I'm starting an experiment

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Akheloce, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. Akheloce

    Akheloce Monkey++

    Effective midnight (Alaska time), I'm shutting off the generator, not using gas or diesel for anything, and I'm going to rely solely on renewable resources. (as if it were several years after SHTF). I realize it's not totally accurate, since I have food and pre-cut (chainsaw) wood, but I'm going to try not to use any of it for a week. We'll see how it goes.

    Keep in mind that this is not like camping for a week, since we all bring supplies with us intended for a weeks' trip. This is a spur of the moment idea, which has not garnered any preparation at all. I have a cabin, I have candles, I have a cross-cut saw, and I have some food available for foraging (I'll try to stay out of the root cellar-except of course for the raspberry wine... gotta have some indulgence):) Additionally, I will use store bought toilet paper in the outhouse... that's one thing in an Alaskan winter you HAVE to prepare for.
  2. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    I was gonna ask you that, btw. Glad you mentioned the toilet paper. The Iraqi's like to squat when they...."go". Anyway, they use water -just....water *somehow* to make it all clean. I imagine that you could use water, but that is almost always a precious resource. I have a question, too. If you stop the generator for a week, will it freeze up or be very difficult to start again? I am very interested in what you are doing, though I would take it slower personally -but then again, I am not the one who lives in Alaska.

    I have to give you credit. Let us know how it goes, because I really do like testing the idea of going completely off grid and just trying to make it without any of our eccentricities.
  3. Akheloce

    Akheloce Monkey++

    Well, since I do have an hour an a half left before the deadline, I guess I can answer thus far. I have a natural spring approximately 1/2 mile from my place that runs year round. That will be interesting, since I've always used my Yamaha Rhino to go get it... this time I'll have to hoof it. Also, I have a significant amount of snow right now I can melt. Without TP, this would be a far more interesting experiment. My property is full of spruce trees which could provide the necessary medium, however, I will not add that dynamic to the experiment.

    To be honest, Brokor, it was your comment about an Alaskan survivalist (in the other thread) that drove me to this decision. I've always thought of myself as such, but I realized that I've always enjoyed the niceties of modern convenience, regardless of my location. This may prove to be an interesting wake-up call.

    I have experienced simulated survival experience in my USAF SERE school, as well as a few short brushes with isolation following unforseen circumstances, but this will be my first that is of such duration without much pre-planning.

    Oh, edit:

    I have a couple of generators. 2 hondas and a Northern lights diesel. None of them have offered any resistance to restart in the cold. In both the Hondas (1000w, and 2500w) I run 5w20 synthetic, and in the NL, I run Rotella T syn. The Hondas both start with 1-2 pulls, even after left for 3-4 weeks at a time. The Northern Lights 8Kw also starts easily, although I've never started it up cold.
  4. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member


    I would say that you are well set, then. seesaw

    I wish you the best, and I really am looking forward to your info. Take pics if you can. Anything will be of highest interest to me.
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    And the rest of us. A "trip report" of staying home, so to say.

    Good luck. The lessons coming out of a test like this will be invaluable.
  6. WestPointMAG

    WestPointMAG Monkey++

    A squatty potty makes a lot less mess in you crack. That is why you pull an infants knees up to there tummy when you hold them over the pot, one sheet of TP and the paperwork is done.
  7. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    +1 awesome ballsy idea spouse&kids????
  8. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    One thing I have set back to cover the longer term needs for TP is a couple yards of brushed cotton material, just like used for cloth diapers, and a bucket. I figure put some water in the bucket with a lid on it and cut the material into patches a bit smaller than handkerchiefs and set them by the latrine. They can be used to wipe then tossed into the bucket (just like a diaper hamper/bucket for cloth diapers) and washed up/boiled every few days or as sems apropriate.
  9. overbore

    overbore Monkey++

    For the diesel gen set, I suggest a standby can of either for the "one week later start attempt". Cheating? yes but limited use will fire it off- just in case. Wally World and parts stores ( as you know). I run two diesels. Overbore
  10. RouteClearance

    RouteClearance Monkey+++

    As a precaution for diesel engines, the best type of starting fluid is WD 40. My 6.2 has a pre-combustion chamber and using either is a no-no. WD 40's propellant is propane. which is safe to use as a starting fluid in all types of diesels.

