A blog by Mel Riser about LifeBoat Permaculture and Solar Villages

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Peak Oil and Solar energy

Living off the Grid
A while back, it was susggested that I write up a small post about the things to think about in regards to living off-the-grid. By this I am referencing the ability to not need connection to the electric company for your house.

Now this is a wide subject that can fill volumes, so what I present here is just a brief overview, to give you some thoughts about what is available along with some books and publications on the matter.

So without further ado,

Once we start thinking through the problems of peak oil, it quickly becomes apparent that a change in lifestyle will be necessary. With oil such an integral part of every sector of our economy, yet getting more and more expensive every day, we soon will not be able to afford to use the amounts of oil we are accustomed to. As the oil gets more expensive, corporations and utilities struggle to make ends meet. The cost of natural gas goes up along with the oil, since transportation costs go up. There is also greater demand from industry attempting to find cheaper fuels, driving the costs up further. Greater demand occurs for electricity as some switch to using electric, forcing electric companies to switch on the natural gas fired generating plants held in reserve. The electric companies pass on their increased costs, and your rates skyrocket.

If the system gets overloaded, due to a heat wave, or a cold snap in winter, a blackout occurs. There is even a possibility that in the near future, utility companies may not be able to afford to run some of their reserve generators due to high prices, or even due to not having the fuel to feed them. All of a sudden, the unbelievably dependable electric serve that we take for granted in the United States starts to deteriorate in service, and blackouts could become a common occurrence.

Think about what would happen should you go to turn on the light, and although the switch works, the lights do not. The food in your refrigerator quickly warms up and goes bad. You turn on the water. If you are lucky, there is enough pressure in the lines to push it out of the tap. If you are really lucky, you use a gas water heater, and have hot water. But most likely, even if you have gas hot water, it won’t do you much good, as there is no water pressure from where the pumps used by the local water company use run off of electricity. Quickly, the import of having no electricity sinks in. Doing with out the lights is one thing; doing without water is another.

If you do not live in the city and are lucky, you live in an area where you are on well water. But this is by no means a sure thing either. Most private wells use an electric pump. Needless to say, no electricity, no water.

Your well may be shallow enough that you can retrofit a hand pump onto it. The traditional hand pump that we know from movies, TV shows and the like, only works for a maximum depth of about 16-25 feet depending on brand name. There are larger pumps that can draw from deeper, but you may run into troubles with the well not being large enough in diameter for a larger pump.

In flatlands, farmers have traditionally used windmills to pump their water. Wind power has been used for ages in Europe. The Dutch windmills of Don Quixote fame were used to pump out the lowlands behind the dikes keeping the North Atlantic at bay. In North America it was the only (mostly) reliable way to get water in the rural parts of the nation. Wind power is at the behest of the wind. When the wind blows, the water pumps; when the air is still, the pump is too. This necessitates the use of a cistern in conjunction with the windmill to store the water until it is needed. The cistern acts as a battery of sorts, being charged or refilled as it were when the wind blows, and providing a continuous water supply. The owner puts his faith in the wind not stopping for a longer period of time than it takes for the cistern to be drained, and that once it starts up again, it continues to blow for a long enough period of time that the cistern is refilled.

But not all areas of the country or world are suitable for windmills. The terrain may be unfavorable, with mountains, trees or buildings blocking the wind, or keeping the wind high enough up that it is unpractical to get a windmill’s blades up into the air stream. In this case, a rainwater cistern is often a viable solution.
Essentially, a rainfall cistern uses the rain runoff from the roof of your house or building, channeling the gutters into a cistern through a filter of some sort. Of course, this is only useful in the areas of the world that get regular amounts of rainfall.

Both rainfall and windmill cisterns will need to be completely sealed from the outside, as you want to minimize contaminants. There is also the need for a filtration system, especially on rainfall cisterns. Well water typically does not require filtration, as the ground provides a natural filter.

It is to remove the need for a cistern that American well users went universally to electric pumps once electric service reached them thanks to the Rural Electrification Administration.

In the 1930’s, only 10 percent of U.S farms were served by central-station electric power. But, thanks to good marketing strategies by Zenith Radio promoting the Windcharger brand of small wind powered charging systems as a solution to powering their new radios, the American homesteader had their appetite for electricity whetted, and demanded more power. Windcharger and other manufacturers such as Jacob Wind Electric of course ramped up production and power generating capacity, with 14 feet diameter, 1.5 Kilowatt capacity windmills being produced by the 1940’s and 1950’s.

