Saturday, November 30, 2013

Compressed Wood Fuel

United States Stove Large Pellet Stove
Wood Fuel Pellets, 40 lb.      Compressed wood pellets meant to burn in a wood pellet stove are nice to have if you have the stove.  The cost of the pellets to burn is $5.49 per 40 pound bag at the local Tractor Supply Store nearest me, which is actually 15 miles from me, so, quite a drive.  The stove is around $900 without the vent kit which is another $300.  

Fireplace Heater for Zero Clearance Fireplace-4 Tubes/Blower
     Suddenly the idea of warming the home with the new compressed wood fuel doesn't sound do good.  Well, yes and no.  These stoves hold the wood pellets in a sort of hopper and release pellets to the fire as needed.  They have a blower to suck out smoke and a fan to circulate heat.  They have a thermostat and need electricity to operate properly.  The startup cost to any new tech has always been prohibitive.  Even updating a fireplace with a blower is pricey at $549 ish, but you will get more heat circulating.  But, you're smart, you could make one of these, too!  You tube has video!  

     Still, I was raised cheap, by the descendants of the Great Depression.  In their time, many homes still had fire fueled stoves for warmth and cooking.  Wood was gathered from nearby forest, cut from felled trees or bought as logs and chopped into useable sizes.  
     Also, most of my family was from Pennsylvania, so coal was also gathered from railroad tracks as the cars flew by leaving some coal by the way, bought from a coal vendor and delivered seasonally by the truckload or purchased as needed from a cart vendor.  There was no such thing as waste fuel as there was no such thing as waste.

     My grandmother rolled newsprint logs for her fireplace, well into her seventies.  As a child, she made twisters for her mother.  She would gather newsprint and taking a pile of it and a bucket to the porch step, she would tear a section of the paper and twist it.  When all the papers were twisted she would press them into her bucket, wetting them.
    She poured out the excess water and one at a time, she re-twisted the papers until she had done them all.  The water made the paper pliable and the twists tight, it also allowed the lignin to bind the paper as it dried.  These were used as lighting sticks and as tender to start a coal fire.  Tight twisted paper caught fire quickly at the loose end but burned longer than just balling it up and stuffing it.  It was used just like a small wooden stick.  Sometimes, when twisters built up, they were used in lieu of wood.  This is the prehistoric ancestor of the rolled paper log.

     Compressed wood fuel for the stoves I have mentioned above can be made at home but most instructions start with:  Buy a hammer mill or Buy a pellet mill and plug it in.  Well and good if you have a fat wallet and the power never goes out, ever!  But there are ways to compress wood fibre and what is now called waste into usable fuel for the fireplace without "buy a big new pluggy in thing"!  


     Paper is wood fiber and once made into pulp, it binds itself together and dries into the shape of it's mold.  Sure, you can buy a hand press and mold, but you can make one, too.  Using an old #10 can, a coffee can or a 6" or 8" diameter PVC pipe from the hardware store.  Drill drain holes all around the cylinder for water to runoff.  Fashion a top and bottom plate that will fit inside the mold.  Place the bottom stop plate on a level surface, place the mold over it, fill with wet paper pulp and place the top stop plate on.  Add weight of a brick or block and just let the water run out.  When the water stops, lift the weight, press again.  It will press out foamy.  This is good.  Push the disc of pressed paper pulp out of the mold and allow discs to dry thoroughly.  
     This sample of a bio waste fuel disc was made from sawdust made while turning wood and paper pulp.  The mold method works just as well for paper pulp only as the pulp is the binder that keeps the sawdust wood fibers together. 
     The UK and Australia offer another form of the log maker.  They encourage adding dry leaves to the paper mix.  And, why not? Instead of bagging your leaves and dropping them curbside, make use of them.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu dissected for PREP

     Thanksgiving dinner, an event held nationwide, was once for time to thank God for all the good things we have experienced during the year, and to be ever mindful the food on our table was a gift from God, not a birthright, but a blessing.   

Congressional Record, September 25, 1789
Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God....

The Well-Traveled Salad
     Somewhere it became other things as we forgot where food comes from and how close we are to having none.  As long as the wheels of this economy churn, with growers growing, truckers trucking and vendors vending there are several generations of people at dinner who believe food comes from stores.  One good fuel crisis and they will learn, food comes from far away at great cost and effort to get it to you.  

