The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Projects for TEOTWAWKI Life

A homestead is never without a long list of projects. There are the ones that are in progress, the ones waiting their turn on the list, and the ones that fit better in the distant dream category. Nevertheless, if you homestead, or plan to homestead, don't be discouraged that the list never gets completed, because if it did, you wouldn't have anything to do, and you'd be bored. Boredom is not something that occurs here very often unless we're expending our energy avoiding the things on the list that need to be done.



The installation of this lattice work has been planned for years.
We think it turned out great! I see green beans growing the length of the house next summer.

 
 

A friend of mine recently told me that she just couldn't keep up with us and all of the things we're doing. There are a lot of projects that are in progress right now, and when Frank and I stand back and take stock, sometimes it seems like a bit of a whirlwind. One thing that has allowed a lot of this to occur is being able to hire a man like Henry. With his help, Frank has accomplished a great deal in the past few months. The conditions of the world are the major driving force behind the pace of our work and the kinds of projects we are completing. The focus of our work is survival, plain and simple. The things we are doing will make the work required to live easier, we hope, so keep that in mind as you read here. All of our planning, work and goals are with an eye to survival.


Most of the projects we are currently working on have been on the drawing board for quite some time, and in some cases, as long as seven years. Over that time frame we have acquired supplies as our budget would allow. Now we are investing in the remainder of the needed supplies and the labor to accomplish some tasks. These investments will pay huge dividends for the rest of our lives.


Yesterday while I was attending a meeting, Frank and Henry built new steps with a handrail for the front and back door. They are simple, strong, sturdy and wonderful. You see, I like simple, I prefer simple. Anything else just wouldn't do. We will find another place to use these concrete steps.


Today we planned some odds and ends. While it was cloudy and a cool 68* outside, the greenhouse stayed cool as well. Table tops were cut and barrels were arranged in a workable layout. Don't they look great? I can't wait to bring the tubs of plants and seeds in. 


It's hard to see from the angle of the first picture, but when I take a picture from up here, you can also see the shelves they put along the outside walls. They will show up much better once they are filled with plants.

We had some great comments on the last article about the greenhouse. Several folks mentioned using fans to help with the temperatures. Frank had a fan to use in the building that will house the solar panels and batteries that we hadn't installed yet. He pulled it out and mounted in over one of the vents in the greenhouse. 

 











He had already put a power pole connector on the wire to the fan, and had an transformer that would work. After mounting the fan over the vent and plugging it in, we were in business. After about 20 minutes the temperature had started to drop.

 










After an hour or so, the temperature had obviously been affected by the fan. Great! One step closer to putting the tubs of seedlings in the greenhouse.



Frank and Henry also utilized all of the sheets of plywood, along with some 1/2" plywood to cut ten 24" squares, to put under each water barrel as a barrier from the concrete.


Now we need to rinse out each barrel, place them in their permanent home on a square of plywood, fill them with water and treat them with bleach. Then we will be able to start bringing the seedling tubs and other plants in. That will be a red letter day!

While the men were working on the greenhouse, I was cleaning out the 'weaning pen' in the barn. Lady Bug, one of the does we are milking, is still letting her five month old doe, Easter, nurse. I was hoping she would go ahead and wean her, but stay in milk for our use. As I was milking her this morning, and getting very little, I began to wonder if she could be weaning Easter and drying up. This would defeat our purpose of keeping her in milk through at least mid January when One Stripe, Copper and Cricket are due to kid. After this thought hit me I knew I needed to start penning Easter up again at night so I can not only have more milk, but keep Lady Bug producing more, and hopefully longer. Thus, I needed to clean out the pen and get it set up for this evening for Easter. We'll see how Lady Bug's milk supply is in the morning. I've got my fingers crossed.


We still have some chickens that need to be put in the freezer, so after I finished cleaning the pen, I went down to the house to set up the butchering station. Very soon, this part of the task won't be necessary. Frank, Henry and the tractor were wrestling with the stump in the outdoor kitchen area when I got back down to the house. Men and machine won out over the stump, although it did give them a run for their money. Now, in it's place is a nice gravel chip pad and the beginnings of forms for concrete. When we butcher the chickens that grow from the eggs that are currently in the incubator, we may have this kitchen set up so we can dress the chickens here. I didn't get any pictures of this process because I was butchering chickens down here at the end of the porch, but I was close by and got to watch.
 
