Building rabbit cages, chicken coops, or any sort of PVC frame is simple, fast, and will last a very long time. Below I’m going to show you how I would build a rabbit hutch out of PVC. It uses 1 1/2 SCH 40 pipe and is about 8′ x 6′ x 3′ deep. It can hold up to six rabbit cages. Why six and not four like most? If you get a sick rabbit or two or ever plan to breed your rabbits you’ll appreciate the extra cages.
There are several PVC rabbit hutch plans online, but really, just go to Home Depot and stare at the PVC connectors for a while. Lets be honest, this is child’s play if you’ve ever worked with PVC before. You’ll be inspired in no time. If you’re one of those that like some instructions or would like some plans before you start then here’s a cool design that I like.
My design is modular unlike other PVC frame designs on the web, meaning you can continue building length·wise however long you want. Need 8 cages instead of 6? no problem! How about 12? Easy as pie.
My design, like most, will hold two tiers of cages as this is a very efficient way to stack rabbits. However each cage will need a slanted roof made out of corrugated plastic or other material. Corrugated plastic is easy to clean, but wood works too. I would avoid metal as it could get pretty hot. This slanted roof will help protect the rabbits from the elements as well as direct the rabbit droppings from the top tiers into an optional worm bed under the cages (think wooden rectangle made of 2×6′s under your cages).
Here’s what you’ll need
PVC Saw (or hacksaw)
PVC Cleaner And Cement
Sandpaper or debur tool
Materials Needed (all is 1 1/2″ PVC):
80 feet – 1 1/2 in. PVC Sch 40. Sch 20 will be too thin.
6 – Caps
2 – Couplers
4 – Elbows
14 – Tees
2 – X’s (4-way couplers)
PVC Cut List:
4 – 17 1/2 inch
4 – 18 inch
4 – 13 1/2 inch
6 – 19 1/4 inch
2 – 37 3/4 inch
2 – 14 3/4 inch
4 – 36 inch
8 – 48 inch
1. Cut your PVC pipe to correct lengths as per my cut list, and debur all the ends with sandpaper or a debur tool. A debur tool works better.
2. Assemble the middle legs, 2 total:
- Start with a cap, then add a 37 3/4″ PVC. Then add a 4-way connector.
- Stick a 8 3/4″ PVC into the connector and put a Coupler on and add a 19 1/4″ PVC.
- Finally add a Tee, oriented the same way as the 4-way connector. You’re done.
3. Assemble the Style 1 end legs, 2 total:
- Start with a elbow, then insert a 19 1/4″ PVC, put a Tee longwise on the other end of the pipe 90 degrees from the elbow TO THE LEFT.
- Next insert a 13 1/2″ PVC into the Tee and add a second Tee that is 90 degrees from the first T.
- Now insert a 18″ PVC into your second Tee and add one more Tee aligned with the first Tee.
- Stick a 17 1/2″ PVC into the Tee and add a end cap. You’re done.
4. Assemble the Style 2 end legs, 2 total:
- Start with a elbow, then insert a 19 1/4″ PVC, put a Tee longwise on the other end of the pipe 90 degrees from the elbow TO THE RIGHT.
- Next insert a 13 1/2″ PVC into the Tee and add a second Tee that is 90 degrees from the first T.
- Now insert a 18″ PVC into your second Tee and add one more Tee aligned with the first Tee.
- Stick a 17 1/2″ PVC into the Tee and add a end cap. You’re done.
5. Glue two 36″ PVC piece to a Style 1 end leg and a Style 2 end leg. Repeat on the other set of end legs. This will make two “Double-H” shaped ends.
6. Insert and glue two 48″ PVC arms into the top and middle section of an end leg “Double-H” section. Repeat on all four end legs.
7. Insert and glue the middle legs to one set of the 48″ PVC now connected to the “Double-H” sides.
8. Glue the remaining 48″ PVC pieces into the middle legs. Don’t try to get ahead of yourself here, once you get one piece in you have to go for it or the glue will harden before it’s in all the way.