    I have had to "Hot Start" my 6.2 every day that the temps dipped below 0.

    Another problem using either is that your engine can become dependant on it to start properly. I have seen this happen with heavy equipment in a cold weather envoirnment because of the operators over using the built in either bottles.
  11. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

    So do they become either addicts at that time. [ROFL]Should we contact the DEA at that point or is out of their jurisdiction. [dunno] :lol::lol::lol:

  12. Akheloce

    Akheloce Monkey++

    Well, I survived.

    I left my camera out in my truck at the parking area (trailhead) so I apologize about no pics. I will however give you a little run-down.

    1st of all- it sucked

    Although I live alone, and have done so for a long time, I never realized how much I depend on things like radio, and the internet to have a little human interaction... in addition to regular trips into town for whatever and sometimes to go to work. That was perhaps the biggest issue I had was that I had no one to talk to, or listen to- was great for the first couple of days, but it got old pretty quick.


    Cross-cut saws also really suck when you actually have to depend on them. I've used them before just for a little excercise, or just for the heck of it, but when you depend on using one (by yourself) for ALOT of wood it's a real PITA. Just little things like trying to cut a log on the side of a hill, while it's laying on the ground- saw kept hitting the dirt when I got close to bottom. I used a peavy to roll some of them onto another log where I could, but this was not always possible. Also, you keep having to move the bottom log as you move farther down the main log. The kerf on the cross-cut was pretty thin, so I had a hard time cutting the windblown ones since they would pinch it (almost had to cheat and grab the chainsaw to cut the cross-cut free)- anyone whose cut a lot of firewood with a chainsaw knows what I'm talking about.

    I ended up using a lot of smaller wood for the woodstove, which burns too fast, and would run out (the stuff easy to get around my property) pretty quick after a few weeks.


    Food was more of an issue than I anticipated. I survived, and could have condtinued to, but the lack of variety got old really quick. I went ahead and ate some of the raspberry preserves that I had, since they grow on my property (in the summer) and were renewable year to year. I also renewed my hankering for spruce needles- don't laugh, they're full of vitamin C, and taste like gin and tonic. Makes for a good snack while taking a break from using that damn saw. I set about 30 snares for small game in areas I know them to frequent, but unfortunately, none of them paid off. The normal ratio IIRC from SERE school, is roughly 15 snares set (intelligently) for one successful trapping. Unfortunately none of them payed off. It was unusually cold at -25 to -35 degrees, so the little animals might have been lying low.

    I did see a good size cow moose on the second day walk through my yard. I could have harvested it, and in a real life situation I would have, but it's out of season right now, and I didn't want to poach. I figured, for experiment purposes, it was worth a can of ham, since I'd have had a TON of moose meat in a real life scenario.


    I realized just how much more sleep you get when you don't have the niceties of home. I didn't use anything for light except a couple of candles (cheating I know, but I could have improvised with animal fat). When it gets dark, there's really not a whole lot you can do. Reading tires the eyes under candlelight, and I was so tired from every day gathering firewood.

    I also realized that I need to get a wind-up alarm clock. Normally, who needs an alarm clock in the woods? Well, the woodstove burning out at 6 am woke me up. Typically, this is no big deal, since I would just re-light it and heat the place up pretty quick. Unfortunately this requires matches or a lighter, which I would not have after a while. I re-lit it with tinder and a magnesium firestarter, but even that would wear out after while. It's smarter just to always keep a fire lit. (even in the summer for cooking) Reminds me why southern houses in the past had a "summer kitchen" so it wouldn't roast out the house when cooking with wood.

    Water of course was no problem. Although I would normally grab 55 gallons at a time with my Rhino from the spring, it was no big deal to melt snow for basic hygene and drinking. I have a big stainless stock pot which I keep on top of the woodstove all the time for humidity anyway. I could see it being a PITA in the summertime when you would actually carry the water the 1/2 mile 5 gallons at a time to take a bath, but 5 gallons lasts a long time for just drinking and cooking.

    Well, that sums it up I guess. The biggest problem I had with the whole thing is that you really need someone else with you to help out- an extra hand with some tasks would have really helped. In addition to the company to talk to.

