TOD:Campfire Overview and Guidelines

Tonight we kickoff what we are calling TOD:Campfire with an essay on food preservation by Jason Bradford. An introduction to the series and some guidelines are below the fold.

Though discussions and evidence continues (and it should) in our main forum about the severity and timing of the looming energy/natural resource crisis, many have reached a point where labeling the situation as 'serious' as opposed to 'severe' no longer is the most relevant question. Each Wednesday night and Saturday afternoon going forward, we plan on highlighting a post/essay on what you, the TOD community, is doing and thinking about peak oil, writ large.

We intend this forum to be akin to a summer night sitting around a campfire, dreaming, hoping, and tossing around ideas that might bring about positive change. The types of discussions we would like to foster are where there are no right or wrong answers, just shared experiences, advice and wisdom. Topics will relate to wide boundary issues surrounding energy descent, including local food production, small scale energy production, experiments in living with less, or just general information and ideas to be shared with the online community. Optimally, about 1/2 the posts (Wednesdays) will be about 'practical skills' that can be individually or locally implemented. The other 1/2 (Saturdays) will be about big ideas, that by definition will be unproven and even unfeasible, but can be passed around the campfire for review and discussion. So a spectrum from pickle production to a what a world without currency would look like are all fair topics.

We have a wonderfully talented volunteer staff, but our expertise does not stray too far outside the analytical. Therefore we invite you, our readers, to submit guest posts that might be of educational interest to our online community.

Please use the thread below to suggest future post ideas or general comments on the series. Jason Bradford, Glenn McAnanama (TOD:Local) and myself will co-edit be co-editors of this section. Email us at if you have an article you think would be appropriate to share. Before the inbox swampeth with articles, we thought we'd spell out some of the guidelines for submissions for this series.

1. Length—-1000-1500 word size preferred (but not a rule).
2. Structure—-break it up into sections with logical headings, especially if long.
3. Title—-short, catchy but descriptive.
4. Graphics and imagery - helpful to make the post readable and break up the text and illustrate main points.
5. Sufficient focus on one topic so that salient levels of detail emerge.
6. No marketing/advertising of products (other than a link to a book, or related product)

To communicate with Campfire editors send an email to

Somebody has to go first!
No, you!
Oh, okay.....
This is a ramble that i wrote for Ruppert's blog a couple weeks ago, but never found the right place to post.

Hi, Mike!
A belated welcome back to the blogosphere. I stumbled upon your new site just the other day, two years late - silly me.

Your view of 9/11/01 clicked with me, painfully but cleanly shifting my paradigm - irrevocably, so it seems. I worked for years as a technical specialist for a government contractor, and I knew from my purely engineering viewpoint that the official story was simply not credible. The only thing that I find incredible now is how unwilling we as a people are to reexamine our deeply flawed past - the stories, the assumptions, the whole mythos.

So I’m not optimistic about our ability to “pull together” in hard times or some such nonsense when our cultural teachings revolve around rugged individualism and never admitting defeat. You might even say that my skepticism and distaste for the local groups like Portland Peak Oil is a reflection of that very sin: The rejection of their community, no matter how imperfect, will ultimately prove fatal to Americana. But that doesn’t mean that I’m paralyzed into inaction.

My partner and I took a deep breath and made the big step a year ago, leaving our professional Silicon Valley jobs for the outskirts of Portland. Now we own a junior acre a mile from the MAX train line, with our own well in a wonderfully secure neighborhood. This year focussed on construction projects that I’m not going to describe in detail, and next Spring will see new life brought to our gardens - She gets chickens, I get beehives.

In the meantime, we’re hedging bets in every possible direction - including the off chance that the equity markets will recover! It’s painful but prudent to watch some bets go South, if for no other reason than to remind me of the cost of hubris and simple human fallibility.

