Episode-1163- Women of Prepping Episode 7 — 29 Comments

  1. Thanks Jack for letting me share some stories with TSP. My husband had one question for me after the interview: “Did you tell them about the tractor?” Er, no.

    So, with 125 wooded acres, 5 cows, 11 sheep, a treacherous mile long driveway – I have deprived my husband of the ultimate homesteading toy – we do not have a tractor! And when I sweetly say, “honey come help me move a bale of hay” I mean let’s move a 600lb round bale by hand. It’s not that bad if initially well positioned but still…

    This would make a good call in question but basically I don’t want one if we can’t pay cash and for what he wants (4WD and all sorts of extras) it’ll take some time to save for that.

    • CJ when i heard you talk about the pigs getting loose, it made me glad that i wasnt the only one that has those moments. Those moment you go ok this has got to be a dream cause this is just way to much to be going on and wrong. When you told of the sow mounting the lamb i put my self in that moment and all i could think of, if it had been me was telling her “your doing it wrong.” and walking away shaking my head. Please tell Jack unless he himself reads this that what you did and the thought process you did at that moment was very Libertarian….OK nobody is getting hurt. What business is it of mine.

      Great show very nice view into what others are doing.


  2. Love this women of prepping series! I am a woman prepper. Husband — not so much! I have a 30 day supply of food and water stashed around the house. Easy. Slowly building up more, plus first aid supplies, bug out bags for home and cars, and more. The hub probably doesn’t even realize it. By carefully preparing the ground, i.e., a timely suggestion here and there, we are leaving Cali (yay!) and looking for land to homestead. We originally thought TX, but now, for various reasons, it may be middle TN. We will be checking it out in September. I have been learning new skills for the past year – canning, sewing, gardening, worm composting, and reading everything on permaculture, woody beds, food forests, animal husbandry, etc. I have also been making my own cleaning supplies for the home, as well as shampoo, body lotion, toothpaste, deodorant……… I’m doing my part and my husband sees my commitment. This has been the biggest part of changing his dream of a loft apartment in downtown San Diego to 5 acres outside of Nashville. One caveat: He told me I would have to do any butchering of chickens or other livestock by myself as he will never do that. I will be taking a poultry butchering class through a local farm in order to prove to him that I am capable of raising more than a barnyard full of pets. So, advice for others with spouses not yet on board — baby steps! No arm twisting. Lead by example. Learn new skills – quietly. Not trumpeting your accomplishments. Just live your passion as you go along.

  3. Awesome show. I wish I’d been listening back in ’08; I’d have lost a lot less money in my 401K! Thank you for the funny stories and plain honesty.

  4. Jack,

    First time responding, after listening to those things that interested me for a couple of months. I found you through Jeff Lawton and signed up for e-mail notifications after listening to your last interview of Lawton. It was one of the best interviews I’ve ever heard (Bill Moyers quality), and I say that wholeheartedly. The interview even had some comedy when Jeff would go deathly silent a couple of times after a uniquely American bit of ultra-libertarianism out of your mouth.

    After I first signed up for the podcast e-mail notifications, I nearly threw your podcast away because the, “Ron – I Just Made an Update at,” screamed fakely personalized crap that want’s to sell me something. I didn’t even want to open it, and tried to figure a way to unsubscribe without doing so. I’m sure glad I looked closer. I can’t tell you how important I think it is that someone with growing permaculture expertise is working a few acre suburban tract, talking and showing in detail the ins and outs on the sort of tract that so many will have available. (At least until the 21st Century Homestead Act is passed. (grin) “An Update at,” would be more directly to the point and shorter for those of us inundated by e-mail. Just sayin’!

    This was a fun podcast, shorter than usual, and a few things left out, IMO. The husband was a little too shadowy, not that I wanted details, but since CJ seems on her own much of the time, I’m assuming that her husband works salaried or some such off the homestead. I don’t like assuming so a general statement would have been valuable.

