Category Archives: Prepper

Benefits already gleaned from prepping

The other day we experienced a kind of pre-tornado, going from a dead calm to branches breaking in three seconds flat. Then, no power for four hours, and then another session of no power, and then another.

I tried plugging the fridge into an emergency power source. It worked! The wattage draw was pretty high for the first five minutes, but then it calmed down. All good.

Meanwhile, I fired up the rocket stove to cook dinner. Very interesting. I added no twigs, no wood, just some crumpled paper, some bits of cardboard, times three, some minutes apart each time, which was more than enough to complete the cooking. That ultra-super-efficiency surprised me. All good.

Prepping, I’m finding out, is best accomplished by putting one’s prepping into action from time to time. It’s only the actual usage that one finds out strengths or weaknesses of one’s prepping. And it’s enjoyable recreation. And it builds confidence.

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Father George the newbie prepper burns sacred oils, gets great prepper idea

That’s the little heap of cotton that was drenched in the “Oil of the Sick” (Oleum infirmorum), taken out of the “stock” used uncountable times this past year for the Last Rites. I’m sure the CDC would have comments to make about that. I’d have plenty of commentary to make right back at them. At any rate, I had to top off the “stock” many times.

The old cotton and oil is burned every year after the Chrism Mass, when new cotton and newly blessed Oil of the Sick is placed in the “stock.” That little fire, on tinfoil, is in the chapel of the rectory. The painting of Jesus is by a one-time parishioner just to the side of the Altar of Sacrifice. The subsequent dust gets washed down the Sacrarium.

Meanwhile, the containers of oil (oil of the sick, oil of catechumens, and the Sacred Chrism) from the Chrism Mass the previous year were poured out over the wood for the Easter fire at Easter Vigil, and the little plastic containers were thrown in as well. We didn’t have an explosively large Easter fire this year, just bigger than most I’ve ever seen anywhere, and very “solid” for a fire, meaning big chunks of wood burning really well.

Prepper idea: The prepper idea useful for, say, starting a campfire in wet conditions, is to use a fire starter made up of a cotton ball with a glop of petroleum jelly, neatly wrapped in tinfoil until ready for use. Scrape some magnesium on top of that, spark it, and place the whole thing under the bits of kindling that you have. It burns and burns with a sturdy flame. Easy. Efficient. That would get, for instance, my homemade rocket stove flaming up in no time, every time.

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Rocket stove in minutes: no welding no cement. Newbie prepper, Father George

This took literally just minutes to throw together with no welding, no cement, all from materials that I had lying around from back in hermitage days, including the ash shovel and poker. So, zero cost.

View from the back with the stove pipe being inserted:

You can see that there are 8 firebricks either side and another 4 in the back with the “tunnel” being less wide than the length of a firebrick so that the fire is well contained at the back. The brown paving brick to either side slightly cantilevers the upper blocks toward the stove pipe. That merely 1 foot section of stove pipe sits on top of the firebricks at the back, having enough room for the circumference to sit back from the corners of the tops of the firebrick, thus completely enclosing the fire and making from great “draw” aerodynamics, rocketing the flames upward. Here’s an optical illusion (because of reflections) view from the top. You get the idea:

For the front edge of the circumference, I slid a piece of tin, completely covering the open spaces to left and right with plenty out front.

That piece of tin out front was covered by another firebrick acting as bridge in front of the pipe. That was in turn covered by a brown paving brick. In front of that, completing the bridge, was another solid cement block. Then another cement block was added, ever so slightly cantilevered toward the stove pipe for stability. So, again:

Here’s the one foot long 8″ diameter stove pipe I used:

You’ll see the the curved wire up top is interlaced very solidly on the top edge. This is your stove top, keeping your skillet or pot above the edge, thus allowing the flames to come up the chimney.

