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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Build a solid grape support and grow wonderful grapes

By Paul & Liz Stevens

Like many we wanted to produce grapes, and like many that dream seemed to always end up in disappointment, as the grapes would come on and seem to just dry up before they matured. We did the typical 4 x4 post with wire strung between them, but after the first few years when the grapes were really starting to take off the post were crooked, the wire was sagging and no matter what we did the vines always ended up touching the ground.

In touring the Amish country we began noticing one more step they use in supporting their grapes. They use the post and wire, but they take one additional step. At about 54” high they run a solid pipe through the post and drill through and bolt it at each post.
When we moved to Texas we decided to take that next step and built our new support using three post set so that we could run a 20’ 1-1/2” galvanized chain link fence top rail through the post. This meant we had to subtract 4” off each end of the 20’ so that the pole would go from end to end, with one post in the center. Before we set the post we wedged them plum and used a string level on our chalk line and snapped a line level at 54” high, then another line where we wanted the top to be. We numbered the post took each one back out and drilled strait through the center of each post on our drill press using the chalk line as our horizontal center point. We used the next size up forstner bit from the actual pole size to give a bit of wiggle room. We then drilled a series of 3/8” holes in each post space 16” apart starting at 12” from the ground. This is where we ran our wire through to attach the vines as they grow up to the main pole. We cut the post to length and set the post back into the ground. With some extra hands we went ahead and slid the pole through the tops, drilled through the end post and bolted them, after we had the end post plumb, we plumbed the center post and drilled and bolted it.

We set the post with just a little bit of concrete just to fill the post hole, plus we only needed to go down around 2’. With this system all the tension is held by the pipe at the top, so we didn’t need to attack it with a 3’ deep hole and several bags of concrete. That was our first clue that we were really going to really like this approach, a lot less work! To add a bit of fancy to the project we purchased the ball tops and screwed them into the top of each post. After the post cured we ran our wire through the holes having the pole across the top keeps the post solid, thus we were able to really stretch the wire without worry of pulling the post inward.

We started our grapes and carefully nurtured them as they grew to the top. We choose Muscadine Grapes as we know someone living in the Florida panhandle suggested them. They have much of the same climate as we do in central coastal Texas, and have tried several of the varieties from up North with no success, except for the Muscadine, with that said where you live will have a lot to do with the varieties that do well in your climate.

Well with all this work we thought we were ready to cash in on a great grape crop, nope after they started to really mature about five years ago, the same old story, they came on strong and then just shriveled up like a pea and dropped off. We have them in the irrigation system so we knew they were getting plenty of water. We did notice that we were getting a fungus on the leaves and would spray but that didn’t really help either.

As we drove through Texas we would always admire the wonderful grape vineyards and wondered just what the secret was that we were missing. As we began to look closer we noticed there were no leaves up to around 4’ from the ground. At first we thought this was just because the plants were more mature. We went home and peeled off all our leaves that were close to the ground and kept new growth from coming out at that level. We also fertilized the plants and to our surprise the fungus went away the plants filled out the grapes came on stayed and we had a great crop that year. This year will mark our 3rd year with a strong crop of grapes. Last year off four plants spreading across that 20’ section we were able to harvest enough grapes to make jelly and nearly five gallons of wine.

In total it has been eight years since we planted our grapes, the support is still as plumb and straight as the day we installed it, and it appears it will be that way for some time. We are really sold on this system, as for what made the grapes finally take off, we are not sure which has more benefit the removal of the leaves or the fertilizer but we plan to keep a good thing going. Hope this helps someone else having the same problems with their grapes.





Friday, March 11, 2011

Five Things Every American Should Do, But Won’t.

Five Things Every American Should Do, But Won’t.
From: Dennis "Bones" Evers

We’ve all seen him on the news. The guy buying plywood, beer, chips and other survival essentials as the approaching hurricane can be seen over his shoulder in the distance.

Unfortunately, the majority of Americans aren’t much better when it comes to being prepared for emergencies. However, recent disasters have proven that the sheer magnitude of an event can overwhelm relief efforts, coupled with cutbacks in personnel, budgets and equipment, place the onus squarely on our shoulders.

