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Is it illegal to trade saved seeds?

Apparently in Pennsylvania it is. The PA Dept of Ag has sent a cease and desist to a seed saving library. This organization would let you “borrow” seeds, if you saved your seeds and returned them at the end of the season. PA says that’s “selling” seeds without a license.


In early June, the Simpson Public Library in tiny Mechanicsburg—the population is just shy of 9,000—received a letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. It seems the library’s seed-exchange program is in violation of the state’s 2004 Seed Act, according to state agriculture officials who require all seed distributors to purchase a license, conduct germination tests on each seed distributed, and maintain copious records of each transaction. Their reasoning is that they want to prevent agroterrorism and the spread of invasive weeds.

Experts say the fallout at the Simpson Public Library is much more certain and immediate: the closure of the seed library altogether.

“Since the library is not able to provide testing services for seeds harvested by its library users, we will not be able to accept harvested seeds as we had originally planned,” reads a message on the library’s website.


32 Hours Without Power, Ice Storm 2014

mrheaterWe just got power back here in SC last night, after being out for 32 hours. Trees and branches down, power lines down, power poles snapped, It’s a real mess out there. About 32 degrees out for the last few days with heavy rains turning to ice on contact. As we pride ourselves on be prepared, how did we score?

  • Food: Plenty of non perishable food, and perishables were stored outside in the cold.
  • Water: Had stocked bottled water for drinking, and filled buckets etc. from the well after firing up a generator once just for that purpose about 70 gallons).
  • Toilets: Had a Joe Jenkins Bucket Toilet set up for us and guests (6 at one point) who had no power or heat.
  • Heat: Two portable propane heaters, and extra 20lb cylinders as well as 1lb cylinders.
  • Cooking: I had installed a propane range a while back, connected to a 20lb cylinder.
  • Light: Candles and LED flashlights. No issues.
  • Hygiene: Heated water on stove for washing up / hobo bath.
  • Communications: replaced cordless phone with wired phone. cell phone backup. used vehicle to charge cell phones and kindle.
  • Entertainment: played games, read books, talked (what a concept)
  • Vehicles had plenty of fuel

No stores open, the whole community was powered down (and much still is).

What would I do differently for next time?

  • Install a small woodstove.
  • 12v battery powered pump on the rain barrel for pressurized water for showering, etc.
  • more card games.
  • bigger ham radio that does not require a local repeater (coming very soon).
  • More rechargeable batteries in a larger variety of sizes (charger has a 12v vehicle adapter).




Survival for the Medically Dependent

Power outages are bad for those with medicines that need refrigeration. An extended outage for folks with Type 1 diabetes and other conditions requires a good generator, a long term fuel source, or other option. Here is one we recommend. A Stirling powered cooler (4 amps @ 12v) can run well off 300 watts of solar (PV) and two Trojan T-105 batteries. No inverter required. Low parts count means little to breakdown, little need for service, increasing reliability, and lowering operating expenses. These units perform better, and use less power than the common Peltier thermo electric models. These are ideal for third world no-grid applications as well. A simple solar power setup to drive this is How to make your own Emergency Power System with appropriate pv and battery upgrades.


This week’s podcast: Organic Gardening and Heirloom Seeds

This week’s podcast talks about various types of gardening, including hydroponics and square foot, and explains terms like heirloom, non-hybrid, non-gmo, and organic. As usual we include links for additional research. Check it out at


How to live on wheat

From the Survivalist blog:

As most of you know, I use wheat for the foundation of my food storage. Wheat is high in protein and gluten, it stores well and is inexpensive compared to other foods suitable for long-term storage.

For example Emergency Essentials (one of our advertisers) offers a complete one year supply of grains and legumes 598 lbs. in thirteen superpails for $519.99. Now compare that to a one year supply of MRE’s from the same vendor priced at $3,599.95. You can package your own grains and save even more.

Where most people run into trouble is when they try to process those grains into food. Food comes from the supermarket, in cans and boxes with instructions printed on the package. But what can you do with a bucket of wheat? Sure you need to grind it, (some times) but then what?

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