Tag Archives: Off Grid

Still looking for my voice…

After nearly a decade you would think I’d have found my voice for this blog. Having changed the focus so many times doesn’t help much I suppose. Personal blog, business blog, aviation focus, woodworking focus, I mean, really… how many times have I twisted this thing into something I needed/wanted at the moment? I’ve lost count.

I don’t know if I will ever know what my blog voice is. I do know, I need to write more frequently if I ever want to find that voice. March 28th, 2018 is marked down on the calendar as my 10th Blogaversary. The family and I have a lot of big changes in our lives taking place between now and March. I am hopeful that I will at least have a whisper if not a voice by then.

Big changes? First and foremost, we are moving. Not just across town, to another state. I say this because I have always lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. 50 years and the only time I wasn’t living in the area was a six month period I lived and worked on a job-site in Stockton, less than two hours from here. In fact, the family and I have been living in the same apartment for over 21 years.

Beginning July 1st, we will be in transition to our new-to-us house in Klamath Falls, Oregon. New town, new state, new house, new jobs; big changes. I haven’t lived in a house in 40 years, Tammy hasn’t lived in a house in almost 30. I am very excited about these changes. We want to shift to a more sustainable lifestyle and getting out of the multi-million populated urban sprawl and moving to a city of fewer than thirty-thousand people is a great start. We will be looking for our forever-homestead after we get up to KF and have had a chance to get to know the area.

Another change for us is the earnest desire to get outdoors and go do things. Sightsee, hike, canoe, just get out in nature, which will be interesting since none of us have lived in an area it snows, or rains a lot. It will take some time to acclimate to the area and its weather.

So you can see, there will be a lot of subject matter potential for the blog and writing in general. I am not making any commitments right now, but I would like to see myself post at least 500 words at least once a week. That seems like a reasonable goal. I am also looking forward to more interesting photographic subject matter to be included in the posts.

Along with all of the changes in lifestyle and location, we are hoping to make a few changes internally. With all of the out-and-about, we will be working on getting more physically fit, and tuning into the new, smaller, less frantic world around us. One of the reasons I don’t go out much anymore is the crush of people everywhere we go. I have to tune out so much background noise just to get from point A to point B. When you think about it, it’s easy to see why people seem to have lost their sense of self-preservation. They tune out so much around themselves, they just don’t see or hear it coming.

When you think about it, it’s easy to see why people in urban areas seem to have lost their sense of self-preservation. They tune out so much around themselves, they just don’t see or hear it coming. The density of it all accelerates the environments natural selection, adaptations, and migrations. An interesting idea for a sociology hypothesis… later.

My only regular outing is going to Volunteer Examiner sessions for Amateur Radio license exams on the first and third Saturday of the month. On more than a few occasions, I have not left the property we manage between VE sessions. If I don’t need something or have been asked to help someone, I would rather just stay on-site. My current density adaptation is to isolate/insulate when possible.

Not healthy, physically or otherwise. Socializing has followed the same lines, aside from the internet, I only see the folks at VE, or chat with other hams on the radio. Radio will still be my main social outlet, but I am looking forward to participating in things with actual people, not just internet friends or disembodied voices.

Any way you slice it, there are some big changes in store for our family. I for one am looking forward to some change with open eyes, mind, and arms. Klamath Falls… bring it on!

Until next time,

Résumé Updating

TakingNoteIt’s been a while since I took any time to update the old résumé, though I must admit not a lot has changed, it’s just time to polish things up a bit. I have a LinkedIn account and I do make minor changes there every so often, but I haven’t done much with the hardcopy. *shudder… hardcopy*

While going through my LI profile something in the “Interests” caught my eye…

“movies, music, writing, flying, aircraft (design/construction/restoration), amateur radio, history, anthropology, archaeology, genealogy, archive, preservation (document/book/photograph), blacksmithing, silversmithing, metal fabrication, woodworking, sustainable living (building, power, farming, food), alternative building technologies, primitive technology, self reliance, resiliency (personal, local, community, regional, national)”

I’m pretty sure I have gone down this road before at some point, but it bares repeating. It’s the resiliency line personal, community, local, regional, national, (and by extension international). With all of the hullabaloo about Brexit people are thinking about how it will affect them. Really, it shouldn’t.