That’s a small skillet. A larger one will sit up top of the wires. Any method of pieces of metal or long spike-nails laid across the top (with small indents in the top of the pipe) will also work great. So:

  • 14 solid cement blocks (which are fire-resistant, by the way):
    • 6 blocks as a base, plus 1 out front for oversized branches and easier clean out, plus 4 more as stabilizers in the back, plus 1 on top out back as a stabilizer and countertop, plus 1 as a bridge out front and 1 on top out of that out front for a stabilizer and a countertop on which to put a hot skillet or pot to cool down.
  • 1 floor tile to keep any popping coals from exiting the stove and, importantly, to act as a damper. The lean-to effect will allow any amount of air you want. You’ll need one extra brick at the bottom front to keep it from tipping over if you want to shut the fire down to a small flame to have your skillet heated to stable simmer temps.
  • 21 firebricks: 20 at the bottom, 1 as a bridge closest to the stove pipe
  • 3 paving bricks for cantilevering stability
  • 4 squared-width bricks to the sides up top next to the stove pipe are for stability and to keep inquisitive dog noses from hot stove pipes
  • 1 foot length of stainless steel 8″ diameter stove pipe
  • 1 curved-wire stove pipe stabilizer (or other makeshift solution)

Time required: minutes. No welding. No cement. Gravity and cantilevering are your friends.

Of course, gathering fuel is great exercise. A parishioner had some branches down, so he donated them for the rocket stove. Here’s the result later in the day:

This was great exercise that will really aid my health in my “old age.” I slept extra soundly. That’s all priceless, right? Next project: prepare a place to nicely pile the wood up, away from the house, having cut it all to size, having sharpened my hatchet, having split the larger pieces apart, and letting it all get seasoned a bit more.

Note to diocese: This stove can be taken down in seconds. This is just a practical run of a concept. But it’s also good for outdoor, healthy recreation, that is, re-creation. That’s important for priests as well, right?

If it all hits the fan with storms and we’re off the grid for a while, and we lose perishables and run out of gas and propane, what on earth would one use a rocket stove for? Let me count the ways:

  • Hot water for washing self and clothes
  • Hot water for simmering beans and rice
  • Hot water to cook pasta and heat cans of diced tomatoes
  • Hot water for coffee or tea or soups
  • Hot skillets for frying up… um… are you ready? Let’s see:
    • Those huge turtles in the creek next to the rectory
    • Possums, squirrels, snakes, rabbits, birds, all in abundance in WNC. I’ll have to learn about snares, but I’m pretty good with a Glock. Even at a distance I could surely hit turkey buzzards when the “kettles” settle into trees, and wild turkeys, when the “rafters” are out grazing.
    • Fish from Valley River? Probably not. There are really of lot of people out fishing.
    • Deer and bear and boars are beyond me. Harvesting them instead of injuring them would take something more than my Glock could deliver. And besides, for that, in the impossibly steep mountain ridges here, I’d have to have workable knees. And besides, snakes taste like chicken.

Having such a rocket stove would be an occasion to speak about the faith with the neighbors when they inevitably come by to use it. Praise the Lord.

But if priests come by for such a mountain parish experience, they’ll have to bring, say, a freshly acquired boar. They have the rifles and skills for that. I don’t. There are hunting grounds with no limit and no regulated season right close by. We’ll butcher it straight away and invite all the neighbors.

Bacon is so good.

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Father George: Newbie Prepper

I feel like I’m speaking out of turn in writing such a post as this, what with so many refugees being on foot at this moment, exposed to the elements, having gone without food, dying of wounds from bombing. If we prep in these ways it’s just being prudent while hoping and praying that a nuclear winter might not come our way. The only reason I can imagine ever being a refugee is because of a radiation event that’s too close to home to survive, but even then, why should I run. Are there not those who would be dying and needed the last rites? But try to hunt them down, they might already be on the road.

I’ve not considered a “bug-out-bag” for what’s below. A but-out-bag is a whole different universe. And where would you go? To another area where there’s also been a nuclear event too close? The totally out of the way place that I’m already in is where people bug out to, not run away from.

