Thursday, April 28, 2011

Off grid expansion

Craigslist has been a blessing once again. I was able to secure another solar panel for much less than retail price.

This week's score was a BP Solar 12v/50w panel. It is in brand new condition.

I now need to re-work the mounting structure to accommodate this new panel, as it is a different size than my two Siemens panels. Once that has been done we will have a total of 136 watts of power.

So far this year, we've mowed the lawn twice, using an electric mower powered from the inverter. It has worked well, but towards the end of the job I could tell that we were getting pretty low on juice. I don't think that our batteries are in the best of condition, even though I have checked and maintained the fluid levels.

I am continuing to look around for some better storage batteries and will be patient until I do. It will have to be something local as shipping for deep cycle, or any automotive battery, is pretty expensive.

Do you have any recommendations for the best battery for the buck?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Poorly planned day

Friday evening I hooked up the trailer and got everything ready for the trip down to Pine Grove on Saturday. I left early in the morning and spent the day clearing an entrance. I did not plan very well.

I had only taken two machete's with me, and for whatever reason it didn't dawn on me to load up the chainsaw, a rake, rope, shovel, lawnmower, or anything else.

So, the day was spent chopping away at the undergrowth with a machete. I even managed to saw down two small trees using the saw blade on the back of one of the machetes. (functional, but not much fun).

I also didn't plan my entrance as well as I had thought. Once I pulled the truck into the woods, the idea was to turn left and then back the trailer up in to a small clearing.

Well, I didn't leave enough room and once I unhooked the trailer, it was blocking my means to drive out, so I had to clear out some more brush and then by way of a 39-point turn, I was able to drive back out.

A few times, I took a break and was marking the north property line with some string, and I also wondered to the east end of the property and discovered that the little stream was actually running! It had rained on Friday night, but most of the ground wasn't wet at all.

Initially, I had made the assumption that the creek bed was just a watershed trench, but maybe it is something more (hopefully). I will have to walk upstream on the next trip (if the stream is running) and see if perhaps it is coming from a spring.

I ate an MRE for lunch (beef patty, yum!) and as poor planning was the theme of this trip, I didn't bring along enough water and the temperature was almost 90 degrees. I had thoughts of spending the night, but I was tired and thirsty.

Next trip down will be given much more thought. I promised myself that, for sure!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Preparing for higher food prices

Like a majority of my fellow citizens, I don't make a whole lot of money, but we manage to make ends meet.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Consumer Price Index is on the rise for most all areas, but especially for the price of our food. Anything that you can manage to purchase today, and store for tomorrow should be considered money saved. The prices are not likely to be going down at all within the next 30 years (they didn't within the last 30 years).

If you can find the space, or perhaps re-purpose some storage space for food storage, you might want to consider making that happen as soon as possible.

Just remember to store what you eat. If your regular diet consists of saltine crackers and a can of spam, then by all means, stock up on as much as you can.

Otherwise, hang on to reality as much as you can while you consider what you might be planning for next weeks meals.

A majority of what we purchase already has a storage life of at least one year, but with proper rotation and daily use, you will soon feel good about buying the groceries for October and spending April's money to do so.

There are certainly a ton of books on the subject of food storage that you might consider buying, but there are also a number of websites which offer the same, if not more, information for free.

If you are still not comfortable trusting yourself to implement a food storage and rotation system which will work for yourself and your family, then ask some other people within your family, or around your neighborhood, and ask them if they have noticed any increase in the price of food. It might just be the ice-breaker that you need.

I happen to love black beans and rice, and both of them have a very long shelf life.

If you want, I can post some more information on this subject. Yes, I was one of "those people" who prepped for Y2K, and I can tell you that even though nothing happened, I eventually ate everything that was stored. I maintain the same rational each month when I pay for my auto-insurance. I don't expect that anything will happen, but if/when it does, I will know that I was prepared as best as could be.

Lastly, I will leave you with an observation that I have made over the last few years. I see a lot of people trading in one form of "consumerism" for another when deciding to prepare. Keep this in mind as you ponder what the future might have in store for you, and for your family.