9. (optional) To Make It Modular - If you would like to make a modular design, make two more middle legs and cut four more pieces of 48″ PVC. Add them between the first set of middle legs and one set of the end legs. Do this as many times as you need. Optionally you can also replace the elbows and middle couplings on the end legs and continue adding 48″ PVC pipes and another set of end legs to build as many as you want. This way you can try not gluing these together so you could add or remove them as your rabbit herd size changes.
Now that your frame is finished it’s ready to hold up to six rabbit cages.
Like all things survival you need to LIVE IT day to day, not just stick it in a closet and hope you never have to use it! If you’re storing wheat and all hell breaks loose….what do you do? Bake bread of course! But do you know how?
If you are new to baking your own bread it can seem like a daunting task but it really isn’t. You don’t need yeast, sugar, baking soda, or really anything but flour and water. Everything else is optional. Here’s a basic recipe to get you started.
Super Easy Survival Bread (SESB)
1 cup of fine whole wheat flour (buy from store or grind your own)
2 tbsp. of olive oil (optional, also regular vegetable oil works too)
1 tsp. salt (optional, add more or less to taste)
1/2 cup of water
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and scoop it togther into a ball. Lightly dust a cookie sheet, rock, or other flat surface with flour. Pour the dough ball out and knead for 5 mins. Roll out to about 1/8″ thin and bake at 350F for 20 mins.
Powers out? No oven? Put it in a dutch oven instead and cook it over a fire. No dutch oven? Throw it on a heated flat rock – or even in the ashes if you don’t mind some grit and charcoal flavoring - and flip it a couple of times till lightly brown and firm.
This will serve about 3-4 people if eaten as a side with a meal, or make about 2 sandwiches. The below nutritional info is for the entire loaf.
Nutritional info without olive oil
Nutritional info with olive oil
We are now three to five generations removed from the rural life that helped make America great. We have migrated to big cities and left our self-sustained lives behind. These mega-cities have caused our general well-being to decline, with suicide rates increasing across the world. Crowded conditions and economic problems have led to rampant crime, pollution, and a dog-eat-dog mentality.
You will find that most of these tips will save you money and some will even save you time. The closer you get to true self-sufficiency you will save more and more money. Many find that the money saved alows them to cut down on overtime or even quit work altogether, allowing them to truely be free from the system and to become a homesteader. Saving money comes hand in hand with self-sufficiency and homesteading. Your labor is much cheaper than someone else’s and the money you save from gas and utility bills will go a long way towards paying down debts or buying more equipment for your homestead.
Here’s a list of 52 things you can do to become more self-sufficient. You would be one busy beaver, but you could even try doing one a week and in a year you will be closer to self-sufficiency than you ever thought possible. I recommend you learn the basics of your current project before moving on to the next.
- Plant your own vegetable garden.
- Change your own oil on your car or truck.
- Cut your own firewood.
- Collect and use rain water instead of municiple or well water.
- Supplement your house’s heating system with solar heating panels.
- Supplement your hot water needs with a solar water heater.
- Mulch your garden with local organic mulch instead of store bought products.
- Raise your own rabbits with worm beds underneath.
- Use home-made compost and free manure to enrich your garden’s soil.
- Grow non-hybrid vegetables and save the seeds for next year’s planting.
- Grow potatoes and save the fingerlings for next years planting.
- Use biointensive gardening techniques to grow lots of vegetables in small places.
- Build a greenhouse to extend your growing season.
- Build a root cellar (above or below ground) to store your harvest.
- Start a small orchard for a variety of fruits.
- Learn how to preserve food by canning.
- Raise bees to help pollination and for honey.
- Raise chickens for meat and eggs.
- Raise sheep for wool and meat.
- Raise goats or a dairy cow for dairy products.
- Preserve vegetables by sun drying them.
- Spin wool into yarn for making clothes.
- Make your own furniture out of tree branches.
- Preserve vegetables by freezing them.
- Grow herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes.
- Use edible wild plants to supplement one’s diet (Find a guide for your area first!).
- Use containers to grow vegetables in small places.
- Use chicken manure (composted) to help fertilize your garden.
- Use, use and reuse as much as possible before throwing away.
- Conserve electricity whenever possible.
- Tune-up your own car or truck.
- Sharpen your own tools.
- Build your own home or shed.
- Grow grapes for preserves or raisins or make your own wine.
