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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'll try to make this short. I know probably no one missed me, but I've been gone. I had a personal SHTF event. I lost ALL income, everything. I've had too live off my preps for about 6 months. The first month was nice. Full cupboards, truck tank full of gas, and some cash in my pocket. I knew that wouldn't last. I needed to find water. I had enough drinking water, but I didn't want to use it to water trees, do dishes, laundry etc. So a friend of mine is on well water a few miles from here. I was able to barter for 4 55 gallon drums of water. I just had to operate the hand pump haha. Brought those back to the house. It was still kinda cool weather, so the trees didn't need water very much, just once a week. 30 trees, a gallon a week, and the water started dwindling by the end of the first month. I had been urinating on the trees to help expand the water, but a man can only pee so much haha. Food was still there at the end of the first month. I still had electricity, water, and natural gas on in the house, but knew I couldn't pay the bills. So I started using solar powered flashlights, candles, and crank flashlights at night. No TV just the radio from the crank flashlight/radio apparatus. Cooked over my fire pit. Weather was cool, but not cold enough for fires for warmth or heavy jackets except a couple nights.

Second month was FUN. The trees mature enough to produce, produced some blossoms. Allergies went WILD. Note to self. Stock more allergy medication. Started getting seeds started indoors. Utility bills came in drastically reduced from the previous month. Water bill was only $40. $6 for actual water usage, rest was service charges. Only water I used, was for showering. Not warm enough for outdoor showers yet haha. Thankfully I am on septic and I had previously switched to loflo toilets. Takes about a gallon and a half to flush, versus 4 gallons like the originals. Means less water I have to bring in to flush them. Water in water barrels is almost out. Time for another trip. Still have a bit of gas in the truck. Made it there and back uneventfully. Electricity was $15. Mostly service charges. Gas was $7, presumably from just the water heater. Everything else was done over my fire pit. Still second month didn't go too bad. Cupboards looking thin, but doable for another month.

Third month. Same as second month, except my apricots produced. Took a small load off of the stocked food supply. Ate apricots for breakfast. Peaches and nectarines should be ready next month. Same with plums. This month, trees are taking more water. Next month is summer, and I'll have to water twice or three times a week. Oh no. 220 gallons are barely getting me by. How am I going to keep watering the trees and keep driving to get water. Fuel tank is running dry, pockets are thin, and no income. Bills are paid though. That's what counts. Thankfully I've been able to keep the bills low, and on. I may MAY have to use city water to water my trees/plants. So I went walking. Went with a couple of trash bags, and collected recyclables. Got just enough to pump gas in the truck and collect more water. Cupboards are really really looking bare.
Fourth month. It's June. Plums, peaches, nectarines, blueberries are producing. They are still young trees, so not much. Only got into my food stores once a day, mostly for beans and rice. The trees took a giant load off of my stores. Still haven't had to use city water yet to water trees, but rationing water, I'm watering the trees twice a week. They're looking fairly unhappy, but alive.
July is here. Doing my thing collecting recyclables, paying my reduced bills, watering my yard. Got my garden in after erecting a fence and fighting squirrels. Tomatoes really took off. Unfortunately it's short lived as my dogs are digging in it trying to get gophers. They are NOT hungry though. Thankfully I've been able to put food in their bowls. I'll go hungry before my dogs. Period.
August comes and goes. Peppers are doing great, tomatoes are dead, strawberries were decimated by the dogs. It was good while it lasted though. Thankfully I have a strawberry plant on the deck. That one will survive and give off runners to replace the ones that were lost. By now I've dropped about 30 pounds. I've been extremely active, and not taking in as much as I need calorie wise. Cupboards are bare.
September is here. It's the end of the month. I've been able to keep the bills paid, yard mostly alive. Apples came in, so that was nice. I was able to barter for mulch, to help with the watering. Albeit a few months late. This combined with drip emitters, and rainwater, means I should not have to use city water, or use my friends well water for watering. I may not need the well water ;)

Still no true income, but I've been pinching pennies. It's looking up as income goes. I may be having a chance of money next month. Well see tomorrow.

So here's what I learned so far. Think you have enough water? Think again. I had stored enough drinking water for myself and dogs. I was able to ration water by using my lemon trees for lemonade, lime trees for limeade, juicing pomegranates, etc. if I had not done this, my water consumption will be double.

