Archive for the ‘Farmsteading’ Category

Over the last so many thousands of years, the system of commerce in this world has changed, and grown to a place where we no longer think in terms of bartering for our needs and wants, but in terms of currency for our wants and needs. When we want a bushel of corn and twenty pound of ground beef for the family reunion’s cookout, we think of what it will cost us in cash. We do not need to look around for somebody that is willing to trade for that corn and beef by accepting something we have to trade for that commodity, such as a new hoe for the farmer that grew the corn, etc. We simply give the seller whatever cash he requests for the goods, and the trade is complete.

There is great benefit to society as a whole in these changes, as we know what we need to be able to “purchase” these good beforehand. We can save up for the impending purchase, or put it on a credit card and pay for the food later. Today, cash is what makes the world go round. Nobody wants to barter something that you made in your woodshop for a gallon of milk sitting in the cooler at the back of the store. If you do not believe me, try it sometime.

However, cash will not always be king, and even now some of the luster of this medium we call currency is waning. People are using plastic more and more. At some point, the frequency of use of actual cash we decline to the point whereby governments will no longer want to print paper currency and stamp coinage. It will become too costly for the return they receive on that currency.

Already we see the trend towards this new reality of commerce often called the “cashless society.” Debit cards, automated deposits, EFTs and other means of electronically moving funds from one person to another are becoming commonplace. In fact, most large employers now all but require you to receive your paycheck as a direct deposit into your bank account. The government (mostly) now issues welfare funds by way of electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards. No actual cash changes hands unless you take the trouble to go to a bank or an ATM to withdraw your electronic credits as cash.

Scripture tells us that in the end times the beast will have a system in place that prohibits anyone from buying and selling unless the possess the mark of the beast (Rev. 13:17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. KJV) I believe that this new system of trade will result in the Beast’s victory over the world’s economic system.

Therefore, it is to our advantage to learn how to survive in an era where we have two choices to make. Choice one is to give in to the system of cashless transactions, thus lending your support, however unwillingly it may be. The second choice is to learn how to work around the system and deal with the ages old system of bartering for commodities directly. Of course, working around the governments prescribed method of acceptable operations is fraught with danger, but at some point in time, we have to either make a stand for what is right, or be a lemming and comfortably follow the crowd off the edge of a cliff.

One of the problems with bartering is determining the acceptable value of the two commodities to be bartered. Under normal circumstances, and we will use coffee as an example here, a bag of coffee costs X number of dollars, priced at so much per pound. Most of the time, coffee is available in either a fine ground state for drip coffeemakers, or as a whole bean, roasted for your convenience. The best way to obtain and store coffee beans is in the green state, so that you can roast it at your convenience.

The problem is going to be in placing a value on that coffee you have to barter in comparison to the item or service that you intend to trade that coffee for. It is best all around that you begin now to think of your belongings, especially excess items you may have standing in reserve for the strict purpose of bartering. Naturally, the other party will also be giving the same careful consideration to whatever he has to trade to you for your coffee. The trick is to make adjustments fast enough that an equitable trade can be made, so that both parties can be satisfied. Good luck with that.

I wish I could give you a simple formula to determine value, but there isn’t any. Value of any commodity or service is something that changes without warning, and rarely stays constant for very long. Prices rise and fall based upon a myriad of reasons, with the biggest being that of supply and demand. Too much of any commodity, with a low demand for it lowers the price. Not enough of a commodity in relation to a high demand increases the price.

We will soon be entering a period of time where any financial planning we can do now will make things much easier for the long haul for us. Start stocking up on commodities that can be stored long term, and when push comes to shove, you will be able to get those hard to find items by bartering these same goods that you have saved today for use in the future. Things like tobacco, coffee, salt and sugar, candles, matches, fuel oils such as paraffin and kerosene, etc. all of these things will only increase in value as the availability declines.

Austerity is coming, no matter who gets elected in the fall, the only question will be how soon will it enter the picture, and how hard will the powers that be try to hide the fact that today’s federalist lawmakers are bankrupting this nation, driving to a position of servitude to the world’s wealthiest progressive leaders. They will do all they can to enslave you, and they will accomplish this most easily through your increasing use of credit, and your adherence to the cashless payment systems of the world.

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Facilities for Storage (from a USDA bulletin)

A variety of facilities can be built or adapted for home storage. The type of storage built depends upon the climate and the choice of the individual. Elaborate facilities for home storage are not practical unless outside temperatures during the winter average 30° F. or lower to permit proper cooling. The size of the storage space will vary according to family needs.

The principles for successful storage apply to all facilities. For example, the cooling of the storage space and maintenance of a desirable temperature depend upon the outside temperature, the manipulation of the ventilators, and the extent of insulation against undesirably high or low temperatures. Proper drainage and the exclusion of light and rodents are also important.

