array ages to the point of no longer being useful !

  6.  Then, have the whole house inverter installed, and assess the practicality of powering the farm exclusively ourselves.    The system would work by using a brief run of diesel fuel to charge the marine battery array.  (These marine batteries come from Sam's Club)   Then, the whole house inverter provides power to the entire house, including refrigeration.   Water would be pumped to a holding tank for the day either through the generator cycle itself, or primed by hand using the new hand pump.  We don't yet know if this is practical for every day.  We still cook using gas, which we bring to the site ourselves via the farm truck, in a tank.

           We do use solar for the gate opening systems here,  for one area of electric fence to protect certain types of animals for predators, and to heat a section of the kennel when needed.  In a forested farm, we cannot get enough light to implement this furthur.   We have also explored wind, but other than March here, we don't have sufficient wind for this to be a major source of power for us.

           In any event, we will let you know as we move toward being much less grid dependent versus being off the grid entirely, as we move forward. I suspect that going off grid may still be too expensive, just as we found it to be five years ago when we tried then.   It may be, that in a collapse situation, we won't have much choice.


 Please see posts which follow on the subject of implementing hand pump sources of water for those will wells at the following posts written following this one:

Friday, June 22, 2012

When Your Friends Consider Rural Seclusion


This is a Crater Lake Oregon underground home.
Stunning private Earth home on timbered acreage! 45 minutes from Medford, OR. Concrete construction built into the Earth, engineered for strength, low maintenance and energy efficiency. Beautifully updated with new appliances, floor coverings, and Jacuzzi tub with 10 jets. Large sunny garden area with plenty of covered parking and a large shop; all located on 5 timbered acres. Truly unique, perfect for green living and privacy. Asking $279,000.
For more information, contact:
Kathrine Henry
RE/MAX Ideal Brokers, Inc.

    We have lived in a secluded place now for about sixteen years. Before that,we lived in a large suburban house on about an acre, when our children were small, and when we felt we needed to be closer to hospitals and pediatricians. Our original reason for moving to an intensely rural place was to allow our children to experience many of the things we did, as children. We wanted them to be able to raise livestock, build things like tree houses, and study astronomy in a totally dark night sky except for the stars themselves.  Although we were always preparedness minded, our primary reason for ditching the suburban in favor of the rural, was family centered. We wanted them to forego being consumers, and to learn, in some respect, to be creators.   Since then, many of our friends or people with whom we either worked or with whom we attended college, have asked about moving to a rural location.  In the past year or so, many of them are actively seeking either a rural retreat, a mini-farm or an actual farm with significant acreage.
          Each of us have to consider such a move very carefully.  It can be much cheaper to live in a suburban area. Travel for groceries is easier, less time consuming and is likely to be cheaper. Travelling to work may be cheaper than living farther out. Sometimes, suburban areas may actually have some form of public transportation.  Suburbanites adapt quickly to coffee shops, electronics stores, and we become accustomed quickly to a life in which most of our needs are met within a five mile radius of where we reside.  Urban dwellers not only enjoy rapid access to often, world class hospitals, but have a lot of advantages.  My father lived in an urban area, and sold his car. He walked everywhere. He took trains to relatively local destinations, and took a taxi to a port for a cruise when needed, and he lived in a lovely area.   One needs to do a good deal of soul searching before decided on heading for the hills, because a rural location is not for everyone.  If you can get past longer commutes for work, longer distances to obtain medical care or pharmacy supplies, or to school, then you may grapple with another issue. Will there be people where I am going who can help me drill wells, build my home, or provide other services should we ever need them ?
          We chose to build our own farm, and we actually did so twice at two different locations.  However, especially now, there are many fine rural homes, farms, retreats, ranches, etc. which are for sale for reasonable prices.