If anyone would like to bet that the NYSE is going to continue functioning for awhile, I recommend SRS and FXP as good buys - leveraged inverse ETF’s that trade intraday like stocks but go up when their target indexes go down - that’s commercial real estate for SRS, and the FTSE/Xinhua exchanges for FXP. After all, it does appear that for the next few years at least, I’m going to have to come up with regular old cash to pay my property tax and gas bill.

But I can see that the prices of physical assets are becoming uncoupled from their paper proxies, and nowhere is that clearer than in gold and silver Eagles. Because of the specific advice given in From The Wilderness (and backed up by my professional financial advisor), I bought those coin reserves years ago, when gold and silver were cheap and readily available. Then I moved on to firearms and ammunition. I’m a pacifist and a vegan, but I also believe in self defense, and well-maintained firearms never decrease in value. Still, I wouldn’t recommend buying guns to anybody unless they had a pile of cash that needed diversifying.

I like 22LR ammo because it’s rugged and pocket-proof, universally useful, and most importantly, it can’t be reloaded. Kept cool and dry, it will outlast our children's golden years. But you can’t eat ammo, and the neighborhood squirrels won’t survive the first hungry Winter, so I’m also buying plenty of food in conventional forms.

The containers are as important as the food, and are often more expensive than the food they contain. I just invested in a secure “container” facility to keep a large amount of conventional stores cool and dark and dry. I’m not camping, and this isn’t a “bug-out bag,” so the cost and general nastiness of freeze-dried food just ain’t worth it. In fact, I can foresee a time several years from now when a can of tuna will be a standard barter unit, just like a round of .22 ammo. And it also pays to look around your Sam’s Club for the things that you and everybody else likes which come from far away, like chocolate, coffee, sugar, batteries....

Ah, batteries. Is it better to go with lots of cheaper NiMH cells of a single size, and standardize your applications, or should one diversify into super-expensive, long-life lithium batteries of many sizes? You know, I decided on AA, and that’s that. No more CR123’s, no 9V, and the only D cells I’m still stuck with are those in my electric-assist bicycle. I buy from, and get their cheap but effective Tenergy AA’s by the hundreds. Of course their self-discharge rate is a little higher than Eneloops, but they cost less than half as much! Just remember to keep your NiMH’s charged, topping them off every few months, whether you use them or not.

I expect that power will become intermittent (a la Baghdad or Karachi) long before the lights go out permanently, so I have backup power that can hold out for a couple weeks at most. I also have a small solar array that will charge my laptop or 20 AA cells at a time, but for much of the year sunny days are rare here in Cascadia. That’s why I’d like to find a manual generator to interface with a bike, just for battery charging. There’s one electric bike that’s already set up to do it: The Bionx uses regenerative braking like a Prius, but alas, it’s made in Quebec and so is ridiculously overpriced. ;-) So I plan on using low-drain AA devices, like LED headlamps as an excellent example, and having plenty of extras for replacements or trading.

I’m also buying vitamins, more than I could possibly need, because the children of tomorrow will really benefit from a simple daily pill to supplement their plain and sparse diets. I can imagine a time when the people on my block gather to fill their water jugs at my well, each pedaling to pump their own, while the kids line up for free vitamins, courtesy of the resident cranky old coot.

Here’s another wild flyer of an idea: After our first try at a homemade cold frame turned out so well, we ended up buying a few thousand square feet of greenhouse film. It may only last four years in direct sunlight, but it will wait for decades in storage until we need it. This climate allows us to grow greens for much of the year, as long as we protect them from the night frosts.

And how about music? When the DVD’s aren’t spinning and the house is lit only by the fire, we can pierce the loneliness by sharing the old songs we knew from our youth. I play hand drums too, which are a great way to draw people in, get them charged up and moving, and give up their inhibitions to the tribal rhythms.

I’m sure there are other small but important things that I’ve forgotten to mention, things that are cheap and store well, like salt, toothbrushes, peppercorns, band-aids, Tagamet, lighters, mustard, needles and thread. We’ve deliberately decided against storing booze and cigs, although they may be worth their weight in gold to the desperate. That alone is reason enough to not keep them, if home invasion becomes as much of a threat here as it has in South Africa.

