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Monday, January 5, 2015

Making the best of a bad situation

When it rains, it pours, so the saying goes, and I recently got a taste of what that really means.  A couple of weeks ago, just as we are gearing up to the holiday season, our Chevrolet Venture blew a head gasket.  Around the same time, my stepson had a car accident that completely finished the front end of his car...2 out of 3 vehicles down at the same time, and neither one of them was worth repairing.  So another saying came to mond...when life gives you lemons, buy a pair of  four wheel drives!

My step son now drives my reliable, albeit somewhat rusty Ford Taurus.  Knowing that he is no longer driving around in an underpowered, lightweight sporty deathtrap is a big load of our minds.  So now to focus on what we would be buying next.  It had been decided a while ago that we would replace our vehicles with something more bugout friendly as they needed to be, well...now they need to be.

We went over our wish list of features and categorized them into "must have" and "nice to have"

Must have:
vehicle 1: SUV for Mrs Denob
                 4 x 4
                 5 passenger
                 tow package
                 reliable and long lasting
                 Decent cargo room
                 Within budget to pay cash

vehicle 2: Pickup Truck for Denob
                 5 passenger
                 tow package
                 Strong, tough, and big enough to get respect on the roads
                 8' box with cap
                 Within budget to pay cash

As for the SUV nice to have features, really, all we put on that list was "Jeep Wrnagler" just because DW likes the look.
Nice to have features for the truck were 4 full doors...that's it!
Well, in the end, we got everything we needed and wanted with the exception of the Wrangler.  I'll bet we would have got that too, if we had more time to look and wait for one to come up.

We ended up with a Jeep Grand Cherokee for the SUV.  It has good cargo space, fits all 5 of us, AWD, and at only 151 000 KM, has plenty of life left in her.  One thing we did learn about Jeeps is that you really want one that has a trailer hitch...and not just for towing.  Seems that the designers over at Jeep made a booboo with the fuel tank placement, placing them about 6" too far back and can explode in rear collisions...the trailer hitch gives protection against that, and Jeep did a recall a few years ago and installed hitches for free on ALL models.

Now for the truck, we found a Ram 1500 quad cab with 8' box and a HUGE contractor box on the back.  The box had been customized and raised almost a foot higher.  I can do jumping jacks in the back of that thing! This is going to be further customized inside to make it a camper on wheels...great for bugging out.  Again, the Ram had about 151 000 Km on the odometer, so plenty of life left in her as well.

I can't help but feel thankful that we have made the right decisions over the past couple of years that gave us the financial ability to get through this.  We have minimized expenses, saved our pennies, and put cash away instead of eating out and taking luxurious vacations.  Getting (and staying) out of debt is one of the most important parts of preparing.  As a bonus, we took the opportunity to be even more prepared by upgrading the features in our vehicles.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Abiogenic Oil, Is It The End Of Peak Oil Fears?

Oil.  Some of the everyday uses are obvious.  We use oil as fuel for heating and transportation, we make plastics and textiles from oil, and many common medications such as A.S.A. are also made from petroleum.  The dependency on oil by modern society is likely understood only to a small degree by many of us.  Sure, we all "think" we know how dependent we are on the black gold, but most of us likely underestimate it.

Another misunderstanding about oil, as it turns out, seems to be its origin.  For the past 250 years or so, we have all believed the abiogenic theory that oil is produced by dead organic matter.  However, a new theory as to the origin of oil has surfaced called the abiogenic theory.  The theory's adherents believe that oil originated as carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas rising through the deep layers of the Earth's crust. If this mixture was lucky enough to find zirconium-containing minerals, it could react and produce petroleum hydrocarbons, meaning that the earth naturally, and continuously, produces oil.  In fact, it would seem that three Swedish researchers have proven not only that oil is produced abiogenically, but that the whole idea of it being a fossil fuel is false.  

But wait, like so many other issues of great significance, not everyone agrees with this newly formed theory.  One of the so called facts that are supposed to prove the abiogenic theory is that previously capped "dry" oil wells have been reopened due to regeneration...but not so fast.  Apparantly, most of these wells were capped when oil extraction percentages were somewhere around 35%.  Newer technology and pumping techniques now allow for 65% extraction or more...thus explaining the so called regeneration.

Ridiculing new science and theories is not a new phenomenom...after all, the world was once considered to be flat, and the poor schmo that had the audacity to suggest otherwise was utterly ridiculed by the scientific community of that time.  So, could it be true that the earth is naturally generating crude oil with inexhaustible sources?  Sure, why not!  But does that really matter?