           There are many realtors who actually specialize in survival or preparedness retreats, farms, or other large rural properties.  Interestingly, depending upon where you wish to reside, there really are properties in all price ranges.  Although I don't know these realtors personally, and you should always do your own background work and due diligence, this is a starting point:

In Colorado, for example:
Contact:  Jim Jacobs    719-648-2315    719-689-3139
This is just one of his listings:

      This Colorado home sits on 35 acres.  It has 2156 square feet.  This log built home has five bedrooms and four baths, and is in a private community. It has separate pastures and a barn.  There is also a guest cabin with its very own kitchen and bath.  This particular rural home with acreage, is only $199,000 US


      In rural Florida and in Tennessee, there is Freedom Realty.
      The agent is Kimberly Rocha at (931) 445-2377

       This home is on Big Piney Loop, Lot 147, in Wilder, Tennessee.   The home needs finishing, and rests on 6.96 acres for $139,900. US    It is a level lot with mountain views.  The home is concrete construction and features such as a covered deck and patio, and walk-in closets.  It has three bedrooms and a total of 1800 square feet.   It is in the Knoxville area.  Kimberly and Christopher Rocha have many other listings.



     This Yazoo, Mississippi retreat offers a great deal.

The below is the exact verbage from the broker below:
This topographically diverse 209 acres has two houses, a spring fed pond, fertile meadows (currently deer food plots), and completely wooded hills.The subject is approximately 40 miles west of the Nissan plant and less than two hours' drive to Jackson, Vicksburg and several cities in Louisiana.
There are no mortgages on the property. At the purchase price of $669,500, the owner will finance the balance after $100,000 down payment.

Served by an all weather road, behind a heavy wrought iron gate, with no structures visible, this parcel functions very well as a retreat or a primary residence. The overseer's cabin is immediately habitable. The five thousand square foot earth covered home has not been occupied in over eight years. The three car garage is still in use for storage, but due to root growth through the waterproofing, resealing and mold removal would be necessary for safe and comfortable occupancy.

E. David Cox, Broker


            Of course, I could go on.   In almost every area, there are excellent buys on rural retreats and on acreage tracts, and if this is a time in which you can consider buying in the US, you probably should explore this as a possibility. Of course, you can choose to enlist the help of a realtor who specializes in survival camps, as these advertise they do, but we always used simply a rural realtor.    Consider your area carefully and visit. You need to assess everything from jobs, business climate, to healthcare, educational opportunities, and even whether you have immediate allergies in terms of arriving in a new place.  There IS financing available in the US, although getting it can be nerve-wracking and time consuming.  There is also owner financing on occasion, as there is in the large acreage tract above.

           I bought my very first house in my twenties. It was a very small summer house which "hid" on the side of a mountain near a lake, and deserved, loving renovation. Since then, we sold and moved up every four years or so, and this provided a lot of learning about homes, our preferences, and real estate in general.  It is much less likely now, that today's new homeowners will trade up as often. It is therefore doubly important that you carefully assess your needs and pick well.  There are, however, far more opportunities and choices available than I had as a young person.

            If you haven't found your heart's desire yet, it IS out there.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Internet Hazards


     The internet is an awe inspiring thing.  On it, people are able to make contact and do business with everyone from their favorite singer or musician to discuss a medical question with a world expert on a certain condition. At it's best, it is a wonderful tool for commerce, an encouragement for those who need it, and an educational modality.  At it's worse, it has resulted in stalkings, death, cyber-bullying, and in a few families losing their children for a time, when on a bad day, they confided their feelings which were a little too dark for a social worker somewhere. It is a powerful tool which is worthy of our respect and with which we must take good care.

        Overall, my experiences with the internet are good ones.  I am pretty careful about things I write, and although I give truthful information, identifying information could be hard to get, and this allows me to enjoy a fair measure of comfort.

         Periodically though, I run a quick search on each of the members of my family using their real names.  Most of the time, accurate information from long ago pops up, although I must admit, most of it is from the home we have not lived in for sixteen years.  I ran a recent search on myself using my full and correct name this week, and I learned something interesting.  I am apparently the CEO of a preparedness company with a net worth of 25 million dollars.  This is great news, since I don't have too much saved, haven't been working fulltime in a while, and still have two more kids to get through college.Perhaps my husband doesn't need to give me grocery money.  Perhaps I shouldn't need to clip coupons, if I am the heir apparent to a preparedness company.  I apparently have a phone number and address and the information has been confirmed by 17 people at the business itself.  It's near a place where I would like to vacation, so perhaps I could just come by the store and kick everyone out overnight and stay there free. Maybe I should have a "Going Out of Business Sale" because I could use a few things.   After all, the internet says the business is mine.   The reality is that although I am active in preparedness, I own no such business and I am not even an investor in one.  Some type of directory has either snared my name from an article I have written, and married it up to one of the advertisers of preparedness supplies which may have appeared on an article I wrote somewhere, or this is an attempt at setting up a scenario for identity theft.  In either way, I am pulling a credit report.   I hope the IRS doesn't pay any attention to the internet.  I wouldn't be half this frugal if it weren't a necessity !