So here’s how I imagine the future of currency: twenty .22 rounds for a NiMH AA; four AA’s for a can of solid white tuna; fifteen cans of tuna for a silver Eagle; and forty silver Eagles for a gold Eagle. I think that works out to 20X4X15X40= 48,000 rounds of .22 for a gold Eagle. At today’s prices of nearly a thousand bucks for an Eagle, that’s two cents per .22 round - sounds about right, for the near term anyway. Two generations down the road, those .22's might be all that matters.

I can't imagine a linear, controlled descent from our western techno-perch - That's not how I read history. And that's why I'm planning on us all losing our technological base in the coming decades, or at very least never building out those dozens of nuke plants and solar farms that we'd need to stay the course.

Maybe it'll all last long enough to see me into my seventies with hot water and clean sheets. Pretty selfish, I know, but all individual survival is, by definition.

sorry for the unconvenience. But with this sort of campsite provisions you'll be fine for a few weeks or months (For example batteries lose power with time). But we have to prepare for shortages that prevail for years or decades.

NiMH AA batteries can last for hundreds of charge cycles and are easily recharged with a solar panel or pedal bike. You are correct that most things more high-tech than what could be repaired or rebuilt in a small-town workshop will eventually go away. Lead acid batteries can be rebuilt in a low-tech workshop, but it's a very nasty job.

Nickle Iron Batteries will supposedly last a lifetime.
Drawback is cost & efficiency is not as good as Lead acid,
but not a big deal for stationary applications - it's the cost of storage - add another PV panel.
They haven't been made in USA in decades but there are some imports - Google NiFe batteries
Perhaps someone will make them stateside again at a reasonable cost.

I'm still figuring out food storage containers myself. My cupboard had a small infestation of mites; they had gotten into the opened dry food: corn starch, oatmeal, pancake mix, dry pet food, etc. Fortunately, it wasn't a lot of food, and I kept my big bags of rice on the other side of the kitchen. I gave it a good cleaning and threw out the bad food, knowing full well I won't always have the luxury of doing so. I found this tip for using icing buckets from bakeries: Any other ideas?

Interesting that you mention cigs and booze. I had arrived at the same conclusion myself. They certainly will be valuable but also a magnet for the desperate.

Loooonggg time lurker, first time poster. I think this is a great idea and format. Many of us are thinking about how to deal with the problems associated with the energy issues we deal with, but have very little idea how to deal with them in a pragmatic way. Not everyone has access to 180 hidden acres in the woods/mountains, a collective/commune, or for that matter even neighbors who have a clue.
Information such as how to preserve food (tonight's "episode") is something I could do right now (well, not literally right now, it's winter here, but you know what I mean).

Well done!!

Food preparation is a on going process--
Just finished Queen Boletus Mushrooms, and have been drying persimmons (bonus crop).
Make it just part of what you do on a daily basis, and it becomes part of life, and not a big deal, sort of like breathing.

I am very familiar with KING boletus (porcini). I have harvested them in WI, VT and found hundreds of pounds in British Columbia 3 years ago (even sold them to mushroom market), but that is one of about 5 'edible' species I am comfortable with. I don't think I know what a 'queen' looks like.

Mushroom foraging is the healthier neural equivalent to trading stocks or playing poker. Walking in the forest and not knowing what you will find (and occasionally getting lost), have been some of the best times of my life. In the end though, mushrooms are on the novelty/flavor side. Outside of some micronutrients, I don't think they have a huge amt. of nutrition... But I LOVE to find them...(and eat them)

Great find!
Queen's look and taste just like King's, but tend to favor oak madrone environments here in Marin.
I hunted today, and collected oysters.
With the recent rains it will be chantrells, as soon as I can get to my secret spot in Sonoma.
Actually, some mushrooms are high in protein. I have joined the SF mycological society to increase my knowledge and find like minded friends (a very eclectic group, including some very experienced psychonauts )

Mushrooms are pretty strong in the B-group vitamins, though not B-12 (the one present in animal products). They are a good source of potassium and sodium, so if you don't have salts available or don't like them, are good for that. They're also fairly good concentrators of phosphorous, which is why they grow so well on animal manure (animals concentrate phosphorous in their bodies). This has obvious implications for the peak phosphorous issue.

