Saturday, January 31, 2009


I am now living at the cabin. This is a quick post just to update everyone. Wireless running really slow so this is it...will fix tomorrow.

Miss you honey

Monday, January 26, 2009

Seeds Ordered

After some research I have ordered the seeds for this years crops from a reputable seed trust out of Idaho that specializes in mountain growing. Since the "farm" is at roughly 8700 feet I needed high altitude seed varieties that do well in cooler climates with shorter growing seasons. They also had to be non-hybrid (heritage) seeds from organic distributors. I chose High Altitude Gardens, they have seeds from around the world for the coldest climates and shortest seasons.

Here is the garden

BEANS, POLE - Northeaster
BEANS, BUSH - Montana Green
PEAS - Montana Marvel
PEAS, SNAP - Sugarsnap
CORN, SWEET - Extra Early Bantam
PEPPERS, BELL - Early Mountain Wonder
RADISH, French Breakfast
CARROTS - Kuroda Chanteney
CARROTS - Kinko 6

TOMATO, EARLY - Sub-arctic Plenty
TOMATO, CHERRY - Whippersnapper Cherry

MELON - Minnesota Midget Cantelope
MELON - Sugar Baby Watermelon

LETTUCE, GREEN LEAF - Black Seeded Simpson
LETTUCE, BUTTERHEAD - Buttercrunch Bibb

SUNFLOWER, WILD - Helianthus annus

I am still researching the onions, potatoes and cucumbers but should have varieties and vendors selected soon.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Congress Considers Bear Ridge Proposal

On December 2nd 2008 the Bear Ridge Project proposed a "Common Sense Automaker Bailout" that revolved around giving vouchers to American citizens to purchase new fuel efficient vehicles in an effort to jump start the economy. Now it appears that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif is pushing my proposal.
Congress considers ‘cash for clunkers’ proposal
Owners of old gas hogs would get $4,500 to have them taken off the road

Congress is mulling a proposal to pay people to get rid of those old gas guzzlers sitting in their driveways.

Under legislation introduced Wednesday in both the House and Senate and called the "Cash for Clunkers" program, drivers could get vouchers of up to $4,500 when they turn in their old fuel-inefficient vehicles for scrapping and buy vehicles that get good gas mileage.

People could also turn in their old cars for vouchers that could be used to ride public buses and trains.

The bill, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., "would be an important part of helping getting America's struggling automobile industry back on its feet, and help consumers who are concerned about covering the cost of buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle."

Taking gas guzzlers off the road, added Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a co-sponsor, "would reduce our dependence on foreign oil, decrease greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate the economy."

The proposal will only work if it creates American manufacturing jobs. If I get called before Congress to testify will I have to buy new pants?

GM had a great electric car in the 90's. It was killed off by oil and car lobbies. This is a documentary that explains what happened...Who Killed The Electric Car?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

2009 Garden Start

I have started working on the 2009 garden. Here is what I am planning taking into consideration the short growing season and less then fertile soil. I have most of the seeds but still need to pick up a few high altitude varieties. Everything will be planted directly in the ground or in raised beds depending on soil conditions. The growing season is from roughly June 1st through mid September, hopefully I can extend it with small hothouses.

Pole Bean


Cantaloupe (maybe)
Watermelon (maybe)

Tomatoes (containers)

Lettuce (late season)

Sunflowers (grow wild)
Mushrooms (maybe)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Night Vision Update

If you are looking to keep track of the crazy neighbor down the road the EyeClops Night Vision Infrared Stealth Goggles might not be your best investment. On the other hand if you are out to keep the Chupacabras from eating the chickens and molesting the dogs they will work fine.

Took a hike late Saturday night with the goggles just to see how well they preformed on the move. Long story short it was bad. The full moon really sharpened the surroundings on low power but the narrow field vision made walking difficult. The limitations actually heightened my paranoia, you just don't know what is in your peripheral.

Now, the EyeClops Night Vision Infrared Stealth Goggles did preform really well watching a stationary target. For monitoring a hen house, shed or trail from a single point they work great. You are able to focus on a small area and your peripheral does not really play into it although you should always be mindful of what is around you.

