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    Setting Realistic Homesteading Goals

    Whether you live in town or in the country
    by Samantha Biggers

    Monday, February 15, 2021, 7:23 PM

Given our intense focus on COVID and its economic repercussions over the past crazy year, we want to make sure we also give sufficient attention in 2021 to the many other topics important to building greater resilience into our lives.

So we’ll be adding the voices of other specialists and experts in the future weeks/months as we’re able (along with Chris and Adam’s regular contributions, of course), guided by the PeakProsperity.com audience’s feedback.

Today we hear from Samantha Biggers, who has written regularly over the past decade for a number of homesteading websites.

Many people dream about homesteading on some level.

While having a larger parcel of land is often part of that dream, it’s not essential. You can accomplish many homesteading projects while living in the city or the suburbs.

Setting realistic goals for homesteading will make your experience more enjoyable and allow you to get good at the skills you’re gaining. Just remember to pace yourself.

Taking on a lot at once doesn’t allow for enough time to get good and knowledgeable at any one skill. When you take on too much at once, you are more likely to make mistakes too.

My husband and I started our own homesteading journey in 2008 while in our mid-20s. It was tough. We didn’t have much money. But we did have a piece of overgrown land.

Over the past 14 years, we’ve managed to build a house with no mortgage and get our land producing some crops. The active and fulfilling lifestyle we’ve had to adopt along the way has made us significantly healthier and happier than most other folks we know. The freedom and independence we’ve gained homesteading has been wonderful.

In the beginning, I worked for a financial planning firm in Alaska, thanks to an internet connection. But the recession ended that job, so I started writing for online resilience sites.

So, homesteading actually brought me to a full-time job that I thoroughly enjoy.

Our lifestyle also allows my husband and me to help out my father, a disabled Vietnam Veteran.

On top of all that, we’re currently expecting our first child. If I hadn’t started homesteading, we wouldn’t have the peace of mind that having a small but paid for home brings a new family starting out. And since I work from home, childcare shouldn’t be an overwhelming expense.

So, I’m a big fan of the benefits of homesteading. Though I don’t mean to suggest it’s easy.

There were a number of times we felt like giving up. But we kept on. Homesteading on any level is a worthwhile effort. Even a few small homesteading projects will be good for you and your family.

The point of this article is to help you think about your homesteading goals and set realistic ones that will boost your odds of happiness and success. Anyone can be a successful homesteader. The trick is picking the right projects given your resources and abilities and allowing yourself time to learn.

Getting Started

The Myth of Total Self Sufficiency

It is easy to fall for the notion that people in generations past often produced everything they needed.

The truth is that while many came close, there were still items that they needed to get via cash or trade.

They achieved this by specialization. They produced an excess of one or more items to get the cash or barter power to get other items– such as tea, coffee, sugar, salt, tools, and cloth.

But there are key goods that cash/barter are essential to procure. Virtually no one can produce gasoline, diesel, and kerosene on their homestead.

So start with the understanding that you’re not going to be a “lone wolf”. You’re going to need to interact with and depend on others, to some degree.

Land

You can do a lot of homesteading activities on an acre or less if you plan well. While you may not be able to make your entire living off of a parcel of that size, you can take a bite out of your grocery bill and make your place look nicer.

If you plan on buying a larger property, you need to be careful before putting down your hard-earned cash. Land can be really pretty but not great for certain homesteading activities.

My husband and I were lucky enough to be given just under 11 acres of land in the mountains of NC. My grandfather worked himself to death, but as a result, his children had something to give to their kids. It was and remains an amazing blessing to us.

Our piece of the family land is mostly steep pastures and woods. The wooded half is lightly grazed, but it’s not as good as a lush pasture, so you can keep far less livestock per acre. Yet the woodlot does provide us with firewood to heat our home, and we grow gourmet Shiitake, Oyster, and Nameko mushrooms in the understory on logs.

It would be ill-suited for any other purpose besides building some vacation cabins. Even if we cleared the woods, it would not be suitable for extensive gardening and row crops.

(Here’s me standing in one of the hollers where we have several hundred mushroom logs.)

Other parts of our property are suitable for gardening and grapes. Some of our sloping pastures have extensive plantings of cold-hardy grapes and blueberries. And the valley where we lived in our camper and the yards around our home include larger gardens. During the pandemic, my husband planted larger garden plots and established more kitchen garden beds near our home.

What I’ve learned from experience is that when looking for land to buy, don’t be misled by the number of acres. A 40-acre parcel in some areas may only have 10 acres or less of land suitable for your homesteading goals.

Generally speaking, flatter and more usable land will cost more, especially in mountainous areas.

Crops & Livestock

Two of the most significant factors to consider when deciding what you can produce on a property are average temperatures and rainfall.

Temperature and precipitation can vary a lot, even within a region. You may have dreams of raising a particular type of livestock or raising a specific crop, but that doesn’t mean the land you have and its microclimate are suitable for it.

Twenty miles down the road, the average rainfall may be substantially less than where you live. If you plan on relocating to your new homestead, you need to carefully examine these factors before making the big move.

Let’s consider for a moment the argument that you can produce more calories per acre by raising grains rather than grazing cattle.

This opinion is often voiced by people that think you shouldn’t be eating a lot of meat. While they are correct that you can grow more calories that way, they fail to see that not all land is suitable for growing grains.

The land my husband and I farm is far too steep for grain production. Erosion would destroy the slopes and pollute the water supply lower down. Using any heavy machinery on the slopes would increase erosion.

We manage to use a small walk-behind tractor by BCS for mowing on slopes and weed-eaters for areas that are too steep for that.

(The flatter section of our steep slope vineyard a few years ago. Flat areas are rare on our property.)

The steepest slopes on our property are only suitable for grazing or some permaculture like blueberries, fruit trees, and grapes.

(We graze our sheep under our grape vines part of the year.)
(The sheep love to have their lambs in the woods where they can hide them.)

Budget

As in most of life, real-world costs tend to outpace the plans you put on paper.

So the more you can do to downsize your cost footprint, the more likely you can stick to your budget, or even add to it.

My husband and I started out living in a tent on our property. That lasted just a month or so, then we got a $100 camper that fits in a truck bed and fixed it up. We stayed in that for a few months and then got a larger $300 1978 Holiday Rambler. We had no running water. We had to haul our water about 300 feet. Our electricity was limited to a single electric extension cord running off a temporary pole that was a long-distance away. I had to go down to my Dad’s ¼ mile down the road and work from there because I needed a reliable internet connection.

(Camper living saves a lot of money. That money can be used to build a small house.)

That’s what worked for our budget and allowed us to avoid paying rent somewhere else. We put all the money saved from not renting towards building our home.

Though I advise others to consider getting a better RV or trailer to live in than what we had. If you have $5,000-$10,000, that’s enough to pick up a used RV and live in that until you build your first structure. If you take care of it, you can resell it to recoup your purchase, or generate income by renting it out. It may sound outrageous, but RVs in Western NC rent for $700 or more per month(!)

When we started building our house in 2009, we had just $1,500 to get started. That doesn’t sound like much, but it was enough to dig out our footers with shovels and  a power auger, and then buy some supplies like concrete and a mixer.

After that, we just bought materials as we could afford them. We constructed our home one $500 batch of materials at a time.

(We were so excited to be framing our walls!)
(House after completion)

Hiring others to do your work for you will eat up your budget must faster. Though of course there are times when employing others will be necessary. Some areas may not allow you to do some work legally. Or you may lack the skills or physical ability yourself.

No matter what aspect of homesteading you’re budgeting for, always allow at least 10% more because I guarantee you that there will be unexpected expenses, no matter how well you plan.

Assess Your Physical Abilities

A lot of homesteading is not easy work.

How physically fit you are when you start needs to be factored into your initial goals and aspirations.

When my husband and I started, we were in our 20s, but we carried some extra pounds due to living in a colder climate and working office jobs. Working outside and walking up mountains daily resulted in a higher level of physical fitness, but it took some time. You may feel like the work is too much sometimes, but it gets better.

On the other hand, if you’re older, disabled, or have underlying health conditions, you need to take this into consideration for your long term homesteading goals. Building a house and running a farm in your 20s and 30s is far different than starting in your 40s or 50s.

There are exceptions, of course. I see 40 and 50-year-olds actually in much better shape to live a homesteading lifestyle than people 20 years younger than them.

Those who are still living a non-homesteading life but want to get started on the path to be more self-sufficient would do well to get started on getting into better shape now. There’s zero downside to making that investment in your health, even if you ultimately decide not to become a homesteader.

The Importance Of Skill Development

When my husband and I started homesteading, we had to take our time learning a host of new skills.

Our first butchering experience happened suddenly due to a farm accident. The calf we were raising jumped off the hillside impaling himself on a wooden fence post. Sadly the wound was too bad for him to survive. So we stayed up until 2 am that night butchering.

We weren’t set up for it, but luckily we figured out how to hang the cow from a tree and proceed with salvaging the meat. You can do a lot when faced with the sudden threat of losing a lot of your planned future meat supply.

After that experience, we got a few pigs and pastured them while living in our camper. Neither one of us had ever raised pigs, not had ever butchered one. It was quite hard the first time, but got easier every time we did it.

At the start, my husband had some carpentry skills but I had zero construction and building experience. That didn’t stop us from building our house, but it sure made the process take longer. All the wiring in our house was done by my husband with me helping. Ten years later, we still haven’t experienced any electrical fires!

To learn what to do, we bought books and used them for guides. The good news is that, compared to back then, now there are many more resources to help you learn. YouTube is a treasure-trove of how-to videos on nearly any home project. 

The key thing to keep in mind is that you have to give yourself the time to learn, practice, and realize that you will make mistakes.

Remember that with some things, even if you mess it up two or three times, it is still less money out of your pocket than hiring someone else. And you learn a useful skill for later on down the road.

We made all kinds of mistakes but still managed to build a house we love without taking on a mortgage.

(We took our time building the house. We even learned how to make much of our own furniture, like the tables in the photo above. The rug seen there is made from the hide of a cow we raised and butchered. I tanned the hide myself.)
(Our hearth during the summer that we picked 120 lbs of blackberries. We made a little wine that year.)

Online classes are great for learning homesteading skills. If community colleges have in-person instruction in your area, I advise looking at their listings. Our local community college has affordable classes on everything from blacksmithing to soapmaking and fiber arts.

It’s never too early to start gaining skills. Even if you can’t start serious homesteading for a few years, you can do a lot now to make yourself much better prepared for when you do.

Gardens

I always advise those with limited garden space to plant the things that will grow in their area but cost the most to purchase at the grocery store.

Consider that organic salad greens and spinach costs around $7 per lb at the local grocery store. Bell peppers are often $1-2 each, depending on their color. These are just a few examples from my region.

Greenhouses and cold frames can help out by allowing you to grow produce out of season or extend your natural growing season.

Container gardens are good for those living in apartments or that want to maximize growing space on their property. For example, you can place planters on patios, stairs or add growing boxes to windows or porch rails.

I plan to write an article on Planning  Spring Garden for Peak Prosperity soon. But in the meantime, I recommend checking out this good primer Adam wrote on A How- To Guide For Installing A Home Garden.

Livestock

Most aspiring homesteaders start with chickens, as they are relatively easy to care for and raise, and produce eggs dependably.

You can get started with a few backyard chickens for very little money. Chickens are an easy and kid-friendly addition to a homestead. Gathering eggs is an easy task for them. Many people treat their laying hens like pets. Geese and ducks are other options, but they require more space and care.

A good primer for those considering chickens is Peak Prosperity’s guide Raising Your Own Chickens.

(Chickens can be very tame. They will come running for feed. Ours free range in the pastures and the woods.)

Quail are very quiet, so they are popular with urban homesteaders concerned about making too much noise.

We used to raise goats but they are really hard to keep in even a good fence. Sheep are much easier.

(A good sheep dog can double as a nanny for a bottle baby lamb. Our Great Pyrenees watched over this lamb. They are still good friends.)

Pigs on pasture can be raised without causing a big stink and you get high quality pork. We had our pig bred one year and raised a large litter of piglets. We sold most of the piglets when they were 8 weeks old.

(Gertie had 13 piglets!)

Small Steps Add Up To Big Results

All too often, people discourage themselves before even starting, falsely believing that you need to do everything at once and that it requires a lot of money to get started in homesteading.

