Saturday, February 25, 2017

Raised bed hoop houses

You can extend your growing season dramatically with a hoop house, and you can use miniature ones with raised beds. Here's a quick video on the miniature versions for raised beds.

Friday, February 24, 2017

I can find the oddest things on the Intertubz

I'm looking for information on timber framing, and I find a video on timbering a hard rock mine.

The guy has a whole series on hard rock mining, accompanied by his sidekick, Slim.

Fred Reed on Two Americas

Trump did not cause the deep division in the country. It caused him. There are two very different Americas. I suspect  that the half of the country that voted for Trump, that voted with wild enthusiasm, that roared at huge rallies, was not so  much voting for Trump as against the other America. It was just that they had never had a chance before. The two countries have little in common and do not belong on the same geography.

And it continues from there. I doubt I need to comment.

Hardening the walls of your home against pistol/rifle fire

While this is something that most people wouldn't want to do to their home now, it might be something that you would want to consider doing in bad times when the rule of law is failing.

NOTE: It is poor tactics to attempt to defend a building from inside! This is a method to render your home safer from random shootings, drive-by shootings and the like. A determined attack would have to be defended from outside the house and likely with more people than you will have available.

In most homes built in the last 50-75 years or perhaps longer, internal blocking in the walls would make using the actual walls difficult to impossible, as would insulation in homes built in the post-70s oil shock. You could pull down the drywall, rip all that our and then put up plywood or something similar and pour the gravel in from the top, but I think there is a better solution, and one that can be easily undone once things get back to normal.

Build new walls inside the original ones. I's use 1/2" (or whatever weird dimension passes for 1/2" these days) plywood on its side to give you a 4' tall protected space. For an extra margin of safety, consider making them thicker, perhaps by using 2x6s rather than 2x4s. You'll also want to use screws with washers or something like these Grip-Rite nails to help keep the inner wall from pulling loose from the 2-bys as happened in the video. Use large angle brackets to attach them to the studs in the existing walls. Leave the tops open so you can top off the gravel if needed. I'll leave things like working around heat registers and electric sockets to the builder.

My only serious concern is weight, but given these will be at the perimeter of the structure, I think the structure should be able to bear the weight. If your house is on a slab, Bob's your uncle. You could also use this in a single room in the house to form a safe room, but be aware of structural support issues.

And boy, do I sincerely hope it doesn't get to this. But I think I'll get a materials list together, just in case.

Gangs are going for more firepower

(Via the Drudge Report)

In the gun-controlled paradise that is Chicago, street gangs are upping their game, moving from pistols to long guns to fight their never-ending turf wars. I'm sure you're as shocked as I am. Chicago authorities blame, among others, Indiana and its "lax gun laws".

I've been writing a lot in the last few days about what I'm calling the potential for a "long hot summer" and others are calling the Second American Civil War. I don't see this as a "proper" civil war, because it's going to be multi-sided, and the sides will vary depending on where you are. In a metro area like Chicago, there may be 10, 15 or even 20 sides, all vying to control a piece of the urban pie. I think the long hot summer will tell us if there is a civil ware or not and just how bad we can expect things to be.

If things turn bad, if there really is a Second American Civil War--and signs are starting to point toward it--there will be what may appear to be pseudo-random reactions from the Powers That Be. Some will be intelligently thought out and some far less so as our governmental agencies flail about trying to control the situation.

You will need to be ready for these just as you will need to be ready for the events that prompt them. I would not say that it is impossible or even unlikely for places like Chicago to attempt door-to-door sweeps attempting to confiscate firearms or food or whatever the authorities, legally constituted or otherwise, have deemed that you should not have.

Something more to take into account as you move forward with your planning and into your implementation.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

It must be the night for civil war

(From Michael Bane on Facebook)

Or maybe it's just Town Hall is hittin' a groove. At any rate, Kurt Schlichter has an interesting piece that plays off the civil war meme. One of the scary things he notes is an unscientific poll he did in which 77% of the respondents expect significant political violence in the next 4 years.

Well, if they all do something about that expectation, at least our side will be ready.

It's starting to become something of a meme

(Found on Facebook)

I'm finding more and more pieces in the media, such as this one on Town Hall,  that pronounce we are in the midst of the Second American Civil War. Are we? It doesn't feel like it to me, but it probably didn't feel like it to my ancestors until people started shooting, and in reality, the first civil war started long before that.

It could just be fashion, a band wagon to jump on. It could be clickbait. But I'm getting this sinking feeling that there is more than a bit of truth in these articles and blog posts. I sincerely believe that this summer will make the truth or lie of it obvious.

Just in case, I'm being more cautious in my daily activities. Shopping trips are now pretty much restricted to daytime hours. Evening trips are being eliminated if possible. I carry a larger handgun and more ammo. Trips to larger cities are only taken when necessary, and then with more precautions than I took a few months ago.

I'd like to suggest that all of you evaluate the situation in your area and the situation in the nation and take what precautions you deem necessary. I'm not saying run out and "stock up on canned food and shotguns", but look at your situation and consider what you'd need if you had to stay home for a week or two. Are you ready for that?