So take it for what it is worth. The EyeClops Night Vision Infrared Stealth Goggles are a cheap alternative to high dollar night vision rigs.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Night Vision

Being a city boy by heart one of the strangest experiences for me is the absolute darkness you find when the sun goes down in the valley. Even in rural America you have the pole light attached to the side of the barn or the ambient glow from a nearby town, there is always some light. Not at the cabin, occasionally four distant lights make dots by the lake roughly six miles away, otherwise complete blackness. Great star viewing but there is the uneasiness of the unknown in the shadows.

I have grown accustom to the singing coyotes and foraging deer that come out after sunset and the occasional thud against the cabin wall no longer gets me out of bed at night. Still you always wounder what is out want to see.

A few years ago I bought this night vision monocular from Harbor Freight for about a hundred bucks. It was fun but horrible quality and had focal problems. Difficult to steady, more of a toy than a true survival tool. Anyway it was stolen during the breaking last year.

I was doing some research on night vision technologies the other day cause I really want to replace the monocular before I move down. I wanted goggles...very expensive. The more I looked the more a certain model kept popping up. These were not high end military night vision goggles as a matter of fact they are a toy...but everyone loved them.

EyeClops Night Vision Infrared Stealth Goggles are a kids toy but they actually work really well...and you can see clearly in the dark. They have two setting low, which uses passive infrared technology to give a decent night image and high that uses a set of infrared lights to illuminate out fifty plus feet. Honestly just like daylight great quality picture.

$58 On Clearance!

Only one eye has a monitor so they are not true binocular vision but they strap to your head leaving the hands free. The field of vision is somewhat limited but the picture is crystal clear, in focus and static free. Very bright, very sharp image. If you are looking for a cheap night vision rig this works. Saturday night I will try it out on a hike and let you know.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ammo Can Heat Sink

I have decided to use 30 MM ammo cans filled with water for a heat sink wall in the sunroom. The cans measure 18 1/2" long by 9 1/2" deep by 14 1/2" tall and hold about 10.5 gallons of water apiece. They are stacked 3 high against the rear wall. During the day they sit in the sun absorbing heat. In the evenings they radiate that energy back into the room keeping the plants warm and saving on heating costs.

The ammo cans are painted black and the metal conducts heat through to the water much more efficiently than plastic walled drums. The cans filled with water are heavy but easily moved. A steel drum would have been adequate but difficult to shift with the seasons and would sit awkwardly against the wall. The square shape of the ammo can is optimal for lining the walls. Minimal space with maximum heat gain.

I tested this last winter and it works. I will get some pictures up as soon as I can.

Pick up your own surplus ammo box and cut your heating costs.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

13 Companies Hiring

2008 saw a loss of over 1.2 million jobs in the United States and forecasters are predicting a conservative 2 million job will disappear in 2009. Career Builders had an interesting article today about 13 companies that will be hiring next year. What I find interesting are the types of companies that are experiencing growth and the possible ramifications to our society at large.

General Corporation Growth (2)


Chain of convenience stores with locations throughout the United States and Canada.

When people are broke and living day to day they tend to shop at places like 7-Eleven rather than buying groceries every week. If 7-Eleven is expanding then you can expect the downturn to continue.

Banfield (corporate veterinary services)

The world's largest private veterinary practice. We have a longstanding reputation for attracting highly-skilled, compassionate veterinarians who possess extensive knowledge regarding the most current advancements in Pet health care.

Veterinary care is one of the few areas left that has not been raped by corporate advances. That is changing expect fewer vets and diminished care for your pets.

Insurance/Health Care (5)

Farmers Insurance (insurance)
HealthMarkets (insurance)
State Farm (insurance)

Universal Health Care promised by the government is really Mandatory Health Insurance. So higher heath care cost for the American citizen and more profits for Insurance companies.

Gentiva Health Services (inhome heath care)

Gentiva is the nation's largest home health care services firm. The company provides home nursing care through a network of more than 300 locations in 38 states. Gentiva's home care nurses provide services ranging from acute care treatment to housekeeping for the elderly or disabled.

