Battery Farms – Legal issues and opportunities

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Collins stnading next to his lead acid batteries

Energy storage is a HUGE business

You’ve heard of Server Farms where vast numbers of computers house information served onto the internet? Well get used to Battery Farms – where huge arrays of batteries store solar or wind energy and serve it to local homes and businesses. States like Hawaii, which has to supply all its own power are investing heavily in the idea.

Federal and state government mandates and incentives, combined with technological advances, have dramatically increased renewable energy sources during the past decade. Variable renewable energy sources such as solar and wind have demonstrated great potential for meeting electric power demand but remain limited from a grid integration standpoint due to intermittency when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing.

As a result, state governments and independent system operators are placing increased emphasis on utility-scale energy storage systems and several states, including California, have adopted mandates and incentives for rapid deployment. While several different storage technologies exist or are in development – including pumped hydropower and thermal storage – increasing focus is on battery storage systems to meet energy storage needs. As with any energy project, however, utility-scale battery storage projects present land use, permitting and environmental and health and safety issues, and developers need to anticipate and address these issues to successfully meet project development timelines and goals.

Emerging Trends in Energy Storage Development

California led with government-mandated renewable energy goals, enacting AB 32 in 2006, which requires 33 percent of the state’s retail energy to be from renewable sources by the end 2020. Other states have followed suit. Hawaii, a state that is “off the grid” and entirely dependent on its own generating capabilities, has adopted the most ambitious goal to date, with 100 percent of its electricity to be supplied by renewable sources by 2045.

Renewable energy sources like solar and wind turbines have the potential to meet the demand for energy in many states and throughout our nation. These are variable energy sources, however, and electricity from fossil fuel combustion and other energy sources must be used to provide base load to balance the grid, as demonstrated by the California Independent System Operator’s well known “duck chart.” Last year’s massive leak at California’s Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility underscored the need for alternatives to reliance on fossil fuel generation and led to California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) Resolution E-4791, ordering the expedited procurement and development of energy storage resources in the Los Angeles Basin.

As a result of these policy and economic forces, there is increasing emphasis on developing and implementing energy storage systems, both “behind the meter” and on a utility scale. Once again, California has led the way with enactment of AB 2514, which calls for 1.3 gigawatts of energy storage capacity from the state’s three large investor-owned utilities by 2020, and adoption of legislation earlier this year accelerating and expanding deployment of energy storage systems. Oregon and Washington have similarly enacted legislation to promote energy storage capacity and, just four months ago, Massachusetts became the first East Coast state to adopt an energy storage mandate.

Energy storage technologies are not entirely new. Pumped hydroelectric storage facilities have been used for decades to supplement generating capacity during peak energy demand, and a number of evolving mechanical, chemical, and thermal technologies are in use or development. Due to its ready availability, however, the principal focus to meet current energy storage needs is on battery energy storage systems (BESS), and lithium ion-based systems in particular. These systems offer very fast response times and high cycle efficiencies, can be used for utility-scale as well as residential and commercial applications, are relatively easy to deploy, and continue to experience a dramatic drop in costs. There is little doubt that utility-scale BESS are and will in the near-future continue to be the technology of choice to meet energy storage requirements in California and other states.

Utility-scale battery farms or energy storage projects present great opportunities for developers, investor-owned utilities, and state governments to meet renewable energy goals, make better use of solar and wind resources, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. However, as with any energy project, consideration should be given to land use, permitting, and environmental and health and safety issues in formulating effective strategies for development of utility-scale battery storage projects.

California Permitting Issues and Strategies

Development-related concerns for utility-scale BESS projects include site consistency with land use and zoning laws, worker safety, security and community safety measures, hazardous waste management and disposal, potential impacts on species and habitat, visual impacts, storm water management, and coordination with generation and transmission facilities. As with any new project-based technology, the myriad of issues relating to BESS projects are still evolving. Nonetheless, below we highlight some of the key emerging considerations.

There are three distinct permitting regimes that may apply in developing BESS projects, depending upon the owner, developer, and location of the project.

For BESS projects developed or owned by the state’s investor-owned utilities, the projects are subject to CPUC jurisdiction under General Order (GO) 131-D. GO 131-D governs permitting for utility-owned infrastructure including the potential need for a Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience (CPCN) or Permit to Construct (PTC) and related environmental review pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). For BESS projects approved to date, the utilities have invoked an exemption from GO 131-D qualifying such projects as “distribution” facilities falling below applicable 50 megawatt (MW) and 50 kilovolt (kV) thresholds, thereby avoiding CPCN and PTC compliance and associated CEQA review. While the utilities must still coordinate with local authorities regarding land use matters and obtain non-discretionary construction and operational permits, so long as the project qualifies as utility-owned and meets the applicable GO 131-D exemption thresholds, permitting can be streamlined.

For BESS projects not qualified under GO 131-D, permitting jurisdiction is dependent upon the location of the battery fatms, typically either on private, federal or state land, and governed by the applicable governmental agency with jurisdiction over that land. The majority of BESS projects falling outside CPUC jurisdiction to date are located on private land and subject to the applicable county or city zoning and land use ordinances and, if necessary, associated CEQA or National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review. The analysis of any required discretionary permits and approvals in each instance is highly fact-specific, depending upon the zoning of the relevant parcel(s) and the permitted and conditional uses under the applicable code for that zoning designation. Co-locating BESS facilities with the solar or wind generating source may streamline the process and provide economic advantages. Additionally, in some instances, BESS projects may fall within permitted uses for electrical substations and transmission and distribution facilities, thereby avoiding discretionary review; in other instances, BESS projects may be allowed as conditional uses requiring a conditional or special use permit and triggering associated CEQA or NEPA review. For those projects located on federal or state land, jurisdiction will fall under the jurisdiction of the applicable agency and its associated permitting regime (e.g., the Federal Land Policy and Management Act for BESS projects falling under Bureau of Land Management jurisdiction).

Where BESS projects trigger discretionary permitting and CEQA or NEPA review, there are a variety of means for proponents to address compliance ranging from a Negative Declaration to an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), Environmental Assessment (EA), or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). In instances where the project is associated with an existing power generation project, an addendum or supplement may be tiered off existing CEQA or NEPA documentation, as was the case with the Campo Verde Battery Energy Storage System project in Imperial County based on co-location with a previously-approved 140 MW solar project.

Given the relatively small footprint of typical BESS projects or any kind of battery farms, and location closer to urban load centers, the environmental and natural resource issues emerging to date tend to focus on technology-specific impacts including fire risk, noise impacts and hazardous materials transportation, use, and disposal. That said, depending on the location and scale of such projects, many of the typical environmental and natural resource impacts encountered in developing other energy projects may come into play, including potential protected species, cultural resource, and hydrological impacts.

Conclusion

Deployment of battery farms, whether they are utility-scale BESS projects or other kinds of battery farms, can be expected to rapidly increase in California and other states that have adopted renewable energy goals. These projects present great opportunities for developers, investor-owned utilities, and government to meet these energy goals and make better use of variable solar and wind resources. Developing strategies for addressing land use, permitting, and environmental and health and safety issues early and effectively will facilitate the cost-efficient and successful deployment of utility-scale BESS projects.

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Tired of rat race

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I’m  in Missouri and I’m looking to go primitive. Mainly looking for likeminded people to network with and become friends so that I don’t go nuts from solitude. josh_knorr@mail.com is my email but don’t know how long internet will be available. Currently have no phone. You may bump into me on the Katy trail in the St. Charles area!

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10 Items That Sell out After a Crisis

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Written by Pat Henry on The Prepper Journal.

It could be your worst nightmare. A disaster happens and for some reason, you aren’t prepared at all. In a panic, you drive to the local store only to rush through the front doors and see row upon row of empty shelves. The survival items you need are gone, already picked over with nothing left except items of no practical use to you like cake decorating icing and gift cards.

Scenes like this happen all the time to people all over the world, but as preppers your job is to make sure it doesn’t happen to you. Your family should be preparing well in advance of any potential disaster and we have many posts that outline simple steps you can take now to be more prepared in the future. But let’s just play along with the scenario above.

If you had only one chance to make it to the store, what items would disappear first? If you were in a race with your neighbors to get anything you could before the stock was gone, which items would you need to throw into your shopping basket?

