Better Things, Or, Doing Versus Talking

IMG_0530So I’ve had a lot of recent emails asking a lot of questions…several boiling down to Just Where the Heck Have You Been????

In short, I’ve been getting my family more off-grid ready than we already were. My family includes my closest friends and my neighbors; people that really matter in the long run. I’ve been working hard in the meatspace. I’ve been organizing folks, locally, and sizing up resources. Not in a militant sense- but just strengthening bonds. I’ve broke down the barriers with neighbors that I just didn’t have the time previously to get to know as well as I should have, being surprised at just how many really do come out of the woodwork. And most important, I’ve tried to get better with the Lord. I’ve a had a lot more fun too.

The world seems to be headed down the tubes. Ol’ Kimchi is lobbing shots at Guam or wherever else, folks are getting frisky at home, people are parading with tiki torches, trashcan lids or pro-commie signs, take your pick- it’s all the same parade in the streets. Everyone wants a war and nobody cares about the cost. One guy even complained to me that “we” appear to be tone-deaf, whoever the “we” is supposed to be, to the goings-on of the world here in this ‘blogosphere’, as if such a thing actually matters. Quite the opposite, actually.

I know it’s all going straight to hell, it’s nothing new and it’s what many have been saying for a long, LONG time. We are a nation under Judgement. Don’t focus on the big picture. You can’t fix it. But you can fix your own situation locally. You can meet the good folks next door. You can meet the good folks raising their own food and selling it at the farmer’s market. You can meet the good folks owning the micro brewery and hosting the beer festivals. You can meet the guys testing the handloads at the range and swapping numbers. You can lane coach the couple struggling to zero that new AR while you’re at that range. You can talk to like-minded people on the radiowaves, like I do with my friends. You can go to church, even if it’s not ‘your’ denomination, just to meet people who live and do in your community. It doesn’t do anyone any good to simply read what they want to hear, channeling some useless venom that doesn’t do anything other than cause more of a problem- thus I stay above it, as do the wise. More often than not the stuff is written by people who can’t do, hence why they complain.

Get out there and do it, whatever it is. Stop making it a hobby and start making it a lifestyle. Take care of home and hearth along with your close ones, and don’t forget those close by. Even if you think they’re a lost cause, people will surprise you, with a lot more folks into this preper thing than you realize- with a lot of folks not calling it that. You can learn from them, and they you. And with every hurricane, earthquake or human disaster, more good people wake up. Those late to the game tend to prep even harder, because they’ve got even stronger motivation. Go drop a deer or two this fall, learn how to skin game, make sausage and fill a freezer without spending a bunch of money. Teach your kids the joy of eating wild. IMG_0410And while you’re at it, start figuring out ways to work independent of a grid- find out how folks did stuff back in the days before consistent power.

Take this laundry stove for example- too small to be of efficient heating use and was used as a lamp stand until sold to me for pennies for the purpose of doing all the things it’s really meant for, like heating water off-grid from the wrap-around pot belly hot water tank and being able to efficiently cook on small amounts of wood at the same time. We can fry, pressure can, and have hot water as long as we have wood- which we’ll never run out of- on top of having several commodities for barter should the need for such arise. How many people have the ability to pressure can off-grid? How many have the ability to pressure can anyway?

I don’t plan on simply surviving, miserably, out of a ‘bugout bag’ or non-stop running and gunning like a Jerry Ahern fantasy. Living out of a ruck ain’t fun, and you can’t do it indefinitely. Neither is learning how to take care of your family after the fact. Figure out ways to move to a more sustainable lifestyle. Get with other folks in your community, locally. And take a lot of what you ‘see’ on the internet with a big grain of salt. Don’t forget to enjoy life a bit while you’re at it.

Stuff to think about.


39 thoughts on “Better Things, Or, Doing Versus Talking

  1. Pingback: Brushbeater Sums It Up – Mason Dixon Tactical

  2. I have to find myself a stove like that. My wife and I have several plans for how to pressure can when the lights go out, but THAT stove would be the best and easiest of them all.