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Great Homes for Preparedness


       In the last few weeks I have had the pleasure, with family, to visit several homes of friends who have mindfully considered preparedness.  Without revealing exactly where they are, and who lives there, I do want to talk about what it takes to have a great home for preparedness.
               First of all, what motivates people to assemble a farm, a rural home,  a cabin, a river house, or even an underground home which considers preparedness ?     People who have homes which are mindfully organized for preparedness are very different from one another.  Some of them have always felt that they bear full responsibility for taking care of themselves and their families when natural disasters or when man-made difficulties occur.  It was part of their upbringing and part of the responsibilities of being a parent, or a husband, etc.   Others became concerned after 9-11 that they may need to take a more active role in providing food and security for their families.   Others have feared a complete societal breakdown and they plan for this. Some have religious convictions which compel them to keep food for the Biblical Tribulations, in their own homes.   Recently, people who fear a European and then a US economic breakdown caused by overspending by all of our governments have also been gathering food in preparing for an inflationary spiral.
            People who prepare are motivated by different things, different geography,  and each of us have differing family configurations, and often special needs, and so the type of preps we need be prepared differ from place to place a great deal.   My Colorado friends need to put a great deal more work into water availability issues than I do, and my Canadian friends need to do much less work in this regard, than do my husband and I, when we are home in Virginia.    A couple whose family is raised needs a different complement of foods, and amounts of stored food, than do I with lots of sons and a daughter here on the farm.  They might not need freeze dried food at all, or to allocate a special room for storage of such, whereas I do.   So, it's very important from the outset that we pay attention and are careful not to compete with one another while prepping.  We must only compete with ourselves in that we should compete with our own level of preparedness, a week or a month ago.  We should strive to be better informed, to have better plans than we did before, and to have supplies which better meet our needs.   Blindly layering supplies upon supplies that remain disorganized and that we cannot find, doesn't help us.
              In my travels this week I spent time in three different homes which could be described as being prepared.    Each home was quite different in terms of location, size, and what would be overall appraised value, but the commonalities were important here.  The important thing about each is that the inhabitants had taken the time to completely assess their needs and what types of weather, natural disasters or other issues could befall them there.  Each one of them had organized plans for these issues.    One of the homes I visited is probably best characterized as a farm of sorts.  What was most important was that the owners had been working on different aspects of this farm for thirty years.   They did not blindly throw money at perceived needs they thought they might have. They carefully considered where they should be, how much land they need, how much buffer.   They considered everything about their home, and gradually enacted their plans.  The result is a much more highly functioning home than most of us have.   What is most important in fashioning the prepared home is not how much money you have, or have access to.  What is most important is your commitment to creating the prepared home and your willingness to do research of all kinds.  You should be willing to spend some money when you can, but you should be equally as willing to fashion something you need yourself, or to seek one used.  If you have a friend who does something really well, perhaps he can aid you in something you need, and you can barter with him or with her for something you do, that is of use to them.   When it comes to preparedness, it doesn't really matter how much cash you have.   We are all vulnerable, and throwing money at something doesn't stand us in better stead. It simply leaves us without that money.
             I left the third of the homes I visited this week, with inspiration.   I have been feeling stuck in terms of preparedness, and worse, I have been feeling "all finished."     There are always organizational refinements, better planning, better landscaping, and better implementation.    Know that when you can't spend money, you can plan and you can read.  When you can't plan, you can train for something.  When you're moving, you can plan for better preparedness in a new home.    Stay positive, and continue planning.  It's the journey that's most important here, not simply the destination.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Considering the Drilling of a Supplemental Well

This is a well drilling truck   (Berg welldrilling)
This post was intended to appear prior to the last one.  For some reason, for a time, it disappeared from Blogger.