Many citizens don’t see the need for preparedness, and that’s their prerogative, however a relatively small investment now for someone who is concerned about the possibility of a disruption due to a natural disaster, pandemic, terrorism, civil unrest or countless other possible scenarios, might mean the difference between a week or so of hungry terror or a week of edgy survival. Most people think of some wild eyed mountain man when the word “survival” is mentioned, but that’s no longer the case. When the Government strongly suggests preparing, there’s a reason behind it.

The ever increasing list of disasters and emergencies that can put you on your own is a long and often dangerous one. The violence and mayhem associated with black Friday will look like a minor scuffle when food shortages or any one of a hundred scenarios spark riots. Food flew off the shelf and stores were emptied in hours before the big snow hit the East coast this winter. With municipalities cutting essential services like law enforcement, the chances of having to “hunker down” increases exponentially.

Now the caveat. Being prepared doesn’t guarantee survivability, but it does greatly enhance your chances if the event is survivable. The following list is by no means inclusive as there are hundreds of variables, i.e., suburban vs. rural, gated community vs. projects, the type of disaster, number of persons being prepared for and on and on.

Given the countless variables, there are some basic necessities that are essential regardless of location or emergency. The following items are simply a starting point that will assist you in thinking about establishing some sort of basic preparedness. They will greatly improve not only your survivability, but your level of comfort in terribly uncertain times.

While FEMA recommends three days of emergency provisions, and it is a start, given the current climate, a week’s supply should be a good starting point, a one month stash would be better. Keep in mind that these items cannot be placed in order because of the countless variables.

You’ve made your decision, so now you need to get down to the business of survival.

1. Water. Absolutely essential for drinking, hygiene and cooking. Remember all of the people (who had ample warning) sitting on their roofs during Katrina? Imagine how much comfort a measly couple of bucks worth of bottled water would have done to reduce the misery factory. While one gallon per person per day is recommended, enough to drink would certainly be better than nothing at all. Even a few hours of thirst can cost you your edge. Several cases of bottled water would go a long way during an emergency and you can replace it as you use it.

2. Food. Another essential. You can go days or even weeks without food, but who wants to? Something you wouldn’t even consider eating under normal circumstances could look mighty good if you’re starved. Granola bars, canned food and crackers could mean the difference between a clear head or one thinking about a cheeseburger. Every time you go shopping, put in an extra few items that you normally eat. Check the expiration dates and get items with a long shelf life if possible. If something happens, you have food you’re used to and you can use it up as part of your regular food supply. Make sure you rotate it in and out to maintain freshness.

3. Shelter. You have to stay alive to ride out an event. For most of us, staying at home would be the ideal situation. However, any number of situations can require “bugging out” to a shelter or other safe location. Most of us have relatives within driving distance or know someone who might put up with us for awhile. If not, as a last resort the government or the Red Cross will usually provide emergency shelter. Have a plan nonetheless. If you have to stay and shelter in place at your home, business or apartment, or hit the road to get away from civil unrest, a chemical spill, fire or hurricane, you need to have a plan and be prepared to implement it.

4. Emergency Equipment. In addition to food, water and shelter, there are several essential items that will be required in the event you are on your own. Extra medicines are top of the list, particularly if they are required daily. A good first aid kit is another must have. An LED flashlight and lantern with extra batteries are essential. Warm clothes, sleeping gear, a camp stove and emergency sanitation gear are also essential. Last but certainly not least is some sort of self defense. You can easily find out what you need with a little online surfing of various websites, starting with ready.gov..

5. Time Killers. Even if the emergency is only a 48 or 72 hour event, you will want to have some playing cards, books, a Bible and board games on hand to help kill the time. You might even include some candies or other treats as well as coloring books and crayons for the younger ones.

