Seven Acres and Independence

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By: Tom Chatham Any size homestead that fulfills your needs is a good size but here are some things to look at when designing one. Different people desire different things and that will determine how much land you need. I have determined that 7 acres is a good size small homestead that can provide all […]

Things Work Until They Don’t

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By: Tom Chatham As the world begins its next adventure in financial chaos and rolls over to expose its soft underbelly of lies and deceit that have been perpetrated on the public, those that see the truth have been warning the people once again. You can give people the truth but you cannot make them […]

Surviving The Next Great Depression

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By: Tom Chatham Numerous economists and investors are warning of another great financial crisis to come but few people want to listen to them. No crisis is ever exactly like the last one and the next great depression will be different from the last one. In the last depression those who had money were in […]

Can You Survive Without Real Money?

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By: Tom Chatham The bulk of the money and credit we use today is created by bankers and politicians. Fiat money is a way for those in control to siphon wealth away from the working class in ways that most people cannot understand. Through taxes, inflation and predatory lending practices the population is systematically impoverished. […]

Vandana Shiva talks ‘fake cheap’ food (VIDEO)

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Just saw this video of Indian scholar and sustainable-agriculture advocate Vandana Shiva talking about the true cost of cheap food and three keys to ending what she calls “the final stages of a very deceitful system.”

(By the way, Shiva is on our list of 50 Global Changemakers, here.)

She makes some excellent points, and I thought you might enjoy the video as much as I did.

Some of my favorite quotes from the video:

  • “We are living the final stages of a very deceitful system that has made everything that is very costly for the planet, costly for the producer, look cheap for the consumer. So very high-cost production with GMOs and patents and royalties and fossil fuel is made to look like cheap food.”
  • “Every young person should recognize that working with their hands and their hearts and their minds—and they’re interconnected—is the highest evolution of our species. Working with our hands is not a degradation. It’s our real humanity.”
  • “We are not atomized producers and community. We are part of the earth family. We are part of the human family. We are part of a food community. Food connects us—everything is food.”

I also love the way she defines “true freedom” in the video: “Never be afraid of deceitful, dishonest, brutal power. That is true freedom.”

And hey, let me know what you think about her solutions to the problem of high-cost “cheap” food! What others would you add? Leave me a comment below. 🙂

 

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Are You Prepared for Peak Chicken?

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three-step-chickensWe have all heard about peak oil. But have you heard about “peak chicken?” Or peak almost everything else that composes the modern human diet—dairy, meat, corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, vegetables, and sugar?

According to a study in Ecology and Society,1https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol19/iss4/art50/ we’ve already been there and done that. We peaked on just about every food-related product considered critical to human survival, except farm-raised fish, in or before 2010.

Thank goodness for carp, catfish, and tilapia! If you don’t like those, you might want to start working on some new recipes and get used to them….

Once you get your head around the idea of peak food—meaning that food production is stagnant or declining—then do an Internet search for “world population clock.”

Sit back and watch as the world’s population increases before your eyes.

It is interesting to watch, until you do the math and realize that declining food production + increasing population = a big problem. Suddenly that population calculator looks a lot like a ticking time bomb, and the $60,000,000,000,000 (global public debt)2http://www.economist.com/content/global_debt_clock/ question is: “When does it explode?”

The truth is that we don’t know if, how, or when the bubble will burst.

Reason to Worry

But according to the authors of the Ecology and Society study, we should be worried. Their findings show that 20 of the 27 key resources for human survival peaked within the 50-year period ending in 2010.

The fact that so much of our food supply peaked within the same time frame makes sense at an intuitive level. Growing food with current industrial processes requires adequate water and fertile land suited to maneuvering large equipment. When we run out of fertile land, we develop undesirable land by leveling or clearing the earth, adding synthetic fertilizer, and pumping in water for irrigation. That works until we exhaust our water stores and deplete easily accessible nitrogen sources.

As land, water, and fertilizer become less available, the natural result is that food production declines, prices go up, and distribution gets contentious.

Those of us fortunate enough to live in wealthy countries like the United States have been insulated from most of the deprivations of peak food.

  • But if you live in rural Mexico, you probably already know what a 733% increase in the cost of a staple like tortillas feels like.
  • Or if you’ve lived in parts of Venezuela in the last few years, you know what it’s like to go to the grocery store and find the shelves inexplicably empty.
  • In India, farming-related debt is so high and weather events are destroying crops so frequently that suicide among farmers has reached epidemic levels.

These are just a few examples of peak-food-related issues already occurring around the world.

According to the USDA’s Agricultural Projections through 2022,3https://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/projections/USDAAgriculturalProjections2022.pdf “Although agricultural prices decline in the near term, continued growth in global demand for agricultural products holds prices at historically high levels.” This means that for those of us who live in the United States, Japan, or the EU, our days of food cost stability are numbered as developing countries are expected to outpace us on demand, economic growth, and strength of currency in international markets.

Additionally, the USDA’s Food Price Outlook, 2017-20184https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-price-outlook/summary-findings/ for the U.S. indicates that the most notable inflation increases in food have occurred, and will continue to occur, around the perimeter of the grocery store.

The Rise and Fall of Peak Nutrition

Poultry, dairy, eggs, seafood, and fresh fruits—the most nutritious foods available—are becoming less affordable, and this is expected to get much worse.

In response to price increases, such as the market price of beef going up 10 percent in two years in the U.S., consumers have already diverted their budgets from nutrient-dense natural foods to prepackaged, high-calorie foods, which tend to be less nutritious.

Just as it makes intuitive sense that peak food would follow quickly on the heels of peak land, we can also assume that trading fresh, healthy foods for processed foods to make ends meet will lead to peak nutrition—after which our collective public health will begin to accelerate in its decline.

So, is there anything we can do to change our food future?

In light of their disturbing findings regarding synchronous peak production, the authors of the Ecology and Society study suggest that we need a “paradigm shift” in our use of resources if we are going to be able to adapt to our post-peak realities.

That seems like a polite way of saying, “we need to radically alter our methods for growing and distributing food, or we’re in big trouble.”

Finding Answers

The good news is that you, I, and other members of The Grow Network community are already starting to work on this. The peak calculations were based on data from the 2013 FAO Statistical Yearbook5http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3107e/i3107e00.htm. That report includes figures reported by international governments like Gross Domestic Product, and is dependent on financial information provided in tax returns and financial statements.

All the home-scale food growing taking place around the world is not included in determining these peak food calculations.

The study also does not take into consideration the black markets and barter markets that are already prevalent throughout much of the world, and may be used by two-thirds of the world’s population by 2020.

Unfortunately, for the same reasons that these data are not included in peak calculations, it is impossible to determine how much of an impact home food growers, barter economies, and black markets are making in relation to peak food.

Anecdotally, though, we know that there has been increased interest in home-based food production:

  • Just look at the number of self-sufficiency publications showing up on supermarket and bookstore shelves over the last ten years.
  • The number of farmers’ markets have increased by nearly 500% over the last 23 years, according to the USDA.6https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/NationalCountofFMDirectory17.JPG
  • There’s been an explosion in intensive growing practices—raised beds, vertical gardening, companion planting, permaculture, aquaponics—methods that use significantly less inputs than industrial agriculture while producing a superior product with excellent yields.
  • The Obamas put a garden on the White House lawn, and Oprah started a farm in Maui.

These are all positive signs that a transition to more sustainable food-growing processes is already under way.

A 3-Step Solution

Taking a closer look at the details reveals that our current “peak food” problem is really more of a “peak industrial farming” problem.

What the Ecology and Society study makes absolutely clear is that we cannot feed the world using only industrial farming methods because they depend on resources that have peaked, or will peak, in the near future—such as constant nitrogen inputs, spray irrigation, and mono-cropping on cleared land.

However, we can continue to improve our outlook with regard to peak food by choosing to support a few clear, actionable solutions:

1) Diversifying What We Grow
2) Reintegrating Local Farming Into Our Communities
3) Supporting Community Food Security

Let’s take a closer look at these solutions…

#1. Diversifying What We Grow

sweet-potato-vinesThe fact that our key resources list can be narrowed down to just 27 items that include corn and sugarcane is both an indictment of our modern diet, and a mandate for change.

The Case for Corn

Corn, for example, could be an excellent “calorie crop,” meaning that it has the potential to provide a high calorie-per-acre yield. It has culinary versatility: corn bread, polenta, grits, tortillas, eaten on the cob and off the cob, popcorn, and as a supplemental feed for poultry and pigs.

But less than 1 percent of peak corn grown today actually makes it to your table directly. The rest is inedible for humans as it is grown specifically to go into our cars as ethanol or to be used as feed for livestock like cows, which would never touch it if they tripped over it in the pasture. A good portion of the corn used in our human food supply is corn syrup that is arguably a leading contributor to epidemic rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Fields of monoculture corn swaying in the wind might even seem pretty—but don’t walk barefoot in those fields because they are loaded with toxic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides that require protective gear to apply.

For the home grower, corn can be a fun food to grow as part of a balanced diet, if you have the space. You need to grow enough corn stalks for good cross-pollination or you need to hand-pollinate, and you have to take some extra precautions to prevent contamination from cross-pollination if you want to save your seeds.

But an even better option is to focus on more nutritious foods that don’t make the peak list.

Think about cabbage, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and winter squash. These are also versatile in soups, sauces, and pies, and they can be mashed, added to breads and pasta, roasted, and fried. Pumpkin and squash take space to grow, but there is no reason that they can’t be grown in vertical space. There are compact varieties of sweet potatoes like Bunch Porto Rico that can be grown in containers. These alternative calorie crops also store well without additional processing and they are relatively high in nutritional density, according to the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index.7https://www.drfuhrman.com/learn/library/articles/95/andi-food-scores-rating-the-nutrient-density-of-foods

Mix these alternative calorie crops up with a long list of other highly nutritious foods that you can easily grow at home or pick up at your local farmers market, such as tomatoes, chard, beets, turnips, arugula, watercress, lettuce, and you will be on your way to post-peak food health and happiness.

A Not-So-Sweet Staple

Now for a not-so-sweet subject: sugar. Sugar is a staple of our diets … really?!

Why is something that significantly increases our chances of dying prematurely from cardiovascular disease (according to the American Heart Association) a resource considered necessary to our survival? Sure, it’s got calories, but they are non-nutritive.

If you consume your calories as sugar, you must either overconsume other foods to make up the nutritive difference, or run a nutritive deficit. Both roads lead to poor health.

Currently, roughly 898,000 acres of sugarcane and sugar beets are grown commercially in the U.S. alone. That amount of land, replanted using intensive farming methods, could grow enough healthy vegetables, meat, eggs, and dairy products to feed 400,000 people a healthy, balanced diet.

If you’ve got an incurable sweet tooth, how about satisfying it with a source that takes almost no land to produce, is good for you, and the production of which actually increases crop productivity in the immediate area? This is not some manufactured miracle sweetener that we will later discover causes cancer. It’s the oldest known sweetener on the planet, so revered at one time that the pharaohs of ancient Egypt were buried with it in their tombs, while indigenous communities risked life and limb to extract it.

Of course, you guessed it: The miracle sugar alternative is raw honey.

Raw honey is loaded with good nutrition. It may also help reduce the intensity of seasonal allergies, which are expected to increase in length and severity as a result of climate change, resulting in greater losses in productivity. Keeping bees near your garden increases pollination rates and raises yields. Since every third bite of food we eat requires insect pollination, and most of this is done by honey bees, adding honey to our key resource list makes much more sense than sugar.

If you want to keep your own bees, try a top-bar hive. You can make it out of scrap materials and it does not require expensive extraction equipment. If you can’t keep bees, buy raw honey from your local beekeepers to encourage more beekeeping activity that benefits our entire food supply.

stevia-growing-in-herb-gardenOr how about growing stevia? Stevia is an acquired taste, but once you adjust your palate, it becomes a viable alternative to sugar in beverages.

The leaves have negligible calories and can be boiled with teas and iced to make a sweet-tasting soda alternative. You can grow stevia from seeds obtained from a reputable supplier or you can grow it from cuttings. The plants do well in containers and can overwinter indoors in zones 7 and below with adequate light. When you harvest leaves by trimming the plants between leaf segments, similarly to how you harvest basil, the plants will become bushier and even more productive.

Corn and sugar are easy targets because there are delicious, available alternatives. But there are endless ways to diversify your diet:

  • Swap rice for bulgur, quinoa, lentils, or split peas.
  • Try goat or duck as a beef substitute.
  • Use buckwheat and amaranth flour instead of wheat.
  • Substitute sunflower seed meat for almonds.

Study your shopping list, identify the things you buy regularly, and then seek substitutes that can be grown in your community. You may be surprised at how much variety is available when you make the effort to look for it.

#2. Reintegrating Local Farming into our Communities

peak-chicken-peak-eggs-fullThe expression “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” has never had more relevance than it does right now.

Checking Into Chicken

Chickens are fairly easy to raise at the home scale and they add fun and beauty to a landscape, so if you are seriously thinking about raising a backyard flock, now might be a good time to start. Make sure you know your LORE (laws, ordinances, rights, and entitlements) before taking the plunge. Also, talk to chicken owners you trust or do research to determine best practices in buying and keeping chickens in your area.

If it’s against the “LORE” for you to keep backyard chickens or you don’t have the space, how about rallying your community to turn underutilized common areas onto vegetable gardens and raise egg chickens or egg ducks there? Not only does this concept make common space meaningful again by doing something productive with it, but it can create opportunities for new farmers to enter the profession, and opportunities for residential “lawnscapers” to become organic “foodscapers.”

baby-ducks-and-chickensLaying Off Lawns

And this leads us to another method for countering peak food—let’s overcome our lawn addiction. North Americans devote 40,000 square miles of prime growing land to lawns.8https://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/edible-ground-covers That is more land than we use to grow wheat or corn, it requires half the American residential water supply to grow, and it uses heavy doses of post-peak nitrogen and chemical products that end up soiling our waterways.

