Category Archives: Household

What The Holzhaufen!?!?

If you don’t know, don’t worry. Until the other day I didn’t know what a holzhaufen was either. As it turns out, in German, holzhaufen means “woodpile.” But the term holzhaufen has been taken a little bit further and has been associated with a certain method of piling wood. From what I have found, a holzhaufen in its modern definition is a cylinder shape stack of split wood with a pyramid on the top (see picture below). I thought this was too cool to not share because it not only seems to offer an alternative to the traditional wood stack but it dries quickly with a built-in visual indicator of when your firewood is ready to burn.

Picture Credit: Farmshow.com

So how the heck do you build one of these things?

The rough guidelines to construct a holzhaufen include:

1. Wood must be cut in lengths between 12 inches and  24 inches.

2. Wood must be split. Split wood not only dries faster, but also interlocks which is a requirement for sturdy holzhaufen construction. (Have some kindling size pieces available for filling in the gaps when needed.)

3. Build your holzhaufen on a level piece of ground. (Dry ground is recommended.)

4. Decide how high your stack will be (anywhere from 4 to 10 feet high) and drive a stake in the ground to the height, centered in the location of your holzhaufen. FYI – Don’t build the stack higher than you can reach to the top!

5. Determine the diameter of your stack (4 feet to 6 feet across) and start stacking your wood aligned with the outer perimeter. This will leave a space in the center around the stake. As the stack grows around the outer perimeter, fill the empty space in with wood stacked vertically to fill in the gaps. (It does not have to be a real tight fit.) The key is to allow air to move up the stack like a chimney to allow the wood to dry quickly and effectively.

6. While stacking the wood keep an eye on how level the stack is. The idea is to maintain a slight inward lean after about the first third of the stack is built. This can be accomplished by setting the thinner end of the split wood on the inside of the stack. To avoid the stack getting out of balance, “cheater boards” (thinner pieces of split wood) can be placed perpendicular to the other boards on the inside or outside of the stack as needed to keep the stack from falling. (This can be seen in the picture below.)

7. Once you get to the top foot or two of your holzhaufen start the pyramid effect toward the center. When you do this, ensure that the wood used is placed bark side up to offer the highest level of protection to the wood stack below from the elements.

8. Now that you have a completed holzhaufen, sit back and wait for your wood to season. Once the stack has settled about 20 to 25 percent it should be good and ready for the fire. A simple way to know when the wood is ready would be to make an indicator mark at about the 25% point on the center pole when you are building your holzhaufen.

Advantages of the holzhaufen:

  • One holzhaufen can contain as much as two and a half cords.
  • Includes a visual indicator of approximately how dry the wood is.
  • A 6 foot diameter and 10 foot high holzhaufen can be constructed in just one hour.
  • Drying time is shortened compared to other stacking methods due to the chimney effect of the holzhaufen.
  • The small footprint of the holzhaufen compared to other wood stacking methods results in less wood rot and bug infestation because of less wood being in contact with the ground.

*Fancy Homesteader Trick – If you would like to offer even more protection to your holzhaufen from the elements, you can place a patio table umbrella down the middle of the stack to keep it dry. A few words of warning with this method…it might be a good idea to find a way to anchor the umbrella if you do this, you may end up with a smaller holzhaufen this way, and it is also unlikely that you will any longer be able to sit outside and enjoy lemonade under your patio table umbrella when there is a huge stack of wood underneath it!

Sources: Farmshow.com, Mother Earth News, The Morning Call

Do You WD-40?

Image Credit: WD40.com

You learn something new every day and I am far from being the exception. I was astonished to learn today that WD-40  has over 2,000 uses. Of course, my wife knew that already and immediately put my manhood into question. Not much to be done about that though I guess. What I thought was a handy product, I now view as liquid miracle in a can. With so many uses, WD-40 can do just about everything but set a dislocated shoulder!

I also learned that WD stands for water displacement and the 40 in the name made its way there because it was the 40th attempt that finally got the formula right. So after 40 attempts to develop this secret recipe of lubricants, Water Displacement – 40th Formula (WD-40) was created. This multi-purpose lubricant is safe to use on metal, wood, rubber, and plastic and performs the five functions of lubrication, penetrating, protection of surfaces, removal of dirt and grime, and displacement of moisture.

