Friday, 27 November 2015

By on November 27th, 2015 in relocation

08:59 – Colin appears to be fully recovered. We’ll continue the metronidazole for the full five days, but it’s already knocked down the infection. He should be good to go by Monday for the trip up to Sparta to close on the house. We already have the Trooper packed up with stuff we’ll haul up there to drop off at the new house. Other than that, we’ll be here until moving day on Friday the 4th, getting stuff packed up for the movers.

I needed to do some calculations for propane versus electricity costs. Our primary heat is a heat pump, so when the outside temperature gets down around freezing we’ll be using pure resistive heating, at about 3,412 BTU per KW/h. Propane yields about 91,500 BTU per gallon, so one gallon of propane is the equivalent of about 26.82 KW/h. Blue Ridge Electric Co-Op charges $2.25/gallon for propane, so I need to find out what they charge for electricity to do the comparison. We’re having a small unvented propane heater installed. It provides 25,000 BTU/hr, which means it’ll run for 366 hours on the 100 gallon tank they suggested. That’s 15.25 days running around the clock, or roughly a month running it about half of the time. That 25,000 BTU/hr heater should be sufficient to keep the pipes from freezing if the power fails, as well as keeping the downstairs at a livable temperature and the upstairs above freezing.

They’ll install a 250 gallon or larger tank if we tell them to, but the deal is that we have to use a full tank every year or we have to pay tank rental charges, which aren’t cheap. I’ll talk more with them, but I think we’ll probably end up going with the 100 gallon tank they suggested.

We’ll then use that propane heater as our secondary heat source, but I’m uncomfortable depending on just propane. Barbara didn’t want a wood stove because it’s messy, requires stored wood, and so on, but I want to have a wood stove even if we don’t normally use it. So I’m going to start checking into wood stoves and get at least a small one for the unfinished basement area. That’ll give us probably 50,000+ BTUs of backup heat that uses a renewable fuel source.

11:58 – The open-pollinated seed kits are boxed up and ready to for pickup this afternoon. They’re going via USPS Priority Mail. If you ordered a seed kit, you should receive it Monday or Tuesday.

Rather than sealing the individual seed bags in Mylar bags, we’re shipping the seed bags separately, grouped into a plastic t-shirt bag. We also include two one-gallon Mylar bags and one sheet of two half-page labels that list the contents. You can repackage the seeds yourself into the Mylar bags and seal them once you’re ready to do so. To seal them, pack them with the individual seed bags, place the open end on wood or another impervious surface, and use a clothes iron or curling iron set on hot (wool or cotton) to run across the open end of the bag and melt it closed. Just a slow pass should suffice, call it a couple seconds of contact time. We did it this way because we highly recommend pulling at least a few seeds from each bag and planting them in foam cups to get a little bit of experience with them. (It’s not even obvious, for example, which sprouting plant is produced by each type of seed.)

The herbs in particular are very slow to germinate and many have very low germination rates. That’s normal, and it’s a good idea to start some of each herb seed indoors in pots at least two or three months before the last spring frost. We didn’t include the planting guide because I haven’t had time to finish writing it. I’ll email a copy to everyone once it’s complete.

27 Comments and discussion on "Friday, 27 November 2015"

  1. brad says:

    I suppose they are messy, but there’s nothing quite like spending a cold winter evening around an oven like this. You get the view of a fireplace, plus piles of radiating warmth.

    The only drawback is just how hot they really get. You don’t want small children around them, and you have to be careful of flammables. The one shown is set up for the picture: it’s too close to the sheepskin and the firewood basket, and the flowers on top will be cooked shortly.

  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’m not too concerned about those issues. The only access we have to a flue is in the unfinished area of the basement. The wall is concrete block, and was put there only to contain the double flues, which are a couple feet apart with clean-out doors below them. The old owners have a wood stove there for supplemental heat, but they’re taking it with them. There’s no window in it. It’s just a metal box.

    What I’d like to do is find an old cast-iron wood stove with a cooking surface, just in case. Once it’s connected, I’d test it, but otherwise wouldn’t plan to use it unless we had a long-term power failure. Stoves like that commonly put out 60,000 to 100,000 BTU/hr, which’d be plenty to heat the entire house, if only by convection. We have a deck over the door to outside, so we could keep our woodpile under cover there and have the wood only 20 feet from the stove. There’s no shortage of trees in Sparta, so in a long-term emergency I wouldn’t expect getting firewood to be any problem at all.

  3. nick says:

    So this week, given the holiday, and a bunch of driving to other cities for money making activity, what did I do to prep?