Sure, you can get a lot in place if you can afford to throw a big chunk of money into your homesteading dream. But energy, passion and persistence will get you a lot farther in the long run.

Here’s a list of things that are achievable right now, based on the space you have.

Apartment Dwellers

  • Container Gardens
  • Knitting and Sewing
  • Canning and Food Preservation
  • Soapmaking
  • Increasing skills through classes and workshops
  • Community garden projects

Suburban Landscapes

In addition to all the things listed for apartment dwellers, those with a small yard should consider the following projects.

  • Edible landscaping and small gardens
  • Backyard chickens (Check your local laws. Many towns allow for some hens but no roosters)
  • Quail
  • Small scale aquaculture such as tilapia

1 acre

  • Several goats or sheep or a single small breed cow such as a Dexter
  • Large garden
  • Beehives
  • Dwarf Fruit Trees

Larger Parcels

  • Sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle
  • Larger quantities of single crops. An orchard is one example.
  • A market garden for extra income. You can sell excess produce at Farmer’s Markets, via Craigslist, or you may be able to contribute to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that sells boxes of locally grown fruits and vegetables.

You can improve the quality of pasture over time if you take care of it. Be sure not to overgraze areas. Overgrazing can do a lot of harm to your land.

How many animals land can support varies a lot by region. For example, it may take as much as 30 acres or even more to support a single full-sized cow in arid areas. Where I live, you can support a single cow on 1-2 acres of decent pasture.

Realistic Home Energy Production Goals

We’re lucky to live in a time when it’s more affordable than ever to have some backup electricity.

The cost of solar panels has plummeted over the last ten years. You may be interested in other methods of renewable energy such as wind turbines, too.

You must choose the options that are best suited to your climate. Take a look at what others in your area are using. If you see many solar panels and no wind turbines, it would be in your best interest to find out why. It’s probably because sunshine is much more reliable than the wind in that area.

I would go so far as to say that solar is the best choice for the vast majority of people reading this.

Wind turbines only work well in areas where there are steady and regular winds. Many turbines will not even start producing power until a minimum wind speed is reached. And areas that are prone to huge gusts are not ideal places to live.

You’re not allowed to use wind turbines in some areas. Western North Carolina relies heavily on tourism. You cannot put a wind turbine on a ridge top because it is considered unsightly. On the other hand, in West Virginia, there are many wind turbines on ridge tops because many consider it better than allowing the coal companies to destroy the ridge.

Hydroelectric power is fantastic, but it requires you to have a reliable source of water. You need a spot where water falls well or has the speed to turn a wheel rapidly. In some areas, you may not even have the right to install hydroelectric power on your property. For example, in some areas of Washington State, only the electric company is allowed to use water for power.

If you’re looking for property to purchase, you need to ask if you own the water and mineral rights. If you don’t, then whoever does own those rights has permission for things to be done on your property that you may not agree with.

There may be laws in your area regarding irrigation, too. For example, you may have a creek or river running through your property but only be allowed to pump so many gallons per year from it to irrigate your crops. In some places, you may not be allowed to do this at all.

Solar energy can produce enough power to run a home but usually not without some sacrifices. For example, most off-grid homes do not use electric appliances such as air conditioners, heaters, or stoves. These appliances draw far too much power. Sure, you could theoretically get enough solar panels and expensive equipment to make it work, but the cost would a lot higher.

Providing your family with some backup power options is a good way to get started with solar. You can add to your system as you learn and can afford it. A small power center and a single solar panel can be purchased for a fairly low cost and allow you to run some small devices during a storm or power outage. The panel can keep the power center charged up during an extended event.

For understanding the best practices for conserving and producing home energy, I recommend reading Peak Prosperity’s excellent primer on Home Energy.

Homesteading & Children

Kids can start helping out with some tasks when they are fairly young, but overall, they will demand a lot of your attention and time.

Balancing parenting and homesteading activities is achievable, though. It would be best if you found a way to split up duties and involve your kids. People often use baby carriers and wagons so that they can take their younger children with them while working on the property. A baby carrier allows you to carry them and have your hands free to do other tasks.

Some tasks will be harder to do while trying to watch children. Livestock handling can be dangerous. There are times when you need all your attention to be on the task you are performing.

This is obviously a huge topic in and of itself. If there’s enough interest, I’ll be happy to write a future article for Peak Prosperity on the benefits and challenges of raising a family on a homestead.

Isolation

Moving to a rural area isn’t for everyone.

It can take time to establish friendships and trust in your new community. If you like to socialize, it can be hard to make the adjustment from town to rural. Going to the pub or the grocery store isn’t just a quick 5-10 minutes. You will need to plan out your shopping trips to avoid chewing up too much time in transit.

While your friends and family may say they will visit, don’t count on them coming often. Even an extra 15-20 minutes of driving is enough of an inconvenience to reduce the number of visitors you’ll get. Maybe you’ll be lucky, and your friends and family will come as much as you would like, but in my experience the further you move away, the less they will visit.

Conclusion

Homesteading can provide you and your family with a wonderful quality of life. While achieving the dream of moving to a rural area and creating a more sustainable lifestyle can take some time, it’s well worth it.

At the same time, there’s no reason not to homestead on some level, regardless if you live in town or in an apartment.

There is a growing movement of people all over the world waking up to the wisdom and benefits of living more resiliently. As someone who made the transition over a decade ago, I highly recommend you consider joining in!

Do you have any questions about homesteading? Please ask in the comments below and I will do my best to answer. I can also be reached at [email protected].

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89 Comments

  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 7:41am

    #1
    brushhog

    brushhog

    Status: Gold Member

    Joined: Oct 06 2015

    Posts: 506

    5

    Great article, great topic, one issue I disagree with...

    "It is easy to fall for the notion that people in generations past often produced everything they needed.

    The truth is that while many came close, there were still items that they needed to get via cash or trade.So start with the understanding that you’re not going to be a “lone wolf”. You’re going to need to interact with and depend on others, to some degree. "

     

    This is simply not true. Its been proven and there are real examples of people being 100% self sufficient for decades. The Lycov family lived completely cut off from all civilization for 40+ years. You can read about them here;

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/for-40-years-this-russian-family-was-cut-off-from-all-human-contact-unaware-of-world-war-ii-7354256/

     

    Thats just one of the more famous cases. I have researched the topic of "hermits" quite a bit because I find it fascinating. There are many examples of people,  "lone wolves", who have literally survived lifetimes completely cut off from civilization. Sometimes, as in the above case, in very rugged, inhospitable climates.

     

    So, self reliance is not a "myth". It is an absolute undeniable possibility. Would you want to live that way? Probably not, I certainly would not.

     

    We should be careful with our words. Its kind of an interesting anomaly to hear alot of homesteaders begin describing their lives by denigrating, criticizing or outright denying the goal of self reliance. I think it comes from a fear of being labeled or criticized as "anti-social" or "misanthropic".

     

    So there comes this need to appease the critics by turning on the very concept of self reliance. They seem to be saying "we're not crazy anti-social hermits, we're just part of society in a different way. We're just like YOU!".

     

    Such pronouncements are not necessary and it seems counterproductive to surrender the very essence of your lifestyle in the opening paragraph. Better to say "No, Im not quite like you nor should I be". The world is a big place and there is room for small communities, large collectives, and independent/self sufficient individuals.

     

     

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 7:45am

    #2
    alanrgreenland

    alanrgreenland

    Status: Member

    Joined: Nov 07 2010

    Posts: 67

    11

    More of This, Please!

     

    I haven't quite finished reading this yet, but I just want to say that I would like to see more posts, discussions, and general information like this on PP.  Thank you!!

    -- Alan

     

     

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 8:32am

    #3
    brushhog

    brushhog

    Status: Gold Member

    Joined: Oct 06 2015

    Posts: 506

    9

    On skill development and physical fitness

    The author is dead on correct when she talks about the physical challenges and the need to develop skills. I would add that these two points are somewhat intertwined.

     

    When I first start anything its always tougher physically. Once the skills are gained and the body/mind/spirit become conditioned to the activity it gets easy. Alot of people never get to this point. When you are learning, you have to substitute raw physical energy for experience. This is the hardest stage. Any workman worth his salt knows the little tricks, and shortcuts that make the job easier.

     

    There is a symbiosis going on too as the knowledge and experience increase, the body becomes conditioned to the movements. Starting late I always have struggled with sheep shearing. I was in my 40s when I shore my first sheep, and since its only done once or twice a year I have never been able to get the knack of it.

     

    Every year its like a job that I dread so when I get really busy I will sometimes hire a man to come out and shear the sheep. A few years ago I hired a new guy. Just somebody recommended to me by the cooperative extension. When he showed up I was very skeptical. This old man was late in his 60's and literally about 125 lbs. My sheep weight more than him.

     

    Im not a big guy but I looked big next to him. Im stocky, active, and 20+ years younger and I just about brought myself to exhaustion every year with those darn sheep. So when he got started I watch him; He plugged his equipment and spent sometime setting up, tuning his sheers, laying down special clothes, boxes with disinfectants, lubricators, oils, salves and etc.

     

    He then said "OK let the first one out" I opened the gate, dragged a wild kicking, jumping sheep out by it's wool and pushed it at him. He caught the sheep, laid it down like a Judo expert, held it up in a sitting position with one leg through its front, and proceeded to unzip this thing in a matter of 2-3 minutes.

     

    This went on for a couple of hours. He never seemed flustered, out of breath, or like he was struggling in any way. It was nothing for him and he carried on conversations with me while wrestling 130lb sheep. He had the knowledge and the experience. He knew where to be at all times.

     

    I have experienced this kind of experiential/intuitive understanding with other things like cutting wood, handling equipment, etc,etc. The older I get, in a way, the easier it sometimes gets as I find better and easier ways to get it all done....like calling the shearer 😉

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 8:35am

    #4
    drbost

    drbost

    Status: Member

    Joined: Aug 18 2010

    Posts: 28

    1

    Great article!

    Very helpful article!  Great ideas that will shape my expectations!  Will be saving and sharing this info.

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 8:36am

    Samantha Biggers

    Samantha Biggers

    Status: Member

    Joined: Feb 09 2021

    Posts: 18

    12

    Samantha Biggers said:

    First of all, thanks for taking the time to read my article and voice your opinion. I agree with you that there are examples of self-sufficiency. Perhaps using the word "myth" was not the best choice of wording. My goal was to show that striving for 100% self-sufficiency when you start homesteading often leads to burnout. It takes a lot of land to produce a high percentage of what a family needs to have a decent standard of living. That much land is out of many people’s reach. Of course, just how much land that is required to support a family is going to vary a lot based on family size and the fertility of the land itself. It also requires basically dedicating all your time to the cause, another thing that is out of the reach of most people that want to start out homesteading. Most people still need an outside job, especially in the beginning. Children don’t stay at home and work on farms either, something that really helped out our more self sufficient ancestors. Homeschooling could theoretically make that possible unless you get in trouble with child labor issues.

    I have seen a lot of people get frustrated and feel that they are doing it all wrong by striving for 100% self-sufficiency. I try to encourage people to do as much as they can because it all makes a difference. So many assume that our relatives in the 1800s were producing everything on their farms and thus set the goal of doing that themselves rather than realizing that selling, buying, and trading filled in a lot of gaps. Some land could produce a greater variety than others.

    Many prehistoric societies and civilizations were self-sufficient, but the standard of living was terrible, as you pointed out. I don't know anyone that would be willing to go back to that standard. Over the years, people saw that others had different things that made life better, and thus, trade commenced. Some of the archaeological sites in my area show that trade networks used by Native Americans. Items were found in Western NC from as far away as the Great Lakes.

    The case of the Lykov family is one I am familiar with. Their story is amazing, but wow, what a terrible time they had surviving as they did. I am sure that a lot of families fled like they did and did not make it anywhere near the time they did.

    I do love the idea of communities and cooperatives working together to be as self-sufficient as possible. If self-sufficiency is to be achieved in modern times, I feel it must be a real group effort if a decent standard of living is the goal. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to organize and maintain such efforts. People give up on these ventures all too often.
    A group where each family/person owned and produced what they could and then traded among each other could be self-sufficient. At the same time, there would likely be lifestyle changes that would have to happen. That is something that can be very difficult.