Storage in a Home Basement

A well-ventilated basement under a modern house with central heating can readily be adapted to home storage needs. The furnace room is an excellent place to cure sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and squashes. After curing, however, these commodities should be moved to a cooler part of the basement. Temperatures in ordinary basements vary in different parts of the country. In basements, temperatures ranging from 60° to 70° F. in winter, when the furnace is in operation, and 70° to 80° in summer are perhaps average. While too warm for most commodities, the regular basement is satisfactory the year around for holding potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions for short periods, and for ripening tomatoes.

If the basement is to be used for winter storage, a corner should be partitioned off and insulated so that the storage space can be kept sufficiently cold. The storage room should be located preferably on the north or east side, and should not have heating ducts or pipes running through it. At least one window is necessary for cooling and ventilating. Two or more windows are desirable, especially if the room is divided for separate storage of fruits and vegetables. The windows should be darkened to protect the produce from light. They should also be boxed or shaded in such a way as to prevent the entrance of light even when they are open.

Bins may be used for storing certain commodities, but crates and boxes are preferred, as it is possible to remove them for cleaning. Equipping the storage room with shelves and a shitted floor keeps the containers off the floor and provides free air circulation. It also permits the use of water or wet materials, such as dampened sawdust, on the floor to raise the humidity.

Storage Cellar Under Home Without Central Heat

The old-fashioned cellar beneath a house without a central heating system has long been used successfully for winter storage of fruits and vegetables in the colder parts of the United States. The cellar usually has an outside entrance and a dirt floor. The outside doors serve as a means of ventilation and to regulate temperature. Some cellars have no windows, but if present they aid in ventilating and in temperature control. Windows are especially needed if the cellar has a partition to separate the fruit and vegetable compartments.

The precautions regarding light, drainage, and insulation described under “Storage in a Home Basement” also apply to the cellar under a house without central heat.

Outdoor Storage Facilities

Outdoor storage facilities can be constructed above ground or partly or entirely below ground. Cellars constructed below ground are superior because they can maintain a desirable temperature longer and more uniformly than any other type of home storage.

Outdoor storage facilities may be attached to the house or located in the yard or under an outbuilding. They should be convenient to the kitchen, and have proper drainage and insulation.

Underground Cellars

The structure of an underground cellar must be strong to support the weight of earth over the roof. Stone and masonry block in combination with concrete can be used, but a structure made entirely of reinforced concrete is best. A variety of plans can be developed. In the plan illustrated in figure 1, the cellar is attached to the house basement. This structure can also serve as a storm cellar or protective shelter against radioactive fallout in case of an emergency.

The whole structure, with the exception of the door, is covered with earth to prevent freezing. The thickness of the covering varies according to geographical location. In northern sections of the country, 2 to 3 feet may be necessary. Straw or fodder may be used for additional insulation if necessary. Wire screen over the outside ends of air intakes and ventilators will keep out birds and small animals.

Partly Underground Cellars

One type of cellar that can be used in certain northern sections of the country has walls of masonry that are partly below and partly above ground. Earth from the excavation is banked around the walls that are above the normal ground level and one end is left exposed for the door (fig. 2). As in other storage houses, an air inlet and a ventilator should be provided for each compartment, if there are more than one. Proper provision for ventilation is illustrated in figure 1. The double door is insulated.

Figure 1.—Longitudinal section and floor plan of concrete storage cellar that can also serve as a storm and fallout shelter.

Figure 2.—A partly underground storage cellar with stone walls and insulated frame roof.

Storage Above Ground

Aboveground storages can be built of masonry or lumber, but must be well insulated. Even masonry walls, regardless of thickness, have little insulating value. The following discussion is applicable where the climate is consistently cold, but where the average temperature- does not drop below freezing. Even in these climates the minimum temperature may drop to zero or below, and supplemental heat may be needed on very cold nights. Thermostatically controlled heat can be used if electricity is available. Only a small amount of heat is necessary to prevent subfreezing temperatures, and the storage temperature should be watched closely when low temperatures are predicted.

Hollow masonry construction such as cinder block provides the simplest means of installing insulation. Vermiculite, or some other dry granular material, can be put in the vertical channels formed by the alignment of the blocks as each course of block is laid. If cinder block is used, the inside and outside surfaces should be scrubbed with a cement grout to make them less porous. After the walls have been scrubbed with cement grout, the inside of the walls should be painted with aluminum paint to serve as a moisture barrier. Tar paper should be placed between the ceiling and joists as a moisture barrier, and at least 12 inches of dry sawdust or other granular material should be spread in the attic above the ceiling.