In the era of peak food, we really need to kick our lawn habit to the curb.

If you are a DIY type and you already take care of your lawn and landscaping, swap your holly hedge for blueberry bushes, replace flowers with flowering herbs, grow veggies anywhere you currently grow annuals, or build raised beds right over your lawn. Fruit trees like paw paw, jujube, Asian pear, mulberry, and elderberry are less needy than many ornamental trees like dogwood or flowering cherry, so use those as your starting points for planting a “foodscape.”

Surround the trees with a living mulch of Russian comfrey and borage. As the trees grow, prune them for good airflow and a less dense shade profile so you can grow shade-tolerant spinach, lettuce, and peas under the trees. If you have good southern exposure in front of your trees, plant fruit bushes there, plus herbs like chives, lemon balm, and mint to attract beneficial insects. You can also vine grapes up the trunks, making use of that vertical space.

herb-spiral-for-microclimatesIf you are not the DIY type and you spend on lawnscaping, reallocate your budget toward foodscaping to support a new generation of growers.

Many professional farmers and landscapers are excellent machine operators, soil scientists, irrigation experts, and pesticide applicators. But they may not have the expertise to grow a variety of foods without the aid of heavy equipment or purchased fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.

To beat peak food and take advantage of prime growing land located within our populated communities, we need more small-scale farmers and growers skilled in controlling pests without chemicals, adding fertility with organic inputs produced onsite, minimizing water usage through smart planting, and applying intensive planting methods to increase food production.

There are plenty of people who want to do this, but we need to create the economic opportunities for them to be able to make a living at it.

To get started, talk to your current landscaper about having them do the work for you. If they don’t have the skills and they aren’t willing to gain them, talk to your local agricultural or gardening extension office, farming schools, vendors at farmers markets, or nearby permaculture schools to find people who are able to help you.

To keep costs low, you can make agreements to let student farmers sell surplus crops and keep the profit in exchange for doing the work. There are also a lot of budding permaculturists who offer their consulting services at discounted rates to develop their resumes and client bases.

Finding ways to grow food in our homes and neighborhoods should be a priority for anyone concerned about peak food.

#3. Supporting Community Food Security

Planting food instead of lawns not only increases food production, but also raises awareness of the importance of doing so. A surprising number of people are not even aware of the issues surrounding peak food. An even more surprising number of people are aware of some of these issues but feel powerless to do anything about them.

By bringing food growing to the forefront of our daily lives, we create opportunities to share our knowledge and help others collaborate with us. Our window of opportunity to beat peak food gets smaller the longer we wait and as weather becomes more erratic and resources less available, so the sooner we spread the news and help others get involved, the more impact we can have.

If you have any doubts about the urgency of building food communities, look to China for guidance. The Chinese government has encouraged its food corporations, through loans and preferential economic policy, to purchase and accumulate companies from around the world that grow and process food products (e.g., Smithfield Foods). This is part of a concerted effort to ensure food security for China’s growing population. And, it might be a wise policy given the reality of peak industrial food.

Yet not all governments are this proactive, and even when food is stockpiled or production is secured, distribution systems may not be fully developed. Also, goods may be distributed with preference for specific populations, like wealthy cities and wealthy citizens.

Realistically, unlike the Chinese government, most of us here don’t have $5 billion to buy up 25% of the pork production in the U.S. “just in case.” But most of us do have some kind of grocery budget and/or a food-growing system in place. Instead of spending our money and resources to support a post-peak industrial food system, we need to redirect our efforts toward local and sustainable food-growing activities.

Home growers can set up food-swapping networks with other growers to exchange products and increase diversity. Non-growers can take their food budgets to the farmers’ market and buy direct from local producers, or pick up weekly baskets from a local CSA. Greater demand for local food means more local growers. More local growers means more food security when declining industrial farms can no longer meet the food needs of a growing population.

We can adapt our eating and growing habits, and make the paradigm shift required to overcome peak food, if we acknowledge the problem and meet the challenges individually, and in our home communities, through thoughtful effort.

We can reach critical mass and cause real change in our society.

But the clock is ticking….

 

 

TGN Bi-Weekly Newsletter

(This is an updated version of a post originally published August 14, 2015.)

References   [ + ]

1. https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol19/iss4/art50/
2. http://www.economist.com/content/global_debt_clock/
3. https://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/projections/USDAAgriculturalProjections2022.pdf
4. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-price-outlook/summary-findings/
5. http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3107e/i3107e00.htm
6. https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/NationalCountofFMDirectory17.JPG
7. https://www.drfuhrman.com/learn/library/articles/95/andi-food-scores-rating-the-nutrient-density-of-foods
8. https://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/edible-ground-covers

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My Biggest Financial Mistake Will Make You Wealthy

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If you’ve heard me say this once, you’ve heard me say it a thousand times:

True wealth has nothing to do with money.

Which is all good until you need to pay your mortgage, put gas in your car, or buy some groceries, right?

Because the cold, hard fact is …

… that we live in a world dominated by an economic system that runs on money. Dollars (or pesos, or yen, or pounds … you know what I mean) are the currency of transactions for almost everything. They’re how you buy and sell and get things done.

But what if you could improve your quality of life without spending more money … in fact, while spending less?

I show you how in this next video chapter of Grow: All True Wealth Comes From The Ground.

In it, I reveal:

  • Money—Good Or Evil?
  • How To Love What You Do And Still Pay The Mortgage
  • The BIGGEST Financial Mistake Of My Life

Then, would you leave me a comment below?

How has producing your own food and medicine saved you money?

What’s your advice to someone who wants to love what they do for a living?

Did you see the last Grow Book Chapter? Click here to read How To Leave A More Powerful Legacy!

Thank you so much!

 

Click here to get your FREE pass!

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Freedom Means Being Independant

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By: Tom Chatham Most people say they want to be free but will also say we must do as we are told. They see government controls as safety from the world surrounding them. You cannot be free and be under someone’s total control at the same time. They force compliance by threatening to take away […]

10 Most Cost-effective Garden Vegetables You Can Grow

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There are a lot of benefits to garden vegetables that you grow yourself, but saving money is not necessarily one of them.

Some vegetables are simply cheaper to buy at the grocery store. I know. I hate saying that, too!

Over the years, saving money is not always the main reason we grow garden vegetables. Am I right?

Sometimes the work needed to keep the soil happy, the beds weed free, with healthy plants discourages us from planting crops that are “dirt cheap” in season at the grocery store.

If you’re growing vegetables to save money, or want to make the most of your garden, here are ten garden vegetables that can put money back in your wallet.

Did you miss this article about the cost of grocery shopping versus home grown food?

The Big 10 Garden Vegetables!

These veggies are easy-to-grow in your vegetable garden big or small. Depending on your growing season, you may even be able to plant two or three times. (See succession planting below)

1. Lettuce

I don’t know about you, but I go through a bunch of lettuce each year. At almost $2 per head, that gets expensive. Here’s the great part: They are pretty easy to grow in any part of your garden. They even do well in flower boxes. A seed packet costs about $2.50 for the heirloom variety (which I highly recommend). If you harvest the outer leaves of the plant, it will easily last for several months. Lettuce is also a great vegetable to succession plant.

2. Bell peppers

Bell peppers are fairly expensive, especially for organic. I’ve seen them as high as $2 each! If you start your little seedlings ($2.50 per packet) in small pots, you’ll be able to transplant them to your garden in a few weeks. Pick the peppers as soon as they get to full size.

3. Garlic

This popular plant has a lot of health benefits. Garlic is used in all kinds of recipes. This is a vegetable that I have on hand at all times. Plant the garlic clove in the soil before winter; six to eight weeks before your first frost date. You’ll have a bumper crop in late spring to early summer.

Find your first, and last frost dates here.

4. Winter Squash … including PUMPKIN!

Winter Squash is getting more and more expensive. Butternut squash (one of my favorites for winter soup!) is $1.69 per pound with the average being at least 2 pounds. Keep in mind that winter squash takes between 75 and 120 days to reach maturity, and sprawl 10 to 20 feet. Think vertically or try the bush or semi-bush cultivars in a small garden. And winter squash will store well in a root cellar.

5. Tomatoes (especially Heirloom)

These babies have multi-colored, scarred skin, and a high price tag. They are about $4.50 per pound or more, depending on where you live. Now, while the price may break the bank, the taste is amazing! Growing heirloom tomatoes can be a bit fussy. I lost all of my seedlings this year, but happily planted a friend’s transplants. One of the biggest problems you’ll face is disease. Now, if you don’t want to face the heirloom issues, try a cherry tomato that grows well in your area. You’ll have a plethora of tomatoes to can or dehydrate.

6. Carrots

While I didn’t have much luck with tomatoes this year, I did have success with carrots! These are a cool-season crop that takes 70 to 80 days to mature. Check your last and first frost dates, plant three weeks before the last expected frost date and two to three months before the first fall frost date. They are a delicious root vegetable that stores well in a root cellar and is usually resistant to diseases and pests. At $2.50 per seed packet, you’ll have more than enough of this vegetable to last you through the winter.

7. Potatoes

Welcome to the most popular vegetable in America! Growing potatoes is fairly easy, and the flavors of a freshly dug potato cannot be rivaled by the $5.00 a bag, grocery-store varieties. Choose a sunny spot with well-drained, loose soil, so the roots and tubers have room to grow. They do need a steady water supply to keep the plants happy. When the tops of the plants die off, the entire crop is ready to harvest. And some potato varieties store well in a root cellar.

8. Sweet potatoes

In my area, organic sweet potatoes run about $4 for a 3-pound bag. It costs about $21 for 1 pack of sweet potato slips (though I have found them cheaper locally, so check your local garden center). Plant them in the spring, and they’ll produce about 3 to 6 sweet potatoes per slip. They prefer a slightly acidic, well-drained, loose soil. If there is a possibility of frost, cover them. Harvest in 100 days. Sweet Potatoes store well in a root cellar.

Did you see David the Good’s article on Growing Sweet Potatoes? Check it out here.

9. Zucchini, and other summer squash

My grandmother would be proud that zucchini made the list. It was one of her favorite veggies to cook. However, she wouldn’t be excited about the $1.90 per pound sticker price. If your garden area is small, go vertical! At $2.25 to $2.50 per packet, the zucchini plant will yield between three and nine pounds of yummy summer delights. Harvest when they are about 4-inches long.

10. Green beans

At the grocery store, organic green beans cost about $2.50 per pound. A packet of seeds costs $2.50 per packet. You’ll get between three to five pounds of beans PER plant. That’s a lot of beans to freeze, can, and boy are they yummy, dehydrated!

BONUS: Herbs … Basil, Rosemary, Parsley, Mint, Lavender

I didn’t want to leave out some herbs. All of these herbs are easy-to-grow. Each of them costs about $2.50 per plastic tub at the grocery store. Parsley is less at $1.00 per bundle. If you are considering your footprint on the Earth, the plastic containers and twist ties need to be taken into consideration. A seed packet of each will cost about $2.50 per packet. It’s well-worth having your own herb garden. I’d even suggest starting your gardening adventures here!

garden-vegetables

How to boost the abundance of your garden vegetables

Here are a few tricks to help you make the most of your vegetable garden, even if it’s small. It will save you money on food all-year-long.

Only Plant What You’ll Eat

This sounds may sound silly, but there is no point in planting green beans if you don’t like green beans. You’ll have pounds of garden vegetables that will just go to waste.

Also, take into consideration who in your family will eat the different veggies. If you’re the only one who will eat squash, don’t plant ten of them.

If you rarely eat something, it’s better to buy from your local farmer’s market.

Still confused? Here’s a downloadable interactive guide to help you decide what to plant. Print it out and keep it in your garden journal.

Succession Planting

Succession planting is after one crop is harvested, another is planted in the same space. The length of your growing season, climate, and crop selection will determine how you will replant your favorite garden vegetables. In warm climates, you’ll be able to do several plantings of favorite garden vegetables, like tomatoes. In cooler climates, you’ll be able to get a second planting of peas.

If you have a small vegetable garden space, extend your harvest by planting different varieties of the same vegetable. You’ll have a crop early in the Spring, mid-summer, and fall. For instance, salad greens do well if you plant seeds each week, rather than all-at-once. This gives you the ability to harvest the outside leaves, while the other plants keep growing. You’ll have a supply of lettuce all season long!

Use the downloadable sheet (above) to determine how much to plant, for one person, for the most commonly grown vegetables. Don’t forget to include your succession plantings.

Coming Soon! Look for more articles on succession planting right here on this blog!

Which is your favorite garden vegetable? Is it cost-effective to grow it? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Access our growing selection of Downloadable eBooks…

… On topics that include growing your own food, herbal medicine, homesteading, raising livestock, and more!

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Food War: Grocery Shopping Versus Fresh Food

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Feeding a family isn’t cheap these days, and it only gets more expensive with each additional mouth. I’ve always wondered about the cost between Grocery Shopping and Fresh Food, but never really sat down to crunch the numbers … until now!

Eating healthy is also more expensive than eating processed foods loaded with artificial ingredients and sodium. In fact, following the government’s recommended dietary advice can add 10 percent to your monthly bill. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always more expensive than processed, canned, or frozen foods. If you want to go completely organic, count on spending sometimes double that.