    I remember getting interviewed for an NPR piece on solar energy a little over a year ago. They really wanted me to say that solar energy would allow people to run their house exactly as they would with conventional power. I could not honestly say that, and they cut my interview. People don't want to hear that realistically they are not going to be able to use electric heaters, stoves, air conditioners, and clothes dryers. Most people that live off-grid find other solutions such as propane dryers or hanging clothes out to dry. Traditional air conditioners are traded for swamp coolers or similar. People don't just leave lights on all the time when they are not using them.

    What do you think would be the biggest challenges towards getting larger groups on people to change their lifestyle in order to be more self-sufficient? It seems like people want to be more self-sufficient but that lifestyle changes are a huge factor.

    I think that is a whole article to itself.

    Again, thanks for your comment. Sorry if this response was so long, but you really got me thinking about some big topics. Best wishes, Samantha

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 8:40am

    Samantha Biggers

    Samantha Biggers

    Status: Member

    Joined: Feb 09 2021

    Posts: 18

    3

    Samantha Biggers said:

    Thank you for reading! I look forward to writing more posts on homesteading topics. If you have any suggestions for future article topics, please let me know in this comment thread, or feel free to email me at [email protected]com.

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 9:09am

    #7
    Mohammed Mast

    Mohammed Mast

    Status: Platinum Member

    Joined: May 17 2017

    Posts: 1432

    1

    define self sufficient

    i think it might be useful to define self sufficient to avoid confusion and misrepresentation.

    does it mean "all" your needs? some needs? all food? all water? all power? all clothes?

    all the tools to do all of that? 

    the only truly self sufficient homestead i know of being possible would be stone age. but i am open to being corrected.

     

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 9:17am

    #8

    northsheep

    Status: Member

    Joined: Jun 06 2009

    Posts: 7

    12

    Good article - a couple of cautions

    I have raised a family homesteading in the mountains of France and homestead/commercially farming a hilltop of upstate NY. I can second most of what the article is saying, with a couple of cautionary comments. 

    First, pigs eat a lot. Free ranging will not fatten a pig or maintain a sow unless you have access to a lot of upland oak and chestnut forest - as quality ham is raised traditionally in Spain. Keeping pigs on purchased feed is more costly than buying supermarket ham. The time-tested way is to integrate the pig raising into the larger system: have enough land to grow the feed - corn, pumpkins or root crops and skim milk from the family grass-fed cow. French farmers grow pumpkins mostly for pigs.

    Secondly, for energy self-sufficiency I would emphasize passive solar design more than solar electric, because it can be done very cheaply. In my experience much house heat and hot water can come from the sun, and the rest from wood heat. See my paper, Three Farmhouses: A Study in Passive Solar Design

    I have a solar electric system sized to run essential appliances - like water pump and freezer full of homestead-grown food - when the grid is down, but it is too costly for most people - $12k spent for my system ten years ago - unless one can tap government subsidies. See the description of my system and arguments here: Wind and solar, societal and residential

    My six part series, Visioning County Food Production, in my Core Papers includes a lot of information that is relevant to homesteading as part of the larger essential picture of community resilience. My website contains all the papers I have written as a member of a relocalization project to address the energy descent era.

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 9:40am

    Samantha Biggers

    Samantha Biggers

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    Samantha Biggers said:

    Good points. You are right about raising pigs. I didn't go into a ton of detail about how we managed our pigs. We pastured them but also bought some feed at times. Of course, feed prices were much lower back then. After the first few pigs, we got a great offer for free milk. We could pick up milk pulled from gas stations and grocery stores if we just went to the distribution center. As a result, we had some really fat pigs for barely any money. It was easy to let them get too fat, really. I remember putting 45 gallons of milk in a trough. By the next day, 3 pigs had consumed it all.
    Our sunroom, shown in my article, was designed with passive solar in mind. It works very well. At the moment, our house has 12V solar lights and a few outlets. Over the years, we want to reach the point where most of our power needs come from solar.
    Thanks for reading!
    Sam

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 9:50am

    #10
    eek

    eek

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    Great Article

    Really helps put things into perspective.  Not getting it all done at once, slow and steady progress on goals.  

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 10:12am

    brushhog

    brushhog

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    Getting large groups to be self reliant?

    "What do you think would be the biggest challenges towards getting larger groups on people to change their lifestyle in order to be more self-sufficient?"

     

    The challenge will always be that the majority of people want the most convenient, easiest solutions to life's problems. Homesteaders are a rare breed, most people dont think like us and fewer still will have the courage to actually make the leap into such a lifestyle.

     

    There is also a very very strong strain of conformity in most people. They want to do what everybody else is doing. If everybody else is living in the suburbs with 2 cars, a dog, and central heat, then they want to live in the suburbs with 2 cars, a dog, and central heat. In fact many [ most?] people will define failure and success by the attainment of those things.

    To reject those things and define failure/success by your own metric takes a rare type of person. You never touched on it in this article but I'm sure you have felt some "blow back" for your choice to live that life. I know I have.

     

    It got to point I had to cut some people out of my life because my choice to homestead and pursue self reliance seemed to make them angry. "Society" will exert pressure on those who try to go their own way, and that will always be an obstacle.

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 10:57am

    VTGothic

    VTGothic

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    Winky Face

    Amen, bro!

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 11:03am

    #13
    VTGothic

    VTGothic

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    Great article!

    Equally good discussion!

    Thanks.

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 11:15am

    agitating prop

    agitating prop

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    Homesteading Brushhog.

    Brushhog,

    We've had our differences....ahem...but I have to say, I totally admire what you have been able to accomplish and I hope so much that many others start to do the same thing. The weird thing is, if this virus is endemic and possibly the first of many, for all we know, homesteading might be one of the few viable ways to survive and thrive--unless people have to social distance from their livestock!

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 12:20pm

    #15
    agitating prop

    agitating prop

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    Samantha

    That's a very interesting article. When you mention that you got into this way of life gradually do you mean your husband was still working, full or part time?

    Also, I wonder if the permitting process for homes is difficult and what the zoning laws are for your property. Are you allowed to build another home, a cabin, or are you limited to extending your own house if you want to create more living space.

    Another question is, where you are homesteading in North Carolina, what would the price be for an acre of space where a small family could be partially self sufficient.

    Thanks for all the information you provided in your article.

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 1:20pm

    Samantha Biggers

    Samantha Biggers

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    Samantha Biggers said:

    At the time, I was still working full-time as a financial planning assistant. This was in 2008. The recession happened, and I lost my job but picked up some writing work. My husband was working some construction jobs, and we sold a few things like Shiitake mushroom logs. We gradually added different types of livestock, put up fences, and produced more of our own food. Building the house took up a lot of our time and money. There were times when we simply didn't have the money to proceed with the house, so we spent more time on other homesteading pursuits that either didn't cost anything or cost very little. Getting the overgrown parts of the property clear was a big project.
    The permitting process for building your home was really easy back when we were doing it. Our land is unzoned, so there is a lot of freedom to build what you want. We have added additional structures such as barns and a tiny office for me to use for writing. Coincidentally we are actually planning an addition right now. After years of thinking I could not have children, we found out we are going to be parents in July. Our small house just started feeling a lot smaller! Where I live, it is really easy to get a permit for an addition. we are just adding 16' x 24', which still means our house is well under 1,000 sq ft. Small can be really nice if the layout is good.
    Land prices are very high here. The pandemic led to a lot of people fleeing the cities and buying homes and properties without even seeing them. The cost varies a lot depending on how far from town you are willing to live. Flatland costs more. I took a glance at some realty sites for you, and the cost per acre goes down a lot if you are willing to buy 8-10 acres. For example, one 8.1 acre property near Valdese is listed for $60K, but smaller acreages (under 3) closer to the Asheville area can run as much as $30K per acre or more if there are amenities. 12 years ago, $10K an acre was considered too high for undeveloped land.
    Eastern TN is more affordable than western NC. My family has always lived in western NC. If I did not have family land, I would not have been able to afford to live in this area of NC. Thanks for reading!

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 2:06pm

    #17
    agitating prop

    agitating prop

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    Thanks Samantha

    I am so  happy for you. Congratulations on the new addition! Both of them. LOL.

    I live on an island between the mainland and Vancouver island, in B.C. Prices are 10 and 20 times what you have described and it is considered 'affordable' for coastal B.C. It is a truly desperate situation for so many people. Add to that the fact that it's one of the most environmentally conscious areas in the world and you get a really toxic blend of nimbyism and eco-fascism. Environmentalism is great, but eco-fascism is terrible. It creates a generational war atmosphere that is tragic to observe.

    I hope there are people on the forum who can benefit from your information about prices for land in North Carolina. It may not be too terribly difficult for some of them to buy land there, particularly with no zoning--being able to build two livable structures on an acreage is a huge plus. I'm old and settled and wrong nationality, but if it were different, I would love to do what you are doing.

    And you tanned your own leather from your own cow...amazing.

     

     

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 4:07pm

    sebastian

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    Howdy neighbour

    Hi AP, I guess we are not too far from each other. It’s always nice to find a fellow PPer near by. I’m a bit North  along the mainland coast just outside of Lund. I’m sure glad we bought our acreage when we did, realty has gone bonkers here since the pandemic got the city slickers heading for the hills. I’m also VERY thankful to be in an area where code is not enforced. It’s very much a live and let live situation here. Which of the gulf islands are you on?

    Seb. 

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 4:37pm

    #19
    agitating prop

    agitating prop

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    Salt Spring Island

    Hi Sebastion,

    Lund is a lovely place, and is it near the Discovery chain, Cortes, etc...or are you farther North than that?

    Guess what the head of the various bureaucracies were doing here during the  height of the pandemic? Because it wasn't hard enough already for small business, they just got busy and started making up new rules to shut people's businesses down. My husband had an art studio in an art supply building with several other studios. They had to close it down because the parking area didn't have enough space for several bike racks. The bike racks had to be built under a specially constructed awning, too. They just made up the rule recently. So the fellow who started the business had no idea at the outset, this would be expected.

    A lovely home business coffee shop not far from where I live may be forced to shut down as well.

    The Gestapo have had the owners jumping through one hoop after another for a permit.

    After complying with all of their requests, the Gestapo, obviously flustered, because they just couldn't imagine any more tortures to put these people through, told them they would have to justify their business's existence, due to the fact there were other coffee places on the island! Pulled that right out of their asses at the last minute. No history of any business ever having to justify their existence due to competition. It would rate  a 10 in the bureaucratic Olympiad free style though. We should have a competition here.

    I like rules, order, efficiency, and basically the Canadian way...but when those rules are arbitrary, silly and borderline sadistic, that's when I see red.

    There are too many old hippies on big pensions here who don't get that people have to make a living. It's appalling.

    You are so lucky to be where you are.

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 6:22pm

    westcoastjan

    westcoastjan

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    Well we have to pay big time for the privilege of living here, right?

    Given that the rest of Canada is green with envy of our coastal environs, leftist Utopian paradise where we can garden year round. But you are right, the bureaucratic nightmare can be, well, an insane nightmare. I assume this is the Islands Trust gang destroying Salt Spring? What you describe is nothing short of insane. I am sure AirBnB did not help either...

    Prices in NC - I wish...... that is a literal pipe dream, looking on from this side of the continent.

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 6:34pm

    sebastian

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    3

    Salt spring Island

    Hi AP,

    what you are describing (beurocrats) gives me shivers... I’ve been self employed as a Tilesetter for 20 years now so I’ve come up against my fair share of gestapo grief when living in my former town of Sechelt. It’s night and day here and I hope it stays that way... There are always rumours that the city will extend its building and by- law enforcement out this way (tax revenue) but we are fairly small population wise that I’m hopeful it’s not worth their effort$. I’m just south of Lund about 4k. 

    Does Salt Spring still make its own currency?  I was shown some of the bills years ago and though it was really great. 

    Seb. 

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 6:35pm

    #22
    agitating prop

    agitating prop

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    Hardly a Utopian Paradise

    The true left supports workers. This island discourages everybody who wants to work or find anything to live in that's not insanely expensive. A few years back some fool was charging 1000.00 per month to let someone sleep on his property, in a tent. Bizarre, shameless.

    If I was younger I sure wouldn't stick around.