Before anyone starts screaming “Exclusionist!” or “Nationalist!” like somehow nationalism is automatically a bad thing like the bought-and-paid-for media would have you think, participating in worldwide commerce is not bad, far from it. Depending on a centralized global economy is bad, very bad. Even centralized national economies are bad. We keep having example after example of what happens when centralized economies have sector hiccoughs. The whole thing is affected.

When the US economy crashed in 2008, due to our own internal centralized economy and the managers of that system doing bad things, it was felt around the world. When the Greek economy tanked it was directly due to the EU centralized economy, and it affected all of the EU and beyond. The Brexit issue has been felt all over the globe as well. These effects are all because of the idea that the world is somehow better off when we all have our eggs in the same basket. It is absurd.

Why Jon, when you say it that way it sounds so obviously bad, but surly global economics aren’t that simplistic. Actually, yes. Yes they are. At least from the notion that centralization is a good thing. So in this case it really is that simple.

Centralization, in any system, creates more sub-systems and moving parts that are all interdependent. The level of complexity is exponentially increased, and much of the energy that goes into the system goes towards minimizing losses and damage the system itself creates, and of course the administration of the system. Not to mention that the resulting product is generally of lower quality by the time it gets to the consumer/user. Worst of all, with all of the interdependence even a small hiccough produces problematic ripples throughout the system and may even halt it all together.

A simple example is the spinach crisis a few years ago in the US. Much of spinach supplied to restaurants and some grocery stores was recalled because a pig got loose on one farm. There was an outbreak of e.coli, not an epidemic, but large enough and wide enough spread to panic a lot of people, cost farmers millions, destroy a large portion of the nations spinach crop, and waste millions in resources throughout the centralized food system. Absolutely none of it was necessary. To top it all off, it further set in motion more restrictive regulations shutting out some small farms due to the onerous regulations and cost.

So what does all of this have to do with resiliency? Any engineer will tell you eliminate single-point-failures, and provide redundancy if you want a resilient system. You cannot design a resilient system from the top down, it just wont work it, more to the point it can’t work. It must be designed and built from the bottom up. That’s why the order I use is so important personal, community, local, regional, national, (and by extension international).

To avoid collapse of any of the centralized systems we currently have, start with yourself and your family. Have plans and preparations in place so you are more resilient. Help family and neighbors to be more resilient. All of you can start working on getting your community more resilient.

Slowly but surely people are waking up to the simple facts. As the understanding of how theses system interrelate and how wasteful they are, how the systems only care about the system and not the end user, how the user is cheated out of high quality goods and is forced pay a premium for the privilege, people are beginning to put all of the pieces together.

No amount of railing on and on about how simple this all is will convince those who choose to stay the course. They must see the light in their own time. This is something that I am coming to terms with myself. It seems so clear, and I want the people I care about to be resilient and not suffer when those hiccoughs occur. All I can do is walk the walk and demonstrate by example.

All of the Brexit panic, anger, frustration, division, and the eventual blow back all come from not understanding what great-granny always said “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Smart old broad that.


An unproductive cycle

I seem to be getting into a cycle of posting that doesn’t seem to work well, or encourage more frequent posting. I have been posting once a month on all of the blogs I post too, on the same day, and then ignore them for another month. It’s like getting that hated chore done because it needs doing, not blogging because I have something to say, or feel like posting. I need to shift this trend back to “blogging is fun” not a chore.

Blahahahah… Okay, I got that out of my system.

220px-Goofy.svgSo much going on and yet so little progress to show for it. We have been planning to relocate for so long it just feels like the wheels are spinning in the mud. I have been planning for every contingency a new homestead environment can throw at us that its all become a mash of thoughts and potentials. The problem with this is I can’t go any further, it’s all just rehashes of stuff I have already considered. Without having a piece of land to plan around, an environment to adapt to, resources to count, conserve, and work with, I am just spinning tires in the mud.

We are so close, but nothing looks like we are any closer than we were a year ago. I had originally set a goal for this spring, as in March, April, or May, NOW. We should be relocating NOW. But that got pushed to a trip up north in mid May to scout out property, and hopefully buy a plot, with an actual move some time in late summer or early fall.

