Natural Gas in a Grid Down Scenario

I’ve been working on the Preparing to Prepare non-fiction piece lately so research mania has pretty much been going full bore. One of the things that caught my attention was natural gas. Which, of course, sent me off on yet another momentum stalling tangent… c’est la vie.

Basically, I’m been compiling lists and supplying my own brand of advice with regard to life disrupting events of varying durations. Over the course of this book, I’ve been writing about ways to solve various issues given a specific set of supplies and recommendations. That being said, you can’t compile a worthwhile list when it comes to preparedness without discussing fuel. Namely, if there is a power outage, depending on the duration of said outage, you’ll quite possibly need fuel for:

  • A vehicle to go 50-100 miles (one-way, double for round-trip) to get supplies
  • A portable generator (assuming you have one)
  • A house generator (e.g. Generac, assuming you have one that is not on a city feed – long term issue)
  • Cooking meals and boiling water (propane, white, or charcoal - assuming you don’t have a natural gas burning stove/hot water heater)
  • A kerosene heater to heat a specific centralized room

As I wrote that list out in the book, I was drawn to the part about the ‘city feed’. This made me curious. If you’ve lost power for a week due to a storm, or the grid is down entirely, would you be able to use, say, your gas stove? You gas hot water heater? Your furnace?

The short answer is generally ‘yes’ to the stove and water heater and ‘no’ to the furnace. A furnace requires electricity to turn the blower after it generates the needed heat. Your pilot light will remain lit, but it’s basically a paperweight at this point.

The stove should work, but might require you to light the burner with a match. Some stoves have safety protocols in place that might prohibit this activity though. The gas hot water heater should also work without issue as well provided you don’t have an electric power blower installed for venting. If you have a power blower installed, I wouldn’t recommend doing much with the hot water heater. That blower is there because you have venting issues.

So, that little bit of research answered the primary question, but how long will the gas pipeline transmission system, and water system for that matter, maintain enough pressure to feed my house?

Unfortunately, if some form of power isn’t restored to the compressor stations, you’ll be without gas and water in less than a week.

Damn.

That wasn’t the answer I was looking for.

Here’s a well written piece that helps further this information: How Long Will Natural Gas Last Without Electricity.

As I read that article, I couldn’t help but be reminded on a line from the EMP Commission Report:

No infrastructure other than electric power has the potential for nearly complete [societal] collapse in the event of a sufficiently robust EMP attack.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Fruit Maintenance

Not to belabor the point, but I can't seem to shake the excitement of growing some berries this year. Which of course got me to thinking... what can be learned from this endeavor?

Well, I've made the job a tad easier on myself by making the decision to grow them in pots with a removable cage of bird netting first off. This takes a lot of the pest and soil issues out of the equation. Secondly, it'll allow me to get my feet wet with regard to fruit plant maintenance when it comes time to have my own land. Because remember, my goal here is to have my own bit of land and install an orchard that contains fruit and nut trees as well as clusters and/or possibly rows of berries. 

To that end, I was reviewing the Stark Bros website, along with some online articles (one of which I mentioned in a previous post), and some resources I picked up at Amazon. Needless to say, there are plenty of things to be mindful of when it comes to fruit production. For example, you need to know the basics about soil prep, fertilizing, pruning, and harvesting as well as pest control for things like aphids, cane borer, and leafhopper. And then there is disease control for stuff like botrytis fruit rot, leaf curl, and orange rust.

That, obviously, isn't the complete list of issues that need to be monitored, but you get the idea. There's a lot of stuff to consider. For convenience, I download the Stark Bros growing guides from their website and placed the PDF files on the Research Downloads page. You can find all of their growing guides by visiting their website and accessing this page

Garden Assessment and Planning

Following my own advice from my most recent post regarding an end of year assessment, I started assessing my garden. To further this process, I looked at my offerings in the garden and determined what worked, and what didn’t. This year, I think it’s safe to say, I made many mistakes, some of which were largely of my own doing. The good news is that all of it can be easily corrected with minimal effort. Let’s see, there was:

  1. Too much shade in the new garden plot (rectified with a chainsaw)
  2. Too much water from the in-law’s irrigation system (rectified with controller changes)
  3. Mislabeled plants (rectified with the re-implementation of popsicle stick labels)
  4. Chipmunk and squirrel infestation destroyed anything directly sown resulting in a late replanting (rectified with bird netting until mature – approx. 2’ tall)

Item #1 was the result of setting the garden structure before foliage had returned. Several limbs and a few crap trees need to be removed for better sun exposure.