The Criteria for the”Food War:”

We have to compare apples-to-apples and … well you get the idea. So, we’ll look at:

  • Expense
  • Health – Mental and Physical
  • Waste
  • Time

In the expenses, we’ll compare certain food:

  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Apples
  • Eggs

We’re also going to use $15 per hour for any labor costs or time spent.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And in this corner … Grocery Store!

According to the USDA 2017 Cost of Food Report, the average American spends between $100 to $300 per person per month on groceries. It may be higher or lower based on where you live. (1)

Grocery Store Expense (This is from your average local store, prices may vary in your area)

Lettuce

Organic Price: $1.69/head
Non-organic Price: $0.99/head

Carrots (3 lbs.)

Organic Price: $3.49
Non-organic Price: $2.99

Tomatoes (Heirloom)

Organic Price: No organics available when I went shopping
Non-organic Price: $2.99/lbs.

Basil

Organic Price: $2.99/pkg.
Non-organic Price: $1.99/pkg.

Apples

Organic Price: $1.99/lbs.
Non-organic Price: $0.99/lbs.

Eggs (1 dozen)

Organic Price: $5.69
Non-organic Price: $1.99

Most of the non-organic produce was from Mexico or Peru, and a lot of the organic produce was also.

On average, I spent about $125 per week for my family of three. I bought organic produce, grass-fed, free-range, no hormone meats and eggs (sometimes from the store, but usually from a local farmer).

Health – Mental and Physical

In 2016, the average American spent $10,345 annually on health care (insurance premiums, deductibles, co-payments, prescriptions, and medicines). (2)

According to a The Atlantic 2014 article, healthcare was the number one cause of personal bankruptcy and was responsible for more collections than credit cards. Forty percent of Americans owe money for times they were sick. (3)

More than 71 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, and 16 percent of children and adolescents are struggling with obesity (4)

There are four contributing factors: (5)

  1. Processed foods
  2. Portion size
  3. Fast food
  4. Being less active

Let’s not forget to add in the hassle and headache it can take to go to the grocery store. You might not be able to be quantify it, but just bear it in mind.

Can you be healthy eating from the grocery store? Check out this chapter of the Grow Book!

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Waste

The average American throws away 4.4 pounds of trash each day. The annual weight of trash from the entire country equals 254 million tons, that is the same as 1.2 million blue whales, and would reach to the moon and back 25 times, a journey of 11,534,090 miles. (6)

The sad thing is that you probably live closer to one of the 2,000 active landfills than you might think. Some inactive landfills have become public parks. (6)

Landfills also produce millions of cubic feet of methane gas each day. What impact does this have on our health?

Think of the waste from your groceries: food packaging, plastic produce bags, plastic bottles, twist ties, Styrofoam, and grocery bags that come along with buying groceries. This waste has to go somewhere. I kept track for several months of my grocery shopping days. Over half of my grocery list had some sort of packaging, which added up to about 10 lbs. a week.

Some cities are beginning to charge for every bag of garbage your put in the bin. The average cost is $2 per bag.

The good news is that 34.3 percent of garbage is being recycled or composted each year. That prevents 87.2 million tons of material from going into the landfill. (6)

Think about how much food you throw away because it spoiled in the refrigerator. Waste adds up!

Time

It takes me an hour to shop, but I also spend about 30 minutes to 45 minutes preparing to go grocery shopping, making my list, and seeing what needs to be bought. It takes about 15 minutes each way to get to and from the store. The parking lot is always a madhouse. Add the stress of that up in the Health section above.

Pros of going grocery shopping:

  • You can have your favorite food any time.
  • It’s convenient to run to the store if you need something.
  • Loyalty cards/Cash-back programs
  • Prepackaged, quick food

 

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And in this corner … Fresh Food!

(And the crowd goes wild!)

Even a small garden plot, can yield an estimated 7 lbs. of fresh produce per square foot. (It depends on where you live and what you plant.)

Expense

You will have an initial investment, which includes soil conditioning, garden beds, and seeds or plants. Based on my own start-up costs, I’m saying $250 for the veggies and $300 for the chickens. You can certainly do it cheaper. We’ll have more on that in future posts. I’ll average this out over the year.

Lettuce

Seeds: $2.50/pkt
Watering: 1 hour/every 3 days.
Labor: Minimal. I was surprised how easy this was to grow.
Final Yield: I had continuous salad mix by harvesting the outside leaves every couple of days. Estimated 5 lbs. throughout the season. I had a cup of salad greens every day for four months. I can definitely extend the season and produce more.

Carrots

Heirloom Seeds: $3.00/pkt
Watering on system: 1 hour/every 3 days
Labor: Minimal. Didn’t do much at all. They grew really well without much help.
Final yield: About 6 lbs. Plenty to eat raw and dehydrate, can, and freeze.

Tomatoes

Heirloom Seeds: $2.50 – $3.00/pkt  Heirloom Plants: $6.00 ea.
Watering on system: 1 hour/every 3 days
Labor: Average. About 15 minutes every other day, nipping suckers, watching for signs of disease or pests. My first seedlings didn’t make it, so I replanted heirloom plants.
Final Yield: A little less than 80 lbs. of tomatoes from 4 plants, enough to eat fresh and preserve for later in the year.

Basil (It’s difficult to grow basil from seeds)

1 Plant: $3.00 – $5.95
Watering on system: 1 hour/ every 3 days
Labor: minimal. Harvest leaves every few days. Grew like a weed.
Yield: Off of 2 plants, I got enough for 12 pint jars of pesto and a 16 oz. container of dried.

Apples

Bare tree: $20-$25
Watering: 1 hour/ every 3 days
Fertilizer: $10
Kaolin clay: $12
Labor: Intensive. planting, pruning, training, thinning, treating, picking up fallen fruit. About 20 minutes every other day.

Eggs (only have 6 laying hens and no rooster)

Feed: $100/mo. (This can be reduced with a little planning and a more mature garden.)
Water: 1 gallon per day
Room: about 100 square feet, including the coop and run. They free-range, too!
Labor: I do the deep-litter method, so there isn’t a lot of maintenance. I spend on average 30 minutes every day, checking, gathering eggs, feeding, cleaning the roost, and giving love.
Yield: average 2 dozen eggs/week. We keep one and sell one.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Health – Mental and Physical

New studies are showing that the microbes in the soil actually work a lot like Prozac. (7)  They give you good feelings, well-being, and happiness.

The food is healthy, too. You know exactly what was used to grow your groceries.

And let’s not forget the exercise factor. You can burn anywhere from 200 to 600 calories per hour gardening.

Waste

Growing your own groceries has minimal trash.

My family is still buying some food from the grocery store. Maybe one day, I’ll grow my own quinoa.

Now that I’m conscious of food packaging. I look for packaged food that can be recycled or composted. If not, I try not to buy it. My garbage went from one full bag of garbage every three days to a handful of recyclables, large bucketfuls of compostables, and less than 2 lbs. of actual garbage each month.

I’m still trying to minimize my footprint. The goal is zero-waste, or at least as close to it as possible!

Time

In my small garden (about 100 square feet, if you put it together), I spend an average of 20 hours each month in the garden on various chores during the growing season between February and November. I spend about five or so in the winter months on greens, looking through heirloom seed catalogs, and planning next year’s garden.

All of my beds are on a timed and water-regulated irrigation system. In other words, if it rains, the system doesn’t come on. This saves water and time.

The chickens take an average of 30 minutes-a-day winter and summer. They are quite the characters, so they provide entertainment as well.

I didn’t keep track of my preserving time (canning, drying, and freezing), so an estimate is about 10 to 20 hours total for the entire season.

Of course, I see this as time well spent. Twenty hours in the garden or 30 minutes for the chickens could easily be more, because I love it so much.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And the winner is…!

As far as cost goes, fresh food from the garden wins by a slim margin. However, it is difficult to quantify your health and happiness into this equation.

I know for me. I’m happier when I’m gardening. I know I’m healthier because of the exercise and eating good, clean food. The dollar amount is interesting, but almost inconsequential.

 grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Resources:

  1. [https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood]
  2. Department of Health and Human Services;[ https://aspe.hhs.gov/pdf-report/individual-market-premium-changes-2013-2017]
  3. The Atlantic [https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/why-americans-are-drowning-in-medical-debt/381163/]
  4. [https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm]
  5. American Cancer Society: [ https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/body-weight-and-cancer-risk/health-issues.html]
  6. Save on Energy [ https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/body-weight-and-cancer-risk/health-issues.html ]
  7. [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-larry-dossey/is-dirt-the-new-prozac_b_256625.html]

Do you grow your own food and medicine? What savings have you seen? Tell us in the comments below.

 

Access our growing selection of Downloadable eBooks…

…. On topics that include growing your own food, herbal medicine, homesteading, raising livestock, and more!

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The post Food War: Grocery Shopping Versus Fresh Food appeared first on The Grow Network.

Food War: Grocery Shopping Versus Home Grown Food

Click here to view the original post.

Feeding a family isn’t cheap these days, and it only gets more expensive with each additional mouth. I’ve always wondered about the cost between Grocery Shopping and Fresh Food, but never really sat down to crunch the numbers … until now!

Eating healthy is also more expensive than eating processed foods loaded with artificial ingredients and sodium. In fact, following the government’s recommended dietary advice can add 10 percent to your monthly bill. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always more expensive than processed, canned, or frozen foods. If you want to go completely organic, count on spending sometimes double that.

The Criteria for the”Food War:”

We have to compare apples-to-apples and … well you get the idea. So, we’ll look at:

  • Expense
  • Health – Mental and Physical
  • Waste
  • Time

In the expenses, we’ll compare certain food:

  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Apples
  • Eggs

We’re also going to use $15 per hour for any labor costs or time spent.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And in this corner … Grocery Store!

According to the USDA 2017 Cost of Food Report, the average American spends between $100 to $300 per person per month on groceries. It may be higher or lower based on where you live. (1)

Grocery Store Expense (This is from your average local store, prices may vary in your area)

Lettuce

Organic Price: $1.69/head
Non-organic Price: $0.99/head

Carrots (3 lbs.)

Organic Price: $3.49
Non-organic Price: $2.99

Tomatoes (Heirloom)

Organic Price: No organics available when I went shopping
Non-organic Price: $2.99/lbs.

Basil

Organic Price: $2.99/pkg.
Non-organic Price: $1.99/pkg.

Apples

Organic Price: $1.99/lbs.
Non-organic Price: $0.99/lbs.

Eggs (1 dozen)

Organic Price: $5.69
Non-organic Price: $1.99

Most of the non-organic produce was from Mexico or Peru, and a lot of the organic produce was also.

On average, I spent about $125 per week for my family of three. I bought organic produce, grass-fed, free-range, no hormone meats and eggs (sometimes from the store, but usually from a local farmer).

Health – Mental and Physical

In 2016, the average American spent $10,345 annually on health care (insurance premiums, deductibles, co-payments, prescriptions, and medicines). (2)

According to a The Atlantic 2014 article, healthcare was the number one cause of personal bankruptcy and was responsible for more collections than credit cards. Forty percent of Americans owe money for times they were sick. (3)

More than 71 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, and 16 percent of children and adolescents are struggling with obesity (4)

There are four contributing factors: (5)

  1. Processed foods
  2. Portion size
  3. Fast food
  4. Being less active

Let’s not forget to add in the hassle and headache it can take to go to the grocery store. You might not be able to be quantify it, but just bear it in mind.

Can you be healthy eating from the grocery store? Check out this chapter of the Grow Book!

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Waste

The average American throws away 4.4 pounds of trash each day. The annual weight of trash from the entire country equals 254 million tons, that is the same as 1.2 million blue whales, and would reach to the moon and back 25 times, a journey of 11,534,090 miles. (6)

The sad thing is that you probably live closer to one of the 2,000 active landfills than you might think. Some inactive landfills have become public parks. (6)

Landfills also produce millions of cubic feet of methane gas each day. What impact does this have on our health?

Think of the waste from your groceries: food packaging, plastic produce bags, plastic bottles, twist ties, Styrofoam, and grocery bags that come along with buying groceries. This waste has to go somewhere. I kept track for several months of my grocery shopping days. Over half of my grocery list had some sort of packaging, which added up to about 10 lbs. a week.

Some cities are beginning to charge for every bag of garbage your put in the bin. The average cost is $2 per bag.

The good news is that 34.3 percent of garbage is being recycled or composted each year. That prevents 87.2 million tons of material from going into the landfill. (6)

Think about how much food you throw away because it spoiled in the refrigerator. Waste adds up!

Time

It takes me an hour to shop, but I also spend about 30 minutes to 45 minutes preparing to go grocery shopping, making my list, and seeing what needs to be bought. It takes about 15 minutes each way to get to and from the store. The parking lot is always a madhouse. Add the stress of that up in the Health section above.

Pros of going grocery shopping:

  • You can have your favorite food any time.
  • It’s convenient to run to the store if you need something.
  • Loyalty cards/Cash-back programs
  • Prepackaged, quick food

 

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And in this corner … Home Grown Food!

(And the crowd goes wild!)

Even a small garden plot, can yield an estimated 7 lbs. of fresh produce per square foot. (It depends on where you live and what you plant.)

Expense

You will have an initial investment, which includes soil conditioning, garden beds, and seeds or plants. Based on my own start-up costs, I’m saying $250 for the veggies and $300 for the chickens. You can certainly do it cheaper. We’ll have more on that in future posts. I’ll average this out over the year.

Lettuce

Seeds: $2.50/pkt
Watering: 1 hour/every 3 days.
Labor: Minimal. I was surprised how easy this was to grow.
Final Yield: I had continuous salad mix by harvesting the outside leaves every couple of days. Estimated 5 lbs. throughout the season. I had a cup of salad greens every day for four months. I can definitely extend the season and produce more.

