Saturday, December 20, 2014

Quick Saturday Update

A reader asked me the other day why I didn't place a sheet of foam insulation on top of the hives. A very valid question and one I have thought about doing about everyday honestly. The reason I never go ahead and put a piece on the top is because the hives in Winter actually have Winter inner covers on them like the one pictured above.

It's basically an extra deep inner cover that I fill with dry sugar and later will add in some pollen I collected. This is emergency food for those hives that may run out of honey before Spring hits. It sometimes works and sometimes doesn't as I have seen some hives that would rather starve than eat dry sugar or if it is an especially long cold spell the bees may not be able to break the ball long enough to collect more food.

It is not uncommon to see a hive die out with plenty of honey right above or below them but unable to get to it. The sugar also acts like a drying agent and collects the moisture from condensation up into it as well.

Anyway I figure the inner cover, sugar and outter cover combination insulates pretty good all together so I usually just skip the top sheet of foam. Still I always wonder if a bit of overkill isn't preferable to not enough and sometimes think I should put a piece up there just because....

Decisions, decisions...

Taking a quick lunch break from hanging insulation today so this is just a  quick post while in for lunch. Looks like another side project is going to keep me from other prepping orientated things today. Oh well family comes first.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sustainable Armory - Casting Bullets a Winter Project

Somewhere in between cutting, hauling, splitting, stacking wood, all my other daily chores and now insulating my Mom's new mini-cabin/retirement home. Oh and working about 20 hours a week give or take. Now that it is finally almost, really Winter...

Which ya know Winter may not officially start until December 21st but I consider anything after the middle of October the Winter season. To me this should be almost Mid-Winter. Whatever you want to call it December and January are about the least hectic months of the entire year for me. Too cold and wet to do much outside except on those rare days. Dark by like 4:30 in the afternoon and I am usually quite broke from Christmas over spending anyway.

So this year I intend to get back into reloading some of my horded brass again. It's a Winter tradition for me to pump out about a thousand rounds of two random calibers I shoot each year. Last year I didn't get very far because it was so damned cold I couldn't get out into the shop enough but this year so far it has been fine. Perfect smelting and casting temperatures if you ask me.

This year's project is to cast and load up one thousand 152gr. .38/.357 rounds and also a thousand 5.56 rounds. I don't cast the 5.56 bullets though.

The first step is to cast the 1100 or so .38 bullets. After casting them I will then let them sit for a couple of weeks and cure/harden as much as possible. The cold temps out in the shop will actually increase their hardness level a good bit before I finish em and start pressing out rounds next month. I will try and do about 50 to 100 a night between the 10th and Christmas then switch to the 5.56 reloads.

Here's my little set up. I should invest in a six or higher cavity mold but so far the two cavity one seems to keep me going it just takes a bit more time. I buy some lead mail order and mix in wheel weights then use a mixture of beeswax and saw dust to flux out the impurities. It yields out a good high teens hardness which is just about perfect for slower pistol rounds in my opinion. Because my set up is pretty small it was cheap to get into and start casting but as I said not the most efficient time v. labor wise. It works for me though.

The candle is for smoking the mold to give a nice soot coating in the cavity area which allows the cast bullets to release easily. I find it's the quickest and cleanest way rather than using other release agents. It also allows the mold to be a little pre-heated before pouring the molten lead mixture directly into it which is somewhat important on these cold Winter nights.

The casting, mixing the lead and fluxing is just the first step however. After the bullets harden a good amount of time I will then lube em using an allox and beeswax mixture I concocted, heat em in the oven a little and then run them through my sizing die all before starting to press em into the cases I have primed and ready.

The .38/.357 round is my selected meat hunting and survival round in a post collapse situation. Not necessarily for defense but it will stop a deer easily and the straight walled cases stand up to many more reloading sessions than the tapered rifle rounds. I also have a single shot handi-rifle in .357 as well. Add all this to the ability to cast my own bullets for this caliber and a few thousand (at least) rounds laid up (plus powder and primers) I could be shooting .38/.357 for literally decades before needing new supplies restocked.

