Friday, February 8, 2019

Canning Wild Boar

Skinned & Quartered
 Boar with 2" knife
I think wild boar is a great candidate for making canned meat, especially if you get them for free. If you have land where you can trap them or hunt them, then boar meat is a great meat to can.  I have neighbors who trap them and give them to me. If, however, you have to pay for the boar then there are probably cheaper, better meats to can.

I started with about 120 lb female boar.  I'll save you the breakdown, but I did a simple Field Strip of a wild hog. What is field stripping - I think there's another name for it?  I simply skin the hog and take the quarters and loins.  No gutting necessary.  I don't try to take the ribs or anything else.  Just the 4 leg quarters and the back straps.  Easy.  I did it - LITERALLY - with a 2" blade neck knife.

I packed the meat in ice for 3 days to let it relax and lose the enzymes that occur with rigor mortis.

Packed quarters and
back straps in ice
for 3 days
After 3 days the boar is ready to debone and pack in quart (or pint) wide mouth jars.

Canning boar meat is just like canning any other type of meat.  You cut it into chunks and put it in jars with a little bit of salt. Clean the lip of the jar with a clean paper towel then put the top on with a ring.

Pressure can the jars at 10 PSI (seal level) for 75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts.  Then turn off the heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally as the canner cools - this normally takes 45 - 60 minutes.  Do not release the pressure prematurely.  Let the pressure drop naturally.

Once the pressure has dropped you can open the canner and remove the jars.  I let them cool overnight and then remove the rings and clean the outside of the jars with soap and water.  I clean them so that there is no scent on the outside to attract bugs.  I have been using the same jars for years.  Every once in a while one doesn't make it.  When I was canning this batch one of the jars broke in the canner.  No big deal. I just threw it away (with the meat in it) and kept the rest.
Cut up boar meat with 1/2 - 1 teaspoon
of salt on top, ready to add lids.

This 120 lb boar made 12 quarts of meat - about 24 lbs.  That doesn't seem like a lot compared to the weight, but you need to remember that 1/4 of the boar is head, 1/4 of the boar is hide and fat, 1/4 of the boar is guts and organs, spine and hooves.  That leaves 30 lbs.  Take out the bones, and there you go.

I also took the bones from the leg quarters and put them in a giant pot with some onions, celery and salt to make a big pot of boar stock. I simmered the stock for 6 hours while I was preparing and canning the meat. After canning the meat I put 14 quarts of boar stock in the canner and canned a bunch of stock.

After losing one can of meat to breakage and eating another can as soon as it came out of the canner I ended up with 10 quarts of canned boar meat and 14 quarts of canned boar stock.

You can use this just like any other canned meat. You can eat it straight out of the jar if you want. I've eaten meat that I've canned up to 3 years later. Just store it in a dark place, cool is good too. But canned meat is just like canned tuna from the store. It is shelf stable for years.

Canned wild boar and boar stock
I usually use the stock to make rice then add the meat to the rice and eat it like that with a vegetable as a side (preferably a vegetable that I grew.)

You could certainly use it to make enchilada's, pork tacos, casserole.  Put it in a casserole dish with rice, cream of chicken soup, maybe some broccoli and top it with grated cheese.  Take it to the church potluck.  You'll be the toast of the potluck!

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Greatest Guide to a Happy Life

I'm watching the stock market plunge, the credit markets lock up and the government shut down all while whistling and eating a fluffy pancake for breakfast.  At one time I lived a life where such things affected me. Then I simply chose to stop doing that!

I read an article this morning about a 48 year old "mom" with $600,000 in college student loan debt. Another article explains "How $50,000 in debt can turn into $100,000." Everywhere there are pundits screaming about what the President is doing. And if I pull up any big city Google traffic map on any weekday morning or evening I can see the daily hell people spend hours of their day experiencing.

I did some version of it. I was Vice President of Information Technology for a marketing company in the late 1990's and early 2000's and lived in Dallas.  I listened to conservative talk radio and would even call in to vent my frustration. I had money in a 401(k) during the 2000 crash.  I had a relatively nice house with a swimming pool, 2 new car payments, and took bank account draining vacations.

Ughh!  What a wasted time that was.  My kids didn't know me, my wife an I barely spoke to each other, and I had to rush around to have "fun" in the moments between all the never-ending obligations.  Part of that is just having kids in school, but most of it was just the "rat race."

(Certainly this isn't the only way to have a happy life... but it sure made my life happier.)


I don't mean "own a business." Owning a business isn't the path to happiness.  Owning a business is the path to debt, stress, 18 hour work days, employee problems, complaining customers and divorce.  Some people like that sort of thing.

Work for YOURSELF. Set up a personal micro-business that you do that pays your bills in a way that you enjoy.  This is the "dream" right? It's only a dream because people don't actually do it. They think that working for themselves means "building a business."  It doesn't.  A massage therapist.... I'm a dog trainer... personal services... or individual consulting to businesses... think a programmer or a regulation consultant.

When you work for yourself you control your work schedule.  I only work 6-7 days per MONTH. You pick your customers. I only train dogs for nice people who have lots of money. It makes every client visit like a day at the spa. And if you're smart you'll do something that naturally fits with your personality.  I never feel like I'm "going to work." I feel like I'm driving in the country (which I love) and "helping people out" (which makes me feel good about myself). In the end they pay me a bunch of money - which also makes me feel good about myself.


If you are going to make payments on something make sure it's very short term. Drive used cars that you pay cash for. Live somewhere that you can buy outright for less than 5 years of payments. Don't use credit cards. Don't take out loans.

Remember all the student loan articles.  Would you like to know a great way to avoid $100,000 plus in student loans?  DON'T GO TO COLLEGE.  College sucks unless you want to be an engineer or doctor. Most "professions" can be learned by reading about a dozen books plus a little experience. BUT HOW DO I GET A JOB WITHOUT A DEGREE?... See Step 1.