The long hot summer

(Links via the Drudge Report)

Is the long hot summer starting? Watch this, then watch some of the other videos that will show up on the right from the cell phone cameras of various witnesses, none of who called the police.

I believe the failure of any of them to make that call is an important fact that should not be missed. All of them are complicit in this attack.

According to the news story, it appears that the officer has been the target of what might be called harassment from these or other juveniles, all of whom use this street as a route to school.

Watching the videos, note the restraint of the off-duty officer when confronted by the wolfpack tactics of the "children", all of whom seem well-versed in just how to play this situation for the cameras.

I'm not going to defend the shot into the ground (which at first I thought was a negligent discharge), but I have to admit it had what I think was the intended effect--they scattered like roaches when the light goes on--and it finally attracted the attention of on-duty police units.

You need to note that these children are not children, no more than the children in "Lord of the Flies" were children. Individually I suspect they are fairly dangerous and in a group they obviously present the kind of clear and present danger that can justify the use of deadly force. Personally, I'd be less than surprised if some of them don't have older siblings who are gang members. Hell, I'd be less than surprised if some of them aren't already gang members--it would explain a few things.

I also note that if you are going to carry cross-draw, you'd better practice getting the gun out of the holster with your weak hand. If the attackers had been determined, we could be watching a very different video.

Due to the publicity surrounding this, the officer's home has been vandalized, pointing out the dangers of residing in metro and suburban areas where this sort of thing is more likely to occur. It also emphasizes the need for having a safe location where you can bug out to for a few days if necessary.

I'm going to try and follow this story and see how it plays out. The outcome for the officer will be an important data point for those of us who might find ourselves caught up in a similar situation in the next few months.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


The National Review is having vapors about the Fourth Circus' decision in Kolbe vs. Hogan, the lawsuit over Maryland's assault weapons ban. Somehow, this strikes me as a bit unusual for that particular publication.

I have not read the entire 116 page decision yet. That much legalese needs a fresh eye and I don't have that right now. The best I can see from reading other's takes is that the 10-4 majority is attempting to take advantage of a hole in the Heller decision. However, there seems to be a dearth of actual written opinion on the decision, which is a little odd.

Even though I'm a little pushed for time, I'll try to wade through this thing and see what I can make of it. If you know of someone with anything useful to say on the subject, leave me a comment, please.

The du Toit...he hath returned

I knew he was coming back Monday, I plead life. Go forth and read. Welcome back, blogfather.

I should read my own blogroll more often

Even when it provides disquieting confirmation that Something Is Up (don't miss the comments). Given Lawdog's day job, you have to take his thoughts seriously.

Being retired has certain perks, one of them being that I get to do things more on my schedule than I did when I was working. Today I went to the barber shop after lunch for an overdue haircut. Another nice thing about being retired is that I don't have to be as concerned about "Did I get a haircut this month?"

At any rate, there are some folks with jobs that allow them similar scheduling flexibility. One of those groups are those who, like Lawdog, work in law enforcement. There are quite a few that frequent my barber. We've all been getting haircuts together for longer than any of us care to admit and as a result, we talk more freely among ourselves than a given group of customers might, even though we may not see each other for months at a time.

At any rate, there's always a TV on, and while I was there, a news story on the pipeline protesters in North Dakota came on. Silly me was under the impression those idiots had left for warmer climes, but no, some of them were hardy enough, or maybe stupid enough, to brave a North Dakota winter in shanties and tents.

As you may have heard, today was the day North Dakota finally decided the remaining idiots were going to be evicted, forcibly if necessary. Watching this event provoked the predictable sorts of comments from the few of us present this morning. One of the attendees is a serving officer in a local PD.

"Boys, we can laugh now, but this summer, you'd better be ready."

Now there's a conversation starter if there ever was one. Someone asks him what he's talking about. It seems he's thinking along the same lines as some of the things I've posted here about civil unrest/civil war, the same things that Michael Bane has talked about when he's discussed "chumming for monsters" and the same thing Lawdog is talking about.

There are entirely too many people thinking along these lines for me to be all warm and fuzzy. When this many people start drawing the same conclusions from a given data set, it's time to pay attention. We may be in for a long, hot summer that exceeds the ones I remember as a kid in the 60s. Those "Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer" may not be so lazy, just hazy with smoke and way too crazy. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

Here's one that's just for fun

Or maybe not.

Yeah, they've got some years and some miles on them, and they're packing some extra poundage. They definitely aren't high speed, low drag.

But they are out there and doing it. So, chairborne commandos, what is your excuse?

Fertilizing those raised beds

One thing that raised beds require is a continual renewal of the soil in order to maintain its fertility. You can pull the old soil out and remix it, but that strikes me as something they call "work". I'm not in favor of that if it can be avoided.

There are also commercial fertilizers, such as the ubiquitous Miracle-Gro. Yes, they work, but they also cost money, and if "something happens", you may not be able to run down to the local big box retailer to get more. But it doesn't hurt to stock up on some in case of an emergency. They can get you through something like an unexpected need to ramp up production by 3 or 4x.