But Franklin Roosevelt caused that market to disappear, as he created the Rural Electrification Administration as one of his Public Works departments used to put the depression era unemployed to work. It had the express purpose of subsidizing the wiring up of the nation’s rural areas, and providing cheap centrally supplied electricity to everyone. This program took a while to implement, as some areas did not receive electricity until the late 1950’s.
With electric power readily available at the flick of a switch for pumping duties, cisterns were no longer needed for times when the wind did not blow, and small generators fell into disuse. Cheap readily available electricity in the intervening years caused our appetite for electricity to explode exponentially.

Stop and consider the number of electric devices you use on a daily basis. Alarm clocks, light bulbs, electric razors and toothbrushes, radios, televisions, computers, air conditioning, coffee pots, crock pots, electric stoves, toasters, refrigerators, freezers, garage door openers, security systems, computers, cordless phones, cell phones, video games, VCRs, DVD players, cassette players, CD players, vacuums, electric weed eaters, electric lawn mowers, electric hedge trimmers, the list goes on and on.

And all of these become useless when the power goes out. It boils down to reassessing what you truly need, as opposed to what you want. Learn to conserve. Replace electric powered items with manual or mechanical powered ones wherever possible. Yes, you can come up with an alternative power system that can replace your current usage of grid supplied electricity, but you need to stop and consider a simple fact.

The more you need to power, the higher the cost of the system. Why pay more for higher capacity when you can reduce your consumption with a few simple changes in lifestyle?

Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents. They fit into the same bulb sockets, and provide the same amount of light for less electrical usage. For instance, a compact fluorescent with the equivalent light output of a 100 watt incandescent bulb only uses 17 watts. It also has a longer lifespan, resulting in very high savings that more than make up for the additional up front costs. And for those who don’t like the quality of fluorescent lighting due to its cold harsh nature, compact fluorescents are now available in color corrected versions that give off a soft white glow.

But the best way to conserve electricity with lights is to turn them off when they are not in use. If you walk out of a room, go ahead and turn off the light. If you can do what you need to using just the daylight coming in through the windows, do so. Rather than lighting up the entire room for one person, use task lighting.

This sort of conservation thinking can be extrapolated into all aspects of your household, and in doing so will reduce the electrical needs to the necessities, as opposed to typical usage patterns. A normal American household should be able to cut their energy usage in half, down to about 3,600 kilowatt-hours a year without going to a truly Spartan lifestyle. For comparison, most European households live comfortably on this amount or less.

Once you have reduced the amount of energy you consume, you are ready to determine what sort of alternative energy system is right for you, as one size does NOT fit all. All power systems consist of 3 parts: generation, storage and loads. The loads are the actual energy used as discussed above, and drive the sizing of the system. Storage is typically done via batteries. Generation is typically done through harnessing the sun, wind or water.

All stand alone power systems produce and store energy in direct current (DC). Photovoltaic arrays produce DC directly, whereas Wind and water generators typically produce alternating current (AC) which must be rectified to DC for storage. This is due to the typical storage medium being the battery. Relatively unchanged for over a hundred years, the typical battery bank used for off the grid applications consists of nothing more than heavy duty, deep cycle batteries, similar to automotive batteries, wired up to provide a storage bank of energy. For the stored power to be used, it must them be rectified back to AC for most applications through the use of an inverter.

For homes, it is generally recommended that you wire the house for AC, just as if you were going to connect to the grid. This is due to most codes not recognizing DC wiring as being satisfactory, and their being a wider pool of equipment and appliances that can be used. Banks are also unwilling to finance anything other than AC, as they look at what it would take to make it sellable to the next person who may not be into off-the-grid living. There are appliances and equipment designed for 12 volt systems however, as an industry has grown up around supplying them for RV and marine applications. Ultimately it is up to you to determine what is best suited for your needs. Again, one size does not fit all.