I am antsy to get up there. I don’t want to be scrambling to get a structure up and livable before winter sets in, and I sure as hell don’t want to wait it out until next spring. Let me rephrase that, I can’t wait it out until next spring. Ahhhhhhhhhh! Sorry. I’m just one giant ball of nerves grasping at something to keep my brain from running amuck amuck amuck. breath…

Zack is in his final term at De Anza. Two english classes and a music appreciation class away from his degree in English Literature. I am very proud as one might imagine. Annoyed, not that the two english classes books are a total of $80 for six books, that’s fine, the music class however… If I understand the bookstore correctly is about $250 for a book and a CD, seriously?! The cost of textbooks is nothing new and I would expect it for a math or science book, not this. We will do what we need to. Zack has worked hard to earn this and nothing will stand in his way to complete his degree. I just don’t like being gouged by publishers.

I sound in so negative, and I’m really not feeling mad or angry, just annoyed. It is so easy right now for me to get worked up when I encounter what I perceive to be stupidity, ignorance, and a lack of courtesy, respect, or common sense. Yes, I acknowledge that it is my perception and not necessarily what is actually happening, that I may not have all of the facts, that situations arise, I get all of that. I still get annoyed, and my threshold is low right now.

wingnutBetween to asinine behaviour of all of the political parties, and theire more vehement followers on all sides this political season, along with the general lack of good behavior out in public, I just don’t want to be out in it. I don’t go off-property very often, once a week maybe. I don’t go online all that often for the same reasons. I don’t want to be a hermit. I actually want to get out, do stuff, go places, enjoy being out and about. I’m just not in the right headspace to be out in the world.

When Tammy and I went up north last year in February it was a wonderful break from the urban sprawl. Just that short four days was enough to get me through a couple of months back in the concrete jungle. That rejuvenation ran out a few months back. I really need to…

Something weird happened today

My unread magazine pile was building up so I figured it was time to get caught up on several areas of interest. I was getting to some recent additions to my reading list 1st Freedom, American Rifleman, and Guns & Ammo when I was smacked in the face with an unwelcome personal reality… I was overtly conscious of whether or not someone might see what I was reading and how they might react. WHOA!

I never had a second thought about having on the table an issue of Sport Aviation, Vintage, Warbirds, Home Machinist, Mother Earth News, QST, or anything else for that matter. Why did my interest in firearms somehow make me overly concerned about other peoples opinions? What the hell was that all about?

In part, I think it has to do with living in a state that abhors guns. Its okay if I like, and own swords, bows, staves, or a wide range of other weapons, but if it even looks like a gun the P.C. wing-nuts are gonna’ rip you a new one for being some kind of anti-social, homicidal, gun-toatn’ maniac.

Sadly it’s not just the California P.C. wing-nuts that seem to have this attitude. A growing voice across the country is hell bent on taking away your and my second amendment rights. Keep in mind that this group is growing in volume, not numbers. A few people with lots of money, a platform, and personal interest (Obama & Bloomberg) are trying to rewrite the Constitution to suit their own agendas.

New rules, policies, and laws keep rolling out all over California and elsewhere, sponsored and funded by these wing-nuts, to restrict access and ownership of firearms. None of them do anything to advance safety, or protect people from stupidity, ignorance, or criminals mind you. What they do have going for them is lots of spin that make complete B.S. sound like it will save us from all the evil in the world. Many of these new rules and laws are being overturned in court because they are in fact unconstitutional.

It’s not just the unconstitutional nature of these rules and laws that frustrate me so much. It’s fact that they accomplish absolutely nothing their proponents are saying they want to accomplish. It’s all and agendized scam that has nothing to do with safety or security. They do however produce copious amounts of fear mongering and misinformation. Two examples are what has been happening with “High Capacity” magazines for handguns, and Concealed Carry permits.

The proponents of the various bans on “High Capacity” magazines for handguns want you to believe that by limiting the number of rounds in a handgun magazine to ten, rather than the eleven or thirteen, or some other arbitrary number, which are standard from the manufacturer, will some how miraculously prevent gun violence. Like the thought will cross a bad guy’s mind “I only have 10 rounds in this magazine, that’s not enough to rob that liquor store. If only I had a 13 round magazine. Oh well, I guess I’ll go play chess instead.”