    BTW, the nature of my job is that I get called out every once and awhile for 1-3 weeks. I've never had a problem with the gens starting. I fired up the Honda 2500w for about an hour and the heat off of it in the gen shed heated it up pretty well. The Northern Lights started like a champ as always, never needed go juice.
    Brokor likes this.
  13. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    That's fantastic! I can't wait for some pictures, if you have any to share and cannot post them, just feed them to Photobucket or something and link it. ;)

    The firewood information is very helpful. Typically, as you already know, I am certain -a good stockpile is required, which would be harvested prior to winter, and this will free up time to hunt and do anything else. I am glad that you took it the hard way, because this is a real-life scenario, and perhaps one would find themselves actually doing the same thing; cutting wood, trying to stay warm at night, sleep and wake, prepare food, eat, rinse repeat...

    Also, what kind of food stocks were you using exactly?
  14. Akheloce

    Akheloce Monkey++

    Well, actually when I said I left my camera at my truck, it was at the beginning of the experiment, and I didn't walk back to my truck to get it... sorry. I can however take some pics of my setup and post in a couple of days. My cabin is by no means complete. It's "dried in" and that's pretty much all (insulation open on the walls, no siding, etc) it's a work in progress paid for out of pocket.

    I do have a decent stockpile of wood, but it was all cut with a chainsaw, and I wanted to simulate not having that luxury. In the future, I would have a sizeable stockpile. However, the difficulties of using a cross-cut saw would be just as a pain in the ass in the summer as in the winter. As for food, I really didn't eat that much. I had warm water with a little raspberry preserves for breakfast, some ham (would be moose in real life) with raspberry preserves for dinner, and just snacked on spruce needles during the day. I probably lost about 10 lbs during the week, but I don't have a scale. I could have walked down to the lake to ice fish for trout, but I didn't have the motivation to walk, and auger a hole by hand.

    It was certainly a wake up call for me, as I realize I have a lot more prepping to do. Finding grains (starches) to grow in Alaska on my 5 acre plot will be interesting. Perhaps I should just find a way to store a lot of it, and hope to co-op growing stuff if the S really HTF.
    Brokor likes this.
  15. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    You've added greatly to our knowledge, particularly those of us in the colder climes. Many thanks. Your comments about human contact are food for thought. I, too, have by choice lived alone for most of my life but, like you, I have radio, TV, internet, etc for communication. Lacking all of those, I would have only the voices in my own head to listen to and something tells me that after a few weeks, those head voices would get pretty active.

    I have a lot of land with lots of downed trees and transportable sized limbs but right now, they are all waterlogged from the snow so even though I have the wood, it wouldn't generate enough heat even if I could get it to start burning.

    Great information and a good read. Lots of food for thought. Thanks
  16. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Points that struck me:

    Lack of background noise. - I can see that. I also live alone, but come after lunch, the radio gets turned on.

    No social interactions. - Most of us here have family that would provide a bit of diversion in that sense, as well as chore sharing. Keeping in mind that nearly the same amount of work per person would be needed, some specialization could happen along with the economy of keeping warm from the same amount of fuel. Worth mentioning, I guess, is the forced intimacy in a one room cabin, or tent, or whatever.

    Amount of time spent finding fuel. - This surprised me. Whether the wood pile is added to over a year or done on an as used basis, the same amount of work would go into it overall. I can see that getting it done over the year and having stocks on hand before the forced isolation sets in would be good. Attaboy for trying to keep up without hitting your stores and proving that out. I'm assuming you are firing hard woods rather than soft, and for this test it was rounds rather than splits.

    Boring diet. - That would be tough on me. There was a period in my past where hamburger wore out it's welcome.

    Lack of success with snares. - I guess I know they work, but never tried. Traps do, but: A long time ago, I ran a trap line. Of 60 odd traps, maybe 5 or 6 caught something in a week's time. We were in it for pelts, not meat, a good thing as there wasn't enough meat for a week. Snares and traps are probably not time efficient, especially in winter.

    Water. - This, as always in a survival situation, adds to the work load. A good thing I can stand me for a few days, not so sure that would work with others contributing to the background in the shelter. Laundry becomes an interesting question that I haven't seen addressed here on the forum.