The power systems and battery arrays come in 12, 24 and 48 volt systems, which is a function of how the batteries are wired together, and what voltage runs through the wires. A general rule of thumb is as follows: Systems requiring less than 2 kilowatt-hours a day should use 12 volt, systems requiring up to 6 kilowatt-hours a day should use 24 volt, and systems requiring more than 6 kilowatt-hours a day should use 48 volt. Of course, as the voltage goes up, the price follows. See why learning to conserve is so important?

The actual sizing and configuration of a system is beyond the scope of this entry, and should be customized for each application. I will link to good resources both print and online at the end of this essay.

As for choosing what sort of generation capacity to use, many elements come into play. Is there a location available that gets direct sun for most of the day? How much sun does your location normally get? Is the weather typically cloudy and rainy? Is there a source of running water? Are you in an area with a near constant wind? Are you in the city? The suburbs? The country? Again, Individual situations will need to be assessed and will inform the choices made. However, I will briefly touch upon some of the different choices available.

Sun power consists of two general means of capturing energy, electricity via Photo-Voltaic cells or PV, and heat capture via solar water heaters, modified stirling engines and using proper design and material choices to let the sun carry the bulk of your heating requirements. Of these types, the modified stirling engines are still in their infancy for power generation. In a nutshell, they utilize the heat from the sun to vaporize a liquid (typically water) which causes the water to expand. The design of the vents on the container cause the container to rotate, driving a generator.

Retrofitting for solar heating is an expensive route, and is not economically viable for the average homeowner. This is something that is relatively inexpensive to do on the front end as the home or building is being designed, but absurdly expensive to retrofit. The basic idea is to utilize the heat of the sun to warm a solid surface over the course of the day. After night falls, this heat sink then releases the stored heat back into the structure keeping it warm through the night time hours, depleting its stored heat by the morning when the cycle begins again. There are many ways this can be done, and a good architect should be able to advise you on how best to tailor your building for this.

Solar hot water heaters are a retrofit item, typically installed on a roof and tied into the hot water system of the structure. They are nothing more than gloried camp showers, those black plastic bags that you hang in the sun in the morning, allowing the sun to heat up the couple of gallons inside the bag, providing you with hot water for a shower that evening. For building applications, this concept is merely enlarged, and made a bit more permanent and rugged. They can either pre-heat the water in your existing hot water tank, reducing the amount of energy paid for in heating the water, or serve as the sole hot water source. Again, this system must be custom sized for each application
Photovoltaics are also a retrofit item, and are used to generate electricity from the sun. They are fairly expensive to purchase, as the silicone used in their creation is also in demand for circuit boards in electronics and computers. There is some argument as to truly how “green” of a product they are, as there are a number of hazardous materials used in creation of a solar cell, not to mention the large amounts of energy expended in their manufacture.

Even so, they are a tried and proven technology that is commonly accepted as the number one way to get off the grid. To be most effective, they require a south facing location in full sun for the majority of the day. They can be mounted on a swivel which follows the sun throughout the day, or fixed in one position. They need to be tilted such that the sun’s rays fall as close to perpendicular to the surface as possible. A typical lifespan of a PV cell is about 15-20 years, though improvements are constantly being made to the technology.

As mentioned earlier, the wind has been used to directly pump water for ages, and to generate electricity for decades. It is a fairly mature field, with the Germans and Dutch taking the lead in developing the technology. Wind systems range in size from a miniscule 1.7 foot diameter blade generating 20 watts in a stiff wind, all the way up to a massive 330 foot diameter monster capable of producing 3 Megawatts or 3,000,000 watts. Wind power is limited in location, as the local terrain and structures must be conducive for capturing wind. Quite simply, some places have more wind than others.

If you are in a relatively open area, with good winds year round, then wind generation is a definite possibility.

Water power, or hydroelectric, is also a terrain limited source of electricity generation. Quite simply, hydroelectric uses the force of falling water to turn a generator. Most people think of massive dams and reservoirs when they think of hydro power, but smaller applications have been around for years. These smaller, household sized hydro systems tend to be lumped together under the heading of micro-hydro.

Hydro consists of a water wheel of some sort driving a generator. This can be accomplished by merely dipping a wheel into a running stream, or damming up a river and pouring a set amount across the wheel, or somewhere in between. The cost of the systems typically force their being used in locations where there is a constant supply of water to power a hydro system obviating the need for batteries for power storage, however, one could consider a reservoir to be a giant battery of sorts, as it stores water lessening the impact of a short term lack of rainfall.