Carrots

Heirloom Seeds: $3.00/pkt
Watering on system: 1 hour/every 3 days
Labor: Minimal. Didn’t do much at all. They grew really well without much help.
Final yield: About 6 lbs. Plenty to eat raw and dehydrate, can, and freeze.

Tomatoes

Heirloom Seeds: $2.50 – $3.00/pkt  Heirloom Plants: $6.00 ea.
Watering on system: 1 hour/every 3 days
Labor: Average. About 15 minutes every other day, nipping suckers, watching for signs of disease or pests. My first seedlings didn’t make it, so I replanted heirloom plants.
Final Yield: A little less than 80 lbs. of tomatoes from 4 plants, enough to eat fresh and preserve for later in the year.

Basil (It’s difficult to grow basil from seeds)

1 Plant: $3.00 – $5.95
Watering on system: 1 hour/ every 3 days
Labor: minimal. Harvest leaves every few days. Grew like a weed.
Yield: Off of 2 plants, I got enough for 12 pint jars of pesto and a 16 oz. container of dried.

Apples

Bare tree: $20-$25
Watering: 1 hour/ every 3 days
Fertilizer: $10
Kaolin clay: $12
Labor: Intensive. planting, pruning, training, thinning, treating, picking up fallen fruit. About 20 minutes every other day.

Eggs (only have 6 laying hens and no rooster)

Feed: $100/mo. (This can be reduced with a little planning and a more mature garden.)
Water: 1 gallon per day
Room: about 100 square feet, including the coop and run. They free-range, too!
Labor: I do the deep-litter method, so there isn’t a lot of maintenance. I spend on average 30 minutes every day, checking, gathering eggs, feeding, cleaning the roost, and giving love.
Yield: average 2 dozen eggs/week. We keep one and sell one.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Health – Mental and Physical

New studies are showing that the microbes in the soil actually work a lot like Prozac. (7)  They give you good feelings, well-being, and happiness.

The food is healthy, too. You know exactly what was used to grow your groceries.

And let’s not forget the exercise factor. You can burn anywhere from 200 to 600 calories per hour gardening.

Waste

Growing your own groceries has minimal trash.

My family is still buying some food from the grocery store. Maybe one day, I’ll grow my own quinoa.

Now that I’m conscious of food packaging. I look for packaged food that can be recycled or composted. If not, I try not to buy it. My garbage went from one full bag of garbage every three days to a handful of recyclables, large bucketfuls of compostables, and less than 2 lbs. of actual garbage each month.

I’m still trying to minimize my footprint. The goal is zero-waste, or at least as close to it as possible!

Time

In my small garden (about 100 square feet, if you put it together), I spend an average of 20 hours each month in the garden on various chores during the growing season between February and November. I spend about five or so in the winter months on greens, looking through heirloom seed catalogs, and planning next year’s garden.

All of my beds are on a timed and water-regulated irrigation system. In other words, if it rains, the system doesn’t come on. This saves water and time.

The chickens take an average of 30 minutes-a-day winter and summer. They are quite the characters, so they provide entertainment as well.

I didn’t keep track of my preserving time (canning, drying, and freezing), so an estimate is about 10 to 20 hours total for the entire season.

Of course, I see this as time well spent. Twenty hours in the garden or 30 minutes for the chickens could easily be more, because I love it so much.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And the winner is…!

As far as cost goes, fresh food from the garden wins by a slim margin. However, it is difficult to quantify your health and happiness into this equation.

I know for me. I’m happier when I’m gardening. I know I’m healthier because of the exercise and eating good, clean food. The dollar amount is interesting, but almost inconsequential.

 grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Resources:

  1. [https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood]
  2. Department of Health and Human Services;[ https://aspe.hhs.gov/pdf-report/individual-market-premium-changes-2013-2017]
  3. The Atlantic [https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/why-americans-are-drowning-in-medical-debt/381163/]
  4. [https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm]
  5. American Cancer Society: [ https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/body-weight-and-cancer-risk/health-issues.html]
  6. Save on Energy [ https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/body-weight-and-cancer-risk/health-issues.html ]
  7. [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-larry-dossey/is-dirt-the-new-prozac_b_256625.html]

Do you grow your own food and medicine? What savings have you seen? Tell us in the comments below.

 

Access our growing selection of Downloadable eBooks…

…. On topics that include growing your own food, herbal medicine, homesteading, raising livestock, and more!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The post Food War: Grocery Shopping Versus Home Grown Food appeared first on The Grow Network.

Saving Rural America

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By: Tom Chatham Rural America is dying a slow and miserable death but only the local inhabitants seem to notice. It was happening slowly but now it is happening faster. The crown jewels of the rural areas, the graduating children, are leaving and taking their potential with them. As rural businesses shut down and opportunities […]

Making Extra Income On Your Farm or Rural Property

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By: Tom Chatham One thing many homesteaders and farmers need is extra income, especially if they are new to the area. It can be difficult getting a market established if you have to compete with others that are veterans to the local market. Producing a product is usually easier than finding enough return customers to […]

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.

Prepare For The Peace That Follows The Chaos

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By: Tom Chatham The people that are preparing for some sort of chaos in their future are only doing the prudent thing considering the environment we are now living in. Those with growing piles of supplies for disasters, war or some type of collapse have made the mental leap that is required to prepare themselves […]

Multiple Streams of Income

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When talking with John Mosby during down time at class the group discussion hit on some other things. One of them was that our empire is deterioration. A sub set of that particular problem is the economy.

He mentioned to the group that we should be thinking about ways to diversify our incomes. One guy was high up in a big city fire department so his job was probably secure and I am in the military so my job (especially since President Trump was elected) isn’t likely going anywhere. To the rest he said they should think about ways beside their normal job to earn some money.

I have been thinking about that myself.

A couple ideas come to mind.

First we have to consider when we are looking at this stream of income working. Do we want it to work now? Or are we angling for some sort of worst case scenario type thing?

Obviously a lot of stuff that could work now would not work in some worst case scenario, like say doing tax accounting part time or selling digital books on amazon. On the other hand lets say, as I am seriously considering doing, a guy takes up leather working. I could get really good at it and still not be able to meet the quality to price ratio of a lot of mass production shops like Bianchi or Galco. When a guy can get most imaginable items in 2-4 days on Amazon for a mass produced price how can I compete without being a legitimate master? I probably can’t, especially when true professionals are a  phone call and a UPS package away. Now lets say our world got a lot smaller in a hurry. Like walking/ bicycle distance smaller. How many guys are going to be making custom holsters for whatever handgun people pull out of their closet in a 5 mile radius? Probably not many. Figure you do mag pouches and sheathes also and it could be a decent job.

The point I am getting at is to figure on when you are looking for the income then make a plan.

I pay a lot in child support but I also make good money. Not like my expectations or lifestyle are too fancy so stuff works out just fine for now. Still I don’t like single points of failure.

So I want to have a couple other streams of income. Lets say 3. How much money do I want to make? Well I would like to make 500k a year. More realistically if I made somewhere between several hundred to a couple grand a month that would give me a lot of options. Even if my normal job fell apart somehow I would have something coming in. Maybe even enough to pay the no fail bills like power, fuel and food. On the high end of those figures I could even pay rent.

So how could I do this?

My first plan is to get the blog earning again. For a few reasons I plan to do it more on a commission basis than folks paying for advertising.

Writing. I have been writing fiction again. Hope to put a book out on Amazon in the first quarter of next year.

Also to ask you all a question. If I put together a nonfiction type work that is a mix of selected blog posts and some new stuff then charged say $5 for it would you all be interested? I’m definitely still framing this out in my head but it would give you my take on a lot of stuff in one place.

Both of those are in the works. If you have constructive ideas I would love to hear them. 

The Reason Our Standard of Living Will Fall

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By: Tom Chatham The prosperity we once knew as a nation was made possible because of cheap oil. When the EROI, Energy Returned On Invested, was at 30/1 we had unprecedented prosperity. The EROI is now falling below 10/1 and is taking prosperity with it. The EROI is the amount of energy we expend to […]

Three Ways To Prepare Your Finances For Disaster

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Most people will experience a catastrophe in their lifetime. Beyond the emotional damage, these events can cause serious financial hardships that only prolong the pain and anxiety. Often, these hardships are the result of a failure to prepare. Simply addressing three key areas of you finances can put you in a position to protect yourself, your family, and your legacy.

De-risk Your Portfolio

Eliminating risk from your investment portfolio is no longer as easy as moving money from stocks to high quality bonds. Investments that were once considered safe now appear vulnerable.

A perfect example is American International Group. Formerly the world’s largest insurer, the once-AAA rated company nearly brought down the banking industry when it found itself on the cusp of bankruptcy.

When a crisis hits, bond and equity markets can become irrational. In order to combat this, avoid these investments and move your cash into liquid instruments like an FDIC-insured money market account. You also want to make certain that your deposit does not exceed the insurance limit.

If you have significant assets, you may find it difficult to withdraw your entire balance in cash. Many banks are only obligated to pay you an equivalent of cash. For instance, if you ask for $50,000 in cash, banks can deny your request and instead offer you the same amount in the form of a bank check.

If you believe that you’ll need hard currency, it would be wise to get a head start and accumulate funds over time.

Diversify Your Assets

One of the most overlooked aspects of financial disaster planning is diversifying currency. History is littered with examples of nations whose currency was devalued into oblivion.

Fiat money is only as strong as the government that backs it. For example, if you believe that the United States’ excessive borrowing could become a serious problem, it would behoove you to open banking accounts that would allow you to exchange your dollars for another country’s currency.

Another way to hedge yourself against a devaluing currency is to buy a hard asset that can be used as a medium of exchange, such as gold or silver coins. One thing to be cognizant of is transportability. It may be difficult to travel with significant assets across borders, especially by airplane.

If you believe that you may need to leave the country, you should open accounts abroad. Many foreign banks will allow you to open an account online as long as you can meet minimum deposit requirements and send copies of personal documents such as a valid passport.

In addition, programs like the Perth Mint will sell, store, and ship to you either your precious metals or its value.

Find a Lifeline

Disaster planning begins with creating an emergency fund. However, when the cost of an unexpected event depletes your savings, you may be left to choose between car payments, mortgage payments, and food.

The best solution to plugging a temporary gap is to utilize a financial supercenter such as Tracy Rawle’s Check City. Express cash loan centers allow you to turn future paychecks into cash today. In addition, you can use your assets or current employment as leverage to obtain short-term loans on the same day that you apply. This strategy should not be viewed in the same light as a credit card. Rather, this source of funds is an excellent way to solve cash flow issues that you expect to be resolved in the near future.

How To Find the Right Balance

Determining how to best protect your finances can be emotionally draining. Protection usually requires that you take something away from another area. It could mean saving instead of spending on a vacation, or forgoing the possibility of an early retirement by moving money out of the stock market and into safer assets.

Nothing feels better than the peace of mind in knowing that your loved ones are protected in the event of a disaster. Focusing on how you would like your family’s future to look, and that of generations to come, can help guide you in making the right decisions today.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

Small Homes: A Shelter For All Economic Seasons

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By: Tom Chatham With the economic conditions becoming ever worse around the world every day it is becoming harder for the average person to build or buy large homes that make their owners feel successful. In recent decades it has become the norm to keep up with the neighbors in consumer spending. Nobody wants to […]

How Will You Cope With A lower Standard of Living?

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By: Tom Chatham The forces are mounting that will eventually overwhelm most Americans and send their standard of living to unknown depths. Americans that have only known the post WWII prosperity are ill equipped and educated to deal with depression level living. Easy credit and instant gratification have created a nation of whining, self absorbed, […]

How To Invest in the Current Economic Climate

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The stock market is approaching 18,000, and the talking heads in the media are at it again: “regular folks,” according to them, “need to invest in the stock market or get left behind.” (It’s interesting to note that many of these talking heads make a living off the “churn” in the stock market, earning a small % of each trade regardless of whether the market goes up or down. To make a living, they need people investing, regardless of what the market does.)

But the economy sucks, to put it simply. There was a horrible jobs report last Friday. And today, Ralph Loren has announced lay-offs, and the media is reporting that this is the worst environment in at least six years for retail jobs. How do the talking heads explain why the stock market is doing so well, despite the poor economy? Basically, they say that stock market is the only investment giving even a half-way decent return; that other investments – bonds, CDs, money market accounts, etc. – are doing so poorly that no one wants to invest in them. Therefore, money is pouring into the stock market.

But, being the “least worst” of many bad options is a HORRIBLE reason to invest in something. It is also setting up a future disaster that, in my opinion, will make the financial crisis of 2008 look like good times. How, given the current economic climate, should one invest their money?

Think Outside the Normal Investments Box

Here is my advice (of course, consider your own circumstances, and do your own research). It is not the advice the talking heads, or most other financial professionals, will give you because, quite frankly, they aren’t set up to make money this way:

1) Establish an “Emergency Fund”, not as an investment, but as short-term insurance. How much? It depends on your circumstances (family size, living expenses, debt, comfort level, etc.) Dave Ramsey suggests that even folks trying to get out of deep debt make it a priority to set aside at least $1,000 in a savings account. Other common advice suggests anywhere from 6 months to 2 years living expenses, depending on your circumstances. Keep it where? Your emergency fund isn’t an investment, but rather a form of insurance. Put is somewhere relatively safe & liquid (a highly-rated credit union savings account, for example), and don’t worry about the rate of return. If you have developed a significant emergency fund, you may wish to split it up at two financial institutions for extra security. Again, don’t chase a rate of return with this money. Rather, be more concerned about safety & liquidity.