    Also I was really disappointed that we didn’t find out more about their “off the grid” infrastructure, what’s the solar size and structure, whether they supplement with a small wind generator, what it does for them and what it doesn’t, and whether they plan on expanding and how? I could spin questions about this all day, and all we got was a half sentence mention of solar panels and batteries. Have a part II of this podcast and have CJ prepare some general answers about size, battery storage and such, so that those of us who understand the electrical terminology, can make some judgements from their experiences.

    Best wishes from one who views a gun as a reluctant, sometimes necessary, tool, not a love object, and precious metals as precious because you can make things out of them.

  5. I was wondering what breed of mini cow CJ runs? I don’t think I heard her say but if she did I missed it twice. Good interview and series. Thanks

    • Mini Belted Galloways. As far as I know, the only breeders are in Vermont and Texas! Good for heat or cold.

  6. Hi Ron.
    I can answer a few questions starting with my husband, who became a plumber mid life. He leaves the house at 6 and has a physical job so he’s not always thrilled with doing the physical things that homesteading requires. Luckily we only need a few trees cut down for heating. Maybe none in the future as we’re planning a rocket stove this year which could be fueled with coppiced sticks. More trees need to come down to open up the canopy though…

    We’ve got 18 solar panels of various sizes added over the years. We’re on our second large inverter (an Outback) and 3rd set up batteries. The latest version is 8 lead acid golf cart type. We have a small wind generator which is useless and a back-up gas generator we’ve needed quite a bit this summer due to at least a solid month of rain & because it’s so hot our chest freezer is running quite a bit. After 18 years, our SunFrost fridge doesn’t work except for the small freezer and we’re having trouble deciding the best way to resolve that situation.

    We have untapped hydro potential which I hope to get going this year. Probably wont expand the solar any time soon with the kids graduating and probably moving out.

      • Er, yes! It’s an Air x – not sure of the exact model but it seems to have a very small window of air speed which will produce power.

    • CJ,
      Thank you, thank you for your reply. It clears up a lot. RE: Your “…husband, who became a plumber mid life. “ Tell him BRAVO! Basic infrastructure skills will never go out of need and he can be of great value as long as he’s willing and able. As he approaches the not able, there’s always an apprentice or neighbor that he can pass skills on to. I’ve learned enough to do most things from my plumber brother-in-law in helping with just a couple of moderate projects. I do however hate plumbing (grin) and would much rather do electrical even when it’s sometimes a little shocking if I rush too much.

      Speaking of electrical, here’s a futurecast that is about as truthy as these things get and even so much more important to you all living off grid: This is the century of electrical and electronics when exited electrons take over eventually all of our assisted work. Brute force, dirty fossil energy is very much on it’s way out as it becomes increasing hard to find and get without ecological damage and rapidly growing real cash expense. I don’t care what the denying, Wallstreet, bubble chimera of energy independence fossil fools say, we all need to get some basic understanding of electrical/electronics under our hats so that we can monitor and repair simple problems. It’ll do us in as good stead as will permaculture knowledge, unless the 17th century life is your goal.

      I’m going to make some suggestions based on what you wrote above, and said or wrote elsewhere. But…, take the suggestions with a grain of salt because most (not all) of them come from heavy duty book and net learning not direct, practical experience.

      RE: “…untapped hydro potential…” Yes, yes, particularly if it’s year round, don’t waste a minute getting on that one so that you can have base load electrical for the 24/7 stuff like refrigeration, lights and computers. If you can get more than that all the better as you’ll find great ways to use it later on. Practically nothing’s more wasteful than a fossil fuel generator on a small scale that you have to run frequently. Hydro potential is golden since only a smaller percentage of homesteaders will have it.