Hospital closures and people being turned away from nursing homes.

Sutter Health (health care)

Sutter Health serves as your partner in facilitating employee lifestyle behavior change towards better health. At Sutter Health Partners, our primary focus is on keeping your employees and your business healthy. Sutter Health Partners provides advice on overall health promotion design and management but our greatest asset is our high-touch Wellness Coaching team. In a time when health care costs are spiraling out of control, prevention is a sound investment.

Wellness coaching will probably be part of any Mandatory Health Insurance Scheme.

Defense Contractors (2)

ITT Corporation (defense contractors)

ITT Corporation provides critical support in the following areas Electronic Warfare, Sensing and Surveillance, Intelligence and Information Warfare, Command and Control Systems, Undersea Warfare, Space Warfare and Surveillance

URS Corporation (defense contractors)

URS provides critical support to the Departments of Defense (DoD), Homeland Security (DHS) and Energy (DOE), as well as to National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal agencies.

Expect continued and escalating wars as well as increased domestic surveillance of American citizens.

Auto Reconditioning (1)

M.A.R.S. International (auto reconditioning - franchise based)

MARS International specializes in TOTAL automotive appearance reconditioning. Our technicians make pre-owned vehicles look and feel new by repairing bumpers, removing scratches, and providing a number of services that go beyond typical detailing capabilities such as stain and odor removal.

Recondition used cars. The Big Three are gone and used cars will be the predominate market.

Lawn/Garden Care (2)

ServiceMaster/TruGreen (cleaning and lawn care)

TruGreen® is the world's largest lawn and landscape company. It started as a small private company in 1974 and now serves more than 3.5 million residential and commercial customers across the U.S. with lawn care, tree and shrub care, and landscaping services.

Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (lawn care)

ScottsMiracle-Gro is dedicated to a beautiful world with industry-leading lawn, garden and outdoor living products and services. Through our innovation focus, strong retailer relationships and drive to improve the consumer experience, we have been instrumental in growing the $8 billion global consumer lawn and garden market and enhancing our leadership position.

Fertilizers and support for the massive upswing in home vegetable gardens.

Accounting/Auditing (1)

PricewaterhouseCoopers (Accounting/Auditing)

PricewaterhouseCoopers provides industry-focused services for public and private clients. Our experienced staff, combined with our global network, allow us to provide the support you

need—wherever you need it, at home and abroad, whatever the size of your organization.

Giant accounting firm set to clean up untangling the accounting voodoo of the past eight years. Many mergers and bankruptcies in 2009. New regulations to be implemented.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Brass Horde

Historically the Golden Horde represents the armies and territories of the Mongol Empire as they spread across Eastern Europe and Russia pillaging the wealth and enslaving people to further their conquests. The Survivalist movement recognizes the Golden Horde as the loosely organized mass of urban refugees streaming out of the cities in search of food and shelter after a calamitous event or societal collapse. This mindless throng would overwhelm local defenses violently stripping the rural countryside of resources destroying everything in its path.

I am not worried about this great Golden Horde moving across the land raping and looting as they consume all my beans and wreck my lawn. They will never reach me and I am not in a resource rich environment. I am worried about the bugged out survivalists encamped in the trailers down the road who's idea of preparedness is 40,000 rounds of ammo and a can of barbecue Vienna sausages. I call these unbalanced groups the Brass Horde.

The Brass Hordes have the resources to reach me entrenching themselves a few miles from my house. These groups neglected survival consumables but are obnoxiously well armed. When their minimal supplies run out they will turn to the guns and ammo. These are the groups I worry about. Below is an example.

The Brass Horde at least tried to prepare. They had a plan to leave the city, some supplies and a large stockpile of weapons. Their intent was to relocate to a remote site as a group and hunt for food. The small group is made up of family and close friends occupying the trailers used to escape the city. Unfortunately their resources are limited and unwisely thought out.

