Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Rain Capture Water Tanks

Here's a question that anybody interested in preparing for future SHTF-style emergencies ought to be asking themselves.  What good is a robust stash of long shelf life emergency food, an arsenal of weapons with thousands of rounds of ammo and a secured location if there isn't a guaranteed water supply?  What happens if the public water system becomes contaminated or simply stops working?

Got a well?  Great!  But how good is that well going to work if the electricity suddenly goes off?  No problem you say, you have a generator or perhaps solar.  Awesome!  But how long will they remain operational?

Got a year round creek or lake in close proximity, or maybe a gravity fed spring straight into your house?  Good for you -- it doesn't get much better than that, and this post probably isn't for you.  But I hope you read it anyway!

For those of us contemplating emergency preparation and not having the luxury of living within close proximity to a naturally occurring source of potable water, it might be worthwhile to put some thought into how we are going to secure a substantial, reliable, potable and replenishable store of water.

The bright idea that I came up with to solve this dilemma is what I call a "rain capture water tank" -- a BIG one.

Below is a picture of the first rain capture water tank that I built in my backyard mini-farm at my previous address -- not the best photo, and the tank is still in the process of being completed at this point, but it is the only photo I can find unfortunately.  I ended up painting it.  And after the first year of service I sunk 4x4 posts into the soil around the tank and cemented them in place, firmly bracing the walls against the enormous outward pressure exerted by the weight of the water held in the tank.

Rain capture water tank, 2000 gallons, next to chicken coup in backyard mini-farm
Features of this water tank:

1) The inside tank liner is 4 feet by 15 feet by 4 1/2 feet in height.  The bottom foot and a half is beneath the soil surface -- I dug the base into hard clay to give the bottom of the tank solid support, knowing that the weight of the water pushing down and outward would be too much for the rather flimsy wood frame and sidewalls to handle without that support.

2) The sheet metal roof extends roughly six inches past the tank on all four sides.  This is to protect the tank from rain of course, but just as importantly the extra roof surface area captures more water than if the roof surface area were to exactly match the tank.  For every inch of rainfall received, my tank will get an inch-plus of rain water runoff.  With the 4' x 15' dimensions of that tank, based on 7.48 gallons per cubic foot, the tank gets 448.8 gallons for every 12 inches of rain water captured.  Divide that by 12, and according to my calculator the tank collects 37.4 gallons per inch of rain capture.  Not too bad.  Due to the fact that my geographical area receives on average 48 inches of rainfall per year, I could count on that water tank filling up every winter.  As it turned out in practice, due to the extended roof surface area, it actually filled up every year by mid-January at latest and I had to disconnect the downspout to prevent overflowing.

3) The tank has a sealed cover made of plywood that is attached to 2x4s fastened across the top of the tank to prevent sagging.  The cover, or "lid" as I call it, is very important for the following two reasons:

  • Prevents dirt, debris and bugs from getting into the water (especially mosquitoes)
  • By preventing light from getting in, mold is unable to form, the water remains pure and crystal clear like a spring-fed underground cistern.  If even a single small shaft of light were to shine on the water for a few days it would quickly mold up, and we don't want that.

4) It has a hand pump installed on top of the cover, reinforced at the base with 2x4's, that pumps water at the rate of one quart per full pump.  The pump output has a garden hose attachment which enables pumping water to all areas of the backyard via the hose.  I never found time to hook up a drip irrigation system to it.

If you're capturing rain water to irrigate the garden or to serve as a backup potable water supply, you're probably going to want a hand operated water pump.  Hose attachments can be added to this pump for minimal additional cost -- hook your irrigation system up to the output and use the pump to water your garden.  Much better than having to carry water from your tank to where the plants are growing.  A duel hose output fitting with on/off switch for each output can be attached -- use one output for watering the garden and the other output for pumping water into the house or other area.

Example of hand operated water pump for watering the garden and pumping water to where you need it -- $160.90
5) The frame of the tank is actually rather flimsy.  Built of 2x4 douglas fir and 3/8 inch cedar plywood inner walls, this frame was only intended to provide the scaffolding and encasement for the custom tank liner.  At first I assumed that with almost two feet underground, the top two feet of water would not exert enough outward pressure to stress the frame -- I thought it would hold rigidly.  I thought wrong.  I got bulging around the top of the tank, and the 2x4 side supports definitely came under too much pressure.  So I kept it only half full for the first year, then the second year I added perimeter supports of 4x4 posts cut to size, four on each side and two on both ends (not shown in photograph as I hadn't completed that work yet), and sunk directly into the clay next to the tank with rebar and concrete to make it as solid as possible against the water pressure.  The concrete-sunk posts did the trick -- no more bulging or stress on the frame.