Here are my bills: 

DirecTV - $150 (I could easily live without it)
Internet - $65 (I could not live without it)
Cell Phone - $100
Car Insurance - $45

THAT'S IT!!!  I eat a little food - call it $250.  Use a little gas - call it $25.

Add it all together and you get $635 per month.

What about electricity and water?  My son's family lives on my farm... THEY PAY IT.  No credit, no car payment, no mortgage, no unnecessary insurance products, no savings plan, no health insurance (I have VA health care because I spent 4 years in the Army "travelling to exotic lands and blowing them up!")

How hard is it to make $635... IF I WORK FOR MYSELF? If I do one board and train of a dog it brings in $1,000.   I usually do 2 per month.  I also usually do about $2,500 in other dog training per month as well... So, $4,500 in income MINUS $1,300 in expenses (there are advertising and driving expenses in my business) leaves over $3,000 per month in free cash.

If I had a mortgage and lived in the city that $3,000 would disappear the first day of every month. Mortgage, utilities, HOA fees, city property taxes.

Owning your own stuff is MORE THAN HALF of living a happy life. If you don't own your own stuff I don't think it's possible to live a happy life, because there's the constant stress of having to keep paying so you're allowed to use your own stuff.  Every month you have to pay rent on the air that you breath and the chair that you sit on.  That means you probably have more trouble doing STEP 1.  You HAVE to have a good job, so you HAVE to go to college, so you HAVE to have hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, so you HAVE to have a mortgage and car payments.

ugh!  Skip all that! (Why yes I did walk away from my mortgage... sometimes you gotta take bold steps to free your life up.  Luckily that's an option in America.  The bank will still get all the payments you made PLUS your house that they can sell... I think they will be OK.)

How can you possibly own your own house and land in 5 years?  DON'T LIVE IN THE CITY.  Move as far away as you have to move.  Move to a cheaper part of the state... MOVE TO A CHEAPER STATE!  I bought 10 acres with a trailer and other buildings on it in East Texas for $50,000.  Those deals are still constantly available all over the country.  I live 2 hours from Dallas, 2 hours from Houston and 3 hours from Austin.  I have to drive farther to go get my money from my clients, but not that much farther, and I only work 5-6 days per week.  GET OUT OF THE CITY!


The city is horrible, seriously.  The traffic.  The stress.  The costs of living there.  It's really not worth it.  What do you get for living in the city?  Access to better restaurants.  That's about it!  You get the same DirecTV in the country, the same internet.  Seriously, what else do you really do other than work?  Work... TV... Internet... go out to eat... maybe shop.... take the kids to school?  Repeat, repeat, repeat.

You can do all of that in the country.  You might have to drive to the city to do Step 1 - but you should set it up so you have to drive there as little as possible.  Do everything else over the internet and phone.  Or, if you are doing personal services, only do them on Saturday and Sunday.  That way there is no traffic.  Spend the week in the country.

Get out in the country. Get some chickens. Breathe fresh air.  See the stars at night.  Hear the coyotes in the distance. It literally took me a year before my brain relaxed after I moved out of the city.  A YEAR!  It took a year before the PTSD stress of city life finally left my brain.


Beyond a really nice mattress and a comfortable chair what does a person really need?  That's not to say I don't have stuff... I have lots of stuff.  But I don't "need stuff." This week I bought a big generator.  New they run $900.  I got it used for $250. I connected it to my tiny apartment and now I have battery backup.  I have 200 gallons of stored gasoline.  I could go 2 months without electricity and never miss a beat.  That's all "stuff."

You know what I mean, right. Buying stuff... wanting stuff... needing stuff in order to be "happy." From $5 caramel macchiato's to shoes and clothes to light kits on your new truck.  Junk!  Garbage!  Useless CRAP!

I have a tractor and two motorcycles, but no bills.  The motorcycles cost about $600 each. The tractor actually MAKES me money.  I rent it out for $100 a day.  In a typical month it makes $400 - $600 in income.  Technically the 200 gallons of gasoline I have on hand is "stuff." It cost about $500.  But I can use it at anytime.  It's more like money in the bank.

People spend so much time chasing stuff... A new car!  That's the big one.  I NEED a NEW SHINY EXPENSIVE CAR!  That will make me HAPPY!!!!!  OK.... let's see when the bills come.

That's it!

4 Steps.  I would also add to dump religion.  But most people can't do that.  Women in particular. They think it's helpful.  Religion is an expensive drag.  But if you are social (I'm not) then it's actually pretty useful.

This all might sound like I'm saying bail out of "life."  But the reality is the "life" that most people live is sold to them by parents, advertising, society, and quite simply a lack of actually looking at life and saying "what do I actually want out of life?"  The basic answer for most people is to "be rich" or to "be successful." Why?  "Because being rich and successful will make me happy!"  Really?  First, it's really hard to be rich, and "success" is never truly achieved.  There is always another level to "success." It's a hamster wheel.  How about DECIDING to be happy and CHOOSING to be successful in your own eyes instead of in your parents eyes and stranger's eyes?

I train dogs for very successful and very well off people.  Many of them own big companies and have really created a life.  Some others inherited their money - so they basically don't work.  But most of them work long hours at highly demanding professions so they can live in giant houses in exclusive neighborhoods. In the end if they stopped working for even a month all their "success" would disappear.  That's a tough life in my opinion.  Are they "happy?" sure!  Are you "happy?" sure.  And I was "happy" as a corporate whatever... but now I'm REALLY REALLY HAPPY, and stress free, and have resources that are helping the next generations of my family, and I have tons of time to pursue my passions.... So, it's just a thought.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

How to Pick a Generator (for Prepping)

Is my generator the right one for you?

I picked up a used generator this week.  It's a Generac GP6500.  I paid $250 for it.

Is that the right generator if you're prepping for a disaster?