At first they have good luck taking a deer and several rabbits for a stew, all looks good. But after a week or so their water rations are getting low and their expensive filter systems are useless on the frozen lake. They are able to melt some water over the fire pit and on propane stoves but this consumes critical resources. Most of their daily man hours are spent collecting and transporting ice blocks to melt for water. The meat is running low, they are exhausted.

The Horde elders decide that a couple of the women should visit a nearby cabin and ask to fill their water jugs. The established local, not wanting to seem rude, invites the ladies into the warm cabin...the aroma of fresh baked bread fills the air. Warm cinnamon rolls and hot coffee are served over light conversation next to the wood stove. The ladies fill their water jugs from the solar powered well, thanked the local and reluctantly venture back out into the cold, it was the first time they had truly been warm since leaving the city.

That evening the women huddled around the fire telling the others of their days experience. A strong north wind brought frigid temperatures and a heavy snow started around sundown...the Horde retired to their campers to weather the night.

Then the propane runs out!

The temperatures quickly plunge after the heater went out in the far north trailer of the circled compound. The father whose survival skills were honed by many hours watching the discovery channel, decided to start a small wood fire in the oven to keep his family of four warm. The ensuing inferno consumed two of their trailers and damaged the other six as over 10,000 rounds of ammo cooked off in the conflagration.

In the blinding snow the elders huddled for warmth around the smoldering ruins of their grand scheme...they knew what had to be done. After arming themselves and securing the women folk and children in the remaining heated camper, the horde took off for the neighbors cabin. The howling winds of the blizzard masked their plunder as they made off with six twenty pound bottles of propane, a chainsaw and five gallons of gas. The blowing snow filled their tracks as they retreated back to the compound confident in their escape.

Unbeknown to the Brass Horde the local had witnessed the entire thing from the warmth of the bedroom after being alerted by his growling dogs. Shouldering his gun he realized that confrontation was dangerous against eight heavily armed men and there was a good change he would die if shooting started. The local also realized that this was the first of many visits by the armed bandits who, made confident by their guns, would steal what they failed to store through proper he started baking cookies.

"Good morning, I have fresh cookies and hot coffee" shouted the local from his truck as he pulled into the Horde's compound. "You all look like you could use a treat on this cold morning" he continued. The men leerily looked at each other assuming that the local man had not yet discovered the robbery and was just being a good neighbor. The local waved and yelled "God Bless You" as he drove away. Over their snacks and wicked strong coffee the Horde laughed at how easy a target this cookie baking fairy would be...

Looking through the rifle scope from his vantage point in on the hill he saw no movement...the last one fell several hours ago.

Later that evening the local man returned to the compound, collected the bodies and placed them neatly in the largest trailer. Gathering the stolen items plus the Hordes guns and abundant ammunition for barter he proceeded to pour gas in each of the remaining campers then burned everything to the ground. Cyanide in the coffee and cookies.

A heavy snow that night covered over the remains and the evident "mass suicide" was not discovered until later that springs. It was chalked up to collapse related further investigation.

This past elk season there was an encampment like the one mentioned above down the road from me, they stayed for ten days. Of course I had to run the what if scenarios through my mind. And just cause you will ask no I did not poison them.

How would you have handled the group? What would you have done differently?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Window Swap

A fews years back I installed four huge picture windows across the north side of the house. The windows are six foot tall by five wide and really open the house up to the mountain and lake views. At the time I was not spending a lot to time there during the deep winter so I opted for insulated double paned windows with no "low-e" coatings.

Low-e coatings, which are microscopically thin layers of metallic oxide that's bonded to the surface of a window's glass, are so thin you can see right through them yet they prevent heat and ultra-violet (UV) rays from passing through glass. The result? A window with low-e glass does a better job keeping heat in during the winter and out during the summer.

Unfortunately these large windows are horrible at keeping the cold out and the heat in. I could stand outside within a foot of the window and feel heat radiating through. It feels nice on a cold day but I really want that heat trapped inside. To mitigate this large fleece blanks are hung over them at night but there is still significant heat lose during the day.