I hear that they're not too difficult to grow, but I've never tried it.

(even sold them to mushroom market)

Nice idea this discussion Nate, but about the selling commons bounty to the mushroom market, we used to have Chanterelles in abundance. No more! Some realized there was a lucrative market for them in Japan and now a mushroom that was once abundant is a rarity here.

This is a good point. And I actually thought about it while I was in line at the mushroom depot (this was 3-4 years ago when I had JUST read Tragedy of the Commons for the first time. I researched it and as I understood, the actual mushroom is just the 'fruiting body' of the entire organism and as long as you are careful in cutting it and leaving the mycelium 'roots', then the mushroom would come again next year (or next time conditions were appropriate).

I suspect the jury is still out on all this, but I like picking mushrooms just the same...

We have had a wonderful porcini harvest this year.

Made some of the best soup ever. People would come in, order a bowl, and when they finished they would come back up to the counter and order a couple quarts to-go. They would frequently ask what was in it as they had never tasted any thing like it.

Not tooting my own horn here just praising the bounty from earth.

Every single one of the shroomers who supplied me said the have never seen so many people out in the woods. One guy said some guy came stomping over to him shouting about this being his spot, stop following me, I see your car here again I'll slash your tires.

and this is before real constraints are mainstream.

I pay $5.00 a pound and went through a couple hundred pounds and I know I'm not the only one so its big business up here.

I see your car here again I'll slash your tires.

souperman2, there is nothing like a globalized market place to promote localized tire slashing, and you are right as you imply, your story doesn't bode well for these increasing days of mainstream constraint.

I hope your pocini hold out, our chanterelles are in a can in Japan:)

(I won't talk about the herring roe industry and what that has done to the herring stock and all the things that fed on herring . I won't, because in the late 70's I made a packet there:(

This thread is already helpful! I was given a lug of persimmons and made two batches of jam but I was wondering what I would do with the rest. Dried Persimmons here we come.

Dried persimmons are one of my favorite!
Go for tit.

All (wild) Persimmons are not created equal, I have a 40 here in the Ozarks
that I cut back other trees that crowd the black walnuts and
Persimmons, so I am building a nice stands of each, I have 2 persimmon trees
that the dogs lead me to and they will gobble every one that hits the ground, but
only from these 2 trees, They have an out of this world flavor & ripen a bit earlier.
I have planted every seed I could get that the 4 legged creatures did not woof down.
I was told by a naturalist that there are many types of wild
persimmons. I will have to study these trees.

Great idea. As someone whose head often swims trying to read the technical posts, I will now look forward to Saturdays and Wednesdays to see what others are doing and thinking as we scramble to face the all-too-rapidly approaching future. Jason's first post was excellent!

The U.S. Dep’t. of Agriculture published pamphlets on preserving food. Now available on line at:

In the interest of simplifying life, and reducing my dependence on processed substances (food and household), I've begun making my own dishwasher soap and bread. The bread is a work in progress, but so far, the results have been...satisfying. I believe everyone can benefit from trying to break free of the industrial food system and reducing use of many items to basic commodities.

A loaf of plain one pound bread here costs about $2.00. Its mostly air. No crumb to speak of. Then the cost to drive to buy it.

So making it is a saving bargain IMO. Sourdough is the way to go if you don't want to be always buying packaged yeast. So catch a wild yeast and keep a starter in a cool spot.

Basically flour,water,salt and rising. Thats it. No preseratives and if you use all bread flour it won't mold and then you can grind it up after it hardens for bread crumbs or make stewed tomatoes or better yet bread pudding and stir up some bourbon sauce to pour on it.