It has a running wattage of 6500 watts and a surge watt capacity of over 8500 watts.  It has about a 6 gallon gas tank, an easy pull starter, plus wheels and a handle for moving it around.

It's pretty big.  New they run about $900. They are reliable - as portable generators go.  This one has over 1,500 hours on it and it still runs strong. That is the same as running it 4 hours per day EVERY DAY for an entire year.

Or is another generator I have the right one?  This is an Earthquake IG800W.  I bought that one new for about $400. You can get the same today for $200.

The IG800W is only 800 watts (maybe 1000 surge watts). It only weighs about 18 lbs.  Is easy to transport and start.  It has a "idle down" circuit that saves on gas use.  And it's cute.


My answer to that question is always the same...


The big generator uses 90 ounces of fuel per hour.
The small generator 8 ounces of fuel per hour.

Here it is in gallons.... for 8 hours of use the big generator would use about 4.5 gallons of gasoline. The small generator would use about HALF A GALLON in the same 8 hour period.

Most people ask "what are you trying to run" when picking a generator.  I ask "how much gas can you store?"

In a prepper situation many situations might make it impossible to buy gasoline... flooded roads, electricity out to the gas stations, or financial system problems makes processing electronic payments impossible.  In those cases you can only rely on the gasoline you already have on hand.

If you live in a suburban home how much gasoline can you store?  5 gallons?  10?  That's for you to answer.

Would you like to run your refrigerator and a window AC unit and electronics?  Then you need a bigger generator.  But if you can only store 5 gallons of gasoline then you can only run them for about 8-12 hours. After that you might as well not own a generator.

Would you like to just run some lights, a LCD TV or laptop, a fan and charging ports for your phones? If you can store the same 5 gallons of gas with the smaller generator then you can get 80 hours of power.  If you divide this up into 6 hours of power per day that translates into close to 12 days of power.


I live on a homestead in the country.  I own a 210 gallon gasoline storage tank - which I keep full.  That means in a power outage I can run the big generator 5-6 hours per day I can get about 70 days of generator use out of my big generator.  (5 hours x .6 gallons per hour = 3 gallons per day 210/3 = 70 days)

If I stop using the big generator after 60 days then I'll have 30 gallons of gasoline left in storage.  If I then switch to the small generator.... at 5 hours per day of use... I can get another 115 days of use.


Here's a website that will help you with that:

Things like laptops or cell phones don't have "surge watts" but things with motors like refrigerators and window AC units do.  This will help you figure what you can actually run, based on your generator's size.


Step 1 - Decide how much gas you can store.
Step 2 - Decide how many hours per day you want to run the generator.
Step 3 - Decide how many days of power you will need.

Divide your gas into your hours into your days.   10 gallons divided by 5 hours per day (2 gallons per day) divided by 10 days of power... = 31 ounces of gasoline per hour.

Now pick a generator that uses 31 ounces of gas per hour or less.  It'll be a very small generator... maybe a 2000 watt inverter like the one linked below:
The Pulsar PG2000is.  Cost: $400.

Now figure out what you can do with THIS generator.

We all want to run EVERYTHING, FOREVER in a power outage.  That's not possible.  Generators use fuel.  That's the limiting factor.

Below is a Westinghouse iGen 4500.  It uses 3.4 gallons of fuel per 18 hours of run time.

That means if you store a reasonable 15 gallons of gas and run it 5 hours per day you could get over 2 weeks of run time out of it.  What will 4500 watts run?  Quite a lot.

I could run a refrigerator, a 700 watt microwave, a window AC unit (and some other small stuff).  Pretty cool.  I wish I had one... but they cost over $900.  You have to weigh the chances of a long outage.

For me I prefer to just store a lot of gasoline.  No matter what that costs I WILL actually use the gas even if there is no emergency.  So I'm only out the cost of the generator... in my case $250.  This generator will run my entire tiny apartment - including hot water heater.  So in an emergency I can just fire it up.  I already have a bypass that puts it right into my apartment breaker box.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

7 Years on the "Homestead"

Last month made 7 full years "on the homestead." What has changed, what has stayed the same, and what is going on?

In October of 2011 my wife and I walked out of our city home (mortgage) with a swimming pool and sold just about everything else we had in order to put together $7,000 cash.  That $7,000 made the down payment and closing costs of $5,500 for our 10 acre homestead and gave us $1,500 in moving expenses.  We got here dead broke but happy.

We did have an income.  I had a residual income of about $1,500 per month and(that lasted for about 4 years) I also trained dogs in Dallas - which is what we did everything with.  The balance of the mortgage for the farm was $45,000 which we paid for $800 per month. The farm was paid off in October 2016 .... 2 years ago.

Our daughter was 14 when we moved.  One reason we moved out here was to get her out of the overcrowded, giant city school into a small 350 student high school.  She has since graduated and moved about an hour away. She works at Starbucks and lives independently in an RV that she owns. She loves her freedom.


The picture to the right is what's happening.  It's deceptively simple. This is a picture from inside an apartment that I built on the homestead toward the building site of my son and daughter-in-laws first room of their new home.

This is a picture of the evolution of a homestead. One of the first buildings we built on the homestead was a 10x20' rabbit house.  Dirt floor, walls and a roof shed type structure.  THAT RABBIT HOUSE is now a fully finished apartment.  It's a 2 room efficiency with kitchen, bathroom (with shower) and living room.

Here are pictures before the living room was painted.

When we originally built this building it was for rabbits, not for people.

The building that is being converted by my son (through the window) was originally built to house dogs.  It was a 10x20' dog kennel.  We raised the roof and will be installing walls, etc, and finishing it out to be the new living room.  He will expand it from there adding bedrooms, bathroom, etc over the coming year.

When we built the homestead we didn't have any plans for having any of the kids move BACK onto the homestead.