    With each passing day we hear more and more about a potential economic collapse in Europe, and how this would ultimately impact the United States, and the few decent jobs we have remaining here.  Here in the country, people are spooked.  We are also noting that a failure in the in the maintenance of the infrastructure means that we are without power here, at least weekly.   Of course, we do have back-up generators, but what happens when we are temporarily or even permanently out of diesel ?  How will we pump water from 300 plus foot wells, for which even the newest of hand pumps will not work ?  There is no municipal water out here.   There isn't yet mail delivery here !
               One of our neighbors is very concerned about this.  Our original strategy here when we built this farm was to throw our money into one really good deep well, and then work to keep that one pumping, and we do have plans for that.  I did promise though this week to them, that I would look into pricing a well or even two which could allow us to hand pump water through dug wells rather than drilled, which could make our journey with the animals in outlying areas of the farm somewhat easier. This is likely to be an expensive task.
               In Virginia,  1.4 million people continue to receive their water through privately owned wells. Wells are constructed through four methods, these are boring, drilling, jetting and digging.   Which one of these is chosen depends upon the geology of your property, and how much you can afford to spend.  Our primary well, which was expensive was obtained by hiring a licensed well driller to drill some 300 feet deep into the rock to create a path to abundant clean water, much the way someone would seek the remaining soda in a tall drink with a lot of ice in it.  Our farm necessitated a drilled well, the most expensive variety.  A large hydraulic well drilling truck arrives, and drills, and upon completion, tubes are placed in the path all the way to the water. The water comes up to the surface, through the work of a pump, and a cap on the top helps to prevent contamination.  All wells depend upon our being careful with pesticides, poisons, and animal feces etc. and keeping these away from soil so as not to have contaminants find their way into the well water supply.
             Sometimes, a bored well is possible.  Bored wells are the most common variety in our region. An earth auger is used to remove earth and a concrete casing is used to line the shaft to the water. Of course, these are also capped, but these are more vulnerable to contamination than deeper drilled wells.  A jetted well uses a high velocity stream of water in order to expose a location with water.  This of course, requires some type of a pump forcing the water to jet in this way.  This can be useful for certain soils, but is almost never done here.    A dug well is what was done here when the area was first settled.  In our area, improperly dug wells which were not sealed correctly were a cause of child deaths from shigella as a groundwater contaminant.   Our home in Canada has a drilled well which is more than safe and appropriate for the region.      Remember that what you may do in your state or in your nation may be very different from what is done here, because we all have differing geology and also because our climates and soil elements make contamination by different elements an issue.  For this reason, the prices of wells differ very broadly from place to place.

This is a dug well which us being lined in accordance with local laws.                 ( Photo: )

          Interestingly, the law here allows individuals to drill their own wells which is what the Mennonite and Amish population do.   This is not something my electrical engineer husband and myself know how to do, and so, we will likely need to hire a professional.   Of course, I would rather hire a Mennonite for less money !   When one hires someone to drill a well, you should check his license with the state, his reputation with your neighbors, and try to ascertain that if you have a well emergency, that he and his company will be available to repair your issue.  The references I am using to create this post also say that we should have a written Contract, but I have built several homes, and used a well contractor several times, and I never did.  I suppose I counted on the recommendation of my builder and the reputation of the well driller, and fortunately, these went well.

When a new well is installed, it is usually bleached to kill any of the contaminants which entered during the drilling process. This chlorine diminishes completely when the chlorine is allowed to complete its job, and then the chlorinated water is flushed out before actual use.
          Anytime you have a well drilled, the water needs to be tested for contamination afterward at a lab.

Please also see our companion post:

Extra well information:

UPDATE:   From July, 2012   On how we chose to operate our well during protracted power outages:

On Various and Sundry Wells and Pumps

Pretty in a bucolic sort of way, isn't it ?  Choosing the right system for your needs isn't so pretty.  It takes gathering information on your own well, and on the available choices, coupled with deciding how much you really can spend.

