Think 'SELF SUFFICIENCY', not 'SURVIVAL'...
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Thread: Think 'SELF SUFFICIENCY', not 'SURVIVAL'...

  1. #1

    Think 'SELF SUFFICIENCY', not 'SURVIVAL'...

    Think 'SELF SUFFICIENCY', not 'SURVIVAL'...

    Step ONE,

    Find land with south facing hill in temperate climates.
    North facing hill in 'Hot' climates.

    Hills give you MANY advantages,
    Gravity does much of the work for you.
    Hills give you a spot above flood planes.
    Hills provide places for earth sheltered homes.
    Hills usually sit on hard rock, that gives you hard rock filtered wells or water sources.
    Hills give you a place to collect solar energy without obstructions.

    Our hill gives us gravity water flow to the house,
    And sanitation evacuation/drainage away from the house for free...
    This make it VERY easy to get the septic away from the well area, and the well head is MUCH higher than the sewage so we don't have to worry about cross contamination on even the wettest years...

    Step TWO.
    Drill a Well.
    Even if you have surface water, it can EASILY be contaminated by run off chemicals, airborne chemicals, dry up or become flooded/dirty/unusable.
    Hard rock wells, especially limestone are VERY good filters for all things nasty.
    Only a DRAMATIC drop in the water table, which is VERY unlikely, will put you out of renewable, clean water source.

    Step THREE.
    Build a LARGE 'Root Cellar'.
    Works equally well for 'Storm Cellar' and 'Emergency Shelter'
    Put out a LARGE GARDEN and you will never go hungry or without a roof over your head.

    Our 'Root Cellar' is a 20' shipping container with the outside coated in basement sealer, set in drainage rock with drains and earth sheltered.
    Fully vented, it's a cool, dry place for our preserved food and other things that need cool storage to roost.
    The first 6' is a set of 'Interlock' doors that keep the cool in where it's supposed to be,
    And the container/root cellar ran us about $2,500 total to buy, modify, dig, build drainage and bury.

    In the early days of the homestead, it was our 'Home' on weekends when we were working out there,
    and it was a tidy, dry, somewhat cool place to call it a day when it was 100+ degrees outside,
    And a warm dry place when it was in the 20's outside!

    Now it's mostly racks that can be accessed from both sides so it's easy to rotate stock as we acquire/use it up.
    New in on one side, old out on the front side... Works great for easy cycling of the food and stuff we commonly use.

    Step FOUR,
    SUSTAINABLE ENERGY.
    If you have moving water in any volume, USE IT. (Micro Hydro)
    If you have wind resources, USE IT. (even small, homemade wind generators will surprise you!)
    If you have sun use SOLAR POWER. (the LEAST maintinance of any 'Alternative Energy')
    If you have large plot of trees, USE THEM. (fuel, fencing, building materials, wind breaks, bag leaves for compost, collect nuts, ect.)

    A well drilled at the top of the hill, with a Yard Barn protecting it,
    Combined with solar panels, wind generator (even a small one) or Micro Hydro will make your life SO MUCH EASIER.

    Step FIVE,
    Think 'Redundancy'....
    If you have gas heat, then you probably have a chimney, so a wood stove will be a natural redundant back up.
    If you have a propane or CNG furnace, the fuel supply will be safe, but you will need electricity to run the fan and thermostat, that's where solar comes in.

    If you have solar, don't let the batteries sit there and decay, use them in a golf cart or electric ATV or tractor. They do MUCH more work that way, and earn their keep.

    If you have a propane tank, then consider propane generator and propane vehicle,
    Propane emergency (Camping) cook stoves, heaters and lights.
    It's VERY EASY to fill one pound tanks off a larger tank, so you don't have to keep buying the small containers.

    With our 'Yard Barn', it covers the well head, supports the inverters for the solar to house stuff, supports a second set of batteries, and provides a place for all the 'Garden Implements' to hide from the weather in.

    Plugging in the golf cart gives us DOUBLE the battery reserve we would normally have...
    Pretty soon, I'll be done with the electric garden tractor, and that will put ALL the batteries I have to work...
    Since you can't drive two vehicles at once, there will always be a set of batteries plugged in for the solar/inverters.