6) The liner is a custom-made potable water vinyl liner made by American Brand Products, Inc.  I ordered the liner to my specifications, received a quote, paid for it and the liner was shipped to my front door.  If you are thinking about getting a custom tank liner, these guys do it very well.  I never had any issues with my liner for this tank, or with the liner for my newest water tank.  Here's the link: http://www.websweeper.com/liner/tank-liner/

My first water tank worked extremely well, as good or better than envisioned when I had the "bright idea" to build it.  During the five years that the tank was in service, I had the comfort of knowing that should SHTF, I had my water source one hundred percent secured.

Then I decided to move out to a rural location.  I immediately set out to build ANOTHER custom water tank.  Only this time, I went BIG -- 10,000 gallons!!

Rain capture water tank, 10000 gallons
Another view
Above are two pictures of my new 10K gallon rain capture water tank, put into service October of last year.  Working off the success of my first water tank, I did it basically the same way.  Except this time I hired an excavator to come out and dig the hole.

This new tank is 4 1/2 feet tall, same as the first one, but is 20 feet by 15 feet in dimension -- 5 times larger than my first tank.  It has all the same features as the first one -- minus the hand pump -- with a couple of extras.

First, it is located at the highest point of my sloping property.  It is about a 40-foot drop to my ten thousand square foot grow area, so instead of pumping the water I can let gravity do the work for me.  At the bottom of that 40-foot drop I get a really strong stream of water coming out of the 1-inch PVC that I ran from the tank to the grow area.  Plenty of pressure for the drip line irrigation system that I'm currently in the process of putting the finishing touches on.  Hopefully not too much pressure.  I buried the 1-inch PVC pipe a few inches under ground (fair amount of digging), except for where it passes through the chicken yard.  At the midpoint of that approximate 200-foot PVC pipe run, close to my house, I installed a 2-way garden hose adapter with open/close valves.  This way, from that midpoint next to my house, I can turn the water off or on to the garden area without having to walk down to it, and if desired I can route the gravity flow into my house.

Ten thousand foot grow area surrounded by deer fence that the rain capture water tank services
Second, the frame for this monster water tank is not built of 2x4's.  Rather, it is built out of 4x4 treated redwood.  The walls are not plywood, but 3/4 inch particle board -- extremely tough stuff.  The 4x4s are attached with metal bindings and 4-inch screws.  Where the 4x4s meet at the corners I used 7-inch long, 1/2 inch thick hex-head "bolt screws" to ratchet them tightly together.

Third, I installed an overflow outlet pipe on this tank so that I wouldn't have to worry about the water level rising past the liner.  The overflow works great -- last rain we had a week ago, I went out to the tank and observed the overflow water gently trickling through the overflow pipe and into the crushed rock retainer wall, where it seeps down to the ground and then down the hill right along with all the rest of the rain water.

Finally, the lid (or cover) is heavy duty -- I can walk on it.  Supporting the eight 4-foot x 8-foot sheets of plywood that form that cover are two rows of cedar 2x4 "T-supports".  Each T-support is set on a flat 8-inch square paver with rounded corners, which itself rests on a half-inch bed of fine sand.  This way the pressure of the weight on the cover will not damage or otherwise impact the bottom of the tank liner.  I bolted 16-foot 2x4s to the T-supports just under the cover for additional support.  The 4x8 foot plywood sheets that form the cover are attached to not only the T-supports but to the 16-foot 2x4 cross-supports also.  It is very firm and solid.

There were about six to eight inches of free space on all sides of the frame once I got it completed because I asked the excavator to carve out a little extra working room when he dug the hole.  After I finished constructing the frame, I used my tractor to pour and pack crushed rock into that free space, then mounded up a couple of additional loads of crushed rock retainer around the front and sides where, due to the slope, more of the tank was above ground.  Due to the "bulging" issues I had with my first 2000-gallon water tank, I went full-retard on making sure this tank had all the side support required to prevent any outward pressure from putting undue stress on the frame.  It is currently topped off and no bulging.  But I'll continue to keep a close eye on it, ready to pack more crushed rock around the sides if needed.