    Well, one fun thing was to recondition a wrist rocket slingshot. I got one for a dollar with no elastic bands. I have some surgical tubing I picked up ‘just ‘cuz’ and some leather, so I thought “I’ll fix up that slingshot!” A fun little short project. And it worked great for a couple of shots. Then the rubber broke. Seems the elastic develops little cracks with age, and they will tear and break under use. If you have a slingshot as a backup plan, it’s not gonna last long post-SHTF. I’m gonna go thru my other various stashes of tubing and see if I’ve got any that don’t have cracks (stretch it tight, you’ll see them.) I have some exercise gimmicks with rubber tubes too.

    Continuing to list and sell stuff. It’s small but helps. It’s averaging $50-100 every couple of days, which isn’t bad for the effort put in. Sales of the industrial salvage/recycle are slow.

    Another sign of the lies about the economic ‘recovery’ is the price of scrap metal. Steel is down to 2cents a pound from 8c just 2 years ago. Copper, brass, aluminum, lead (batteries) are all 25% or less of what they were. No worldwide demand = low prices = no recovery.

    My garden continues to grow slowly. The beets sprouted but are gone. The carrots look to be doing well, the greens are about 3-4 inches. This is lots better than the last time. The lettuce never developed heads, and now it’s bolting. Leaves were pretty bitter, but worked in a ‘spring greens’ type salad. I’d have been better off starting the turnips, or radishes, or more beets, or onions….. The pole beans and peas are slowly growing. The several hours of freezing we had this week doesn’t seem to have done much damage to what I had covered up. We’re back in the high 70s and low 80s for a while anyway. Some of the herbs finished up and bolted this year. Previous years we had them for multiple seasons. Not sure what was different. Basil in particular didn’t last.

    Found some more cans and pouches as the re-org of storage continues in fits and starts. It’s a bit surprising to see how common that is in people’s ‘what I did’ posts. I’m not the only one who has misplaced stores….

    Went thru the WRT wifi routers I’ve been picking up and stockpiling. I have been collecting them at yardsales for use in a Hamnet mesh network. Turns out that I had a couple that were not supported hardware versions. I’ll be getting rid of those. All part of the slow process of digging out from under some piles….

    Tuned around the shortwave bands in the daytime and was surprised at all the stations I could hear. I know the different bands have different ‘best’ times of day, but I guess I think of SW listening as a nightime activity. Short version is there IS programming on during the day, and it is probably a good idea to get familiar with the bands that work in the daytime. The application for prepping is it’s an easy way to learn about band propagation for ham radio too, and can be done while sitting at the pc doing other things.

    Switched some of my colder weather clothes into my closet and dresser. Stashed some cold weather stuff in the truck, mainly thinsulate gloves, a balaclava, and a jacket. There is already a hat and leather gloves, and a couple of shirts.

    That’s about it. Busy week, not much prepping.


  4. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yeah, busy week for me too, but I’m going to count it as prepping.

    I’m glad Barbara and I are relocating now. The work involved would be harder every additional year we waited.

  5. DadCooks says:

    @RBT: “Our primary heat is a heat pump, so when the outside temperature gets down around freezing we’ll be using pure resistive heating…”

    You must not have a very efficient heat pump system if you use resistive heat so soon. We have had Lennox heat pumps for more than 20-years, current system is top-of-line and just 3-years old (automatically varies fan and compressor speeds). Auxiliary (resistive) heat does not usually cut in until below 20°F with these systems. I used to know all the details, but all stuck in dusty corners of my brain now. Just know that the “Aux Heat” or “Emergency Heat” indicators do not come on and the sound of the unit does not change (my old submarine ears are still very sensitive to the sounds equipment makes). Current outside temperature is 21°F, inside 70°F, wind 5mph, and the heat pump’s compressor and fans are all running on their lowest speed.

    BTW, the compressor on this and the previous Lenox systems are scroll type and made by the same company that makes the scroll compressors used on nuclear submarines. The model on our current system is actually one that used to be classified up until 20 years ago.

  6. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    It’s a relatively new unit, and I have no clue when resistive heating will be required. At freezing, I suspect the heat pump efficiency isn’t all that far above resistive heating. At some point, the ratio becomes 1.0

  7. OFD says:

    “… the last spring frost.”

    Second or third week in May up here. So we’d be starting the seed pots around early March.

    Y’all can find your own last spring frost dates pretty quickly right here:

  8. Dave says:

    What did I do to prep this week? I ordered all three ARRL exam study guides from Amazon. I have plenty of time to study, because there is no exam in Smallville this month. I could drive an hour and take the exam elsewhere, but a small part of the reason I am taking the exam is that I want to meet at least one local amateur radio operator.