    The generator is big enough to not only run the house/welder, but it will also charge the batteries at the same time if sun doesn't show for 3 or 4 days...

    Golf cart is wired to plug into the battery bank and act as backup,
    But it's got an inverter so I can run 110 volt tools from it so I don't have a whole slew of gas powered chain saws, hedge trimmers, ect.
    And I can run my regular corded 110volt shop tools from it in the field or around the farm instead of dealing with 'Cordless' tools that are either always dead, or the battery runs down WAY too soon...

    Redundancy runs to the well like everything else.
    The cost of the well hole/casing was about $200 more to have a 12" well drilled instead of the usual 6" to 8" well.
    Now I have the submersible pump, Plus a hand pump in the 'Power House' so I can still get water if EVERYTHING fails (Solar, batteries, inverter, generator, ect.)

    The house is not only earth sheltered, it's DOUBLE INSULATED to keep my very expensive Heat/Cool in where it belongs.
    Passive solar provides much of the heat/cool with no cost at all, but when I do have to heat/cool,
    I don't want my money going outside where it's not supposed to be!

    We went with gas boiler that provides hot water for the house and hot antifreeze for the radiant floor heat in the house.
    Radiant floor heat is VERY efficient, not hard to install, and is virtually maintinance free.

    A wood burning stove provides 'Backup' in the event that EVERYTHING fails.
    It's a low consumption 'Rocket Mass' design that takes very little fuel to operate and quickly heats the entire house instead of just one room.

    With what we have, we originally counted on 48 solar panels to run the place.
    We are now running on 12 (not counting the two on the top of the self charging golf cart), and we haven't had to cut back on anything...

    Solar panels are much more efficient than they were 12 years ago when we started building,
    And by using a solar tracking rig, the efficiency is up 40% of fixed panels.
    (Tracks the sun throughout the day for maximum efficiency)

    Garden work is a VERY good way to stay in shape, and you can't get better food which is EXACTLY what you want than a garden!

    I would suggest you start your big compost pile right away as you clear the land,
    Compost is a great way to dispose of your vegetation that won't be used for fuel,
    And it's the best fertilizer you can ever hope for!

    Raising rabbits or other live stock ensures you have a steady, cheap supply of meat,
    And a garden will provide about all your other food requirements.
    Rabbits are not only a good source of protein, but they are little garden waste consuming monsters!

    Unusable tops, greens, stalks go in the cages, and a wonderful rich mixture of fertilizer comes out of the cages.
    If you don't want to feed them all winter, and I don't, I dress them all out in the fall for the freezer,
    and get a new breeding pair in the spring... You will have PLENTY of rabbits by the end of the year to fill that freezer again!

    Stuff like excess produce, rabbits, welding machining, ect. pays the taxes, and not having utility bills REALLY helps with the budget!

    Since most places won't loan you extra money to build renewable energy facilities,
    Do that with your cash money first.
    They will lend you money for the land, once improved, refinanced for the house and you get the entire package financed in the long run.

    Once installed, they will lend you more money on the 'Improved Land' for the house loan, and you wind up financing the entire thing anyway.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    EFFICIENCY IN BOTH ENERGY AND MONEY SPENT.

    Remember, Insulation, low consumption will save you more than you can earn to pay the bills...
    Compact fluorescent or LED lights, Low consumption water appliances, energy star rated stuff like fridge and freezer...

    Don't worry about those 24 volt appliances that run directly off the solar,
    Go with the low energy rated CHEAP appliances, and use a 110 volt inverter instead.
    It will keep your costs down, and you can use all the appliances you do now.

    Keep the use of things like blow dryers, microwaves, ect to a minimum, they are energy hogs when you are on a solar powered system!
    Gas ranges, furnaces & cloths dryers are more efficient when you are 'Off Grid' than building in extra capacity or running a generator to keep up with large electrical demands.