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 7:51pm

    #23

    Oliveoilguy

    Status: Gold Member

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    12

    We live in a Utopian Paradise.....

    • Literally a town named Utopia,  Texas. How is it Utopia? Virtually no government. We are not an incorporated town, just a hole in the county. The local people are ranchers and have earned their dignity through hard years. Charity abounds. The community is heavily faith based. There is no Gestapo to be found here. Mostly libertarian philosophy.
      Is my family self sufficient?  Maybe a way to measure is how long can we survive (thrive) with no more external inputs. We can thrive for a good while.  With Rain water, solar power, wood heat, wild game, chickens, open pollinated gardens, Acoustic music, ... we are closer..... but still not self sufficient. Don’t think we’ll  get there, but the joy is in the effort and the process. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 8:31pm

    pinecarr

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    Great article, Samantha

    Great article, Samantha; very inspiring.  And congratulations on your good news!

    Love the photo of your dog and lamb cuddled up together; animals are the best.  

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  • Tue, Feb 16, 2021 - 8:54pm

    summitday113

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    13

    Texas power outage illustrates why this is so important

    I live in Fort Worth. Unusually cold and wintery weather has caused the following in the past 5 days1. 130 car pile up on an interestate during morning rush hour leaving 6 dead (with a thin glaze of ice)2. Six or so inches of snow and record cold, as low as -4 or -5 (before wind chill).3. Power outages- was supposed to be rolling power outages of 15-45 minutes at a time. But windmills froze, solar panels were covered in snow (and days of cloudy weather) as well as frozen generators and natural gas frozen in pipelines. Many areas have been turned off in an effort to keep the entire grid from going down. 4. Power went out at a water treatment facility in Fort Worth, leaving some 200,000 people under a boil water alert. But it's hard for people to boil water without power. 5. City of Fort Worth's plans to distribute bottled water thwarted because their normal supplier, Nestle, is closed. 6. Stress on the power grid is causing cell phone towers to go down. 

    You don't need a full homestead to be prepared to deal with something like this. I'm not in as good as shape as I want, but I do have containers to store water, water filters, and an alternative cooking method and flashlights. I'm in a lot better shape to deal with this than most people are. 7. Gas stations are running out of gas. 

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 3:47am

    VTGothic

    VTGothic

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    Is there a Plan B?

    You don't need a full homestead to be prepared to deal with something like this. I'm not in as good as shape as I want, but I do have containers to store water, water filters, and an alternative cooking method and flashlights. I'm in a lot better shape to deal with this than most people are.

    This is sad! I mean, yes you're right: a homestead is not needed to deal with something like what suburban and urban Texans are going through. But it sure would make a big difference in how well one survives it. And thank God this deep freeze is going to be of short duration, however long it lasts. Winter isn't forever.

    But if your meager preps are "a lot better" than what most people have as resources when an infrastructure hiccough emerges, well that just ain't anything good. In an era when FEMA puts out (pathetic) guidelines on how to become more resilient, if as a people we can't even measure up to those 3-day standards, we're just a significant disaster waiting to happen. 

    I'm pessimistic. I don't think Texans will learn anything from this. Some few might be thinking this morning after a freezing, dark night about what they are gonna do as soon as they can to be better equipped and more resilient, but I'll wager by July 4th most of them will have forgotten all about their nightmare. It'll be a patio party anecdote. Because, hey, it's not likely to happen again in their lifetimes, right? And by extension, nothing else bad is going to happen, so what's to worry about? It's bright and sunny out today and the beer's flowing.

    The rest of the country, watching this drama unfold, will learn even less. Even those hit by some disaster last year or the year before, will respond with nothing more thoughtful than a vague emotional empathy for what some distant fellow Americans are experiencing. Everyone will be watching to see what the government does to fix it and get life back to normal. Few will think about what they should do, and far fewer will actually commit time and resources to implementing a plan. 'Cause that's what government's for. Even one that's obviously going broke.

    Natural disasters certainly don't spark national conversations about infrastructure policy. Anybody going to revisit the decision to cancel the XL Pipeline again? Any plans going to be put in place to assure backup power sources - I mean, plans for resilience for America in general, not just for the next Texas freeze up, which plans (if any are implemented) will be relaxed in 3 years when Texas's freeze has faded into the distance? Anybody in Oklahoma or California or, heck, my state of Vermont, going to mine Texas's modern history of decision-making that has brought it to this ridiculous situation? (I could wish, but I know my state government better than that; we're busy trying to out-Texas Texas with our reliance on solar energy, and the managers' desire to outlaw widely-used wood and oil heat, despite the 4 feet of snow in my yard and the icy rainfall of yesterday that coats and sticks to everything.)

    A few gallons of water, a filter, and some kind of camping stove just won't cut it when times get really tough and don't get better, and FEMA has run out of resources with which to alleviate the desperation. My goodness: I went to a local chain pharmacy yesterday, and walked down an aisle of empty shelves that are usually filled with "seasonal merchandise." We all saw temporary shortages of key supplies last spring and summer. I still see rolling outages of canned goods and certain kinds of vegetables (no thin-skinned potatoes for a month, now). The international supply chain is strained. There's talk of meat shortages coming, and limited soybean supplies. And who knows what commercially grown vegetables produced domestically or imported from across the globe will actually be available? But all anyone wants to think about is how the vaccine has come and by mid-summer we'll all be back to normal.

    Really, America? That's a great Plan A. I sincerely hope it works out. But what if it doesn't? Or, what if it does and something else happens? Something no one's thinking about right now? America, and Americans, what's your Plan B?

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 4:36am

    MarkM

    MarkM

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    D/FW Texas

    Power back on after 72 hours with about 45 minutes of off and on power during that time. I guess that was the "rolling" part. 🙂

    Isolated the kitchen/bedroom area (contiguous) with plastic sheeting and heated with a small propane heater. Used about 1/8 of propane on hand. Ran gensets (2 is 1....) for duration. Dealt with a carburetor issue on one, but remedied that.

    Made a list of improvements to be done. We did fine, but it can always be better. A LOT of people were VERY uncomfortable. Unfortunately, we are now hearing of deaths due to not-so-smart ways of staying warm. I don't really know what apartment dwellers could do other than a small bottle of propane with a small heater and plenty of warm clothes.

    Over the past year, and particularly the past 3 days, it has become clear that the 99+% of the masses are prepared for absolutely nothing other than this weekend's entertainment event.

    I was out a few times and saw these things.

    Multiple gas stations without gas. People milling in the grocery store like zombies under emergency generator lighting, all cold case items had been removed. Non perishables only. Man at a gas station in shorts @10 degrees. Lines wrapped around fast food places that had power. So many people rely on so many fragile systems.

    Many signposts to make note of when it comes to human behavior. VTG, you are right that we continue to have the lessons put before us and so few take heed.

    Would rather have been at the farm, but for now it's one foot on the dock and the other in the boat.

    Thanks to Dr. M and the PP tribe (among others) for the motivation and knowledge to be "prepped".

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 5:01am

    #28
    JimboJim

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    I couldn't agree more VT

    Spot On,

    For years, my family snickered behind my back as being that prepper from Idaho who is afraid of running out of food and water.  In the last year, they have gradually had to admit that maybe I wasn't so crazy after all:  Being able to generate my own heat and solar electricity, obtain water from my own well, grow and hunt much of my own food, all of which results in me being in better physical shape.   It gives one great peace of mind and equanimity, plus it contributes to a sense of community if done in concert with others.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 5:03am

    Oliveoilguy

    Status: Gold Member

    Joined: Jun 29 2012

    Posts: 1090

    4

    Plan B is up to each individual.

    We are at an inflection point where Governmental policy has failed and has very little hope of becoming viable again.
    Plan B is your individual  plan. Get your shit together now using what resources are still available.  Texas is the current example of failed policy... dominating the news cycle until the interest reverts back to failed Coronavirus policy.
    We are here in Texas watching the “suffering” all around us. Some are individually prepared and doing fine but most are living on the edge.
    Texas generates @ 20 to 25 % of its energy by wind. Windmills don’t make economic sense, even when they aren’t frozen.
    The city of Georgetown Texas contracted to have all their power supplied by alternative energy sources for a period of 25 years.  It is an epic fail. They are buying natural gas on an emergency basis at huge premiums and their customer rates have gone far above those of their neighboring towns. The mayor of Georgetown lied to the people about why their rates were going up and proudly strutted about after having a photo shoot with Al Gore about 5 years ago.  He is gone, but His bad policy will outlive him by 20 years.

    Germany has seriously overestimated how much its neighboring countries are able to help out in the event wind and solar energy fail to deliver, thus putting it’s power supply at risk.

    One of Germany’s strategies for making its energy supply renewable is to rely on its neighbors to step up when green energies fail to deliver.

    As the country adds more volatile wind and solar energy to the grid, Germany hopes that neighboring countries will cooperate in helping to stabilize the power grid in the event the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine — especially after the country shuts down its remaining nuclear power plants and starts to shut down old coal plants. Nuclear and coal power make up the lion’s share of Germany’s stable baseload power supply.

    “A dangerous miscalculation”

    However, it appears German officials have made a major miscalculation: citing a recent study, journalist Daniel Wetzel at Die Welt writes: “Europe cannot bail out the German power supply. This is so because “hardly a neighboring country has any remaining extra power plant capacity.” The Die Welt economics journalist then calls the German strategy “a dangerous miscalculation.”

    In 2014 the German Ministry of Economics assumed the country could rely on 60 gigawatts of over-capacity in related adjacent markets in Europe, but it turns out that the figure was overstated by a factor of 3 to 4. Consequently on windless and sunless days, Germany could end up missing considerable amounts of power.

    Wetzel writes:

    As a result, soon all over Europe power stations with ‘secured power’ that can produce independently of current wind and sun conditions will be missing.”

    He also adds that as every European country strives to add more wind and solar capacity, more of their baseload capacity plants are being shut down as well, which only makes the situation increasingly worse when sun and wind do not show up. The point is rapidly coming where there will not be sufficient baseload capacity to keep the grid stable.

    One solution, Wetzel suggests, would be to install gas-fired power generators so that they could be fired up in times of low wind and solar output: “However, new gas-fired plants are being built nowhere because refinancing under the conditions of the Energiewende appears as being too risky,” Wetzel reports.

    In a nutshell, as Europe expands its wind and solar capacity, more baseload capacity will be needed. But instead of adding it, Europe is reducing it, and thus making the supply and grid stability worse.

    As for Germany, it is increasingly dawning on politicians that designing energy infrastructure is best left technical and electrical engineering experts, and not to climate -catastrophe obsessed politicians and green activists who seem to think such complex systems can be built up ad hoc as you go.

    The price of this slipshod politicized approach could wind up being very painful in the midterm future.

    Government is corrupt and inept. It is up to each invidious to prepare.... and to find like minded friends who understand the seriousness of the situation. I agree with VTGothic that this current crisis will fade into the memory hole, and rather than fixing the underlying issues we will use all governmental resources to react to the next crisis and the next until there are no resources left.
    Plan B is totally your plan ... it starts in your home.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 6:17am

    #30
    LBL

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    LBL said:

    I'm thinking about doing something Less Realistic.

    I have a favorite pet, a little white bird that is a Belgian D'Uccle, who is trying heroically to hatch some eggs.  It looks like this batch is not going to produce.

    I want to order some babies for her, then put them where the eggs are when the d'Uccle takes a daily break.

    The problem is ... I had 12 birds, then 9 more hatched.

    The minimum order for the D'Uccle's is 15, so I would be going from 12 to 21 to maybe 34 (usually, they don't all survive).

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 6:27am

    #31
    JimboJim

    JimboJim

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    You can't make this up - AOC's spin on the situation in Texas

    While I really feel for all the people in Texas and elsewhere suffering, my hope is that this epic failure with over-reliance on alternative energy sources will somehow temper the insistence of some to blindly leap into the Green New Deal.  Unfortunately, if the following tweet from AOC is any indication, I seriously doubt the lessons learned from Texas will get a fair forum in the media:

    The infrastructure failures in Texas are quite literally what happens when you *don’t* pursue a Green New Deal.

    — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 17, 2021

    So let me get this straight, we are experiencing the problems in Texas because we didn't pursue "green" energy solutions aggressively enough?!?