Thinking about growing your own food? It takes a few years for trees to mature enough to produce a good crop. My trees are just over a year old. They produced, but next year it should be more. My pecans, avocado, mango, and fig trees are still too young. If they were older, I'd be better off. As far as gardens. Critter proof it. My dogs just HAVE to get in, and will tear down fences to do so. If I'm able to, October I will be getting taller fence material.

I cheated a bit, because I still had utilities on. I chose not to use them though. I have very little money to pay them. Why raise them?

I need to have some sort of solar or windmill energy source. In a true SHTF scenario, power to run the fridge, radio, and at least 1 light, is helpful. Although living by candle light is fun :) Just not the scented ones ;)

Back to water. I have a carbon filter I can use if I needed to filter rainwater or such. The well water is hard, but certainly drinkable. Fortunately I still have about a month of drinking water available. Hopefully I can have my 330 gallon totes in place as the overflow for when I further setup and expand my rainwater collection system. Hope is to have 2 sets of 4 55 gallon drums, with each overflow directed into a separate 330 gallon tank. I will water the yard with this water, as well as laundry and cleaning/bathing. Then keep the well water for drinking when my drinking water runs out.


So although this isn't a worldwide SHTF event, its one for me. I have learned to downsize and reduce what I need to survive, while learning what more I need to do. What I've learned is portion control. No more pigging out. Stuff yourself at night, you'll be extra hungry in the morning. Small snacks throughout the day is better than huge meals. Eating fresh fruit as snacks is great :)

What's great is, no one knows. I still have a normal life. The 4 barrels are so well hidden, no one can see them. I haven't even showed my friends haha. No one that knows me, knows what's going on, which means the neighbors shouldn't know either. Hidden in plain sight, I am ;)

Thanks prepperforums for letting me share my experience. I post this for creative criticism, and for advice on what I've done wrong, right, what I need to improve on, and such. So any and all comments and questions are welcome :)
 

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I'm glad you feel you are doing good, barely surviving in my book isn't doing good, although we are in a depression this isn't SHTF and you need to make better choices.

IMO shoot your freeking dogs and eat them, really? you are willing to lose valuable resources for mutts (plural as you seem to have more than 1)? You really need to examine your priorities, if you will go hungry before your dogs you will lose this battle very quickly when it really gets tough.

From the produce you mention you live in a very mild climate, no way we can grow those in Montana. Learn to be cold, not that pansy assed ooooo its 50 degrees out lets turn on the heater, but really putting on double layers and turning the thermostat to "off"

I live in Montana, in a 2600 sq house and my heating bill is $49 a month budget billing (in 12 months I use $600 in gas).

That is hot water, stove, and home heating using forced air natural gas.

I.e. your dog food bill is all I need to be comfortable in the dead of winter and I live several hundred miles north of you, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

Sorry to piss on your parade, I totally understand your poverty but your priorities seem to me to be messed up.
 

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Great info! Thanks! You must have taken your hiatus before I joined last winter. I do hope your financial situation improves soon, but your story inspires me.
 

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Wow, sorry to hear about your tough times! I hope your situation improves soon, I'm jealous of your fruit trees though! I can sympathize with your stance on your dogs, as long as my dog is fed I can be happy. He's my best friend and companion, and he's my responsibility.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the comment :)

Yeah I have 2 dogs.

I live in a fairly populated part of town. When we first moved here in '83, noone even heard of this town. Now every body moved here. So dogs are here for security.

I have a ditch behind my house. The dogs were barking one day and growling. I ducked behind a shed, waited a bit, and a guy was walking up the ditch looking in the yards. I popped out, and he turned around and went where he came from. I watched him walk back to the Main Street.

Then a few months later at 2:30 in the morning, my dogs were going apeshit crazy. I peeked out the window, and a car full of kids/teens was sitting there. They got out with baseball bats. They jumped into my neighbors yard, and were making their way into my yard. I chambered up and suggested the not come onto my property any farther. They immediately took off running.

Had my dogs not been there, I may be telling different versions of both stories.

I lived in snow before. Cold to me is 40 and under. Most winters here, I don't even run the heater. Just extra blankets, but I do love me a warm shower lol.

Speaking of priorities, what would you suggest I do next?

Water storage. I have 220 gallons combined. I'm getting 2 330 tanks next month. Trying to get more set up before rainy season.