One of the effects of these bans are having is that they make criminals out of otherwise law abiding citizens by not providing enough time to surrender the now illegal magazines that came with the gun, or if they forgot about a spare magazine in a box in the attic. It then adds further insult by making them go out and buy a compliant magazine, which the gun was not originally designed to hold. By the way, do you think the criminals will be surrendering their eleven or thirteen round magazines? How about postponing criminal activities while they wait for a compliant replacement magazine? Ya, didn’t think so.

Result: Criminals keep their magazines. Honest law abiding citizens surrender their magazines and wait for a back ordered replacement effectively rendering the gun useless. How does this reduce gun violence? How does this do anything beyond wasting tax dollars in surrender operations and enforcement of a ridiculous law that does nothing to improve public safety? It doesn’t.

As for Carry permits… The demands of some municipalities that a law abiding citizen provide extreme reasons why they should be allowed to apply for a Carry permit is not only unconstitutional, it is just plane dumb.

Anyone who applies for a carry permit is outright telling local law enforcement who they are, where they live, that they own weapons, they have been trained to safely carry and use them, and they wish to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms in a responsible manner. They are registering themselves with the local authorities voluntarily.

How many scoff-laws do you think apply for a Carry permit? There are always exceptions, but I have difficulty imagining a gang-banger or career criminal walking into a sheriffs office expecting to get a carry permit.

Result: Criminals do what they were going to do anyway. They illegally carry a concealed gun and local law enforcement is none the wiser. Qualified law abiding citizens are run through the ringer and denied their constitutional right to bear arms because they don’t have an extreme need to protect themselves or their families. Does this make anyone safer? Does this reduce gun violence? Absolutely not.

Right to keep and bear arms - Franklin2I am not a gun-toatn’ homicidal maniac or a paranoid zealot. I am someone who is fascinated with the mechanics of firearms. I enjoy target shooting. I enjoy hunting for sustenance. I enjoy having the right to defend myself and my family if the need arises. These are all part of the pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Happiness. These are also part of a desire to protect and defend the Constitution from enemies, both foreign and domestic. If I choose to own or carry a gun, I am choosing to be a responsible and safe gun owner, and I am choosing to exercise my second amendment rights.

Not everyone chooses to own firearms. Not everyone chooses to vote. These are personal decisions. These decisions should not be dictated by anyone other than the individual unless these right have been suspended by due process for criminal acts of violence.

And yes, I do hold the right to vote and the right to keep and bear arms on the same level of importance. The founding fathers did too, they are a complementary set along with the freedom of speech, each protects the other. Any agenda or policy that seeks to suspend one, should be held suspect of trying to suspend the others and cast out. 

The first two rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights are the right to speak out against usurpations and the right to defend ourselves from those usurpations if the need arises. These two rights alone provide the means of ensuring that none of our rights are diminished or taken away.

This is not paranoia, it has been born out repeatedly throughout history on every continent. When people lose their right to speak out or to defend themselves effectively they are soon terrorized and subjugated.

I have always been honest about who I am, and what my position is on most subjects. Now I have expressed myself on the matter of firearms. I am passionate about this issue but I am also willing to listen to other opinions. I continue to respect others opinions even though I may fervently disagree with their position. I ask only that they respect mine in kind.

If you see an issue of Guns & Ammo on the coffee table and want to make a comment, you know where I’m coming from.

Is a blog just a blog?

Sorry about yesterdays disjointed post. I’m really not sure what happened, other than distraction and a somewhat confused general state of mind after spending the day in the shop cleaning up.

This morning I am gonna’ do a little house cleaning here on the blog.

I had set up a blog for Off Grid stuff. If you know me IRL you know I want to live ether next to, or near by a small airport away from “the city.” Hey, I am a small town kind of guy. I also want to be living as self-sufficiently as possible. The Off Grid blog had a few entries that I wanted to keep so I moved them her to FBJ and closed down that blog. If you are interested, they are in the Off Grid category on this site and I will be posting any new stuff here.