                           Some of us are located in places where municipal water authorities provide our water needs. Many of us however, particularly those of us in rural areas, are not.   In most rural areas, there is either a personal family well, or in many countries, there is a village or shared well.  In my state, 1.4 million people depend upon a personal or family well for all of their water supply.
                           There are four main ways to create a water well.  Drilling through rock and soil is one way.  Boring through soil is another.  Jetting is another method, in which a jet of water is used, much like a high velocity power cleaner, to create a hole down to the groundwater.This works sometimes in sandy soils.  Digging is another mode in which people actually dig down to the water line underground.   Of course, what method is chosen depends upon where you are, and how deep your water table might be.
                          On this farm, wells were originally dug by hand.  The men from the church would go out to farms when people needed a new well, and they would dig until they reached water. These were generally broader wells than we would construct today, and they would create a barrier around them so no one would fall in.  When a drought would occur, then that well would need to be abandoned, and a new one dug elsewhere.   This meant that when we bought this farm, there were several old wells that we had to have filled in by professionals with heavy equipment.  Some of them were hidden in forested areas where a home or cabin no longer existed.   Today, we have a deep drilled well which is less impacted by drought, but depends upon electricity in order to pump water from as deep as 300 feet.   Jetting wouldn't work to locate the water table here because the subsurface soil is too rocky.   A bored well is generally more shallow than the well we have, and would be less reliable during droughts.  Drilling is really our only option here.  Interestingly, Virginia Law allows us to dig or drill our own wells, but few of us do, choosing instead to hire the experts.   Mennonite and Amish families here will often create their own wells, and I am told, do so quite well.  This week I was wishing that I had more Mennonite friends who could help me with my task.
                          Although our well is deep and has been reliable, we can only pump water from it using electricity.  When the power is out for extended periods, we use a diesel generator to pump what we need for the day before turning the generator off.   It would be a real blessing to have a hand pump system which would permit us to hand pump some water when it may not be viable or intelligent to stoke up the generator, or to use diesel fuel.   The deeper the well, the less easy it is, and the less likely it is that a hand pump will work to pump appreciable amounts of water.  In addition, we worry a little bit that a hand pump system, added to the existing well might age more readily or even be damaged in the course of installation of a hand pump.
                      So, we are researching the viability of having a secondary well installed for the purpose of placing a hand pump for emergencies.  There is a lot to consider.  When one has a large and deep well, a secondary well could impact its available water.  It could be quite an expense for very little gain.   In addition, wells cannot go near cemeteries, animal care areas, septic tank drainfields etc.    We want to find a private, yet accessible place for one.
                    Once we solve the issue of what we need, these are some of the choices for the hand pump above.

   These are some of our choices:       This is Flojak

This is assembly prior to installation:

We really like the concept of the Flojak but for our region felt that the protection bonnet afforded too little protection to our well should our hand pump be employed for a long period of time.  We also thought that PVC above ground would not be strong enough for our farm.

    This is "The Simple Pump".    It is more expensive than the Flojak, but we liked that it could not only go into our regular well, but that it has a steel cap which would protect our well from bugs and other things. It also can function on much deeper wells than many of the other varieties.  One can also purchase an additional kit whereby one can make it operate on 12 volt power, and there is another module whereby it can be made to operate on solar power.


    First installation video   Very simple installation, but multiple videos. The rest are on You-tube.


The Bison Pump is a Maine based company.  Their product should work for a well as deep as 200 feet.


       I like especially the spigot end which holds a bucket, and I think it looks like a sculpture.  Many people have installed these inside their homesteads.   I of course, am stymied by the fact that I have a deeper well than they should be used in.
         These are the links to the Bison videos.  They also have a quick disconnect feature:

As if all these choices didn't confuse me enough, our well driller and well maintenance people furthur "muddied the waters" when they told me of a local gentleman who is a bit of a renaissance man who has a manual well pump attached to his well that they drilled for him..   So now, I not only can't order anything, I have to find a way to contact a neighbor behind a fortified gate and ask him what we bought and where.

       The business of preparation never ends.

Update:   I am meeting on Saturday with the gentleman who has the hand pump.  He is more than happy show it to us, so that we may also order the right thing for us.   Coincidentally, he has also had some of the same issues with lightning damage than we have had.