Items that sell out after a crisis

In a lot of ways, the crisis will dictate to some degree which items sell fastest, but we can imagine that in every crisis, power will be off. This fact dictates most of what will appear in the list below. I want to go over each item and give my reasoning for why you should have these items now or in some cases, what you can have on-hand as an alternative so that you aren’t that guy staring at an empty store wondering how you can use shoe laces in a survival situation.

Generators

1600 Running Watts/2000 Starting Watts, 4-Stroke Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator

A backup source of power is not something most of us think about (before we prepped anyway) until we hear that eerie sound of silence when every electric device connected to the wall goes dead. In my house, I have backup batteries on my computers so as soon as the lights go out, the fridge stops running and any ancillary devices stop, I begin to hear an annoying beep. That beep is telling me I only have about 10 minutes before my computer shuts off to save any work, but it also signals that we are no longer connected to the power grid in a meaningful way.

Generator sales always peak after a disaster and I have heard stories of people fighting in parking lots over them. The day the hurricane rolls into your town is not the day to try to go to the big home improvement store and get a generator because it is likely too late. If you think you need backup power for emergencies, set aside time and budget now to get a model that will work for you. Most generators will not power your entire home, but a decent sized portable generator can power several lights, charge devices or one to two small appliances. These are great for just the essentials to keep you going. But you should ensure you have plenty of fuel on hand also.

Alternative: In lieu of a generator, you can use a power inverter and your car’s engine to do the same thing. You may even use less fuel and will certainly cause less noise.

Extension cords

So, you have a fancy generator running outside but you need to connect your devices to it. Extension cords are always in short supply after a disaster because people forget they need to get power to the other end of their home or across the street to a neighbor’s house. A few 50 to 100 feet medium duty extension cords will help you bring the power into areas and away from the noise of the generator.

Weather Radios

When the TV is out and so is the internet, people naturally revert to the good old radio for information, entertainment and comfort. A weather radio is usually purchased because most like the Eton FRX3 Hand Crank NOAA AM/FM Weather Alert Radio have a crank that you can use to power the unit instead of batteries. This will ensure you can listen to local broadcasts or even emergency weather alerts without the need for power. Well, you supply the power.

Batteries

Speaking of batteries, it’s good to do two things ahead of any disaster. First, standardize on a common battery size now. I prefer AA for most of my devices that take batteries. My radios, headlamps, flashlights all use AA. The second thing is to have plenty of batteries on hand before you need them. I have purchased a couple of the 48-packs of batteries and stored them away for emergencies. These are not kept with the battery supply that is dipped into for game controllers and toys for visiting children.

Alternative: Use rechargeable batteries and a solar charger to keep your supply fresh. Even the best batteries will die eventually so rechargeables are a longer running option.

Candles

Candles are a grid-down staple that can be used for other things beside light.  You can heat a room or cook with them if you have the right set up. They aren’t a perfect solution because I would still rather have a headlamp than a candle, especially to prevent fires but they do have their place. Funny, if you watch the walking dead apparently, they each have about 10 dozen with them at all times. Candles are your back-up’s backup.

Industrial fans

When the power goes out, a fan can be one of those conveniences that saves a lot of time and trouble besides just bringing a breeze. After hurricane’s Katrina and Sandy, industrial fans were used to dry out carpet before mold set in. In the summer time, they could cool a decent sized room too and keep things from overheating. Now, you are going to have to justify using the gas you have stored for a fan, but in some cases, these are sold out quickly. I can imagine how nice they would be in a hot Florida or Mississippi August.

Gasoline cans

What are you going to carry that gas in that you are standing in line for hours to get? Along with decreased or non-existent fuel supplies, having an appropriate container for transport is often overlooked. Your car is out of gas or more likely you don’t want to use gas to get to the store so you will need several fuel cans to cart any fuel you can obtain. Additionally, a yard wagon to haul 4 of these or more at a time (provided rationing will allow it) might be a good idea also.

Flashlights/Lanterns

Fenix Flashlights HL50 365 Lumens Headlamp

Most home have some version of a flashlight around for emergencies. My dad had several strategically placed at my home growing up and I have followed suite to a large degree. You never realize just how many flashlights you need when the power goes out and it’s pitch black. I would add a decent headlamp to this list for everyone in the family because I think they are superior for working hands free. Lanterns are great for powering a room like the kitchen when we all sit down to a nice meal of freshly grilled venison steaks that were going to go bad in the freezer. We can use the lantern to have enough light to see each other and eat with and not spend the batteries in other devices. I have a couple of battery-powered lanterns (little to no heat and zero risk of fire) and several Coleman propane lanterns for outdoor use or winter time, controlled usage. The heat off these is great in winter and you can cook on the tops too if you are desperate.

Non-Perishable Food/Water

Now, the most obvious item that sells out after a crisis, and that is food. I didn’t want to create a list of 10 food items, but let’s just say that you know food disappears when panic sets in. You know your family is partial to eating food because they do it every single day. You know that when the power goes out, your options for cooking that food will be a little bit different so take time now to stock up on canned food items that your family can eat either by heating over a camp stove or grill or even a fire. There are a ton of options that you don’t even have to cook. Have plenty of these on hand to feed your family because the stores will run out if this is really a disaster. Even if they get things running in 3 days, do you want your family to go without that long? Take steps now.

This list is just 10 items that sell out in a crisis, but they are by no means the only things that disappear off shelves that we might wish we had. What is on your list of prepping items to make sure you have before it’s too late?

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What Refrigerated Foods are Safe to Consume after a Power Outage?

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Refrigerated Foods Power Outage

Time is not your friend when the power goes out and your refrigerator stops cooling. Typically, if the door is not opened food should stay within a safe temperature for four hours. What is a safe temperature for fresh meats, and other perishables? Forty degrees Fahrenheit or below, if raw ground beef, for example, is stored for longer than two hours above 40° F it must be discarded, it is simply not safe to eat because of the growth of possibly harmful bacteria.

You never know how long the power may be out so you have to note the time the power went out and when it came back on, that is if it comes back on. After four hours, you have to start throwing foods away. Not all foods, but some.

Examples of What to Discard

  • Raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, or seafood and soy meat substitutes must be discarded after two hours above 40 degrees F or after four hours in a refrigerator that is not cooling
  • Thawing meat or poultry same as above
  • Salad, tuna, shrimp, chicken, or egg salad same as above
  • Lunch meats, hot dogs, bacon and fresh sausage must also be discarded after the prescribed times
  • Soft cheeses must also be thrown away and some examples are blue cheese, Brie, Roquefort, cottage cheese, ricotta, Muenster, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, this list does not cover all of the cheeses that would have to be discarded, so you will have to read the manufactures’ label carefully about refrigeration of a particular product.
  • Eggs must be thrown away as well as milk, sour cream, soymilk, yogurt, and eggnog, for example.
  • Cut fresh fruits while not as critical as say milk or eggs, they typically will not be edible after two hours at room temperature.
  • Mayonnaise and prepared horseradish while they typically have a vinegar base should be thrown away after 8 hours above 50 degrees.
  • Cooked pasta, cooked rice, and cooked potatoes

Safe to Keep

  • Hard cheeses can be kept at room temperature but after removing from the refrigerator pat any moisture off the product if out of the packaging.
  • Jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, catsup, olives, pickles
  • Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads, tortillas
  • Raw fruits and vegetables are safe on the counter, but once cut up eat as soon as possible
  • Pies, and cakes (Foodsafety.gov, n.d.).

Of course, the products listed are not every possible item one might find in a refrigerator, but it gives you an idea of the types of foods that do require refrigeration, and thus, not safe to consume when there is a lack of cooling for over two hours.

Having a thermometer in your refrigerator that is not built in and relies on power is ideal. While you want to keep the door shut, you can take a quick glance at the thermometer to gauge where you are temperature wise.

To extend the four hour time, you can place a heavy blanket over your Fridge to keep the warmer outside air from conducting to the cooler air, remember warm air always conducts to cold so when you open the door the cold does not rush out but rather the warmer air rushes in.

Having a small generator that could run a refrigerator and freezer would be prudent. It is not just the expense of the wasted foods, but also the fact you have limited your food choices during a crisis, not to mention trying to get rid of spoiled foods.

Having spoiled meat and other foods on your property can become a crisis in and of itself when sanitation services are not available. You certainly cannot store garbage inside the home and if the crisis is extended, you would have to consider burying the waste or at the very least sealing it in barrels that rodents and insects cannot gain access to.

You have to plan for this type of scenario and cover all the what-ifs.