You can use animal manure, but that one you have to be careful with because of parasites and its chemical make up. I'm not going into the details, you can read this if you're interested in the whys and hows.

I'm more in favor of compost tea. There are two variants that I know of, brewed and steeped. (Yes, this sounds a lot like drinkable tea. Some people love to carry analogies a bit further than they should, but we're going to have to go with the flow.) Brewed compost tea requires external inputs such as molasses and air pumps and I'm not going into it here, because I'm looking for cheap, easy and available in a long term emergency. That leaves us with the steeped variety.

Basically, steeped compost tea is really like steeped tea you would drink, except you don't need to boil the water. Get a container, toss in some compost and water, then wait. Use the result to water and fertilize your garden. Eazy peazy.

In reality, it isn't that simple, because you need good compost, which isn't as easy to make as some people think it is. You're also going to make this in large quantities, so we're talking 55 gallon drums, lots of water to deal with, and some way of distributing it. Watering cans work, but if you're watering a lot, you might want a pump and hose, or better yet a gravity fed system if you can work one out.

Obviously, you can spend a lot more than 5 minutes on this, but here's a quick video that will let you dip your toe in the water. Don't do it with the tea, that stuff's yucky.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Back to it

I've been a little lazy doing 5 Minute Prep posts, so you're going to get a twofer today. Here are two videos on a subject near and dear to the heart of everyone I know--eating. We all have to do it, and if you're like my family, you'd like to see your food bill come down and the quality of what you eat go up.

That's possible, but you'll trade time and effort for the convenience of going to a grocery store, because you'll need to start gardening.

I remember my grandma's garden. She lived on the banks of a river in West Virginia, and the soil was black because it had so much organic material in it. I was little, but I remember picking potato bugs off the potatoes and feeding them to the chickens. She raised a lot of her own food, canning it to preserve it for the winter.

She could grow anything, and she did, in big long rows that seemed to go on forever to a kid my age. She had plenty of land to do it with, and the bigger her garden, the less grass she had to mow, so for her, it was a win-win situation. She had out-lived three husbands and I guess she wasn't going to try her luck on #4, so she took care of everything herself.

Today, we've discovered, or perhaps rediscovered would be more accurate, intensive agriculture. It goes by a lot of names, such as "square foot gardening", but at the end of the day every method is simply a play on the same basic concept. Revolving around raised beds, the basic idea is to control the soil, providing the plants a much better growing environment than you would have otherwise. The raised beds allow for better drainage, so over-watering isn't so much an issue. Coupled with season extenders such as portable hoop houses and planting strategies such as succession planting, an experienced gardener can grow an amazing amount of food in an amazing small space.

The first video serves as a quick introduction to raised beds, while the second video takes you a little further into the subject. There are a ton of books on the subject, with the first one you should read probably being Mel Bartholomew's "All New Square Foot Gardening II: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space". Mel popularized the subject, but as you'll see if you watch either video, the world has taken off with it. There are hours of YouTube videos, several Facebook groups, email reflectors and so on devoted to the subject.

Even if you are stuck with a tiny yard, you can still raise a lot of your own food. If you live on an acre, you can probably be nearly self-sufficient in terms of veggies if you want to. I would hazard a guess that with perhaps as few as 3 and almost surely on 5 acres, you could raise all the food, including meat, that you would need. Beef would be a bit difficult, but I think with 5 acres it could be done. (Think  Dexter cattle.)

Without further ado, here are the videos.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

I have got to close some of these browser tabs

I've been keeping these open, planning on writing something long and likely overly pedantic about them. Lucky you, I've been busy (early spring, huzzah!), so you're getting them short form.

A thread from that will allow you to date your M1A if your serial number is 000001-100000. Handy if you own an M1A in this serial number range. Unfortunately the link to serail numbers above this range no longer works, and the Wayback Machine doesn't have a copy of it.

A treatise on "Why You Should Read Classic Literature" from Men of the West. Short version--Hollywood lies. I'm sure you're as shocked as I am about that piece of news. Also a very interesting and wide-ranging site; I've added them to the blogroll. Be prepared to spend a lot of time there....

From Deep Code, it's "Situational Assessment 2017: Trump Edition".  Another view of the phenomena that is Donald Trump and his election to the Presidency. Deep Code is another site you can get lost in, but I'm less sanguine about making them a permanent link. They're on Medium, and as far as I'm concerned, Medium is...suspect.

How to build and train your own personal bullshit detector. One of the more useful personal skills I can think of. Consider subscribing to Charles Chu's Open Circle. I find at least one thing of value every week. Yes it's on Medium, and Medium's suspect. I still find it useful.

Finally, a really fun piece to read, "Shoving Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals Right Back in the Left’s Ugly Face". Yes, we're still having some schadenfreude over the election, but the main point is something that I've been saying for a while--Alinski's rules work for anyone and in any direction. I'm not one to believe in this "lowering yourself to their level" line of BS. If you have to wrestle with a pig, you have to get down in the mud.

OK, tabs cleared for now. Carry on.