Some sort of energy production? For now, I charge my phone with a flashlight/radio thing I got from Walmart. It takes forever, but I spend a day charging to 100% then charge when I get to 80% so I'm not spending day after day charging from 10%

I have enough dog food for the rest of the year. I stock food I can eat as well as what the dogs can eat. I've been looking for home made dog food recipes, but all I find so far is for large batches. Not sure my 2 dogs can eat all of it before it goes bad.

I don't consider myself poverty stricken. Or poor. I'm broke, which is temporary :p lol it'll get better eventually. I'm glad I hit this bump, because I'm using it as a learning experience :)
 

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I would suggest you look at water sustainability rather than just water storage, though the two aren't mutually exclusive.

Keep planting those fruit trees and berries! Find a way to keep the dogs out of the gardens. Read up on permaculture or aquaculture/aquaponics.

Find a way to grow more and barter or sell the excess in order to pay for what you can't grow.
 

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Hello
This seems to be a real time conversation which is cool.

So 1 thing at a time, why 2 dogs, which means twice the cost for the same security?

I also have a German Shepard which I wouldn't trade for all the $799 security systems from Costco in the world, but by herself she will do the trick, I don't need a backup at twice the cost. Also experience has told that only 1 of them is effective , the other is not and a slacker.

Trust me if you can grow Alvacado's you can live in SHORTS most of the year, Here in Montana we have had most morning under 40 degrees for the best part of September, when I go elk hunting next month it will be in the "teens".

What should you do next...

It would be better if you updated your profile so we actually knew where you were living. Seriously I have more grace for Kaliforina residence than living in Nevada as your options are more limited.

Bottom Line
Get rid of your worst of 2 dogs, saving you half the expense.

Ya its raw and intense but if you think your future decisions are going to be easier, think again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I am in Cali. Lets say, between San Diego and Los Angeles. I really don't want to be real specific.

The reason I have 2 dogs is because my shepherd, while big and intimidating, is a sweetheart. She will tear anybody to pieces, but deep down, she's a sweet heart. She chased down a rabbit, caught it, and brought it back to me.

The other dog listens better. She is husky mixed with unknown. Her dad was a yellowed eyed dog. She's smaller, and looks like a coyote that was seen in the area. She is better trained than the shepherd. But is more viscious. Her favorite passed time is chewing up soda cans and anything metallic. She catches squirrels and has them shredded before I can get it from her. I've seen her lunge at strangers. She is a great guard dog. But she listens and stops when told. The shepherd has selective hearing haha. But she is loyal only to me. Same with the husky. I've had the husky since 4 weeks and have had the shepherd since she was a year. Both technically rescues.

What's water sustainability? I plan on having the rain water run through a sand/gravel/carbon filter, then through a micron filter before it reaches the 330. Then having another micron after the 330 so it can be technically drinkable. Still unsure about the use of bleach though.
 

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Hello
I have owned both breeds, shoot the husky and keep the shepherd, that is your best choice.

Also since you seem to have no apparent wealth GTFO of Kalifornia, if not now, when the weather allows in the spring. I mean GAWD man why live in that area unless you have too?

In most of Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, North Dakota you can find easy access to BILLIONS of gallons of free flowing water all over the place. I mean ALL OVER THE FREEKING PLACE, I don't know why you live somewhere and pay for water when there is no logical reason to stay there.

Where I live I drink "creek" water without even thinking about it, but of course we are at the head of the water source where literally it is coming out of the mountain side. Water sustainability is drawing close to the source.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I stay here because I take care of my gramma. I used to take care of my Grampa too, but he recently passed away (may 1st)

It's not easy moving an 80 year old. I assume she has at least 5 good years left, I'm HOPING for more though. When she passes, I'm selling my house and possibly buying an RV and a giant piece of land with a water source. For now I'm working with what I have at my disposal.

I kinda do like the shepherd more. She's the kind of guard dog you don't know is there until its too late. She's incredibly smart, but stubborn. That's ok. She's like 8 years old already. Her stubbornness doesn't affect her loyalty at all.

I DO want to have a well drilled here. But 10k is prohibitive.

Another reason I stay here, is the almost year round gardening. I have pots on my deck that I grow stuff in almost year round. Heck, the "trash" pot where I throw the soil from the packs that the seeds didn't sprout, now has mystery sprouts in it. I think 2 are cucumbers haha.

I'm a little naive, but I'm hoping that if I can stay under the radar and low key for a while, then I may be passed over by the majority of people/bandits/gangs. I have protection for the ones that venture here.