Factors preventing many people from preparing are the “it can’t happen here” mentality, and plain old fear or a sense of being overwhelmed. People with the former attitude won’t see a need to prepare, and that’s their choice. (Until something happens and they expect the government to take care of all of their needs.) As for the latter, there is nothing wrong with fear, particularly the “where does one start” quandary, if it is turned into positive action. Instead of worrying about the future, prepare for it and get on with life. We’re talking about simple and subtle changes in your lifestyle, mostly relating to shopping and food storage habits. No one is advocating that you become a mountain man and live off roots and bark. Simply realize the need for a minimal amount of preparation, formulate a plan and get started working toward your goal, and pray that you never need to use it.

Dennis Evers is a former police chief and best selling author. His newest book, "How to Handle a Crisis" will be available shortly at howtohandleacrisis.com

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Colorado Preppers Roll Call - All Preppers Please Check In.

The American Preppers Network is conducting a network-wide roll call.  Whether you are a member or not please check in and let us know what you are doing to prepare.

This is a good opportunity to network with other preppers near you.

Colorado Preppers, to respond to the roll call please follow this link:
  • Reply to the Roll Call and let us know what you have been doing to prepare.
If you are not yet a member of the forum you can register here for free:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The ‘Die Off’ Will Start Immediately After a Complete Collapse

In his book One Second After, William Forstchen, paints a grim picture of a post-apocalyptic world in which an electro-magnetic pulse has wiped out the entire power-grid infrastructure of the United States. Utilities like water and electric, transportation systems, cell phones, and even vehicles are disabled by the blast. The book focuses on one particular town and the challenges they face going forward.

One of the key issues becomes what is commonly referred to in the preparedness and survival community as “the golden horde,” a term introduced by James Rawles of Survival Blog:

As the comfort level in the cities rapidly drops to nil, there will be a massive involuntary outpouring from the big cities and suburbs into the hinterboonies. This is the phenomenon that my late father, Donald Robert Rawles–a career particle physics research administrator at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories–half-jokingly called “The Golden Horde.” He was of course referring to the Mongol Horde of the 13th Century, but in a modern context. (The Mongol rulers were chosen from the ‘Golden Family’ of Temujin. Hence the term “The Golden Horde.”) I can remember as a child, my father pointing to the hills at the west end of the Livermore Valley, where we then lived. He opined: “If The Bomb ever drops, we’ll see a Golden Horde come swarming over those hills [from Oakland and beyond] of the like that the world has never seen. And they’ll be very unpleasant, believe you me!”

As the fictional, but quite realistic, crisis in Forstchen’s book grows deeper, and city dwellers spread throughout the countryside looking for essential resources, the people were forced to make hard decisions. They could either share their food and resources with the horde, thereby decreasing their own survival rate, or, they would have to aggressively defend their land. Like most would do in that situation, the town chose to keep what they had to themselves, and send all others packing, by force if necessary.

If the worst were to ever happen – and we’re not talking about a short-term disaster – but, rather, an all out collapse of the world as we know it, including a complete grid-down scenario and a breakdown in food production and emergency services, the majority of the population in the regions(s) affected would likely perish. In a recent report the Center for Security Policy suggested that in such a scenario 9 Out of 10 Americans Would Be Dead Within One Year – a terrifying thought, indeed.

Considering that most people have less than a week’s worth of food in their pantries, no medical supplies, and absolutely no idea how to operate without electricity, one can guesstimate that the die-off would begin almost immediately after the grid goes down. Within several weeks, tens of thousands would succumb to starvation and/or disease. In many cases, dehydration and the elements would also become a key factor. Patriot Nurse recently put together a commentary discussing Who Will Die First, in which she breaks down the highest risk groups into sub-categories, which we’ll discuss, in part, below:

