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  1. greywater

    Photo: Root Simple

    Nature knows no waste. Humans? Think of all that perfectly good water that flows down the sewer out of our laundry machines. Why not harness that laundry water to grow food? Of all the projects I’ve attempted on our modest urban homestead, reusing our laundry greywater was one of the simplest. In this post, you’ll learn how to reuse laundry greywater. I’ll share a useful greywater resource and describe the systems I installed at my house and the house of a neighbor.

    Before heading to the hardware store for plumbing parts, you’ve got to answer two questions:  “How much laundry does my household do in a week?” and “Where am I going to send that water?” For me, in both of the installations I describe, the answer was to send the laundry greywater to fruit trees. For food safety reasons, vegetables are not a good destination for greywater. Fruit trees, on the other hand, thrive with greywater. If you’ve got a big household and a lot of laundry, plant some more fruit trees. Fruit trees can be pruned to keep them compact, so you don’t need much space to create your own mini-orchard.

    Greywater expert and author Art Ludwig has detailed an easy to understand free plans you can find on the laundry to landscape section of his website Oasis Designs. These are the plans I used to install the laundry to landscape system at a neighbor’s house several years ago, which have transformed a hot and dry side yard into a lush landscape of fruit trees and native plants.

    three way diverter valve

    Three way diverter valve. Photo: Ludwig/Root Simple.

    Ludwig’s laundry to landscape system is simple. You send the drain hose of the washing machine to a three-way diverter valve (Ludwig sells a nice brass one on his website). This allows you the choice to send the water back to the sewer in the wintertime, if it’s raining outside, or if you’re doing a load with bleach or diapers. While the diverter valve is expensive at around $50, it’s well worth it for the convenience of being able to easily shift between landscape and sewer.

    From the diverter valve, one set of 1-inch pipes leads to the sewer and the other leads to the landscape. On the side that runs to the landscape, Ludwig recommends installing a backflow preventer (some laundry machines can suck water back, and you don’t want that to happen). You also need to install a vent, and means to hook up a hose to clear the line of lint. See Ludwig’s plan for details.

    Once the line is out in the landscape, you have the option of sending all the water to one place or creating a sort of pressurized drip system by punching holes in the pipe. Ludwig created a spreadsheet that details the size and number of the holes you can punch in the pipe. At my neighbor’s house, there are around ten holes in the pipe that irrigate a line of fruit trees and flowering shrubs.

    You can use either PVC pipe or flexible HDPE pipe. PVC is a bit of a chemical nightmare, but it’s what I went with since I couldn’t find HDPE line in less than huge quantities in my area. Note that you must use pipe that is 1-inch or greater. Do not try to hook a laundry machine directly to a garden hose. Doing so will burn out your laundry machine’s pump.

    greywater tank

    Greywater 1.0. It ain’t pretty but it works. Photo: Root Simple.

    Greywater 1.0
    I’m still using an earlier Ludwig design at my home. Rather than sending a pipe directly into the yard, my washing machine greywater discharges into a 55 gallon drum. I have a standard garden hose hooked up to the bottom of the drum that I drag around the yard. The advantage to this design is that I have more flexibility in where I can send the water. The disadvantages? You need gravity to do this (my house is on a hill). And the garden hose plugs up with lint frequently. Ludwig no longer recommends this configuration, but it has worked well for me.


    • You need to use a detergent formulated for greywater use. Note that many “eco” detergents have ingredients (like boron and borax) that are toxic to terrestrial plants. I’ve been using Oasis Biocompatible that I order from Amazon. You can also use soap nuts.
    • If you have absent-minded members of your household who might send a load of bleach out to your orchard you should consider a lock on the three-way diverter.
    • Nobody has ever gotten sick from greywater in the US. That being said, you should avoid loads with diapers. And don’t use greywater for vegetables or lawns.
    • Never store greywater. It goes rancid really quickly. Send it straight out to the garden. The valve on the bottom of my greywater tank is never closed.
    • Keep it simple. Avoid the expense and maintenance duties of pumps and filters. They aren’t needed.
    • I’m in balmy Los Angeles. If you’re in a place where it freezes, you will need to drain the outdoor lines and/or bury lines beneath the frost line.
    • Send greywater out to mulch basins. The mulch will help filter and soak up excess water.
    • Since washing machines pump out their water, you can force the discharge uphill to some extent. But be careful. Go uphill too much and you risk burning out the washing machine’s pump. According to Ludwig you can “irrigate any distance downhill, or pump up to an elevation 2’ below the top of the washer 100’ away.”

    The Law
    Laws in the US regarding greywater vary widely. Some states allow laundry to landscape without a permit and others treat greywater as sewage. Ludwig has a state by state listing of greywater laws. If there’s any risk that authorities might bust your greywater party, install the system after building inspectors have left and be discreet. Our system was illegal until 2009, when California amended the plumbing code to allow laundry to landscape without a permit, and nobody noticed or cared.

    Have you installed a laundry to landscape system? How has it worked for you? Have you worked with other greywater sources such as your shower or kitchen sink?

    The post "Laundry to Landscape: How to Reuse Laundry Greywater" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.



  2. LvsChant

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    The Homestead... starting a new phase of life.

    The Homestead… starting a new phase of life.

     My husband and I live on our own piece of land in southeastern New Mexico, along with our two teenage boys. He retired last year from his job at age 51; when we moved here and began building our own home, with the plan to be able to live on his retirement and be fairly self-sufficient on our own land.

     We have no mortgage, no car payments, no credit card balances (beyond what we plan to pay off each month) and no plans to get into any debt. We live on about 33% of the income we had before my husband’s retirement with no problem.