My house looks trashed, and I intentionally leave car parts laying about. Makes it look like nothing special ;)
 

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"Water sustainability" is where you don't need to depend on anyone for your water needs.

This could mean having a catchment system. It could mean having a hand pumped well. It might mean having a spring-fed pond. It basically means you have your water needs covered... long term, with a way to replenish your stocks.

It also means having a way to make the water safe to consume... long term. It would take a whole lot of effort to boil all of your water, but I suppose it could be done. Of course, boiling won't remove chemical contaminants unless you are distilling it. I have a Big Berkly system that should last 6,000 gallons and a backup Sawyer Point Zero Two which claims to be good for a million gallons. Depending on your water quality (presence of chemical contaminants) bleach or granulated chlorine could be enough too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I wouldn't plan on purifying/boiling all the water at once. Only as an as needed basis. I plan on having micron filters down to 5 microns. Then boiling the water after that. I've looked into a distiller, but doesn't that remove minerals too? I read mixed thoughts on the removal of the minerals. Some say its best for you. Others say it starves your body of minerals.

I have done the black trash bag/ two pan distiller before with good results. I reckon a commercial one would be better, but which one to get? And that leads to another question. How much more fuel do I have to store to heat up the distiller?
 

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Personally, I would consider distilling the water as your last choice.

Probably your best option would be water catchment. This could be as simple as rigging a few inexpensive tarps and barrels to catch water if you need to collect more.

I'm not a water expert, but have heard removing the minerals can cause the water to leach minerals out of your body. That doesn't sound too good to me.

In case you don't already mulch to conserve water, that's something to look into. You can use newspaper, cardboard, or straw to slow evaporation and decrease your plant's water needs. If there are horse barns in the area, horse manure will work too and increase your soil fertility at the same time. Without knowing your exact situation, it's hard to make definite suggestions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
That's what I figured. Last resort.

Spread mulch earlier. It's a pine bark/twig type. I need another truck load, but won't be able to until Tuesday due to monetary reasons. Mulch is free. Gas to get it isn't haha. Hopefully I can pick up a drip system too. I have tons of emitters and some tubes, but need the part that hooks up to the spigot. I'm going to run the lines under the mulch. Keeps the lines cool, and keeps the dirt wet. Less evap.

I wish I would have been able to get the mulch before summer, but you get what you get, when you get it.

My situation = ~$100 a month for food, bills, preps, and gas. I've done more with less. But for some reason, I'm in a hurry right now. Feel like I have a time limit. I've never felt like this before. Like, gotta have the 330's in week after next by the LATEST. Gotta have the rest of the gutters up this week. Finishing mulch mid week at the latest.

Weird.
 

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Rain water is distilled water, thats how it got into the clouds. I have been drinking only distilled water for most of my life, I hate the taste of reverse osmosis...yuk
If you are catching rain water then you are drinking distilled already.
 

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While I fell on hard times in late 09, nothing like the OP's. I have to admit - I might as well die as to shoot and eat the kids (my dogs). I prep for them too because of it.
And yes, I'd choose to die, I'm ok with that.
 

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Rain water is distilled water, thats how it got into the clouds. I have been drinking only distilled water for most of my life, I hate the taste of reverse osmosis...yuk
If you are catching rain water then you are drinking distilled already.
Rain water likely comes off a roof, often filled with bird droppings and more. It needs to be filtered and treated.
A homespunenvironmental filter is $30 delivered, 2 - 5 gallon buckets needed, and a container of Chlorine for $5 will keep you
in drinking water all year if you can collect it, filter it, treat it, and filter it again.
 