 Please see also, our companion post:

For more information:

UPDATE:          July, 2012 

Please also consider

 Brumby Pump

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Farm Hazards- Spiders

(Picture of golden orb spider by: )

         Most homes have hazards, and rural homes are no exception.  Farms often have a great many hazards, but people who live on them learn very quickly how to use risk management principles in order to mitigate risks, and to stay safe, while still completing the tasks which are necessary.    We are cognizant that each year, in our rural county, people die in farm related occurrances.   A couple of years ago, an older gentleman who had farmed his land all of his life hit a bump in his heavy tractor and it rolled over on him.  His wife saw the accident and called the medical helicopter to help.  It took neighbors with tractors to remove the tractor which was pinning him.  Unfortunately, he did not survive.  More and more people from our area have been afflicted with Lyme Disease and this has caused not only joint problems but permanent cardiac damage to many of them.  Snake bites, and varietal insect bites also cause their share of problems here. This week it was our turn.  We have too many foxes this year and the numerous bunnies we normally see are all but gone.  It was a matter of time before foxes began to take our best chickens or our ducks.   My eldest son was working in a forested area of the farm when a larger male fox accosted him, and barked at him, as if to tell him to go away.  This is a problem because foxes will occasionally attack human beings, and in an area such as ours, where rabies is endemic, a warning from a fox in broad daylight is a real hazard.   Later, our son saw the same fox stalking one of the chicken cages. We weren't all that concerned, believing that our cages were fox-proof. A couple of nights later, the fox breached the cage for some of our best hens and rooster, killing and taking one of the best hens with him.  Her sisters sat together in terror inside their boxes and their rooster looked for her in bewilderment.  We fortified all our cages.
                Most of the time here, we are armed with either a shotgun or a handgun.  My son was in a nearby area of the farm taking care of ducks, when once again, he was menaced by what he believes to be the same fox.  As it walked toward him from a distance, in an attack posture, he pulled his gun, removed the safety, and fired.  The fox recoiled when the shot hit his chest, and then the fox jumped away.  "I missed", thought my son. The blood spatter he found seemed to indicate he hadn't, though no body had been found.  We usually pour a bottle of bleach over an aggressive animal in the event they have rabies, and then we bury them.  This one could not be found. We wonder if he had a den in the densely wooded periphery where he went to die.  We don't like killing animals, and we try not to do this often, but sometimes it cannot be helped.  Not even two weeks later, the bunnies have rebounded.  Our own animals seem much more relaxed.
            This little interaction was not without cost to our son though. While walking through the forest looking for the body of the fox, in order to sanitize and bury it, he walked through a large spider web he did not initially see.  He was stung by something on his right cheek, just below his eye.  He at first thought, it was a hornet sting, but then as he pulled the torn web off his face, an orb spider escaped.   Our son headed back to the house to take a look at his face, and to put some baking soda on the wound.  We have epinephrine for injection here, but since there was no difficulty breathing, I declined to give it.  I have him Diphenhydramine 25 mg. (Benadryl, in the US and Canada) until it became clear that it was swelling, and then I gave an addition 25 mg.   I also have topical Benadryl, but so near the eye, I used an icepack instead.


                Normally, an orb spider doesn't create such a severe local reaction, but our son is beesting allergic and apparently sensitive to this type of venom.    Despite the Benadryl about every six hours by mouth, his eye was swollen shut by that evening.   We e-mailed his physician who was out of town, but who told us we were doing everything he would be.   That night when our son was uncomfortable enough not to sleep, we made the long trek into the emergency room.     In the interest of a shorter waiting time, we went to a hospital we don't normally visit.   The former military older doctor wasn't impressed, and wondered why we made the trip at midnight.   He was more worried about a tetanus shot being up to date than he was anything else, and he also dispensed a prescription for a powerful antibiotic, and a narcotic, but not for the short burst of steroid for which I had hoped.   We filled but did not use those meds, sticking to our son's regular physicians plan to continue Benadryl every six hours, and use cool soaks.    It took several days for the bite to be nearly resolved. More than a week later, there is still a slightly reddened area in a late stage of resolution.