    The well pump is on a timer to run it's natural tank filling duties during the full sun daylight so it doesn't drain the batteries at night.
    Since the pump is 220 volt, it will REALLY draw on the batteries when it runs, so just simply timing it so the batteries are fully charged and the sun is fully out makes a HUGE difference,
    Plus with the push of a button (Over ride the timer) you can run the pump at any time if need be...
    After about the first three hours of direct sun light, the batteries are charged, and the solar panels are still capable of producing at full strength, so there is no sense in wasting it, put it to good use by pumping water or running some of the other things around the house that need done since it's free energy...

    Another very good way to save money is with Solar Thermal.
    Pre-heating water with solar panels.
    This saves a BUNCH of energy, especially when you have a cold, deep water well!

    The solar Thermal panels will usually produce enough to take showers and stuff with,
    And that pre-heat saves you a BUNCH of both heating time and energy when you need hotter water for cloths, dishes, boiler, ect.
    They are EASY to build! Usually waterproof plywood painted black, or with metal reflectors to concentrate the heat on the water tubes, which are painted black.

    I used copper in my first run, painted black, with black back ground and glass faced with energy trapping film on them...

    The second build was with curved reflectors concentrating on black stainless steel pipe (Salvaged from a meat processing plant that went under) and that REALLY made a difference in both temprature and heating time.

    You simply run water though those pipes and use directly in the summer or anyplace it doesn't freeze,
    Or you run a coil of tubing through a holding tank.
    Tank has consumable water in it, coil has anti-freeze in it.

    Use a single small solar panel to circulate the anti-freeze through the heat exchanger tank via a small pump.
    The system turns 'On' by it's self when the sun reaches up high enough to warm the anti-freeze, and shuts 'Off' when the sun lowers enough to no longer provide any heating.

    For fresh water systems, you simply connect water line to one side of the panel, and the warmed water proceeds to your water heater, no pump involved...
    Water line pressure does the work.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------


    GENERATOR...


    For those of you that are 'Do It Yourselfers', a WELDER that produces 220 volt, 110 volt and welding current are MUCH better than a regular little back up generator.
    Much more useful and serve dual purpose, saving space and money.

    Welders will let you 'Tinker' with things, build things, experiment...
    Some of it will work,
    Some of it won't work,
    But since you did it yourself, you aren't out nearly as much if you had everything custom made and it DIDN'T work...

    Plus, I pick up some considerable money along the way by welding for the local farmers on this or that!
    Lets me finance my projects without being completely 'Out Of Pocket'.

    A drill press, good cutting power hack saw, grinder and welder will make/fix about anything on a farm that can be fixed at home,
    and you will save TONS of money with just a basic welding class at the local high school, vocational center or even some welding supply shops will have classes for VERY cheap.

    Gasoline or diesel generators can be cheaply converted to propane or CNG, and propane/CNG are MUCH easier to store,
    And much CHEAPER if you buy large quantity in the summer 'Off Peak' season rather than waiting until winter to do it.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    TIME FRAME,

    If you have the money laying around, you can go great guns right now,
    but if you are poking around this web site gleaning answers, you probably have more time and questions than money to hire everything done by the people that have the answers...

    I have been working on this for about 12 years and it's 'Sustainable', and much of it is 'home Made'...
    I started out in 'Town' with some solar panels, home made wind generator and some used 6 volt golf cart batteries.
    Once I found out how much current I could get form the panels and wind generator,
    I converted an old S-10 pickup to electric power using a 'Cushman' work site truck motor and electronics...
    It got out of hand from there!

    I'm all DIY with no 'Professional' help except for the septic tank/leach field install... (didn't have a back hoe then, and had to have it 'Certified' by the county...)

    House trailer frame for mounting solar panels so they can be moved to track the sun and/or mow around, or move with me if I ever need to do so,
    Home made Wind generator on an old TV tower for when the sun isn't shinning (Particularly good for 'Finish Charging' batteries when the wind blows, which is usually when the sun isn't shinning, so they complement each other pretty well).

    The 'Experts' told me I was nuts when I wanted a 12" casing so I could have a deep well hand pump along with in well electric pump, but it's proven it's self invaluable, especially in the early days!

    I was told I was 'Nuts' again when I wanted insulation OUTSIDE the poured concrete walls & insulated footer, ect, and another 6" expanding insulation sprayed into the studs on the inside...
    Took us $63 to heat for all winter this winter...