Put it over the wood heater to rise. Maybe make a oven to sit on top of the stove to bake it in. Or just make 'fried bread' indian style. And also you can use a dutch oven in a fireplace.

There is no taste to storebrought bread compared to say yeast rolls or homemade bread in a loaf pan.

I tried some sourdough culture from the San Francisco folks. It never worked right for me. I finally threw it out and am now starting once more to catch my old wild yeast that I used years ago.


It is basically flour, water, salt, and yeast, but it is a long slow cool rise that gives bread a great flavor. I usually let the dough rise overnight in the fridge before shaping and baking the next day.

Italians call that a 'bigga'. And yes the flavor is greatly enhanced. That and folding it properly makes it a very great loaf. Have to use the suitcase or envelope type of fold to give it a nice holed interior.

And using bread flour it will harden when it grows old and never any mold,like storebrought bread does.

Airdale-yes the icebox overnite..but what did the Italians do before appliances?

I do make my own bread, a couple loaves per week. While I have in the past and am perfectly capable now of making it the old fashioned way, I confess that for now I am using one of those bread machines. Time is an issue when you are still holding down a full-time job. The bread machine makes the difference for me between having and not having home-made bread right now. I fully understand that in the future I may have to go back to the old fashioned way, and that thought does not bother me. When that future no longer entails working an 8-5 job (and the 45 minute walking commute each way), then I'll have the time for it.

I'll be interested in working up my own sourdough starter in the future. Meanwhile, one can buy yeast in larger quantities than those expensive little packets, and keep it in the refrigerator; I've been doing it for years, no problems. Long term, I'd like to get a grain mill and buy wheat in bulk to store. That's about as far as I can take things given my living on a small in-town lot.

Yogurt is another easy to do thing, and I make a batch every week. Again, I have a yogurt maker, but know that there are other ways to do it that don't depend on that. Cheesemaking sounds a tad more adventurous, but maybe I'll get into that soon. I'm not sure how much money one really saves on those things unless one has a cow or a goat.

I haven't tried it, but there was an article in the most recent Mother Earth News about making a non-sourdough bread dough in large batches that you keep in the refrigerator, and just pull off what you need when you need to bake it, somehow managing to avoid all the kneading/rising/shaping/rising of traditional bread making.

I'm waiting on the book to arrive, in all the details, to start using their method of refrigerating dough until you need it. In the meantime, I'm using the recipe (with variations, of course) here:

(Fast No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread)

I love the bread machine, too, for the same reasons. We started with the pre packaged ingredients but now do a variety of scratch breads. This week it's French.
Grain milling is one of the concerns I have about relocalizing food networks. Big milling operations are not going to be where you need them. Here's a pretty nice and quaint operation but it's 75 miles from my place:

Well WNC I have two bread machines and tried hard with them but the output is not up to what I care for. Its bread true but the crumb is way way off.

As to yeast. I brought two large 'bricks' at Sam's Club. They were ok at first but now I have this huge amount of yeast but it won't rise worth a damn.

So I going back to wild yeast starter since I threw out the SF yeast culture for it didn't please me either. It kept making hooch but never got that taste right.


I tried the same thing from Sams for a while, the first package of the pair was fine, I experienced the same problem with declining potency with the 2nd one. Now I just buy yeast at the grocery in those brown jars, at the rate I use it I have no problems with potency throughout.

Yes, I am not claiming that breadmaker bread is perfect. Sometimes "good enough" will suffice.

For some time I was making my own fresh bread by hand, but after a bit my woman asked me to stop because... it was good.

Warm bread fresh from the oven with butter melting on it, the whole loaf disappears quickly and then weight goes on, this did not please her. :)

Funnily enough, with the cheap plain sliced loaves from the store this isn't a problem!

San Francisco yeast is so different from the norm that it is its own, special species. If you take a starter wad to another location, it will slowly turn into your local variety with a bit of San Francisco yeast mixed in.

This cross-fermenting might be why it did not work well for you. Local yeast is always better since that is what you will end up with anyway.