     The thing is…we were far from this only a few years ago. We had the big suburban house in a neighborhood with restrictive covenants, a big mortgage, and a high cost of living that is very common to many Americans, only three years ago. The difference is that we made a significant change in our focus and personal plan.

     Granted, we weren’t in the kind of bad financial shape many folks are, even before we made the change. We hadn’t financed a car since the mid 90’s, didn’t carry huge credit card debt, or have a terribly extravagant lifestyle. However, we did have the huge 30-year mortgage and no plans for early retirement. Our house owned us and kept us enslaved to the high costs of maintenance and taxation. It provided nothing for us in terms of production.

     Day to Day Lifestyle Changes

     About 2009, I began listening to Jack Spirko’s podcasts regularly, joined the TSP forum, and began learning from more experienced preppers. My husband and I became convinced that we needed to make a change in lifestyle to allow us to completely change our path. We needed to save every penny we could to allow the purchase/construction of a debt free homestead.

     The changes at first were very subtle. We just stopped wasting money on things we didn’t need. Eating out became a fairly rare occurrence. We just cooked food at home – every day. I began to be more of a frugal shopper and planner, stocking up on foods we ate when they were on sale and storing more food in the pantry and freezer. This alone made a huge difference in our monthly expenses – and in how much money I could put aside into savings each month.

     We began to seriously think about each purchase we made, considering whether we’d rather save the money toward the homestead or just spend it now…you can guess where most of the money went, right? Each month we were able to save more and more from the take-home pay and the nest egg began to build.


    Making the Plans

    Batter boards for the foundation.

    Batter boards for the foundation.

     We also knew that we had to change the focus of our plans for the future, so we began looking for suitable property to use for our homestead. We did some searches on various states that had reasonable property taxes, productive land, etc. In the end, we decided it was more important to be close to family, so returned home to New Mexico. The land is very dry, but the growing season is long, so the potential for good food production is there, as long as we have access to water. We finally found five acres that are reasonably close to town for convenience, yet outside the city for taxation and no homeowners’ association or restrictions. We purchased it (cash) when we were still living in the big suburban house. Immediately we had a well drilled and capped on the land. We didn’t want any possibility of a problem with having our own well due to future water rights legislation.

     For us, it made sense to also build a small workshop with some amenities. Our plan was to live in a travel trailer while building the main home. We hired out the construction of the workshop out to a local builder, who completed it before we returned to New Mexico. In order to make life more comfortable, the workshop was equipped with a full bathroom/shower and washer/dryer hookups. To do this, we also got all infrastructure installed – electricity, pump/pressure tank for the well, septic system, cable (for internet service). We paid cash for this. We could have built this much less expensively ourselves, but we just didn’t think we could stand living out there without the basics covered before we started.

     Next, we had to figure out the best way to rid ourselves of the home mortgage albatross. That big home cost us nearly $8,000 per year in property taxes alone. Consider the interest payment on the mortgage and you can see money dropping down a rat hole at an alarming rate.

     My husband was in a career field that had a mandatory retirement after 30 years’ service. Most people in that career field apply for and receive a waiver for that so that they can continue to work up to either age 56 or 60. He let it be known that he had no intention of requesting the waiver. His employer then transferred him to a position across the country for his last assignment before retirement. With this transfer came a relocation package, and a home buyout option. Even though we lost money on the house, we took the relocation offer and got free of the mortgage.

     Although we had to rent a house at the new place, it was much less than the cost of a mortgage, homeowners’ insurance, and property tax – that much more to save before retirement.

    Checking the plan

     For years, we had been living well…with a fairly high income. With the planned retirement, our income would be steady, but very low in comparison. We had to find out if it was a feasible plan. We calculated what the retirement income would be after taxes, healthcare deductions, etc. Then, except for the monthly rent payment, we made ourselves live on no more than the income we would have after retirement. Since this was only about 1/3 the take-home income, it meant we would potentially be able to save two-thirds of the monthly income for the rest of his work time.

     So, the plan had two purposes:

     1)      See if it was feasible to assume we could make it on the retirement income without finding other employment

    2)      Save the extra money so that we could build our house without a mortgage once the retirement came.

     In short order, it became obvious that we were able to live just fine on the 33% (which made me realize that we had been very foolish with our money for many years). This, along with the equity from our home sale, provided the money set aside for building a home free and clear. We essentially had nearly two years’ salary set aside for the building project when we began.

    Can you do this?

     I think many people could do the same thing with their plans. No one has exactly the same situation, but the general idea would work for anyone. Obviously, if your situation involves more current debt, it will take you a bit longer to save up the nest egg. Here’s how I would boil our plan down:

     1)      Decide as a family that you want to be debt free.

    2)      Make the monthly spending changes to rid yourself of current debt as follows:

    a.       Consumer debt (pay smallest balance first, then snowball to the biggest)

    b.      Student loans (these things will never leave you…get rid of them)

    c.       Mortgage (Once the consumer and student debt is gone – pay it off as soon as possible or sell the house if you need to)

    3)      Start a savings plan for the homestead

    a.       Reduce consumer spending

    b.      Eat at home

    c.       No buying on credit

    d.      Become a more frugal shopper

    e.       Live on the amount of income you’ll have at retirement only – save the rest

    4)      Determine the retirement location

    a.       Analyze taxation, growing season, location relative to friends/family

    b.      Purchase the land (or house and land – as your situation demands)

    c.       Begin work on the homestead as time/money allow

                                                                  i.      Dig well

                                                                ii.      Install septic system

                                                              iii.      Build/install other infrastructure needed (electricity, internet, gas lines, propane)

                                                              iv.      Consider building small outbuilding to assist with living during construction.