    Crosscut saw? I'm assuming a bow saw rather than a carpenter's saw. Either way, keeping the kerf open sometimes requires a "field expedient" wedge.

    Starting and restarting the fire. - One sure way to find ones self living in a "field expedient" shelter is to build a fire, let it die and restart it continuously. The point about having something to light it with is well taken. Creosote build up in the stack does nothing useful and will get you outside when you least expect it. A cache of emergency supplies for that possibility becomes a requirement. I'm setting up such a supply in the shed that is far enough away from the house that it won't be at risk if the house goes up. (Fire dept isn't that far away, but this place is pretty lightly built. Not to mention some, um, flammable materials.)

    Harvesting the moose. Ok in winter, but how to store the meat come summer?

    Recognizing that you did this at your primary residence rather than an experiment off site, there's no need for too much to be given away with pix. When you get to it is fine, and no need to expose more than needed of your situation and location. (But we'll take whatever we can get, it sounds like an interesting existence from a survival standpoint.)

    Your "on call" job sounds almost interesting --

    Thank you for the report. More than a little food for thought. We would love to see the same experiment in summer, just for the different insights.
  17. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

    I don't know what part of Alaska your in but from what I have read there is a good bit of grain grown in the Delta Juction area. On story that I read a man grew oats up in Circle area as well. Oats and rye would be the likely two that would be the best for you to grow given you climate, unless your up in the Brooks Range or some place like that. In that case good luck. ;) Rye is much easier to thresh than oats.

  18. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

    One thought on the firewood situation. I too have come to relize that cutting firewood with a crosscut saw is just going to suck. Yes I don't have as much as you do to cut but I have to cut oak and hickory which is much harder to cut than the softer woods you have up there. Here is what DW and I are going to build.


  19. Akheloce

    Akheloce Monkey++

    Sorry been a while on returning to thread... my internet access schedule is irregular.

    As for the wood thing, just about the only type in my area is Spruce, so it's easy cutting (relatively) and mediocre for splitting- knotty. It also burns pretty fast. There's a few stands of Birch within a few miles, but not practical to get without a vehicle. I also have a fair amount of alder, but it's really wet, takes a long time to dry, and is small enough in diameter to burn too quickly. Besides, with all of the beetle-kill spruce on my lot, it's worth it to me to utilize as much as possible. The cross-cut saw I have is an old style 5-6 foot saw that has an adjustable handle on the top of the blade for 1 or 2 man use. It was just pretty unweildly to use alone, but doable. I'm sure that a big part of my problem was being a little mal-nourished, and feeling kinda weak after a day or two.

    As for the woodstove, I have a friend with a chimney sweep who gathers a few guys up every year, and goes to several cabins in the area to help clean the stacks.

    What I've been doing for laundry, is taking my nice clothes and work clothes to the laundro-mat, and just using a tub and water for my "cabin" clothes. I have a rack by the stove for drying. As this cabin is always a work in progress, I do have plans for a washer-dryer, but first things first, like getting some siding up :) I've been looking at some of the units at www.absak.com . They are like a one-stop shop for remote cabin living.

    The meat storage is an interesting one... I assume the ability to smoke and dry meat, and keep it in a root cellar (which stays about 35-45 degrees year round). Not a perfect solution, but I'll give it a shot eventually. Salt is also readily available since I'm only a couple of miles from the ocean, but that my be time consuming as well.

    I certainly have a lot of work to do. I'm just a couple years into this remote cabin project- from raw land purchase. Bit by bit, I'll have it better set up- some fruit bearing trees, a root cellar, a well, more off-grid home appliances, etc.

    Oh, and the job- I'm an aircrewman for the Air National Guard... I'm a "traditional" which means that I'm only obligated to the one weekend a month, etc, but they call me in pretty frequently to take trips that last from a couple of days to a few weeks. I use it as my primary source of income since I'm single and debt free.
  20. Akheloce

    Akheloce Monkey++

    Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I'm several hundred miles south of the interior- I live in a coastal mountain area.

    I know of a few in the area who grow limited quantities of grains, but I doubt it's reliable enough to live on- more of a hobby. I'll just have to build up stores for the time being.
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