But that's not the end of this long-winded story.  I felt like I needed even MORE water.  I came across a local company that had a special deal going on 5000-gallon prefab vinyl potable water tanks.  I picked one up for $2000 including delivery.  I put it on top of the crushed rock pad where the previous owners had installed a mobile horse stall.  Then I rerouted the west-facing side of my barn roof's rain runoff through the downspout, into a 3-inch pipe which I attached to a tension wire for support, and ran that to the top water tank input.  You can see it in the pic below.

Rain capture water tank, 5000 gallons, with 3-inch pipe routing water from barn downspout
Another view
Due to the large surface area of the west-facing side of my barn roof and the large amount of runoff it captures, it took less than two months for the 5000-gallon water tank to fill up.

At the bottom of the tank is the output spout which I opted to have installed with a garden hose adapter.  I don't get much gravity feed pressure in my grow area from this tank due to it being only ten feet higher in elevation, at most.  I'm going to use this tank to water my small hazelnut orchard this summer, and as time goes on and circumstances allow, I'm probably going to plant some cherry, peach and pear trees next to the hazelnut trees.  I'll have plenty of water in that 5K tank to keep them all well-watered.  Maybe even put some goats down there, who knows what else.  I have enough water to handle it all!

Garden hose attachment at base of 5000 gallon rain capture water tank
One final critical piece of equipment I thought I would mention is this hand pump shown below.  I took it to the nearest Home Depot where I found the correct fittings to adapt the intake and output of the pump to standard garden hose male and female fittings.  I mounted it on 3/4 inch particle board.  When I'm ready to start pushing water through my new irrigation system-in-development, I'll go to the midpoint 2-way hose adapter, hook my pump up to the free outlet and start pumping.  I did it for the first time last week and it took about five minutes of pumping to get the water flowing to that midway point.  Once there, it already had significant pressure.  I closed the valve on that outlet, opened the valve to the garden irrigation PVC line, then hauled ass down the hill to watch the water come out.  It was a thrill to see how powerful the jet stream was.  Gravity can work FOR you sometimes.

Hand pump used to pull water from rain capture water tank into main line and start gravity feed
In closing, an opinion.  No matter what steps you are taking to prepare for an uncertain future, guaranteeing an adequate water source should be a key consideration.  I only bring this up because I've talked to several people about their SHTF plans who seem to have overlooked the possibility that public water systems might stop working in an extended emergency situation.  If that happens, a case or two of bottled water is not going to be enough.  Not even close.  Everybody needs water -- LOTS of water.

Here's the bottom line: A substantial guaranteed source of water is still no guarantee against all future unknown threats, but if we don't plan and take action now then we're damn sure guaranteed to be unprepared when everything goes to hell.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Mini-farm Prepping

First year with our backyard mini-farm
In today's uncertain world many people have come to recognize the need for self-sufficiency in producing their own food and securing their own water supply, or to at minimum grow enough food to meaningfully reduce the amount of money spent at the supermarket.

The widely misunderstood "problem" is that most people don't have the ability to move to a rural property of sufficient size that they they think is needed to achieve food and water self-sufficiency.

Well, it is time to dispel the incorrect assumption that an acre or more of land is needed to attain food and water self-sufficiency. Land suitable for growing crops IS needed, but it doesn't take an acre or more.

In fact, TOTAL self-sufficiency is possible on only a quarter acre or less.

It takes a lot of work, and the quarter acre or less does have to be "suitable" for growing crops.  By suitable I mean that it needs to get sufficient direct sunlight, it needs adequate soil quality for the crops intended and it needs a source of water.

I turned my backyard into a self-sustainable "mini-farm" in the course of one year with the knowledge gained from "Mini-Farming: Self-Sufficiency On 1/4 Acre" -- the excellent best-selling book featured at the top of the right side-bar. The book was written by Brett L. Markham, an engineer who was raised on a farm and so grew up learning about farming, and then reached a point in his life where he decided to exit the rat race of the day-to-day 40-hour work week and make a living off a modest piece of property, feeding himself and his family and earning enough selling excess produce to pay the bills, all on a quarter acre.