Foodsafety.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved 2017, from https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/refridg_food.html

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The Changing Scene of Backpacking

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One of the most popular things for young people to do today is to spend some time backpacking around the world. There are many benefits to having a backpacking adventure. Young people learn more about the wider world when they travel beyond their borders. They come back from their experiences more educated, more tolerant and respectful of other cultures, more flexible and better able to solve problems. Backpacking has been around since the 1950s when backpackers first started travelling the famous Marco Polo Silk Route. That evolved into the Hippie Trail from Europe to Asia in the 1960s, and backpackers have spread around the world since then. Here is a look at the ways backpacking has changed over the years.
The People
Perhaps the biggest way that backpacking has changed over the years is the types of people that go backpacking. When backpacking was in its infancy, it was only hippies and adventurers who would be bold enough to travel the world with nothing more than a backpack on their shoulders. Nowadays, all kinds of people go backpacking. It is not just the young people who are highly adventurous. Now that there are many more resources available for backpackers, people do not need to be as fearless and willing to blaze their own trails as they had to be by necessity in the past. People today can use Internet resources to plan every single detail of their trips. In the past, travelers often had to fly by the seat of their pants when they arrived at a new destination.
The Equipment
Another huge change in backpacking over the decades has been the updated technology. The main way that technology has changed backpacking is by making everything smaller and lighter. Backpackers today can fit a lot more gear in their packs than they could even 20 years ago. Clothing, shoes, tents and most other gear has both become lighter and smaller. It has also become easier to pack by stowing up into smaller spaces. Instead of packing cartons of cigarettes, backpackers can use e-cigarettes and pack a vape starter kit to save space.
Of course, the abundance of electronic gear is one of the biggest innovations in backpacking. With one smartphone, travelers can document their trip with photos and videos, keep in contact with the folks back home through email and video chat, translate a foreign language, call for a taxi, research their next destination and navigate their way through unfamiliar territory with GPS guidance. Smartphones have made travelling much easier than ever before, but they also take out some of the sense of adventure in backpacking.
The Destinations
When the backpackers started spreading out around the world in the 1970s, towns where they spent a lot of time started rapidly evolving. Quiet fishing villages and sleepy mountain towns started sprouting many hostels, restaurants and nightclubs aimed at the backpacking crowd. Backpackers started to fall in love with many of these destinations, putting down roots and opening up businesses of their own.
The result of this is that there are many stops along the popular backpacking routes where travelers can eat Western food and speak in English without ever having to immerse themselves in the local culture. This makes it much more convenient to be a backpacker, which is one of the reasons so many more people are backpacking these days. It also means that something is lost because many backpackers do not gain the cultural enrichment that was once inevitable for backpackers.
As you can see, the world of backpacking has changed a lot over the decades. The people, places and gear may have changed, but the experience is still essentially the same. It is still all about people expanding their worlds to learn about other cultures. Although they may not get the same wild experience that was possible in the past, it is still a good way for people to expand their horizons and learn about the world.

Surviving A Fall Through The Ice

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Surviving A Fall Through Ice If you were to fall through ice into freezing water that is over your head, do you know what to do? What if there is a current? Even if there’s people with you, they may not be able to assist you without falling in, too. Do you know how to …

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The Backwoods Hunting Weapon You Can Make In 1 Hour (No, It’s Not A Bow)

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The Backwoods Hunting Weapon You Can Make In 1 Hour (No, It’s Not A Bow)

Image source: YouTube/Nat Geo screen grab

 

When suddenly confronted with a wilderness survival situation, finding or building shelter from the elements should be your first priority. However, once you have either located or constructed suitable shelter and found a source of fresh water, obtaining enough food to maintain your heath is of paramount importance — and obtaining sufficient protein is essential. Thus, knowing how to construct and use primitive hunting tools, such as a sling or an atlatl and darts, is extremely beneficial, since they require very little construction time and can be easily made from the materials at hand.

Many if not most survivalists would say a self-bow — any simple bow made from a single piece of wood – should be constructed first. But this requires a significant amount of time to make, because you first have to find a straight sapling of an appropriate species and cut it down, and then you have to remove the bark and wait for the wood to dry before carving it to shape. Also, there is the issue of finding appropriate material from which to construct a bow string that does not stretch.

Consequently, constructing an atlatl (a “spear thrower”) and darts is often a far better strategy, because an atlatl can be built with as little as an hour’s work, and atlatl darts need not be nearly as sophisticated as arrows for a bow; atlatl darts are not subjected to the same stresses that firing an arrow from a bow produces. This is the weapon used by our ancestors to kill small animals, long before there were bows.

Let’s Get Started

In order to make an atlatl, start by finding a straight sapling, approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter and preferably one that is of a very lightweight species of wood, such as poplar. Cut a section from it, approximately 24-28 inches in length. Use your camp knife and a baton to split the sapling down the middle, into two halves. You will need to choose the thicker of the two halves and proceed to use your bushcraft knife to flatten and smooth the split surface while leaving the other side half-round. Next, find an appropriate tree limb with a symmetrical fork, and then cut the fork from the limb, leaving approximately two inches below the fork and then cut each fork to a length of approximately one inch. Then cut a peg, approximately two inches in length.

Story continues below video

Next, drill one hole in the end of the flattened section of sapling using an auger or bow drill with sand for an abrasive and, once the hole is drilled, insert the peg firmly into the hole so that it extends approximately one inch above the flattened surface. Carve a handle on the other end of the sapling section by first rounding the edges and then carving shallow groves in either side for your index finger and thumb to help you retain your grasp on the atlatl when using it to launch a dart. Once you have the grip and finger grooves carved, drill a second hole in the flattened side, approximately one inch above the point where your thumb and index fingers meet when grasping the handle section of the atlatl, and then firmly insert the fork into that hole and you will have a completed (although very primitive), fully functional, atlatl.

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Now you need to make atlatl darts. They can be made as simple as cutting a reasonably straight section of sapling to approximately 36 inches in length, removing the bark, sharpening one end, and then cutting a nock in the other end that will mate with the peg on your atlatl. Then, to launch your dart at a prospective target, all you have to do is place the dart’s nock against the atlatl’s peg and then lay the shaft into the fork and hold it in place by positioning your thumb and index fingers over the dart’s shaft. Raise the atlatl over your shoulder, point the dart at your intended target, and then move the atlatl forward in an arc while releasing the dart’s shaft from your fingers. This will cause the dart to launch with great speed and momentum. If you’re confused, then watch the video below.

Story continues below video

With more time to work with, you can make much finer atlatl darts by cutting an appropriate sized sapling to length, removing the bark, and then straightening the shaft by suspending the dart over a fire for a short period in order to cause the moisture contained within the wood to heat. Also, you can harden the tip of the shaft by placing it in the coals of a fire for a short period and removing it. Then, sharpen it with your bushcraft knife.

So, although an atlatl and darts may not be as sophisticated a hunting tool as a bow, it requires significantly less time and effort to make it – and yet is every bit as effective at harvesting both small and large game animals. The range over which they can be cast is mainly dependent on the strength of the hunter, but the average person can easily cast a dart 50 yards using an atlatl and, with a little more effort, 100 yards.

What advice would you add on making an atlatl and darts? Share your tips in the section below:

If You Run Out Of Ammo, What Would You Do? Learn How To Make Your Own! Read More Here.

Can Non-Maple Trees Be Tapped For Syrup? Yes!

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Can Non-Maple Trees Be Tapped For Syrup? Yes!

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

Tapping trees for sap and making homemade syrup is an easy and delicious component of being a homesteader and raising one’s own food. The three issues that often stymy beginners, however, revolve around the trees themselves.

People new to tapping often struggle with being able to tell sugar maples from other maples, discerning which trees are maples as opposed to other deciduous trees, and wondering what to do even when they can differentiate between trees but do not have access to maples.

It’s Not Just Sugar Maples … And Not Just Maples!

So, what if there are no sugar maples? The good news: It might not matter.  Trees vary greatly by region and even by individual trees. This means that the red maple in your yard might produce better quality sap with a higher sugar content than your neighbor’s sugar maple, in the same way that your yellow Labrador dog might outrun your neighbor’s greyhound.

The best way to know is to try it. When in doubt, tap it and taste the sap. I happen to have a big old sugar maple that gives sap with a bitter taste, and a red maple which is excellent for syruping. Pretty much any maple can be used for syrup. If the sap tastes good, try boiling it down. And if it turns out to be worth the effort, put a marker on the tree so that you can identify it for future use.