                                                                v.      Design the home, using current materials costs to estimate what it will really take. If you plan to subcontract most of the work out, you must save a lot more before you start. We ended up doing most of our own work in order to stay within the budget and ended up with a building cost of about $67/sf.

    It is not easy to do this…I won’t lie to you. It’s been a hard fifteen months of building. Perhaps you need to plan to live in a rented house or apartment instead of living in a travel trailer, to save your sanity/marriage. The travel trailer living was much harder than I imagined. Just build your plan accordingly.

     This was our plan…yours will look different, I am sure. But if you are willing to make the changes now in your life, you can live your life much differently than other folks can in the future. You can make your homestead work for you instead of the other way around. You can have less stress in your life without debt and high taxation, if you choose. You can have time to do things that truly interest you, instead of being tied forever to a job just to make it.

    Home on The Homestead.

    Home on The Homestead.

     We have been (and will continue to be) documenting our plans and struggles at our website: The Homestead…Starting a New Phase of Life.

    The post "Can You Make the Change?" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.


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    How much drinking water storage do you have? When did you last replenish/recycle your drinking water storage? Regardless of the claims made by the company that provided the water “preservative” you used in order to secure a shelf-life for your water, it is recommended that you cycle through your water storage and replenish it every 6-12 months.

    Notice that I am strictly discussing drinking water storage and not general use water that will not be consumed internally. General water storage can be cycled through at longer intervals if desired.

    Naturally, people always wonder why this cycling out is recommended…especially those of us with large quantities stored. (It’s no cheap endeavor.) Here are some reasons why I do it yearly:

    1. Cycling out my water ensures the integrity of my water. I like to save money everywhere I can, but on matters of sustaining life and ensuring critical functionality in crises, I will not scrimp. Over the last few years, I have come across a handful of individuals who thought that their water storage was in perfectly consumable condition, only to discover their storage had turned to non-potable quality. Some of the bung seals had cracked due to improper application, a non-secured seal, or poor protection from environmental elements. Another culprit was unauthorized access by a curious household member. This person had opened up the container and closed it, essentially cross-contaminating the water and not informing anyone. Tisk, tisk, tisk.

      Use the water you are cycling out to run through your water purifier/filter & drink it, water the garden, wash the car, rinse off garden tools, hydrate & wash the pets, or re-allocate that water as general-use storage and fill a new drinking water storage container to build up your supply!

    2. “Take care of your tools & they’ll take care of you.” This is a no-brainer and the primary reason that many of us like to “rough-it” every once in a while. I like spontaneous campouts in the backyard or somewhere locally to test out gear and ensure its deliverability. This also gives others within my family (or group) a chance to learn, test, and socialize. Most importantly, it has helped me refine gear or methods for future applications. I have discovered gear that I will not purchase again and recommend that others avoid acquiring. I have also discovered products that required more frequent inspection, such as my Coleman grill/stove combo. One of the O-rings had to be replaced and I had not noticed it after I had previously used, then stored, it. Lesson learned.
    3. Habits are formed through repeated action. My wife and I have three wonderful children who are eager to see and do almost anything that they observe us doing. Our boy Joshua absolutely loves helping me break-down tools to clean, inspect, and oil them, so do our two daughters. It’s more than neat to then watch them internalize those principles and do the same to their toys and tools. We all enjoy the same excitement when we get together in the kitchen or go pick fruits/vegetables from the yard. Beyond the individual discipline that I need by forming healthy habits, these behaviors become a legacy-mindset to our posterity and like-minded friends. I learn directly from observing others as well. One of the greatest joys of life is the bonding that emerges as individuals participate in collective learning experiences.

    Clearly, the reasons for cycling out my drinking water storage are based on principles that extend far beyond that commodity. I approach Self-Reliance with the idea that principles and laws found in nature extend into all aspects of Life. Our challenge is to adapt and apply those guiding lights to the particular project(s) we presently pursue…and then share them.

    The post "Why Refill My Water Storage?" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.


  3. Surfivor

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    A yurt is an ancient Mongolian structure that is pretty portable, at least compared to a cabin. Yurts typically have doors and a lattice wall. The lattice wall can be folded up. Mongolian hunters used yurt frames to protect themselves from tigers indicating that the wall is very strong.  Yurtinfo.org seems to indicate people live in yurts in Alaska where there are a lot of big bears. One bear tried to get into a yurt, but only tore some of the fabric.

    The Yurt enabled the Mongols to move seasonally. There are some books and online materials on how to build your own yurt, I did study some of those, but this Yurt here was built by a Yurt company. The most challenging part of yurt construction seems to be to fit the canvas to the frame and center ring construction. The platform was not trivial either, but that is optional for some yurts or may vary as to how it’s done.  You can buy the canvas part premade. The canvas needs to be replaced after 10 years or so. The roof part of the canvas I have is guaranteed for 15 years from Colorado Yurt company.

    An idea that has some appeal is, if you had someplace where you could set up a yurt for several months, say in Alaska, Montana, New Mexico; in that case, a smaller yurt between 11 and 16 feet seems an ideal size to load onto a small utility trailer. A 16 foot yurt has about 200 square feet of space.

    The day the Yurt went up in late November 2010…I spent many weekends that summer clearing trees and removing stumps in order to build a driveway and a place for the yurt.


    I made these very rustic stairs into the yurt using white cedar. The carpenter ants seem to not bother with it too much. Other kinds of wood scraps I felt I needed to move away from the yurt. Originally I thought I’d store scrap wood under the yurt, but that ended up seeming like not a good idea. There’s a bunch of black plastic you can see here because I am trying to get rid of some Japanese Knotweed growing on the property.