- Build a pond and raise fish for food.
- Use solar and wind power to supplement your energy needs.
- Learn how to use a welder.
- Use clothes lines to dry clothes instead of a mechanical dryer.
- Grow grains to feed your own livestock.
- Grow alfalfa to return nitrogen to the soil.
- Use a generator for emergency and supplemental power.
- Dig or drive your own well.
- Bake your own bread.
- Do your own plumbing.
- Do your own electrical work.
- Run a small business from your home.
- Barter goods and services with your neighbors.
- Use a push mower instead of a gas or electric mower, or let the goats handle it.
- Use a bicycle (whenever possible) instead of a motorized vehicle.
- Make vegetables a large part of your diet.
- Make your own syrup from Maple trees as a sugar substitute.
- Supplement your diet by hunting game.
What are you going to do when your pmedicinal preps run out, or you come upon a sickness you have not though of? I included the below guide to help you better understand herbs and how to use them. There’s no feeling like knowing how to find and grow your own medicine. This article is only a basic primer, there’s sooo much more that needs to be said but it just cannot be explained online because of size limitations. You need at least two good books on herbal medicines (to compare the two together before proceding). By far the two books I go to most ofen in my medicinal hobby/preparations are Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs and The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook.
Wild Herbs You Can Find
These herbs occur naturally in the wild and are readily avaliable if you know what you’re looking for.
Honeysuckle Honeysuckle makes a great substitute for Elderberry (see below). Honeysuckle can be used as an external wash for boils, infected wounds, swelling, scabies, tumors, and rheumatism. The flowers are traditionally used for bacterial dysentery, urinary disorders, eliminating toxins from the body, colds, fevers, flu, asthma, coughs, chest congestion, and laryngitis. The flowers have components that help to lower blood cholesterol, as well as being anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-tuberculostatic.
How to use it: You can make a tea from the flowers. The berries, however, are toxic. So stay away from those. The leaves are fine as well, however the flowers are much more potent.
Tincture: Fill a mason jar with flowers, cover with brandy. Shake once a day, keeping in a cool, dark place, for around 5-6 weeks. Strain though a cheesecloth or a T-shirt.
Syrup: The same way as the elderberry syrup, only fill the entire jar with flowers.
Red Clover Red Clover relaxes the nerves, and the entire nervous system. Can be used as a sedative. It has also been used quite successfully to fight cancer. It is a marvelous preventative for health problems, and a great wash for sores. It is especially good for whooping cough, and it can be consumed freely. It is also wonderful externally for burns, sore, athlete’s foot, and ulcers. An anti-spasmodic and expectorant, also good for asthma.
How to use it: Tea: made from the blossoms. Place 4-5 blossoms in a cup of hot water. Steep for 20 minutes. Sweeten if desired.
Tincture: Fill a mason jar with only the blossoms (the other parts are not harmful, however, it is the blossoms that are the most potent), cover with vodka. Let sit in cool, dark spot for 4-6 weeks, shaking daily. Strain through cheesecloth or old T-shirt.
Preserve the flowers by drying.
Mullein Mullein grows throughout the Northern tier and Eastern half of the United States. It is a strong, self-sowing biennial. Dr. Christopher states that it is the “only herb known to man that has remarkable narcotic properties without being poisonous or harmful. Great painkiller and nervous soporific, calming and quieting all inflamed and irritated tissues.”
Like most herbs, each part of the Mullein plant has different uses.
- The leaves are used for asthma, allergies, bronchitis, coughs, croup, pulmonary diseases, mild sedative, antihistamine, swelling, pain, and the list goes on.
- The seeds rapidly pass through the intestines and have been used successfully in intestinal obstructions. However, some say that with repeated use they can be toxic. They have a pretty strong narcotic effect as well. They are also used in asthma and infantile convulsions.
- The Flowers are excellent for earaches and ear infections.
How to use it: Poultice from the leaves. Tear a few leaves pretty finely, pour just enough hot water to barely wet. When it cools enough to touch, apply to affected area.
Tea: Put one or two leaves in hot water and allow to steep for around 20 minutes. Remove the leaves, and sweeten if you need to.