It seems like the FBJ site has always been somewhat enigmatic to me. Maybe it’s my OCD that gets in the way of just posting when the mood strikes. I like to have things compartmentalized into there own little categories separate from each other. Having an idea for a post is one thing, I have them all the time, what usually keeps me from posting is where to post it. This gets messy when you have so many interests, and worse when you have a bunch of topic specific blogs. So here we are again, It all comes back to FBJ. I am going to try and post when the ideas strike rather than saying to myself that it should be posted somewhere specific to that interest.

I will continue posting to Lumber Jocks because I am participating in the woodworking community there and that interaction is important to me.

The Vintage Aero Works site and blog are still in the planning stages, but that site will most definitely be reserved for aircraft restoration projects and related topics. it will be my commercial/professional website.

So what will be posted here on FBJ? A little bit of everything. A lot of aviation, some school related posts, woodworking adventures which will mostly be tool and aircraft related along with skill builders and cabinetry work, and any progress in moving off grid and all of its related topics. All of this along with an occasional soapbox post on politics, religion, philosophy, the economy, or anything else that pops up.

One of my goals for this year is to be more engaged with the FBJ site. We shall see how it goes.

Until next time. Peace, Love and Airplanes.

Out with 2012, in with 2013

So here we are at the end of 2012. I’ve got nothing really new post about, but I have been doing a lot of reading lately on joinery, timber framing, and several other things in the woodworking realm which leads me to a number of projects I am stacking up for post-graduation in May and beyond.

To get the ball rolling for the new year I have several projects lining up for workshop clean-up and improvement, all of which are looking like hand-tool only deals going real well with the off-grid plan.

I am still planning out the projects and the order in which I will work on them but it looks like the first one will be a wall mounted series of hardware drawers integrated with a large cubby and a book shelf on top. It is a cabinetry project to get stuff off of my bench and give me space to work on the bench surface.

Pictures and more project data to come.

Happy New Year!


* This post moved from FBJ Off Grid on 2013-02-12

Off Grid – Trades

Starting out, the first skill sets needed to get the [Off Grid] project going are listed in order. While I have had some experience in most of these areas, there is always much more to learn and I will need to do some experimentation with some of the earthen building techniques.

With practical experience and each of these areas will be expanded into a page of its own with resource information.

  • Designer/Engineer/Architect/Surveyor – Once selected, the site needs to be looked over and a full site plan incorporating watershedding, energy production, passive solar, drainage, on-site materials, off-site materials, and future structure plans need to be developed.
  • Lumber Jack – Assuming the presence of harvestable lumber that will need to be seasoned before milling.
  • Earth Moving – In the sense of determining soil composition, grading, and separating gravel, clay, and sand into piles for later use.
  • Plumbing – Rough plumbing will need to be started early with the placement of the cistern and septic systems prior to foundation work.
  • Milling – Once lumber is ready to be roughed it will need to be milled.
  • Stone Mason – If available, rough stone cutting and preparation for later use.
  • Brickmaker – Also dependent on structural design and includes earthbags.
  • Carpenter – Rough carpentry, whole log, rough beam, etc.
  • Joiner – The types of joinery will depend on the type of framing/carpentry needed for the design.
  • Plasterer – Earthen, cob, lime-based, and ferro-cement are all likely.

* This post moved from FBJ Off Grid on 2013-02-12

Design Considerations

Among the many design considerations in an off grid project are the function and mission of a project.

In my case, I am building more than a family home. My plans include a broad range of self-sustainable elements including some important ones like an on-site lumber mill, a production workshop, and hangar for vintage aircraft restoration. When a significant part of a project includes elements like these, the project  layout and power requirements are subject to the geography of the site and available power sources.

Without a building site already involved, the different structures have be considered from a more fluid perspective. Each elements design has to be considered from a purely function/mission based view, leaving in a level of flexibility for power. These considerations for the structures also play into the considerations for a site.

Obviously, if there is no lumber on-site, the mill isn’t really a problem, but how will that affect the operation overall? In my case, this could be a problem. A significant part of vintage aircraft work at least in the era I prefer to work with, wood is used a lot in the structure so I need to have wood materials available and part of the self-sustainability is in the work sided as well as the home side.

In the ideal situation, I would have an area that [I can] selectively harvest from and plant new trees providing the raw materials that I can mill as needed reducing waste, time needed to obtain materials, and storage requirements.