2) Keep some cash stashed in a safe place as home. Keep it secret and well-hidden, of course. And don’t use it except in an emergency. How much? Depends on your circumstances. I suggest goal of at least $500. But, decide for yourself (frankly, I don’t know your circumstances). This should be  separate from your emergency fund, in my opinion.

3) Pay off your debt, especially high-interest credit cards and other consumer debt such as car loans.  This will give you considerable peace-of-mind, secure your assets from seizure, free up cash-flow, and be sort of like receiving a return on your investment equal to the interest rate of the debt your paying off.

4) Invest in yourself.  This could take many forms: improving your health and fitness, eating healthier, overcoming addictions, continuing your education, learning new skills, learning a new trade, moving to a safer/better place, starting your own business, buying land for a small farm or homestead in order to provide for yourself and your family…

5) Invest in hard assets. Tangible (physical) assets that you can touch and posses (not pieces of paper that say you own an asset) are likely to maintain value as paper assets (stocks, bonds, cash, etc. ) become worthless. Precious metals such as gold and silver are the obvious examples in this category, but other tangible assets may also do well (do your homework, of course, and understand these assets before you invest). Other possibilities may include gemstones, jewelry, art, antiques, collectible coins & stamps… Historically, tangible assets do well even in really horrible times like wars and depressions. You may are may not be able to sell them during a collapse, but once we get through the collapse they will still have value, unlike many paper assets.

Other tangible assets, like tools or ammo, will likely make great barter items in and after a collapse. They would also make great items to sell on the black- and gray-markets that often develop during economic hard times. Body armor is something else that will be in high-demand in a collapse scenario, especially if government tries to restrict or ban private ownership, as some activists and politicians already want to do.

6) Invest in real estate that provides income (rents, timber, crops, etc.). This is, of course, a type of tangible asset if you own it directly (be wary of REITs and other “paper” ways of owning real estate). Also, be VERY wary of going into debt to buy real estate as an investment. If you owe money on your real estate, then you don’t really own it until you pay off the loan.

7) Paper assets (stocks, bonds, etc.). It may seem surprising to include paper assets such as stocks and bonds on this list, even listed last. But it is worth noting that even in horrible economic times, many of these assets survived. Not every company went out-of-business during the Great Depression, for example. Although many companies went bankrupt, many companies survived, and some even thrived. Many fortunes were lost, but some fortunes were made. Same goes for the ultra-destructive American Civil War. Europe was basically destroyed during the World Wars, but some companies survived, some fortunes were made. If you have truly significant assets, it may well be worth your effort to invest some of your fortune in traditional paper assets.

What companies may survive a collapse? I would look to companies that a) provide truly needed/useful products, b) that have well-established brands with good reputations, c) that have very little, or no, debt, d) that has an impressive cash-flow statement, and e) that have well-respected upper management without a lot of turn-over.

My article, Survival Lessons from the House of Rothschild, is worth reading, since I give the asset-allocation model they have successfully used to survive and thrive many challenges, dangers, chaos, and hardships, including the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II and the Holocaust, and the rise of socialism throughout Europe. Moreover, they survived a major civilization change as the world’s economic and political center shifted from Europe and Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries to the USA in the 20th century (much as the world’s center seems to be shifting from the USA to China and the East, today). And they thrived despite deep anti-Jewish sentiment, often enforced by law (facing legal discrimination, at times quite severe).

Agriculture, keeping up pt 2!

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Agriculture, keeping up pt 2!
Brett Bauma “Makers on Acres

Agriculture keeping up pt 2On the next episode of Makers on Acres Tech. Build and Grow show, we venture into part 2 of our modern agriculture topic. On the last episode we talked a small bit about gmo, soil erosion and corn. On this next episode we will dive deeper into the economics of the modern agricultural platform as well as more in depth talk on the practices used in today’s farming methods.

Although a change is going to be tough, we will discuss what can be done and what should be done. The population boom that is expected between now and 2050 is huge, and we can not sustain the population, or the earth for that matter, with current agricultural practices.
Listen to part 1 of this show HERE!
Visit Makers On Acres website HERE! 
Join us for Makers On Acres “LIVE SHOW” every Saturday 9:00/Et 8:00Ct 6:00/Pt Go To Listen and Chat

Listen to this broadcast or download “Agriculture, keeping up pt 2” in player below!

Get the 24/7 app for your smart phone HERE! 
Put the 24/7 player on your web site HERE! 
Archived shows of Makers On Acres Live at bottom of THIS PAGE!

The post Agriculture, keeping up pt 2! appeared first on The Prepper Broadcasting Network.

The War on Cash – Prepare for the End of Cash

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There is a War on Cash happening, and we will see the end of physical cash within ten years or so. Maybe sooner. Bankers and economists in the US and around the world are now calling for the end of cash, and the establishment of a cashless society. Instead of cash, everyone will eventually be forced to use debit cards and other forms of digital transactions instead of paper money or coins.

Economist and ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has called for the elimination of large bills, such as the US $100 bill and the EU €500 EURO note. Norwegian academic, Communist politician, and anti-Israel activist Trond Andresen has put together a detailed plan to eliminate cash in favor of an all digital economy (click here to download a .pdf of his proposal). Sweden has already committed to eliminating ALL cash within five years. A similar law has been proposed in Denmark. Politicians, bankers, and corporations worldwide are starting to jump on board the cashless society bandwagon.

There are two main reasons behind this push to eliminate cash: 1) using cash makes it harder for governments and corporations to track and control your behavior, and 2) the bankers can’t make money off cash that isn’t deposited in their banks, and with the likelihood of negative interest rates in the future, people will be incentivized to keep cash on hand and not in the banks. Get rid of cash, and folks will be forced to use the banking system even with negative interest.

Of course, those wanting to go cashless won’t admit the two main reasons. Instead, they say it will control crime, eliminate black markets, prevent tax evasion, help track terrorists and fight terrorism, and even smooth out the boom-and-bust business cycle. Folks who are opposed to a cashless society will be painted as anti-technology Luddites, and even potential criminals or terrorists.

Why Is Going Cashless a Bad Idea?

  • More power for centralized government and politicians.
  • A step closer for consolidated world government.
  • More loss of privacy, as government, banks, and corporations will be able to track every purchase made.
  • Government will be able to know who is buying and stockpiling guns, ammo, body armor, and other survival/prepper supplies. Makes future confiscation easier.
  • Government will be able to know who is buying and hoarding food. Makes future confiscation easier.
  • Remember the IRS scandal where Tea Party and Conservative organizations were targeted? 
  • Operation Choke Point – where government targets banks doing business with gun manufacturers and dealers – will be on steroids.
  • Probability for Operation Choke Points for anything government doesn’t approve of…
  • Gives government one more way to regulate our lives.
  • Forces individuals to be bank customers even in a negative interest rate environment. 
  • Forces all charitable donations, including religious tithes and donations, to go through the digital system, giving government an in-road to track and even regulate such donations.
  • Forces folks preferring to use cash envelope systems for budgeting and personal debt control to quit using those systems, and become bank customers instead.

How To Prepare For the End of Cash

Some good news: cash isn’t going away this year. When it does go away, it won’t happen overnight. There will likely be a transition period of several years once the decision is made to go cashless. Large bills will likely be eliminated first, with smaller bills eliminated over the following several years. Some countries in Europe are already working on timetables of about 5 years or so for a transition. The US and Canada probably has about 10 years or so before the complete elimination of cash. This gives you some time to prepare.

The most important thing to do is to get out of the worldly economic system as much as possible (see my previous article Getting Out of Babylon!).  Buying land and setting up a homestead, where you and your family can be as self-reliant as possible, is a good way to go. Doing this with a community of similar folks also seeking self-reliance would be even batter.  Either move to a fairly rural area with lots of farms and country-folk, or get together with some other families and start your own self-reliant community!

Try to put aside at least one year’s worth of food (more is better) before being being forced into the all-digital system. You than can keep your stored food “topped off” without it being as apparent to their algorithms that you are stockpiling (or in their terms “hoarding”) food.

Get your financial house in order. Getting out of debt is very important. The fewer bills you have, the less dependent on the cashless system you will be (see my article (see my article Prepping 101: Finances – Get Back to Basics, for more ideas).

I recommend you buy any guns, ammo, body armor, and other politically incorrect items sooner rather than later. Between the move to a cashless society and a probability of an anti-gun majority on the Supreme court within the next year or two, it may get very difficult, if not impossible, to buy arms and armor in the not-too distant-future.

Metals, such as gold, silver, and even lead (in the form of ammo), will likely become the primary means of exchange for those wishing to avoid the digital system. The government may attempt to confiscate metals at some point (they done so in the past), but that may push our unsustainable economic system over the edge into collapse. At that point, folks will pay little attention to the failed government and its authorities.  (You may be interested in my article Prepper’s Guide to Junk Silver.)

How Do You Recover From An Economic Collapse?

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By: Tom Chatham The road to recovery from any type of societal collapse is largely dependent on the mechanism that caused the collapse. For this reason we need to determine what the likely cause of the collapse will be and have the appropriate equipment to fix the malfunction after it happens. This requires society to […]

Venezuela Could Be The Future of Western Civilization

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By: Tom Chatham If anyone wants to see where western civilization is headed they need only to look at Venezuela today. The Bolivar has gone from 6.3 per dollar to 1,000 per dollar in the past few years. Last year farmers were ordered to turn over certain crops to the government for dispersion in government […]

Real Goods Are The Real Money

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By: Tom Chatham We have seen the massive drop in the Baltic Dry Index over the past few months indicating shipping of bulk materials around the world is slowing down to unprecedented levels. We have seen the shutdown and mothballing of hundreds of locomotive engines in the U.S. just over the past few months indicating […]

How To Survive The Stock Market Crash

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Have you been following the stock market woes? No? Perhaps you have noticed rising food prices and the cost of goods? You are most likely aware of the incredible drop in gas prices. While we have sometimes spoken about it in a far-off future disaster scenario, the facts point to one thing – the stock market, and our global economy, is crashing. Let us discuss ways for you to get through it and perhaps even thrive.
The economy IS crashing. This is not a doomer fantasy. Find out how to survive this economic crash.

Read more »

Massive Railroad Shutdown Looms In 2016

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By: Tom Chatham In 2008 Congress passed Positive Train Control (PTC) legislation to reduce train collisions and over speed accidents. These new electronic control systems can activate train braking systems when dangerous conditions are detected. These new systems were to be installed by Dec. 31, 2015. After this effective date it is a violation of […]

Russian transfer of S-300 Air Defense System may force Israeli to initiate war with Iran before winter

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Over two decades ago, I began warning that United States’ policies in the Middle East could set the US and world on a trajectory for a major war. Unfortunately, every

What Will You Do When The Government Checks Stop?

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By: Tom Chatham Preppers talk about the day when paper currency becomes worthless and how they plan to barter when things fall apart. But, what will most people do when the government check they depend on stops forever more. Over 50% of the people in America now get some kind of government check every month. […]

Retail Is Crumbling And Our Future

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The world around us can be an inspiring place or a frightening one.
These past few months it has become an increasingly scary place to live.
Mass kidnappings, a wavering economy on a good day, mass lay-offs, terrorist shootings, rising grocery costs, beheadings and the ever present unemployment numbers.
As if all that weren’t enough, the economies of other countries impact our own in a world economy. Just last night I read about how the faltering U.S economy can spell trouble for many, even if they aren’t in the retail field. The post is worth a read.
Then get yourself something to drink and read it again.

Ponder your future and use this new year to change your future.
I am.

Episode 27: Litecoin, Bitcoin and other Crypto Currencies

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43155175

I recorded this a month ago so some of the information in regards to “cases” and recent events is somewhat dated but all the information presented is still very relavent.

Today I talk about…

  • How Crypto Currencies Work
  • Why Cryptocurrencies are a good thing for liberty.
  • What is a “miner”?
  • The Mt. Gox Disaster and why its a good thing
  • The myth that Bitcoin enables Drug Dealers and Terrorists
  • And More.

NOTE:

I didn’t finish my posts on how to build a miner and no longer advocate it with the advent of ASICS, specialized systems that mine but at fractions of the heating cost.  Basically its getting hard for the small guy to get in on it.  I have exited my position as a miner but continue to trade the markets and have been doing pretty well.

 

CHECK OUT AND JOIN THE GREAT NORTHERN PREPPER FORUM, LEARN, DISCUSS AND SHARE!

 

Want to help support the site? find out more here! Or just click the amazon link below, bookmark it and go there every time you shop on Amazon, it costs you nothing more, but they will kick back a portion of your purchase to the site to help run things smoothly and keep you informed!

 

Amazon GNP help

Episode 26: The Ukraine Crisis and what it means for you

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Crimea crisis ukraine

Now this situation could have some ramifications in regards to preparedness, I want you to be aware of some of the History of the current Ukrainian crisis and what will probably happen.

  • Ukraine is historically intertwined with Russia
  • Kiev, Ukraine was the seat of power for the Ancient Russian/Slavic State
  • Ukraine is a major producer of Corn and Wheat
  • Any hostile action in Ukraine will drive up the price of Gold
  • Many of the “opposition” movements are funded by the U.S. covertly
  • Russia will not invade Ukraine proper, but it may put more troops in the Crimea

 

CHECK OUT AND JOIN THE GREAT NORTHERN PREPPER FORUM, LEARN, DISCUSS AND SHARE!

Want to help support the site? find out more here! Or just click the amazon link below, bookmark it and go there every time you shop on Amazon, it costs you nothing more, but they will kick back a portion of your purchase to the site to help run things smoothly and keep you informed!