    1. Absolutely. One of the best features of it is the fact that you can pull both trivets out along with the center section, fitting a 12qt cast iron fryer pot nicely. That size pot is oblong and not round, making it good for boiling and cleaning as well as roasting.

      Also being a gravity fed water boiler, the thing is completely utilitarian in nature. It’s a tiny stove and burns a little bit of wood (or coal) at a time, making it super efficient and not too hot to use even in the summer.

      How we did stuff three generations ago- everything old, will become new again.

    2. Scurvy

      For your (everyone’s) consideration: The Walker brick Cook Stove.
      ( )

      I came across this design while attending YouTube University. It looks like a cross between a rocket stove and the old wood burning stove (which are still being made). It size and design would lend its self to a open area type of architecture to take advantage of the thermal mass.

      I do not own one nor have I ever seen one working in person, but my engineer’s eye sees great potential in the right setting. I am currently prospecting for property to build on and this will be one of a couple of design considerations for cooking and supplemental heat.

      If you’re good with your hands building stuff, and you should be, the cost to build this shouldn’t be too bad. Materials will cost more than the latest brand of Infrared-Inductively coupled plasma stove everyone is being pitched on TV that will only last 3 years. But taking into consideration the life cycle cost when skillfully built of a 60 year old stove you are way ahead. (You do know the difference between fire, paving and building bricks?)

      Just a thought.

  3. Nice find on the woodstove!
    I’ve got two woodburners in the house, and a barrel stove in the garage/ shop.
    We’ve been pressure canning for years, one of our woodburners is a small cookstove. Big enough for pressure canner or a large Dutch oven or a 5 gallon stockpot.
    My wife works at a church, so we’ve met a lot of people from the area. The congregation has a lot of elderly members, I’ve been doing a lot of home repairs for them after hearing how much they paid some so called contractor for simple repairs.
    No one should be taking advantage of old folks.
    I just took down, cut up and hauled away 5 big pine trees for an 80 year old couple- for the cost of truck and chainsaw gas. They gave me some cash anyhow, because a tree service had quoted them $3,000.00 to take the trees down and haul them away.
    The guy has one more tree he wants taken out, which I’ll get after I split the pile of logs at my house to make room. Then he’s going to give me a like new chainsaw because he says he won’t need it any more- that’s what happens when you help people out.
    People not knowing how to butcher and process their own game is an issue- they just pay someone to do it for them. What happens when they don’t have that option?
    I have a lot of tomatoes to pick this afternoon- tomorrow is canning day- the second batch this year.
    Canned a bunch of hot peppers already, and have 18 quarts of thick tomato sauce canned.
    Some of us are able to feed ourselves, cook, can, and heat our homes without any utilities.

    1. $3k to bring down pines? Oh man…that’s bad. But there’s an upside to doing good stuff.

      We’ve got two other woodstoves here, and I primarily heat with wood in the winter. The problem is that a large stove is inefficient for household tasks, and would be unbearable in the summer. A tiny stove, on the other hand, especially one with a built in gravity fed water heater, can be used year-round out in my shop.

      1. Any recommendations on a stove and where to look to purchase a new one? There’s nothing used in my AO and the ones I’ve seen online are extremely pricey. I’ve got the perfect spot ready for one in the corner by my fireplace. I installed a swing arm in the fireplace for a hanging kettle but I need to supplement that with something to cook on. Thank you!

      2. Vogelzang makes one, and no, it’s not cheap. It’s version is called the Rancher and lacks the hot water heating tank around the belly, That’s ok though, you can make one by coiling a copper pipe around the belly section- it’ll do the same thing. A cheaper option is a standard small potbelly woodstove, which can serve the same functions.

        Keep an eye out- you never know what you’ll find used randomly.

      3. Another old time solution to the kitchen heat problem VERY often adopted, especially in the South:

        The summer kitchen.