A frame building can be built of 2- by 4-inch studding and rafters. “Walls can be made tight by sheathing both the inside and outside of the frame with matched lumber. The space between the inside and outside sheathing should be insulated with loose fill or mineral wool blanket. Laminated kraft paper with asphalt between the layers, aluminum foil, or polyethylene should be placed between the insulation and inside sheathing as a moisture barrier. Building paper over the sheathing in the roof and outside walls is of great assistance in making the structure tight. The interior can then be painted with aluminum paint or whitewashed.

Ventilation for any aboveground storage building can be provided by the same type of roof flue and floor inlet that is recommended for concrete cellars (fig. 1).

The concrete house is an interesting, and in my mind, likable design for any survival homestead. The safety and security features provided by its non-flammable and destruction resistance construction far outweighs the aesthetics of a conventional wood frame structure. In most cases these buildings can be much easier to build, and less costly provided you can live without the advantages a standard stick built provides for. Interior layouts are not dependent upon structural beams for support of the inside walls, and can therefore be laid out in ways that better suits the preparedness mindset. However, as they are not conventional, they do take some getting used to. I have picked out a few free Google e-books on the subject that you may wish to read over, and perhaps you will come to see these structures in the same light as I do. Simply click the title links to go to the book mentioned.

The first is The concrete house: an explanatory treatise
by G. W. Hilton, an English architect from 1919. This man built a concrete home to his liking during the wartime years.

The second is Concrete houses, how they were built…
by a Harvey Whipple. This one is a collection of essays relating to concrete home construction.

The third is Concrete houses & cottages… by the Atlas Portland Cement Company. This one is a plan book published by a concrete supplier and gives photographic images as well as line drawing of many different designs and layouts of different concrete homes, both solid and block construction. It starts out with a few grand and lofty mansion designs, but there are a good many more homes as well that will more than suffice for the average homeowners needs.

the next book is Concrete for house, farm, & estate…

By Fred Ballard. It is a short book describing many of the features of various buildings and other concrete structures of value on a farm or rural property where agricultural pursuits may be followed.

And finally, we have Small farm buildings of concrete
by the Universal Portland Cement Company. This one is a veritable textbook on concrete construction for the farm, and well worth your time to read it if you are interested in concrete construction.

So, why do I like concrete so much? Because the benefits outweigh all other factors. For one, concrete is fireproof, so your insurance costs can be substantially lower. It is a much more secure building against wind and storm damage. Repair and upkeep to the structure is minimal. It retains heat in the winter and repels heat in the summer, thus lowering your heating and cooling bills. There are more benefits, but you get the idea.

Perhaps the greatest argument against concrete homes regards the appearance they have. In an unfinished, or simply a sealed and painted surface, the home looks more like a commercial structure. This can be overcome by adding vinyl or aluminum siding to give it an appearance of having regular clapboards applied to it. Another solution is to layer stucco over a secure mesh lathing to the walls. Or you can even apply a fieldstone to the outside walls to give it a look of having been built by actual fieldstone.

No matter how you finish the project, a concrete home can be just the solution for most prepper and survivalist needs in housing and keeping your family safe. And you can incorporate a fallout or survival shelter into the building with ease.

If you haven’t purchased or built a home yet, I would suggest you at least investigate the possibilities provided by concrete construction. You may be pleasantly surprised by your thorough analysis of this type of construction. I will be having more discussion on concrete homes in an upcoming episode of Survival Homesteading, which you may find at my Blogtalk page here.

Came across this video over at www.farms.com and just had to share it with you readers, seeing as it is survival related, sort of. Baxter Black has some pretty good material of a humorous nature if you already live on a survival homestead, especially if you raise livestock. Head on over to farms.com for more, it’s worth the trip.

Back in November(2010) I had done a post on what I call the SaWaFo pyramid to shed a little light on that particular anchor point on your preparedness planning. What is the SaWaFo pyramid? Basically it puts your three basic needs into a pattern of building blocks with your survival, or preparedness plan at the center. We need all three of these things to survive. Safety, Water and Food. We can survive for a short while with just one of these three, and maybe a little longer with two of these three. But to be able to survive indefinitely, we need all three of these elements to be in place. Always.

As you begin your search in earnest for a piece of property to create your survival homestead, you will need to make these three elements part of your search parameters. But just how do we utilize our resources as we search, while keeping these three things at the forefront of your mind? Let us look at them one at a time and see how this may be done.

  1. Safety

Safety encompasses a lot more than what many people think it does in this situation. Safety includes more than simply being safe. Safety and security actually affects everything you do. When you obtain water, you want to make sure it is safe to drink. You want to make sure that your long-term food storage is kept under conditions that will maximize its lifespan. When you buy a piece of property, you want to make sure that there are no hidden dangers that may sneak up behind you and bite you in the butt.