Of course the close in woodland area I live in with smaller fields means much shorter ranges so the slower, flatter pistol rounds work well for hunting. I wouldn't want to have to use this set up out in Kansas or Nebraska that's for sure.

So that's the first step. I will post up the next couple of steps as I go. Gotta work a 12 hour shift tomorrow so that's why I am posting this tonight.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

Free Stuff... Snow (it was also free)

Got our first measurable snowfall last night and this morning. A nice wet blanket of the stuff but I don't think it's going to stay around long. You can clearly see why I started putting upper entrances on all my hives now though. The snow was so wet it piled up and closed off all the bottom entrances. The hive on the right with the green bottom board actually has a small one bee sized entrance hidden under the top cover. On the small hives I use the Winter inner covers that are deep and have vent holes in them that are protected by the top.

I am not 100% positive the bees actually seal the hive up to where they are air tight but I know they try to. It doesn't take long before the entire inside of the hive will be covered in propolis and stuck together. The ones with removable bottom drawers I am sure are not air tight but I am not taking any chances so I make sure each hive has an escape hatch for heavy snow storms such of this one.

It also saves me from having to go brush the bottom entrances off after it snows too.

I was contacted by a lady who's husband died a few months ago and had left several trees down along her yard she wanted removed. Her son's don't live nearby and she asked if I wanted the wood. Sure!!! I went over to take a look this morning and she was out in her back yard shooting a little .380 of some kind. Apparently since her husband passed on her house and outbuildings have been getting raided and stuff stolen so she has armed herself and was practicing. Good for Her!!!

I gladly offered to get the half cut up trees out of her yard and noticed the power company had left several telephone poles laying on her property as well so I asked if I could cut em up and take em as well. She was over joyed I was willing to do that. I want them for gate posts and corner posts that will save me some serious money and/or time over buying or cutting them myself.

Then she asked me if I needed any nails or screws. I'm like "Mam I have a barn the size of a football field that was built 100 years ago I can use all the nails or screws you want to get rid of". Boy did she want to get rid of some!!!

All those boxes are filled with screws of all different sizes and flavors. Nails beyond count, washers, bolts, I couldn't even tell you how many. All together these boxes took up over a quarter of my truck bed. I would say there is easily a couple hundred bucks worth of screws, nails and fasteners there. She also gave me a heavy duty come-along jack, one of those big ones that take two hands to carry around.

This is going to save me some serious money over the next few years. I spend a lot on screws and nails around here not to mention those three containers at the top are filled to the brim with the galvanized nails I use for my bee hive construction. I will never have to buy nails for that again I'd wager and they were running almost 10 bucks a box last time I bought some. I'd bet there's 100 bucks or more in nails right in those three plastic tubs.

The downside is now I have to go thru it all and organize it. Ya I know such hardship :)

I get to officially enter the Freestuff Army with Jamby and Swampdog now.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

At Least Someone is Happy about Our New Relations with Cuba

I guess it's good to have goals in life....

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

90% of Prepping is Boring Chores

Today kinda made up for yesterday. No my old monitor didn't suddenly start working again but everything else came together quite nicely if I may say so even though it started out possibly being really bad.

You see my first chore of the day was to take back an item I purchased while Christmas shopping Monday night. I hate taking items back to stores but something was wrong with it and I couldn't figure it out. Turns out either the screw was stripped out on it or just not big enough but they actually let me exchange the item and I only had to waste a gallon of gas and an hour of my time.

Believe me I was expecting worse.

Once I got back home I really got things accomplished. I cut down some more weed trees from the area I had let the sheep eat down this Summer. That bit of ground is now ready to be plowed and tilled for the new Squash and Pumpkin patch next Spring. I dug about 20 foot of trench in front of the barn through layers of gravel with my trusty shovel and pickaxe.

After 100 years or more of people dumping gravel in front of the barn what has happened is the drive in front of the door is now about a foot higher than the barn floor. When it rains heavily all that water has been rushing into the barn so I routinely have to dig out a trench to re-direct the run off. What I need to do is hire another bobcat and have the whole drive scrapped down with new gravel put in but for now I need that cash for other things so I dig a trench every year.