How does one 'catch' yeast?


How to catch a wild yeast? Well once I made some yeast rolls and set the bowl on top of the floor in the attic. It rose quite well and then when I started kneading this alcohol aroma arose from it. Quite strong too. It made very good rolls if you like sourdough.

So I also read that one just puts a tad of regular yeast in a bowl with flour and water and let it sit for a rather long might have to half it or fuss with it till you get the taste right or you might catch a bad trial and error.

When you do get a good one then put it in mason jar with the lid on sorta loose and put in your refrigerator and feed just like you do with San Francisco...take some out..put in more flour and spring/well water put back in refrigerator...if hooch keeps forming its doing what it needs to do....I sometimes go ahead and mix the hooch in with the dough..some say to drain it off but its always going to come back..

Catching a good one is just a bit of patience and care.

The real secret to bread IMO is a good quality flour. I use King Arthurs mostly ...tried Sam's Club and it was a waste of time.

Here we grow 'soft' red winter wheat and that is not bread flour makings. You need hard red winter wheat but the soft makes fine biscuits and 'quick' breads. Perhaps good rolls too. Pie crust,,etc.

Sometimes I use half and half. Always experimenting with it.

Airdale-good bread is worth it IMO..well worth the time and effort.
yet I will use the bread machine when spring and summer work begins..
for I just refuse to pay $2 for mostly air and molds soon too.

Hi airdale, I am too lazy to go out trapping wild yeast so I just freeze a bag of the store bought stuff which will last till the electricity goes, also use a Kitchen Aid mixer as they are tough and make bread mixing as easy as lots of easy things.

You and everyone have a great Christmas and New year and here is something from Rail Europe to amuse kith and kin with. My favourite turkey dinner is is the Switzerland one but then I am a bit of a yahoo and love yodelling.

I was reminded by a professor at a recent talk that American diets high in processed and refined foods leave us (in aggregate) chronically low in serotonin. I believe many of the cravings that lead us to 'consume' more originate in neurotransmitter mixes that are out of balance and suspect (though I need to learn more about it) that diet plays a huge role. I am going to email the professor I met and ask her to write a guest post on the topic.

Whatever the nutrition or cost issues, it's very satisfying to eat something you made yourself.

Our modern Western world is quite wonderful in that it's so rich in energy and resources that many of us can do jobs that aren't at all productive - "productive" in the sense of ending up with some tangible physical thing - and can spend our lives rarely making anything.

There's a lot of satisfaction to be found in eating a simple plate of beans you grew yourself, watching bread rise you kneaded, setting down boots you sewed up and then cleaned, and so on. Simple creative and productive tasks do a lot for a man's soul.

Whacking things in the microwave, or into the bin then off to the shops to get a new one, not so much.

Since I moved out of the big house back into my quarters in my polebarn and do all my own cooking I have lost a lot of excess weight. In the Navy I was 130 lbs. A 29 x 29 pants. Now I can get into size 30 waist again. I still eat as the appetite wants but somehow now I lost a lot of the weight I never could before.

I am wearing levis I haven't worn in years. And its winter at that when one usually adds weight.


My pet theory is that your body will make you eat until its nutritional needs are met. The declining nutritional value of conventionally farmed raw foods and near non-nutritional content of processed foods means we're never truly satiated. As a result our body never flicks the "stop eating" switch :)

Well, one thing is for sure: easy carbs (like the sugary whitebread that's standard issue in the states) and fats without fibre or protein never feel truly (ful)filling. Plus if you're missing essential micronutrients, it's quite possible to feel down and listless, thus exacerbating the need for quick kicks (in the form of sugary white bread and fatty meats).

It's a toxic food environment we live in here in the US, for sure and certain.

I posted this idea late last Weds, and want to toss it in again.