My son was living with his girlfriend (he was 20) when we moved out here.  Since then he got married to her and now they have a 3 year old son. They spent a couple years in Oklahoma - he was managing restaurants. When he turned 25 he was old enough and mature enough for me to teach the "family business" to him - Dog Training.  So we brought them out to the homestead, trained him over the Summer 2 years ago, and then re-settled them in Dallas.

This Summer they said they wanted to move out to some land.  The city is too crowded, too expensive, and no fun.  The easiest and best path was for them to just move out to the homestead.  We have 10 acres... plenty of room to spare.

They have been here 1 month and they are already building their place.


We are all dog trainers.  I do in-home training in Austin on the weekends. My son does in-home training in Dallas on the weekends and the wive's (mine and his) do boarding and training on the homestead.  My wife is getting out of dog training and back to her love - which is programming.  She will move to Dallas next month for her job and probably live there for about 5 years.  That's how we roll!

The dog training was never meant to be a multi-person, multi-generation business.  I started doing it 10 years ago as a way to "get out of the house." I had a residual income that made it so I didn't need to work anymore.  After a while the residual income went away and dog training become the main source of income for the homestead. It's easy, relaxing, and I only do it 2 days a week.

Dog training isn't really a high income business - especially if you don't want it to be a high income business. I don't want "money." I've never really been into buying "the big house" and "the sportscar" and all that stuff. I feel more comfortable in a 10 year old Prius and a 350 square foot apartment that I built myself. In the end we can only sit in one place at a time and all our cars pretty much go the same speed on the highway.  What difference does it make if they cost $3,000 or $130,000?

My son went off and proved he "could make it on his own" so now he's content working in the family business and living on the family homestead.  He just turned 28.

Here are some pictures.

Me with my son.
The thing about the homestead is that it is a PLATFORM upon which we can build anything. It's paid off.  That means I have no mortgage. My wife has no mortgage. Now my son and his wife have no mortgage.

If I was still living in the house I bought in 2006 I would still be paying $1,500 per month in mortgage, taxes and fees each month. I would be in year 12 of a 30 year mortgage. The house is worth more today than it was when I bought it, but what good does that do me?  It only makes the property taxes go up.  I can't spend my livingroom!  The way people try is by re-financing.... that's just more debt.

My son and his wife.
I'll give you an example.  One of my dog clients lives in a fairly normal (but old) 1,900 square foot house they bought for $80,000 30 years ago (in Austin). Now the house is paid off and it's worth $450,000.  YEA, RIGHT? Their taxes are $9,000 per year.  So they have to save $800 per month just to pay their taxes. Their house doesn't LOOK LIKE a $450,000 mansion.  It looks like a 1,900 square foot 30 year old house that needs new trim. But the taxes don't care.

The homestead is the opposite of that.  Yes, they have "equity" but we have 100% equity.  We own our land AND our taxes are $310 per year. Our land can't sink. It can't burn down. It can't be taken away.  It's the dirt under our feet.

How much does it cost to build a house one room at a time? About $3,000 - $5,000 per room.  Seriously, literally.  The room they are building will only cost them about $1,200 because it already has concrete floors and a roof.  They are just putting in new walls, flooring, drywall, insulation, windows and door.

But, if I was going to build a 1,600 square foot house I could do it one room at a time.  I don't want a 1,600 square foot house.  I like my 350 square foot apartment, but they have a kid.  So let's make it a 1,200 square foot house.

They will build it 10x20' at a time (give or take).  Each segment will cost on average $4,000.  They will eventually build 6 segments. That's $24,000 built with cash.  This month it's a living room.  In March they add a master bedroom.  In July they will add a child's bedroom and a bathroom.  All this time they will live in our home with us - the mobile home... technically they live there with my wife and I live in my apartment.

That takes us to the end of the Summer when they will have the most extra money (dog training is seasonal).  That will allow them to build a big kitchen and back deck.  Now they have built 4 units (800 square feet, plus a deck) in less than a year.  Over the following year they will build more if they want... more porches, a laundry room, a game and TV room.. whatever.  EASY!  CASH!  NO DEBT!


They are optional.  Right now we don't have any animals on the farm - other than dogs.  That will cycle back around over the next few years.  In 3 years we will probably have all that stuff again along with a young orchard and a big garden.  It's inevitable!


He's 3 years old - soon to be 4. He will grow up with mom, dad, "peepaw" and "nana D." Plus 500 feet down the road is my brother and his wife. 45 minutes away is my daughter - his aunt Maggie.

10 acres of woods and dirt, building and dog training, tractors, gardens, animals... you name it.

No debt and everyone in his life is home almost all the time. No daycare. His parents aren't gone 10 hours a day.  No one is trying to fit their life into after rush-hour segments of cramming food down their face and rushing around to stores or watching TV before going to sleep to do it all again the next day.

Yes, he will be home schooled. Learning what's important in life. Living!!

He won't ever be told that he's the problem.  That he needs to sit down, shut up, wait his turn, not be so loud, stop jumping up and down, listen to a boring lecture, go to the Principal because he didn't get through the door before the bell rang. etc.

In case you don't have any children in public schools today - THEY ARE HORRIBLE!  No joke... they are PTSD inducing, pressure vessels where everyone is squeezed for all they have.  The teachers, the students and the parents - emotionally, intellectually and financially.  They are day-prisons that pretend to be teaching important things.  Here's a question - What year was the Magna Carta Signed?  Don't know?  Google it!  Does it matter if you know? Nope!

Time to learn geography?  Let's go dig in the dirt, learn which way is North by looking at the trees, learn which way is South by finding the Milky Way in the night's sky overhead.  Want to learn history? Let's talk about the Native Americans who used to live here.  The people were called "Tejans" which meant friends.  Let's get in the car and go see the route that the Spanish took up from San Antonio next to the Davy Crockett National Forest.  Who is Davy Crockett?  Let's go see the Alamo only 4 hours away!!

Why can't all learning be this easy?