So the variety of WD-40 uses span the following six major categories and include specific uses like:

Home/Garden

– Keeps blades on outdoor power equipment from rusting.

– Cleans and protects garden tools.

– Spray around the bottom of your garbage cans to prevent animals from getting into them.

Car/Truck

– Keeps vehicle battery terminals clean and rust free.

– Keeps winch cables clean and lubricated.

– Unfreezes car doors.

On The Job

– Cleans magazines for magazine-fed firearms.

– Spray on hands before using heavy adhesives to prevent sticking.

– Improves cutting time for drills.

Garage/Workshop

– Protects tools from corrosion.

– Drives out moisture from flashlights.

– Prevents corrosion on pulley systems.

Sports/Recreation

– Lubricates pump-action firearms.

– Keeps fishing reels rust free.

– Cleans knife blades.

Other

– Loosens tight propane tank handles.

– Spray locking rods of portable fire-proof safes to keep them operating properly.

– Keeps missile silo doors swinging freely.

It seems to me that after stumbling upon the list of 2,000+ uses for WD-40 that it might be a great item to have on hand and potentially even stockpile for barter use in the future. In addition to the over 2K uses for WD-40, it literally has an indefinite shelf life which makes it perfect for your survival stockpile. Don’t forget to print off a copy of the over 2,000 uses for WD-40 to keep in your prep library.

If you know of a great WD-40 use or a story about the uses of WD-40 please leave a comment!

A Blackout Kit For The Common Man

Photo Credit: Popular Mechanics

Yesterday’s post was about a recent power outage that my family and I went through. Part of what got us through our lack of electricity was our blackout kit. A blackout kit defined is simply the basic supplies that an individual or group of people need to get through a period of blackout (failure of the electrical power supply). Sounds simple, right? That’s because it is! There are no parabolic quadratic equations that are mandated here. Because your blackout kit is yours, you can put whatever you think you need in it. So without further ado, I will outline the most comprehensive list of items for a blackout kit that my mind is capable of compiling.

Light

Flashlights w/ Batteries (Include Extras)

Chemical-Illuminescent Lightsticks (Glowsticks)

Candles w/ Matches

Oil Lantern w/ Oil & Matches

Communications

Whistles

Battery Operated AM/FM/Weather Radio w/ Batteries (Include Extras)

Battery Operated Shortwave Radio Receiver W/ Batteries (Include Extras)

Battery Operated CB Radio w/ Batteries (Include Extras)

Old Style Telephone That Draws Power From Phone Line (Found @ Second-Hand/Thrift Stores)

Back-Up Cell Phone (TracFone) – Ideally A Carrier Different Than Your Usual Cell Carrier (Include Car Charger)

Food

Canned Goods

Granola/Energy-Type Bars

Beef Jerky

Hard Candy

Dried Fruits & Nuts

Peanut Butter

Foods That Only Require The Addition of Hot Water

Metal Cup For Heating Water

Manual Can Opener

First Aid

First Aid Kit

First Aid Manual

Emergency Medications

Extra Prescription Glasses

Water

Bottled Water

Water Containers

Water Purification Tablets

Water Purification Device

Drink Mixes

Heat

Indoor Safe Propane Heater w/ Propane

Sterno Fuel w/ Matches

Hand Warmers

Foot Warmers

Tools

Gas Wrench

Wrench For Water Main

Basic Mechanic’s Tool Kit

Multi-tool

Work Gloves

Assorted Fasteners (Nails, Screws, Nuts, Bolts, Hose Clamps, Zip Ties, Etc.)

Security

Firearm w/ Ammunition

Taser

Baseball Bat

Golf Club

Expandable Baton

Knife

Shelter

Mylar Survival Blankets

Sleeping Bags

Blankets

Rain Gear/Emergency Ponchos

Plastic Sheeting w/ Duct Tape

Tarps w/ Twine or Cord

Entertainment

Deck of Cards

Board Games

Battery Operated Hand-Held Games w/ Batteries

Books

Battery Operated MP3 Player w/ Batteries

Documentation

List of Emergency Contacts

Family Contact Roster

Evacuation Plan (Minimum of Two Routed In Each Direction If Possible)

Cash (To Conduct Transactions During Blackout Period)

A blackout kit should remain fairly small and basic if possible. My goal is to make my blackout kit into a plastic tote container or a 5 gallon bucket. This makes the kit easy to store around the house but also easy to load into the car in the event that it needs to be taken with you in a bug out situation.