As you have seen, I have merely touched upon the various means of going off the grid. The reasons to do so are compelling, namely to ensure access to water and needed electricity in the event that the grid fails. How much you need to produce is in direct correlation to your conservation habits, and learning to live with less is something you can do now as opposed to after you have no choice. Choosing which system is best suited for your needs is best done on an individual basis, and is highly dependent on your personal circumstances.
I will leave you with the following list of further resources:

Wind Power: Renewable Energy for Home, Farm and Business by Paul Gipe copyright 2004 ISBN – 1-931498-14-8

The Solar Electric House by Steven J. Strong with William G. Scheller copyright 1993 ISBN – 0-9637383-2-1

The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling by Daniel D. Chiras copyright 2002 ISBN – 1-931498-12-1

Layman’s Guide for Developing Microhydro (Second Edition) by Celso Penche for the European Small Hydro Association (Adobe PDF – 1998 edition)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The COW is MAD

The COW is MAD... mad I say as a march hare...

Mad cows, Englishmen, and beef eaters everywhere... Pay attention to this new report.
The following article was linked through the Kurtzweil website*. It raises the possibility that there maybe far more cases of Mad Cow disease present in the human population then previously thought. New studies prove that scientists may have made lower predictions of infection, based on false assumptions.

The disease has such a long incubation period in people, before symptoms appear, that we may not know for sometime the number currently affected. In the US (1), the quick tests for Mad Cow in cattle are frequently 'inconclusive'. Only sometimes are these beasts retested to be shown as positive. Will we have a worse medical disaster in 30 years because our government downplays awareness of Mad cow disease, and the testing process, in order to protect the cattle industry?

Given the length of time it takes for Mad cow to manifest (up to 30 years), is this unconsciously one way to 'take care of' a burgeoning human population, that is growing older? That is a chilling thought, but then the way corporations have been reneging on retirement accounts(2), I have to wonder. Is it possible that it's already known that many people won't need their retirements? NAH, that is just too tinfoil hat.

I have not been able to fathom why so many corporations and large industries seem to work against the interests of the general well being of their species. Perhaps there is an under current rationalization that isn't expressed by corporate decision makers. Something like:

"The world population is growing too big.. People must die, or we risk using up the planet. So don't be over concerned if decisions we make cause the death of some."
But because of the moral and ethical implications of taking such a position, and the knowledge that it would be very very unpopular, it isn't discussed. It might not even be consciously contemplated, but rather be the motivation behind stopping such things as testing for mad cow disease. It might be the under current that allows corporate policy to dump toxic waste into common water, air and land. Experiments with products on mass segments of the population with some known dangers, might not jar the conscience of CEO's, as long as depopulating the planet is an unspoken goal.

With no dialogue, there can be no challenge to such thinking. And of course the knee jerk response to such a possiblity is that "NO one thinks that way." Then it can not be pointed out that the same kinds of things that kill human populations, also kills other species. And that same kinds of things that kill animals, might damage whole eco-systems, so that all life is degraded with unconscious justifications and the refusal to consider sane alternatives. Alternatives like consciously chosen child bearing to reduce populations before they are conceived , instead of the insanity of criminal negligence, mass murder, wars and unending greed.

vCJD may lurk in more people than realised
The deadly human form of mad cow disease, vCJD, may have infected far more people than previously thought, suggests a new study.

The assumption that most people are genetically shielded from the devastating disease could be wrong, said the research published on Friday. But it cautions that the evidence for this remains sketchy.

Variant Creutzfelt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is linked to eating meat infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad-cow disease. A rogue version of a prion protein proliferates in the brain, leading to distressing mental deterioration, loss of motor control, and eventually death.

After vCJD was first identified in March 1996, some experts calculated it could inflict a death toll in the tens of thousands, especially in the UK, where the outbreak began. But these calculations were swiftly revised downwards to a few hundred or even fewer when it was realised that the toll was rising far slower than expected.

Key variation

At present, the UK has recorded 161 definite and probable cases of vCJD, six of whom are still alive. One reason for optimism about the potential extent of the vCJD epidemic has been the assumption that it is genetic.

All of the deaths have occurred among people with a so-called "MM variation" in part of the prion protein gene, called PRNP, located on chromosome 20. In the white British population, 42% of people have the MM variant.