        When the weather was warm, and the heat from cooking would make the house unbearably hot, instead of simply hot, folks would do their cooking in a separate outbuilding, usually close to the permanent kitchen, called the summer kitchen. These varied in complexity; Farmers and frontier folks would simply make a high roof room underneath for cooking and prepping food, while plantations and the wealthy would build a permanent enclosed building with lots of windows and a very high ceiling for ventilation; usually such buildings included a baking oven with masonry chimneys among other features. Sometimes, all the cooking would be done in the detached kitchen year-round. Anyone with an outside deck adjoining the kitchen could make some sort of summer kitchen pretty easily……

      4. I was just talking about why small outbuildings were used as kitchens the other day to someone who was asking about Antebellum-era homes.

        In many areas around here you can still find the freestanding chimneys from over a hundred years ago, long after the kitchens have went away.

      5. Keypounder

        With regard to lingering chimneys, this points out another reason to keep the kitchen away from the house- the risk of fire. It is axiomatic that house fires start from something burning; keeping the kitchen separate from the house reduces the risk of fire destroying one’s home.

        Today, one could easily envision a separate home heating furnace away from the main house, with perhaps a summer kitchen and a smokehouse included…..

    2. Scurvy

      Next time you’re over to help the good people out and have time to sit a spell, compare notes on your canning. Two thing might happen. First that they may have a special way of solving an issue you have had but didn’t know. Secondly that the older couple’s sense of worth may be realized in that you want to know what they know. And as a result two wonderful people will be with us that much longer.

      They may know other things that you never thought to ask……..

      1. We had the couple I took pines down for over last week the day after I took the last tree down. It was unseasonably hot here last week-and this week-93 today.
        I went back on Sat to cut the stump down and load up the last of the firewood and branches,and to trim a tree for their neighbor.
        I get there,and the guy’s wife has a couple piles of branches on his trailer. She grabs me to talk to me when the guy went in the house to use bathroom and tells me that he wanted to do something to help,so let him haul the stuff to my house for me.
        They stayed for a couple hours after I unloaded the trailer,the wives talked canning,the guys talked gardens and tools/equipment.
        Plus he wanted to see my still running 1975 model MTD rear-tine rototiller.
        He’s an interesting guy-owned an excavating business,went from riding his Harley,to a Harley trike-just to keep riding a little longer.
        He’s got a small homemade trailer,with a combo welder/generator/air compressor he put together himself. Runs off a 4 cylinder car engine.
        I always sit and talk to the old folks-learn a lot that way.

  4. As always Ncscout a good article to get the discussion going.

    My wife and I lived on our sailboat for eleven years. We were preppers and didn’t even know it at the time; However, we could leave at a minute noticed and live quite happily swinging on a hook. Being a proponent of “one is none and two is one” we had back-ups for pretty much anything that could break on the boat or for trade.

    The one thing that we learned from that experience that we have taken to our prepping on “the hard” is that no man/women is an island. We also learned that what we put into helping others pays back in dividends. I try to preach that to friends and folks who check in on my forum but only a small group of folks get it.

    We bought our piece of heaven in Northeast Pennsylvania in 2005. Our 35 acres is surrounded by thousands of wooded and grazing acres with only a speckling of people. The mountain we live on is 1,700 feet at its peak and we are at the 1,400-foot level. On our mountain, there is only twelve-year round family’s and maybe another twelve hunting cabins that are only occupied during the rifle deer season and an odd weekend here and there.

    My brother and I figured out we were not in Kansas anymore when we entered the local watering hole soon after we inked the deed. We were dressed as yachtsmen in plaid shorts, docksiders, and Izod shirts. We got stared at enough that I quickly realized it was important to fit in and be part of the community. Our clothes changed to match the culture as did some of our Rhode Island/Massachusetts manners.

    To not go into all the details which your readers would find dull, we focused on becoming a local without giving up the personalities we had developed over the 60 or so years we have been on this good earth.