At this stage in the planning everything is very fluid and my biggest challenge is to narrow my focus and prioritize the elements, and define the function and mission of each element.

Till next time…

* This post moved from FBJ Off Grid on 2013-02-12

Back Seats and Planning

The idea behind doing the Off Grid blog [stuff] is to catalog my experiences building an off grid home for my family and developing as close to a self-sustainable life style as practical. Being a pragmatic kind of guy, I realize that this process will take a long time, really a lifetime. My hope is to be much further down this road by the time we retire and in many ways this is our retirement plan.

As this is a long term deal, and I’m still very much in the planning stages, the posts on this blog [about Off Grid] may be few and far between until that ball begins to roll a lot faster. My other blog [this blog obviously :-)] FlyBoyJon.com is there to share my aviation world pursuits [really, I’ll be posting a variety of stuff here] which are moving forward as I get closer to my A&P certificates and I move closer to my education goals. Those areas, aviation and education, are where my focus is at this point. Once my certificate program is done in June 2013 my focus will shift to wrapping up my AA and getting a day-job going.

With all of that said, I am always thinking about getting closer to that independent dream. I am regularly looking at alternative building techniques and various old world building techniques. What little recreational reading time I have is spent on researching building trades or traditional home-trade skills.

It has been a while but I have brewed beer and mead before and they turned out quite well. Furniture making is not a skill I have spent a lot of time on but it is not a stranger to me. Gardening/farming is a skill set that has eluded me though I will to keep trying. I have minor dalliances with several other craft trades and I am always open to learning more skills. One that has only recently come into my interest is cheese making, which seems odd since I have always been a huge fan of cheese.

The diversified interests in all of these trades and skills are what make me confident in the families abilities to go off grid. There is a line in “Six Days, Seven Nights”

Aren’t you one of those guys? Those guy-guys. Ya know, those guys with skills. You send them out into the wilderness with a pocket knife and a q-tip and they build you a shopping mall.

It may sound a bit egotistical, but I like to think I am one of those guy-guys. That’s why I’m always looking to upgrade my mall building skills.

Until next time…

* This post moved from FBJ Off Grid on 2013-02-12

I am not a loon!

Sure, you see something in a bio that includes inevitable economic collapse and the first thing you think is “What a cook!” Believe me, I her you, and in most cases I would surly agree. We may not agree on the scale of the problem, but I bet we can agree that current financial situations around the world are connected. I also bet we can agree that the worlds leaders have done a smashing job running things for the last few decades. Many world leaders will admit that “mistakes have been made” though I doubt those leaders would cop to having been the ones making those mistakes.

We may or may not agree that the 2008 economic oops in the United States was only the beginning of a string of financial boo-boos that will cause more head and heartache than the great depression of the 1930s. I believe that we are indeed in for some much harder times, and I for one do not want to be caught with my trousers down about my ankles.

“Here we go… loony survivalist time.”

Not exactly. I am not planning on isolating myself and my family from the world, I am not going out and buying lots of guns and ammo, or other stuff normally attributed to fringe groups. I have no animosity towards any social, ethnic, or religious group, nor do I think the commies or the gov’ment are coming to get me. For the most part I am a pretty moderate and conservative type person (not to be confused with a right-wingnut religious fanatic or a leftist commie).

I believe in being prepared for emergencies, natural and/or man-made. I believe in living within my means. I believe in being as self sufficient as possible and always striving to be more so. I believe that the American middle-class is what can return the country and our economy to a healthy state, if it is allowed to. I believe that the post WWII consumer-based economy has grown out of control. I believe that government reliance is out of control. I believe that rampant mismanagement of public funds has lead the entire country down a dark path of credit reliance, debt, and consumerism. I believe that the centralization of our monetary and food systems have placed us in a very precarious position. I digress…</soapbox>

So now what?

My wife and I started moving away from what we consider a broken system several years ago. First we got rid of all of our credit accounts. This is easier said than done for most people, but it is amazing how much less stress is in your life when you stop relying on credit. It forces you to face some of the hard realities of your life and puts you in the position of conducting business with cash-in-hand. If I don’t have money in hand, I can’t afford it. It is that simple and it is actually a very powerful thing, it keeps you honest with yourself and makes you plan ahead. It also makes you stop and think about what it is you need as opposed to what you want.