The rest of the white population have different types – 47% have the MV variation while the remaining 11% are VV. The fact that no MV or VV cases had arisen led many to believe that this was a protection against the rogue protein. Two out of three

But the new study, which appears in the British Medical Journal, places a cloud of doubt over this assumption.

Researchers led by James Ironside at the University of Edinburgh, UK, carried out a DNA analysis of three appendix tissue samples found to carry the mutant prion protein.

The tissues were part of a vast earlier study in which UK labs screened 12,600 appendices and tonsils for the protein in order to get an idea of the spread of vCJD.

Ironside's team say they were extremely surprised to find that two out of their three samples, which tested positive for vCJD, came from people with the VV variant. Neither individual, both aged in their twenties at time of surgery between 1996 and 1999, has the symptoms of vCJD.

Incubation time

But the paper warns against dramatism. It notes that only these two VV samples have so far been identified, and just because a VV individual has the protein does not mean that he or she will go on to develop vCJD.

On the other hand, no one knows how long it takes for vCJD to incubate, which raises the possibility that VV individuals may fall sick years from now. In classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which occurs in older people, this can take up to 30 years.

And another, as-yet unquantifiable, risk is that VV individuals with the prion may unwittingly pass it on to others through blood donations. In 2004, a person with the MV gene variant was found to be infected with vCJD, but again this individual had no clinical disease.

"There are compelling reasons why health officials should take notice," said two Canadian specialists, Kumanan Wilson and Maura Ricketts, in a commentary accompanying the latest paper.

"It is conceivable that, having jumped the species barrier (from cows to humans), transmission of the prion within the species becomes easier."

Journal reference: British Medical Journal (DOI: 10.1136/bmj.38804.511644.55)


* The Kurzweil Website:


(1)Mad Cow testing in the US:


Of the 36 million cattle slaughtered in 2004 and put into the human and animal food supply, only 176,468 were tested. In at least three instances U.S. cattle have tested as possibly having mad cow disease on sophisticated “quick tests,” but further testing has led the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to announce the results to be negative. However, the government testing is secretive and suspect. No independent scientists or laboratories have reviewed or confirmed any of the suspected mad cows. Each time the USDA has announced a suspect cow the cattle futures market has been thrown into temporary turmoil, and the industry is pressuring the government to stop announcing suspect animals altogether.
It was private mad cow testing that eventually revealed the presence of the disease in Germany. So it is not surprising that when the Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef company reached an agreement with Japan to sell beef that the company had tested to the Japanese, the USDA, invoking a 1913 law, warned that mad cow testing by private U.S. firms is illegal. Creekstone hoped to save hundreds of company jobs by testing its cattle and reopening its market with Japan.

The first rule of public relations in a crisis is to “manage the outrage.” The December 23, 2003, announcement of a mad cow in the United States resulted in a media feeding frenzy, but a well-prepared and coordinated USDA and industry PR campaign tamed it within weeks. Since then the media has primarily echoed soothing assurances by the secretary of agriculture and various industry-funded third-party voices such as the brilliantly named Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Consequently, most Americans think that the necessary protective measures against mad cow disease have been taken, and there is not the public outcry, such as the one that took place in Europe, which might force the U.S. government to follow Europe’s lead and institute a total feed ban on feeding livestock to livestock, along with extensive animal testing.


(2) retirement 'pyramids' have bases of sand:


It didn’t quite work out that way. Many companies used retirement reserves to buy their own stocks, bidding up their share price and allowing them to take over other firms on favorable terms, especially as mergers and acquisitions gained momentum in the 1960s. The problem was that when companies went bankrupt—especially small firms—the collapse also wiped out the pension funds invested in those companies. Employees of such companies found themselves not only out of work but stripped of the money they thought was being saved up for their retirement.
Congress moved to limit such behavior by obliging corporate pension funds to be run by arm’s-length trustees, although workers were still permitted (and often encouraged) to keep their pensions in the stock of their employers. To further protect workers, Congress created the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) in 1974. All corporate pension plans were required to buy federal insurance, through the PBGC, to protect workers in the event of a failed investment scheme or corporate bankruptcy. The plans themselves were still prone to risk, but at least the pensions would be backed by the government and workers could feel secure about their retirement.[3]

Most companies now offer their employees a broad array of mutual funds instead of just their own stock. In itself this is good common-sense investing practice, and it also protects fund managers from charges of scheming. The other result of this practice is that workers’ fortunes are now tied not just to their own companies but to the market as a whole.