Item #2 was a foreseeable issue that wasn’t seen… if that makes sense. My father-in-law loves lush green grass and waters accordingly. That was far too much water for the garden and, thus, I had a lot of mold and disease problems. The garden is now on its own watering circuit with dedicated sprinkler heads that only I can control.

Item #3 was born out of vanity. I thought that because I’ve been growing pretty much the same things year in and year out I’d know what everything was as it sprouted. I was wrong. I didn’t bother labeling the pots as I started the seeds indoors and some serious head scratching took place as the plants matured and bore fruit. It was actually kind of funny, but needless to say I’ll be re-implementing my label practices.

Item #4 was the direct result of my in-laws and their panache for bird feeders. It seems that the chipmunks and squirrels have grown accustomed to having carte blanche on their property as they have no pets to speak of. As a result, they felt that the garden was in bounds and attacked my garden by either eating the tender sprouts or digging up all of the direct sown seeds. These were things like corn, bush beans, asparagus, Spanish onions, and potatoes. Oddly enough, they didn’t touch the carrots. This issue was resolved when I replanted and then draped those sections of the garden under bird netting. Unfortunately, these plants were re-seeded too late in the season. The corn only made it to about four feet tall by the end of the season.

As part of the assessment process, I also tend to review things I’ve previously written and/or researched looking for answers, explanations, or motivation. By looking to pieces I’ve already researched and written, it helps me stay focused on the task and reduces the amount of time it takes me to complete said assessment and planning tasks. In the case of the garden assessment and planning, I was looking at some of the research I did regarding orchards. In that white paper, which is available on the Resources/Research Downloads page, I stipulated that the Stark Bros website was my go-to resource for seedlings and general perfunctory knowledge for nut and fruit trees as well as berries. And for the record, I recommend both My Patriot Supply and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for non-GMO vegetable seeds.

Anyway, in addition to correcting the jackassery of my mistakes, I am going to try my hand at some berry bushes this coming year. This decision has me perusing the Stark Bros website once again. So far, I think I’ve decided on red raspberries and blue berries. I’d like to do blackberries, but there are several issues that need to be overcome before I can do those. Chief among them is the fact that they need to be planted > 75-100 yards away from the raspberries. Frankly speaking, I’m in an urban environment and the entirety of my lot isn’t that big. What I’m shooting for here with these berries is ease of maintenance and harvest. Thorns suck!

For the red raspberry, Stark Bros has a variety they are calling Bushel and Berry Raspberry Shortcake that seems like it checks all of the boxes in terms of maintenance and ease of harvest… I mean c’mon! It’s in a friggin’ pot!

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As far as the blueberries go, I figured since I was going to implement a container raspberry I might as well try and do the same for the blueberry. And wouldn’t you know it… Stark Bros had one of those too. The variety I selected is called the Northblue Blueberry, but even though they said I didn't necessarily need one, they did recommend planting a pollinator called a Northcountry Blueberry. Unfortunately, their website didn’t have a nice picture to show you, but I did find this to serve my purposes here:

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While I was searching for a good picture of a blueberry bush in a pot, I did come across a website called the Preparedness Mama that had a post relating to container blueberries. Here’s the link to that: 5 Tips to Grow Blueberries in Pots.

Planting, or growing, berries in general has now caused a ripple effect. Now I’ll have to deal with birds picking off my harvest as it ripens. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do something that resulted in the generation of a secondary or tertiary problem that required solving. How do you keep the birds off the berry plants once the fruit starts to ripen? Well, with bird netting of course!

At first, I drew this to try and explain my thought process as whatever I implement has to be able to be removed so I can get to the berries, but not the birds:

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Pretty crude but you get the general idea. Then I figured there had to be something online where someone has already solved my berry thief problem. Sure enough, I found something in fairly short order:

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Pretty creative options I think.