    I was told I was 'Nuts' for using metal wall studs in the house, too much drilling into concrete to attach them... We are virtually fire proof now...
    -------------------------------------------------------------

    PASSIVE SOLAR.

    South facing home with thermal mass for interior walls and floor, and lots of windows in the front means we warm up in the morning VERY quickly, and the concrete holds the heat all day and part of the night.
    Porches in the south keep the high summer sun from entering the home directly and make a great deck also!

    Roof windows above ground level mean we have ventlation during the day by opening the high windows and don't have to use AC on moderate days.

    Layered concrete roof with LOTS of insulation mean earth sheltered roof for insulation and ease of maintinance, while providing us with virtually unlimited protection from things like tornadoes.
    I MOW the roof!

    Evergreen trees planted on the west and north block the wind, so that's even more of an energy saver, plus you can't see the house from the road with those in place...
    If I could just keep the darn deer from gnawing on them!...

    Deciduous (looses it's leaves in winter) Shade trees are a good thing if they don't interfere with your solar energy collection...
    In my case, I have enough room to separate the two, shading even small portions of PV cells will reduce efficiency in the entire string.

  2.   
  3. #2
    Whoah, I'm on info overload!! Is this yours, or did you find it somewhere? That's some cool stuff. I just printed it so I can come back to it and pick up what I missed the first time. (I'm supposed to be working). Thanks for sharing!!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Florida Panhandle
    Posts
    3,098

    Exclamation Great preps!!!

    Dude...You have a good thing going...Keep it up.
    FESTUS
    IN OMNIA PARATUS

  5. #4
    AR all I can say is if you have done all this you are way ahead of the curve. Lot of good advice.
    By faith Noah,being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear,prepared an ark to the saving of his house;by the which he condemned the world,and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith Heb.11:7

  6. #5
    Just WOW! Great info.

  7. #6
    I'm a LONG way from being finished, and where I am took about 12 years, the first 7 or so with no home on the properly...

    I still want a spring house, that's using water to keep things cool like they used to do milk and meat,
    And I still want a LARGE garage I don't have yet...

    The whole idea was to be able to raise goats, couple of head of cattle, hunt mushrooms, ect.
    We started out with just over 5 acres, now we have purchased the adjoining tracts, and have just over 43 acres around us, which most is leased out to farmers to offset expenses and earn a little income.

    I have a small squirrel woods that produces mushrooms (WHICH ARE POPPING UP AS WE COMMUNICATE!)
    and I still want more lake, we have a lake currently, but I would like for it to be bigger than it is to support some reasonable fishing...
    The lake was our starting point for water,
    Sand/Charcoal barrel filter, then through UV lights to remove biologicals.
    Water quality was good without using chemical treatment, but as I've found out, you can run into chemical contamination from farm spraying and runoff pretty easily...

    Still, it's nice to take a dip on hot days!

    Deer eat my trees, raid my garden, and bed down in the field beside the house, and we have as many as 40 turkeys in the side yard when we mow in the fall,
    So game isn't a problem right now...
    We are next to a VERY LARGE state game reserve, so there is no shortage of game,
    But if we have another 'Depression' like the had in the 30's, that could change.
    During the depression, the deer and turkey population went to virtually zero and had to be reintroduced, but are thriving now.... To the point of being pests!

    Since I'm a country kid, and the river is within walking distance, I can always run fish traps or trot lines if I need to and feel desperate enough to eat fish out of the Polluted White river!

    I figure if the world goes to hell in a hand basket like it did during my grandpa's time, I can always sell corn by the gallon to make ends meet!
    Everybody thinks cookers were all out there for giggles and grins, but many of them were just feeding families when there just weren't any jobs...

    Grandpa said he stopped cooking whiskey when making whiskey and carrying guns started to be the same thing,
    He never wanted to hurt anyone, just needed to feed the family...

    Being raised by depression era people (Grandparents) I picked up the habit of not wasting ANYTHING I don't have to...
    News print goes in the compost pile via the chipper, metal cans often wind up as driveway base to keep the rock from sinking, I buy things in reusable bottles and jars,
    You never know when a plastic bottle will come in handy for small parts, canteen, makeshift car part, ect.