Some of the things you will want to check for are the usual resources related to safety and security for most homeowners. Does the community have a local police department? If not, do they rely upon a county sheriff’s department for law enforcement? What is the relationship to the state police force, and do they patrol the area? What is the history of crime in the area you are looking to move to?

Wild animals, such as bear, and in a few locations, wolves, can present some safety problems to you and your family. You will need to inquire as to the presence and if there have been any problems from these animals, or others. Raccoons and other small animals can carry rabies, and thus present another source of problems. Generally, if you are in a true rural area, and you stay on top of the trash and waste accumulation you will create you should not have any problems. However, if you are in a built up area you may find that there is a problem with animal and human interactions.

One of the drawbacks of human expansion into the woodlands is that we reduce the habitat of the animals that live in those woods. As that happens, some of these animals learn to adapt to our encroachment, and begin to raid out trash cans, eat from our gardens, and sometimes see our pets and children as potential food sources. A high incidence of problems in an area with any species indicates that there are in fact at least some animals that will invariably threaten your safety and security. If these incidents seem to have an unusually high occurrence rate, you may want to look elsewhere for a piece of property.

Other safety and security factors may be, but are not limited to, the presence of industrial chemical plants in the area that may create a hazmat situation. This could be through groundwater contamination, or possibly an accident that may release hazardous chemical clouds into the atmosphere. You should also investigate whether there are any large scale commercial farming operation that could also cause problems for your water source.

The list is long, and some people may claim too exhaustive and maybe even a bit much, but always remember that anything can happen at any time, and in any place, often with no warning. Proper analysis of your potential homestead property can prevent a lot of surprises from popping up and destroying your dream come true, turning it into a nightmare.

  1. Water

Water to drink is an absolute necessity. However, that water needs to be safe to drink. Following the recommendations above can help you to locate a homestead with safe water, but how do you find a homestead location that can provide you with water in the first place? One way to check on the potential of available water is to simply examine a topographic map of the area. Take a look at this clip from a topographic map to the left. It shows plenty of water available, but it is at or very near the surface. That could cause you some problems with the quality of your water supply.

A better indication of water is this clip found to the right. It shows a stream, with some relatively high ground on either side of the stream. You should have a safe shot at a clean well, even if you have to drive a shallow point well for financial reasons. You may not always be able to find property with such a clear indication of water availability, and in that case you will actually have to visit the area to see what is present for foliage.

An abundance of willow trees, ferns, moss, cattails and other marsh type grasses indicate a good source of water on your property. Another excellent source of clean water is the presence of a spring, especially one high above your home site.

The safest way to extract water from the ground is from a deep aquifer through a drilled well. That can get pretty expensive, especially if you have to go hundreds of feet deep. A shallower driven well can be installed for much less cash outlay, but generally can only be driven down to a depth of 20 to 30 feet as a maximum. There are exceptions, but 30 feet of pipe makes for a pretty tough time with a sledge hammer. You can also hand dig a well, although this is not the best alternative. However, there are cases where this is the only viable alternative.

  1. Food

Food is obviously a cut and dried necessity, or is it? We need food, and part of the concept behind homesteading or farmsteading is to be able to grow your own crops. One of the things you will want to watch for is the presence of large-scale commercial growing operations. Many of these businesses utilize genetically modified seed, and the potential for cross-pollination with your own garden is very real. The quality of the soil is paramount in your search for a homestead location. Scrubble land, or land where plants grow sparsely, has a PH that is too high or too low, too high a gravel or sand concentration is generally not worth the work it takes to get it into prime growing condition. It takes time and money, sometimes lots of it, to modify some land. Also, be aware of the drainage quality of the land you want to grow crops on.

You may need to install a drainage tile system, which can add thousands of dollars to your costs, or you may find that there is simply too much drainage causing a shortage of ground level moisture for your crops to feed on. In that case, you will need to modify the content of your soil by adding more clay or loam, again creating additional costs to your final expenses.

Do you need to clear large swaths of woodland to create adequate space for fields in which to grow your crops? If so, is there some sort of easement or restrictive covenant that would prohibit you from doing so attached to the bill of sale and title of the property? Again, you could wind up in an expensive position in which you could end up spending thousands of dollars, and still end up with a nightmare, instead of your dream come true.

Always remember the SaWaFo pyramid. Safety, water and food. You need all three of these things, no matter what your final plans for the coming times will be. Careful planning and thorough analysis of your situation can alleviate many of the potential problems you would be facing if you had not planned carefully in advance. Decide now what your goals are going to be for the future. Then make a plan of how you intend to achieve those goals. Once you’ve done your analysis and planning, you can deploy your plan with confidence of success.