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Even better news is that trees other than maples can be used to make delicious syrup. Birches, particularly yellow and gray species, make an excellent syrup, even though the sap has a lower sugar content and must be boiled down for longer than that of most maples. Many sources say walnut and hornbeam trees also make good choices for syrup.

As with any endeavor, remember to keep safe and avoid trying the sap of trees that contain any toxic components.

How to Tell the Difference

Telling the difference between trees, especially, during winter, is admittedly tricky at tapping time. The best way to know whether a maple tree is a sugar maple or a red maple or some other species of maple is often by the shape of their leaves or the color of their flowers. Unfortunately, when it’s time to tap for syrup, the leaves and flowers are long gone. It is possible that the leaves are on the ground under the tree, and it is even slightly possible that there is adequate distance between trees that it can be determined which tree the leaves fell from. But it is also likely that whatever leaves are present are buried under a foot or more of snow and ice. If you can tell by the leaves which kind of tree you have, using Internet photos or a field guide, do that.

Otherwise, try examining the bark. Mature red maples and silver maples tend to have a scalier texture than sugar maples, and do not have the light-colored splotches that sugar maples sometimes can.

Can Non-Maple Trees Be Tapped For Syrup? Yes!

Walnut tree. Image source: Pixabay.com

The best way for small homestead syruping operations to ensure they are using sugar maples for spring tapping is to identify them ahead of time. The flowers and fruit — often called “spinners” or “wings” — are distinctive among maple species, as well as the leaves. Anyone considering tapping trees would do well to do their research in advance and mark the trees, using colored survey tape or marker flags, or even a hand-drawn map if there are enough trees.

Distinguishing Maples From Other Deciduous Trees

As with differentiating between species of maples, telling one genus of deciduous tree — often called hardwoods — from another can be challenging, as well, and for most of the same reasons.  However, there is generally a more easily discernable difference between the bark textures and colors, sizes and basic growing habits between one tree genus and another.

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Using the process of elimination can help. Paper birches are easy to discern by their bark. Other birch species and many ash trees hang onto their leaves long into the winter and sometimes even until the spring buds start pushing, so it is very likely that they would still have a leaf or two attached to the tree or on top of the snow beneath it.  American beech trees often have a beech bark disease that makes their trunks covered with distinctive cankers.

Other trees sometimes have particular shapes or growing habits which make them discernable from sugar maples. For example, bear in mind that the branches of willows droop, and cherry trees are often twisted and gnarly. Red maples and silver maples are more likely to be found in swampy areas than are sugar maples.

While these points do not result in a definitive identification, they can at least narrow the pool of possibilities and thereby decrease time spent poring over field manuals and online guidebooks.

Tapping trees for sap need not be complicated. As with anything, it makes sense to start with the basics, continue to learn through a combination of trial and error and research with each season, and enjoy the tasty results.

Have you ever tapped a non-Maple tree? Share your tapping advice in the section below:

Harness The Power Of Nature’s Most Remarkable Healer: Vinegar

Buy Experiences Not Things

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The concept of “buy experiences not things” is not new. Studies have been conducted and countless articles written about the idea.

I’ve just returned from the PNW (Pacific Northwest). The memories I bring back will last me a lifetime, but aside from my clothes and hygiene kit, I couldn’t tell you what else I packed to save my life. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I could tell you what I had, but I couldn’t detail on which day I wore or used what. More importantly, in no way did I ever feel anymore exhilarated and excited or my day improved because I wore or adorned a specific item. I couldn’t tell you what clothes my colleagues wore or what knives they used while we were together. But What I can tell you are the stories we shared, the laughs we had and the places we visited.

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Grandma’s Cures

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I’ve always been interested in Grandma’s cures from a prepping perspective. They have been handed down from a time where medicines were not available and people had to create their own medicines and cures using only what was available around them.

Modern medicine took that and expanded it significantly to make the medicines we have […]

The Survivalist (Frontier Justice)

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“The Survivalist may be the best post-apocalyptic series out there,” raves Steve Erwood of the Disaster Preparedness Blog. “In addition to a steady stream of gunfights with zombie-like mutants, roadway bandits, and opportunistic warlords, the books teach dozens of useful survival tricks. Learn to hotwire cars, construct homemade booby traps, build garbage-powered generators, and retrieve fuel from abandoned gas pumps.”

Bryan Foster, author of The Prepper’s Handbook, says “It’s rare to find books this entertaining that are so well researched.” Nicholas Sansbury Smith, author of Extinction Horizon, adds “The Survivalist books are incredibly addictive. They create a cool western vibe not seen since Louis L’Amour’s timeless classics.”

Frontier Justice is the first book in a series described as “a cross between Justified and The Walking Dead.” The Superpox-99 virus has wiped out nearly the entire human race. Governments have collapsed. Cities have become graveyards filled with unspeakable horror. People have resorted to scavenging from the dead, or taking from the living. The entire industrialized world has become a wasteland of abandoned cars, decaying bodies, and feral animals.

To stay alive, U.S. Deputy Marshal Mason Raines must forage for food, water, and gasoline while outgunning those who seek to take advantage of the apocalyptic anarchy. Together with his giant Irish wolfhound, Bowie, he aligns with survivors of the town of Boone in a life and death struggle against a gang of violent criminals. With each deadly encounter, Mason is forced to accept his place as one of the nation’s few remaining lawmen. In a world now populated by escaped convicts, paranoid mutants, and government hit squads, his only hope to save the townspeople is to enforce his own brand of frontier justice.

Authored by renowned disaster preparedness expert, Dr. Arthur Bradley, Frontier Justice is “the start of a great apocalyptic saga.”

To find out about the next book in The Survivalist saga, or to sign up for Dr. Bradley’s FREE Practical Prepper Newsletter, go to disasterpreparer.com.

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High-powered room with a view

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2004 Ford F-450 Xplorer Xcursion- Custonised

Montoya’s Ford – Its a bit of an animal

If you love living in RVs that can take you literally anywhere, then you are going to love this Ford F-450 Xplorer Xcursion RV, 6.7L Cummins I-6

WHILE HORSEPOWER and torque typically head the list of qualities, capabilities, and other criteria that come to mind when we think about diesel engines, another more important word, “freedom,” seldom does.

Carl Montoya’s ’04 Ford F-450 Xplorer Xcursion RV is a running, driving, Cummins-powered freedom machine that carries him over territory few motorhomes would ever be able to navigate— to places some folks will never have the pleasure of experiencing. The rig does so thanks to an engine swap and some crafty upgrades that take this machine from mildly capable to virtually unstoppable. There aren’t many trucks Diesel Power has featured designed to do what this one does, and that’s what makes it so interesting.

Carl Montoya

To understand this truck, we first need to understand its owner. Carl Montoya is the proprietor of Nitro Gear and Axle and a lifelong lover of the outdoors. When it was time to look for a vehicle that would be good for his business and his lifestyle, the idea of a four-wheel-drive motorhome was perfect for him. Carl wasn’t looking to go rockcrawling, but he wanted something that would handle mild off-road situations and take him to the places where living “off the grid” was truly off the grid. “When I first found this rig, I was looking for a four-wheel-drive diesel RV,” Carl says. “Most of the motorhomes out there have gas engines and are built with lighter-duty chassis than this F-450–based truck. They are limited in their towing capacity because of their weight, and they can’t support the things I want to do.”

Things were looking up when Carl located this Xplorer Xcursion in Montana with only 19,000 miles on its odometer. “The RV had a 6.0L Power Stroke engine that was having the common head-gasket issues those engines have,” Carl explains. “I got the truck for a good price and had the engine gone through with all the typical fixes, like head studs and other upgrades. My plan was to leave that engine in the RV for the long haul.”

That plan didn’t come to fruition, unfortunately, and Carl made a very significant change out of sheer frustration. “The 6.0L Power Stroke engine was a constant source of problems for me. Every time I would go somewhere, I was having these random little issues. Sensors and other components were failing,” Carl says. “Finally, we were on the way to an event in Moab (Utah), and it was blowing coolant out of the exhaust whenever we climbed steep grades. The truck only had 43,000 miles on it, and I knew I needed to do something.”

After the event, Carl reached out to Diesel Conversion Specialists in Montana. The timing was perfect, because they told him to bring them the rig and they’d get on it immediately. After gingerly driving the truck to the shop, Carl discussed the build with the team at DCS, and they decided to use a 6.7L Cummins diesel engine for the RV. “The 6.7L was a little more challenging for the DCS team to work with, but they learned some things along the way, and it was the right move,” Carl says.