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man, kevincali, seems like you are doing better with less, than some rich people. I don't know why your in this pickle, and its not important.
My suggestions- turn off water heater until your ready for your warm shower. You seem very smart, so your probably doing that already.
look at the possibility of converting your water heater onto l.p. then have the gas to house turned off completely, damn service fees and taxes and regulations added to our bills..
For watering the trees, look into the possibilty of a large cistern, someone may let you have it, if you can arrange the moveing of the device..Then look to your local fire department and see if you can arrange to hace a pumper come fill it for you..
All this costs money, or sweat and bartering, and you definately dont sound scared of hard work..
These are just brainfarts, BUT i do wish you the best.
OH, also, unplug every damn thing in the house, just becouse your not using it, some electronics draw a little power.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
man, kevincali, seems like you are doing better with less, than some rich people. I don't know why your in this pickle, and its not important.
My suggestions- turn off water heater until your ready for your warm shower. You seem very smart, so your probably doing that already.
look at the possibility of converting your water heater onto l.p. then have the gas to house turned off completely, damn service fees and taxes and regulations added to our bills..
For watering the trees, look into the possibilty of a large cistern, someone may let you have it, if you can arrange the moveing of the device..Then look to your local fire department and see if you can arrange to hace a pumper come fill it for you..
All this costs money, or sweat and bartering, and you definately dont sound scared of hard work..
These are just brainfarts, BUT i do wish you the best.
OH, also, unplug every damn thing in the house, just becouse your not using it, some electronics draw a little power.
I'm in this mess because someone spread a rumor, someone else BELIEVED that rumor, and yet 5 random test proving otherwise, wasn't enough proof. I was wondering why I was being chosen "randomly" every couple of weeks haha

And just to be clear, I haven't indulged in ANY illegal substances. I'll even submit to a hair test. So now the person that started the rumor has my spot, which was above their spot. Gotta love politics. Turned out that person was cousins or some crap with the guy above me.

Ok. Back to the topic at hand.

I shut off everything not needed (water for toilets and washer, gas at stove and oven and dryer)Unplugged everything not needed (no internet or cable, so computer and tvs got unplugged. as well as dvd player and radio. Have a windup thingy for that haha) Only thing water is running to is the showers. I wash dishes in a tub of water, pour it out in the honeysuckle.

Matter of fact, today, I picked up a drip irrigation system from Home Depot. $23 with extra anchors for the 1/4" line. That should be a LOT more efficient then pouring basins full of water.

Also picked up a newer oven off craigslist for free. It's natural gas, but the old oven worked great on propane. I'm looking at getting a few building materials together and building an island, and having the wood/charcoal grill and a propane oven in it. The fields behind me are dumping grounds, so I'll go rummage through the piles tomorrow evening for lumber. I built a fence out of 4x4's, 2x4's and lattice and even found a complete gate in those fields.

I cheated a bit today though. I used the car to get the oven, since its better on gas. So I upgraded my kitchen for free, which freed up the ugly yellow oven for outdoor use haha. When times get better, and they will, then ill get the full benefit of the free, nice new oven. Oh. Best part is, it's pilot lightless, so that'll save on the bill if I even just left the valve on lol

But things are looking up. Got a job offer doing side jobs, maintenance work on an as needed basis. Going to check the place out tomorrow. Pay is above minimum. Should keep me afloat and able to keep stuff going along.

I thought about a cistern. I think what I'll ultimately do, is keep eyes and ears open for motorhomes being parted out. Gonna take the freshwater tanks and strap them under my mobile. Then when the 330's are full, I can either hand pump or hopefully have a solar pump, pump the water into those tanks under the house. I'm thinking of turning my DC powered fan into a generator and having it fuel a car battery. Then I can have an "on demand" style pump like my old motorhome had. And it would only be pumping from the tanks under the house, not down the hill. Just a thought. I'm just happy now that I have the drip irrigation. I still have to set it up, but I'm going to experiment and see if the weight of water in a say 55 gallon drum is enough to push through the emitters. I'll of course have them eventually hooked to the 330 tanks, but that's next week, God willing.

I'm used to living frugally. I kinda like it. Even if I won a million dollars, I'd still scrimp and save. Reminds me of a guy that everyone thought was poor. He would open his can of soup in the morning, place it over the pilot light of his stove, and its hot by lunchtime. He died, and supposedly had loads of money. I wouldn't hoard money though. I'd use it for more preps, or maybe to replace the guns/ammo/preps that sank with my boat in the middle of the ocean, oh no. ;)
 

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I'm used to living frugally. I kinda like it. Even if I won a million dollars, I'd still scrimp and save. Reminds me of a guy that everyone thought was poor. He would open his can of soup in the morning, place it over the pilot light of his stove, and its hot by lunchtime. He died, and supposedly had loads of money. I wouldn't hoard money though. I'd use it for more preps, or maybe to replace the guns/ammo/preps that sank with my boat in the middle of the ocean, oh no.



Well said, I saw that epsiode..Last time i baught a lottery ticket, the clerk asked me what i would do, i stated that I was already happy, and had all i need, and a lottery win would just mean i could stop living the "rat race" and focus on being a better me..
 
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