My chicken butchering set up, washed and drying for next time.

You may wonder why we are building an outdoor kitchen. It's not for fun, or looks, or to show my friends. I truly believe that it is something we will need to have in the coming years. It gets hot in Oklahoma in the summer time, and the propane tank that fuels our kitchen stove will run out one day if the trucks quit running. I need a place to cook, process the garden produce and meat from our animals, can food, wash clothes and provide for my husband. This will be where that happens. As we get everything set up and functional, we'll give you another tour and more explanations. This project is still in the planning stages and has already undergone a number of changes. It will be interesting to see it all come together in a final product. Most of the things installed in this kitchen have been here for a while, some longer than others. A few things will need to be acquired for it's completion.


Before the wrestling match with the stump commenced, the clothesline poles sprouted wings. We will let the posts continue to cure in the ground for a few more days before we hang the clothesline. I am really looking forward to hanging our clothes out on the line again. As you can see, the clothesline is close to the kitchen which will be very handy. 


After Frank and the tractor won the stump contest, he also ran the disc through the garden again. There are several places that the grass has really grown tall and it's good he is working it and getting it ready for winter. We will soon be adding barnyard and wood ashes to rebuild what was lost in the early spring torrential rains that took much of our topsoil.
 
We still haven't decided where to put the outhouse......

What projects do you have in mind for TEOTWAWKI? In the seven years we have lived on this homestead our purchasing has been with an eye to a future that will probably not resemble life as we know it now. Frank has seen the demise of our country and world coming for a long time. That is why we have purchased many supplies that have been waiting in the wings for quite a while. Now is the time for us to prepare these things, for soon the time of preparation will be past. Even if you are unable to complete a needed or wanted project now, obtain as many supplies as you are able. There will be a time when what you have is what you have, and that's it. Think about that. What you have is what you have. No more stores or driving to town to get something. If you don't have it, you can't get it. What is it that you really need for TEOTWAWKI? Think hard, talk it over with your family. Make a list and acquire what you are able. Now. The time is now.

Until next time - Fern

22 comments:

  1. Reread your post several times....lots of information. So look forward to your blog. Have learned so much and seems good to have another person preparing who sees the time is close as I do. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Janet. I'm glad you find something useful here. We all need to keep preparing and not get complacent with the waiting.

      Fern

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  2. Great post! What you have is what you have-- has been my way of thinking for some time now. Sorted our winter clothing, to see what is needed, Looks like winter boots( 2 pairs ) for sure. The post you did on books got me to thinking, so I order some that you suggested, got one like new for 13 cents plus 3.99 postage. We have learned so much from your blog. Thank you both.
    Ann

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    1. Hi, Ann. One thing about the seasons is that they seem to keep on coming. Now is the time to prepare for winter in more ways than one. Thank you for reading, I'm glad you enjoy it.

      Frank

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    2. To save a LOT of money, wait until late winter/early spring to stock up on winter boots and other clothing...you can save 50-75%, or even more on closeouts. Now is the time to stock up on summer clothing and gear, just before they put out the winter stuff. Have been doing this for years and it really saves a LOT of money. And you have it well before you need it, instead of waiting until the moment you need it. That way, you can shop around and wait for a great sale, perhaps with a coupon - rather than paying full price.
      PlantLady

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    3. We buy most things on sale, PlantLady. It is one more way to stretch that shrinking dollar a little farther. Thank you for sharing.

      Fern

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  3. I'm not quite the dynamo you guys are, but I've managed to get a fair amount done this summer.

    We did a lot of tree trimming, cleaning out dead trees, limbs and branches. I made a good-sized woodpile from all the trimmings in case I have to cook outdoors. Even did the splitting myself, by hand, with a sledge and a wedge.

    Took 3 cuttings of hay off the fields.