FAST FACTS:

YEAR/MAKE/MODEL: ’04 Ford F-450 Xplorer Xcursion RV

OWNER: Carl Montoya

HOMETOWN: Wenatchee, Washington

ODOMETER: 57,000 miles

FUEL ECONOMY: 13.8 mpg highway/10 to 12 mpg towing

ENGINE: 6.7L Cummins I-6 ARP head studs

FUEL: Fuelab lift pump, FASS Diesel Fuel Systems in-tank pump, stock injection pump and injectors, SCT and EFILive tuning, three 20-gallon fuel tanks

AIR: AFE Power cold-air intake, K&N Engineering air filter, 62mm Diesel Power Source turbocharger over a BorgWarner S475, Banks Power intercooler, High Performance Silicone boots and clamps

EXHAUST: Diesel Power Source manifold, Diesel Conversion Specialists downpipe, MBRP tube

TRANSMISSION: 5R110 five-speed automatic by ATS Diesel Performance, Five Star torque converter, stock controller with Diesel Conversion Specialists tuning

FLUIDS: Lucas gear oil, Ford ATF

HORSEPOWER: 600 hp

TORQUE: 1,200 lb-ft

TIRES: 335/80R20 Goodyear G275 MSA

WHEELS: 20×11 Buckstop reversible

SUSPENSION: ’05-and-up Ford F-550 coil spring, leveling spacers (front), 12,000-pound leaf springs (rear), Firestone airbags, Radflo Suspension Technology custom-valved 2.5-inch shocks, Hellwig Products sway bars

AXLES: Dana 60 “Fatboy” with Nitro Gear and Axle 5.38 gears, Eaton ELocker differential, Nitro Xtreme differential cover, Spicer 35-spline inner/outer shafts, Warn locking hubs, Performance Steering Components 10-inch-travel hydraulic-assist steering ram, 1550 series Spicer universal joints (front), Dana S110 dropout-style axle, Nitro Gear and Axle 5.38 gears, Detroit Trutrac limited-slip differential (rear)

BODY: Xplorer Xcursion RV, ASFIR 4×4 winch bumper, Factor 55 ProLink, Rigid LED lightbar and foglights, ’07 Ford Super Duty grille, headlights, and mirrors

INTERIOR: Edge Products instruments, accommodations for six, full bathroom, 100-gallon freshwater capacity, air conditioning, 5,000-watt generator, LCD television, Bluetooth stereo, cooktop, Norcold refrigerator

FUN FACT: The exterior Nitro Gear and Axle wrap on the truck features Bomber Cliffs, a Mission Ridge, Washington, ski area.

Tech Details

“The extra displacement and the Diesel Power Source compound turbochargers, along with the other upgrades, really make the engine a stout piece. With the truck’s gearing and other upgrades, the Ford engine was not lacking power, but I just could not deal with the reliability problems.”

When Carl got his RV back a month later, it was love at first fire-up. “The Power Stroke needed to be revved to make power, and the transmission was shifting all the time,” Carl remembers. “This Cummins likes to lug along, and it delivers incredible fuel mileage. I have seen 13.8 mpg when not towing and an average of 10 to 11 mpg when towing a trailer. The hilarious thing is that I get about 10 mpg when I drive my Land Cruiser by itself. When a vehicle with a weight rating of about 26,000 pounds is getting the same mileage, that’s pretty awesome.”

The engine isn’t the only nontraditional piece of F-450 hardware that supports Carl’s motorhome. “Until 2004, the F-450 used the same front axle as the F-250 and F-350. However, in 2005, Ford went with an axle that is coil sprung and 6 inches wider,” Carl explains. “The axle is bigger and beefier in many respects, but it was also redesigned to give more steering angle. The RV now has a tighter turning radius than many pickup trucks because of the axle swap. We added a 2-inch leveling spacer to the front end when we did the swap. The rear has 12,000-pound springs and a custom-machined lift block.” The wheels are reversible Buckstop 20-inch wheels, mounted on 41-inch-tall Goodyear G275 MSA military pieces. With the axle, it’s a package that solved a ride-quality problem that needed to be remedied.

“There aren’t many trucks Diesel Power has featured designed to do what this one does, and that’s what makes it so interesting.”

By now, you have figured out Carl isn’t the type of guy who likes to pull into the local campground and simply plug in his RV. “This is a very versatile truck, and I have lived in it for months at a time,” Carl tells us. “It is designed to be self-supporting. It carries 100 gallons of fresh water, it can sleep six people, and the only real challenge that crops up is keeping things from freezing when it is subzero outside.” While the truck gets plenty of use at industry events and gatherings, it isn’t just the diesel fans or hard-core gearheads who enjoy it. “The crazy thing about this RV is that everyone loves it,” Carl says with a laugh. “Grandmothers, kids, and even people who would probably not be considered diesel enthusiasts like it. Most people dig it for the off-the-grid persona the truck exudes.”

One thing Carl isn’t trying to do is make a habit of hitting hard-core trails. “You do have some of the RV element to deal with: drawers and cabinets that can open up on side angles. There’s also the fact that this is a long and tall vehicle with lots of overhang,” Carl explains. “I followed a Jeep Rubicon on a trail that was probably more hard-core than I expected it to be. Lifting a wheel in a vehicle that weighs 17,000 pounds is cool, but you don’t want to do it a lot because it can be punishing on the chassis with all that weight. The rear overhang can be a problem in big trail dips and coming off of rocks as well.”

If you live in the Pacific Northwest and you happen to see the coolest F-450–based RV you’ve ever laid eyes on rolling down the highway and you are not driving a four-wheel drive, don’t follow Carl Montoya. Once the pavement turns to dirt, this diesel rig shines, and you’ll be left wondering where the big beast went. Diesel performance is one thing, and diesel freedom is another. Thanks to thoroughly researched modifications and a complete repower, this rig has high levels of both.

This is exactly what Carl Montoya envisioned when upgrading his ’04 Ford F-450–based RV. It’s a capable off-road machine that’s powerful enough to tow his trail rigs and fit enough gear to support him living completely off the grid whenever he wants. | Diesel Conversion Specialists performed the engine swap. The troublesome 6.0L Ford Power Stroke was ditched in favor of a rock-solid 6.7L Cummins. The truck uses an ATS Diesel Performance 5R110 five-speed automatic transmission with a reprogrammed Ford controller. | Diesel Conversion Specialists did its normal ultra-sanitary job on this swap. The 6.7L Cummins looks like it should be a factory option in this Ford. Carl is extremely happy with the truck’s increased power and better driving manners. | Navigating the trails in a rig this big and long can be tricky. But, with forethought and good driving, Carl manages to keep trail rash to a minimum. He also has to be careful not to launch the groceries out of the cabinets! | The axle swap also created a change from leaf to coil springs in the front. Here we can see the beefy ASFIR 4×4 skidplate and the Performance Steering Components hydraulic ram in the steering system and the Nitro Gear and Axle beefy differential cover. | With a 600-mile fuel range, 100 gallons of fresh water on board, and all the comforts of home, Carl has actually lived in this rig for months at a time. He’s in it almost every weekend, adventuring or attending events and shows for Nitro Gear and Axle. | The Bushwacker fender flares are in place because of the truck’s front-axle swap. By using an ’05 Dana 60, the track width is increased by 6 inches. Ironically, the turning distance is shorter due to the axle’s more modern design. | This photo clearly illustrates the increased width of the Dana 60 axle. Other than the Cummins swap, this is Carl’s favorite modification. | Here’s the spot Carl loves to be: the driver seat of his rig.

This F-450–based motorhome is truly a diesel-powered room with a view.

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4 Reasons Not to Rely on Social Security

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Many people are not relying on Social Security alone to satisfy their financial needs after retirement and for sound basis. Here are four major reasons why you too should consider other sources of income in addition to a Social Security check after you turn in your timesheet at work for the last time.

  1. Social Security is Not Secure

    While it is true that some creditors consider government income as stable, there are technically no guarantees as to whether or not you will get paid every month.

    Social Security benefits are solely funded by taxpayer dollars even though you paid into the program during employment years. The monies that you contributed were actually to support others who retired while you were working. Your funds now come directly from individuals presently laboring in corporate America. At anytime the government can opt to discontinue the Social Security program, and there would be no backup funds to make payroll for those presently reliant on the system for income.