Amazon GNP help

 

 

LITECOIN MINING 101: PART 3: OPERATING SYSTEM AND SOFTWARE INSTALLLATION

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Data-mining

Presenting the Third Part of  Five Part Series on Litecoin/CryptoCoin Mining, Today we will cover Software Installation for Windows Based Mining Rigs.

If you Havent Read the First Two post, start here

LITECOIN MINING 101: PART 1: WHAT DO YOU NEED TO BUILD A MINER

LITECOIN MINING 101: PART 2: HARDWARE INSTALLATION

 

WINDOWS INSTALLATION After you have finished your BIOS settings, put the Windows installation Disk into your DVD player. It should boot up and show this screen

 

Screenshot 7

Then It will ask you to setup the language, time/currency format, keyboard/input method (most people just leave as US).  Select your settings and click continue.

IT will then show a button “INSTALL NOW”, Click on that.

 

 

IT SHOULD NOW SHOW THIS SCREEN

Screenshot 2

You will now come to the Product Key page, and ask you to input your product key

Screenshot 3

 

 

This will be found on the slip that the CD came in and should be 25 letters/numbers long, then click “NEXT”

Now it will ask you to accept the License Terms, do so.

 

 

You will now see this screen

Screenshot 4

If you are using a brand new Motherboard and building this rig from the ground up you will need to click “CUSTOM” on the bottom.  If you are using an old motherboard that had Windows 7 on it with the Hard Drive that it had before (i.e. you are using parts from an old computer you had) then click “UPDGRADE” More than likely all of you reading this would be using “CUSTOM

 

 

 

Now You will be asked to select where you would like to Install Windows 8.

Screenshot 5

If you only have One Hard Drive then you will see what is shown above, and only one will show up, click next to continue.  If you have More than 1 hard Drive (if you are building a Liteocin Rig, you wouldn’t, because that would be a waste of power and money??) then select which one you want to install it on. You can partition your drives, however this is a tutorial on setting up a mining rig NOT building a new Home Computer.  So just click next.

 

Windows is now coping files to you drive to install itself.  This can take a few, so if you need to fill up your coffee cup or take a bathroom break, you will be fine!

Screenshot 6

 

 

After this is done, Windows will restart itself, no need from any input from you.  You will see this screen as it restarts as well as updates on what it is doing (i.e. getting devices read 15%…..).

Screenshot 1

Windows may restart a second time before it is ready to go to the next step.

 

You will now see this screen

Screenshot 8

Now Click on Personalize, name  your computer, you can pick the color, etc. You can click through these options and set them up individually.

 

 

Screenshot 9

 

The “SIGN IN” section is where you can set up your PC using a Microsoft Email account (HOTMAIL/OUTLOOK)

If you do not have one, you can create one, if you don’t have one and don’t want one Click “SIGN IN WITHOUT A MICROSOFT ACCOUNT” and click next

 

ON THE NEXT SCREEN CLICK “LOCAL ACCOUNT” and here is where you will pick the username and password to login to your computer (Later on we will disable this so it logs in automatically, this is so if there is a restart on your system/power outage it will restart your mining rig, log in and start mining again, without you there).

 

Windows will now finalize your settings. And start to show you some functions that are new to Windows 8, just sit there and love it….. After the Demo is over it will continue to get the PC read, and install the apps.   You will then see a unfamiliar screen of colored boxes…this is the new Windows Start menu.  In the lower left hand corner look for “DESKTOP”, click that and you will now be on the Desktop of your Rig!

 WIN FREE LITECOINS with LTC4YOU!  No gimmick, I have played this game every day and they do payout! Disclaimer: I do get points for referrals, hence why I’m Pitching it

 

 

SOFTWARE INSTALLATION:

 

I Would create a folder on your Desktop for all the software downloads, etc.  I named mine “Mining” and then separated them into Different categories, this way it was easier than going through the “downloads” portion to find the right one.

All the software below you will install EXCEPT CGMINER and CATALYST DRIVER.  Download ONLY, DO NOT INSTALL  YET!

 

If you are using a USB WIFI connection to connect to the internet, have the installation cd that came with the WIFI and install that.  If you don’t google it on your other computer and download it to a Thumbdrive, plug it in your rigs USB slot and drag and drop it into your software folder.  Install it so you can get internet access.

 

MSI AFTERBURNER (or TRIXX)

Just google MSI AFTERBURNER or go to this link (MSI AFTERBURNER) and download the Latest Version of it.  Nothing really to do other than open it up once its downloads and then click settings on the bottom, and under the general tab (should be the main menu that pops up) Click every box (X) and click save.  This synch’s all the cards that are alike (i.e. 7950’s or 7970’s) with the same settings as well as unlock the voltage so you can “undervolt” your cards, which lowers temps and more power efficient. I have not personally used TRIXX, however I have heard no bad things about it, so you can look into that as well.

 

TEAM VIEWER (For help form forums) This is a free download for personal use, you can download here (Team Viewer), however this will install google chrome toolbar, etc onto your Internet explorer, which you don’t need.  This is used if you are having issues on your setup and a forum member offers to go in and check your settings and see what you are doing wrong.  Yes this allows someone onto your computer, but it has helped me multiple times when I was stumped.  Just be smart.

 

CATALYST 13.12 DRIVER This is the driver for your GPU (if you are using a AMD based, specifically the Sapphire 7950), which connects it to the computer and installs all the ‘parts’ needed to function, think of your computer as a house, your gpu as curtains, the driver is like the curtain rods and mounting hardware, without it its just a curtain on the floor, this puts everything where it needs to go to work as you need it.   You can download the Latest Version Here (AMD DRIVERS) DO NOT INSTALL IT. 

 

CGMINER 3.7.2 You can find the index for all versions of CGMINER Here (CGMINER), I would go with 3.7.2, but I know of folks using 3.4 etc.  DO NOT DOWNLOAD ANY VERSION NEWER THAN 3.7.2 (e.g. latest version 3.8.3).  You are mining for Litecoins which uses “scrypt” you don’t need to know what all the details, however later versions DO NOT ALLOW FOR SCRYPT MINING, so it wont work! Download it and put it in the mining software file. DO NOT INSTALL IT.

 

REMOTE DESKTOP APP Download the CHROME BROWSER (www.google.com/chrome)

SIGN IN

If you have a gmail address already you can sign in on the main screen that pops up after downloading Chrome.

If you don’t have a GMAIL you can sign up for one. If you don’t want to Sign up for one you can sign up for a Google account using your current email (This may change in the future).

Go to https://accounts.google.com/SignUpWithoutGmail and sign up there for a Google account using your current email. Now sign in on Chrome and google “Chrome Remote Desktop” it will take you to the app page and in the Upper right hand corner click “INSTALL”.

From there you will download the app and move on to the…

 

Installation.

You will see a screen asking you what you will use this for.

Screenshot 10

 

 

On top is a “REMOTE ASSISTANCE” for IT support, don’t click that.

The Bottom Option, “MY COMPUTERS” is where you want to go, click “GET STARTED”

 

Now Click “ENABLE REMOTE CONNECTIONS”

It will install ask for you to enter a “PIN”, this is the code needed to remotely access your  computer so do not make it “1234” or something stupid, pick a good secure PIN.

You are now set up for Remote access.  This way you can access you computer, control cgminer and MSI AFTERBURNER, etc. from say your inlaws house 1000 miles away!

 

NOTE- to do this you will need to have Chrome Browser on your laptop or whatever computer you are going to use to access it remotely.  Then you will sign in with your google account, open a new tab and click the APP app Button and click on the Remote Desktop Iconrd.  Your computer name (whatever you named it during WINDOWS SET UP) should show up and then you can click that computer, enter the pin and click connect.

 

DO NOT TRY THIS NOW.  YOU HAVE TO CONFIGURE CGMINER to allow for this or it will crash!! We will go over this again at the very end (after cgminer is finished and you are successfully mining).   

 

SIGN UP FOR LITECOIN WALLET/ADDRESS

 

I have outlined how to do this on a Youtube Video (HOW TO GET A LITECOIN WALLET 101) as well as written a overview Blog post on Litecoin and the different types of wallets and ways to store your coins.  Choose whats best for you as fare as storage, but you will need to have an address to have your mined coins sent to.

 

Watch the Video or just follow these steps

 

Go to www.litecoing.org

 

Download the appropriate file based on your operating system (Window, Mac, Linux) Allow for a lot of time for the Wallet to get synchronized with the network.

 

Go into the “RECEIVE” tab and on the right is your “address”

 

Go up top in the “RECEIVE” Tab and click to “encrypt your address” this is basically asking you to create a password.

 

USE A STRONG PASSWORD AND DO NOT LOST IT OR YOU WILL LOSE EVERYTHING YOU HAVE MINED!!!!!

I would go to random.org and create a 24 digit random password of upper/lower case letter, numbers and symbols.

Encrypt it and write down and store in a SAFE location your address and your password.

 

Your address is fine to be public you can write that down on a piece of paper and leave it next to your computer, or email it to yourself, whatever you want to do.

Just keep the password secret.

You now have a Litecoin Wallet.

This is not 100% secure (neither is online banking), so please consult my post on how to store your coins more securely. (LINK TO POST)

 

SIGN UP FOR A POOL

There are many pools out there, I personally used COINOTRON (as well as TEAMDOGE.com and LITEGUARDIAN.com) currently, but you can choose whatever one you want, compare them and make your own decision.

Basically you will sign up on their website

Inside your account info you will need to input your Litecoin address (which you should have after setting up your wallet, but you don’t necessarily need until you are ready for a payout).  Re verify that you address is correct after inputting it, you don’t want to mine for awhile and realize someone else has been getting all the benefits of your hardwork.

Check to see what the fees are in your pool.  Currently (December 2013) the Fees are 0% for payouts above 1.5 Litecoins, so you don’t pay any fees when you “get paid” unless its for less than that.  Make sure you set your “Payout Threshold” at 1.5 or whatever you want it to be, this is the number that triggers a payment. For instance if your Threshold is ‘5” once you mine 5 litecoins it sends those 5 to your address.  If you do not have a Litecoin (or whatever coin you are mining) address yet you will want to set the threshold high so that it doesn’t send your coins to the server owner.  So, set it high and set up the wallet whenever you are ready to be paid.

 

However there are fees based on whether you are paid by..

You will select one of these when you create your “worker”

PAY PER SHARE (PPS) Or ROUND BASED PAY PER SHARE (RBPPS)

 

PPS is more risky for pool operators for many reasons, I don’t want to get into details about blocks, orphaned blocks, etc.  you can research them through your own pool.

PPS can offer higher payouts but it’s a higher fee on your mined coins while RBPPS has lower fees, I currently use RBPPS, its reliable and easy.

You will then set up your “worker”, most likely you aren’t looking to get real detailed with all of this, no more than is necessary, so for simplicities sake we will just consider one pool, one coin.  I am not looking to write the end all be all of Litecoin mining and ALL its “ins and outs” This is meant for the average person just looking to get in and make it as easy as possible.

So you will set up a worker, you will see where it asks to create the workser username and password.

Your workers username will be your SIGN IN NAME (to sign into coinotron from the main page) + whatever you input. So lets same my Sign in is JSMITH and I set my worker username to “1” my worker username that will be used for mining will be “JSMITH.1”.  Whatever you enter for your password is up to you.  However as you will see in the 4th post setting up cgminer, you will need to know your worker username and password.

 

Once you have done this you are good, you are now part of a Mining Pool, which although means you make less than if you were solo mining, it is difficult, if not impossible (pretty much impossible for any existing coin) to solo mine anymore.  I am more interested in consistent and constant streams of coins than hoping for my solo mining rig to hopefully find a block and solve it.

 

Stay Tuned for the next Installment of Part 4 and 5 of my Series on how to set up a Mining Rig!

 

 

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LITECOIN MINING 101: PART 2: HARDWARE INSTALLATION

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Data-mining

 

 

Today I present the second part in a 5 part series on how to build and run a Crypto Coin Mining Rig, with this you can mine any SCRYPT based currency such as Litecoin, Dogecoin, RonPaul Coin, etc.

If you haven’t read the First Post in this Series, What to Buy, Start there.

CASE

DairyCrateBlack_x

I used a milk crate for the “case” of the computer *(If you want to see the PVC version I also built It is at the end of the post) , this offers a very cheap option for the case as you can pick them up for around $6 on Amazon or you can just keep your eye out on craigslist or garage sales, I was able to pick up a few for free from a neighbor.  The milk crate also offers a very open area for cooling as you will need this since the GPU’s (Graphic Processing Units) will get VERY HOT and need a lot of cooling.   You will not want to use a classic closed case like most computers have, since they will overheat and shut down (or if you are not careful burn up).  You can also make your own out of steel/aluminum frame or even wood if you so choose, however a milk crate works great and is cheap.

NOTE: With a standard Milk crate size, 6 GPU (even 5) was sort of pushing it space wise (4 is fine!).  So if you are planning on building a 6 GPU at any point, I would possibly look into getting a 24qt Milk crate, which are more expensive.  You could also just put a metal bracer on the lip as I did  and cut the sides out so you can add one or two more GPU’s.

DSCN4781

I ended up cutting sections out of my milk crate to allow easier access to the USB and other plug ins on the Motherboard and Graphics cards as well as allow for better cooling of the GPU’s.

DSCN4786

I cut a section out so that the power cords to the Motherboard and CPU were not in the way of the GPU’s and ziptied them to the frame so they would not come loose.

DSCN4793

Pull the Motherboard out and set it in the milk crate whichever way it fits best, The layout for my Motherboard is above and you can see where the PCI slot for the GPU’s are, and you can see where the GPU will rest on the crate.