As always, please make this list the best that it can be by making a comment and pointing out additional items that I may have not thought of or unintentionally omitted from the list.

The Top 20 Ways To Deter A Home Invasion

 The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program reported that in 2010 there were almost 1.6 million residential property burglaries in the United States. Of these residential burglaries there were 965,670 that involved forcible entry, over 100,550 involved an attempted forced entry, and the remaining burglaries were unlawful entries but were not forced. This is a staggering statistic! I have been fortunate in never having been put in the position of experiencing a home invasion or burglary but it is also important to me that I do everything that I can to avoid ever being in that situation. I think this concern is real for everyone and it made me create this list of the top ways that a home invasion can be deterred. 

  1. Lock doors and windows, constantly and consistently, when gone or even at home.
  2. Ensure that all exterior doors are solid, sturdy doors with at least two locks and a peephole.
  3. Keep valuables out of sight/locked in a safe.
  4. Install a monitored security system and display yard signs and window stickers advertising this fact.
  5. Have security laminate installed on windows.
  6. Every exterior door jamb should have a security kit installed.
  7. Implement adequate security lighting in/around the home.
  8. Use timers on indoor lighting when you will be away from home.
  9. Stop mail and newspaper delivery during times of extended absences.
  10. Make arrangements for yard maintenance, snow removal, etc. as well when you will not be home for long periods of time.
  11. Establish rapport with your neighbors. A strong relationship with the members of your community will mean that you know who belongs there and also ensure that when you are not around your neighbors can keep an eye on things for you. Make sure that you extend the same courtesy to your community as well.
  12. Develop a plan to consolidate in a safe room or leave the home during an invasion.
  13. Stash an appropriate home defense firearm in your safe room.
  14. Maintain emergency supplies (First Aid Kit, Cell Phone, Flashlights, Etc.) in your safe room.
  15. Reinforce sliding glass doors and windows with blocking sticks that prevent sliding doors or windows from being forced open.
  16. A closed circuit television system will greatly deter potential home invaders. Keep the hard drive or device where footage is recorded safely locked up and disguised in a spot where it cannot be found to be taken by the invaders.
  17. Be aware of what is normal for your neighborhood and notice discrepancies when they occur. Report these strange occurrences to the police so that they can be investigated.
  18. Safeguard private information. Don’t throw away items like ATM receipts that may show significant balances in bank accounts that may motivate a burglar to commit a crime against you. Using a shredder to dispose of this information will help prevent such leaks from occurring.
  19. Maintain the exterior of your residence. Keep trees, shrubs, and bushes trimmed back and away from the residence where they could provide concealment for a burglar while they attempt to break in.
  20. Lock up ladders and other items that are often left outside that could be used as tools to gain illegal access to your home. 

At the end of the day preventing a home invasion does not have to be rocket surgery brain science rocket science. Well you get the idea! It merely takes a dedicated commitment to practicing these few simple steps day after day and making sure that your family members also adhere to your family’s plan. Obviously some of these practices can be costly to implement but on the other hand some of these practices can be done for free. The key to remember is that a few simple habits can save you plenty of headaches and maybe some heartache. 

Make home security a priority and implement these practices today! 

If you have additional suggestions on how a home invasion can be avoided please chime in and make a comment below.

 

Simple & Awesome Bread Recipe

I just wanted to share this great bread recipe that my family and I have been enjoying for the last couple of years. It is super simple to make and never lasts more than a day or two it seems. It is just awesome. I find myself not wanting to ever eat any other bread if I have the time to make this bread.