      RE: “…fridge doesn’t work except for the small freezer and we’re having trouble deciding the best way to resolve that situation. ” Turn the fridge into a planter ASAP as its sucking your limited power more than anything on your house grid, perhaps twice as much as everything else combined. I’ve got a small but powerful suggestion, find out with exactitude where your electricity is going and all it takes is a $25 meter that will measure each draw over any length of time. There is a specific brand called a “kill-o-watt” that most folks use to measure current draw from any device that is rated at 15 amps or less.
      The biggest electron eater in any house other than heat or AC is the refrigerator, way more than the freezer. Every time the door is opened, most of the cold air drops out on the floor and the fridge works overtime to get the cool back. I’ll bet it gets opened a lot at your house with teenagers around.

      So…, don’t replace it! Once you’re through screaming that I’m out of my mind, check this thought out. Purchase a $3-400, 7 or 8 CF chest freezer and run it as a refrigerator. Freezers are insulated far better than any fridge and a chest freezer opens at the top spilling little cold on the floor. It may be a little more hassle to dig items out of a chest freezer, but your refrigerator energy usage will drop from 1/5 to 1/10th of before, you’ll have to fire up that stinky, noisy generator a lot less often, and your batteries will be less stressed and last longer. All it takes is a $50 external device that has a thermostat sensor that goes in the freezer to run a freezer as a refrigerator. This is a standard, reliable off-grid and beer making solution, not anything new. There’s more here in this link, as well as links to the thermostat device and the kill-o-watt meter mentioned above:

      RE: “…we’re planning a rocket stove this year which could be fueled with coppiced sticks.” I’d heard of coppice before but didn’t understand what it was. It turned out to be a fascinating way to manage forests for some things. Once I understood what you were talking about my first reaction was rocket stove, yes; coppice sticks to feed it, no. Feeding sticks into a rocket stove every couple of hours sounds like a total PITA. I’ve seen a guy who devised a hopper feed for a rocket stove that fed it wood pellets for up to several days unattended. Then I read about your wonderful tight house and wondered whether a rocket stove was such a good idea. Have you talked with the builders about that? I’m speculating that a rocket stove is a solution to a problem that you don’t have with such an efficient house. It might be great for a workshop.

      RE: “More trees need to come down to open up the canopy though…” I’m just guessing here but is your land situation too much forest and not enough pasture/fields? Just a thought here, but if you have a wood pellet facility in the area you might work out a trade whereby they clear out land that you want cleared and supply you with pellets for the winter so that your husband can leave the chain saw and axes in the shed and you gradually get more cleared acreage. Wood pellet stoves aren’t quite as efficient as rocket stoves but much more so than regular wood stoves. Keep your current wood stove as a prepper back up.

      I’m burnt out. I hope something here was of help.

      • So many points to address here.

        First the fridge. It’s a 12V highly efficient fridge. The dilemma is do we get a new compressor (but the freezer works???) or maybe a small normal fridge because a new one at 3k costs too much.

        I have already made a chest freezer into a fridge exactly as suggested but let me tell you, its a real PITA!

      • “…my first reaction was rocket stove, yes; coppice sticks to feed it, no. Feeding sticks into a rocket stove every couple of hours sounds like a total PITA.”

        Actually, I meant a rocket mass stove which only gets fired once/day. Coppice is ideal for firing it and that’s what coppice was traditionally used for in Europe – firing masonry stoves (of which RMS are just a new, improved variation).

  7. Here’s a link to the company that designed our “low energy requirement” house:

    I wasn’t expecting that question so I don’t think I did it justice. When we run the fan, hot air gets pulled from the top of the house to ducts in 10″ of concrete underneath the house which acts as a heat sink. If we were on the grid the fan would run all the time.

    The only thing I would change would be to have a separate air intake for the wood stove.

  8. CJ:

    I found your interview wonderfully entertaining. You have a gift! Your humor makes your teaching so intrinsic. All I have to say is, “good for you guys!” I think your story is an inspiration. Great job!

  9. Code words?

    Cohesive endurance
    Natural continuation
    Perma- Imprinting <that was the only P one I could come up with!