DSCN4789

I also noticed that the GPU’s were heavy and pulling the side in so I bought a metal frame used for shelving for $2.44, cut and screwed it into that side and then drilled holes to put the GPUS in.

 

This is skipping ahead a bit, but put in the PCI riser on the GPU

 

On the frame of the GPU it should be pretty easy to figure out what is the attachment frame part ( SEE PHOTO ABOVE), L shaped and metal vs….nothing.  Put this on the lip of the Crate.

DSCN4782

Holding your GPU with one hand use the other to connect the other end of the Riser (small end) to the Motherboard, the First PCI slot that is closets to the CPU.  As seen in the photo below.

DSCN4804a

Now move the GPU as far over as you can, you don’t want it tight tight, but so there is the tiniest bit of slack in there, don’t want it to pull out of the Motherboard if its moved at all.

Then mark on the metal where that hole is

DSCN4790

I then keep that first GPU where it is and put a second one next to it a few inches away, then remove the first one and mark where the second hole should go, then hold the second one, pull the first GPU you just removed and place it a few inches away where the 3rd will go and continue on until you have marked where all the GPU’s will be.

 

Now you may have to redo these if you get to the end and notice you have 6 inches of space left over, it’s a bit of trial and error and depends on if you are running, 3,4 or 6 GPU’s.  Since I am running 5 currently I only had room for a few inches between them, if you are only going with two or three or even four you will have more space between them, so you can figure that out on you own.

Then pre drill the metal holes with a small drill and then with the large bit (whatever size is needed for the screw).  Some have used nails, I did at first it makes it easier to remove, however screws hold them in better.

This should go without saying, but after you get those holes marked DO NOT HAVE THE MOTHERBOARD IN THE BOTTOM WHEN YOU ARE DRILLING HOLES, CUTTING PLASTIC, ETC.  You don’t want all that debris to fall on the motherboard and possibly stay in there and cause a short, or worse, your drill slips and now you have a nice gouge in the board, more than likely rendering it useless.  After making the marks, pull it out and set it on the Static Bag it came in.

 

GPU BRACKET

DSCN4793

Now the GPU’s even with the screw may sag, so I installed a bracket about ¾ way down the GPU to hold it up, make sure it isn’t interfering with anything and hold one in (if they are all the same) to wee where to screw in your bracket.  Now with a metal lip and screw you shouldn’t really need it, but I like to go overkill and it makes it easier to move them around slightly to make uniform air circulation between cards, I used some old plant pot holders for this

 

DSCN4795

Once I got the right distance I screwed in both of them to get the holds in there, then I removed them since the Motherboard can’t be put in or pulled out with them installed.  Now your GPU’s can rest on this.

 

DSCN4801

I put down paper bowls to stand the Motherboard up on since the PCI Riser Cables would not stretch far enough if the motherboard was sitting on the bottom of the milkcrate.  This also allows for more circulation below the motherboard, however you can buy the 12 inch risers if you so choose to, I have 6 inch, but the 12 inch will allow even more airflow between the motherboard and GPU’s.  This is a better option if you are building a custom case from metal frame, wood, etc. as it will help with cooling.  I may do this in the future but at the moment the Milkcrate works fine.

 

GROUNDING

Grounding and its necessity depends on who you talk to, some say its ABSOLUTELY necessary, some say they have never done it except in special circumstances.  I erred on the side of caution and built my own grounding cord.

Discharge-Antistatic-Wrist-Strap-Anti-Static-Wristband

I first got an anti-static wristband (you can pick up for around $6) and then I grabbed some spare CATV Cable from the garage.  You can use cord that has copper line in it as long as it is long enough to reach from where you ground it to where you are working (obviously, but check first!).  I then stripped one end about 6 inches to the copper and one end about an inch or two.  BE CAREFUL WHEN STRIPPING THAT YOU DON’T CUT THE COPPER IN HALF!

Grounding with Cold Water Line under Sink

I then wrapped the 6 inch piece of copper around the metal on the cold water pipe under the sink and the other end was clamped with my anti-static wristbands alligator clamp.  Now you can also cut down on static electricity by not wearing socks on carpet; as you know rubbing your socks on carpet will build up a charge, so don’t do it if it’s possible.   The amount of static electricity needed to fry the circuits on a  computer is so small you wont even know you did it.  Chances are you will be fine without this, but why take the chance?

 

 

MOTHERBOARD

DSCN4804a

The Motherboard should be sitting on the Static Bag you laid it on after getting the GPU spacing from earlier.

You don’t have to do the hardware installation on the Motherboard in any particular order as it all has to be done before you turn it on.

Consult the manual that came with the Motherboard and/or Internet to see the Layout of the Motherboard and what is labeled what so you are putting your components in the right place

 

 

CPU

DSCN4811

I first installed the CPU (Central Processing Unit), this is the brains of the computer, what INTEL sells, etc.

I used a Intel Celeron 2.6mhz Processor, which is not powerful, but a miner doesn’t need a fast one, as all the work is done in the GPU’s.

Take the Processor out of the package, being careful not to touch the underside of the Processor, which you can see is different from the topside which is smooth.

 

DSCN4808

On my Motherboard there was a latch that you had to pull out and up to open, with a plastic case that was removed BEFORE YOU CLAMPED DOWN THE CPU.

DSCN4814

Once that was flipped up I placed the CPU, flat/shiny side up lining up the indents on the CPU with the indents on the Motherboard.

DSCN4818

DSCN4820

Then I clamped it down, its ok if it seems to need a little force, as long as its right side down and lined up with the indents, this is normal.

DSCN4811

16-Install-CPU-Heatsink-Fan

Then I installed the CPU Fan, which contains 4 little posts that are pushed down in the corresponding holes around the CPU.

CPU FAN POWER

There is a cord that runs around this and goes to the CPU fan plug on the motherboard, make sure that this cord can reach it no problem, and then press down on the posts until you hear a click then turn them in the direction of the arrows that you see on the posts.

You now have installed the CPU

 

RAM

DSCN4807

There is only need for one RAM (4gb for Windows ) so all you need to do is find one of the Slots for RAM and press it in until you hear it click.

 

 WIN FREE LITECOINS with LTC4YOU!  No gimmick, I have played this game every day and they do payout! Disclaimer: I do get points for referrals, hence why I’m Pitching it

 

 

 

NOW YOU CAN PLACE THE MOTHERBOARD ON THE BOWLS ON THE BOTTOM OF THE MILKCRATE.

YOU SHOULD HAVE ALL HOLES DRILLED AND EVERYTHING CUT OUT.

IF FOR SOME REASON YOU CONTINUE ON THE INSTALLATION AND FIND THAT YOU NEED TO CUT MORE OUT AFTER EVERYTHING IS IN…PULL IT OUT THEN MAKE THE CUTS AND THEN PUT IT BACK IN.

It sucks but don’t mess around with damaging/destroying thousands of dollars of equipment to save you 5 minutes.  Be patient.

 

PSU

This is your Power Supply Unit, I used a LEPA 1600w (because I will be creating a 6 GPU system eventually, the models I listed in Chapter 1 for a 4 GPU system will work fine), you will also want to consult the “layout” of what goes where, however It should be labeled.

 

DO NOT PLUG IN THE PSU AC CORD INTO THE WALL YET!

Leave it unplugged until you are ready to turn it on, you can FRY your system or components by having it on and plugging /unplugging it.

DSCN4809

DSCN4810

My PSU had these two slots to power the CPU and Motherboard, you will plug those two ends into the cpu and then plug them into the corresponding slots on the Motherboard.

 

LEPA 1600 Layout

This should be labeled on the Motherboard in Shorthand, but consult the layout as well, but since there are only two slots on the Motherboard (most likely) that can take these two plugs and they are different sizes it should be pretty intuitive and easy to guess what goes where!

DSCN4786

These cords may not “click”, but you can tell when they are in, then pull them throw the slot you cut for them and zip tie them in so they are not in the way of the GPU’s (place a couple GPU’s where they would go and make sure that they don’t rest on the power cords, you will want the power cords to have some give in them so they are not being tugged on and pull out of the Motherboard and shut the whole system down, but not looping so high they hit the GPU.  The rubbing of the GPU can end up rubbing through (after along time) into the power cord.  A bad day.

SSD (Single State Drive)

ADATA 32gb SSD

I used a 32 gb SSD (Solid State Drive), this is easy to install.

SATA-Cable

Pull out the SATA cord and plug it in the SSD, this will be the 90 degree L side (cords may vary)

 

I just wanted to make sure the Straight plug went into the motherboard for ease of use and space saving.  It doesn’t matter for function which side goes in where.

 

Then mount the SSD on your case using zip ties or it can lay on the desk, whatever is easiest for you.

sata-molex-hdd-cable-large

Now plug in the SSD to the MOLEX power cord. The side for the drive will be any one of the multiple MOLEX 4 PIN  on the PSU (See layout above).  Then plug it into the PSU

 

 

 

NEXT STEP

Now you are almost ready to start up.  Do not install the GPU’s yet, just leave them in their boxes, but you can plug in the GPU power cords to the PSU

gpu cord

The power cords will look like this

 

LEPA 1600 Layout

 

Plug the 12 pin connector into the PSU in the GPU Slots (Consult Layout and markings on your PSU, above is marked Red/orange).  The orange end (6 pin + 2 pin, for my PSU, yours may vary) will plug into the GPU.

For the next Chapter you will need to have a DVD drive, I picked up a cheap one off Amazon for around $30 that plugs in to the USB, you won’t need it after the installation of windows.  You will also need to have a spare monitor, keyboard and mouse.

Once you get everything done, these DO NOT need to be kept on the system unless you have them extra and just feel like keeping them on there.  You can actually install remote desktop programs so you can control your miner from your laptop wherever you are at the moment.

I had a spare monitor, keyboard and mouse laying around, but you can use the ones from your desktop for this, don’t need to buy them.

 

 

 

Dvi-cable

Make sure your monitor has a DVI CABLE, the reason being is that your GPU cards have a DVI Female connector.  If your monitor Does NOT and uses a VGA (smaller and blue), you can buy this…

SONY DSC

VGA to DVI ADAPTOR, as this will be needed to plug into the motherboard first when installing software and later into the GPU’s.

If you don’t know what connector your monitor uses look at the pictures below

SONY DSC

VGA cord (SMALL AND BLUE)

Dvi-cable

DVI CORD (LARGER AND WHITE)

 

MOTHERBOARD DVI HOOKUP

Now Plug in your monitor to the DVI Slot (Shown above, your layout may vary) on the Motherboard, and plug in your Keyboard and MOUSE into the USB Slots on the Motherboard (if you are using a USB Wifi connector plug that in as well, However ETHERNET is better)

MOBO ETHERNET

If you are using a hardwire Ethernet connection for your internet plug that in as well

Belking 4 port USB hub

You may also find that there are only a couple USB ports on your motherboard but you need more than that to plug everything in.  You can purchase a USB HUB online for under $20 and this gives you multiple USB slots and only takes up one slot on the USB port on the Motherboard.

Stay Tuned and Friday I will Present the 3rd part of this 5 part series, Operating System and Software Installation.

 

* I Mentioned the PVC Case I built at the beginning of the post here it is*

I wont go into detail how I built it, just give you dimensions

You will need about 2 8′ long sections of 1/2″ PVC Pipe

Cute them into these dimensions

  • 4- 2 foot sections (For Length)*Study Photo
  • 4 6″ sections (For Height)
  • 4- 2″ pieces (length from “T” ‘s a front, first level and back side for height second level)
  • 2- 6 1/2″ pieces (to attach first level front to the back from the “T” ‘s)

You will also need

  • 4 – “T’ joiners
  • 8- 90 degree joiners
  • PVC Glue
  • Cardboard/Wood for bottom panel for Motherboard to Rest on

 

DSCN4835

gpumachine-0042

*Photo and plans courtesy of wilsafris.wordpress.com*

 

 

 

 

 

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Minicast Episode 20: Why Debt wont Dissapear in a Collapse

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debt-burden

This Minicast is in response to some things i have heard around the Prepper community, on forums as well as in emails to me.

Most of them involved the sentiment of…”Well I think the collapse is happening in the next 6 months (or a future date), so I am going to load up my Credit Cards with storable food and other stuff, because when the collapse happens their wont be anyone to collect the debt anyways!”

This is problematic in many different ways, most notably, no one knows when the financial collapse will finally happen, so if you load up your credit cards with all this debt, what happens when the collapse doesn’t happen for another 2 years? you will end up being in a  worse place than you started.

I elaborate further on different scenarios and more reasons why this is a bad idea.  Bottom Line, dont do this, its stupid.

 

 

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BITCOIN/LITECOIN/DOGECOIN Basics 101: How does a Transaction work

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What is Bitcoin How to bitcoin for dummies

Today I present a video explaining how a Cryptocoin (Bitcoin, Litecoin, etc.) actually works, how miners come in and how your wallet is secure but public.

I hope this helps you learn a little bit more about cryptocurrencies.

 

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LITECOIN MINING 101: PART 1: WHAT DO YOU NEED TO BUILD A MINER

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Data-mining

If you are Reading this then you have become interested in the modern “Gold Rush” of Crypto currencies, specifically Litecoin since Bitcoin is no longer viable for the average person with limited funds.
This is listed as a “LITECOIN” miner, but the basic setup, other than the settings for the pool in cgminer (which tell it what to mine) are the same for any other Crypto currency out there (Feather Coin, Doge Coin, Terra Coin), other than Bitcoin.

These posts will be a Step by Step Guide for you to build your first Mining Rig, based on my experience. I am not a computer expert, but an amateur so all I am passing on is what I have learned through trial and error and help from many people.