One thing that history has shown us over and over again, is that the mishandling of crude oil has detrimental effects on our environment.  We all remember the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989, when 11 million gallons of crude were spilled into the Prince William Sound.  It’s estimated 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, up to 22 killer whales died along with billions of salmon and herring eggs.  As bad as that sounds, it ranks a mere 36th on the list of the worlds worst oil spills, with the worst unintentional spill being the gulf spill in 2010, which released 206 million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico. The burning of petroleum products has been scientifically linked to acid rain, global warming, the production of carcinogenic byproducts, and many more environmental and health issues.  Need we explore more?

So let's go back and consider for a moment that the earth is indeed round, and that oil is produced naturally and constantly.  The biggest question should be how fast is oil produced?  Oil demand is in constant growth in today's society.  The need for cheap energy is directly linked to economic growth.  Let's keep in mind that our monetary system depends on constant growth to avoid collapse.  The problem is, the more we grow, the greater our need for energy grows, leading to an infinite curve.  The more we grow, the greater rate of energy growth we need to sustain that growth.  Even if the earth is producing oil naturally, it stands to reason that the rate of production is finite, meaning that it can only produce a certain amount in a given time, regardless of how much we need.

Many proponents of abiogenic oil will argue that the whole peak oil idea is now moot.  Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.  If indeed the earth is producing oil at a rate that could survive any growth curve, why then, given the age of the earth, is it not 70% covered in oil instead of water?  Also, even if the earth is replenishing oil wells, why must we cap them and wait for more oil to flow into the well?  The answer to this is easy...we are using it up faster that the earth can replenish it.  Wow, look at that, peak oil rears it's ugly head again, just with a slightly different definition.

If indeed oil is produced naturally and constantly, this process has a finite rate, which means that constant economic growth, which is directly related to cheap energy, cannot be maintained.  So much for the end of peak oil!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Oatmeal And Corn Anyone?

Ok, so maybe that might sound a little weird for breakfast...unless you're a chicken!
As the cold weather sets in, I like to give the chickens a little treat in the morning.
I picked up on the oatmeal thing from Cam Mather's blog, and had heard about feeding corn in winter from all the popular backyard chicken raising sites.  Well, I figured I would mix them together...and boy those chickens love it!

It all starts with the raw ingredients...deer corn, which I picked up for just over 5 bucks for a 25 lb bag, and some regular old instant oatmeal.

I mix it up in a 1 lb margarine container...about 3/4 full.

Next, I add hot, not quite boiling water to just about fill the container.

Mix and let cool...


Then out to the coop.  I always place the oatmeal (and a bit of extra corn for scratch) in the run before letting the girls out for the day.  Otherwise, I might loose a finger when they go for it.

 ...and here they come...straight for their warm morning treat.  It will take the four of them about 10 minutes to devour the entire thing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Product Review - The Greenhouse Of The Future

So, you wanna build a greenhouse you say?  That's a great idea that has lots of benefits.  You can extend the growing season much later into the fall, get a jump start on those veggies with long growing seasons like tomatoes and peppers, and even boost production during the regular growing season.  The only question is, how to build one.

Sure, you could hire a contractor or get a kit from the local building supplies company, but this just won't fit with what you want to do.  Kits come in predefined sizes only, which are usually too big or too small for your needs.  Contractors cost money and are rarely willing to work with alternative building methods.

You want something that you can build yourself, with the help of a few friends perhaps, and at the same time, make use of some alternative materials like used tires as an example.  Enter The Greenhouse Of The Future.

How many time have you bought an ebook, thinking you were going to get something a lot more than what was sent to your ereader?  Without fail, it seems that these inexpensive offers of "complete guides to whatever" fall dismally short on details, instructions, illustrations, and of course, after sale support!  Even with the best authorship, sometimes a concept just can't be visualized.

The Greenhouse Of The Future addresses all these problems by incorporating a 170 page ebook, comprehensive and complete construction plans, and video explanations and demonstrations that are full of tips and tricks derived from first hand experience.  Here, you can have a sneak peek at the video...

 Now, I'll be the first to admit that this project may not be for the backyard gardener who just needs a few square feet to get seedlings started earlier in the spring, but if you are looking for a way to grow year round in a Canadian climate, either for your family of four or your survival group of several families, then this is the best solution I have found to date.  Make no mistake, this will require some effort and materials, but the structure is a solid and permanent one.

In addition, you will build knowledge of some interesting concepts such as passive geothermal, passive solar energy, thermal mass, passive ventilation, using earth tubes, and much more that can then be used on other projects you have in mind.

