Now what?

Looks like I’ve got a project for the next few weekends: After five seasons of burning nothing but wood I’ve harvested from my property, I finally broke down and bought firewood. But in a “go big or go home” bid, I made it a 5 cord bundle of logs. Unseasoned, true, but at $100 a cord, it’s quite a bargain. There’s still a lot of work to do – bucking, splitting, stacking – but I figure I saved myself a lot […]

Plugging Holes

We’ve had a lot of power outages lately. Looking back at my generator run records – yep, I’m that guy – I can see we’ve had one outage a month for the last three months. Every time it’s that same dodgy cutout fuse that blows, and leaves us in the dark for three hours or so. I don’t consider that a good reliability record, so I’ve started the futile process of complaining about it. I called the power company, and […]

Another Storm, Another Outage

I’m beginning to think that I’m not getting my money’s worth from the local electrical monopoly. We had a line of thunderstorms move through today, and despite the severe warnings issued by NOAA, they didn’t amount to much. Lots of rain, a little wind, and some decent lightning. It had pretty much blown itself out by 6:30PM or so, and we were just getting dinner prepped when a rogue lightning bolt hit somewhere nearby and knocked out the power. Or […]

The Indispensible Machete

If you were to come to me and say, “I’ve taken away all you homestead tools. You can have one tool back. Which would it be?” Hands down, I’d choose my machete. Then, I’d kick your ass and get back the rest of my stuff. Who do you think you are, anyway? Stop messing with my stuff. I stumbled upon the machete as my main woodlot tool by accident – literally. While we were building our house, I tripped over something while […]

A quick video showing my test of components for the next version of my portable battery bank. Version 1.0 was a bust – even though it was nicely laid out and well engineered, the inverter was terribly undersized. As built, the bank was not capable of starting any of the refrigerators in the house, and was basically good for not much more than running a string of Christmas lights. Pretty disappointing. In this test, I was able to show that […]

Five-way Inverter Fail

Since I’m like three years old, I’ve known that red is positive and black is negative. Surely I couldn’t make the ultimate rookie mistake when testing my new inverter. Surely I could, and thus did I release the Magic Smoke. First, the back story. I tested my version 1.0 portable battery bank a while back, to see if it could start up our small back-up fridge. Nope – the pathetic little Samlex pure-sine inverter couldn’t handle the start-up surge. So […]

Generator Redundancy

Recently, I almost had to surrender my membership card to our little group. I experienced an epic fail in my preps when we were caught by an unexpected power outage. We weren’t just caught with our pants down – our pants were totally off, had left the building, were dirty, out in the woods somewhere, being used as a blanket by an enterprising skunk. For most of the power outages we’ve experienced there has been some warning. Sometimes days, or […]

How NOT to Prep with Propane

The local Agway was having a great propane sale this past weekend – refills for only $10.99. I had an empty tank waiting for just such an opportunity, so off I went on Saturday morning. Turns out a lot of people had the same idea. When I got in the propane line, there were three people in front of me, each with a tank or two. Except for one lady – she had 12 empty tanks in the back of […]

AAR: Power Outage

I’m sitting at my desk at 11:45 on Tuesday, minding my own business, like I always do. Clear skies, no wind, no rain, sunny and warm(ish). Everything seems normal. Then, the lights in my office went out. A split second later, I heard a loud BOOM! Uh-oh. This exact evolution has happened several times over the last 10 years here. There’s a fuse on a power pole at the corner of our road and the main road, and when something […]

Fuel Fail and Recovery

We had a stretch of glorious weather going there for a while – sunny, warm, breezy. Perfect spring weather, and perfect for long-deferred outdoor work. Rainy and cold now – it was nice while it lasted. While it was nice, I decided to finish harvesting a tree I felled back before the snow flew. On Saturday I fired up the tractor and started loading the bucket with the tools of the woodsman’s trade. I broke out my chainsaw and as […]