    The yurt has some big roll up windows for ventilation, but I never hooked up the electricity. It’s, on average, 5 degrees cooler there than down in Massachusetts, but we had a heat wave recently. I built this makeshift table out of some cedar logs, a piece of plywood, and some boards. I used it to cook on with my wood burning rocket stove, as it got too hot in the yurt to cook for my tastes.


    As you can see, the floor is elevated off of the ground a few feet. I put hardware cloth around the sides to discourage animals from living underneath. What looks uneven here is a large door I installed, in case I wanted to store large items under the yurt; however, it tends to get very wet under there in the spring or winter. The floor is attached to concrete blocks that just sit on the ground. I was told the circular structure is very stable the way it distributes its weight.

                                                                                                            The stovepipe on the inside has a protective plate.

                     IMG_0108             IMG_0107


    IMG_0087             IMG_0101

    Vertical 2×6 supports are part of the snow and wind protection. Zone 4B in Maine can easily get 4 feet of snow. The snow usually just slides off, but, to be safe, I ordered extra thick rafters and the snow load kit. Sometimes it’s fun to fire up the wood stove and see if you can get the snow to melt enough to slide off the roof with a big “swoosh” sound.

    Though I was told it was unnecessary, I added this deadman center piece for additional protection of snow loads. It’s jammed in at the floor with wedge-shaped pieces of wood and only held to the center ring with bungee cords, as well as the force of the wedges from below. The center skylight helps to add natural ambient light to the yurt and, of course, you can see some stars and moonlight coming in.


    The walls have removable insulative panels that are composed of reflective foil and an air bubble wrap. I insulated the floor with 18 inches of fiberglass-like insulation material. Using a small wood stove, the yurt seems best suited to 3 season use or winter weekends where the temperature is fairly above zero degrees Fahrenheit, at least for my tastes. It works for me in that I can take a week-long vacation up there most anytime of year, except the coldest part of  the winter.


    Many of the trees on the lot are medium-sized due to the land was logged at one time. I was able to create a number of clearings with a chainsaw using the chop and drop approach. In these clearings, I planted some groundnuts, small fruit trees and so on. This hugel bed has compost with not enough topsoil, but raspberry transplants from my mother’s house are becoming heavily established. These raspberries originally came from my grandfather in Connecticut, but there are plenty of wild ones growing on the property as well.


    Jack Spirko discussed groundnuts in a podcast episode with a title that was something like “10 wild edibles to plant.” I had read about groundnuts a little as a kid in a wild edibles book, but I had never seen any. Jack pointed out groundnuts have protien and carbohydrates, which greatly caught my attention. I ordered a bunch of tubers from Sand Mountain Herbs and, from the plants that sprouted from those, I was able to identify groundnuts in the wild. Here is just one big batch of tubers I harvested recently from the banks of a river in Maine with some pretty big ones in there.


    I’ve gotten better at finding ideal spots to dig tubers. These tubers are mainly going to be used for more plantings, as well as to trade with someone from another part of the country. Apparently there are a few different varieties of groundnut, some have more dense tubers or larger tubers, some don’t have flowers because of how the Native Americans cultivated them, I guess. Groundnuts are not nearly as common as some plants and seem possibly threatened by certain invasives, human construction, or herbicides in some areas. Many of the colonies that exist today may have been originally planted by native Americans. I was encouraged by someone I talked to online to help try to propagate groundnuts from different areas onto my land and spread awareness about them. I have come across larger colonies of groundnuts in Maine. The colonies I have found thus far in Massachusetts seem smaller and less significant.  I am familiar with a river system in Maine where there seems to be a lot of groundnuts. This river is in a very good agricultural area and was used by Native Americans extensively. Through reading, I have discovered that groundnuts where a main part of the first Thanksgiving and these tubers probably saved the pilgrims from starving. That seems to be just another little known or omitted part of history. The best way that I have had groundnuts is to parboil them, then fry them in oil with garlic, soy sauce, and black pepper. I found a blog post comment online that indicated Native Americans may have slow-cooked them in water for many hours.

    Groundnuts are a climbing vine, so I try to put sticks in the ground, or set them up like a tripod, so they
    have something to climb. I also plant them near small trees. They tend to do best in loose soil, such as sand or peat.

    IMG_0084        IMG_0071

    I planted some small urban apples mainly because the root ball seemed small and easy to manage. I perhaps should plant some other varieties, when I have time and space. Some parts of my land may be too wet, and one problem is I am not there to water these plants, thus it seems I should plant smaller tree plantings in areas that have somewhat moist soil.


    Here I have a first time crop of high bush cranberry from a bush I planted recently. It is not a true cranberry, of course, and not as tasty, but can be used in cooking.


    Here is an actual American cranberry I planted. My land has some wet areas. I may need to heavily mulch around these and add sand to encourage them to spread. The grasses and ferns seem pretty dominant in these spots. Without some weeding and other help, the cranberries’ future seems questionable, even though they are a wild plant technically.


    There are a few shiitake growing on some logs I inoculated 2 years ago. I have not had much of a crop yet, but I am hoping that will change. These logs are in a part of my land that has a lot of white cedar which provides a lot of shade year round. I moved a few of these logs near my neighbor’s property line, so I can perhaps get the lowdown from him if mushrooms are coming up and I am on the phone with him. The logs that I left where they were, or some that I moved back to Massachusetts, haven’t gotten any mushrooms yet.


    I also tried to stick some logs in the ground, as Sepp Holtzer recommends, because the logs get moisture from the ground that way, according to his approach. Other people disagree with this, apparently because they think other fungi, I guess, could, invade the log more easily.