    So if we had relied on a greater number of windmills and solar panels and less on reliable and proven coal-fired and natural gas plants we would somehow have MORE energy in Texas when a cold snap and snow renders the alternative energy sources useless?  Yah, right, tell me how that works.

    The fact is that base electrical demands need to be met through all types of weather conditions and sources like natural gas plants can be turned on and off quickly when conditions demand it.  Texas chose to decommission coal and natural gas plants and install more windmills and solar farms (which work great when you have wind and sun) but now you are seeing the consequences when those conditions are not met.

    Lessons learned - you need BOTH

    It will be interesting to see how the debate gets framed in the aftermath.  If the COVID "Official Narrative" is any indication, I know where I place my bets.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 7:04am

    Quercus bicolor

    Status: Gold Member

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    Not so simple

    The media reports I read suggest that cold weather impacts on natural gas production and distribution to power plants were more impactful than wind power being off line.  I wasn't able to find a source that clearly quantified the relative impacts of gas and wind.  And, of course, increasing the proportion of wind power on the grid a would probably result in big impacts on the grid for turbine icing events.  Then again, storage would buffer things, but probably only for hours to 1 day at most.

    Of course, the real problem is too many people living in too many houses (i.e. too few people per house) that are too big and poorly insulated (at least some of them) and with too high an expectation for very cozy temperatures in their house 24/7/365 and with electric heat (hopefully heat pumps rather than resistance, but I have my doubts). 

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 7:33am

    VTGothic

    VTGothic

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    Joined: Jan 05 2020

    Posts: 618

    9

    Fragile thinking

    No, the real problem is fragile, one-size-for-all energy solutions. Even with more people in fewer houses, the grids would have still gone down in most cases, perhaps all. Our problem is nicely articulated in Oliveoilguy's post: "...designing energy infrastructure is best left to technical and electrical engineering experts, and not to climate -catastrophe obsessed politicians and green activists...".

    It's one thing to set a goal of increasing renewable energy, and then let the engineers figure out what's best in each setting; it's something far less rational for activist groups and international bodies to dictate how each country is to reach the goal. That's patently absurd central planning and it never, ever, never works.

    It makes little sense to convert so much of Vermont's farmland to solar panels (and then worry about food production issues), and to refuse to reactivate the many deteriorating river dams that used to power our state's once-significant manufacturing industry. Here, where the sun is fickle and the water plentiful, it makes far more sense to use hydro. However, it is solar and wind that are the federal and state approved energy alternatives, while all waterways are to be left alone as natural features. We are not even supposed to clear out the debris from Tropical Storm Irene 6 years ago that laid such waste to our roads and towns: it's "natural" and humans must not have an impact on nature. So we'll see how many dead 100 foot tree logs float up and jam into bridges with the next major flood, causing how many more hundreds of millions of dollars of unnecessary destruction.

    This is just government by bureaucratic mindset, the bane of problem solving. There's nothing rational about our approach to energy, and more people in fewer houses won't fix that.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 7:50am

    #34
    wotthecurtains

    wotthecurtains

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    Joined: Feb 27 2020

    Posts: 515

    7

    wotthecurtains said:

    "So let me get this straight, we are experiencing the problems in Texas because we didn't pursue "green" energy solutions aggressively enough?!?"

     

    Unfortunately this is just in the nature of bad ideas (or of sticking to a narrative no matter what).  It's what we humans do.   

    In the book "When Money Dies" there was this amazing set of events where the Weimar hyper inflation was really starting to get out of hand.  All the economists of the time interpreted the problem as being a shortage of money.

    It was so twisted I can hardly remember it, but it was something like, "Look at all these poor people working 80 hours a week and at the end, they don't have enough money to buy food.  They need more money".

     

    There was actually a moment where the central bank proudly announced that they were going to fix the money shortage by  printing some crazy amount of currency on a one time basis to stop inflation in its tracks.  I'm not making this up.

    When it made the problem worse they decided they hadn't printed enough money to stop inflation and performed the same "rescue" several times with escalating amounts of new currency.

     

    It's scary as shit, but once you recognize the process it really helps you shake off your reluctance to act.  If you were a Texan right now, you might be thinking, "I was gonna get a backup heat source but now I don't have to worry because these events will teach everyone a lesson and the grid will be fixed."

     

    No one will learn anything and nothing will get better.   Get resilient.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 7:55am

    Quercus bicolor

    Status: Gold Member

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    7

    Still not so simple

    Unfortunately, I think we're both right.

    Of course, centralized planning is a significant part of the problem.

    But so is too many people expecting too much.

    I'm sure those anti-dam and anti-debris removal policies are in place because trout (and salmon if they ever return in significant numbers) hold a special place in our hearts.  There are probably other aquatic lifeforms I'm not thinking of (eels and any other migratory fish that swim far upstream to lay eggs).  Perhaps this is given too much weight, but it's a real impact.  With that said, of course it's stupid to leave an unpowered dam there blocking fish.

    Farmland is important, but in Vermont much of it is dedicated to growing corn with toxic methods to feed to dairy cattle.  It's probably a better idea to grow other crops or graze the cattle to get what dairy we can and figure out out to live with less dairy in our lives.  With that said, solar panels on high quality farmland are a bad idea anywhere.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 8:12am

    Bheithir

    Status: Member

    Joined: Nov 02 2008

    Posts: 18

    4

    @Quercus bicolor

    I agree heat pumps are more efficient MOST of the time, but when it gets this cold the auxiliary heating strips come on and efficiency plunges. How do I know this? I have one in the Northern part of TN. I knew when I bought the house that I was a bit far too North for a winter with a heat pump. I have power, but haven't run it for two weeks. Wood stove 24x7. Keeping the thermostat at 68, I had a 86 KWh day on Feb 3rd which got into the mid 40's. I turned it off and went full wood stove at this point. After that I had a 27 KWh day Feb16th, which didn't go over 16. I also have my electric water heater on a WiFi enabled switch and keep it off unless we are going to shower etc. We did laundry and stuff on Feb 10th and ran it for four hours that day and had a 38 KWh day, which got into the high 30's for a short period of time.

    I have an app on my phone for my Electric provider and water heater switch. It's a Wemo relay switch wired in to 240 VAC.

    It's cool to be able to see what uses high amount of power. BTW on the laundry day the electric dryer was going too, which caused an interesting spike during the day.

    I'm all for alternate energy, been into since the 70's because of my dad's influence, but have never had the properties that allowed it, either because of a HOA or in my case now, I live in a log home in the woods and there is too much shade.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 8:40am

    northsheep

    Status: Member

    Joined: Jun 06 2009

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    11

    the end of electricity

    I think your critique of so-called renewables goes in the right direction. Full analysis of the energy cost of wind and solar electricity reveals a net energy too low to power the industrial economy needed to build or maintain such energy sources as a significant replacement to current fossil fuel consumption. Unfortunately, Germany and Spain are discovering this after heavy investment in those sources.

    Moreover, many analysts of the problems that the end of cheap fossil fuel will pose have agreed that the electrical grid, already dilapidated by poor maintenance in the US, is the most vulnerable component of industrial civilization, and will be the first to fail in the energy descent. Blackouts are already common in the less developed world, a harbinger of what will occur in the US. 

    As you say, direct mechanical use of small, local hydropower is the most permanent and economical solution. And waterways and sail transport will return. Animal integration in agriculture for animal power, soil regeneration and some food and fiber is one of the most durable and resilient of agroecosystem designs. It is ironic that the current dictatorship of urbanized ecofascist thinking prevents ecologically healthy management of the natural resource base.  

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 8:47am

    #38
    Redneck Engineer

    Redneck Engineer

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    4

    TX Electricity

    Some brief notes on the impact of relying on wind under these weather conditions:

     

    where TX energy comes from:

    https://comptroller.texas.gov/economy/fiscal-notes/2020/august/ercot.php

    bottom line: blackouts would have been avoided if we had more nuclear, nat gas, or coal. Wind is not reliable.

    **** EDIT 6PM CT 2/18/21 ****

    Further reading shows the impact on nat gas, coal, and nuclear was substantial. Right now, I can't say whether wind and solar was more sensitive to the cold or not. The overriding factor, it appears at this time, was failure on the part of ERCOT to properly "winterize" the infrastructure, leading to frozen well heads, wind turbines, control systems, etc. across the grid. (Whether it would have been appropriate to winterize everywhere, given the rarity of storms like this vs cost, is a separate discussion.)

    I have other data from which I'm convinced wind and solar are significantly less reliable in general compared to nat gas, coal, and nuclear. This was a case of confirmation bias on my part to jump to the conclusion that this was the root cause. The relative reliability of different forms of electricity generation and transmission is a large topic, and at the moment I don't think it is fundamentally relevant to the root cause and corrective action analysis that's needed.

    **** EDIT 840PM CT 2/20/21 ****

    Wind generates about 23% of electricity in TX, but is notoriously variable. When wind production drops, additional natural gas is turned on to meet demand; it acts as a swing producer. Together wind and nat gas make up about 49% of TX generation. As temperature dropped and wind turbines shut down, wind generation dropped considerably. Natural gas production shot up, reaching a peak of 165% above the normal level, before well head and other natural gas generation started coming off line.

    So it is absolutely true that wind generation's lack of reliability was the root problem. Additional causes, like possible failure to properly winterize generation plants (wind, solar, nat gas, coal, nuclear), are secondary.

    Articles at ZeroHedge and SRSRoccoReport lay this out in detail.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 8:57am

    #39

    Mark_BC

    Status: Silver Member

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    3

    Mark_BC said:

    I think it's a combination. No one can deny that continuing with fossil fuels as a source of energy is lunacy. And to grow the population on top of that is lunacy x 2. We need to get onto renewables. It just isn't being done very well.

    I'll put forth our little 2 acre home as an example of what to do, LOL. Well not quite, but it's clear how this could be addressed.

    Anyone who lives in a house can have a fireplace or wood stove with some wood stored away for such an emergency. Then you can keep your house warm in grid down scenario.

    Keep a cistern of 100 gallons of water somewhere.

    For electricity, well, you can go without for a few days in an emergency. Or if you have a hybrid or electric vehicle, set that up to feed your house and at least run your fridge.

    We are set up pretty well, I just need to install the manual pump on the well so we can continue to get water in a power outage.

    IMO hydro is the worst renewable energy. In BC we have been feeling the impacts of this for a long time. In recent decades there was a fanatical push to install run-of-river dams in all of the most remote rivers here. It's sad, you can now look on Google Earth and find the most pristine remote river you can think of, and now it has a road bulldozed in with a little dam built on it. It's a disgrace, it was a totally corrupt fiasco, and the economics of it didn't even make sense. Hydro consumers will be paying big time for this for many years. And all the previous big dams have destroyed salmon rivers. The big one under construction now is Site C which is a complete boondoggle. They green lighted it without even a viability study being done. It will cost multiple billions of dollars. Thanks for that, Christy Clark, you corrupt b!tch. It will flood thousands of hectares of prime farmland and native sites. It is being built to provide electricity for Alberta oil activities, and it isn't even financially viable. It will again cause all of our rates to skyrocket in coming years. A total disaster by every account. And in BC we just sell our supposedly "clean" hydro power to California, then import cheaper electricity from Alberta produced by coal powered plants, for our own use, then brag about how clean our energy is.

    And solar power paves over productive land. Much better to just put it on roofs.

    And wind turbines kill birds and destroy landscapes.

    There are no good alternative energy options.

    Ultimately the problem is overpopulation because it forces people into condos and apartments where they can't do most of the resiliency and sustainability actions I mention above.