  • Physically Disabled
    Those with medical conditions requiring daily drug dosing, as well as those who depend on third party medical care, would likely be the first to go. During Hurricane Katrina hundreds of elderly people were left to die in hospitals and care facilities. They had no food, no clean water and no medicine. Their caregivers, in some cases acting immorally, but in other cases simply acting out of fear, left them without assistance. Those who are dependent on others to stay alive in modern society should consider who their caretakers are, because when the SHTF, chances are that an employee working at a nursing home will choose to go home and be with their family, or flee the area altogether.
  • Individuals With Drug Dependent Healthcare Needs
    In One Second After, the daughter of the main character is a diabetic requiring insulin. Within hours of the grid going down, pharmacies are overwhelmed with patrons attempting to get their prescription medicines. The electronic systems are inoperable, further complicating matters. Even for those who were able to acquire their meds, the supplies were only temporary, because within a week the shelves were empty and no resupply was coming. There are roughly 1.5 million insulin dependent diabetics in the United States. Because this particular drug requires cold storage, in a grid down situation, effective supplies would be depleted within a matter of weeks. In this particular instance, the fatality rate would be nearly 100%. The same can be said for many other types of medications, including oxygen. We urge those with drug dependent medical conditions to treat this aspect of preparedness like water and food. If you will require medicine, try to create a reserve by stocking up some extra medication. For those requiring cooled medicines, do you have an alternative energy plan to keep a compact refrigerator going?
  • Physical Handicaps
    When faced with a survival situation, in general, the old adage “survival of the fittest,” applies. Those with physical handicaps, especially those requiring external locomotion, like those little scooters we see people riding at Walmart, will be at a disadvantage. They’ll be easy targets for looters, and will likely be incapable of foraging for food and resources. For some, the handicap is self-manifested, such as in the case of excessive obesity. In these cases, an emergency preparedness plan should include getting physically fit. For others, however, conditions can not be treated easily. Physically handicapped individuals should take steps now to determine their action plan in the event of SHTF. Do you have a caregiver who you trust to get you out of a bind? Perhaps looking to relocate to an area where extensive travel post-SHTF will not be required is a good idea.
  • The Government Dependent Welfare Class
    Patriot Nurse refers to the individuals in this group as those with a “stereotypical” cradle-to-grave mentality. Of course, not everyone in this category is stereotypical, but we can certainly understand what she’s getting at. The majority of these people live on government subsistence, therefore they likely have no ability to procure resources before a disaster. At the onset of crisis, they will likely be looking for help from the same organizations that have provided it in the past. But those organizations will be unable to assist. Many of those within this category will die-off from lack of food, clean water, disease and violence. Given that, in general, within this category is the highest violent crime rate in the country, it will be from within this group of people that we’ll get our first taste of looters, gangs, and violent thieves. Some criminal elements will certainly survive, but violence begets violence, especially in a battle for resources, thus a good portion will be killed off by those defending themselves.
  • Yuppies and Neo-Hippies
    Another name we can give this category is the urban and suburban city dwellers. Though they may be different politically, and possess different skill sets, the majority of those within this category simply do not have the necessary survival tools to make it. Neo-hippies, as defined by Patriot Nurse are those who may be capable of small-scale agriculture and raising micro-livestock, but their ‘peaceful’ nature has not prepared them to handle aggressive and violent behavior aimed at taking the resources they produce. The Yuppies, generally defined as those who live in suburban McMansion style homes are simply ill-prepared. Rather than preparing for a crisis, they spent their hard earned money on new cars, TV’s, fashion and dinners out. When the SHTF, they will simply not be ready and their pantries will be empty within a week’s time, at which point they, like the looters from the welfare class, will be left with no choice but to head into the streets looking for supplies.

There are, of course, other sub categories, but the above covers the majority of the populace. A good portion of those with the capability to travel, be it on foot or in a vehicle, will eventually head out of the cities. The realization that the system has broken down will not take long – perhaps a week or two – before they hit the highways.

Their destination of choice will likely become National or State parks, lakes and coastal regions, or small towns, where they expect to find food. Most will have no more than a tank of gas, giving them a range of roughly 300 miles from their home city. If you are located near an interstate highway, or even a state highway, within 300 miles of a major city, then you may very well see a golden horde of cars. Those without cars will go on foot. As they get further out of the cities, they will begin to perish due to lack of food and potable water. On foot, their range while lacking in resources will be maybe 50 – 150 miles.

Safety in the Country?

For those living in exurbia or rural surroundings the situation will certainly not be as dire as for those bunched in the cities. However, it will likely be just as dangerous. Eventually, elements from the cities with both, good intentions and bad, will reach you. If you are in a small town, and the town fails to implement defense strategies, then it can be easily overrun by organized and heavily armed gangs.