    Sepp Holzer recommends inoculating logs in the spring, but I had also heard you can do this in the fall or winter. It seems nice to have this as a winter project when there’s not much else you can do, as well as to be able to do something with trees you cut. I have been using mainly maple, as well as poplar, for oyster mushroom inoculation, but I think I will try some oak logs next.

    I tried to create a trellis here for some arctic kiwi by leaning these poles up against a tree. I should perhaps add some wire in between them as well. There is a kiwi vine climbing up the pole there. The kiwis have not grown as fast as I hoped, but most of them are alive and growing.

    IMG_0083        IMG_0086

    Here is a grow dome yurt made by Shelter Systems that I am thinking about getting. It is 150 square feet, a very strong structure in winds. It is held down by heavy tent stakes. It is easy to assemble or take down in less than an hour, easy to store, and weighs about 40 pounds. The frame is made of PVC and the material is very resistant to UV light.


    I’ve had the exact same yurt as a camping yurt, without the translucent material, for 12 years or so.  I used to use it as an additional structure to my small pop-up camper and had even rigged up a wood stove with it.  It is big enough to store a couple of 9 foot surfboards, and easily stand up in. I used it to store extra gear and practiced the guitar in there or let guests stay in it. I had a seasonal camp on the Maine coast and did a lot of surfing there. My little tiny truck camper and yurt was nestled in amongst 30 foot + RV’s with big screen TVs. The campground manager decided, after a couple of years, that the yurt looked out of place and no longer allowed me to use it and I had to switch to a screen house.

    Surfers at Ogunquit river mouth in southern Maine, one of the many great spots to surf in Maine with some really nice sandbars and long rights.

    August 2013 – Surfivor



    The post "Let’s see what’s growing at the Yurt" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.


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    Why a kayak?

    If you live near any considerable body of water (river, lake or oceanfront), a kayak can be a valuable tool. There is a lot which can be done with a kayak; from keeping you entertained, to providing some food, traveling to a rural destination, and even adding some variety to your exercise regimen. While a kayak may sound kind of an odd mode of transport to discuss in a prep blog, it certainly has a ton of positive aspects to consider.

    1. A kayak allows me to get from point A to point B on virtually any inland body of water and has a shallower draft than most other typical forms of personal watercraft, allowing it to go places one would not otherwise be able to go.


    2. A kayak is lighter and, with few exceptions, can be carried by one person to and from a transport vehicle and the water’s edge. My lightest kayak is a 10-foot recreational boat which weighs right around forty pounds. My heaviest kayak is a 16-foot Seda Viking with a rudder and it weighs just over fifty pounds. I carry any or all of my kayaks on a simple ladder rack on the bed of my pickup.

    3. A kayak doesn’t cost a whole lot. I bought two of my three kayaks used on Craigslist for a fraction of their retail price, and they were in great condition. The one kayak I bought new was on sale and I got it for less than two hundred dollars. The twelve-footer I found on Craigslist cost less than that!

    4. A kayak can carry ample gear. My ten-foot kayak can carry everything I need for a day trip or a weekend of camping. My sixteen-footer can carry about four hundred fifty pounds and can easily support me for a week, or considerably longer, depending on whether I can procure my own food where I am camping. This is also true of rowboats and canoes, but my kayaks keep everything stored away in sealed hatches. If I were to capsize (hasn’t happened yet, fingers crossed), I would simply flip the boat upright on its long axis and keep going. Try that with a canoe or rowboat.


    5. A kayak can go places other boats just can’t go. Spend a little time in the cozy comfort of your favorite kayak and you will see that a bit of practiced paddling can put you exactly where you need to be to get to the fish. Fasten a five or ten pound weight to a nylon rope, and you have an anchor to keep you in position until you run out of bait or run out of fish.

    6. You are closer to the water and, therefore, have a lower center of gravity. This is more stable. Kayaks, being typically lighter than other personal watercraft, are more maneuverable and require less effort to propel through the water. There are other considerations to this when considering the length of a kayak, but I’ll cover more about this later in this article.

    7. Kayaks are simple. There is less that can go wrong. They run silently. They don’t require any fuel or engine maintenance and, should they be damaged, most temporary repairs can, believe it or not, actually be successfully accomplished with a roll of duct tape. No kidding. Paddlers on long kayaking treks have successfully continued their voyages after a bad spill, against a rock or tree in high-level rapids, by simply wrapping the damaged portion of their boat in duct tape, until better repair could be made back in camp.

    8. Kayaking is an easy, enjoyable, full-body workout. When paddling properly, you exercise every major muscle group in the body. Paddling is not done with just your arms. You use your entire torso and even your legs get into the activity, as they help you maintain your position in the boat by bracing with your thighs against the rim of the cockpit.

    Type of Kayaks


    I have provided several reasons I enjoy and prefer kayaks for personal transport on the rivers and lakes around my region (and even some ocean-going fun on occasion) and, if any of this has got you considering adding a kayak to your ensemble of preparedness items, here are some things you should consider before going out to purchase one:

    There are different types of kayaks for different types of “adventure” and there are several “middle-of-the-road” kayaks, which would do well in most situations but not necessarily excel at any particular type of water conditions. Here is what I’m talking about:


    1. There are kayaks designed for running “rapids” or fast-moving water typically found in rivers with high flow rates (measured in cubic feet per minute). These are typically shorter boats (usually six to nine feet long) and have little or no storage capacity. I don’t personally recommend this type of boat for a preparedness circumstance, but thought it prudent to mention them, as they are a popular style of kayak and you will see them when you go looking for a kayak. They are really best for fast-moving water that is going to move you, but they are very inefficient when it comes to paddling them in still water. They’re great for white-water rapids!