Monday, November 12, 2018

$5,000 Tiny House (Give or Take)

I just watched a documentary on "Minimalism." Everyone was carrying designer backpacks or wearing designer clothes. They had "minimalist" designer furniture or lived in a $40,000 "tiny house" that was built by a "tiny house designer" who wanted to get rich while changing the world. Bashing advertising while advertising their expensive "minimalism."

It was interesting because I was watching it in my newly expanded 350 square foot "apartment" that I built for about $5,000.  I say it's newly expanded because it was a 200 square foot apartment for the first year, then I added a "living room" so that visitors didn't have to stand to talk or sit on my bed.  My son and his wife and 3 year old moved onto our homestead. So I knew I would need more room for them to hang out in my apartment with me.

Original building - a rabbit house.
There was a mobile home already on our homestead when we moved out here. So that's where we lived. The first building I built myself on my homestead was a 20' x 10' shell to keep rabbits.

I planted treated posts in the ground, ran horizontal 2x4's between them and put 2x4's and a tin roof on top.  It cost about $500 to build.

A bit later I put in floor joists and a plywood floor. That was a couple hundred dollars.

Then last summer I put in interior stud walls, insulated the walls and the ceiling, installed drywall and turned it into a tiny apartment. Electrical, plumbing, shower, toilet, small kitchen area, windows, proper door.  That was fairly expensive.  About $2,500.

 As I lived in it I added some cedar trim, better light fixtures, a ceiling fan.  It was still a tight fit. I had one chair, a small refrigerator, book shelf, a place for clothes.  It's not all shown in the pictures, but you get the idea.

I lived in there for the year.  It was my "dog training" apartment so I could train a dog for 2 weeks without worrying about what it might do in the regular house.

A small window AC unit is plenty to keep it cool in the summer, even in Texas. An electric heater kept it warm in all but the coldest temps.  When it got down below freezing it wouldn't really keep up.  The floor joists were not insulated when the floor was originally installed. So cold can creep up through the floor.

I made sure to put in plenty of electrical outlets.  The expensive bits that I added after the original $2,500 conversion was the electric hot water heater (used for $100) but I had to build a small building behind the apartment to house it. That cost $250 to build from scratch.

There was a deck in front of the apartment, so I already had the beginning of this summer's expansion. The deck was solid and stable.  I put down plywood for the floor and built standard stud walls, then I put in straight 2x4's for the roof with tin on top.  Easy enough for a few hundred more dollars.

Insulation, more electricity, a window and I moved the door from the original place to the expansion.  Throw in a ceiling fan and bingo! I almost doubled the space.

2 exterior doors until I "dried in" and insulated the
new space.
I splurged a bit and put down a $200 snap together linoleum plank floor that looks like wood.

I will probably add a 2nd small window unit to this room.  I will install it through the wall, instead of in the window.  That way I still have a working window.  I already put the framing into the wall and just laid drywall over it.  I know where it is if I want to use it.

The new room is 10x16, so it adds 150 square feet of usable space.  I gives me a little more breathing and walking room in the bedroom section, and allows for a place for sitting to read or talk with visitors.

All said and done the new room cost about $2,600 to build.  I will trim it out in cedar over the winter and spring, like the bedroom.

I had some experience and my brother to help, so it was built with a little less trouble than if I had known nothing.  But it's not rocket science.

This probably would have cost a bit more if the deck wasn't already where I wanted to add the room.

The point is this: for all practical purposes a "tiny house" is a shed that has been insulated. My brother did a "rent to own" 15x33' storage building for his home. Then it finished it out inside.

Mike's place insulated before drywall

Mike's place at first.
They lived in it for close to a year with only insulation on the walls, No drywall yet.  Eventually they drywalled it and put in wood floors, etc.

They key was that they didn't have to pay a mortgage.  They did "rent to own" the building for 36 months for about $300 per month.  That's more than $5,000, but it was very manageable even on social security income.

I understand why people do "tiny houses" on wheels, because most people don't own any land. There is one major reason why that's true. Many people aren't willing or able to move to where land is really cheap - like East Texas.  My 10 acres with a mobile home, fencing, some outbuildings, etc. was $50,000. That's all.  The same thing near Austin would cost I don't know 5 - 10 TIMES as much.

That's why we bought where we did, because we could afford to pay it off in 5 years.

My point is this, watching the documentary made me think that "minimalists" are really higher income people who are playing tiny house for a while.

Homesteaders are low income people who actually don't mind making our own lifestyle.  I shop at Walmart. My shoes cost $15.  I drive a 2003 Prius with 350,000 miles on it.  I bought it 3 years ago for $3,000.

It is possible to live a truly minimalist lifestyle if you are willing to give up MONEY. Most people aren't. There are ways to work in the country.  I drive every weekend to Austin to train dogs.  I drive 3 hours to Austin on Saturday, train dogs, and come home.  I do it again on Sunday.  Same thing.  Easy peezie.

My daughter lives alone on a Starbuck's coffee girl income - $1,200 per month if she's lucky.  How does she do that?  She lives in a 20' RV at an RV park.  I gave her the RV. The RV park rent is $350 per month and includes all utilities including electricity, water, cable TV and Wifi. There is a gym and laundry services at the RV park.

There are lots of ways to skin the Tiny House cat!

Anyway, I just wanted to show my "tiny house."

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

How to Store 52 Buckets of Basic Food Security

There are many types of Food Storage.  The type of storage you do depends on what you are trying to prepare for.  The most important part of preparing is deciding WHAT you are preparing for.  If you are preparing for a flat tire on your car then have a spare and jack, or roadside assistance.  If you are preparing for a financial emergency then save money.

This entry is about preparing for a FOOD emergency when you can't simply go buy more food at the store - either because you have no money or because the stores aren't selling food (economic collapse, cyber attack on financial system, region-wide electricity outage, trucking strike, EMP, food disruption, etc.)