I feel that this will be helpful, because I dont speak computer as a first language so I am coming from the same place you are. I use acronyms farther into the book, but spell them out when I first talk about them. For example later I use “GPU”, but early on I will say “The GPU (Graphics Processing Unit, the Graphics Card)”. You can also take a look at the last post for the ACRONYMS and reference them there (or just google it we are in 2014!)

 

You will see from start to finish how I set up this 4 Card Litecoin Mining Rig.
We will cover in the coming post’s as follows.
• What hardware I bought as well as some alternatives you can buy instead
• How to Make a Case out of a Milk crate and Putting together all the physical hardware
• How to set up your BIOS settings, then windows then all the software you will need to run the miner
• Then connecting all the GPU’s and installing all the necessary software to get them to work and be recognized.
• Finally I will show you how to join a “MINING POOL”, set up the Mining Program and then tweak your settings to get maximum performance with the lowest power draw.
The basic hardware components of a Litecoin (or any scrypt based crypto currency) miner are these.
• Motherboard
• CPU (Central Processing Unit)
• RAM (Random Access Memory)
• HD (Hard Drive) Whether a HDD or SSD
• PSU (Power Supply Unit)
• GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)
• PCI Riser Cables (powered or non-powered depends on your system)
• Keyboard, Monitor and Mouse are necessary for the initial set up and tweaking, but not for the actual functioning of the system once you get it running.
For Software
• Operating System (and one that can handle what system you are building)
• Miner program (GUIminer, CGminer, Reaper, etc.)
• Driver (necessary for proper installation of GPU cards)
Litecoin Wallet (or whatever you are mining) Linked here is my Youtube Video on how to set up a Litecoin Wallet.

 

SO WHAT SHOULD I BUY?
This is the question on every prospective miners minds, what do I need to buy?
Well in actuality there are a multitude of choices out there; it all comes down to three questions
1) What size am I building? (# of GPU’s)
2) What is the most efficient (in terms of hash rates, power and cost)
3) What is available.

For example most people prefer the Sapphire 7950 OC Boost Cards due to their more efficient hash rate to power usage. In the world of mining it is not necessarily the highest hash rate that wins, since high powered cards can draw A LOT of power, thus cutting into your profits and in a sense defeating the purpose of you building one. The “Best” cards for mining are those that have the lowest power consumption per Hash, and the Sapphire 7950 is the top of the list. However Nowadays you will be paying a premium for used ones, higher than they even cost brand new, so for most these are out of the question. I was able to get mine before the rush really hit, so while I spent more than I would have six months prior, It was still not the crazy prices today; and unless you are lucky and find some reasonably priced you probably won’t find them or don’t want to pay the prices for them.

This is also true for many of the best PSU (Power Supply Units) out there as well. So for each of the items I listed above I will list numerous different types, and will focus on a 4 GPU system, however if you are going to build a 5 or 6 system you will want to check and make sure that the components I list will work. On the flip side whatever I list will more than be fine for a 1,2 or 3 GPU system, however you may want to check if there is a cheaper alternative. For example you wouldn’t want to buy a 1250w PSU (Power Supply Unit) when you could save $100 and get a 500 watt PSU (that is unless you are planning to upgrade and add more cards in the future!).

 

HARDWARE

The Lists below are not itemized by “best”, if they are considered to be the “best” then I will indicate it however the first one indicated will be what I used, the rest will be other alternatives. If there are limitations in them I will also list those.

 

MOTHERBOARDS
Motherboard choices all depend on what you will be running, however if you buy an INTEL BASED MOTHERBOARD USE AN INTEL PROCESSOR. Flip side is if you use an AMD based motherboard buy an AMD processor. Either choice is fine as the processor is not important for mining.

MSI Z77a GD65

1) MSI Z77A GD65 -$190 (4+ GPUS)
This is the Motherboard featured above, which I bought because it could handle 6 GPU’s and was used by another person who was building the same setup as I was. It is a good Motherboard, however if you are only using 4 or fewer GPU’s you may want to look at a cheaper version like the ASUS or like below.
2) MSI Z77A G55 – $140 (4+ GPU’S)
3) ASUS M5A97- $95 (4 or Less GPU’S)
4) Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD5 -$189 (4 or Less GPU’S)
5) Gigabyte Intel GA-77xUD3H – $140 (4+ GPU’S)
6) ASROCK 970 Extreme3 – $140 (4+GPU’S)
7) ASROCK MB-970EX4 – $100 (4+ GPU’S)
Check to see if the motherboard you purchase has a on board power switch, that is a button already on the motherboard that lets you push to power it on, if it doesn’t you will need to purchase one (usually around $6).

 

CPU (Central Processing Unit)
You do not need a powerful CPU to run a mining rig. In the past you could mine on CPU’s however that is no longer the case, so you just need a basic CPU. You are fine with pretty much any low priced CPU, but as noted above in the Motherboard Section Make sure you use a AMD CPU for a AMD based Motherboard and an INTEL CPU for an INTEL based Motherboard.

Celeron G1610

1) Intel Celeron G1610 2.60 GHZ LGA 1155 – $43
2) Intel Celeron G1620 Ivy Bridge Processor – $40
3) AMD Sempron 145 – $35

 

RAM
For any Windows Based Mining Rig, you don’t need a lot of RAM, 4GB will be enough (less can result in issues, so stick to 4 GB unless you are using Reaper mining software, in which you will want to have 8GB of ram possibly.

Corsair Vengeance 4gb DDR3

1) Corsair Vengeance 4GB DDR3 -$60
2) Kingston 4GB DDR3 -$40
For Linux (Ubuntu) based miners you can use less than 4GB

 

PSU (Power Supply Unit)
The Size of the PSU will all be card dependent, for Sapphire 7950’s they will need less power than say a R9 290, consult the GPU info and forum boards to see what specific PSU wattage you need to run the system.

LEPA1600 watt PSU

1) LEPA 1600w (these are hard to find)
2) EVGA 1300 Watt Gold Rate ($230)
3) SEASONIC X1250 (with the AMD 280x you can safely put 3 on here, but 4 will probably be pushing it)
4) CORSAIR TX850 – $140
Once again this will all depend on what exactly you are building (how many GPU’s) as well as how much power each GPU pulls. For example you WILL not be able to run a 4x Sapphire 7950 on 1250 if you do not undervolt the cards (overclocked and undervolted my whole system is pulling 1000-1100 watts). I include the 850 watt Corsair since you may be building a smaller GPU system. Once again consult the specs on the cards you will be buying, as well as look at what others are using.

 

GPU’s
Use MSI/SAPPHIRE/GIGABYTE Brand GPU’s, they are the most reliable and stick to dual fan cards if possible, however external (i.e. box fan) can make up for the cooling issues, as well as undervolting (which is to go below factory power input to the cards, thus saving you power and not running your power unit as hard)

I used Sapphire HD 7950 OC Boost’s however these are harder and harder to find at reasonable prices and the factory has no info on even WHEN they will be shipping new ones to distributors, so here are some of the GPU’s.
1) Radeon SAPPHIRE 7950 OC BOOST – $350+ (on ebay), capable of 600+ khs. The most energy efficient power/khs card out there, which is why they are hard to find.
2) AMD R9 270 -$180. 450 KH/S. KH/WATT RATIO: 2.25
3) AMD 7970 -$350. 725 KH/S. KH/WATT RATIO: 2.416
4) AMD R9 280x -$320. 450 KH/S. KH/WATT RATIO: 2.416
5) AMD R9 290x -$560. 880 KH/S. KH/WATT RATIO: 2.416
6) AMD R9 290 -$400. 900 KH/S. KH/WATT RATIO: 3
7) AMD 7990 – $660. 1385 kh/s. KH/WATT RATIO: 4.6266

 

HD
You don’t really need to go out and buy a SSD (Solid State Drive). I did before I realized I didn’t need it. In reality you can just use an old HDD (Hard Drive Disk) from an old computer, but if you really want to spend extra money you can go out and buy a new HDD or SSD.

ADATA 32gb SSD

ADATA 32GB SSD – $44.99

 

 

RISER CABLES
I recommend that you go with Powered risers however you do not necessarily need them, however I do not want to take the chance of hurting the motherboard from too much power draw.
You also do not need 16x-16x PCI risers, you can get by with 1x-16x risers. There is no specific company or brand I can say “buy these”. The ones I got were directly from a factory in China through Amazon.
These can be a crapshoot and on occasion you can get a bad one, I have heard about people having issues on occasion, but the only way to find out is when you are installing the GPU’s individually and they don’t work. Through repeating the steps of installation and switiching out the power cables, riser cables, etc. You can find out if you have a bad power cord, PCI riser cable or just a bad card. It happens.

 

POWERED RISERS

Powered-Flexible-PCI-E-1x-to-16x-Riser-Cable

The top part is the 1x that fist into the motherboard PCI Slots, the Bottom (larger) part is what goes onto your card. As you can see there is a powered connector that will connect to the MOLEX power cord coming off your PSU. These can run from $10-$20.

UNPOWERED RISER CABLE

1x 16x riser cable

This is the exact same as the Powered Riser Cable, but there is no…power!
The 1x slot that goes into the Motherboard PCI slot is the small top portion and the 16x that goes into the card is on the bottom of the picture.
If you are gaming then you will want 16x-16x cables if possible as the 1x can degrade gaming quality and speed, but for mining 1x works fine. However I have heard some folks had to buy 16x-16x cables to get the 5th and 6th cards working. Everything with mining is unique to the system, you will find that a fix that works for 90% of people may not for you. Its all about patience and trial and error. These can run $6+

 

CD/DVD DRIVE
This really doesn’t matter what you use, you can buy or just borrow someone’s as long as it will plug in and play. I used a Samsung 8x Slim DVD+/-RW Slim USB External Drive, Black SE-208DB/TSBS for about $35.

Samsung SE208dbtsbs

KEYBOARD/MONITOR/MOUSE
This is insignificant since you can use ANY monitor, keyboard or mouse and don’t need dedicated ones unless you like spending money or have them laying around. Plus once you get the Remote Desktop hooked up you will be able to do everything you want over you laptop or desktop anyways. Find the cheapest junkiest pieces of junk or whatever you already have.

 

SOFTWARE

 

Other than the first thing I list, Operating System, the rest are all free, but will depend on what kind of Components/Operating system you are using, so choose what’s best for you.

OPERATING SYSTEM:
As with a lot of things, this will depend on what size system you are building.

 

LINUX/XUBUNTU: COST: FREE

ubuntu screenshot

Linux is a better option in regards to power consumption and is less prone to viruses/etc. However It is different from Windows, which may pose a problem to some uses (however Windows 8 is a massive difference from the Windows we all know!).
Just so you know, Ubuntu is a type of Linux OS. Ubuntu is used by many miners, and most like it, the fact that it will save you nearly $100 is also a nice incentive to at least try it! Use Xubuntu as normal Ubuntu is more of a memory hog.

 

WINDOWS: COST: DEPENDS

Windows XP ($50-$100): I have never used Windows XP personally however I know that it has been successfully done with Windows XP SP3 and newer. Any version earlier than that I cannot speak for. Make sure that it is XP SERVICE PACK 3 to be sure.

Windows 7 ($0-$100): Many miners use Windows 7 because they already have it and/or its cheaper if they are running a larger mining rig. However for a 4 GPU rig, Windows 7 will work just fine, no need to go with windows 8. All you need is the most basic version which I have seen for sale for less than $70 at various sources

Windows 8 ($95): Since I was going to be building a 6 GPU rig, I bought Windows 8.1 OEM which cost just below $100. This is a onetime use OS, so It cannot be transferred once you install it. If you are planning on a 4 or less GPU rig there is no need to pay for Windows 8. I also have to say that I DO NOT like the new layout of windows 8, as it is designed for the touchscreen market and is not as user friendly (my opinion) for those going ‘old school’. It is not impossible to use, just takes some getting used to and it took me a minute or two to find the “Desktop” icon so I could actually do some work.

MINERS:

Click the name to go to the download site.

 

 

DRIVERS:
This will all depend on what Cards you have and what miner (and version of the miner) you are going to use. Some miner versions will not like a certain driver, while others will. I have found that any AMD based Cards work best with CGminer, and version 3.7.2 that I use prefers the latest version of the Catalyst Driver (currently 13.1.2). Since I am building this rig and explaining it using one possible group of hardware, you will have to do some research and find out what drivers work best for your Miner/Card Combo.

 

WALLET:
This should be easy. For Litecoin I have had no issues, I downloaded it, set up fine and started to synchronize right off the bat. For my Feathercoin wallet, it took some tinkering with my firewall and what “node” I was connecting to, to get it to work. The best thing to do, since I cannot cover every issue that may arise is to head to forums dedicated for that specific cryptocurrency and ask around/search the forum to find the answers to your specific issues.
Always make sure you download your wallet from the legitimate source, there are scammers out there who have set up fake sites to steal your Litecoins.
Litecoin: www.litecoin.org
Feathercoin: www.feathercoin.com
Terracoin: www.terracoin.org

There are hundreds of other coins such as DogeCoin, Diamond Coin, AnonCoin, etc.  Too many to mention here.

 

CHECK OUT MY VIDEO ON HOW TO CREATE A LITECOIN WALLET

 

There are also other ways to store your coins, from physical “paper” wallets to Online Websites. However there is a decision to be made if you want more security or ease of use, the more “online” that it is the less security it has, but more ease of use, the less online has more security, but less ease of use. You will have to decide what is best for you. For more information on wallet types, you can read my post on This Specifically.

 

NEXT POST WILL BE ON HOW TO ASSEMBLE THE MINING RIG

 

 

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