Another related item was closing all but one bank account, and that one account is only used for cashing checks. The stock, commodities, and currency markets are crazy and very unreliable in this economy, don’t believe anything to the contrary. If those of us with lots of disposable cash want to play in that sand box, good for them. Most of us can’t afford to loose what we have. How many millions of people over the last decade have lost there entire retirement? Just think back over all of those news reports that pissed you off about companies mismanaging retirement funds and going bankrupt. Don’t think too hard on it though, it’ll probably freak you out. If you need an investment, buy gold or silver, and be sure to get it in hand physically, gold “shares” and “certificates” are not by any means reliable if the markets do crash; they will be worth about the same as that one-dollar bill in your pocket when hyper-inflation hits like it did in the 30s. If it aint in your hand, you don’t own it.

In a move towards healthier living and supporting local business we started buying as much of our groceries fresh and from local farmers as possible and buying fewer prepackaged foods. We buy american made products, and we buy them from local merchants when ever possible. A big one that we are still working on is to not buy from major chain stores at all. That is a big hurdle for all of us these days, and it’s becoming harder and harder every day. One big win in my eyes was no longer shopping at Community-Killer (Wal-Mart).

Next on the Hit Parade…

One of the best investments you can make is property. When I say property I am not talking about that 100′ x 100′ lot in the suburbs and certainly not a condo.what I am talking about is a plot of land that you can build a home, grow the food you need for your family, a place to homestead like many of our great-grandparents (or great-great-grandparents) did. A place where you can declare your independence from the grid and the failing financial system. Whatever you do, don’t buy this plot of freedom on credit! If you do, it’s just another piece of debt in a flawed system.

Not everyone is suited for homesteading, I get that, but for those of us who are, why aren’t we doing it now? That’s what I have been asking myself anyway. If you are not suited to it that’s fine, but you should take the time to educate yourself on where the stuff you buy every day comes from, oh, and I don’t mean “the store.” Learn where and how the food is grown and how it gets to the store you bought it from. This information may surprise you. Be educated on where your supply lines are and find alternates in case there is an interruption.

My grandmother grew up on a farm in Kansas and she instilled in me a desire to know where stuff comes from, how it’s made, and how it gets to market. I like to call it the “farmer mentality.” I am not a farmer by any means but I think I poses many of the characteristics of those who set out to homestead across the wilderness in the eighteen[th] and nineteen[th century’s] hundreds. I have always been fascinated by the trades and I have spent some time learning at least a little about many trades. I have cut and milled timber, I have worked a forge, worked on a log cabin, done some excavation, rebuilt a house, done cement work, plumbing, and electrical. I have varying levels of experience with a lot of “practical skills,” and a few less practical, and I continue to try and learn more every day.

[I grew up with an understanding that things should be fixed not thrown away. Failing repair, an item should be repurposed, even if just turned into a planter. My grandmother grew up in Kansas in the 20s and 30s, you just didn’t throw stuff away. I don’t recommend hording or collecting piles of unused stuff, for one thing, most of what is manufactured today is not generally repairable and you would end up with a lot of planters. What I would recommend is buying stuff with an eye towards durable long lasting and repairable goods. Take the time and spend a little more for well made products.]

There is always an obstacle to overcome before heading down the next leg of the journey. For us, the current obstacle is finding a property, once I have that bump in the road behind me the details of the plan can be drawn up. For now, I am finishing some schooling, gathering funds for the property, and studying up on the skill sets I think are most practical for the foreseeable path; these include milling, timber framing, and stone masonry which I have some skills in. I am also looking at some new sustainable building skills like earthbag, cob, and lime-based plasters.

Once We have a site to build on the [my] focus of this blog will shift to that. Until that time it will be a conglomeration of things moving down the road to self-sufficiency, stuff like alternative building materials & techniques, earthen materials, water-shedding, alternative power, aquaponics, organic farming, and similar topics.

If you have feedback or suggestions and resources for materials and/or techniques please let me know.

* This post moved from FBJ Off Grid on 2013-02-12