    But, the economists in charge are insane and believe that more population will solve the problems. The only solution is population reduction. Here in Canada I just filled out a government survey asking for input on how we can foster economic growth once Covid is "over" (like that will ever happen). The option of NOT growing the economy wasn't even on the table. They have plans to triple our population to 100 million. They are insane.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 9:16am

    #40
    2retired

    2retired

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    2retired said:

    Just to add a debating impetus (if any inflamatory ideas are necessary here) We expect that the traveling restrictions and bureaucratic silliness will last a few years, so to balance out our loss on carbon contributions (foregone) by way of flights south for winter sojourns, we are putting in a 12 month year lap pool 75x10x4ft6" with heat pump and mega gas fired heater. In my own little way I am trying to offer some global warmth to Texas. (no pockets in the shroud)

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 10:36am

    stevedaly

    stevedaly

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    2

    Unreliable windpower

    When 20% of your state's power comes from wind and you have little or no excess capacity, when the wind stops or the turbines freeze up, you shut down as many as 20% of your customers.  Possibly for days. With all the engineers looking at the purchasing orders for wind power surely there was someone raising the issue.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 1:03pm

    #42
    Mohammed Mast

    Mohammed Mast

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    6

    windmills are stupid

    some will remember a guy who used to post here called damnthematrix. he was one of the most brilliant members on the martenson site. he was friends with pedro prieto a spaniard who works in alternative energy in duh spain which went nuts into alternatives. it is one of the reasons spain was the s in "pigs" 

    dtm posted this letter from pedro , who btw has done huge work on eroei with charles hall (the inventor of the concept). i saved it in my docs and have used it many times when in discussions with alternative energy dreamers. btw aoc if not any idiot is certainly an intellectual lightweight.

    me again….. Here’s an email Pedro Prieto sent me. Oh, and his English is waaaaay better than my Spanish! 1. Ken Zweibel, James Mason and Vasilis Fthenakis have recently wrote an article about solar energy in Scientific American. They claim that by 2050, the US could get some 100% of its electricity needs, by installing a combination of 2.9 TW PV fed into the grid, 7.5 TW to cumulate energy with compressed air; 2.3 TW in concentrated solar plants; 1.3 TW of distributed solar plants and just to fill the gap, some 1 TW of wind fields. This ‘just’ is ten times more than today is installed in all the world, just to satisfy a small, collateral portion of the electricity needs in 2050 of the US. 2. If we succeed in growing at 27% cumulative per year, and we reach, as the report of Science & Technology says, the 3 TW of wind installed power landmark by 2020, this will represent the production of, let us say and maximizing sizes and minimizing costs, some 1,500,000 times 2 MW wind generators in the period. Considering each generator has 150 tons of steel; that every ton of steel requires at least 1.5 tons of coal to be produced; between 500 and 1,000 tons of concrete in the foundations; 30 tons of glass fibre and some 5 tons of copper; the “clean” wind industry will demand from now to 2020 (12 years) 225 million tons of steel, some 350 million tons of coke coal; 45 million tons of glass fibre; some 7.5 million tons of copper and some 1 billion tons of concrete. I am not counting the energy spent in building up factories; transporting the huge wind generators, most of the time at big distances, using heavy weight cranes or huge crane ships when offshore; opening pathways to the generally inaccessible places where the wind blows regularly (in mountain passes, plateau’s edges, etc.) It is neither included the steel to make long evacuating lines (in Spain, a small country with a dense electric network) generally 10 to 25 km of evacuating high tension line, per each 150 MW wind field average), or the copper or aluminium wires used in the power lines; the additional power stations required, etc. Nor it is included the maintenance or the infrastructure needed to stabilize an intermittent source of energy. 3. This installation of some 1.5 million generators of 2 MW each, from now -2008- till 2020, will require, for your information and order of magnitude, some 2 times the present world annual production of steel; about 30 times the present glass fibre world production and almost the annual concrete world production. I strongly recommend to read the article “Coal Can’t Fill World’s Burning Appetite With Supplies Short, Price Rise Surpasses Oil and U.S. Exporters Profit” By Steven Mufson and Blaine Harden. Washington Post Staff Writers of last Thursday, March 20, 2008; It exemplifies very well how the industry is struggling to get coal and steel and the effect of prices of coal and oil on them. Who says this is a `green’ or non polluting industry? I would ask the people to keep in mind that these are NON RENEWABLE SYSTEMS, able to capture some renewable energies. These systems have a short life cycle, specially when in offshore, or in dusty places, subject to heavy corrosion or grinding of their mechanical parts. They have to be maintained very much and are heavily underpinned in the fossil fuel society (helicopters for maintenance, huge and heavy cranes and ships, long and heavy trucks, maintenance of compacted gravel roads in mountains, the gravel in itself, metallic piece parts, lubricants, high level (hence highly consumerist) people in maintenance tasks with fossil consuming SUVS going everywhere, etc. etc. 4. All the above assumption of 3 TW of installed wind power by 2020, to generate some 1.5 TW times 2,000 hours/year nominal (if these fields are available for the new parks; in Spain, for instance, they could hardly find onshore fields and from now onwards with this load factor); that is, to generate 3,000 TWh; that is a 15% of today present world electricity consumption. (Not primary energy; just electricity. Not in 2020: today). 5. When going to global figures and potential increase of wind energy worldwide to cope with the ever growing electricity (or primary) energy needs, I think it is time to make wind energy prospects top down, rather than we make them now as usual: bottom up. I am amazed that supercomputers are not used to simulate these huge dreams of wind installations. An anemometer in Tarifa, close to the Gibraltar Strait gives 2,500 nominal hours a year. Another anemometer offshore in the Cadiz Gulf, some 100 miles of distance from Gibraltar, gives some 2,500 nominal hours. If I put 1 GW in Tarifa and 1 GW in the Cadiz Gulf, perhaps both of them will run at 2,500 hours/year. But what if I put 100, or 500 GW in both places? Is the wind obliged to go the same usual path, if friction reaches certain levels, or could perhaps divert to the natural lowest effort path, leaving the magnificent parks idle or with 1,000 hours/year? When trying to get conclusions from wind maximum capacity, one should remember that all winds at all altitudes in the globe represent some 70 times the present human energy consumption. This is apparently too much, enough for us all. But from that we could hardly capture a small fraction (with a huge use of non renewable and polluting materials) of the energy of wind flows of up to 150 m. over the surface and those in offshore relatively close to the mainland. That a big portion of these winds are at speeds that wind parks could not profit form them (over 80-100 km/h or lower than 5 to 9 km./h). Then, we could perhaps note that these are going to be just a drop of relief in the ocean of the insatiable human consumption. Not to consider the effect of being able to change some wind traditional patterns, when reaching certain values of friction/interception. 6. All the World wind installed park from the beginning up to 2007 (93,212 MW) produces 5 times less electricity than JUST the increase of electricity consumption worldwide between 2005 and 2006 (765 TWh) and represented just 0.8 of the world electricity consumed. 7. The increase of the electric consumption worldwide (some 4% annual) goes 25 times faster than the production of the installed capacity in 2007. The industrial kart goes 25 times faster than the ecologic horses. And ecologists still pretend to win that unbalanced and crazy Ben Hur race, without saying a word of the insatiable energy consumption increase that the Caesar Roman model is imposing into the arena of this unbelievable circus!! Sorry if I have poured on optimistic and enthusiastic people a cold jug of water. The above are available worldwide data. I just wanted to put the article in the context and in front of the challenges we are going to face. Pedro from Madrid P.D. I have not said a word about birds, or about the financial possibilities and sensible timings for these megaprojects in 180 of the 195 countries I see in the UN list.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 1:37pm

    VTGothic

    VTGothic

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    4

    More on not so green wind energy

    To piggy back on your post, MM:

    Once they are in the ground, the blades will remain there essentially forever -- they do not degrade over time

    That from this article in the Daily Mail, May 2020, on decommissioning wind turbine blades.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 3:07pm

    #44
    agitating prop

    agitating prop

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    Joined: May 28 2009

    Posts: 846

    2

    Thorium

    I like the idea of thorium reactors and wonder what the hold up is there. The strangest thing is, from an environmental perspective, it could turn out that even traditional nuclear power beats what is currently being pushed. There is a video called, 'The Wolves of Chernobyl,' that makes me question some of the information about radiation exposure we have been taught.

    In the final analysis, lower population is required.  If our energy needs are met, ennabling us to continue to grow, it will be on the back of displaced species populations, and really, the planet doesn't 'belong' to us. It's not ours to trash.

    It's terrible what is happening in Texas.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 3:35pm

    #45
    agitating prop

    agitating prop

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    MMast

    Hi,

    Could you possibly break your post into paragraphs? It looks interesting and informative but many will have a problem reading it. Thanks!

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 3:39pm

    Liz Smith

    Liz Smith

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    Liz Smith said:

    I have a little stream next to my little house and have been keen to build a micro-hydro. Anyone I ask says the stream is too small, I'd need a waterways permit, and to just go solar. I don't have much sun. Is there a way to build a "dumb" hydro which just heats hot water or performs some other simple task without need for expensive electronics?

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 3:40pm

    Liz Smith

    Liz Smith

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    Liz Smith said:

    I obtained a DC treadmill motor a while ago and was wondering what it would do if paired with a simple waterwheel. I don't really have a workshop, however.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 3:43pm

    Mohammed Mast

    Mohammed Mast

    Status: Platinum Member

    Joined: May 17 2017

    Posts: 1432

    2

    ap

    no.

    i copied it from a post on chrismartenson.com.

    strange i don't recall anyone having a problem back then or since. but if damnthematrix shows back up i will take it up with him.

    in the meantime i can summarize it .........windmills are stupid

    edit: 5 likes/ 1 complaint. we have a winner

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 3:55pm

    agitating prop

    agitating prop

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    Sebastian.

    Oh Sebastian, You have NO idea how stupid it can get. One of the water districts built an expensive new water treatment facility, to serve about half the island's needs. It is uphill from most of its customers, so relies partially on gravity plus a few workarounds all the time, power on or off.  Problem is, some customers need power to push the water uphill...when electricity fails, during storms. During storms, generally, it's pretty cloudy. A diesel generator costing 30,000.00 for these crucial events, which might happen twice a year for a couple of days, is required.

    I received a newsletter from the district that acknowledged the problem, but nicely provided the explanation that they would be setting a poor environmental example with a purchase of this kind and were thinking of a solar powered generator to do the same job.

    Cost of the water plant, 2 million. And the diesel generator would hardly ever be used, other than running it to keep it in working order. Grrrrr.....Environmentalism good. Eco-fascism bad.

    As has been mentioned, people on every side of an issue can be blinded if they lose a sense of proportion and become zealots for a cause.

    Being outside of zoning law sounds appealing. I am sure there would be some drawbacks to that though. Are there? What services are you going without, if any? If you are, are they easily remedied?

    Thanks for your response, btw!

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 3:59pm

    agitating prop

    agitating prop

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    MMast

    You could go into the edit function and do it from there. It is up to you, if you want to have an audience for your post. It is a very common complaint of those trying to read online and discouraged by most forum moderators, administrators.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 4:08pm

    agitating prop

    agitating prop

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    WC Jan

    Islands Trust and Capitol Regional District. Both nightmarish. At the same time, though I very much like the Horgan provincial government, I think they are planning to continue with Site C dam, which is a boondoggle as Mark describes. Totally different issue. That's a really big impactful environmental issue, not one of the petty issues the Gestapo here get wrapped around the axle about.

     

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 5:07pm

    Montana Native

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Mar 17 2009

    Posts: 171

    4

    Increase of population

    Western countries focusing on increasing population as native birth rates drops is nuts. Lets just invite foreigners here and offer them lots of goodies....and they will have the kids. Not good for the planet or social cohesion.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 6:26pm

    Ision

    Ision

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    Ision said:

    Small waterwheel power generation kits are available for seasonal farm stream use, which several people I know use to sell power to the grid, during peak stream flow months.   You do not need to invent anything...but, you must learn enough about small waterwheels designs to know what to do with what you have.

    Heck.  Use the fish pond to grow Talapia to eat and duck weed to feed them and any chickens, or ducks, you wish to raise.

     

    In California, there are places where municipal water supply is not metered to each property.   This allows one to use the 80psi water in the municipal water lines to run water powered electrical generators and pipe water directly into a "decorative" water wheel, in a backyard "garden" with a gobi fish pond.   If you needed to generate free power, you simply turned on the water and let is flow into your 6' or 8' overshot water wheel, which powered an electrical generator in its "quaint tiny mill house."

    Since the water was not metered, your water bill remained constant, even though you were constantly supplying water to your water wheel generator.   You then charged your UPS batteries, and sold excess electricity to the power company.  The wheel could be left running 24/7, or just when you needed the electricity.   The excess water from the wheel flowed into the pond..which was cement lined...and then into an overflow drain into the sewer.  (No water flowing down the gutters)

    Even with a water meter, the use of this kind of system to generate power remains viable until the water pressure in the water system drops and water stops flowing from the home faucets.  A silent electrical generator, which runs on water, and is able to do mechanical work, directly from its central spinning shaft.