Infusion: For the flowers – gather the flowers every day (there will be new buds each day) and place in olive oil. Place in a warm spot, but not to where the sunlight is hitting it directly. What I do is place it either in the sun under a cardboard box, or in my car under a blanket or cardboard box. Shake daily and allow to infuse for about 3-4 weeks. Strain though a cheesecloth or old T-shirt. This is what you use for ear infections. Works like a charm!
Preserve the leaves by allowing to dry. Just KEEP THEM OUT OF SUNLIGHT. I cannot emphasize this enough. It applies to all herbs, but mullein especially. It is very important because the sun creates oxidation, which eventually leeches out all the minerals and nutrients in the herb.
Blackberry Blackberry is well known for stopping gastric bleeding and is known to prevent fluid loss during dysentery. Regular consumption of the berries (can make a tincture) can aid in killing off the free radicals that are linked with the development or heart disease and cancer. Blackberry is an astringent, tonic, alterative, anti-emetic, hemostatic, anti-abortive, parturient (leaves). However, the leaves and roots are useful too. They are great for colds and flu. It is also used for fever, arthritis, gout, pain, and infections.
How to use it: Tea from the leaves and woody part of the bramble is wonderful for diarrhea. Tea from the berries is wonderful for colds and flus.
Leaf Tincture: Fill jar with leaves and roots, cover with either cider vinegar or vodka. Process goes as all other tinctures. Used for fever, arthritis, gout, and diarrhea. Used topically for pain. 1 tsp./hour until fever drops.
Berry Tincture: Same as above, only with berries instead of leaves and roots. Used for colds, flu, and infections.
Plantain can be found virtually anywhere in the United States and every continent except Antarctica. Long-leaf is the most common in the U.S. and is a powerful astringent. Used to heal the bites of mad dogs, staph infection, snake bites and venomous creatures, bee stings, abscesses, boils, congestion in the lungs, the list goes on forever! A mixture of only plantain (external and internal), tea tree oil (external), and clove (internal) has been shown to treat MRSA (antibiotic resistant staph infection) . Can also be used for earaches, and has been said to restore quite decayed hearing when it’s infusion is placed into the ears. It’s also been used as a expectorant, astringent, demulcent, anti-inflammatory, anodyne, styptic, diuretic, the list goes on.
How to use it: Direct Poultice: Chew a few leaves and then rub them on bee stings , spider bites, snake bites, and it can help to draw the poison out. You will be amazed at how quickly this helps with pain! Even those highly allergic to bees have said that if they apply plantain asap, usually there is very minimal swelling, and very little pain.
Infusion: For chest colds and lung congestion, gather a large handful of leaves and pour boiling water them. Let sit at least 30 minutes…the longer the better. Strain the leaves out and drink up. Sweeten if you need to (honey is best). It also helps with lung congestion to make a poultice from the leaves and place on your chest for as long as you can bear to leave it on.
Tincture: Fill an entire mason jar full of the leaves, seeds, roots, and pour vodka until they are completely covered. Let macerate for 5 weeks, shaking the jar once a day. Keeping it out of sunlight in a cool place. Drain liquid out. For just external uses you can do the same thing with olive oil. If you don’t want to use alcohol, you can substitute it for apple cider vinegar.
Elderberry Elderberry is absolutely wonderful for the respiratory system! A powerful immune-booster, if you feel a cold coming on drink elderberry tea and it will knock it out quickly, typically within a few hours. It can be found throughout North America. An infusion made from the berries is an excellent remedy for cold and flu season. An infusion made from the flowers is a wonderful eyewash for conjunctivitis.
- Leaves: emollient, vulnerary (topically), strong purgative, expectorant, diuretic, diaphoretic.
- Flowers: diaphoretic, anti-catarrhal, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory.
- Berries: Diaphoretic, immune-building, laxative, anti-rheumatic.
NOTE: Elderberry can be particularly dangerous to small children. It also contains an alkaloid that is toxic in fruit that is not ripe, so beware of that as well. As with any herbal remedy, reserach it well before use!