    As mentioned, we started to dress like the locals which wasn’t hard as we switched from shopping at West Marine or Joseph A. Banks to Tractor Supply. We started waving at each car/truck/tractor/4-wheeler that we passed or went by our property. My wife and I joined the local Baptist Church that was gun friendly and had similar opinions on the state of America that we did. When anybody needed help, we were the first to stand up and get the job done.

    Over time, we have met each of the dozen or so year-rounders. We get invited to picnics, weddings, and funerals. We give out invitations openly too. We shop at the local family owned businesses before we venture into “the big city”. Do we pay a bit more – Yes, we do and it is worth every extra cent. My neighbor and I raise a couple of hogs each year and have them butchered by a guy in town. We buy our beef, chickens, and many of our vegetables direct from the family’s that produce them.

    I could certainly go on and on however Ncscout talks to this too. If the proverbial excrement hits the fan will our mountain survive? Yupper…You bet ya’. We will pull together and make it work.

    Everybody on the mountain have different skills and interests so neighbor will be helping neighbor or bartering their skill or goods for what I or you should offer. Heck it happens now. I have helped one of my neighbors who owns a Pub in town which was struggling. I offered my business background to him Pro Bono and he took it. The Pub that was losing money now is making a decent living for him and his wife. I have perked up the interest of three people on the mountain revolving around amateur radio. One a 13-year old now has his General and who is now working on his Extra. His dad is taking the Technicians exam this month. A retired lady from our church now has a 2 meter HT in here house and listens to our weekday 0800 net. Today she is not interested in talking on the radio or taking her first exam but I bet she will.

    In closing, and in support of what Ncscout has already written, get out there and know your neighborhood. Try new things so you make the inevitable mistakes now rather than when seed or raising critters will be golden. God has a purpose for all of us, learn what it is now.

    PS: Cool score on the soap stove. I want one!

    1. And that, Johnny, is how it’s done.

      By the way, Vogelzang makes a new version of that laundry stove that Tractor Supply carries, which I had been planning on getting for some time, but held off due to it’s expense and having other projects frontloaded. Look for woodstoves in your area on craigslist- you’ll be surprised at what you find.

  5. Thisisme

    Just to echo the comments, nice stove find. A lot of the warmth can come from putting a 90 or two in the stove pipe also. Depending how much draw from the fire box it needs. Just in case someone didn’t realize the pipe is where a lot of heat is transferred into the room. Looks like a good boot dryer too. Thanks for all you do for us. Really, cannot thank you enough. 73

    1. One thing about this type of stove is that it takes a smaller than normal flue- it’s a 6 in as opposed to an 8 or 12, so the draw is much less for a smaller stove. This one actually is a coal stove anyway, so burning small chunks or wood is no problem as it’s designed for the hotter burn of coal.

      1. Scurvy

        I bet it would work outstanding with sawdust pucks too.

        I gave a design to my brother to make them on a hydraulic wood splitter. No report back as yet.

        Commercial ones run about $10k so I’ll stick to my small scale design.

  6. Blackthorn

    Fine descriptions of the prime way to live.
    Excellent posting.
    As always.
    I check in here pretty much every day. Every other day at the very least.
    While you were conspicuous in your absence, I’m glad you don’t feel compelled to post just any old thing, every day, just for the sake of posting. Whenever you do put something out here, it’s always real, always from personal tried and true experience and always *always* useful to the rest of us.
    Thanks doesn’t cover it.

  7. Pingback: Brushbeater: Better Things – Think Local; Act Local – Lower Valley Assembly

  8. Scott B Freah

    Great ideas. All ready attend a local church of my denomination where all in attendance pack copious amounts of heat and are Ham operator’s. My wife and I need to put in a guest appearances at the closer church that is not of our denomination just to break bread and build some FRITH w the neighbors. Maybe we could introduce some of the folks we meet to our local AMRRON radio net that 24 families check in on each Thursday night. God, Guns, Food and Radios are sure ways to get to know folks. Hope the Lord gives us an elk again this year. Keep your powder dry 11B` all the way`. From MT. Thanks for the ideas N.C Scout.