* * * which is where and how we come to both the problem and the scam. While fears regarding the solvency of Social Security are unwarranted, many corporate pension plans—the ones that have been so important in bankrolling the stock-market rise of the past few decades—are themselves threatening to go bust, taking their parent companies down with them. The financial rot already has begun to seep into the airline and steel industries, and the auto sector may be next. (General Motors reports that its current pension obligations add $675 to the cost of every vehicle it produces.)


More on retirement accounts:


The standard 401K is often supplemented by larger employer contributions if the employee agrees to invest in their employer’s stock. That’s the plan Digna Showers chose at Enron. Last year she had $450,000 in her retirement account, today she has $3,000. I doubt she’s going to be buying a new car at her local dealership, or having her house remodeled anytime soon after that. So the car dealer, the salesman, and the hardware store owner won’t be spending as much at the diner, either.
If it was just Enron, maybe the effect wouldn’t be felt so bad in Georgia. But Enron wasn’t the first scandal to come out of the excesses of the 90’s, nor the last.

Sunbeam was arguably the first, having to restate their earnings from 1996 and 1997 to a lower level, reducing the worth of their stock. Then Enron, Xerox, and Microstrategy followed suit, admitting their profits weren’t what they reported for 1997, 1998, and 1999. Enron admitted further fudging for 2000 and the first half of 2001. Worldcom, Rite Aid, Peregrine, and Adelphia are doing the same. All total, over 1,000 publicly traded companies have now revised their books.


(3)There are arguments for 'dramatically reducing human numbers':


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

More Panels

Well My Solar Village picked up another 600 watts in panels yesterday from Meridian Energy Systems


I have been scrounging broken Photovoltaic panels and "rehabilitating" them into usable energy producing panels.

When a solar panels glass cracks, the underlying silicon is still good and will still make electricity. Just not up to full spec... as the glass causes some diffusion.

So my strategy is to put a polyurethane sealer on the panel to keep water out, and it seems to be working.

so for all of you who say they cannot afford solar panels, go ask for the broken ones... that would be enough to get you started.


Friday, May 19, 2006

Basics of long term


this is from Buckshots Camp... he sells snares and other trapping essentials and has a pretty good prespective..

I have pretty much done ALL OF THIS, except still need to get the hunting camp property going.


Remember the movie Red Dawn? Think about when Colonel Tanner said: "You think you're tough for eating beans every day? The scarecrows in Denver would give anything for a taste of what you got. They've been under siege for about three months. They live on rats and on sawdust and sometimes... on each other. At night, the pyres for the dead light up the sky. It's medieval." Do you have a plan set up to keep you and your family from become scare crows? I mean a realistic plan that you are working on every payday?

A good friend once told me. My place is going to have one foot thick concrete walls, solar, wind, and a positive air system to filter out all nuclear, biological, chemical attacks. Solid steel doors and steel shutters. That is all fine and good but do you have the $100,000 to build it? Ah no? It is far better to have a 12x12 hunting camp with a hand pump well, kerosene lights, a wood stove, and a propane cookstove than a dream retreat that never got built. Start with the basic stuff first the Five Bs: Building, bullets, beans, bacon, and buckshot.

An apartment size propane cookstove with a small oven is very efficient. Normal everyday usage is from 2 to 5 gallons a month. Five gallons of propane is commonly called a 20 pound cylinder. You can get two 25 gallon cylinders (100 pound) and hook up with automatic switch over when the first tank is empty it switches to the full tank. Hook up to a propane stove and you have one year supply of cooking for a family of four. This is just an estimate--your results may vary. Now this is not a camp stove but a regular looking small apartment size propane kitchen stove.

What about light for a year? If you use a Dietz lantern for light and use it 4 hours each night you will need how many gallons a year? 26 hours per fill up on I believe is 22 ounces, 128 ounces in a gallon, one gallon will give 150.8 hours of light or 37.7 days per gallon. A little less then 10 gallons of lamp oil or kerosene per year. Plus extra wicks and at least one spare globe. You can burn kerosene it is cheaper then lamp oil but it smells. Make sure you test it before depending on it. That means kill the lights for 1 hour and burn it and see if you can handle the smell. Please be careful with a lit flame in your house around children, pets and anything flammable.