    2. There are kayaks which fall into what is frequently referred to as the “recreational boat” category. These are typically nine to twelve feet long. They may have a small “day hatch” for some storage, but there is plenty of storage available just by stuffing your gear in dry bags and placing them fore and aft of yourself inside the hull of the boat.


    Note: Dry bags are waterproof bags which can be purchased (in various sizes and colors) at sporting goods stores such as R.E.I. and on sites such as Amazon and Ebay. Place your gear in the bag (use shirts, towels, socks and soft items to surround harder, sharp items when stuffing your dry bag), then simply roll the seal at the top of the bag about four or five times and fasten the plastic clip.


    3. A third category, which I will refer to as “longboats”, are generally kayaks in excess of twelve feet (typically fourteen to eighteen feet, although the largest I have seen in person was a twenty-four footer from an Australian company. I mention this only to say:  Despite it’s size, it was easily transported on a mini-van and carried to the water by only two people. Fiberglass kayaks are amazingly light, yet durable.) Longboats can also be further categorized into standard kayaks and “sea” kayaks. The difference between a regular longboat and a sea kayak is the watertight compartments. A sea kayak will have multiple (usually two or three) large watertight sections within the hull, which are water tight when the hatch is sealed. This creates a pocket of buoyancy in the event the cockpit is flooded with water. (If you ever get out on the open ocean in a kayak and get swamped by a wave, you will realize why this is so important. And, yes, people go out on the open ocean in kayaks. Going from California to Hawaii is just one example of an open crossing that has been done successfully via kayak.)

    Ok. So, we have our rapids-running boats, our mid-sized “rec” boats and our “longboats” which, for the record, are usually the only category of the three which have rudders. Not all longboats have rudders, but a rudder can easily be fixed to practically any longboat, and they are well worth the investment. A boat without a rudder relies on the paddle to not only propel the boat, but to also make adjustments to the direction of travel. A boat WITH a rudder allows all of the paddle’s effort to go towards forward motion, while any steering adjustments are done with the rudder (controlled with your feet inside the cockpit). This makes for a more efficient paddle.


    Concerning the length, the longer and narrower the boat, the more efficient the paddle. The shorter and wider the boat, the more stable it is. Having said that, my first kayak was shorter and wider and helped get me acclimated to kayaking. My sixteen-footer, being longer and narrower, is still plenty stable, and is my kayak of choice for almost any situation or event I have experienced so far. Pictured here are my ten-foot rec boat and the twelve-footer I found on Craigslist.

    Some weekends, I volunteer to monitor open-water swimmers training for triathlete events and a swimmer or two will need a break. I have sat comfortably in my kayak while paddling into the midst of tired swimmers grasping for a hold on the edge of the kayak. No problem. Low center of gravity. Very stable. This also bodes well for the avid fisherman trying to haul their catch in over the side.

    The purpose of this article was to provide a little insight about what can be done with a kayak, so you can see what type of kayak may best suit your needs, should it interest you. I intend to cover more about how a kayak can be a valuable asset in preparedness in future articles. Please feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions, comments or corrections. I will try to answer you directly or I may work your question into a future article.

    For more TSP discussion on kayaks and numerous other outdoor activities, check out the Outdoor Activities Section of the TSP forums.

    Thanks for reading Brink of Freedom! Stay vigilant and be prepared.

    Kenneth Cooper

    The post "Kayak Considerations: Heading Out to the Water" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.


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    “I want to turn this place into a homestead.”  That is the statement that changed my life more than I ever thought possible. There has been the good, the bad, and the ugly.  So many tears. So much joy. So many heartaches and losses.  So many victories and celebrations. So many sleepless nights. So many long days. So many rewards.  Add all of those up and you don’t even come close to the lessons learned. Today is no different.

    The day started just like any other day.  Coffee at the kitchen table.  Watch the weather report on the news. Get hubby off to work.  Feed the dogs. Make a list of what I want to get done for the day.  Load up my pockets with all the normal stuff.  You know knife, screws, drill bits, bandana, bandaid, pencils, tape measure, screwdriver, lighter, small note pad, a bit of cash and change, sometimes a side arm.  I put on my boots, grab my gloves, turn to the pups and say “Come along. Time to go to work.”

    It’s a race to the barn.  Abby wants to do her morning rat check while Mowgli starts his rounds picking up feathers.  No rats this morning. Off Abby goes to check the chicken house for rats and maybe sneak an egg for second breakfast.  Mowgli is hot on her tail as he loves the left over egg shells.  I do a quick head count on the pigs, throw them some alfalfa, and give everyone a quick belly rub and butt scratch. The little piglets are so funny jumping into the feed dish.  I feed and water the alpacas and fill the pig wallows. I can hear the baby turkeys in the hay barn chirping and flying all over.  They know I am coming.  Normally we don’t keep the turkeys in the hay barn.  Animals go in there only for medical care or for an emergency.  This time was no different.

    Five days ago when we went out to the pasture to check on Hope (turkey hen) and her 6 little ones we found her over the fence and not moving much.  We thought she was a goner at that point.  No she was still alive and full of energy.  We had no idea what had happened to her. Was it the heat? Was it a predator? Did the neighbors’ goat or donkey kick her? The only thing we could do was get her to the house quickly to evaluate her.

    Turkey-1-150x150.png      Turkey-2-150x150.png       Turkey-3-150x150.png       Turkey-4-150x150.png

    Being caught once again without an emergency crate or medical pen we put her in a dog crate. I stayed with her to give her some meds while hubby and son (who was here visiting) went down to try and catch the 6 little ones. No easy thing to do as those babies know how to fly. There is no way to get a baby turkey down out of a huge Doug Fir tree.  All you can do is wait. When they hide, they squat down and freeze making them all but invisible. With a bit of luck, a fishing net, a sheet and a couple of long sticks, they managed to catch 3 of the 6.  We gave them a box, food and water set up in the hay barn. The other 3 would have to wait until the next day since it was just about sun down and they would go roost somewhere.