    Yesterday, I cooked the turkey for Thanksgiving and noted two things I would do differently in a prepping situation. First, the perfectly good turkey bones got tossed out. Second, we had some elephant garlic that I threw out because it had sprouted. If it had been regular garlic, I would have planted it if we had a container and some dirt.

  9. nick says:

    I use sprouted garlic all the time, I just split the clove and pull out the green when I’m mincing it. Is there a reason not to?


  10. Dave says:


    I was uncertain about the sprouted garlic. I had not used sprouted garlic before, and did not want to put it in the cavity of the turkey and find out there was an issue. I threw out some garlic that I thought was newer that had gone mushy.

    If I had been cooking for myself, I would have tried it. My family includes people who don’t really like garlic.

  11. DadCooks says:

    DadCooks’ advice on garlic:

    If it’s mushy – throw it out

    Green sprouts – use them, they taste like garlic, but add late in the process if sautéing otherwise may become bitter (always start sautéing onions first, then add garlic when onions are translucent)

    Black under the papery skin, okay, you are going to discard that skin/peel anyway.

    Spots or depressions on the actual garlic clove, just cut them out.

    Elephant garlic is milder than regular garlic. I substitute clove for clove even though the elephant garlic is bigger.

  12. nick says:

    Thanks DadCooks, I’ve never had any ill effects, but wasn’t sure.

    I cut off the ulcer spots, pull out the green, and use it if it is shriveled but not squishy or mushy.

    It’s not expensive, but going to the store just for more garlic is 🙂

    BTW, I agree that experimenting on guests can be bad. I prefer not to, but my wife and her mother don’t mind. We had several new to us dishes yesterday. Fortunately they were all tasty. Doesn’t always work out that way 🙂


  13. SteveF says:

    I’ve hit a new low. I was walking through a small park to “work” and a couple of squirrels were, shall we say, one atop the other just a few inches from where I was going to pass by. I asked them, “Hey, stupid, aren’t you supposed to run from people?” and they both screamed, jumped apart, and ran behind the tree. Yep, a new low, cock-blocking a squirrel.

  14. OFD says:

    “Yep, a new low, cock-blocking a squirrel.”

    I’ve notified PETA accordingly; you’ll be receiving a summons in the mail shortly.

  15. medium wave says:

    At least the squirrels were having sex within their own species: People having sex with horses is on the rise in Switzerland. 🙂

  16. paul says:

    My heat-pump is a 4 ton 16 SEER by Goodman. They also build for Amana. The air handler is variable speed. The condenser is 2 speed. Two stage. It all works great… but does make interesting sounds when it decides it needs to defrost the outside unit. Think of squealing fan bearings. The entire package with a 10KW heater and fancy thermostat was $3777 delivered to the front yard in March 2012. The copper tubing set along with a few other parts (like duct board to build a box on top of the air handler to connect the ducts) including maybe $150 for a guy from Ken’s AC to connect the new copper. About $800 total on top of the cost of the system. Plus beer.

    It’s an interesting system. It will get to set temp and then idle along in low and you can feel it sucking the humidity from the house.

    The old unit had the flex ducts making a 90 deg turn thru a sheet of sheetrock that was generously slopped with caulk onto the top of the air handler. My way is better and good enough that the guy that came to do the copper/freon work said I should apply for a job. 🙂

    Along the way I fixed a defect in the ductwork. Someone had installed a Y backwards. 10 inch thru with 6 inch off. Fixed that and now the vents in the living room blow air. Which is much better than seeing cobwebs sucked into the vents. But hey, the house is a Jim Walter and when it was built 30 years ago, if Hoovers or Burnet County Supply didn’t have the part, you had to go 60+ miles to Austin. There was nothing in Leander or Cedar Park back then. Those towns were just bumps in the road. I figure the guy used what he had on a Sunday.

    I had Home Depot come give an estimate. It was almost $8000 for a single stage heat pump. And…. they don’t go under the house. At all. So, to move the unit so it isn’t under my freaking bedroom window was going be rather “Southern rigged”. Solder on new line outside of the house’s skirting, run that along the skirting 20 feet to the new location. That could be fun when running the weedeater. No telling what they would have done in the attic.

    Anyway, it works pretty good down to freezing. Pretty much working its ass off just like when it’s 100F in the summer. When it gets into the mid and low 20s the house cools off. Heh, I guess a 10KW isn’t quite enough. But for 20KW I was going to have to run another wire from a new breaker and the panel is full. I did see the thermostat’s display show em heat once… it was 17F outside.

    We also have a pellet stove. Much easier to mess with than the old Earth Stove. Needs electricity though and it makes noise. But I can run it, the microwave, and some lights with a small generator.