    Ending Social Security altogether may seem like a far-fetched idea, but the concept may not be far away from fruition. Congress along with several presidents have expressed the need to renovate the Social Security sector of government as its policies and practices are outdated. No government official, however, has determined an appropriate course of action that does not involve doing away with the program altogether. You may find yourself in a serious financial dilemma if you rely on Social Security alone and the plan is discontinued.

  2. You Will Lose Buying Power

    The Social Security Administration tries to combat the possibility of senior citizens losing buying power by comparing Social Security benefits against the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Such index typically allows for an increase in wages due to inflation. The CPI-W scheme does not, however, meet the needs of seniors.

    Mature adults do not carry the same buying practices as young and middle-aged clerical workers. Seniors often pay through the nose to fill prescription requests due to pharmaceutical prices greatly outpacing inflation trends. The better idea would be to compare Social Security benefits against the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E). Unfortunately, though, the Social Security Administration has not determined it best to change its practices concerning this matter, which leads to the need for seniors to be frugal.

  3. You Cannot Live the Lavish Life with Social Security benefits

    Social Security benefits are based on how much workers paid into the system when they were working. You can expect to receive a modest paycheck, which will most likely represent a significant decrease in lifestyle – especially if you carry debt with you into retirement. Prepare to clip coupons and forego certain luxuries if you plan to rely on Social Security benefits alone. You certainly will not be able to buy that yacht with government checks.

  4. You Can Have More Money by Saving on Your Own

    The median income in the United States is just under $55,000 annually. According to the Federal Reserve, Americans typically set aside about five percent of their paycheck’s every two weeks for the purpose of savings. In order to retire well, you should aim for closer to 15%, and invest mostly in good growth stock mutual funds. If you have a knack for real estate investing and are willing to put in some work, rental properties are also a very strong investment option. It is usually worth your while to keep your long-term investments in a Roth IRA or Roth 401k to avoid expensive taxation on your growth. With the combined power of tax-free growth, long time horizons, and aggressive saving, Americans in almost every income bracket can retire with more than $1 million in the bank.

Some senior citizens choose to depend on their government to provide payment for the years that they contributed to the workforce by funding Social Security benefits. You should count yourself among the others who count Social Security checks as one of many sources of income.

Rachael Murphey is an entrepreneur and writer on topics relating to business, personal finance, personal growth, and emergency preparedness. She currently lives in Denver, CO with her dog Charlie.

12 Gardening Hacks for New Gardeners

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With spring coming up in just a few weeks, it’s a great time to begin planning your garden. If you’re new to gardening, you’ll be glad to hear that there are many tips that can help make the process cheaper, easier, and more efficient. The great thing about the hacks in this article is that […]

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Upcycling: Keep the old & turn it into something new

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Off-grid, Upcycling, reusing, green,

Upcycling refashions the old into something new!

We live in a throw-away society. A culture based on how much “stuff” we have. The media gears our life towards replacing things because it’s fashionable rather than because we actually need to. It is also causing us to rush headlong into a lack of natural resources.

Recycling is of course an option to help combat the use of natural resources. But that requires more energy and water to break down a product into its base materials before remaking it into something else, normally of lower quality.

Upcycling however is completely green.

It’s not about breaking things down, but simply refashioning it into something new and of the same or perhaps even better quality. The conversion process means nothing gets sent to land fill, requires no extra energy (other than a little elbow grease on your part) and allows you to be creative. By reusing and upcycling products to perform different purposes to what they were intended, you are also saving money. Instead of going out and buying a brand new product, find something you are not using and use your creativity. Voila! Upcycling magic has occurred!

The complete opposite of consumer culture, more or less anything can be upcycled, from furniture to clothing to electronics – the only thing stopping you is your imagination. The same thing doesn’t have to be upcycled in the same way. Take a plastic bottle for instance; this could become a planter for the garden, a bird feeder, a lamp or anything else you can think of.

Old electronics, something that often gives us grief when trying to dispose of, can also be upcycled. Old smartphones can become alarm clocks, or if you’re tech savvy a smartwatch! An old school computer monitor can be cleared of internal wiring and become a fish tank! Or if you remove the screen itself, how about a cat bed? The fan in your old computer can be converted into a regular desk fan with a bit of know-how. Plus, if you’re a fashion fanatic how about some quirky keyboard letter cufflinks or earrings?

Upcycling also encompasses larger projects too.

How about wood pallets becoming a stylish piece of decking or front porch? Or how about going for the ultimate upcycle – a whole home!

Shipping containers are becoming a popular option to upcycle into a tiny home. Although you’re unlikely to come across these 8ft wide by 8ft tall containers for free (expect to pay around the $3000 mark for each one), they offer a good opportunity for an upcycle project! Rylan and Brook Naylor, took two of these containers and have converted them into a home. Although not completely off-grid they are hoping that in the coming years they will be.

Canadian Joseph Dupuis bought three shipping containers and did succeed in turning them into a 355 square foot off-grid home. Located 35 miles west of Ottawa Canada, Joseph’s off-grid container cabin is powered by a two kilowatt solar system and heated by a wood fire stove. The space is completely open plan and is designed to be dismantled, so it can be moved and erected in a new location. The whole project (excluding the solar system) cost Joseph $20,000. Having lived in his container cabin for two years, Joseph is looking to sell to give someone else a taste of upcycled off-grid living.

To have a guided tour by Joseph himself, visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=njjz-xTs67M

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Fire Away: Gasifiers for Off-Grid Living

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Off-grid, gasifiers, heating, electricity, green energy

Fire Her Up: – Gasifiers are not new technology, having been used well before the world wars

Located in Northern Finland just inside the Arctic Circle lies the village of Kempele; a small community of ten families living completely off-grid. However, their lifestyle may be somewhat different from what is considered the “conventional off-gridder”. The homes have fully equipped kitchens, an abundance of low energy lighting – some have Jacuzzis! So how do they provide enough electricity and heat to sustain them throughout the year which can include a very cold Finnish winter (-30°C kind of cold)?

The answer is a Volter Gasifier plant. Using wood chips from the local area, the gasifier burns this fuel incompletely to produce wood gas, which is then burned to provide electricity. The thermal energy produced is used to heat a huge water tank, which then pumps the warm water through a series of pipes making up an underfloor heating system for the houses. By using the thermal energy to heat water the community is reducing its electricity usage. Any excess electricity is stored in three large battery packs for later use.  The Volter is able to power and heat the ten homes for the whole year, even through the cold winter. Each family pays €1,500 ($1580) per year for both their heating and electric.

The Volter system starts at €150,000 ($158,000) which the community paid for collectively, by pooling their resources. Although a steep initial investment, it’s taken only seven years for the community to see returns. In locations where the cost of electricity and heating is higher than Finland, returns on the initial investment could be seen in as little as three years.

After the success of Volter’s initial pilot project in Kempele, the product design has been adapted and streamlined to look more aesthetically pleasing and is being rolled out across a wide range of countries, including Canada, Australia and the UK.

But what exactly is a gasifier and how does it work?

Gasification is the process of using heat to transform a solid fuel, like wood, into a flammable fuel, normally gas. Initially the solid fuel is burned without enough oxygen, a process called incomplete combustion. The output gases produced (including carbon monoxide and hydrogen) are still combustible and so can be burned as a fuel. This is basically a process which involves controlling the stages of combustion. You can find out more details on the staged combustion process here.

Gasifiers are not new technology, in fact far from it. During the Second World War over a million vehicles in Europe had on board gasifiers due to a rationing of fuel such as diesel. They have also been used in agricultural machinery such as tractors.

In more recent times however, gasifiers can be used to power whole communities, such as in the example above or can be more small scale.

For example, the BioGen Woodlog Power and Heat Unit produced by Microgen. This on or off-grid unit is a combination of wood gasification and Microgen free piston power generation, providing both a power and heating solution. Wood is placed in the primary fire box which produces wood gas by being heated in low oxygen conditions. The wood gas is then sucked into a second fire box with higher oxygen conditions where it is fully combusted. It is in this second firebox that the head of the Microgen biomass stirling power unit is located. When this reaches a certain temperature the unit starts to produce power which can be in either AC or DC. The heat of the fire boxes is absorbed by a coolant through heat exchangers on the walls of the boxes.

The thermal output is a maximum 20KW, with a water capacity for 100 litres and temperatures reaching up to 90°C. The 180cm x 60cm x 85cm unit weighs in at 450kg and has 80% efficiency.