    We really didn’t think Hope would make it through the night, but she did.  She was not moving that much but seemed like she could possibly get better. We figured putting her in the barn with her 3 babies would be best for now. They were so excited to see their mom. They ran to her in spite of us standing there. She was softly calling to them.  It really warmed our worried hearts. What could be better than that.  Now if we could just catch the rest of them.

    The next morning armed with my turkey herding sticks and the fishing net we set out to the lower pasture. We could hear their chirping sounds they make when they are in trouble or looking for their flock. That made it much easier to track them. It wasn’t long and we found 2 traveling together. That pretty much told us we had lost at least one. We were able to catch the 2 fairly quickly this time. Again the reunion was heart warming. Those little ones climbed under mama’s wing and hunkered down. The family was together again.

    This morning, as usual, I fed Hope first so I could check her over. Overnight she had taken a turn for the worse. Back to the house to get some supplies for a deeper inspection and more medical treatment. She was so weak. Then I found it. Gangrene. My heart sank as I knew what would have to be done. It hit me hubby won’t be home for hours.  I can’t let her suffer. She was so weak.  She didn’t even flinch when I picked her up.  My head starts racing.  What do I do?  How do I do it?  22?  Don’t want to blow her head off.  Hatchet?  What if I miss.  Tail pipe of the car and a plastic bag?

    I knew it was only a matter of time and a moment like this would come about.  I had rehearsed in my mind over and over how I would handle it.  Now that dreaded moment was here.  I had to make that call.  Let her lay there and suffer all day until hubby gets home or handle it.  No I will not let my fear and my ignorance be the reason this animal has to suffer.  She has suffered enough we should have done this 5 days ago.

    A quick phone call to hubby to fill him in and get some last minute coaching.  I had never been the one to take the kill shot.  I have shot targets and gone rabbit hunting. I have stood by hubby’s side. I have been a spectator. This is different. This time I have to pull the trigger. I have spent time caring for her, giving her meds, rotating her.  With a heavy heart and a refusal to shed one tear I swallowed my fear and went back to get my gun.  Locked the dogs in the house, set the gun on the stump.  Then made that long walk back to the barn.  I told her her pain would end soon.  I told her I was so sorry I could not help her more. That this was the only thing I could do.  Then the thought of would she rather be in pain and spend more time with her little ones? My heart sank.  Am I being selfish to not want to watch her suffer?  No it’s time to do what needs doing.

    This is the ugly of it all.  I can not and will not only put this on hubby’s shoulders. Gently I laid her on the ground, thanked her for all she has taught us.  Carefully put the barrel to her head  trying to remember everything I was taught.  Swallowed hard and said “I am so very, very sorry, Hope, I love you” and pulled the trigger.  I felt numb. I felt sad.  I felt disbelief.  Ya know it’s weird but I also felt pride. Not happy for what I had to do but that I was able to do what needed doing. I did it. Right after, I called hubby back so he would know I was ok. All I could say was “it’s done.”

    I buried her. Put everything away.  Went back to the barn and stood there looking at the little ones.  Oh the tears.  I watched those little ones just sobbing.  The heartache.  This little turkey flies over my head lands on a bail of hay and just looks at me.  I reached my hand out with some food and she ate out of my hand.  I smiled.  Life goes on.

    It may seem crazy to get so upset about a turkey.  It happens.  You become attached sometimes.  Those babies that are so cute and fluffy now will someday end up on the table.  Until that day, they will play, grow and live like a turkey or a pig or a chicken or a rabbit. They will live like the animal they are.   Enjoying fresh air and sunshine. Fresh blackberries off the vine and apples from the trees. We will care for them and then thank them for feeding us. We will learn lessons from each and every single one of them.  We will laugh at their antics and have stories to tell.  We will also feel sadness when it’s their time, yet we will feel pride that we were able to put food on the table. I will feel good knowing that these birds had it much better than those that are raised in a factory farm.  They didn’t suffer a miserable existence like the others. After all, that is why I am doing this.  One less animal has to be raised in a factory farm because we will raise our own.  We will endure the good, the bad, and the ugly, too.  Thank you Hope for your little ones.  Thank you for all you have taught me. Thank you for the strength you have given me.  Most of all thank you for the freedom you have given us.  I will always keep Hope in my heart.

    The post "Remembering Hope" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.

  4. Store-Shelves-2-300x223.jpg

    My mother always told me that if I did not have something nice to say about somebody to say nothing at all. Sage advice! The words that you will read below are not meant to indict anybody in particular but to simply point out facts. These are general statements that may offend many, however, no disrespect is meant. Sometimes we MUST talk about things that are not pleasant yet true. The truth must be told even if people’s feeling get hurt in the process. So, with that disclaimer, let’s get into the crux of the story.

    I live in Montana, a state that is supposed to be fairly healthy compared with the Southeast where we moved from. Of course we find obese people in all states but the Southeast tends to lead the pack. Frankly, I’ve been surprised how many Montanans are obese. With the wealth of outdoor activities more people should get outside and exercise. The sad truth is at least 50% of the folks I see here are obese or not far from it.

    These people come from all walks of life, however most are mid 30’s-mid 50’s and these people are dead standing. I don’t see any hope for them. They can be seen just about everywhere in town but once every quarter you will see them in HUGE numbers at The 12 Hour Sale. Our local grocery is a small chain of approximately 15 stores in western Montana, eastern WA and eastern Idaho. I will not mention the name. Once per quarter they host a 12-hour sale outside that is filled with 99% GMO junk, absolute crap, garbage….not food….this is stuff not fit for animal feed, in my opinion, yet it comprises the bulk of the diet for these dead standing souls.