    The new central replaced 3 window units. The house is almost silent… I can hear the grandfather clock ticking while the ac is running. 🙂 We replaced the windows last Spring. Lowes’ best… double hung, low e, argon gas. NO drafts. Very nice.

    So, yeah. That’s all prepping. For getting old. Like having the roof covered with a metal roof. No more roofs needed here. Metal roof is attached to 1x4s screwed into the old roof and there is R5 (I think) foam board between the old and new roofs. So it’s 100 outside and just 80 in the attic. Instead of 130 in the attic. And I don’t have the heat pump pumping. (Which rules out air leaks in the ducts.) Prepping for getting old.

    For current prepping, this week I have stuffed my pantry and freezers. HEB partners have a “perks card”. AKA Happy Card. It gives 10% off of store brands. Once a year we get a week of an extra 10%. I pretty much do my grocery shopping for the year with 20% off. I haven’t added the receipts up but I guessing I dropped almost $1200. I budget (prep!) for this.


  17. lynn says:

    It’s a relatively new unit, and I have no clue when resistive heating will be required. At freezing, I suspect the heat pump efficiency isn’t all that far above resistive heating. At some point, the ratio becomes 1.0

    Most modern heat pumps have a COP, coefficient of performance, of 3.0 to 4.0 at 47 F and 2.0 to 2.5 at 17 F. The COP is the ratio of energy delivered to your home interior divided by the energy used. So, the heat pump is always delivering more energy than it is consuming. The only problem is as the outside air temperature drops, the less heat can be stolen from it by the -20 F refrigerant. So, the heating system has to turn on electric strip heat to make up the difference if needful. Unless, you have a way over sized heat pump system and a very well insulated home.

  18. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    COP, thanks. That’s what I couldn’t think of. As a scientist, I think efficiency, but I know that word has been co opted by the marketers. I’m not sure what size heat pump is installed up there, but the external unit is about twice the size of the one we have here in Winston, which is for cooling only.

  19. SteveF says:

    People having sex with horses is on the rise in Switzerland.

    Pix or it didn’t happen. Brad, we have a mission for you.

    Er, not to have sex with a horse. The mission is to take pictures of other people having sex with horses. Unless you want … um, yah. Pictures.

  20. brad says:

    Brad, we have a mission for you. Er, not to have sex with a horse.

    Gee, thanks for that, I am genuinely relieved!

    The mission is to take pictures of other people having sex with horses. Unless you want … um, yah. Pictures.

    Sorry, no pics, but you did make me hunt down the original report. It’s amazing, what kind of trend-line you can draw, when you have almost no data.

    I found the original report. It’s from an animal-rights nonprofit that concentrates on getting people prosecuted for animal abuse.

    Nine cases of zoophilia with horses have been prosecuted in the past five years. Here are the numbers from page 61 for the years 2010 through 2014: 3, 1, 2, 3, 0. Darn, not much of a trend, what are ya gonna do for a headline?

    What you do is point out that, as a proportion of all cases, zoophilia is more common with horses than other kinds of abuse. Of course, horses aren’t raised for meat or milk, so entire categories of abusive farming practices fall away. But hey, it’s enough to get a reporter for the local commuter rag to pick up the story.

    At the risk of sounding weirder than I am: why is zoophilia illegal, anyway? Most likely the horse just doesn’t care. If it does, it’s a big animal, and entirely capable of planting a hoof where you really don’t want it.

    Oh, right, y’all wanted pics

  21. Miles_Teg says:

    “At the risk of sounding weirder than I am: why is zoophilia illegal, anyway?”

    Spoken like a true New Zealander!

  22. SteveF says:

    Say, Miles_Teg, aren’t you the one who wanted to do the nasty with Hillary Bitch Clinton? And it would be nasty — she’d be the kind of disgusting that makes me think animal sex should be spelled beastiality, because sex with her certainly wouldn’t be best… unless you’re a retiree Down Under, it appears.

  23. nick says:

    Come on guys, you’re putting my off my feed,

    and gonna trigger the nanny filters…


  24. SteveF says:

    Aw, buck up, nick. I didn’t even get to the part about Miles_Teg going “down under” the beast.

  25. brad says:

    That does give a whole new meaning to “down under”…

  26. nick says:



    Well, as a diet aid, it certainly is working. And as a way to harden our minds against the horror of the zombie apocalypse, also working.

    I think I need to go stew some entrails to get the nasty image out of my mind.


  27. SteveF says:

    It was suggested 25 years ago that I should start a diet service. “Talk to Steve before every meal and just watch the pounds melt away.”

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