I picked up 4 six foot tall by five wide windows on clearance at Lowes for the south side sunroom. They were originally priced at $489 apiece but were returned and marked down to $21 each. Really cool with top and bottom can leave the top open and close the bottom protecting the dogs and keeping unwanted critters out.

To my dismay after installing the heavy monsters I realized that they were low-e windows so efficient that no heat actually made it into the sunroom. This completely defeated the purpose. They were so effective that the sunroom was colder than standing outside in the direct sunlight.

Over the weekend we switched out the two sets of windows. Moving the clear picture windows with little insulating properties from the front to the sunroom on the south side of the cabin and replacing them with the highly efficient rear windows. A necessary pain.

I tell you I am stunned by the outcome. The low-e windows placed on the north side of the house not only hold heat but are aesthetically pleasing adding a lodge like warmth to the great and only room. It was cold outside and the new windows held the heat really well through the night. I got the temperature up to around 80 degrees at midnight and let the wood stove burn down. At six the next morning it was still 65 degrees without any heat overnight. I was very happy, this will save a great deal of money.

I am equally pleased with the clear windows now on the sunroom. The suns rays pass through and heat everything on the inside. This is gonna make the plants very happy and give an additional heat source once the large barrels of water are installed as heat sinks.

The only issue we found was that the newer windows were about 3/4 of an inch shorter than the old ones. This was easily remedied with some shimming and prying.

All windows are not created equally...use the correct tool for the job.

A great backup heating source is the Mr Heater Big Buddythis portable heater's output adjusts from 4000 to 18,000 BTU with the capacity to heat up to 400 square feet for up to 108 hours on one twenty pound bottle of propane. The Mr Heater Big Buddy also has an efficient built in fan to start warming the house when the wood stove is heating up. Great Survival Heater I highly recommend it!!!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Wood Delivery

Next to passive solar burning wood is the most efficient heat source available. If you have timber nearby a great deal of money can be saved each season by cutting and splitting your own wood. I plan on culling my own firewood over the next year hopefully reducing my heating cost to virtually nothing. Unfortunately I am not ahead of the curve and am purchasing some wood for this winter.

I found a relatively local source and bought two cords of wood from them on Friday. After meeting in town, the guys followed me out to the cabin...directions can be difficult when you don't have an address. They delivered two full cords of Ponderosa Pine split and no more than 18 inches in length. A cord of wood is 4x4x8 foot in volume this batch cost $150 per cord.

Most are good sized pieces that will burn for a long time, especially at night with the stove dampered down. Up to this point I have burned cedar, white pine and building scraps. This is by far the best wood I have ever used.

Ain't that a sexy orange car!

Cut your own firewood and save tons in heating costs with a Chain Saw. Don't let the power companies screw you over any longer.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

The big move is still on for January but not the first. My contract was extended for a few more weeks and seeing how I won't be working in corporate America for a paycheck any longer it seemed prudent to suck up as much cash as possible. So I am pushing the date out to the second or third week of January. This is unfortunate seeing that I am crawling the walls but really it is the right thing to do.

December was a relatively productive month. Got the insulated floor installed and wood stove reconfigured to produce more heat with a longer burn. Basically I built a damper and changed out the first couple of chimney pipe sections with black pipe. Huge difference especially with the insulated floor. My new (old) wood stove has some cracks around the door so I will need figure out how to fix or relegate the beast to trash burning duties. The partner finished up the compost bin.

We are heading down this weekend to switch out the super insulated sunroom windows with the uninsulated picture windows on the front of the cabin. They are all the same size. The window I picked up on clearance for the sunroom are great with a good low-e coating sadly they are so good at insulating no heat gets in from the sun. So we swap them, big job but necessary.

I was also flirting with the idea of purchasing another piece of land out on the valley floor. They are flat and covered with sagebrush, pretty much just junk land...views are great but no trees. The old boy I bought my land from was selling the 5 acre lots for $2800. Prefect for building EarthShips which I am interested in but frankly don't have the time yet. Maybe next year I will do some more research on it and let you know.

Take care everyone and Happy New Year