At the end of the day, I’ve assessed the 2017 garden and planned for the 2018 garden. Easy peesy! Now I can check those two tasks off my task list for January…

It's Assessment Time

With my last post of 2017, I thought I’d remind you to do your yearly assessment. Right now, you should be neck deep in trying out any of your cold weather/winter related gear, clothing, equipment, and plans. While you’re doing that however, you should take time to reflect on this past year. Hopefully, you’ve taken a few notes (mental, paper, or electronic) to assist you in this endeavor. For each and every task or project you attempted or completed or failed miserably at, you should be asking yourself:

  • What worked or didn’t work?
  • Why did it work?
  • Why didn’t work?
  • What can I do to make it work better, more efficient?
  • What can you change to improve upon ‘x’?

Also, even though everything is dormant right now, it doesn’t mean you can’t take what you learned from 2017 and apply it to 2018. This is accomplished through reflection, scheduling, and the occasional list. I’m a huge proponent of scheduling, and list making for that matter. I find that a detailed and robust list keeps me on task more often than not. And we all know my propensity for Excel so I placed a Sample Task List on my Resources/Research Downloads page for you to use. I’ve also put up a Microsoft Home Maintenance template I found and downloaded.

Both files can be found at, or near, the bottom of the page as I load new files in at the bottom (oldest downloads are at the top).

 

Solar - Quick Start

As my search for land continues, so does my knowledge base for just about everything else. I've pretty much got the hunting and gardening skills down pat. That doesn't mean I'm the master of all I survey, but I don't have any concerns with regard to putting food on the table if push came to shove.

That being said, my recent hunting adventures have me itching to build blinds and hides for my friend's boats. I even found some really cool ideas on Pinterest of all things. Who knew. I'd also like to work on the use of snares and a bow (compound or cross) as these methods are far quieter than any of my shotguns or rifles. 

As for gardening, I've read about all things hydroponic and need to put that knowledge into action, but that's tough to do now that our basement is completely finished with the exception of a 12x12 mechanical room. Plus, I'm not a fan of staging that type of system at the in-laws. I want full unfettered access at all times. I need land in the worst way! There's always something else that can be learned.

Today is no exception.  

As I checked my email this morning, I found a link to an article that some off-grid folks wrote regarding everything they knew about solar. It went into sizing, purpose, cost, and they provided numerous recommendations. Having just read through what they wrote, I'm here to tell you it was one of the best written, most comprehensive articles on the subject I've read in a really long time.

Here's the article info and link. The article was posted on the Pure Living for Life website and was titled: Stupid-Easy Portable Solar Panels for RV, Off Grid, Boondocking and Camping

 

December Duck Hunt and Pretty Pictures for Your Brain

Pretty wide ranging post... mostly pictures chronicling some of the beauty presented to me, and a minor rant on the frustrating aspects of hunting in general....

Duck Hunt

I just got back from another failed duck hunting trip in SE North Carolina... I got a couple, but by and large, we should count the ways that I was foiled in my attempts.

Reason #1 - Super Freakin' Moon!

No kidding, the moon was as close as it comes to Earth last weekend and as a result the ducks had PLENTY of light to see by. So, as a result, they just stayed in their little protected impoundments and gorged themselves like a bunch of drunken frat boys with a serious case of the munchies. This is the second time a full moon, or nearly full moon, has thwarted my endeavors to kill evil ducks.

Reason #2 - Blue Bird Days

On day one, the clouds were high and wispy, the winds were calm, and the temps made it to the mid-60's. This, my friends, is the very definition of a blue bird day and you don't ever want to see these when hunting waterfowl. Day two and three had an increase of cloud cover and wind, but given the Super freakin' Moon, the damn things wouldn't fly.

Reason #3 - Scheduling

When you have a bunch of guys with family lives, jobs, and active children you pretty much have to take what you can get for a few years until the schedule lightens up. We went a little earlier than normal this year. Unfortunately, there hadn't been enough of a sufficient cold snap up north to push the ducks south prior to the trip. So we pretty much knew that the pickings were going to be slim. Go figure, the week I get back we have an arctic blast and my inbox is being lit up by DU telling me about Migration Alerts.