    Just because someone sells an item for a SPECIFIC function, doesn't mean you can't use one to equal effect you fabricated or re-purposed from something else...
    You should see my reloading bench, all the containers say 'Planters' on the side of them instead of buying purpose built containers for holding brass,

    And just because you purchased something 'Used' doesn't mean it's any less useful than 'New',
    My head mill was purchased for scrap weight, and they don't make these big, old solid cast pieces that set PERFECTLY LEVEL anymore...
    A few home made bushings and it works just fine for gun smithing or making small to medium size parts.
    A quick motor rewire and it works fine for my home shop, even if it is larger than the current production 'Cheap' ones they sell at Harbor Freight or Grizzly places...

    One of the axles out from under the trailer frame set on end in concrete is the pivot for my solar array,
    And the base frame is made out of the house trailer frame.
    I left the other axle under it (not on the ground) for when I have to move the entire thing.
    Those hubs and sealed wheel bearings make a VERY stout mount for an array frame, and the cost was a few welding rods and some old steel road wheels off scrapped farm equipment,
    Now my solar panels produce 40% than they would have if they were fixed and didn't track the sun.
    That means I have cut the panel install/usage cost by more than half with some conservation and some junk parts.

    What we DON'T do anymore is build things to outlive us.
    Poured walls with MASSIVE foundation, and no steel reinforcement in the walls mean that house will be there LONG after I'm worm food.

    Reinforcement comes from fibers mixed into the concrete and sheer mass of the concrete instead of running steel reinforcement that will eventually rust and crack the walls apart.
    Fiberglass don't rust, doesn't draw moisture, doesn't crack and doesn't need maintinance of any kind.

    There are still Roman buildings standing that used nothing but horse hair for reinforcement, while you are lucky as hell to get 50 years out of steel reinforcement.
    If you doubt this, take a look at the older overpass columns and bridge abutments and columns...

    I call it the 'Back To The Future' approach...
    How did people get those big old homes to heat/cool before the days of central air and heating?

    South west used earth sheltered, adobe, facing north with openings away from the sun, ect.
    That's Insulation/temperature control, Thermal Mass and Passive Solar for todays folks!

    Around here, every one used to have big old porches on EVERYTHING,
    Lets the sun in when the sun is low in the horizon in the winter,
    Keeps it out when the sun is high in the summer.
    Plus they made a pretty good 'Buffer' area for the home in winter, and a great place to sit when the work was done, or it was just too damned hot to work!

    When I was a kid, every 'Country' house had a wind break on the north/west sides,
    Groves of trees or barns, or something to break up the howling wind in winter.
    Same still applies, but every one would rather crank on the thermostat than plant a few trees...

    Every country house had 'Shade' trees on the south/west sides to shelter the home from summer sun without causing any issues, but very few had air conditioners back then...
    Now everyone moves into homes that don't have shade on south/west and cranks on the thermostat...

    Our garden is BELOW the house.
    The reason for that is to use the home 'Gray Water' to irrigate with gravity.
    99% of the water you discharge from the house will work just fine in the garden.
    Just stay away from things like 'Anti-Bacterial' soaps...
    And the garden sits right over the leach field for the septic tank.

    Stopping the bacteria in the septic tank or garden is a BAD IDEA!

    Nutrients from the septic will creep up and help out the plants with no chance of getting e-coli or something else bad,
    And the gray water means we don't EVER have to water the garden,
    Just open the valve for the gray water and let it water it's self as you take a shower or wash your hands...

    Drying cloths on a line makes them smell MUCH nicer without having that energy hog dryer running...
    And if you aren't into that, consider a 'Fluff Dry' or 'Low Temp' dryer.
    Takes a little longer to get a load dry, so we have two dryers, but you use MUCH less energy that way than a HIGH HEAT UNIT WILL EAT UP!

    In the winter, hanging cloths on lines in the home will put much needed moisture back into the air without having to run a humidifier to keep you from drying out to dust!
    And since I can't help myself, I often burn wood, mostly to watch it burn when I'm bummed out by 'Winter Blues'...
    And that dries things out even further....