Here are examples:

"Short on Money Prep"

Buy extras of 1 or 2 weeks groceries and HABA (Health and Beauty Aid) Products.  Store them in the back of the kitchen cabinets or a closet.

This is in case you run short on money one week.  You don't have to worry about food.

"Electricity out for a Month Prep"

This is 1 month's worth of food that can be stored and prepared even if the electricity is out.  This includes things like canned meat, possibly dehydrated milk, peanut butter and the like.

Consider what emergency you are preparing for and come up with a plan of action on how to prepare.

The following is a plan of action on having a year's supply of LONG TERM STORAGE BASIC FOOD SECURITY.

The storage of food below is for basic life in the event of a truly catastrophic emergency that fundamentally effects food supplies in America for more than 2 months.  It is a year's supply of basic calories for 2 people.  This food storage assumes continued access to drinkable water and continued access to fuel necessary (propane, electricity or wood) to cook food that requires lots of energy - such as beans and cornbread.

Examples of what such an emergency would be:

1) An EMP or Solar Storm that takes out the major transformers for the nation and require months to a year before they can be replaced.

2) A major nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan that would create a "nuclear winter" affecting crop growth in the Northern Hemisphere for up to a year.

3) A crippling injury that takes a year to recover from or a year before I start getting Social Security Disability.

I have other food preps for other emergencies.  Other food preps are more flexible and many of them can and will be used even if there is no emergency.  The prep below, however, would never be practically used unless there was a major food or income disruption that lasted more than a couple months.

Kept at normal room temperatures these items will last 20-30 years.  However, I would probably replace the beans every 3 years because beans tend to get tough over longer periods.

The prep below is not complete.  It could use some additional components, such as powdered milk, powdered butter and powdered eggs.  But, I'm going to keep it as inexpensive as possible.  The goal is to have 1 year's basic calories collected over 1 year of preparing.

This is 52 BUCKETS that can be created over 52 WEEKS.  Each week I will purchase 1 bucket worth of supplies and transfer them into MYLAR bags that are then heat sealed with oxygen absorbers (except for the sugar which gets no oxygen absorbers).

18 FIVE gallon buckets of rice with oxygen absorbers
10 FIVE gallon buckets of beans with oxygen absorbers
2 FIVE gallon buckets of sugar stored with NO oxygen absorbers
2 FIVE gallon buckets of flour
3 FIVE gallon buckets of cornmeal stored with oxygen absorbers
Iodine tablets (to reduce the risk of cancer) plus iodized salt (10 lbs).
8 TEN POUND buckets of oats (from Auguson Farms)
1 FIVE gallon bucket of misc - baking soda, baking powders, etc.
8 (bucket equivalent) amounts of canned veg, beans, fruit, etc.

A five gallon bucket of rice is 36 lbs.  I can buy two 20# bags of rice at Walmart for $8.43 each.  That means I can create 1 bucket for $17 (plus the cost of the mylar bags and bucket itself) and have 4 lbs left over.  The left overs will accumulate until I have 16 lbs of left over rice that I can put with another 20 lb bag.  So no rice is wasted.  I will be storing 18 buckets x 36 lbs of rice = 648 lbs of rice at a cost of 42 cents per lb.  This is a total cost of $272 for the rice.

The beans will be more expensive to store.  Each bucket will hold 35 lbs of dried beans.  I can buy 20 lb bags of dried beans at Walmart for $14.38.  10 buckets x 35 lbs of beans = 350 lbs of beans at a cost of 72 cents per lb.  This is a total cost of $252.

Next is sugar 2 x 35 lbs = 70 lbs (Walmart Great Value) at 33 cents per lb = $23

Flour is next 2 x 35 lbs = 70 lbs (Walmart Great Value) at 29 cents per lb = $20

Cornmeal... BYU did a long term storage test on Cornmeal and it stored fine for over 10 years.  Their tests ran out to 33 years of storage... 70 lbs at 5 lbs costs $2.28 x 14 = $32

The 80 lbs of oats are a little more expensive at $19 per bucket x 8 = $152

1 bucket that include Misc, Salt, Iodine Tablets etc.  = $20

Lots of canned veg, fruit, beans that would fit in the other 7 buckets if I were to put in buckets - which I wont.  The average cost for a can of food is 75 cents x 360 = $270
Vegetables run 44 cents per can, fruit runs 86 cents per can, beans run 85 cents per can.

**Buy canned food that you will eat - even if it's more expensive - that way it really costs nothing.  It's food that you were going to eat anyway.  This will also naturally rotate your stock, even if it takes 3 years to normally eat 360 cans of food, it will be rotated with plenty of time to spare.  Just replace it as you eat it.  Keep the oldest cans in the front of the closet ("rotate your stock").  The 2 year expiration date on cans of food is regulatory, not real.  Canned food lasts much longer than that.**

The cost of all the contents for 1 years basic nutrition for 2 people is $1,021.

45 buckets = $135 (Home depot buckets)
45 bucket lids = $90
Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers = $110

The cost of the storage materials for all this food is $335.

TOTAL COST = $1,356
for 2 people to eat for 1 year with plenty of left-overs.

That's a lot of work and a lot of money to do all at one time.  The 52 bucket plan is to create 1 bucket each week.  So it will cost $26 per week or $104 per month to execute this plan.

Alternate storage food included Pasta (but not egg noodles) and dry potato flakes.


Each week create a storage bucket.  Alternately I could create 4 buckets at the same time each month.  Most people's budgets run month to month - so it's the same planning either way.


It's better to have the food than to not have it, so it can be stored where ever.  But if it is stored where people live it will be more stable and more protected from mice.  A 5 gallon bucket is 13 inches wide and 15 inches tall (with lid).  If you figure 5 feet high of stacking then they can be stacked 4 high.  52 divided by 4 equals 13.  So you need about 15 square feet of floor space.