I didn't have a quarter acre when I launched into my backyard project. In fact, I only had an 80 foot by 45 foot grow area. But I still managed to develop that small piece of land into a food production monster, one that grew sufficient food and provided sufficient water to come close to feeding myself and my girlfriend and our chickens all year long should the need arise. Also, at the time I had a good paying job, so I didn't need to grow "excess" produce for sale -- just what we needed to survive in case of an extended emergency.

How did I do it?

As explained in detail in "Mini-Farming: Self-Sufficiency On 1/4 Acre", the key to significant crop production on a small piece of land is raised planters. There are numerous benefits in using raised planters. The book explains how the French pioneered this method of crop raising in response to a serious problem -- that problem being, that as generation after generation of descendants in old France inherited smaller and smaller portions of a once large farm, it became necessary for those descendants to find ways to grow more food on increasingly smaller plots of land. Raised planters were the answer.

In the picture below, you can see in the background behind me where I used twine to create the grid that would later be used for placement of the raised planters. Several months later, after a lot of digging and hauling in purchased soil, the raised planters were more or less ready and my first crops planted.

Me holding our dog CJ (Cool Joe) in our backyard with twine marking out the grid for future raised planters
That first year I still had a lot to learn about growing my selected crops. I made a lot of mistakes. I wasted my time and space growing wheat and rye.  I tried to mix good soil in with the "bad" clay that my backyard growing area consisted of.  Bad idea.  But I persisted, I continued to study and accumulate information on how to grow my selected crops -- the soil, nutrition, direct sunlight and water requirements. It was a lot to learn, but I was driven by an urgent need to become self-sufficient and so I pushed myself hard. I got it done with much sweat and physical exhaustion. And it paid off, big time.

For the next five years, until I moved to my current rural property with the intent to expand my self-sufficiency operation, that backyard produced an amazing amount of high nutrition, preservable food, much of which I am still eating years later. 

Here are what I believe to be the important points in how to become self-sufficient at least in terms of providing food and water for survival on a small piece of land:

Direct sunlight: A small growing area can produce an amazing amount of nutritious produce, but only if it gets sufficient direct sunlight. My backyard was perfectly positioned, with the sun passing directly overhead from one end to the other, without significant blockage from trees or other structures. That wasn't true however when I first set out on my project. The first thing I had to do was cut down a number of trees in the backyard that blocked sunlight. Also, you can see from the photos that much of my yard was surrounded by arborvitae that had grown over 30 - 40 feet tall. I had to climb up on a ladder with my limb loppers and chain saw to cut that arborvitae down to fifteen feet -- a major effort. But I got it done and hauled all the cut vegetation out to the street and loaded it into a 30-foot rented dumpster. Hard work, but when your goal is to become self-sufficient, sweat and physical labor comes with the territory. One way or another, you have to make sure that your plot of land gets adequate sunlight.

Water: What happens if the worst-case scenario comes true -- due to economic breakdown the trucks stop running, the electrical grid breaks down and the public water system either stops working or becomes contaminated due to lack of maintenance? The answer is that you need to have your own water supply, and not just a little water, a LOT. Figure one gallon per day per person as a basic need and that doesn't include the water that will be needed to keep your crops adequately irrigated. My answer to this pressing problem was to build a 2000-gallon rain capture water tank, as shown in the picture below. That tank is four feet tall, four feet wide and sixteen feet long. Due to the fact that in my part of the country (Pacific Northwest) we regularly get 48 inches of rainfall on average, a 48-inch tall water tank fills up every winter just by capturing the runoff from the sheet metal roof that I built to cover the tank. Actually, the roof is 6-feet by 19-feet, with a foot of overhang on each side, which provides more rain capture surface area than needed to fill the tank based on 48-inches per year of rainfall.  Every winter I had to disconnect the downspout once the tank completely filled, which it generally did after only a few months once winter set in. If you live in an area where less than 48 inches of rain falls per year, then you will need to adjust your tank dimensions and rain runoff capture area to fill the tank you build. For example, if you live in an area that gets only 24 inches of rainfall per year on average, then you could still use a tank with the same dimensions as mine, but your roof would have to be double the size to capture sufficient runoff to fill the tank. Alternatively, while your tap water is still working, you can top off your water tank with the hose and be assured that you have a significant amount of water storage to survive a very long emergency. I will write more about how I build custom water tanks like the one pictured below in another post. If you intend to build your own water tank, be sure to read my post and learn from my mistakes!