For those already in terrible situations: Hail Mary…

  1. Religion: We’ve ordered some extra altar wine for Holy Mass. That would be particularly hard to come by. Another priest agreed with that bit of prudence. Altar breads can be made from regular unleavened wheat-flour (only) and water (only). And believe me, my parishioners have stated many times that, no matter what, they want to keep coming to Mass and receiving the Sacraments. Do you have a Rosary to pray in times of trouble and right now?
  2. Water: About ten years ago, when yours truly was at the hermitage, a 275 gallon IBC tote came my way. That’s pictured at the top of the post above. It was filled with rain water at the time. It’s been sitting dormant now for years. I sprayed it out, filled it with city (chlorinated water), and poured in about 1/3 cup of regular bleach (not scented, not non-splash, just plain). I didn’t screw the top cover on, wanting both the city and personally added bleach to evaporate (which it does quickly, in about 30 mins.), but meanwhile the bleach kills any microscopic beasties that might be hiding inside. It’s up on cinder blocks so that a five gallon bucket might slide under the spout at the front bottom edge. In case we’re without the grid for awhile, the gutters can be redirected to get rain water from the carport roof. This water will have to be re-purified (lots of bird dew on roofs), and for that my method is still bleach when it gets in the house (1/2 teaspoon per 8 gallons). The CDC has a great document on emergency purification of water. in emergency situations: hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, Russian shutting down the grid…
  3. Food: It’s been a few months now that I’ve been starting to collect some foods with long-term shelf-life, rice, beans, and such. Even if you have no heat to cook these, they can be soaked (but you gotta use salt and change the water regularly). In talking with others about this I find out that pretty much everyone has been doing this as a matter of course for years. I’m like the only one who is imprudent. There is one person I know only has a supply for a week or so if the power goes down. Perishables will be lost within a day or so even from unopened fridges and freezers. I’m not going to bother with generators. Too much work. And too much of an advertisement to home-invaders, and their tribe would increase in difficult days.
  4. Heat: Some generous souls came to church one day with a very small portable propane heater and some camp-stove propane bottles, just for emergencies, they said, if we’re without power and it’s way below zero, and the grid goes down. I know how to deal with the extreme cold. I’m not afraid of it. When I was a kid up in northern Minnesota there was one time it got really cold, -74F below zero real temperature, -104F below zero wind chill. Loose layers for clothing and some well rated sleeping bags, one inside the other. Limit yourself to one smallish room. Pets like my Shadow-dog will provide extra body heat. Etc. But the little propane heater will be great for as long as it lasts, and I’m very thankful. I’d like to get a wood stove installed this summer, for which the bishop already gave his permission, and there’s an extra benefit of exercise during the summer procuring the wood cut just for that size stove. A flat-top wood stove that isn’t insulated with fire-brick on top (some are, which is crazy), provides heat for cooking, which is nice if ever there’s any meat or fish available. There would be hot water for washing, or just for some tea, or coffee. But if that turns out to be a no-go from the diocesan insurance-czars, a rocket stove might be just the thing, not for heat, but just for cooking, as that, obviously, has to be outside.
  5. Meds: Basically, all pharmaceuticals in the world are made in China, even those in India, which also gets everything from China. For me, I’d have to learn to wean myself off of some meds that I need to live, slowly. I have enough for that process right now. Not that it would work. But heaven is what we want, right?
  6. Defense! In any difficult situations, defense against unjust mortal aggression already being delivered against self or others might well see an uptick. People get nervous, get cabin fever, lose it. Look at the stats just in times of Covid oppression. If you’ve had the wherewithal to enjoy the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, you might want to spruce up Second Amendment tools. When’s the last time, for instance, that you’ve cleaned and oiled up what you hope and pray you never ever have to use? Have you done some target practice, at all? Do you have ammo? Perishable skills perish.
  7. Emergency radio: I used to have one of those windup ultra-super-cheapo type. I was using it a bit in the hermitage when tornadoes were passing over. I forgot to take the batteries out. Sigh. I had to throw it away a couple of years ago and never replaced it. Just wondering if anyone has any advice on such things. I’m not particularly enthused about becoming acquainted with the work (however advanced it is these days), of Hyman, Almy and Murray (H-A-M), early radio guys. But maybe a regular radio would be helpful. We do have a couple of static-ridden stations, with the signal always dropping depending where you are, or if you hold the radio out the window, or move your arms, or pretend you can add wires to whatever useless antenna. But maybe an emergency radio is important. I remember President Trump had a couple of emergency notifications sent to al private cell phones. The first one didn’t work, but the second one did. Dunno how helpful that is if your battery is dead. Batteries in radios last really a lot longer.
  8. Making friends: It’s so important to have good friends, trustworthy neighbors. If you needed some medical help, could you ask them to help? Are you ready to help them? In my neighborhood, about 90% of residents have changed occupancy recently or are doing so right now.
  9. Preparing for those who are unprepared: Let’s take care of the widows and orphans and elderly and sick and those in dire straits. That’s means we have to prepare for them as well.

I’m sure I’m missing a lot here. I’m just starting into this world of preparedness. Perhaps some of you have ideas that any of us might benefit from. Remember the whole of Chapter 31 of Proverbs? I like this verse especially:

  • “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” (Proverbs 31:25)

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