This is also a great opportunity for income. For anyone that has ever been to a farmer’s market, you know that good bread sells quickly and for a premium price. For those that have not been to a farmer’s market, good bread sells quickly and for a premium price. This bread will not be as good once it is a few days old so it is not something that you could make all week and then take to market on Saturday. Someone that has the time to make a bunch of bread on Thursday and Friday to sell first thing Saturday morning could make a decent part time income with this recipe and a few other good breads, muffins, or pastries. During the busy season of farmer’s markets it could even be a full time income if the markets in your area rotate the days that they are open. Bread like this usually sells in our area for about $4 a loaf. Sell 100 loaves a week and you can make about $1600 a month and that is if you only have this one product. Something to think about. 

AMISH WHITE BREAD (Makes 2 – 9 X 5 Loaves)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 cups bread flour

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembes a creamy foam.
  2. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9×5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes.

That is all there is to it. Give it a try and see what you think. I am confident that you won’t be disappointed.

Basic Emergency Medical Kit

Basic disaster preparedness includes being ready to react to a medical emergency.  Every segment of your emergency preps should include a basic medical kit at a minimum.  This includes a kit for the house, cars, work, camping equipment, boat, motorhome, cabin, retreat, etc. as they are applicable.  The point of writing this post is to outline a list of items that should be in a basic medical kit.  I certainly will not be able to think of every possibility but the hope is that the contents of this basic emergency medical kit will assist an injured person until additional help can be received.  Your kit will need to be tailored to your individual needs and the number of people that may need to be taken care of with each kit.  As a result of these variances the home medical kit is usually the largest while your other kits will be smaller in size and possibly contain a few less items than the larger kits.  In addition to the contents of your emergency med kits you should also try to find a good reference book that provides a basic knowledge of first aid and that you can easily understand.  Additionally if you have the opportunity to take a training class such as those offered by the American Red Cross, I would encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities.  There is no replacement for quality training by highly qualified personnel.  The following list that I put together is based on what I thought would be suitable numbers for two people.

BASIC EMERGENCY MEDICAL KIT (BEMK)

Hemorrhage Control

(1) Emergency Trauma Dressing

(4) 4 X 4 Gauze Pads

(8) 2 X 2 Gauze Pads

(1) Eye Pad

(2) Kerlix (Roller Gauze)

(2) Nonadherant Dressing – 3” X 4”

(1) Ace Bandage – 6”

(1) Medical Tape – 1”

(12) Band-Aids – Assorted

Wound Management

(1) Irrigation Syringe – 60cc or <

(3) Steri-Strips – Assorted

(10) Alcohol Pads

(1) Moleskin – 3” X 6”

(10) Antiseptic Towelettes

(5) Nitrile Exam Gloves – Pair

OTC Meds

(12) Acetaminophen (Tylenol) – 325mg

(12) Ibuprofen (Motrin) – 200mg

(12) Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) – 25mg

(1) Lip Balm – Tube

(1) Antibiotic Ointment (Neosporin) – Tube

Miscellaneous

(1) Trauma Shears

(1) Forceps (Removal of Foreign Objects, Splinters, or Ticks)

(1) SAM Splint

(2) Triangular Bandage & Safety Pins

(1) Space Blanket

(1) Case for BEMK

Prescription Meds – 72 Hour Supply

Oh Vinegar…How I Love Thee!

Ok, so love may be a little strong but vinegar can definitely be a super soldier when it comes to taking care of things around the house.  I will admit that I have heard of many uses for vinegar but have not always been good about trying them.  The other day though my wife was trying to unclog her bathroom sink and was going about it with a less than ideal method in my opinion so I suggested vinegar and baking soda to her.  She thought I was crazy.  So I explained to her that if it makes such a great eruption for a science fair volcano then I bet the violence of the reaction would be great for unclogging the sink.  Well it worked beautifully!  The other great thing that I see about it is that it is way better than all those caustic chemicals that the meth-heads use to make their product.  I would rather not have to worry about locking that stuff up so my kids can’t get into it either.  Oh yeah, the cost is significantly less too.  With the low cost of vinegar and baking soda it would also make a great item to stockpile for future uses or for your survival preps.

So you might be wondering how much of the baking soda and vinegar did I use?  The first thing I did was dump about 1/4 cup baking soda down the drain.  Next, I poured about 1 cup of vinegar down behind it.  The reaction lasted about 30 seconds and cleared the drain right out.  So the next time you have a clogged drain consider using baking soda and vinegar.  It is cheaper, safer, and a whole lot cooler to watch!