Most people sleep with the bottom of their mattress about 1 foot off the floor.  A queen size mattress is about 30 square feet.  So you could remove your box spring and replace it with 24 or more buckets.  Keep the frame in place so you still have side rails, headboard and footboard.  Just replace the box springs and slats with 5 gallon buckets.

I can store 24 buckets under my full size mattress. I will place plywood on top of them to create a flat surface for my mattress and put a duvet cover over it. Another 24 buckets will go under the full size guest bedroom mattress with the same setup.  It will also help stop me losing my socks under my bed, and will keep the dog from going under it and not coming out.

That just leaves 4 buckets that I can put in a closet.

Additional information:

Alternately one could spent $2,000 per person on stuff like this: 
$1,960 one person food storage kit

If you go to the internet you can purchase the items in the picture as a "one year kit" long-term food storage.  Here's what this expensive $2,000 per person kit actually includes:


9 Cans of Hard Winter Wheat.  That is the same as 1.25 buckets of wheat.  It's about 45 lbs of whole wheat kernels.  It could easily be replaced with 45 lbs of white flour properly stored.  My bucket system has 70 lbs of properly stored flour.  It might need to be replaced every 5 years, but so what... it only costs $20 to replace.

5 Cans of Elbow Macaroni.  Each can holds 3 lbs of elbow macaroni, so you're looking at 15 lbs of elbow macaroni.  At Walmart elbow macaroni sells for 75 cents per lb.  So it would cost $11.25 to replace.

3 Cans of White Rice. Each can holds 5.3 lbs of rice.  So 16 lbs of rice.  We already know that a 20 lb bag of rice costs $8.43.

3 Cans of Quick Rolled Oats.  This is the same as Quick Oats on the Walmart breakfast aisle.  Each can holds 2.5 lbs of oatmeal, 7.5 lbs total.  We can get a bucket of 10 lbs of oats already prepped for storage for a cost of $19.

That's it for the grains.  Let's add it up 7.5 lbs of oats, 16 lbs of rice, 15 lbs of macaroni and 45 lbs of wheat.  That's a total of 85.5 lbs of grains. Is that enough for 1 person for 1 year?  I think not.  In the storage plan we did with buckets we are storing over 450 pounds of grains per person (rice, flour, oats and cornmeal). So our storage plan includes 5x more grains.


6 cans of beans.  3 Cans of Lintels and 3 Cans of Pinto Beans.  Each can holds 5.5 lbs.  That's 33 lbs of beans.  Dry Beans cost 75 cents per lb at Walmart.  Replacement Costs $24.75 By the way a pound can of cooked Pork and Beans is about 55 cents at Kroger. They claim to provide 100 servings of beans.  So 28 cans of Pork and Beans from Kroger (about $16) will replace the beans in the expensive pack.

14 cans of vegetable based meat substitute.  "Vegetable Meat Substitute" is defatted soy flour that is pressed into shapes with artificial meat flavorings.  In the pack it is artificially flavored like chicken, beef and bacon.  I have eaten it... It is disgusting.  So basically it's soybeans without the fat. If you canned the actual soybeans then it would be about 5 lbs per can.  That's 90 lbs of soybeans.  If you replaced it with 90 lbs of any other beans then it would cost 75 cents per lb... Replacement Costs $70


18 Cans of dehydrated vegetables, which they claim is 551 servings of vegetables.  But there's no way that's true.  For instance they have 2 cans of dehydrated chopped onions that they claim is 217 "servings."  I guess that might be true if a "serving" is a teaspoon or a tablespoon.  But that is not a true serving of vegetables.  Let's replace the 551 servings of vegetable with canned veggies (that have a shelf life of 2 years minimum, closer to 5 years at least). A can of corn (14.5 oz) costs 65 cents and is considered 3.5 servings of corn.  A can of green beans is similar. So a "serving" of vegetables costs 18.5 cents.  If you actually want 550 servings of vegetables (about 2 servings a day for a year), then you would need to spend only $102.  You would need to buy 157 cans of vegetables.  That's 13 flats of cans.  It might cost a little more if you wanted to include canned potatoes because there is only 2.5 servings per 66 cent can, not 3.5.


11 Cans of dehydrated or dried fruit, which they call 94 servings of fruit.  You can buy a 2 lb can of their (Auguson Farms) banana chips for $9 on Walmart's website or you can buy the same amount of banana chips at Walmart for $6.72.  So it isn't that much more to buy the stuff that is already packaged for long term storage.  That's not bad.  But if you want freeze dried strawberries there's only 6 oz in a $17 can which they call 18 servings.  I don't know about you but I don't want to eat rehydrated strawberries.  I, personally, would skip trying to store this and just go look for wild berries - like blackberries - in season.  You could just buy canned fruit!  A can of peaches (or other fruit) is 3.5 servings and costs 95 cents. I buy the fruit in "heavy syrup" because in an emergency situation you need all the calories you can get.  No one will be dieting!  27 cans or $27 will replace this with fruit you will actually eat throughout the year.


16 Cans of dried eggs and dairy products.  There is value to this.  Dried milk and eggs are good for eating, drinking or baking.  I would suggest buying what you want to have stored separately.  BUY SEPARATELY. 


1 Can of Sugar.  1 can of sugar is 5.5 lbs.  This would provide 1/4 ounce of sugar per day. That's less than a tablespoon of sugar per day.  Eating oatmeal?  Need sugar!  Drinking coffee or tea? Need sugar!  Want to make anything sweet (like pancake syrup)? Need sugar.  We are storing 70 lbs of sugar for $23.  70 lbs of sugar is 3 oz per day - 6 tablespoons.  Want more? Store another bucket or two.  Costs for the sugar in this "kit" about $3


9 Cans of Breakfast, Soups, Bread Mixes and Desserts (like Brownie Mix).  I like this category and I think you should buy premade pancake mix.  You can get 10 lbs of Krusteaz Pancake Mix *just add water* for $7.50. Plus we already stored 80 lbs of oats with our grains.  Add to this some *just add water* brownie or cake mixes and we are good to go.  I would say $30 will take care of this category for a year.  Cycle through them... because pancakes and brownies are good anytime.