The most important thing to have on your property beside owning it free and clear is a drilled well. Hauling water is for the birds. I have advised many people it's better to own five acres with a well than forty acres without one. Water is vital and after the first few days of hauling water more then ten feet it become old, tiring, and a dreaded chore. They say each person uses seventy gallons a day that includes, cooking, drinking, flushing the toilet, and showers. You can get by with ten gallons a day pretty good except when you wash clothes. A solar shower sold in camping supply stores are a great thing to have. Fill it in the morning place where the sun can reach it and you have a hot shower.

A drain field for most states requirement for a drain field for even a small cabin is a ridiculous price ranging from $6,000 to $20,000 to meet new strict codes. Before you buy property make sure you find out the cost. Normal problems are typically found in the blue states with too many bureaucrats. Some states are so strict they will not allow National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) approved composting toilets. That is a clear indication it is time to vote with your feet and move to a red state. If you can use a basic composting toilet, a sink, a shower drain hooked to a small drain field. It works great.

If you do have a well on your property there are lots of ways to get water from windmills, hand pumps and solar power pumps. Water is a requirement that you need every single day. So, the first thing you need on any property is a well.

Are you heating with wood? How much wood do you need to get through a winter? Depends on the size of the building, how well insulated, where you live and how efficient your stove is. Cheap $100 wood stoves are for the birds. Get a better airtight stove. Buy the better thicker pipe, buy the cleaning rods and brush, if you have a chimney fire how do you put it out. There is a couple of ways you can set up a chimney cab that slams shuts on the top. This cuts off the vent and air or another way is they sell a item that looks like a road flare you can toss in your wood stove that is suppose to put it out. I have not tested either. But have cleaned my pipes and chimney every year. I don't burn pine or fir or cedar. If you do burn soft resinous wood like pine I recommend you clean your chimney once a month. Another safely precaution is a metal roof it might just save your house from burning to the ground if you ever do have a chimney fire. If you have never had a chimney fire they say it sounds like a tornado shooting up the chimney and flames shooting straight up 4-5 feet or more. Normally they happen in the coldest nasty weather because people really fire up the stove then. Might just ruin your whole winter to watch your retreat burn to the ground. Hopefully you have smoke detectors and everyone made it out safe. Be careful wood stoves can be dangerous.

Get a good chain saw like a Husqvarna 141. They are good on gas not too heavy and very reliable. Extra chains, spare bar, spark plugs, pull cord, sharpening files at least 6, and air filters. Maybe a spare electronic ignition brain. You will need 5 gallons of chain and bar oil, or in an emergency you can use used motor oil. 10 gallons of gas per year and enough 2 cycle mixing oil for the gas. Now how are you going to haul the wood back to the cabin? A 2 wheel cart is one way. Splitting mauls make sure you buy them with fiberglass or steel handles. Axes with fiberglass handles same with rakes and shovels use fiberglass handles. You are going to need safety goggles and plenty of leather work gloves. Cutting down standing trees is dangerous if you never handled a chain saw before it might be a good idea to go out with a trusted friend and have him teach you the safe use of dropping trees and chain saw use.

Okay, so far we have talked about a small hunting camp with a metal roof heated with wood, a propane cooking stove for summer cooking, a well, compost toilet with a small drain field for sink and shower, good tools, etc. Now what else? Just the basics of what you will need. A .22 rifle with a good scope and 1000 rounds of ammo, a 12 gauge pump shotgun--I prefer the Remington 870--with assorted shells: slugs, buckshot and bird shot, a good hunting rifle, at least a .308 with a good Leupold scope and 160 rounds for it.

Now what else? gill nets, four dozen assorted snares , extra matches, good flints, traps, garden seeds, a way to can or dry and store food. Flashlights, in 9 volts like the PAL Light which is great because it is has a always on feature that last two years on one battery. The solar yard lights are fairly cheap come with AA Batteries that can be put in to use in other flashlights. Or remove the batteries at dusk place back in the day and recharge again. Lots to do with that idea. Use your head. Having a working flashlight 6 months into a real emergency is God sent. Worst comes to worst you can use them inside for your night lights.