  9. Henry Bowman

    As always, spot on post….Great score on the stove and other CI cooking stuff…

    Grid square, grid square, grid square, is my motto nowadays….When it all comes down around us, or to us, the only resources are going to be those relationships around us, that have been built over time, that can’t be rushed.

    It’s us inviting folks in for parties, helping out around their place if need be, looking after a neighbors dog when they travel, or watching their home while out of town, making sure it is secure.

    All manner of thing, related to relationships, F2F stuff, not interweb shit with folks i have never met, nor will i meet.

    It’s going trout stalking and camping w buddies, doing commo ftx’s, sharing/learning/doing, and grilling big ass t bones and bakers with like minded folks and maybe sipping a little Jack, then coming back home and sharing that knowledge w local fellows….

    The hour glass is running out, time to get busy meeting and doing…..

  10. Scott B Freah

    146.420 mhz. on 2 meter at 2000 hrs. mountain time. net name is the Kalispell Marion Mt AMRRON channel 3 project. We encourage people to check in on FRS CB and MURRS channel 3 if they are not HAM operator’s. We welcome all visitors Intersted parties can also check in by going to www Look forward to hearing from you.

  11. Pingback: Brushbeater: Doing Instead Of Talking | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  12. Yep, I’ve been getting the same question for over a year now, “Where’d you go?” I give them the same answer, “Taking care of the folks in my AO.”

    I agree, it is nice to have the ability to heat the home and cook on a wood stove. We use a Jotel Black Bear. Ugly as they come but it was on sell and fills the bill.

    I like the cable bail addition to the camp stove. One word of advice: Keep the lid on a lid stand or end up with grit in your chow. Ask me how I know.

    1. 🙂

      A little dirt don’t hurt, MSG!

      I normally do that with the lid. Right at that moment I was evening out another layer of lard on the bottom. The cable idea came from needing a new bail (the old one was bend beyond usefulness) so I rigged up a 3/4in cable. I actually like it better.

  13. Home school.
    All this other stuff is a waste
    if your children are lost.
    Giving up the 2nd income
    is too big a sacrifice for most, though.
    They need that money to ‘prep’….

  14. brianhill

    love it. Been working on building a log cabin for a year and a half now. Finally up to the 2nd floor walls. I started stacking logs in June this year, been cutting trees off my own land and friendly neighbor’s land before that. This will be our primary residence. got a few acres with it, will start farming it very soon.

    It’s brought a lot of like minded people out of the shadows because they are curious….and then we find out we all like the same thing: freedom. If the conversation feels right, I let them know I’ve got their back. I also state that no one survives alone, but if we all band together, we can stick it out. Every one of them agrees that “that” time is coming. It doesn’t hurt that my best neighbor and biggest supporter (a guy in his 80’s) is the grandson of the town’s founder, and a former chief of police. A guy I met last week helped me put up another log. I found out he’s a former mayor of the town and retired captain at the county sheriff’s dept.

    I’ll have a woodstove similar to what you’ve got here. I invested in a water distiller that requires no power to run, expect shipment in a month or two. plans for bees, berries, already have chickens (probably illegal where we live in the city, but the neighbors there are cool).

    Taking care of real, face to face relationships is now way more important than any political direction this country is headed towards. I used to post daily about this or that politician. After 2012, I realized it was too late. And although we got a little breathing room this time around, the apparatus has already been set up, everything has already been set in motion, no single person or group can now stop it, in my opinion. Doesn’t matter who the president is at this point, I don’t think. It might have gone downhill faster with the pantsuit, but the slope is still negative with this guy- not really his fault, I’d say.

    Putting your energy into real local relationships is probably the best preparation, I think.

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