Let's add it all up... $289 worth of food (not counting diary/eggs/butter powder) for the amazingly low cost of $1960.    Enough said.

FINAL RECOMMENDATION for 2 people: (not exactly what was listed at first)

Store 18 buckets of rice and 10 buckets of beans.  2 buckets of  sugar (70 lbs), 2 buckets of flour (70 lbs), 3 buckets of corn meal (70 lbs), 8 buckets of quick oats (80 lbs).  Supplement that with 60 cans of fruit 240 cans of vegetables, 60 cans of pork and beans (or similar).  Add 20 lbs of instant pancake mix separated into smaller mylar bags and 24 packets of *add water only* dessert mixes - stored open and used through out the year.  Keep extra oil, salt and pepper, baking soda, nuts, tea, popcorn, and coffee on hand.  Pasta and pasta sauces in jars (2 year storage life), pickles in jars, condiments in jars as eaten.  If you eat meat like chicken and want to can it then keep 50+ pints of canned chicken on hand (that's about 200 lbs of purchased bone in chicken after the bones are removed and it's canned... cost about $100 if you get leg quarters on sale) this will also render about 30 quarts of stock - made with the bones and skin and canned in quart jars.

Today's prep of dry food.
Sugar, Rice, Beans, Macaroni, Potatoes
Each bag is 1 gallon, each bag is 3-5 lbs
depending on the type of food in it.
On top is the "Impulse Sealer"
used to seal the mylar bags.

Update 12 hours later:

So I made a run to Kroger and to Walmart and spent about $100.  Here's what I got and what I found out.

20 lbs of rice was $8.43... exactly as expected.
20 lbs of beans was $14.38... exactly as expected.
25 lbs of sugar was $7.60... which is .65 less than I expected.
3 lb bags of elbow macaroni were $3.84 per bag.
   Macaroni is great for variety and can be easily paired with canned tomato products to make a meal.
I also added two 1 gallon mylar bags of instant potato flakes. Again, variety.

I also bought 34 cans of vegetables for .44 per can.
12 cans of ranch style beans for .84 per can.
9 cans of peaches in heavy syrup for .94 per can.

This is cheaper than Kroger vegetables at .50 per can.

I already had about 40 cans of vegetables to which I added another 50 cans of vegetables and fruits.

So I currently have about 90 cans of veg/fruit/beans.  This is 25% of my goal of 360 cans total.

I already have 20 lbs of oats in long term storage.  This is 25% of my goal of 80 lbs.

I have 90 lbs of rice in mylar bags for long term storage. This is about 14% of my goal of 650 lbs.

I have 60 lbs of beans in long term storage. This is about 17% of my goal of 350 lbs.

I have about 40 lbs of sugar in long term storage.  This is 57% of my goal of 70 lbs.

I have about 25 lbs of flour/pancake in long term storage.  This is 36% of my goal of 70 lbs

I have about 10 lbs of cornmeal in long term storage.  This is 14% of my goal of 70 lbs.

Another way of looking at it - 245 lbs of dry goods, 19% of my goal of 1,290 lbs. In the first month.  At this rate I will have my goal completed in 5-6 months.  Another way of looking at it is that I want to create "about" 100 lbs of DRY GOODS food storage (not canned food) per month.  I'm currently at 245 lbs.  So I am about 1 month ahead of schedule.

The final tally of food won't be exactly as planned..  I have added macaroni, for instance.  But this is how I will get to my goal.  Keep chipping away.  If I spent $110 next month on just rice I could add another 260 lbs, which would get me basically to the half way mark.  Chip away.

STORING ANYTHING means I have SOMETHING stored.  How long could I feed myself and my wife on the food I already have stored?  I'm thinking months... am I storing too much food?  I don't care!

Rice and beans average about 1,500 calories per pound (uncooked).  I have 150 lbs stored right now. That's 225,000 calories of food.  Divide that by 4,000 (2,000 per person per day for 2 people) and you get 56 days worth of food.  Add to that pancakes, flour based tortillas or other food, cornbread, sugar and oats PLUS the canned food.  I easily already have 90 days worth of calories stored.

The 1,000 lbs of rice and beans that I will store as part of this prep will provide 2 people 1 year's worth of calories at 2,000 calories per person per day.  Adding in the additional 300 lbs of other dry good preps and 360 cans of food will give a good cushion in calories, variety and nutrition.  It's always good to have extra in case something spoils, gets rodents in it or we have an extra mouth to feed.

Sept. 14 update:

Another 40 lbs of rice, 20 lbs of beans, 10 lbs of cornmeal, 15 lbs of flour and 10 lbs of "water only" instant pancake mix (which I count with flour).   I updated the tally above.  That's an addition of 95 lbs total.

I ordered 30 lbs each of "just add water" chocolate cake mix and "just add water" blueberry muffin mix.  These can provide good variety.  Each ounce of mix is 130 calories according to the nutrition information.  That seems a tad high, but it's at least 100 calories per oz TIMES 960 ounces is 96,000 calories of dessert.  Eaten 2-3 ounces per person per day (4-6 oz per day) it would provide at least 6 months worth of dessert.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Encaustic Pear #1 and Encaustic Pear #2

These are very important pears.  These are my first representational pieces in encaustic.  Some pieces render better online than they do in person.  These two pieces have a much better presence in person.  They are the first of many similar pieces.  They represent my current phase of small still lifes in encaustic.

Encaustic Pear #2, 8x8" on cradle board

Encaustic Pear #1, 9x12 on watercolor paper

Previous important pears:

Pair of Pears, Acrylic on canvas, 12x36"

Colored Pencil Pear, Watercolor Paper, 6x8"