You’ll also have to deal with those of your neighbors who failed to prepare. Even though people may have gardens or livestock, their ability to maintain these will be threatened as traditional feed stores and tools will no longer be readily available. In One Second After, the story revolved around a small town in the middle of nowhere, yet a large portion of the population died off simply because there was a lack of resources. Even hunting became difficult, as game ran thin because everyone in the area was looking to have squirrel for dinner. The additional threat in the country is that, generally, people in the country are well armed with long range hunting rifles, a situation that presents quite a bit of peril if that person is aware you have resources and they are lacking.

The Die Off is a worst case consideration, and one you should be familiar with before any such event occurs. It will occur only in a complete collapse of the world as we know it and would include a complete breakdown of our electrical and utility grids, communications infrastructure and food transportation systems.

Yes, it’s unlikely. But given that our entire way of life is dependent on modern day technology, such a disruption would have severe consequences for all involved.

Author: Mac Slavo
Date: February 23rd, 2011
Visit the Author's Website: http://www.SHTFplan.com/

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Belt-fed .22 caliber full-auto pellet gun…..cool!

I came across this product on Facebook. Looks like it would be very fun to have. Years ago I had a full-auto BB sub-machine gun that ran on canned Freon. It was made by Larc International and cost $39.95. This full-auto pellet gun shoots at over 600 fps……and cost over $500.

Not cheap – but still cool.

Product information is available at http://air-ordnance.com.

Those poor squirrels!!


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Monday, January 3, 2011

Well winter finally arrived, it's about time! I know that for those of you in the high mountains you've been getting snow for awhile, but for the rest of us this last storm was pretty much the first. Up untill the weekend before Christmas I was still out flying my R/C airplanes! This storm got me thinking again though about 72 hour bags and how vital they are, but it also brought up something that saved my life in a blizzard 2 years ago. Remember back 2 years when in the spring (for those of us on the eastern slope) we had a series of 5 major storms one week after the other. At the beginning of the first storm we decided to call it a day and head home before the "predicted" storm got worse (it didn't but you'd expect that too from NOAA) On my way home the blowing snow from the pine trees was the most dense I'd ever seen, I literaly could not see the hood, only the wipers on the windshield. I was going maybe 5-10 mph and remember seeing 2 cars come up the two lane mountain road, just then another high wind blew the snow and once again I couldn't see! I remember thinking "gentle left or straight?" Just as I thought straight my right front wheel dipped off the road and down my beautiful lifted Chilli Pepper red Cherokee went, first on the right side, then with a big thump the top smashed in front of my head and glass was smashing around me. I still had no idea which way was up because of the blowing snow, untill I realised water from the creek I was in was now running through the Jeep's headliner and out the windows. My first thought was to reach up and find the ignition switch, the engine was strangly still running while upside down. Here's where things got interesting, I reached for the seatbelt buckle, did you know that around 90% of vehicles on the road will not release the seatbelts if they are under tension? Try as I might the buckle held me prisoner, I thought I smelled gas and knew I had to get out! The knife in the glove box was no use, as the contents had gone up into the dash and the door would not open. The center consol had barfed it's contents into the roof which was now running ice cold water. I reached for my Victorinox multitool and opened the first thing my numb fingers could open, the saw! It went through the seatbelt (won't need that anymore I thought) and I was free! Ok so here's the moral, how many of you have a tool within easy reach in ALL of your vehicles in case you have to cut the belts or break the glass? GET THEM NOW!

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Bug out land electricity

Posted by Crusis

This will apply to any state, really, but with the cost of extending electricity to your bug out land here in Colorado, it's best to find alternatives to the electric grid. Here in our local area to have electricity extended to your house is $3600 a pole, and the poles cannot be more than 300 feet apart. You can see that half a mile of electric line will cost you $30,000 or more. You can buy a lot of non-electric appliances and solar panels with that! Best of all, you'll probably get a lot of tax credits too. Actually best of: To read the rest of and reply to this post follow the link below:


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