Scissor Blind

The camaraderie was great, but the blind was something to behold. We used something I'd never hunted in before called a scissor blind. It was really freakin' cool. Here's what it looked like:

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These aren't my images mind you. I found them on Google for this post to give you an idea. In a nut shell, you take some juniper (floats exceptionally well and is highly rot resistant) and fashion it into a u-shape set to the approximate dimensions of the boat and insert some pins at key points for flexibility. Holes are drilled ever foot or so and then some pine boughs are inserted. Once it's dropped in the water, the whole rig is anchored to the bottom. After it's situated, you just drive the boat inside the u-shape. Then, with the aid of the pins, you close off the back end to surround the boat. No need to bring a dog as you just open up the back end, put the boat in reverse, wheel out and collect your ducks or geese, and then return to the anchored blind. 

The juniper in the water does an excellent job of camouflaging the boat. To shield the hunters, the hand rail had more holes drilled for additional pine boughs. It was actually really cozy. Here's a link to an article I found that explains things further: Secrets of the Scissor Rig

 

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You can see the juniper scissor blind resting on the handrail as we head out the first morning.

Pretty Pictures for Your Brain

Here's the sunrise the first morning... we kind of had an idea when we saw this that not much was going to be flying this day. 

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Not to be out done by the majesty of the sunrise, here's what we saw upon arriving at the coast the night before...

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I swear, I take the pictures and I can't help feeling like Forrest Gump!

Oh, before I forget, here's the pin tail I picked to have mounted...

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It's currently residing in a friends freezer until spring. Here's what it looks like in flight (Compliments of Google Images)...

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Also, while I was down south I got some 'artistic' pictures of my friends farm. This is where I met my wife and it still has some sort of calming and centering affect on me whenever I visit.

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Hurricane Matthew Aftermath

When the hurricane went through last year, the farm lost a lot of hardwoods. They've split a lot of it, but there's still a massive pile to be worked on. Here's what I found...

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Another Garden Build

While I was at the farm I also staked out a garden for my friends mom. She's in her 70's and her back isn't what it used to be. I will have to build a high fence to protect it from the deer coming out of the nature preserve behind their house, but nevertheless, she was impressed with what I did for my mother-in-law so she asked me to build something along these lines in the spring...

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In the words of Bubba, "I believe that's about it..."

Popular Ammo Calibers

Many years ago, I downloaded a spreadsheet titled listoflists from JWR's website, SurvivalBlog.com. It's not a bad place to start if you're starting to think along these lines. I always find it interesting to peek into the mind of someone that is hyper-focused on the security aspects of a post-SHTF society. Surprisingly, JWR's lists are broken down into a granular and easy to follow tab naming structure. There are many practical ideas contained in this document; some of which may or may not apply to you or me depending on location (urban vs. suburban vs. rural) and mindset when approaching this topic. There are some tabs that are a little over the top for me, but these are his lists so who am I to judge. He is former Army and I believe his first wife was a nurse, so that explains some of his information and thought processes.

Several of his topics stick out to me given my own proclivities and the current season, which are ammo and reloading. I've discussed reloading previously, but my brother dropped off his 12-gauge press so I'm starting to figure that out. It's also late fall, early winter and my first duck hunting trip is right around the corner. So, that leaves the topic of this post, popular ammo calibers.

Now, JWR mentions ammunition in passing on his Barter and Charity List tab, but doesn't specify calibers. He only says, 'Ammo of various calibers'. So, that got me to thinking, which calibers?

Cue the research... Here's what I found. The following images were found on the Knowledge Glue website. According to this site, the top five calibers are: 9mm, 223/5.56, 45 ACP, 12 gauge, and .22 LR. Here's their full top 20 list of calibers in the United States as of 2015:

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Nothing really surprising there. Their article also contained a full list of 91 tracked calibers (by sales). However, the data set that was of the most interest to me was where they broke down each state's top five calibers. This is important information if you are planning on adding ammunition to your stores of barter and charity items as JWR suggests.

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Because I'm a curious fellow, I clicked a link at the end of their article to find out the top manufacturers by state. This is also important information particularly if you plan on having spare parts available for barter and trade. Here's what Knowledge Glue had for this particular topic: 

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When they compiled their data, they did make note that what they were seeing for North and South Dakota was inconclusive so those states were not included. Here are the links so you can read the Knowledge Glue articles in their entirety. Also, take this information with a grain of salt as these articles were written in 2015. Granted, I don't think there's been some kind of massive shift in the data during the ensuring two years.