I would like to consider what kind of contingency work programs could be offered by individuals, small businesses or municipalities, perhaps in conjunction with the development of local money currencies or CSA's and local food suppliers, in order to have a ready plan for catching numbers of recently unemployed people and getting them some way to barter their labor for basics, food or local currency, both to avoid the emotional disruption of becoming unengaged and helpless, and to use this available and presumably eager local energy to develop various local projects for improving the locality's resilience to economic, employment and energy downturns.

This would have to anticipate ways to adjust contracts with city unions that would probably feel threatened by the onset of a cheap workforce suddenly on the scene.

Some jobs Projects might include building greenhouses and gardens, and then working these to provide for city food pantries. Improving the housing energy efficiencies with insulation, Solar Heating equipment, etc.. Teaching in Education programs to retool people for all the above, etc..

Many speculate that in the event of some kind of collapse brought on by combinations of economic, environmental and resource crises, we're going to find a lot of homes abandoned, and others more crowded. Your annoying brother-in-law and wife's sister with the nasal voice and ugly kid who did their 100% interest-only mortgage may be moving into your place.

You couldn't charge them rent, but you could find out if they have any particular skills you can use to improve the house - maybe that idiot brother is strong and fit so you can send him out to cut wood - and even if no skills they can do some simple stuff - like say cutting up all that fruit and laying it out on the dryer, and then guarding it to make sure the damn birds don't scarf it up.

Hey Kiashu;
I think you probably should charge them rent, actually, in some form or other. I think a lot of Americans have been sheltered from learning how to truly drive a hard bargain and set a high bar for the people around them, to say 'no, that's not good enough.. here's what I need from you' .. I know I didn't learn how to do this very well, but I'm trying to learn.

Further, I think it goes from the top to the bottom of our culture.. (while not being universal.. just in evidence at all levels) I think it's why we have a sort of skewed image of Altruism and Welfare, and also why we don't make CEO's pay for monumental blunders in leadership, but often enough give them raises.. and why congress feels it has to 'save' industries to save the country.

Cutting people extra slack doesn't always do them any actual favors, eh?

But my question is, what can you have set up in your basement storeroom, or written up in a file folder that gives you a contingency to offer to your brother-in-law and sister and nephew a productive role in your household, so all can benefit from the available labor and brainpower that's been added under the roof.. to prevent there being a lot of anxious, bored and agitated people now packed into too tight a building?

I could take my Home-Improvement wish-list, and write it down, first of all, then break it up into the kinds of skills required, the materials I would want on hand to get them started, etc.. here are a few of mine, some being the list that would allow me to house a few extra guests. Put 'em to work, and know you have to be a reasonable and responsive foreman in the process. Even if people are still working day jobs.. this should be looked on as a required extracurricular, building the family's equity and resilience.

-Build/Buy 3 compactable bunkbed/cots (6 guests'worth) to use in basement or a tent in the yard
-Use glass-stash (I have this) to build grow boxes for back-roof area..
-Decking-Catwalk on Back roof for grow-box garden. Need more PT wood.
-Set up Rain Catchment for gardens and wash water.
-Add a Composting Toilet (2-seater) to handle increased sewage flowrate. (Borrow Humanurebook from Mom)
-Build remaining Glass-stocks into Hot air and Water collectors. Need wood, felts and sealants.
-Set up a large Solar-Crockpot on North Roof or through old Kitchen Chimney to daycook dinners for extra mouths. Use for water-heating when no meals are being made.
-Repoint loose mortar in foundation
-Teach the girls how to use the pedal-treadle Jigsaw/Sander to make cutout wooden toys to sell.
-Get Todd (brother) to research needed equip purchases for packet-radio Internet setup and Shortwave system.
-Set up sewing area with Sarah (sister) to create local repair and clothing/tailoring business.
-Connect WinterFridge system and deep ice storage to preclude refrigeration as much as possible.
-Start Household financial plan and strict budget, to see what money is coming in, what's absolutely necessary to spend, and what potential money-earning plans the assembled family can implement.