    IF you have gas furnace, then you REALLY know the dry house blues!
    I was SO HAPPY to get away from gas furnace it wasn't funny!

    Hanging wet cloths will put some moisture in the air, and reduce your electric/gas bills at the same time.
    Our laundry/utility room in the house is the second largest room between the living/dining/kitchen 'Great' room and we run small batches for just the two of us,
    So it's not a huge issue,
    But a family with kids might want to reconsider!

    There is food still packed in 'Mason' jars that are reusable, look for it.

    Never throw anything away unless it's worked for you twice...

    That means porous paper goes through compost when you are done with it the first time,
    'Glossy' or sealed paper gets used for everything from starting fires, to insulation to ground cover to keep weeds from growing up,

    Cans get recycled into projects, or pay for your fuel bill the next time you go to the hardware store where the junk yard is when you sell them by the pound.

    Don't throw away 'Garbage',
    Goats, hogs will eat ANYTHING, and what comes out the back end can be disked into the garden when they are done with it to work for a third time.
    Rabbits make a GREAT 'Greens' processor, nothing like rabbit pellets and some 'Red Wigglers' in the compost pile to make the best fertilizer you have ever used,
    Then the goats, pigs, rabbits, make for some TASTY CHOW when they get too big or too numerous,
    Or in my case, you don't want to feed them all winter!

    Ever had beef from a yearling calf?
    Dairy farmers are practically giving (and in some cases, literally giving away) the steers.
    Males don't give milk and they are useless to a dairy operation.
    I know Holstein isn't the best meat for steaks, but they make GREAT hamburger and they put on weight really quickly for cheap if you have pasture/grazing land that's just sitting there...

    The second use is so I don't have to MOW around the water well house or the solar array...
    Goats work good for this also, and are just as tasty if you have acquired the taste.
    Goats also give milk if you are into that sort of thing.
    As we all become older, it gets harder for our bodies to break down cows milk, but I have no problems what so ever with goat milk or cheese, but I'm not milking the darn things unless things REALLY get bad around here!

    If you have ever known a hog farmer, then you know the 'Runt' of the litter, or excessive litter mates get killed so the 'Optimum' number in the litter will gain weight faster and meet projections.
    You can often get those RUNTS or excess for free if you choose to hand raise a pig.
    I won't do that, but I will fork over the $10 to $30 most farmers get out of a Market size 300 lb. pig and have it cut at the local meat packing house,
    I usually get a deal on hogs or calves because it's the same place I take my deer to get them processed, and repeat customers are given 'Discounts',
    Or at least a good job done where I don't have to worry about getting e-coli from a rare steak!

    It's all in how you interact with your neighbors, and how much work you are willing to do...
    Personally, according to the military, I'm 90% disabled, although I've never taken a penny of disability money since I can still make my way in the world...
    (another country kid trait)

    I'm saving rocks.
    We plow a lot of rocks out of the ground here, from the septic, from the house foundation, from the root cellar, from about anything you go to do that involves digging, you are going to hit rocks around here...

    I've been saving those rocks for either a well/power house or for a "Spring House" project when I get enough.
    I cheated on the pile, I used rocks from that pile to build the retaining walls and entry to the root cellar, and they worked fine, even with my LOUSY mason job,
    But I learned a lot of things while doing that incredibly ugly wall...
    So the next project will be better, (or at least I HOPE it will!)...

    And all this stuff keeps my brain occupied, can be done between the usual '9 to 5' jobs that produce income, and keeps me from getting too fat laying around watching internet porn and stupid TV shows!

    Remember, it's not crap when they say 'Slow & Steady' will get you farther than quick and stupid will!

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    699
    Wow, your a sage.

    You should write a book, I'd buy a copy.

  9. #8
    Me too - I would read that over and over. Where are you? I'd love to see this.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    MA, Away from the liberal loonies...
    Posts
    2,658
    Give me the Lat and long and if the sh!t hits the fan I'll be your apprentice!!!

    The best way to live free is to live free.. Need to work on that for myself...

    Peace...
    You can give peace a chance alright..

    I'll seek cover in case it goes badly..

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Bellingham, WA, USA
    Posts
    733
    Thank you!
    "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." Thomas Jefferson

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