Soil: With any crop you grow, soil quality is critical. In general, soil quality is something that must be developed over time by adding regular nutrients and organic material. "Mini-Farming: Self-Sufficiency On 1/4 Acre" does an excellent job of explaining how to improve your soil quality over time. But for the first year, what are you going to do to insure adequate soil quality? The soil in my backyard was nothing but clay -- wet and sticky during the wet winter and spring months, hard as rock during the warmer summer months -- containing many vital minerals required by crops, but otherwise totally unsuitable for growing anything but weeds and grass. My solution for the first year was to buy several bulk loads (15 cubic yards per load) of quality organic topsoil from a local distributor, then to wheelbarrow that soil one load at a time into my backyard and fill up all 1200 square feet of raised planters. Hard work -- but it made me stronger and I was able to grow some very good crops my first year. Second and succeeding years were much easier since I had the "base" soil in place, and I just needed to add compost from that point on.

Composting station in upper left corner
Composting: Learning how to compost and being religious about building your compost pile is vital to self-sustainability and growing nutritious crops without the aid of store-bought chemical or organic fertilizers. I ended up building a "composting station" (shown above), a six foot by eight food shed. All weeds picked, all vegetation remaining after harvest is completed, all suitable kitchen scraps, all fall leaves -- basically everything possible -- was piled up in the composting station first on one side, then "turned" on a weekly or bi-weekly basis during the summer and fall months. To "turn" the compost -- which is critical to making sure the pile is uniformly aerated and composted -- I would use a shovel and/or pitchfork to basically toss the compost pile from one side of the composting station to the other, then back again next time and so on. This worked out perfect and I created highly nutritious compost. But you're going to need more than just the left-over crop residue (leaves, stems, stalks, etc) from the crops you grow to produce high-quality compost. You're going to need nitrogen-rich material to mix in with the vegetation -- you're going to need chicken or other "farm animal" manure.

Backyard chickens custom made chicken coup and pen
Backyard chickens: Our small "flock" (six chickens maximum per city ordinance) was critical to our ability to build up our compost pile and provide the nutrients that our crops required. A side benefit was that we were able to go 6-to-8 month stretches starting in spring and going until late fall where we never needed to buy eggs, a primary source of protein and other nutrients vital to human health. If you're going to do backyard chickens, you first need to build a coup for your chickens to roost and lay eggs in. The picture above is how I did it. The coup is just a simple 4 x 4 square foot"box" built from 2 x 4 Douglas Fir and cedar chip plywood, readily available at your local lumber yard or home improvement stores. I've never had training as a carpenter and have never worked in the construction field, but I knew the importance of the coup being a) level and b) solid. There are a lot of do-it-yourself books on how to build chicken coups, you can even buy one ready-made to assemble. But I wanted to do it my own way.  I sat down one night and laid out my design on paper, calculated the materials I would need to build the coup, got a load delivered by Home Depot and set about building my coup. Note that it doesn't yet have a sheet metal roof, but I later built one that extends to cover the small "free range" area -- a small "chicken yard" where the chickens could get outside the coup and peck and scratch. That area was only six feet by eight feet, but it was enough to keep the chickens happy. Also note that not all chicken breeds are going to be happy and healthy in a relatively small enclosure like this. We opted for barred rock chickens, which among many favorable attributes included the ability to live happily in a fairly contained area like the one I built. The end result was a lot of fun owning and caring for chickens, fresh eggs daily and loads of chicken manure which we were able to mix in to our compost pile to produce extremely high-nitrogen, organic fertilizer for our crops.

The crops you grow: If your goal is to grow crops that will provide high amounts of nutrition and that are preservable for long-term storage, then you're going to need to focus on just a few key crops. Sure, you can grow cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes and many other crops -- but can you survive and maintain health and energy by eating only vegetables, herbs and spices? No, you can't. What is needed to insure survival on the food you raise is to focus on high nutrition, easily preserved crops. After much research on the subject, I ended up opting for the following main crops:

We did grow our fair share of tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, spices and other "extras", but the majority of space was dedicated to growing our "staple" crops, the ones that we knew we could survive on in the event of an extended emergency. Painted Mountain corn especially.  If you have a sufficient quantity of the "main crops" listed above, then you have all the nutrition that you need for long term survival.  All of those crops are easily preserved for long term food storage (with a little effort).