    Yeah, a code word would be good. When I suggest people listen to TSP they instantly think of the doofus tv shows and it takes a LOT to get them mentally past that stage. But guess who they come to with questions or send other people to? Me. And they put my TSP knowledge to use in their lives and start asking more questions. They don't want that "survivalist" label but they do want the knowledge that goes with it. So a code word idea is good better ice breaker.

    GREAT show.

  10. erg…I need to proof read…. :-/

    A code word idea is a good ice breaker.

    There…that’s more better.

  11. Good interview, thanks for sharing!

    One question I had, what model of wood stove do you use for heating? I assume it’s running 24×7 during heating season, yes?


  12. The house is quite well insulated so the fire doesn’t need to run 24/7. I run it more than I should because I enjoy watching the fire (glass door). Heating season is mid-October – mid-April. There’s 2 weeks on either end where we could use a little heat some days but a fire would be too much. The guy who designed the house suggested inviting people over or cooking something in the oven – it’d be enough to bring it up to temp.

    Our wood stove is an Austroflam which no longer sells in USA. It has an oven which has been handy.

    The stoves are gorgeous but use non US standard size fire bricks and most are now broken (after 17 years). I’ve stuck some regular firebrick in to protect the metal but that’s why we’re going to try making a rocket stove. We’ve ordered Paul Wheaton’s DVD’s and they should be shipping soon.

  13. You were discussing a code word for someone who loves guns, lives a self reliant lifestyle, thinks for themselves, eats real food, etc…

    I was thinking that there was a great word describing this in common use 75 years ago. Over time the meaning of the word was twisted and it no longer works. Perhaps we need to work to bring it back. “American”

    • I totally disagree! Why exclude anyone based on nationality? If anything, the concepts I’m thinking of pre-date nation-states anyway. In their original forms they date back anywhere from 10,000-2,000 years ago.
      Paleo eating
      Critical thinking

      You don’t need to be American, you just have to stop “drinking the kool-aid.”

        • I had a completely different response to this prepared but now I think I’m still missing the point!

          Andy, do you think the meaning of the word has changed or the actions of Americans?

          Even back then, a large chunk of Americans didn’t embody those ideals. How about “homesteader?”

        • I think his point is not long ago MOST Americans were far more like this then what we think of as an American today. FTR I don’t think he is talking about 25 years into the past, more like a century, which is not a long period of time in the grand scheme of things. We have people that live that long.

  14. Hey CJ,
    I was very happy to hear on the podcast that you have a Meremma. I have two myself and I don’t hear about many people who own one. Is there a reason you only have one? Have you had any trouble with you Meremma? I have come across a few issues with mine, which if you are interested, I wrote about in this posting on my blog.

  15. I got a Maremma because their territorial range is about a mile as opposed the Pyrs 15 miles!

    My first Maremma was kind of a disaster. He wanted to be the Alpha and though we took obedience classes it was touch & go. Then my husband got into an altercation with a hunter and the next day the dog vanished! Problem solved but creepy.

    The next was a rescue and totally opposite personality. I’ve seen my Australian Shepherd grab the Maremma by the tail and drag him across the deck (in a friendly “come play with me” kind of way).

    He is very hard to contain so I don’t bother because he doesn’t really wander & we have a good chunk of land. I’ve watched him use his front legs to somehow pull himself up and over a 6′ fence. He doesn’t run deer but he does escort them off the property.

  16. Having read your blog post, I’d like to add that it’s normal for a Maremma or maybe any LGD to kill a chicken or 2 but it’s usually an accident. I’ve watched the dog and chicken interact and they were definitely playing tag. Several days later the chicken was found face down in the coop – too much rough play.

    This is not the same as your situation though. Many people recommend having the dog watch you as you pick up and handle the chicken in a friendly way so the dog knows it’s part of the family. Is your dog a mix or a true Maremma?

    I’d post your questions someplace like here:

    • Thank for your reply CJ.

      I have checked out Meremma Community and I am very impressed with the level of advice on the site. Thanks for letting me know of this great source of information.