    You can hardly get into the store during this 12 hour bonanza – replete with cheap processed, GMO food. The place is mobbed, shopping carts stuffed to the brim with these “bargains”. The procession of zombies waddling in and out of the store looks like a scene from Night of The Living Dead. People so fat and sick, with the worst skin problems, huge fat rolls, dry stringy hair, and the most miserable dispositions you can imagine. Their days are certainly numbered.

    These zombies have carts filled with food from the 12 hour sale. The struggle to get these dietary staples out of the store and into the car seems monumental. Lumbering across the parking lots, these sad people seem unaware that they just spent their hard-earned money on food that is slowly but surely killing them. This packaged garbage is robbing them of their right to happiness and health and causing them thousands in medical bills and daily misery. I would bet that 99% of this boxed trash has one common ingredient….wheat. More on that in my next article.

    I am always baffled that these dead standing people cannot realize that their carts are filled with certain death. If you can barely manage to walk, how can you readily consume soda, Doritos, frozen pizza, canned soup, junk crackers, cereal with colorants, and marshmallows in it? After seeing this for a few months now, I can think of only one motivational and inspirational directive; “Eat Some Damn Vegetables”

    Store Shelves

    I uttered this the other day on my podcast and it’s caused quite a stir. My fans and listeners worldwide think I should make t-shirts and bumper stickers with this bit of wisdom, “EAT SOME DAMN VEGETABLES” I might take their advice.

    I am from New Jersey. I can’t say I am overly proud of that. The late Tony Soprano, James Gandolfini, even went to my high school. I grew up around these spaghetti and red sauce eating citizens who have short tempers, foul mouths, and quick wit. Admittedly, I am one of them. Yet I have managed to squelch the annoying accent and become more moderate in my approach during the last few decades. Only recently, I am having trouble controlling my inner wise guy……Forgetaboutit!

    More and more the “New Jersey” in me rears it’s ugly head…think Bill Bixby…”you dont want to see me angry”. Usually it surfaces in traffic yet more often than not, while observing the happenings of my local SUPERmarket.  When I see a management team who does such a bang up job slowly killing their customers I get annoyed. Do they realize they are poisoning their customers with their 12-Hour Sale crap ? Do they care? Who directs them to do this? Their upper management I bet.

    With a country in such decline, we must be assertive and address shortcomings of bosses, managers, and political leaders who fail us. Here is an example; not long ago I was in another supermarket in Missoula, Montana. The drive to this store is about 30 minutes, so when we arrive we usually need a bathroom break. After several visits there witnessing the utter disgust in the bathroom I finally went “Tony Soprano” on the manager, it went something like this…..

    “Sir, are you the manager?..oh good….I see that you’re sitting down in your office smiling and chatting right now….but the bathrooms that my family just had to use are nothing short of an utter disgrace!…..pregnant pause…his mouth was wide open…… There is toilet paper all over the floor, an inch of hair from somebody who just shaved in the sink, black stink all over the floor, filthy toilet bowls, no paper towels, trash bins overflowing, bags of trash sitting outside the door, dirt all over the walls and doors and it stinks. Absolutely disgraceful, a mockery of biblical proportions….all happening while you sit there in your chair chatting away. Additionally, your deli workers who are making sandwiches for the public right now, just left that unsanitary pit you call a public restroom….here are your options…are you paying attention?….see to it that the PUBLIC bathroom is cleaned and stays clean. If I come back and I find it like this again I will be calling headquarters and reporting this health hazard and I will be sure to let them know how you were sitting so nonchalantly while your PUBLIC bathrooms are worse than a college dorm. Are we clear?”

    After that verbal tongue lashing (notice I used no profanity though..) he agree and tried to shake my hand…I refused and told him he does not want to shake my hand as I just used his nasty bathroom. You see folks, sometimes you cannot sit idly by and let the shortcomings of people in charge affect others. Remember, our dear supreme leader Obama said last year on video that he is setting a “REDLINE” on Syria…if they use chemical weapons they will cross that line. Then the other day our dear leader said on video that he did not set a red line….it was somebody else…lies, lies, lies…..but the lazy, miscreant slobs we call mainstream media just accepted those pack of lies and did not even question the dear leader….only if I was there….FORGETABOUTIT!

    Some of your libertarian minded readers ( I consider myself a budding libertarian) might be thinking that the zombies at my store can choose to NOT buy the cheap 12-hour sale garbage….true….and that the store staff is doing nothing wrong, simply practicing free-market capitalism. In some ways you’re spot on…but that does not make it right.

    When somebody does not have the willpower, knowledge, or fortitude to STOP behavior that is killing them, others must step in to lend a helping hand. In this case the store needs to STOP offering this trash for a steep discount. Encourage the zombies to “EAT SOME DAMN VEGETABLES”. Why can’t they discount healthy fresh living foods once in a while? Why do they need to strip every stinking penny they can from the public by selling food that is nothing short of poison?

    I’m not advocating they try to compete with Whole Foods but at least address the problem. What about cooking classes or nutrition information sheets? If I were in charge the headline on the nutrition sheets would start with “Eat Some Damn Vegetables”. Things need to change….we libertarian-minded people need to step up and confront those in charge who are perpetuating this death spiral to try and save our fellow citizens. Just like we need to stand up for our gun rights, constitution, and other basic rights.

    Ok, enough said, I am going to have a bowl of gluten-free pasta with red sauce….alright paisan?


    The post "The 12 Hour Sale-How to Kill your Own Customers" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.