    You are on the right track.  The trick is to be clever about it and disguise it as decoration.

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 6:56pm

    sebastian

    Status: Member

    Joined: Feb 08 2010

    Posts: 29

    3

    sebastian said:

    Hi AP,

    being outside the zoning by law enforcement zone is nothing but a plus as far as I can see...

    We don’t get garbage or recycling picked up at the curb but that’s the biggest difference. The tax collector finally showed up and assessed my house after  I built it 2 years ago, so my property tax will be going up (I was paying 600$ per year). The roads are plowed and I have hydro at the lot line. I’m on 9 acres so my heating is mostly through wood heat and I’ve got a well.  My water is abundant and under my control. I can siphon out of my well as the static water is 2’ below ground level and the well head is atop a hill. I’m very happy with this property and the neighbours are amazing.  Starting from scratch is a long haul but it has been very much worth it. 

    S. 

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 7:08pm

    agitating prop

    agitating prop

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    Sebastion

    Sounds like a dream. But what about sasquatches? I used to think this was pure myth, but listening watching this dude has me scratching my head.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQUrPdFNh1M

     

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 7:35pm

    westcoastjan

    westcoastjan

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    Joined: Jun 04 2012

    Posts: 280

    2

    Agree 100%

    Horgan govt thumbs up. CRD and Islands trust not so much, for reasons you state, and then some. 

    Site C dam is a colossal disaster - no wins from any angle. We are so gonna pay for that... in every way. Mark_BC nailed it re Crispy Clark, who like many other politicians, should be in jail, rotting. She was the epitome of corruption. 

    And yes, over-population is the core issue. It seems Klaus Schwab and friends are intent on resolving that for us... guess we will find out how it rolls in the next year or so. 

     

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 7:47pm

    sebastian

    Status: Member

    Joined: Feb 08 2010

    Posts: 29

    2

    sebastian said:

    Sasquatches.... I’m more concerned about the deer and the Lyme ticks they carry. Either way long term scratching a living out of dirt is no easy game so I’ll hedge my bets and stay put. Perhaps I’ll plant a little extra for any hungry beings that come a knocking 🙂

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  • Wed, Feb 17, 2021 - 7:59pm

    agitating prop

    agitating prop

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    Posts: 846

    1

    Sebastion, Jan

    Sebastion -- I was joking around a bit. I have been watching quite a few of these videos lately, so it's been on my mind. But usually they are the last thing on my mind!

    Jan---Christy Clark was a complete horror. Totally agree. She definitely should be in jail, but when organized crime intersects with politics at that level, it's pretty near impossible to get cold hard proof. What a dispiriting time it was, when she was premiere.

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  • Thu, Feb 18, 2021 - 9:58am

    #59
    2retired

    2retired

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    2

    2retired said:

    For all those on a well, the government has that in their sights as well. It's under water rights, for those interested in obeying.

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  • Thu, Feb 18, 2021 - 1:28pm

    #60

    roosterrancher

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 16 2010

    Posts: 140

    9

    Great one Sam! Welcome to the tribe!

    My wife and I started at this in our 50's, our homestead is 86 acres and came with a 110 year old ranch house. We built an off grid solar home and are working on another with a root cellar. We have had a blast together, making decisions every day.

    We started out on a binge to grow our own food and found something on our plates every once in a while that we had grown. After 12 years here, it is pretty amazing to me how much of our own food we do eat. It takes time to learn the skills of resilience.

    You are right, we did not connect to our community until we started a market garden and became the big dog at the local farmers market, we now run it.

    Both my wife and I come from corporate sales backgrounds, city kids really, we are now immersed in beauty every day.  The turkey and deer show just went past the kitchen window.

    I love this lifestyle, it would be hard to go back. It is not for everyone.

     

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  • Thu, Feb 18, 2021 - 2:14pm

    Mots

    Mots

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    6

    the end of electricity

    Northsheep
    You stated that "Full analysis of the energy cost of ... solar electricity reveals a net energy too low....."

    But the same fascist global corporatists who have ruined our agriculture production systems by replacing natural processes with high profit top down corporate control, and who have ruined out health care system by replacing natural processes with high profit top down corporate control have ruined the alternative solar industry by creating very low EROI by avoiding zero cost natural processes and shoving high profit top down corporate control practices on us.

    Like others here, you can dismiss me and say "you are passionate! therefore are wrong!"  Actually I am not passionate about this and am focusing on radio.  I published a book about my observations on this topic in order to clean house and move on to something more intellectually interesting (true digital communications).   So dont expect me to spend endless time "debating" little golden nuggets via shallow keyboarding chit chat squirts.  I did my time and published a complete story which is found at amazon booksellers. Of course I am happy to argue why I am wrong and why you think that fabulous corporatists like Prieto are right after you have read my book.

    This is no longer my thing and I prefer talking about radio.  I am merely pointing out the facts that thrust themselves onto me.  I document this in my book "Take Back The Power!" wherein I explain a path to high EROI solar by turning our backs on corporate solar.  Many industry practices and products are pushed on us for high profit- low EROI purposes and Prieto is the epitomy of this. Since very few people understand basic electricity (including most young people with "electronics engineering" degrees based on endless computer programming and only a single course in basic electronics and who often do not even know how a transistor works) this industry, like most of the present corrupt system, is dominated by MBA driven profit practices.

    Prieto (often mentioned in these esteemed blogging posts) is an extreme corporatist who pushes the narrative that we must pay tons of money for unnecessary (but profitable) big industry practices because these extremely expensive and unnecessary corporate practices are (in his words) all "sine qua non" (ie. necessary) for solar energy.  Yes I have contacted the authors and tried to discuss my criticisms but was met with a top down from superior corporate position with dismissal.  As I said, I am moving on to work on water and communications and if you dont believe me I really dont care any more.  I have better things to do and have put my observations out there for objective thinkers to discover.

    Basically, the same corporate corruption that infects our medical system infects our solar renewable energy "system."
    If you dont have enough money to buy my book, I will arrange to lend a copy to you.

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  • Thu, Feb 18, 2021 - 2:39pm

    Pappy

    Pappy

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    Posts: 115

    2

    Planning for the big grid to go away...

    northsheep:

    As you say, direct mechanical use of small, local hydropower is the most permanent and economical solution. And waterways and sail transport will return. 

    I would add that rail will hold out for a while also. Maybe a return to light local rail and wood powered boiler engines?  Steampunk we shall become.

     

    Both waterways and railways are in my thoughts as I begin to setup on the Mississippi River 25 miles upriver/rail from Dubuque, IA.

    There are tracks on both sides all of the way from MSP to the Gulf.

    I'm betting that the Ole Miss is going to become a big part of the declining gasoline/electricity future in terms of trade and energy.  At the very least it will set my children up geographically for a post cheap-energy future.

    Time to consider buying an acre near the waterfront in town to go with the homestead up in the hills. Maybe a boat too.

     

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  • Thu, Feb 18, 2021 - 3:04pm

    LBL

    LBL

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    LBL said:

    >>> "Liz Smith said:

    I obtained a DC treadmill motor a while ago and was wondering what it would do if paired with a simple waterwheel. I don't really have a workshop, however."

     

    You can probably get there with a hand-drill, and a friend who is a welder.

    If you spend a lot of time on the drafting board, and have access to a local steel supply who will cut to length for you.

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  • Thu, Feb 18, 2021 - 4:30pm

    Redneck Engineer

    Redneck Engineer

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    3

    I'm sold

    Mots,

    You've just made another customer for your book. Looking forward to reading it.

    As an engineer, I've watched the very gradual increase in efficiency with solar energy but as far as I know the numbers don't pencil out. I'd like to think there is a way to make it work out, so I'm looking forward to reading your take on it.

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  • Thu, Feb 18, 2021 - 5:46pm

    #65
    Mohammed Mast

    Mohammed Mast

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    pedro prieto

    he has done extensive work with charles hall . the father of eroei. yes he worked on large solar installations in spain. 

    he is attacked here personally ie an ad hom with no mention of data.

    fail

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  • Thu, Feb 18, 2021 - 9:28pm

    #66
    EddieLarry

    EddieLarry

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    Joined: Jul 04 2020

    Posts: 154

    1

    Golf and Vitamin D

    I live a sensible life in a sensible place.  So I took some time to go to the driving range and perk up my Vit-D naturally. Folks here seem to want to make everything so difficult!

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  • Fri, Feb 19, 2021 - 1:30am

    Mots

    Mots

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    Joined: Jun 18 2012

    Posts: 416

    7

    solar

    Redneck engineer: the issue is this

    until about 5-8 years ago, half of all money spent on solar electric used to calculate EROI was for the solar panels themselves.  Pietro does not clearly show his panel prices vs total input but via looking at all his data, it seems to be about 25-50 of his total and about 3$ per watt.  You should read his book.  I had a Spaniard visit me a few month who lived through the solar bubble period that Pietro writes about.  Banks were going door to door selling solar electric investments based on government price guarantees.  It was real crazy and definitely non-market driven.  As explained in his book they were actually flying in solar panels and deliberately over building and throwing out electricity in order to maximize average energy valuations as determined by ridiculous government pricing. I have a great deal of empathy with the tone and conclusions of his book.  I would have felt the same way if I lived through that period as a financial manager during a crazy solar bubble.

    NOW, after solar panel manufacturing has become very energy efficient (I provide references in my book by the way) and solar panel prices dropped 5-10 fold and are not supported by any govt subsidies for manufacture (China had a big shakeout of players as a result) the solar panel cost is only about 5-10% at most of the total cost of (corporate) solar electric.  THE EROI CALCULATIONS have a cost/energy input that is almost all driven by big corporate bloat ware and NOT by solar panel cost or manufacturing energy input.  Panel costs/energy to manufacture are a very small part of EROI. This is why the individual can beat the pants off the corporate guys on EROI.  I explain this in my book.  I also briefly explain how bean counters (speaking of Gail Tyberg here) refuse to alter their fossil fuel thinking of but dismiss solar purely on the basis that it needs a different way to calculate costs. The future is different from the past but some people cant let go of fossil fuel thinking.

    I am trying real hard to avoid so called "debates" (keyboarding chit chat crap mud slinging?) with Mohammad and have already sent him information privately, which he ignored.  I have much data and comparisons in my book.  Because most people refuse to really lo0k at the data, which I have already summarized briefly at PP a couple times, I placed a detailed analysis of Pietros data in an appendix of my book.  Keyboarding attacks are cheap and easy on this forum.  I prepared and published my facts because I want them available to others.  We have better things to do than get into our feelings and attack each other here.  I will no longer respond to personal attacks such as "ad hom with no data!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  Many people at PP are rational minded and I love conversing with.  But I wish there was an ignore button on this site.

     

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  • Fri, Feb 19, 2021 - 5:56am

    LBL

    LBL

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    Posts: 239

    2

    LBL said:

    >>  Golf and Vitamin D

    I live a sensible life in a sensible place.  So I took some time to go to the driving range and perk up my Vit-D naturally. Folks here seem to want to make everything so difficult!

     

    Good social distancing exercise.

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  • Fri, Feb 19, 2021 - 8:20am

    #69
    Mohammed Mast

    Mohammed Mast

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    lbl/eddie larry

    could not agree more.

    interest in golf is exploding. unfortunately that means crowded courses

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  • Fri, Feb 19, 2021 - 8:28am

    Mohammed Mast

    Mohammed Mast

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    Joined: May 17 2017

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    1

    that is a flat out lie mots

    you sent me a part of what you wrote I DID NOT IGNORE IT. i gave you my response and pointed out your deficiency in ignoring eroei. you said that was in another section but never sent that to me.

    you come on pp and make assertions w/o documentation, tell people to read your book then opt out conveniently saying you don't have the time. you cast an ad hom on pedro prieto w/o disputing any facts. yeah an ignore button would be awesome. that is one thing we agree on

    just don't misrepresent me or my position here or i will call you out again

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  • Fri, Feb 19, 2021 - 9:01am

    #71
    2retired

    2retired

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    Posts: 161

    1

    2retired said:

    Re solar; my take away memory of setting up an off grid solar panel system (40! yikes) years ago, was primarily reducing energy use, to a lot less, finding all those current leaks, and paying attention to energy use; and having backup layers for when demands are high. It is however nice to have grid power, I have remained aware of the need for alternates. We all imagine ourselves somewhat immune, but a shaker here (mag 8 or 9) would loose our grid for several months, minimum.