    Tended a fair sized garden.

    Practiced canning.

    Washed and sealed the back deck.

    Spending time getting myself into better shape - walking, hiking, and noting where all the nut trees are along the way.

    That's about it.

    Just Me


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    1. Hi, Just Me. Sounds as though you have had a very active summer. Many of us are busy, just in different ways. We are trying to wrap up some loose ends that have been on the planning stage for quite some time. Thank you for sharing.

      Frank

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  4. Hello and good morning. I love your posts and am so thankful you are willing to share your life here on the blog. So, today's post brought a question to mind. It has to do with your new and improved steps into your house. Do you have a plan in case you need a ramp to access your house? I ask because one of things I am grateful for in my current housing is that it is directly accessible with no steps into the house. A few years ago, I almost severed my Achilles' tendon in one foot. Five years later, it is still problematic if I carry any kind of weight up or down stairs. I am very glad my current residence has no stairs at all. Just wanted to ask the question because it came to mind. SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

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    1. Hi, SJ, yes we have considered a ramp. We recently had a close relative that needed a ramp. It was a sharp learning experience. I also have an ankle issue. For me walking up a ramp than steps. For wheeled mobility it would be a necessity, but yes, we do have plans for a ramp. Thank you for reading and sharing.

      Frank

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  5. We are so far behind with the delays getting the farm. However we Have the farm now and the base plans we made over the 'searching years' can now be implemented. Some plans are still waiting for outside help, wiring to the big barn that won' cause it to burn down is one of those plans. I have made marinara sauce from the tomatoes we hauled from Virginia and hot sauce is on the Monday to do list. It is amazing to watch all your plans come together. People who move to the country often have no idea what is involved!

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    1. Fiona, some days our former condominium looks awfully inviting. Just imagine, somebody else mows the grass, removes the snow, I can only imagine that type of world now. I would not trade our lives for anything except what we have. But I am sure looking forward to cooler weather. Your joy must be unimaginable, we wish you the best.

      Frank

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  6. Hello,
    A good post and your greenhouse looks good too . We also buy materials for upcoming projects even though the project may be months away . There is no such thing as scrap wood , scrap pipes, scrap rope , scrap anything ,waste not want not .
    Our focus right now is canning and drying garden vegetables and securing firewood for the winter . We burn 3 cords a winter and prefer to have 5-6 cords bucked, split and stacked .
    The storm clouds are increasing all about us in this country and we are trying to prepare as if there were a reduction or loss of electricity . Lots of hand tools , 4 1/2 ' crosscut saw , extra garden tools , extra cooking and canning supplies ,extra everything , the list goes on . We have been accumulating various books on homesteading over the years because we cannot know everything and we need a go to reference library .
    We continue to try and open folks eyes and minds to the upcoming problems our world is facing but that is challenging to do and not look like some kind of paranoid kook . We pray for the Lord's direction in all we do , may his will be done .
    Thanks for sharing on your blog .
    Bluesman

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    1. Bluesman, very well put. We have been stocking up quite vigorously on canning lids. I'm aware there is a reusable canning lid and we have some and we use them. But every time I'm in the big box store, I try to pick up a case of canning lids. At this time there is no substitute.

      Earlier we experimented with using canning lids two or three times. It is not recommended and the practice is discouraged, but they will work more than once if not damaged during removal. A recommended practice? No. Is starving a recommended practice? No.

      Good comment. Thank you.

      Frank

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  7. Now I know this is going to sound odd but we've been collecting large cardboard boxes - the size washer/dryers come in. We will scalp the grass between the citrus trees, lay down cardboard, wet it and cover it with grass clippings - then in about 6 weeks, the prime time to plant here, I will have a lot more viable planting area outside. Trying hard to grow the last few veggies we buy from the store.

    Also have increased our food purchasing of those things we don't grow - oatmeal, coffee, tea, etc. Our plan now is one in use and 2 back. Every time we buy those items it will be in 2s. That way we should be able to have 6 months of food on hand at any time after Oct 15th, when our buying plan goes into effect.