How to use it: Syrup: Place around 5 oz. Fresh berries, or 3-4 oz. dried berries in a mason jar, cover with boiling water. Allow to sit over-night. Drain out the liquid, and reheat slightly. Add about ½ c honey. Now you have your infusion. If you have it I add about 15 drops of grapefruit seed extract (GSE). It adds many benefits in aiding your immune system as well as preserving your infusion longer. Adults take 1-2 tablespoons every few hours, children around 2 tsp. Store in your refrigerator. Will last at least a month.
Herbs For Your Garden
Now don’t get me wrong, you can and should grow nearly all the plants on this list, but you will have to grow the ones below as they don’t naturally occur in the wild.
Lobelia is one of those plants that can save your life. Especially if you or your child, or someone you know, has asthma. Many people who have asthma plan to rely on lobelia during TEOTWAWKI. Lobelia can also be balanced by taking it with cayenne. It’s also a great Anti-asthmatic, anti-spasmodic, expectorant, emetic, bronchodilator, nervine (a Stimulant, in small doses, but a Relaxant, in large doses), diaphoretic, diuretic, cathartic, and astringent. The tincture can be rubbed on the body or placed in the mouth to relieve convulsions. Rubbing the tincture on the shoulders of a restless child is wonderful for helping him calm down and go to sleep. It also helps to rub on the gums of a teething baby. Especially good for croup and respiratory ailments such as asthma, croup, infections, boils, sedative, lockjaw, ringworm, hepatitis, and convulsions. It is excellent for convulsions.
How to use it: Tincture: Fill jar with herb, and cover with apple cider vinegar. Lobelia’s components work the absolute best with apple cider vinegar. It is important that you don’t allow it to get too warm, either. The structure of lobelia is lost when it is heated even slightly, so take care. It only needs to macerate for two weeks. Preserve through drying.
NOTE: Be adviswed that Lobelia is poisonous in high doses.
Oregano is used for food preperation, coughs and colds, degenerative arthritis, rheumatism, upset stomach, urinary tract infections, sore throats, infections, fever, vomiting, jaundice, and asthma attacks. It is an antiseptic, antiviral, and anti-microbial. Strong anti-oxidant.
How to use it: Tincture made from the leaves for coughs, rheumatism, bronchitis, asthma, infections, and sore throat.
Tea 3 cups of boiling water over 1 cup fresh leaves (or half cup dried leaves), steep 20 minutes. Take ½ cup three times a day.
Infusion Made with olive oil from the leaves is a powerful antiseptic externally.
Comfrey A powerful allantoin and traditional healer. Comfrey has been shwn to heal bone injuries and is a mucilaginous, vulnerary, demulcent, anti-inflammatory, anti-psoriatic, astringent, expectorant, anti-tumor, cell proliferant, nutritive, and hemostatic. A really amazing healing herb.
How to use it: Poultice made from the leaves applied to cleaned wound. Will heal extremely quickly. Even better if combined with plantain. The plantain removes the toxins, while comfrey heals.
Disclaimer: This list is by no means exhaustive. There are so many herbs that do so many things that I cannot even begin to explain them in full. Remember, when dealing with herbs, you are being your own doctor. I don’t have enough room to tell you everything you need to know about these herbs, so be sure to:
Do the requisite research. Identify the plants with absolute certainty. Label tinctures clearly with ingredients and dates prepared. Use at your own risk!
Water that is not purified may make you sick, possibly even killing you. In a survival situation, with little or no medical attention available, you need to remain as healthy as possible. And a bad case of the runs can be a death sentence!
Boiling water is the best method for purifying water. It doesn’t require any chemicals, or expensive equipment — all you need is a large pot with a lid and a good fire or similar heat source. Heat the water until it begins to boil, no need to bring it to a complete boil. If your water is of unknown cleanliness and is in plentiful supply, bring it to a rolling boil for about 10 minutes and it should kill common bacteria such as guardia and cryptosporidium. One should consider that boiling water will not remove foreign contaminants such as radiation, chemicals, or heavy metals.
Outside of boiling, commercial purification/filter devices made by companies such as PUR or Katadyn are the best choices. They range in size from small pump filters designed for backpackers to large filters designed for entire homesteads. Probably the best filtering devices for survival retreats and BOL’s are the model where you pour water into the top and allow it to slowly seep through the media into a reservoir on the bottom. No pumping is required.