     The fuel crisis of the seventies had beef providers slaughtering their herds early due to the rising  cost of keeping them alive and fed.  Baby beef was born.  My mother was offended that she couldn't get what she wanted at the store when she wanted it at any price.  It just wasn't there.  My grandmother, having survived the Great Depression as an adult with a family, looked at the bright side.  Suddenly there was an abundance of baby beef that she called veal, and at an affordable price....if you had been in the market for beef was cheaper!  How's that for turning things around?  

     So, Turkey and Thanksgiving dinner with the trimmings!
get them while they are young and raise them for food
     Turkey comes from turkeys.  It's like the chicken and the egg.  If TSHTF, you need to trap wild turkey and domesticate them until you have eggs and turkey for dinner.  It's the only reasonable response.  Having food in the prep pantry to get you through until you can produce your own, is the smart alternative to attempting to hunt a wild turkey for a meal.  Consider there are only about 7 million turkeys in the wild, they will not feed the famished for long.  Easily, in a TEOTWAWKI era, they could become extinct in a flurry of unregulated slaughter.  

Big Stick versus...Turkey? | Big Stick Combat
     A side note about turkey.  Sure, you can treat them like a big chicken and they will, after a time just stay on the property.  Turkeys are very territorial and will attack a stranger.  If that is what you want, well good.  BUT!  We know for a fact, when a male takes offense and doesn't want you hanging clothes in his backyard, you technically can kick it, but you will break a toe!  No kidding!  She kicked it!  I almost laughed in her face!  They are very hard and covered with hollow feathers that will achieve limited flight.  It was about as smart as drop kicking a frozen turkey!  Really I felt bad for her, but seriously!  She didn't even make it mad.  She just broke her toe for nothing!  

     Sweet potato pie and sweet potato with the marshmallow topping (called yams but are not yams) come from the soil.  They are easily grown from vine cuttings and from parting the tubers and returning them to the soil where you found them.  THey grow wild, but should have a pride of place in the prepper's garden.  They dislike frost and too much water.  They grow in poor soil conditions on their own without need of fertilizer.  The vines can shade out weeds and they can be turned and sent growing wherever you want them, in the garden or in a wild area on their own. 
     If you HAVE to have marshmallow, here is the recipe.  Store these items!
2 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 1/4 cups water, divided
4 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
But, if you have to have marshmallow, you need to pack and store the spice for the pie.  Store cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg (whole or ground) and plenty of sugar! 

     Vegetables loaded with butter and/or cream sauces.  Prep many cans of said vegetables and stock many seeds of several varieties of each non-GMO type vegetables.  Growing heritage veg from heritage seed is a bit harder than the seeds that have been genetically altered to resist disease, but you will get the hang of it and find the type that grows best for you and will provide you the seeds for the next season as well.  

     Now, it is my heartfelt personal opinion that anyone who needs that green bean casserole sludge is just not right and does not need to survive long post TEOTWAWKI.  That stuff is gross.  I mean why would you take a perfectly delicious bean and slime it all up with canned: Water, Mushrooms, Modified Food Starch, Wheat Flour, Contains Less Than 2% of: Salt, Cream, Dried Whey, Monosodium Glutamate, Soy Protein Concentrate, Yeast Extract, Spice Extract, Dehydrated Garlic, Vegetable Oil: Corn, Cottonseed, Canola and, or Soybean.  
Homemade Cream Of Mushroom Soup Recipe - - 264191

     It ain't Kosher and it ain't real mushroom soup!  If y'gotta slick up beans...make your own cream of mushroom soup.  Just make sure you're hungry and eat it all, I have beans in a pot with some salt and pepper, thanks.

    So, taken apart, the Thanksgiving dinner would be tough to pull off without grocery stores, but a time to stop and be grateful can happen over a can of beans.  Ask any soldier, sailor or Marine.  

Enjoy an Authentic Colonial Thanksgiving Dinner in Old ...
    And while I'm given to this rant tonight and you are in your fully electric, electronic kitchen complaining about the heat and the people tramping through your house, at least you are not making your meal over an open fire.

     Enjoy your dinner.  Get to know where your food comes from and what you need to eat when TSHTF.  Be prepared.  Be thankful.