Do you remember my mention of after sale support earlier?  That is where this package really stands out above so many other similar packages.  Along with a 30 day money back guarantee, you will receive 3 months of access to the S.A.F.E. support network, which can be activated only once you are ready to begin your project!

Don't forget, it's all about the details.  You will also get a full set of construction plans, material list and tool list!  This is a complete package.  You can order the DVD which includes the video, the ebook, and the apendices, or the online package that gives you unlimited streaming and downloads.

To order the DVD($44.95) or online package($39.95) visit Greenhouse Of The Future or click on the link in the righthand sidebar.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Canada is at war...and it's not the kind of war we're used to

On Monday, October 20th, 2 members of the Canadian Military were run down in a parking lot by Martin Rouleau.  Rouleau had converted to Islam about 2 years ago, and according to reports, was upset at the former Quebec government's plan to ban the wearing of religious symbols or clothing by public employees.  Rouleau was later shot dead by police after crashing his car and brandishing a knife at officers.  Unfortunately, one of the soldiers, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53 years old, died in a hospital later that day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More Ebola, Hurrican Season Continues, and Processing the Harvest

I was concerned last week when I heard of a nurse who had cared for Thomas Duncan has tested positive for the Ebola virus.  Unfortunately, my concerns were well placed, as we now have learned of a second nurse with Ebola.  I have not yet found any information regarding how she contracted it though...was she also in direct contact with the original patient or did she contract it some other way, such as in a nurses' lounge or a washroom?
Either way, there were some very disturbing errors in her conduct.  It seems that she was smart enough to self examine for symptoms, yet upon developing a slight fever, was NOT smart enough to avoid air travel, exposing 130 pasengers on a flight from Ohio to Texas to the possibility of contracting the virus, not to mention the flight crew, who could soon be developing symptoms while away at work almost anywhere in the world.
Only time will tell where this is going to pop up next.  In fact, after having passed away on Oct. 8th, we may not have heard the end of people contracting the virus from him until about Oct.29th, the 21 day possible incubation period.  But now, that time clock keeps resetting itself.  The latest case means that we won't know the extent of possible infections from her until Nov.3rd.  Every new case discovered resets the time clock to 3 weeks before we know the extent of the consequences.
Now that we know for sure that a patient was infectious while on board a commercial flight, I think it is only a matter of time before we see a case here in Canada.  Now, I'm not trying to sound any alarms just yet, and hopefully I will never have to use this space to report how many thousands of cases been reported on home soil, but I do think that now is the time to review your pandemic preparedness and plans.

With all the crazy goings on in the world, It's easy to lose track of the dangers that do come along on a regular basis.  Right now, many of us have our attention focused on other events, that October 30th, 2014 isn't even a blip in our brains.  What's that date all about you ask?  That is the day that Hurricane Sandy made landfall in the New York, New Jersey area.  Yes, that's right, we are still in Hurricane season, and as I write this, the Canadian Hurricane Center (Ya, we have that) is tracking a category 4 storm named Gonzales, which is set to affect the maritimes sometime Saturday or Sunday.
While this particular storm is NOT expected to hit landfall in a significant way like Sandy, it is a reminder that we can't rule out Hurricanes as many of us are hurriedly getting ready for the snow to fly.

Also, here we are in the height of the fall harvest.  As a matter of fact, instead of writting this post, I myself should be busy processing and preserving the 25lbs of cabbage, 50 lbs of apples, 10 lbs of beets, and untold amounts of pumpkin and squash I have sitting in my cold room.
In the next few days and weeks, many of us will be using up copious amounts of salt, sugar, vinegar, and water in our canners and crocks, placing roots and such in their winter storage cellars, and putting up every last ounce of food that we can.

While we do all of this and keep an eye out for all the bad things that the world has to offer right now, don't forget that winter is coming, so get that car kit winterized, plan for your snow tires to be changed, and get your alternative heating ready to go!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Casting Call - Proper Television

I have been asked to post a casting call by Proper Television, a production company based in Toronto.

They are looking to film a show in the spring where 2 survival enthusiasts are placed in environmentally challenging locations, with supplies and survival gear in tow. They will be expected to work together to find their own food, shelter and ultimately prove their survival skills.

Here is their casting call blurb as it was sent to me...


Do you think you have what it takes to survive through anything anywhere?! Can you find food, water and create shelter in the wild? We’re casting for a new survival show for a major network and we want to see if you have what it takes. We’re looking for people between the ages of 25-50 who have big, bold and outgoing personalities who aren’t afraid to speak their minds. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to put your survival skills to the ultimate test.

Please see the application below:


If this is something that interests you, please use the application form in the above link.