After that it was crawling under the porch to rescue the most stupidest dog that was ever born. The wife named the dog Trixie but I call her brain stem. Why? Because that was all she was born with. She is an old rescue dog that's about 15 years old now and seriously senile. You cannot let her roam free or she will end up three counties away with no clue how she got there. She also always finds her way under the porch with her tie out wrapped around a support beam about 100 times.

After I rescued her and got her back inside I boarded up her access point.

Then I had to unload about 500 pounds of laminate flooring from my Mother's truck. She is seriously crazy if she thinks I am installing all that. Cleaned out the wood furnace, gathered up all the trash and took the dumpster to the road and finished cleaning and straightening up the shop AND put away all the bee stuff AND inventoried all of it.

Ya know I see folks bad mouthing a prepper blogs a lot about them writing what's for dinner and when they had a bowel movement. Hell I even throw a pot shot out myself about fluff and recipes blogs. Yet it occurred to me today that for those of us who are truly living the self sustaining life, or trying to, rather than just buying whatever preps our government check allows us each month and saying "ooooo shiney" most of what we do is mundane chores, maintenance and ditch digging.

It certainly ain't all puppies and AR 15's now is it?

It's dirty, boring, back breaking manual labor but it brings the satisfaction on knowing we did it all ourselves at the end of the day.

Beats calling a professional every other month I guess.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Should have just stayed in Bed

Today was not a good day by any stretch of the imagination. I woke up this morning feeling rather smug with the fact I had managed to get all my Christmas shopping done last night and was only mildly concerned with the fact that I had overspent by about 100% in doing so.

I had just went over my online balances and determined that even though I had gotten carried away I wasn't going to be in too much pain financially for more than a couple of days. I was even beginning to feel a bit relieved and happy about Christmas and ready to enjoy it for a change. I flipped over and started catching up on some news articles and BAM....

My monitor died.

Not my little second monitor I use for odd and ends stuff... Nooooo... not the cheap one. It had to be my main monitor.


So a trip to town was called for. There goes my early financial recovery too.

Anyway by the time I got back, switched out the old monitor with the new one I was in such a sour mood I just went out and worked on cleaning my shop up again. It was a windy, cold, damp nasty day out anyway. So nothing prepping related went on around here today. In fact the entire day has been filled with little annoyances like batteries not charging properly, stuff not working. Must just be the cold and the damp doing it.

I think it's a good night to climb into bed early and sulk until dawn. Maybe we will get another hour or so of daylight tomorrow if it manages to break through the clouds for a change. I doubt it though.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Kinda at a Crossroad

This change in my Mother's marital status has kinda put me in a bit of pickle as to which way I need to go now. Long term it really changes nothing as I had never planned on using their property or possessions in any of my final goals but they did play heavily in the short term.

For instance the Summer pasture and more importantly hay baling. I am not currently in a position to cut, rake and bale my fields on my own because I haven't been able to find and/or afford the small tractor equipment to do so. The original agreement I made was that we would pay off the place and allow my Mother's worthless old nags to live here and give her control of the pasture and hay field for the nags and sheep use. Our sheep would be run with her's and taken care of by the same pasture and field while they took care of the hay baling and would pay for barn maintenance while we paid for liability/accident insurance on the stock and full insurance on the buildings etc.

My original plan was to then focus on getting the planting and ground maintenance side of small tractor implements in place. Hence I bought a blade, post hole digger, brush hog, wagon and am currently restoring a one bottom plow with a manure spreader waiting it's turn.

I could switch gears at this point and attempt to find an old sickle mower, rake and baler and focus more heavily on hay production or look for a disc and focus on crop production like pumpkins and such. The plus side is the neighbors would be more than happy to take care of the baling for us (with a small fee of course) especially if I let em bale and leave em to pick up myself. Technically that cost would then have to be shouldered by my Mother under our agreement especially if she wants to feed her useless nags. However if I managed to find a suitable sickle mower and rake I could drastically cut the small fee down too by doing that part myself.

Keep in mind the final plan is to be able to do both. Once the horses are out of the picture the hay field provides a fairly nice surplus that I eventually plan to add to the production budget. As it stands now I could easily sell hay right out of my loft all year long and I eventually want that income to help make this adventure as profitable as possible. So switching gears at this point does not jeopardize or deviate from the final goal.