On the down side, most such filtering devices are expensive and have a limited capacity. Filters are good for anywhere from 50 gallons to thousands of gallons, depending on the filter size and mechanism. Some filters used fiberglass and activated charcoal. Others use impregnated resin or even ceramic elements.
Chemical additives are another, often less suitable option. The water purification pills sold to hikers and campers have a limited shelf life, especially once the bottle has been opened. I considers these good for the car’s emergency kit or a BoB, as long as they are frequently replaced.
Pour-though filtering systems can be made in an emergency. Here’s one example that will remove many contaminants:
- Take a five or seven gallon pail (a 55-gallon drum can also be used for a larger scale system) and drill or punch a series of small holes on the bottom.
- Place several layers of cloth on the bottom of the bucket, this can be anything from denim to an old table cloth.
- Add a thick layer of sand (preferred) or loose dirt. This will be the main filtering element, so you should add at least half of the pail’s depth.
- Add another few layers of cloth, weighted down with a few larger rocks.
- Your home-made filter should be several inches below the top of the bucket.
- Place another bucket or other collection device under the holes you punched on the bottom.
- Pour collected or gathered water into the top of your new filter system. As gravity works its magic, the water will filter through the media and drip out the bottom, into your collection device. If the water is cloudy or full of sediment, simply let it drop to the bottom and draw the cleaner water off the top of your collection device with a straw or tube.
If you have a stash of activated charcoal, possibly acquired from an acquarium dealer or made yourself (post coming soon!), you can put a layer inside this filter. Place a layer of cloth above and especially below the charcoal. This will remove some chemical contaminants and reduce any unpleasnt smell or taste.
While this system may not be the best purification method, it has been successfully used in the past. If you have no water source but a contaminated puddle, oily highway runoff or similar polluted source, the filter may be better than nothing, but it’s not a great option. For rain water or water gathered from what appear to be relatively clean sources of running water or rain catchment systems, the system should work fine. Once the system has been established and works, you must remember to change the sand or dirt regularly.
Creating a small first aid kit is simple and easy. Every home, kit, and vehicle should have it’s own basic first aid kit. You can make one yourself by using simple items that you can find at nearly any store. Using a quart or gallon size zipping storage bag. Label your bag. You can even add a piece of the reflective tape to make it easier to find if you drop it or are looking for it in a dark pack. Include the following items:
- Adhesive bandages: A few of each size will do. Pack mostly the 1″ since they work well for blisters. Bandages that are foam instead of fabric offer more protection for blisters and can still be used for other first aid.
- Antibiotic first aid ointment.
- Benadryl or other antihistamine: Emergencies are not a good time to have an allergic reaction.
- Epi-pen if you have been given one by your doctor for severe allergies. They’re usually willing to write prescriptions for several so you can keep several available.
- Prescription medication to last a day or two in a well-labeled container. If your medication changes, you need to update your kit. Be very specific when labeling describe the pill (or whatever), the dose, and what it treats. Don’t forget an asthma inhaler if you are an asthmatic. You may be walking and air quality could be questionable.
- Pain killers, such as aspirin. Look in the travel/trial size section of stores for small bottles.
- Ace bandage: is great for rolled ankles or can be used to immobilize a limb.
- Latex or vinyl gloves (if you are allergic to latex) are a must. You could be around injured people or need to treat someone with your first aid kit.
- Anti-bacterial hand gel for cleaning up.
- Wash cloth or hand towel: can be used for clean up, wiping a sweaty brow or signaling.
- Find a travel/trial size of saline solution (or contact lens rewetting solution) and include it in your kit. Flushing eyes may be necessary for contact lens wearers or for anyone in dusty or polluted air. It can also be used to irrigate a wound.
- Assorted gauze or other first aid items. You can use additional quart or gallon size plastic storage bags to keep items dry and organized.
If you have an old fashioned oil lamp, the kind that doesn’t use kerosene or petroleum-based lamp oil, then you’re in luck! You can stock up on two preps in one bottle, saving space and money. So what is this miracal prepper item? Vegetable oil! Vegetable oil works great as a fuel, is needed for cooking and frying, and also provides your body with essential fats and oils. Even used frying oil burns without odor and without smudging. Instead of throwing away your used frying oil, save it for your oil lamps!