What Are the Most Popular Calibers in the US?

What Are the Top Firearm Calibers and Manufacturers by State?

Garlic is in the Ground

Fall has definitely arrived here in central Ohio and who would I be if I didn't start planning for it before summer was even over! I found a vendor at the downtown farmer's market that was selling these massive garlic bulbs that he stated were German Hard Neck Garlic. I've done garlic in the past and determined that hard neck varieties work better than soft neck in my cold hardiness zone (6a). So what's the little urban farmer to do... buy six of these massive mothers of course!

German Hard Neck Bulb

German Hard Neck Bulb

Now, as a reward for the change of seasons, in addition to removing the last vestiges of plant matter from the raised garden plots, I also get to start prepping and planning for the next growing season. Well, technically, I removed the exhausted plants a few weeks ago, but who's counting. This weekend however, I got the garlic cloves planted. It didn't take long to do this. What actually took some time was getting all of the leaves from the crap scrub trees out of the bed and surrounding area.

Man I can't wait to cut those bastards down and turn them into some nice split firewood!

Any way, this year I planted German Hard Neck Garlic. Look at the size of these cloves!

German Hard Neck Cloves

German Hard Neck Cloves

Amazingly, there were only eight cloves in the bulb. WOW!

In the northern climes, garlic performs best when planted in the fall and is then covered with a nice bed of straw. I like to plant my cloves so that the root end is approximately 2-3" deep and each clove is about 6" - 8" apart. 

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Interestingly enough, I made my holes for the cloves before I realized there were only 8 cloves per bulb. Oh well. Anyway, I also chose this particular bed because it houses my asparagus crowns and they needed to be over wintered with straw as well. Two birds, one stone baby!

All that green leafy stuff is the first year asparagus

All that green leafy stuff is the first year asparagus

The trick with asparagus is basically you have to plant it and wait at least one growing season, possibly even two or three depending on a variety of factors. Things like drainage, heat, and sunlight all will determine how long it takes your crowns to mature. The family loves asparagus so I planted it this year in the hopes that it is ready next year. Once it's established though, you're ready to go. You just can harvest anything the first year.

Back to garlic...

As I was saying, I like to plant my garlic cloves with the root end 2" - 3" deep. These cloves were so massively huge that the pointy tips were almost above grade! Once they were in the ground, I covered them with more dirt and then unleashed the straw!

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In the spring, I'll lay out some more newspaper over the grass path ways and fill that with about 2" of rock. No more weed eating in the garden for me! You'll also notice that I left the leaf matter in the remaining beds. It's basically free organic matter and it'll get chopped up and turned in to the beds by the tiller in the spring.

Vaccines and Other Controversial Opinions

Some time ago, I signed up for the Orthomolecular News Service. It comes out every couple of weeks and generally espouses healthy living and vitamin supplements. The doctors there will chronicle how certain patients were treated (niacin, vitamin C, etc.) and how the patient responded. Today's newsletter was on vaccines. This is a serious and controversial topic for many. Here's the link to their article:

Vaccine Adjuvants and Excipients

One of the reasons I wrote Part I of the series, and a reason I sought out and found this news service, is because I was disturbed by the high rates of incidence for all manner of neurological and gastrointestinal disorder. Here's what I was staring at at that time:

  • My father died of pancreatic cancer in 2005
  • My mother was declining due to dementia (eventually succumbing to colon cancer in 2015)
  • Neighbor across the street had twin sons (one developed autism (high functioning) and the other did not)
  • Neighbor down the street had a son with severe autism (non communicative at age 12 except via limited sign language)
  • Neighbor next door developed Celiac disease
  • Wife's mother died from Parkinson's

And on and on and on it went...

Now, you're certainly entitled to your opinion and you can believe what you like... but my opinion is that there is a connection between the foods we're eating, coupled with the manner in which the vaccines are concocted and administered, and the visible and tangible issues we're are seeing in the neurological and gastrointestinal medical spaces.

There... I said it.