Crop rotation, pest management, companion crops: As you can read in "Mini-Farming: Self-Sufficiency On 1/4 Acre", these three facets of growing quality crops are all interrelated. Crop rotation is essential not only for pest management, but to maintain and build the quality of your soil. It is an extensive subject, one that deserves a dedicated study, but there are plenty of books and online posts on how to address these three concerns. If you want to become self-sufficient growing your own crops, you'll need to become highly knowledgeable on all three subjects.

Seed preservation: Here I am, eight years later and I'm still growing crops from the first seed and bulbs that I purchased. Without the knowledge and ability to preserve one's own seed for planting in the next growing season there can be no real self-sustainability. It is important to study and learn everything possible about the crops that you intend to grow, focusing on crops and varieties that grow well in your climate, and learning how to produce and preserve seed. Did you know, for example, that carrots and onions "go to seed" in their second year? In other words, if you plant an onion seed (or bulb), it will produce an onion the first year and if left in the ground and properly cared for it will "go to seed" the next growing season. I always set aside a portion of my grow area to plant onions and carrots that are specifically intended to produce seed -- I can't imagine trying to live off my own food supply during a SHTF scenario or other emergency without these two food essentials! But that's just me...

Food quality storage containers: Growing large amounts of food for long term storage calls for better storage containers than zip lock plastic bags or mason jars. You're probably going to need 5-gallon food quality buckets with air-tight lids, in fact you WILL need a number of these unless you have a better way to store your dehydrated/dried produce. Mason jars are great for herbs, spices, dehydrated tomatoes, garlic, onions and other vegetables. But for corn kernels or grains, you're going to probably want something larger -- 5-gallon and 2.5 gallon buckets with air tight lids is what works for me.

Learn to dehydrate: To preserve vegetables and fruits for long term storage -- 10 years or more -- knowing how and having the means to dehydrate your food is essential. Before the age of refrigeration, freezers and chemical preservatives our forefathers knew the importance of dehydrating and other preservation methods as it was key to survival. Think about it -- if you grow a bunch of really delicious tomatoes, what are you going to do? Eat them all before they rot? Or preserve them through dehydration so that you can continue to enjoy the nutrition and flavor of those tomatoes for an extended period beyond the harvest season? You'll need a good dehydrator, or I've even read that you can use an oven for dehydrating though I've never tried it. One of my projects for this summer is to build an outdoor wood-fired dehydrator so that even should the electricity go off, I'll still be able to dehydrate and preserve my produce for long term storage.

Beekeeping in a backyard mini-farm
Beekeeping: Honey is a great source of vital nutrients and it tastes great too. While it does take a certain amount of investment of time and money to get going with beekeeping, the experience is highly rewarding and you will be able to produce a very valuable and highly sought-after product. Beekeeping also has the advantage of producing beeswax, propolis and other "bee products" that can be used for a variety of useful applications. In the event of a total breakdown in our highly fragile global economy, the skills one possesses will possibly become a critical factor to survival and long-term sustainability. Beekeeping has been a skill practiced through the ages simply because honey (and beeswax) is a highly valued commodity. Best of all, honey is self-preserving, no special effort needed. Put it into mason jars or food quality buckets and the honey will stay "good as new" and edible for many years -- practically forever!

In summary, if you have decided to use your backyard or other small piece of land to develop a "mini-farm' for the purpose of self-sustainability, you have your work cut out for you! What I can absolutely say from experience is that all the hard work and effort required to build up your mini-farm and to become knowledgeable in operating it is a highly worthwhile endeavor. You'll be stronger as a result of all the physical labor, you'll eat better by growing your own produce, and you will have the pride and security of knowing that in the event of some major emergency (that we all see coming) you will be, if not totally self-sufficient, then at least mostly self-sufficient and you'll have taken big strides toward that worthy goal.  You will possess the knowledge and the skill that you gain along the way, which can be expanded to a larger piece of land when the opportunity arises.  Certainly you will have learned skills that you can teach to other people when hard times force those around you to reevaluate their own food and water security.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Why We Prepare

There are many sound reasons to prepare for an uncertain future in today's world.  Severe weather, floods, fragile electric grids, public water contamination -- stuff happens.  But the most urgent looming threat is one that could take down the entire financial system and in so doing bring chaos like we've never seen before.  It came very close in 2008.  We're getting close again.