For other suppliers of small scale domestic gasifiers, including All Power Labs and Northern Self Reliance, visit this site.

There is also the option to build your own gasifier and there are many instructions available online for various models. However, working with flammable materials and toxic gases can be very dangerous and should you decide to go down this route, it is very important to do lots of research and take all necessary precautions to keep yourself and those around you safe.

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12 Easy And Fun Plants For Kids To Grow

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12 Easy And Fun Plants For Kids To Grow There are certain things parents are expected to teach their children; how to balance a checkbook, load a dishwasher, and cook a decent meal. Why not extend their knowledge? They shouldn’t just be able to cook food, they should be able to grow it. They should have fingernails full of dirt and baskets filled with tomatoes, potatoes, and corn. Not only will it save them money and give them valuable life skills, it will be a memory they can look back on and smile. So here are twelve plants that every

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Iranian Attack Boats Block U.S. Ship, Come Within 600 Yards

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Iranian Attack Boats Block U.S. Ship, Brush Within 600 Yards

Image source: Wikimedia

WASHINGTON — The Iranian government continues to take provocative actions aimed at the United States and its allies.

The Iranian military tested ballistic missiles and sent four fast attack boats close to American and British warships over the weekend.

Four attack boats from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps intentionally blocked the path of the U.S. and British ships, coming within 600 words of them and forcing them to change their course, Fox News and CBS reported. The American ship was the USNS Invincible, a tracking ship which uses sonar to monitor submarines and missile tests. The incident took place in the Strait of Hormuz.

Are You Prepared For A Downed Grid? Get Backup Electricity Today!

The U.S. military labeled it “unsafe” and “unprofessional.”

This was the second time Iranian ships approached the Invincible; two days earlier a frigate from the Iranian Navy came within 150 yards of the surveillance vessel, CBS News reported. The Invincible was in the Gulf of Oman, south of Iran, when that incident occurred.

Missile Test

The Iranians also test fired two Fateh-110 Mod 3 short-range ballistic missiles, U.S. officials told Fox News. One the missiles destroyed a barge moored at sea 155 miles away.

“Between North Korea’s saber-rattling and Iran’s willful defiance, we certainly don’t lack for evidence of these rogue regime’s intentions,” U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, said in a statement. “This is why we need to develop a strong missile-defense system and to take a harder line toward these regimes. No amount of words, however clear or forceful, will prevent this kind of aggression; only firm action to defend America and our allies will stop them in their tracks.”

Do you think Iran or North Korea are a threat to the U.S.? Share your thoughts in the section below:

The Top 11 Threats To The Grid. Read More Here.

Modern Survival In Suburbia: The Intangible Prep

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by Eric E. Borton: INTRODUCTION Most of my friends and family live in subdivisions in suburban neighborhoods stretching from North Atlanta to Athens, Georgia. As turbulent times surround us, some of them are taking their preparedness more seriously. They’re beginning to understand that their absolute dependency on the grid, city utilities and services, and modern […]

World’s largest yacht an off grid paradise for billionaires

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Artists impression

A £213 million off-grid superyacht may not be quite the aesthetic that most off-gridders sign up to – but an influence-peddling organisation based in the UK is offering a few carefully selected billionaires the chance to spend the bulk of their lives touring the globe like Bond villains, completely disconnected from the system – in what is being called the “world’s largest floating private members’ club.”

Wealthy members of Quintessentially, the British concierge firm which will operate the seaborne private club, are lining up to relax in off-grid hotel suites while heading towards paradise destinations such as the Bahamas, Ibiza and Miami. The yacht will also dock at world events including the Monaco Grand Prix and the Rio carnival.

The idea of living off the grid in this way is so popular that five billionaire friends have paid €10 million (£8.5m) each towards the cost of building the yacht, in return for permanent suites on the vessel. Most of the €250m bill will be borne by Quintessentially, which has secured debt financing from Norway and Italy, where the superyacht will be built and fitted out.

The 220-meter-long yacht, to be called Quintessentially One, will be 40m longer than the world’s biggest private vessel Azzam, owned by United Arab Emirates ruler Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and is due to make its maiden voyage in 2019-2020.

At 220m long, Quintessentially One will be so big it won’t fit into Monaco’s harbor, or many others on its global itinerary, and will have to weigh anchor out at sea, with guests ferried to land in launches.

Quintessentially’s co-founder and chairman, Aaron Simpson, said the yacht would host parties – with stars such as Elton John in attendance – and operate as a hotel, with a restaurant run by the Mayfair institution The Wolseley.

“It will travel the globe to where the wealthy want to go,” Aaron said. “We know the events where there is huge demand and not enough supply. It will be the world’s largest floating private membership club. Where the traditional cruise model is to go somewhere, dock and get off; we will dock and people will want to get on.”

The five anonymous billionaires will each own a suite, including some which span three floors. Some suites will cover 100 square meters. Other Quintessentially members can stay in on-board hotel rooms starting at £2,000 a night, which Aaron conceded was “a lot” but said price was relative.

“Try finding a room for that [during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend],” he said.

Elite membership costs £15,000 per year.

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These Survival Guns Are Immortal

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Many working handguns, rifles, and shotguns are also classics. Although they are old, even those that aren’t in working condition can be repaired and used for shooting.

Being able to recognize which classic guns can be restored is an important skill for preppers. Even though you may have confidence in the guns you own now, it never hurts to know how to use and repair older guns that rely on simpler technologies.

How Old is Too Old?

For serviceable and dependable weapons, I would go no earlier than WW I. Most of these weapons are still in use by collectors and shooters alike. Some of these weapons are classics and set design standards.

Since these weapons have been popular for a long time, spare parts and other accessories are easier to obtain.

Advantages of Military Surplus Weapons

Military surplus is one of the best places to get good quality firearms. All of these weapons were designed for heavy military service and should be dependable under all shooting conditions. Most of these firearms are well over 75 years old or more.

In addition, many of these weapons can be reworked into good to excellent hunting rifles for less cost than a newer model.

Since millions of military grade weapons were produced along with large quantities of ammunition, you can find them in many surplus stores. In the past you could buy these weapons at a cheaper price, but with today’s higher supply and demand, they are more expensive.

Law Enforcement Surplus “Turn-in” Revolvers

Over the last 20 years or so, law enforcement agencies have changed from revolvers to semi-automatic pistols. These revolvers are usually in good to excellent conditions with good grips and little or no holster wear. Mechanically, many of these revolvers also tend to have very little use.

As with any other second hand gun, you will still need to check it over for signs of internal wear. Surplus law enforcement revolvers are usually low cost and an excellent deal for the collector or shooter.

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A Few Classic Guns to Consider

Revolvers and Pistols

Revolvers

S&W Model 10 revolver DA/SA in .38 Special is made of blued steel, with either a 4 inch heavy or standard barrel, and black finger groove rubber or wood grips.

S&W Model 64 revolver DA/SA is a .38 Special made in stainless steel, with a 4 inch heavy barrel, and black finger groove rubber grips.

Pistols

CZ-52

In the 1950s this pistol was produced in Czechoslovakia for their military. The CZ-52 fires the very fast and devastating 7.62x25mm Tokarev round. This pistol was finally replaced by the CZ-82 in the 1980s which fires the 9x18mm Russian service round. As a result of this change in pistols there was a large surplus of CZ-52s and a large quantity of 7.62x25mm ammunition at very cheap prices.

The CZ-52 is of interest, in part because of its unusual recoil system. Instead of having a fully gas operated system that’s prone to failure, this gun is the only one that has a pure roller-locked system.

The roller lock on this Czech pistol is composed simply of the barrel, two rollers, and a locking cam. When not firing, the recoil spring compresses the cam which pushes the rollers outwards into the slide.

When the round is fired, the recoil opens the cam and the pressure further extends the rollers out of the detent and allows the slide to travel. At the end of the arc, the recoil spring snaps the slide forward again and the rollers are cammed back out to hold it locked.

Even in a 33-ounce gun, the fast little bottle necked round still produces a good bit of felt recoil and a muzzle blast that is sure to scare away bystanders on both ends of the gun. If you don’t mind the trade-off of heavy recoil for reduced risk of failure, this gun will work for you.

Video first seen on Gunnut357mag

TT-33 Tokarev

This pistol was a replacement for the old Russian Nagant M1895 revolvers.

It is a semi-automatic pistol that fires the 7.62x25mm Tokarev cartridge.

This cartridge was based on the 7.63x25mm Mauser cartridge that was used in the Mauser C96 Broom Handle Pistol.