    Other than that it's shifting furniture around and selling off what we don't need, reorganizing the garage - all the tools, screws, nuts, bolts, etc. We only have a garage for storage - no attic, no basement and no out buildings allowed. We make do by having lots of storage containers, always on the lookout for more, and having them very clearly labeled.

    Looking forward to seeing your greenhouse filled with plants.

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    1. Hi Bellen, sounds like a good plan. Any plan is better than no plan, but yours sounds doable, logical and you have a focus to the future. We all have to deal with what we have. Cardboard sounds like a great idea to me. Let us know how it works out. Best wishes.

      Frank

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  8. I will soon be ordering fresh seeds for my garden next year. I also need a few dozen more canning jars, and several dozen boxes of lids. I do use tattler lids, but only for water bath canning. I also plan to get my husband and I several pairs of jeans and socks for future use. I always feel a bit behind in my preparations, but we are slowly becoming more self-reliant.

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    1. Hi, Vickie. Good solid plans. We also have a stock of jars, lids and jeans.

      In relation to seeds, if you have the ability, order your seeds for next year and then for the year after that. Try to keep an extra year of seeds around if you can. Store your extra years seeds in a cool, dry place. They'll be good the following year, then each year, replace them. If you have a disaster, you have a full extra compliment of seeds. Food for thought.

      Frank

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  9. In your awesome new greenhouse, have you thought about perhaps putting the barrels up on a short, super sturdy platform and installing spigots near the bottom of the barrels to make it easy to drain the barrels for use or to rotate in fresher water? Then you could use the space under the platform to store potting soil, flats and pots, tools, etc.?
    Trying to figure out a way to use foil-backed sheet foam insulation, just sitting loose, between the barrels and glazing to prevent the sun from heating up the water in summer. Then having brackets or a slot system on the rafters so you could easily move the insulation sheets to the inner roof of the greenhouse at dusk during cold weather nights, trapping the heat gained during the daytime.
    PlantLady

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    1. PlantLady, in relationship to the rafters, we have considered this type of idea for summertime use.

      Our water in the barrels is primarily for thermal mass. If the water ever needs to be extracted, it will be done with a siphon hose. We also have a hand pump for that purpose, but as long as we have chlorine bleach, we will add 5 teaspoons per 50 gallon drum when necessary. Thank you for sharing, and please share again.

      Frank

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  10. Chris M. in WashingtonOctober 1, 2015 at 8:02 AM

    We've ramped up preparations a bit, too. I've been storing some construction materials, mainly stock lumber and fasteners (nails, screws, bolts) that will meet the needs of several projects I have in mind. We're in zone 5, so a greenhouse is definitely on the list.

    We had a great garden this year, but the amount of work involved in canning and freezing our produce was unanticipated. Seems like every other activity got in the way. My wife and I made a commitment to pre-plan canning season next summer and fall and simply turn away other activities and commitments. We absolutely have to maximize what we can learn now for use in the future.

    Yesterday was a full day - we canned 40 gallons of apple juice. Bought an 800lb bin of seconds for $80 and only a few were unusable. Today it's apple sauce and we start dehydrating an additional 20-30 lbs. The rest will be frozen in wedges for pies. An older gentleman in our church has taken us under his wing and has been teaching us where to get supplies and how to prepare them from long term storage (we processed the apples at his mountain top house). He's recently mentioned I should be buying a couple of fuel tanks for our property and I am looking into that now.

    The first of a small group of friends has contacted us from a very packed in city in TX and wants to come visit and talk about setting up camp here if things go south. Our move out here was "noticed" by our circle of friends, and a couple who looked at us funny months ago are now asking questions. They can feel something coming, but just can't get a grip on the potential enormity of it.

    Love your blog - keep it up!

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    1. We know exactly what you mean about gardening and preserving the harvest vying for attention among many other projects. One wins and the other loses. We haven't canned near as much produce from the garden this year as we planned.

      It is encouraging to hear that your friends are asking questions and trying to make plans. I don't see how people can keep from it. The wind is full of warning and it blows across all of us.

      We're glad you have found something useful here. Best of luck in your preparations and sharing with others.

      Fern

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