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  • Sat, Feb 20, 2021 - 4:45am

    #72
    Christopher S.

    Christopher S.

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    Joined: Feb 27 2020

    Posts: 11

    2

    What a beautiful article!

    This was an absolutely wonderful article! What a joy it is to read a first hand account from a down to earth homesteading couple that didn’t have tons of cash to throw at it right away. I really appreciate your time and shared experiences/knowledge. Doing exactly what the author is doing on a limited budget, I find it really refreshing to see others going through similar journeys. This is a refreshing new idea from PP that I support- to have normal people contribute articles instead of hearing about how someone who bought 100’s of acres and $700,000+ to throw at homesteading pretending they are just like the common man/woman. It’s also great to see these types of articles instead of Adams constant stock market posts. Well done!

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  • Sat, Feb 20, 2021 - 5:44am

    ReginaF

    ReginaF

    Status: Member

    Joined: Jan 16 2009

    Posts: 7

    3

    Eco Villages in Russia - House & Garden on 1 Hektar

    Don't know if you have read the "Anastasia" Books from Vladimir Megre. There is a lot about so called family country residences in ecovillages. Today there are nearly 500 ecovillages with an unknown number of family country residences, some villages have more than 100 families settled in the village. Most of the people in these village have not much money. The country residences are all about 1 Hektar (= 2,47 acre).

    I have got a lot of good ideas from the following videos and the description about those lands & houses & people and wish you joy and good ideas by watching these videos.
    Yours Regina from Northern Germany

    Here is a documentary about one eco village called Slavnoje in German. English subtitles are autogenerated.


    And here another one from RT

    The Russian Government had since 2016 an Program called "The far east Hectar", where Russian People can get 1 Hektar for free in serveral Provinces of the far East. By the way, not the whole Far east is snow & frost the whole year round -:)) There are regions, where there are harsh winters but good summers.

     

     

     

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  • Sat, Feb 20, 2021 - 7:04pm

    #74
    Redneck Engineer

    Redneck Engineer

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    Posts: 162

    2

    Socialized vs Decentralized Networks

    One inescapable problem with energy generation, distribution, and transmission is the fact that governments in every country exert tremendous control. That inefficiency distorts EROI analysis, on top of which go additional political wastes, costs, and inefficiencies.

    There are massive, systemic inefficiencies in the top-down, centralized energy grids. Consumer costs and system reliability suffer as a result. I'd like to see today's approach compared to a vastly decentralized network, with far more generation plants but located closer to consumers. Surely there would be efficiency gains in transmission losses alone, and the system as a whole would be far more resilient. 

    By analogy, look at the meat industry in the US, how centralized it is, and how it lead to empty store shelves as COVID took off last year. A more decentralized network of farms, ranches, butchers, packers, and shipping companies would be better able to handle a pandemic. If one meat packing plant were shut down for two weeks, the rest of a large network could pick up the slack.

    The decentralized network is more resilient, in general. Let a network build up with a variety of sources, rather than concentrating on one or a few types, and that would add to the resilience.

    Has anyone done this kind of analysis?

    Further, for those on the grid, having some means of generating supplemental energy at home reduces the overall load on the grid and, if some power is sold to the grid, serves to be a minor source to the rest of the grid; both supply and demand on the grid are improved. The struggle is finding a reasonable ROI for home solar, wind, or other alternative sources.

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  • Sun, Feb 21, 2021 - 11:24am

    Mots

    Mots

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    Joined: Jun 18 2012

    Posts: 416

    1

    electric grid and Jeremy Englands "dissipation-driven adaptation"

    Redneck man

    You raise a good point about the value of decentralized networks.

    I have not seen a comprehensive analysis of local vs top down energy networks but believe that such analysis could be extremely meaningful in the context of Jeremy Englands mathematics/physics of how life evolves.  This is because absorption of energy at many/multiple locations and use locally at those locations qualitatively differs from centralized absorption and then distribution to a larger area before use to create localized order at the expense of increased entropy in the surrounds.  I have a hard time understanding Englands physics but it seems that the quality of localized order at the expense of dissipative entropy in the surrounds (which is a physics way of understanding life) is enhanced by decentralization of the energy gathering and usage.

    I think that this is an extremely important topic and that local grid/decentralized networks for gathering and using energy is a fundamental organizing principle of rebuilding society after the collapse, which has already started.  In other words, there is a physics rationale for local resilient communities.

    Maybe Jeremy England has found a scientific basis for how us small resilient community builders can kick the shit out of the elite.

    I would like to develop these ideas further (with you?) and communicate with members of Englands laboratory..............

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  • Tue, Feb 23, 2021 - 2:36pm

    eek

    eek

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    Govt. has eyes on your well

    We just moved to a lakefront property with a well.  I have inquired about a manual pump, least expensive in 3500$.  We have a deep rock well, 200 ft.  Any suggestions on buying a pump online that we could install ourselves?  We are a little nervous about screwing up the well.

    Thanks for any input.

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  • Tue, Feb 23, 2021 - 2:40pm

    Adam Taggart

    Status: Platinum Member

    Joined: May 25 2009

    Posts: 7556

    4

    Simple Pump

    We've heard favorable reviews over the years from the PP community about the Simple Pump

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  • Tue, Feb 23, 2021 - 2:45pm

    eek

    eek

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    Posts: 22

    0

    Simple Pump

    Thanks Adam.

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  • Tue, Feb 23, 2021 - 4:24pm

    ckessel

    ckessel

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    Joined: Nov 12 2008

    Posts: 212

    4

    ckessel said:

    Hi Eek,

    I installed a Grundfos 11-SQF solar pump back in 2014 on a 200' deep hard rock well that produces about 40 gpm. I installed the pump myself using a 100' length of polypropolene pipe and connected the pump to 4 - 175 watt solar panels. It has produced all the water I need for garden, orchard (1/2 acre), potato patch (about 1/3 acre). It produces close to 7000 gallons per summer day although I only use about half that amount during peak season. The key to your pumping capacity is the static level of your well (my static level is 17' which is unusual).

    The folks at Solar home can help you with the pump curve calculations if needed.

    You can find info here:

    http://www.solarhome.org/submersiblepumps.aspx

    I paid about $2600.00 for it in 2014 and I have had absolutely no trouble with it. And there is a level of comfort knowing that my water supply is completely off grid.

    I do use a storage tank so the well is pumping into the tank during the day when the float switch calls. I irrigate directly from the tank by gravity and have about 18 lbs pressure. I use a booster pump for household pressure.

    Hope this helps.

    Coop

     

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  • Tue, Feb 23, 2021 - 6:50pm

    Redneck Engineer

    Redneck Engineer

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    Network analysis

    Not sure how discussion of entropy connects to networks.

    I was thinking along the lines of comparing efficiency losses (transmission, production, conversion, storage, etc.), network downtime (Bayesian, statistics, MTBF, etc.) on average, behavior under high load conditions, behavior under unexpected production loss simulation (e.g., a few generation plants going down due to some extraneous condition like a severe winter storm) and so on.

    I imaging the folks who design and manage power grids model along these lines. I would imagine this sort of analysis has been done; I just haven't looked into it.

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  • Tue, Feb 23, 2021 - 7:30pm

    eek

    eek

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    Thanks

    I’ll check that out.  Thanks for the response.

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  • Tue, Feb 23, 2021 - 11:42pm

    #82
    Rootman

    Rootman

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    Joined: May 09 2020

    Posts: 106

    1

    2nd hand pump

    I love working on irrigation-and drainage solutions.  However, my budget is limited.  In the Netherlands, a brand new 4 stroke pump, Chinese made of course, can be had for ca E 150.-, even cheaper for lesser power. An electric pump for under E 100.-, and a second hand one for 10.-to 40.-  One or 2 1000 L tanks (2nd hand E 35) can function as storage buffer.  In our country I seldom need a pump due to the frequent rain, but this solution has served me for over  10 years.  I cultivate ca 400 m2.

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  • Wed, Feb 24, 2021 - 2:08am

    VTGothic

    VTGothic

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    Joined: Jan 05 2020

    Posts: 618

    1

    Bison Hand Pump

    I ended up buying a bison pump. Our well is 290' deep, static water level at 65'. The bison is designed for depths over 100' and has a handle extension for easier pumping.

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  • Wed, Feb 24, 2021 - 8:54am

    MKI

    MKI

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    Joined: Jan 12 2009

    Posts: 348

    3

    Simple Pump

    We have a simple pump in a 170 ft deep well. It is installed next to an electrical submersible, set at the same depth. I did the entire installation of both pumps. I use the simple hand pump yearly to make sure everything is fine (and of course I use it in any power outage).

    IMO the hand-pump well is the most critical part of being resilient. Next is a wood stove and canner. Finally, to eat food grown/harvested/killed yourself. Since one can can can food using a wood stove and bowsaw, they can be secure in all the necessities (food, water, shelter) fairly easily. But the well and a hand pump (the simple is the best choice in my long experience) is the key piece so many are lack. I'll never understand why people don't make it their #1 priority when thinking about being resilient.

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  • Wed, Feb 24, 2021 - 9:39am

    stevedaly

    stevedaly

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    Joined: Apr 23 2020

    Posts: 213

    1

    Simple Pump, Bison Pump = Freeze Proof?

    Do you have to drain your prime to prevent a freeze?

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  • Wed, Feb 24, 2021 - 10:23am

    VTGothic

    VTGothic

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    Joined: Jan 05 2020

    Posts: 618

    0

    hand pumps self-bleed

    The bison pump is self-bleeding, so no. I imagine the simple pump is, too.

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  • Wed, Feb 24, 2021 - 11:41am

    MKI

    MKI

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    Joined: Jan 12 2009

    Posts: 348

    0

    hand pumps self-bleed

    I think you asking about draining above the frostline?

    If so, we just use a weep hole 10' downhole in the 1" rolled plastic tubing (that hangs the 1" pump). This can all be done by one person, by hand, in a 200' well (if you are fairly strong, otherwise get help).  Of course, the submersible goes to a pitless adapter that hangs in the well casing, while the Simple Pump hangs from the top of the 6" casing.

    Keep in mind you want the weephole as high as you dare, since you have to pump enough strokes to get water up past the weephole in every use. I live in a very cold clime so I went 10' but if I could redo it I would go 5', since I've actually used the hand pump a lot and that extra 5' pumping is a lot of extra work over time, and it's easy to insulate the ground if freezing becomes a problem but it's not easy to plug a weephole.

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  • Fri, Feb 26, 2021 - 9:46am

    #88
    westcoastjan

    westcoastjan

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    Joined: Jun 04 2012

    Posts: 280

    0

    Free 3 hour virtual workshop on urban farming March 15th

    In case anyone is interested....

    Urban Farmer Workshop

    Join us for a FREE virtual 3-hour workshop on urban farming March 15th at 5PM (Pacific Time) where you could learn about the basic skills needed to run a successful urban farm!

    During this time, we will discuss:

    • Farm design
    • Farm management
    • Farm operations
    • Farm Economics
    • Revenue streams & selling product

    Some of the necessary skills to create your own urban farm include:

    • A strong work ethic and being able to take initiative
    • Enjoying physical work outdoors
    • Organization & time management
    • Customer service
    • Attention to detail
    • A passion for sustainability & food production

    This workshop is hosted by the Food Eco District (FED), in collaboration with TOPSOIL. Additional presentations from the Young Agrarians’ Vancouver Island Land Matcher on land access and the City of Victoria on urban agriculture policy.

     

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  • Fri, Mar 05, 2021 - 5:28am

    #89
    rebel10

    rebel10

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    Joined: Mar 05 2021

    Posts: 2

    0

    Desi Serials

    You are doing a great job and keep this good work. I'm inspired and will try to follow the footsteps.Kepala Bergetar will present your all favoutie malu dramas.Visit us for all latest Malaysian dramas.

    tontonkepala bergetartv3 online                                                                                                                                             drama melayu

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