The 7.62x25mm cartridge is very powerful with a very flat trajectory. This round will penetrate thick clothing or soft body armor.

Externally, the TT-33 Tokarev is similar to John Browning’s 1903 semi-automatic pistol. Internally it uses the Browning’s short recoil tilting barrel system of the 1911 pistol.

This pistol uses a much simpler hammer sear assembly than the 1911. The assembly can be removed as a modular unit. This unit also included machined magazine feed lips to prevent ammunition misfeeds due to broken magazines loaded into the gun.

The Russians were always looking for ways to make production easier. Their most notable was the simplifications on the barrel locking lugs which allowed for fewer machining steps.

Some TT-33 Tokarevs used a captive recoil spring secured to the guide rod which depended on the barrel bushing to hold it under tension.

These pistols are very heavy duty and will give you years of good service. The ammunition is cheap and plentiful. Like most Russian firearms they were designed for simplicity and to be used by poorly educated individuals.

1911 or 1911-A1 Semi-automatic Pistols

The 1911 or 1911-A1 semi-automatic pistol is the gold standard that all others semi-automatic pistols are judged by. It was designed by John Browning, who is best known for his designs featuring the short recoil principle; which he added to the 1911 basic design.

The pistol was widely copied and the short recoil system was used in nearly all centerfire pistols designs thereafter. The 1911 was a modern handgun replacement for the older revolver handguns carried by the US Armed Forces.

Since this pistol design has been in use for over 100 years, it has withstood the test of time. This pistol has always been, large, heavy framed, rugged, and built to last.

The 1911 is a single action semi-automatic that is magazine fed. This pistol was originally chambered in the .45 ACP cartridge. The US produced over 2.7 million M1911 and 1911-A1 pistols in military contracts during its service life.

In October 1986 the M1911 and M1911-A1 were replaced with the 9mm Beretta M9 pistol as the US Armed Forces sidearm.

During the 1980s and 1990s a lot of surplus 1911-A1 .45 caliber semi-automatic pistols were imported back into the US. Most of these pistols were given to our allies under the Lend-Lease Treaties that started in World War II.

The pistols are in good shape and bought by collectors and shooters. The pistols are a good bargain with their low prices, plenty of spare parts, and cheap surplus ammunition. As a cheap platform to build your own custom .45 pistol, it can’t be beat.

Rifles

There are two types of rifles in surplus rifle marketplace. The fist is the bolt action and the other is the semi-automatic.

Bolt action

Mauser 1898

When the Mauser 1898 was introduced it was the most advanced bolt action rifle ever produced. This is the bolt action rifle that set the standards that all other bolt action rifles must be measured against.

There have been many variants of this rifle with the best known as the Mauser 98k used in World War I and World War II.

The early 1898 Mauser rifles shot the 7x57mm cartridge. This cartridge is a good hunting round for medium sized game like deer, hogs, and small bear. With the 98k, the ammunition was upgraded to 8x57mm. This is a more powerful cartridge for hunting medium sized game than the 7x57mm.

Many of the old 98k rifles have been reworked to different calibers such as the .30-06. They have also been reworked to accommodate big game cartridges like the .416 Rigby; which is used to hunt elephants and Rhinos.

Surplus FMJ bullet loads in 7x57mm and 8x57mm are usually corrosive primed and cheaper than commercial ammunition. This surplus ammunition can usually shoot 3 inch to 4 inch groups at 100 yards. This is not match accuracy, but it is good enough for plinking or training.

1903 Springfield

The 1903 Springfield used so many of the 1898 Mauser new design features that the American government had to pay Mauser for royalties for patent infringement.

The 1903 Springfield, like the Mausers, were very successful rifles used in time of war. The Springfield rifle was very accurate with the .30-06 Springfield cartridge and could hit targets at long ranges. This is the reason they were still used as sniper weapons in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

The 1903 Springfield’s long history of great accuracy makes it popular with hunters and target shooters alike. It is ideal for hunting all of the medium to large game animals in America. The biggest problem you will face is obtaining a surplus 1903 rifle because the cost is high due to demand.

Mosin-Nagant

This rifle is the most reasonably priced bolt action rifles you can buy in military surplus. The rifle was used by the Russian soldiers during WWI and WWII, and other communist forces in Third World Countries during the Cold War.

The Mosin-Nagant is chambered in the 7.62x54mmR cartridge. This round is known for it’s hard kicking recoil and cheap price.

Buyer beware! Most of this surplus ammunition is corrosive and the rifle must be thoroughly cleaned after each use. Good hunting ammunition is available in the US, making this rifle a good budget hunting weapon.

Video first seen on hickok45

.303 Lee-Enfield

The .303 Lee-Enfield rifle saw military service from 1895 to 1957. It was one of the most successful bolt action rifles of all times. This rifle was commonly used by the British Empire around the world in British conflicts.

The .303 Lee-Enfield is a great military surplus rifle and a budget friendly for those in need of a hunting gun. It has good accuracy when chambered in the .303 British cartridge. You can hunt deer, moose, bear, and other big game animals in the US and Canada with this gun.

Semi-automatic

M1 Carbine

The M1 Carbine was manufactured by the millions in World War II. Later on, it found it’s way into the surplus marketplace where they were bought by shooters and gun collectors.

Although it shoots the under powered .30 Caliber Carbine cartridges, it is still a good personal defense weapon.

This carbine is very popular because it’s lightweight, easy to shoot, and has a mild recoil. Overall, it is a good weapon for small framed individuals to shoot and carry.

For deer hunting I feel that the M1 Carbine is too under-powered to kill deer humanely, even at close range with HP or SP ammunition. It would be better to use it to hunt hogs, small game, or varmints.

SKS

The SKS was originally a Russian semi-automatic rifle that fired the 7.62x39mm cartridge. It was there first line battle rifle until it was replaced by the select fire AK-47. The SKS was manufactured by several Russian allied countries or sold to Russian allies throughout the world.

The SKS is very dependable, reliable, and shoots more accurately than the AK-47, but is not as rugged. The price on an SKS depends on country of origin, condition of the SKS, type of receiver (milled or stamped), and the number of rifles produced there.

Although I would not choose the SKS as a deer rifle, it does have it’s uses as a varmint, plinking, or self-defense rifle.

As a surplus self-defense rifle, it would also be a good choice. It is light, rugged, quick shooting, and fires a cartridge that will stop a man quickly and easily. Surplus ammunition is cheap and plentiful.

The M1 Garand

The M1 Garand was the best semi-automatic battle rifle in World War II. Its 8 round en bloc clip was way ahead of the standard bolt action rifles used by enemy forces in World War II and Korean War. This rifle gave the US soldiers a strong advantage on the battlefield.

Aside from being able to lay down a large amount of fire power it is a very accurate rifle. This rifle has good sights, and an outstanding trigger. This enables a good shooter to accurately shoot at ranges of 100 to 1000 yards.

Though some say the M1 Garand has a heavy recoil., it is still one of the most popular military surplus rifles used by shooters and hunters alike in the US. The Civilian Marksmanship Program still sells shootable M1 Garands at a fair price to US citizens that meet the CMP requirements.

Shotguns

12 Ga. shotguns were used by the US Military from World War I to present day. These weapons can lay down a lot of buckshot quickly and effectively. They are excellent weapons for close quarter fighting, fighting in trenches, and jungle warfare.

The following are excellent shotguns to buy in the surplus marketplace. They are wanted by shooters and collectors alike. They are a good value, and if you take care of these guns, they will last a life time.

Winchester Model 1897 Trench Gun

Is a 12 Ga. pump action exposed hammer shotgun with a 18 inch heat shielded barrel. It was in military service starting in World War I through the Korean War.

Winchester Model 1912 Trench Gun

Was a 12 Ga. pump action hammerless shotgun with a 18 inch heat shielded barrel. It was in military service from World war I through Vietnam.

When it comes to old, classic, and immortal guns, there are some that have already withstood the test of time and are worthy of consideration. As a prepper, you can save some money by focusing on these weapons without sacrificing utility and durability.

Remember that a personal defense weapon should be something you feel comfortable carrying at all times.

Learn from the experts the secrets of self-defense! Click the banner below to grab your guide!

This article has been written by Fred Tyrell for Survivopedia.

Further reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combat_shotgun

http://thegca.org/history-of-the-m1-garand-rifle/

https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2016/7/1/lee-enfield-rifle-workhorse-of-the-british-empire/#

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