Just a raw brainstorm.. but tried to pull it from the realities of my home and family. We have a lot of skills (incl leadership skills) between my siblings and parents.. so this prospect is not one I look at as 'how to deal with deadbeat family members.. more one of how we quickly put our skills to use in setting up for a new set of conditions, and how to get neighbors involved in case we see a growing number of despairing folks around us..

A**..Gas..or Grass, nobody rides for free.

So to speak.

Power Down.

Funny, a guy I'm working with just said the same thing last night..

Of course, after Gas is too rare/expensive, the saying might become;

"A$$, A$$Gas or GrassGas, nobody rides for free"

Smoke'em if you've got'em..

Interesting. I have been thinking along exact same lines. Fortunately, am friendly with local town mayor, and might be able to get something going. I think essential thing is local money to pay for all this good stuff. Given all the things we should be doing, nobody should ever be unemployed. We have megatons of jobs to do. Just have to find ways for community to get together to do them. After all, we are not gonna let those people starve, and if they can eat, most can work too.

My own favorite game is to make wood gas generators, store in tanks, and use to fuel all town public transport. Our town is full of unused wood that ends up dumped. All of it should be used.

I played around with wood gas generators on vehicles a la WWII, but too finicky. Hard to use. Better just bottle it, and use just like LPG-- short range LPG.

Man, Wimbi.
Sounds like you've got a fun workshop.
Did you ever check out this article? Gets linked here now and then, where Mssr Pain uses a wood-chip digester and runs a truck (and other stuff) on the natural gas? I don't know ICE tech well enough to know how that gas is for engines. Is it hydrophilic? Would there be a rust problem, like the engine corrosion that results from the wood-gasification?

So much to learn. Glad I'm doing it in Maine. Now I just hope I make all my connections tomorrow with all this weather coming in.


Jokuhl- Thanks for jogging my memory. Good reference. I probably have a higher than average ability to grab somebody else's idea, forget where I got it and then internalize it as my very own creation. Sure I have seen this one, and did not remember it. Hah! Anyhow, the Swedes and Germans are also up on this sort of thing, and I have a paper:

State of the art for Small Scale Gas Producer-Engine Systems. By Ali Kaupp, first published by German Appropriate Technology Exchange (GATE) Reissued by the Biomass Energy Foundation Press, Golden CO.

This paper goes on and on about how hard it is to get it right, finicky fuels, filter problems, and so on, but also points out that million vehicles did run on wood gas during the war. They say that diesel and spark engines run just fine and have as good or better life. But everything depends on the operator.

So I say, forget the high skill operator, just make bottles of wood gas and use them like you would any other bottled gas. Vehicle runs with brainless operator just as usual.

Good demo trick. Take your diesel tractor, set it running on idle, and then squirt a propane bottle into the air inlet and see it take off. No, don't do that! Very bad. Use wood gas instead.


Never considered compressing wood gasses,
guess you would have to filter the tars out & dry it 1st,
for it not be finicky. Drying would be take some calories ( or BTUs if you perfer )
Is it corrosive to steel LPG tanks?
I refill propane bottles from 6 gallon cylinders
all the time with a simple adapter you can buy at Northern tools.
my have to try in propane torches first.

These are skills I learned back in the 80's recession. Actually had to much cheese, while we never got government help. Our friends did, they had no clue what to do with the giant block of cheese. Everyone of them gave it to us and we put it to good use. The kids to this day kind of turn their nose up at mac and cheese. Maybe a little too much. That was what we got, a 5 lbs block of cheese.

Seems to me others are getting a free ride. An ankle bracelet, and all of my accounts are still active.
I have never had a credit card, when I need something I save for it. Then I buy it.

So lets get creative, when they all get their ride scott free, and keep their money, what are you going to make with the cheese you get? Raise chickens, omletes are good.

Don in Maine

I was remembering that old government cheese giveaway just the other day, wondering when they were going to dust that old idea off and bring it back again.

I remember having a Christmas potluck party at the office where I worked back then. When one of the workers announced that the mac & cheese was made with government cheese, the boss's face turned a funny color and he just about upchucked it. One of the funiest scenes I ever saw!