At this point I am leaning more towards continuing on with the planting and land maintenance rout and letting my Mother sort out the hay situation until I can finally move those horses off the place. Or more probably finally add them to the soil down in the pasture.  Then taking the proceeds from sheep sales and sinking that money into hay equipment and perhaps another small tractor down the road a few years. I am thinking I need a small Farmall series or maybe another old Ford with a front bucket to go with the 8N.

Either road has it's advantages but the disc avenue will be much cheaper right now and the hay proceeds are not currently on my balance sheet anyway nor will they be in the next few years.

The last problem is that this agreement goes out the window if the decline/collapse pace quickens. From a sustainable standpoint if we have to swing the entire Small-Hold into full production and sustainable survival mode those horses become either food, trade goods or transportation and I don't need all four of em for either. One might make the transition to a useful member of the place but only one. The donkey at least is useful as she sits and I doubt she makes it more than another year or so anyway, of course I been saying that for five years now.

So there are advantages and disadvantages to each avenue. As I said I am leaning towards continuing on and getting a small disc while seeing how the hay situation manages itself at least for a year or so. If the collapse happens sooner rather than later well I suppose I can cross that bridge when I get to it. I imagine the crop production would be more of a priority then anyway.

Decisions, Decisions...

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Protecting Wealth and Savings During the Decline

How many times a day do I see articles around the survival and prepper sphere talking about protecting your wealth and savings from the collapse?  I have to just shake my head when I see them, especially the ones about buying gold. Not that I think buying gold or silver is wrong, let me point that out before the gold bugs get all up in arms. No the problem is that 99% of the sheeple reading the "Buy Gold" articles have not moved into the proper mental stage to really save their wealth or savings anyway.

Bottom line if you continuously value what you have in dollars you will never be able to protect what you have.  There is absolutely nothing you can own that has a dollar value attached to it the government cannot take away.

Real Property ie. Land, will be taxed therefore losing you whatever percentage value they place on it. The same goes with most other large chattel and items like vehicles, machinery etc. Livestock, gold and other commodities are facing constant deflationary pressure and could in fact be confiscated on a whim.

There are only two ways I have seen anyone actually increase their wealth during this long slow decline and that is either through continued investment in a system that is manipulated. As long as you understand why the system is being manipulated and for whom....

Think pensions and then follow the money and invest in those areas the large pension systems are investing in.

... then follow that line of manipulation you can still manage a pretty healthy return. Just keep in mind however that it is an artificial bubble. Make it a point to remove surplus from time to time or you run the risk of losing it all in the end. I make no bets on when that end will come either it could be tonight, could be next year, may not happen for a decade but be ready.

The second system is to actually find employment that brings in more FIAT cash than the government takes away and stay ahead of the entire wave. Much easier to do if you are an Affirmative Action protected class but I digress.

That's really the trick though isn't it? Staying ahead of the decline wave. In the end there is no safe harbor. The wave is coming for each and every one of us but it also requires victims to keep going. The best way to save your wealth and savings during a time of government destruction of those things is to be able to outlast however many it takes to crash the system. It also requires, and this is important, the ability to not care what the dollar amounts on your insurance vehicles say they are worth.

The third little trick is to put some wealth into areas the government is least likely to look for it in. In most cases this has little to no return on your investment prior to a full blown collapse situation but has the potential for massive payoffs when/if it happens. Skills fall under this section but it can also include items that are considered out of date at present so are under the radar if you will.

As I have said many times. This is actually the hardest time of survival for those of us not on the public dime so to speak. This is massive wealth destruction of one class to transfer it to the dependent class. The only way to stop it will be the critical mass destruction of well... us... I am sorry to say. When, and only when, enough of us have been destroyed the system will fall in on itself and not before. 

If you are lucky enough to have a good paying job then you more than likely will outlast the crowd. If not your only hope is to cut your own spending and reliance on the system to the smallest amount possible. This keeps you under the radar and instead of flying over the victims you are crawling in the mud under them. Not pretty but there you have it.

Only you truly know which direction is the best for you and your circumstances.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!