The debt-and-consumption-based economic system most nations have embraced is completely unsustainable. Being unsustainable, the system will at some point fail catastrophically as all unsustainable systems eventually do.

The catastrophic failure of our current economic system is well underway, has been ongoing for years and is accelerating day by day toward its ultimate demise.  But that fact has been obscured by low interest rates, central bank stimulus programs (money printing), accounting gimmicks and some would say outright market manipulation.  Financial and political elites are doing everything that can be done to hold it all together.  And yet, our financial and economic system hangs by a thread.


Astronomical debt can never be repaid 

One need look no further for evidence of an unsustainable system than the astronomical debt levels accruing to nations and business entities globally -- $244 trillion dollars of debt that continues to grow exponentially.

  • The IMF has recently warned of “storm clouds gathering
  • Exploding national debt has been characterized as a “catastrophic threat to national security” by Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett
  • At the close of the 2018 fiscal year the federal government alone had accrued over $102.2 trillion dollars of debt ($22 trillion official debt and $80.2 trillion unfunded liabilities)
  • The Bank of International Settlements (BIS) has published concerns over the large and growing numbers of “zombie companies” around the world, kept in business only by their continued accrual of debt which is itself only enabled by artificially low interest, rates that are actively suppressed by central bank and especially Federal Reserve programs
  • At the same time, major economy central banks are creating new money at a rate of over one trillion dollars per quarter, which apparently they must do to provide the liquidity needed to keep the global economy from imploding
  • The growing "wealth gap" between the richest and everybody else is at record highs and continues to grow as more and more newly minted "liquidity" is injected into global markets. Janet Yellen, former FED head, acknowledged the growing wealth disparity in May 2014, saying this trend can "have grave effects on social stability over time". It's only gotten worse since since then.

When it comes to resource extraction -- and by that we’re talking about logging, mining, fishing, hunting, oil and coal processing, etc. – there is one rule that has always reigned supreme. That rule is, the easiest and most profitable to extract resources are the first ones targeted.

It makes sense for industries in a world of dog-eat-dog competitiveness to go after resources that produce the most profit, because if one company doesn’t get there first then a competitor will. The problem is, over time, those resources that were once so easy and profitable to extract – the gold nuggets laying on the ground, the massive oil deposits under pressure just below the surface, the old growth forests just over the hill – all get exploited to the maximum extent feasible early on, and then they’re gone or at best severely diminished.

Huge machines bristling with technology powered by ever increasing amounts of energy are now required to extract rapidly dwindling and ever more difficult to access resources for a struggling global economy. GMO crops and chemical pesticides combined with vast amounts of petroleum-based fertilizers are deployed to feed the 7.5 billion and growing population – more natural habitat cleared, more species decimated, more land converted to mono-crops, more once fertile fisheries stripped bare, increasingly more demand on fragile global energy supply. It can’t go on forever.

Many books have been written on the subject of our unsustainable ecological, economic and financial systems. These topics requires much more investment of time and information than can be provided here. Fortunately, websites and blogs are proliferating across the internet like prophets of doom, crying out the warnings, presenting factual information and logical analyses.

People slowly but surely are waking up to the realization that an ill wind is blowing, with more evidence surfacing every day to support the thesis that our “way of life” has entered its twilight phase.  What's going to happen?  What comes after that?  Good questions.

In response to a host of rather unpleasant looming realities, a lot of people are preparing for a time of great emergency that seems unavoidable at some point in the future.

I'm one of them.  My response to a threatening future is defiance, diligent preparedness, a determination to meet dire times head on and to weather the storm.

We're living in historic times here.  Monumental realities are converging like runaway trains toward a singular point.  Something really big is coming our way.  People want to be prepared for whatever it is and that means among other things being self-sufficient in terms of food, water, shelter and security.

I'm a huge advocate for everybody being prepared.

But you know what?  Only the smart ones are doing it.

Glad you're here!