( Another good spider listing.  This one from   )

              Here on the farm we know we have black widows, brown recluse spiders, orb weaving spiders, wolf spiders, and likely others which have not yet been identified by us.   One year, our "Jack Russell Terrorist" dog was bitten by a black widow on the tail, and it was swollen so much that it looked broken. She recovered fully.   I was also made quite sick, some years ago by a brown recluse spider bite on the back of my left leg, which occurred while in the minivan, when parked near the woodpile.  I developed a hemolytic anemia, but at first did not equate it with the spider bite, which was quite mild, at first.
            Take a moment to list what types of spiders are a hazard where you are, and what you might need to treat their bites. Remember that even a low risk bite can be hazardous, if the person bitten is sensitive to that particular venom, as was the case with our son and the Orb spider venom.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Considering Basements

It isn't always an option depending upon the area, the water table, or even your finances, but a basement of almost any kind is of incredible benefit.   In the course of doing this blog I have collected many pictures of many things, and I noticed that my collection of basement interiors shows a lot of different types of basements. Some basements were built with high ceilings and with the intention of perhaps completing them as living space someday. Some have windows. When a basement is properly finished as living space, it often is a way of obtaining extra square footage , which can be cheaper than adding an addition later.
        It is particularly important that a basement be dry enough to prevent mold growth, to prevent damage to mechanical house systems which are stored there, and to allow the storage of food, furniture, and sometimes even off season clothing.   When we built our last two homes, we selected the location on the acreage to permit a basement, and then we paid particular attention to its height and its design so that it would be very dry.   Sometimes, if you have a basement in a house already, B-Dry or a similar company can make changes to the exterior foundation and to the drainage from the house which can make a damp basement much dryer.  This makes storage there, or completion much more possible.

This is an example of a low ceilinged basement which was never intended to be finished as anythng other than storage. It allows access to essential systems, the potential use of a freezer and bookcases for emergency food.

The other side of this basement is heated in winter, and could be used as a hobby room or a place for a game room.  I could imagine a pool table or table tennis table here too.

This basement also has lower ceilings, and support poles.  Some basements are built so that support poles are unnecessary.  (They were built using walls in the basement as supports.) Many basements do have poles.

This is a basement that was finished as an informal Family Room and with couches that can pull out when guests come to stay.  If this is your intent, make sure you build your basement with sufficient courses of block to complete the ceiling without its being too low, and that you give some thought to the location of support poles, and where mechanical items such a tanks from the well, electrical boxes, furnaces, plumbing,  and security system control boxes, when planning your project.

This smart homeowner picked a cool section of the basement, installed lighting, and then placed lots of different sizes and heights of shelving which is well secured.  To the left there are shelves built to help in the chore of can rotation, as they can be loaded from the back, and cans taken from the front.   Todays nailguns can complete a task such as this, after planning, very very quickly.

Some basements are truly below ground, and are hidden, but most are below ground perhaps in the front of the house, and the rear has a portion above ground to accomodate windows.  The house above has an entire house below ground which could be used during tornado warnings or some other emergencies.

This is very similar to one corner of my own house when it was first built. The basement walls in this house are made of concrete and were installed by Superior Walls.   Superior Walls create a very solid secure system for tornadoes and for earthquakes, but do require some special tools, strategy and care when the basement is finished.
              If you are building a home, I urge you to look into the possibility of adding a basement.  Even a small one makes your home safer, more liveable, more spacious, and provides a place to hide during certain emergencies.  However, places with high water tables may not permit basements or they may be wetter than would be constructive.  Basements also may enhance a radon problem, although this can generally fairly easily be solved using todays technologies.  If you are buying a home, then consider one with a basement. The storage alone can be very valuable.

Basements fashioned to be a workshop can not only be valuable in terms of having a place to store and protect tools, but from a standpoint of winter repairs.  A basement need not be huge to be utilitarian.


Utilitarian basements can be useful also from the standpoint of providing locations for battery banks, solar modifications and other technologies which can help to make your home more efficient in future.


Another picture of a high tech, organized basement.

Plenty of storage in this  basement.