If you don’t have a true oil lamp you can make one from materials around your house. It only takes about 15 minutes and cost nothing.
For a “lamp” you could use nearly any small glass or metal container, old tuna cans work great for this! Just bend down the lid, lay your wick in, fill ‘er up and you’re done! For a wick you can use a string from an old mop, an shoelace, a tightly rolled up piece of paper, a porous stick, a strip of cotton underwear, jute string, or even burlap. Just experiment to see what works.
If your container needs a wick-holder (some won’t, like a tuna can with the lid bent down) improvise a piece of wire wound around a nail. Its job is to hold the wick up out of the oil. You’ll need to find a way to make it easily adjustable — as the wick burns down, you need to keep feeding a little more, and ideally there would be a way to do this without putting out the light. You can hold the coil with a pair of pliers and push the wick up with a toothpick.
The only down side is vegetable oil won’t work in a kerosene or petro-based lantern. In my expierence the oil would burn for a few minutes, but then the wick would burn down and smolder with thick black smoke. What’s going on is the oil is too thick to draw up these wicks fast enough to keep feeding the flame. They are made for thinner, more fluid oils.
Even a small improvised oil lamp burns at least an hour before the wick needs to be adjusted again. I made mine from unused items sitting around the house, all you have to do is put on your thinking cap and go scavaging. I always threw out my used frying oil but not any more! It’s good to know that we can have some light if we run out of candles and kerosene.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average US family uses 400 gallons of water per day. Most of that goes to watering lawns and gardens. During a disaster, the grass can die, but the garden will need water.
Today I want to share with you a great method for driving your own water well that was developed by the U.S. Army. If you can drive a nail into a board, you have the skills to augment your water supply. Drilling companies charge thousands of dollars to tap ground water sources that you can often reach yourself with a few common tools and about two weekends of work.
Also, if you’re worried about losing power to your well pump in a grid-down emergency, it is pretty simple and comparatively inexpensive to rig a solar panel to a water pump to transfer water into a holding tank and then feed that into your home plumbing. Best results are achieved if the holding tank is elevated, thereby providing a gravity feed to your pipes. Such a setup really is an emergency preparation we should all be working toward.
At the turn of the century the U.S. Army developed a fast, effective method to provide troops with water that did not involve a lot of expensive, cumbersome equipment. Soldiers simply drove a pipe into the ground with a sledgehammer until they reached the aquifer. Subsequently, it has proven to be ideal for supplying water to homesteads, second homes, and remote villages in developing nations.
If driving a pipe 75 feet or so into the earth sounds like a job for Superman, I’ve given you the wrong impression. Too hard of a blow can damage pipe threads. It’s better to soften the ground as much as possible before you begin. I recommend digging a hole at the site you’ve selected and allowing water to settle in it for a week. The softer the ground, the easier the work. A shallow hole (5 to 10 feet) is best because deep ones too often need reinforcement to prevent them from collapsing.
You should also check with your neighbors. Neighbors, particularly old-timers, can often give you some idea of what lies beneath the subsoil. A weight on the end of a string dropped down a neighbor’s well can give you a rough estimate of how far down you will have to go (measure to the point where the string becomes wet). If that doesn’t work for you, pick a spot outside the drip line of a large hickory, walnut, butternut, white oak, or hornbeam tree that is not being irrigated. Since these types of trees have tap roots (maples, among others, do not), the fact that they are doing well without irrigation indicates that their tap roots are anchored in an aquifer. I live in a community where the street trees are immense despite the fact that they receive negligible rainfall and quite often aren’t being irrigated. Common sense told me that the water table could not be more than 80 feet below the surface.
As with everything there are laws and taxes telling you how you can dig on your own property. It’s best to play the game and keep under the radar, so check with county health officials concerning regulations and permit requirements. County officials do have access to well logs and other geological data and can be of great help to you. They can advise you as to subsurface composition (silt, sand, and decomposed granite are suitable for driven wells; hard clay or rock may prove difficult or impossible to penetrate), the approximate depth at which you can expect to find water, and the quality of the aquifer beneath your site. Choose a location as far as possible from septic tanks, sewer lines, chemical storage tanks, animal pens, and other potential contaminants.