A year supply of food. A good basic storage assortment with just the essentials and don't forget a wheat grinder so you can grind flour. This is written for a single person or small family that would want to live at their deer camp for one year. I am not even getting into retreat defense or other assorted guns [and the amount f ammo required for that]. As I have stated in another article if I was going to be in a thick wooded area give me a Browning Buckmark 22 [pistol] and a good old reliable .30-30 Winchester.

First aid. Don't forget spare eye glasses, chap stick, Vaseline, prescription medicine, super glue, tweezers, Advil, aspirin, assorted Band-Aids, gauze, wraps, antiseptic, etcetera. Make the kit according to your family needs.

Make sure you cover the basic needs first. What good is 12,000 rounds of ammo, two battle rifles, BDUs, one flashlight, and one case of MREs after the first week? You must have a full plan to survive. Providing for just one year takes some serious dedication to reach that level. A couple of decks of cards, pens, papers, small note books, the list can go on and on and on. You have to be well rounded. Can you skin a buck, run a trap line, drop a tree with a chain saw, plant a garden, protect your garden, preserve your food? Do you have dogs? Do you have enough stored food for them? How about pest control, mice traps, squirrels, rabbits, coons, ground hogs, can sure tear up a garden do you have traps for them? Think it through: Chipmunks, gophers, garden pest, and bug control. Mosquito netting is the best thing you can buy if you plan on being outdoors.

Sit down and try to put a list together for one year of supplies. You know just the basics like where are you going to get water every day. How are you going to cook? How do you heat in the winter? Have you ever tried to chop a years supply of wood? Do you have children? What kind of medicine will you need for them in 1 year? What kind of non power games do you have for them to do? Does you wife sew or crotchet? Do you have some supplies like that put away. A knitted wool hat or mittens sure would be nice if you didn't have them when you left. How about washing clothes? One way that works ok is to take 5-6 gallon buckets and cut a small hole in the center of the lid just big enough for a toilet plunger. Fill 3/4 ways with water add soap (you did remember laundry soap for a year right?) add clothes for about one person pants, shirt t-shirt, under wear and socks, plunged for 1 minute let soak for 5 minutes plunge again for 10 seconds. Dump out water, fill with fresh water again plunge for 1 minute dump out, fill again with clean water plunge for 1 minute dump out. Hand wring the clothes, hang out to dry or hang near wood stove in the winter to dry. Again be careful you don't allow clothes to get to close to the wood stove or you have a fire hazard.

You did put away enough toilet paper for a year, right? You also protected this toilet paper with traps or poison so the mice and chipmunks didn't chew it all, up right? How about feminine products for a year. What about yeast infections? I know not the most pleasant thing to talk about but a must if you are seriously planning to survive. I talked to an old timer once that grew up in the Depression and I asked him what did you use for toilet paper his words "Last year Sears and Roebuck catalog, oh and by the way I sold all my furs to them too." What would be a good catalog today? How about some thick old city telephone books, might be a good choice to store away for back up toilet paper.

I did this the old fashioned way through hard knocks. Trust me, the first time you have to haul water for 100 yards you will wish you spent the money for a well. When your Coleman lantern runs out of fuel or breaks, you will wish you had a Dietz lantern back up. When your splitting maul wooden handle breaks you will wish you had spent the extra money for fiberglass. When your ammunition is damp and unreliable you will wish you'd spent the $5.00 each for used ammo cans. Trust me, I learned these all the hard way and still had the luxury of running to store for replacement supplies. When I say I tested everything that is what I mean and along the way I had several lessons learn the hard way. Having a fully stocked retreat is a comfort. Having tested everything yourself it gives you experience and know how.

Lots to think about. You will be glad that you put up a year supply of food, it sure will make a welcome sight every morning instead of surviving like scare crows eating sawdust and rats, that is brown rats not the good tasting marsh rabbit--what most folks call muskrats. :-). When you have water, heat, a cook stove, and roof over your head life will seem pretty good. Lots to do when you sit down and really look at what it takes to survive with just the basics for one year. Don't waste your time worrying, get to work. After you take care of the basics then you can move forward with more advanced plans.

So there is a good starting point... if you can do all this, you will be in pretty good shape.