To Get Started
You’ll need a 2-inch drivepoint with screen (a hollow, conically shaped metal point adjoined to a fine mesh screen), several spools of teflon tape, 2-inch galvanized couplings to attatch pipe lengths together, 5-foot-long threaded lengths of 2-inch galvanized Schedule 40 pipe, 2-inch galvanized caps for the pipe, concrete mix, a weight, a foot valve, and 85 feet of 1/2 inch inside diameter, thick-walled, flexible, UV resistant, flexible polyethylene tubing.
Dig a 5 foot deep pit, fill it with water, and allow the water to percolate into the ground so as to softens the subsoil. Make sure the drivepoint is perpendicular to the ground—check it frequently with a level. If it is not straight, pull it out and start again. A slanted well wastes pipe and may be difficult to pump.
Use a heavy wooden mallet or maul to drive the capped galvanized pipe into the ground. When the cap becomes cracked or dented, discard it and screw on a new one. Establish a steady rhythm and the work will go easier. When the cap is about even with the bottom of the pit, unscrew it and screw on a coupling and a new length of pipe. Use teflon tape on the pipe threads, and make certain all connections are tightened securely with a pipe wrench. You may occasionally need to work from a step ladder in order to reach the cap with the maul. When going through clay or shale, you may find it easier to use a sledgehammer, but be careful not to overdo it.
If the drivepoint hits a large rock, pull the point out and start again in a new location. It won’t drive through it and you could destroy your point if you try to break through. I know how horrible it can be to get 50ft down and have to start over, but such is the way of a driven well. You have to know when to quit. To pull out the drivepoint, place two hydraulic automobile jacks on opposite sides of the pipe. Attatch a pipe clamp to the pipe for the jacks to lift against. Once the drivepoint lifts a few inches, it should be easy to remove.
When you believe you have reached water, tie a weight onto a length of string and lower it into the pipe (remember the tip above?). If it comes out wet, repeat the test several times over the next two days, and if the results are the same, you’ve found water. Drive the pipe down some more to compensate for seasonal fluctuations and periods of drought.
The last step is adding a sanitary seal to prevent surface runoff from contaminating the aquifer. Lengthen the pipe to a height approximately 3 feet above the surface of the ground and fill the pit with the original soil. To protect your water supply and anchor your well, pour a small concrete slab into forms made of used 2-by-4′s or 2-by-6′s centered around the pipe at the surface. Install insulation around the pipes to protect your well from damage if the temperature where you live drops below freezing in winter.
Pitcher pumps are ideal for shallow wells. At depths greater than 25 feet, however, they stop working due to the limitations of atmospheric pressure. Inertia pumps (one-way footvalves attatched to flexible irrigation tubing) are the simplest (they contain only one moving part) and least expensive (under $20) manual deep well pump. Instead of a hand powered pump, a solar powered unit could be installed and the solar cells could be placed on top of the pump house.
Studies from developing nations show that 90% hand powered water pumps break down within 3 years. This is mainly due to worn out or broken parts. In the case of hand powered pumps, what you pay for may very well be what you get. So if you plan on installing a hand powered water pump, do not buy the cheapest product on the market.
What would you do if you had no house payment and no monthly utility bills? Well this guy is living the dream. Here’s a short introduction to simple solar homesteading that provides information on how to find cheap land, build an inexpensive home, and use solar power to eliminate monthly utility bills.
While he doesn’t get into the actual homesteading side much he does lay out a clear and easy plan to buil your own off grid cabin for less than $2,000. Watch these series of videos and he will show you how it is done easily and with very little money.
How to have a home with no house payments and no utility bills!
How to build a 14×14 solar cabin
“During an emergency a man should be able to leave his home with nothing more than the clothing on his back and feel like he left nothing behind” – Thoreau
That’s one of my favorite quotes and Les nails it right on the head in his documentary “Off Grid with Les Stroud”. It’s a really cool series of videos on youtube featuring Les Stroud (Survivor Man) and his family as they move off the grid. You can definitely learn a thing or two by watching these videos. It is Les Stroud after all.
Les Stroud Featured on MTV Cribs