Nathan Watson

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since Oct 05, 2018
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Recent posts by Nathan Watson

Sometimes the absolute cheapest lots aren't listed through realtors at all. If a piece of land sells for $2000, for example, it just doesn't make sense to have a realtor waste their time with it. If the land isn't listed with a realtor, then it isn't going to be on any real estate websites such as Zillow or

For sellers that aren't going through a realtor, Craigslist is the logical place to list their properties for sale. You'll find all kinds of listings on Craigslist that aren't posted anywhere else. This is where almost all real estate gets listed that doesn't have a realtor selling it. Sometimes experienced house flippers and real estate investors/developers also use Craigslist to hawk directly to the public and cut out the middleman.

In Christmas Valley OR, for example, the cheapest lot on Zillow is $6500 whereas the cheapest lot on Craigslist is only $2000 (with the option to make payments on that!).  

A word of caution about Craigslist, it's buyer beware on there. There can be tax liens, old mortgage liens, all sorts of problems, fraud, etc. and novice buyers may be better off working with a realtor as their buyers agent to protect them from these sorts of things.
4 months ago

Craig Conway wrote:Hello from Maine

I have a question about buying and storing food.

Cheap, and "just in case" of a social catastrophe, like a 3 month supply.

I wonder what to buy, what to use for storing, what to avoid, and any tips

Right now we have a 3 month supply of spring water stored in 5 gallon "Poland Spring" style jugs. They are in the basement out of the Sun light and covered in plastic (to avoid dust).

We are going to buy 3,000 rounds of ammo (small bore)

And we'd dig a 3 month supply of food

Hey you never know what might happen ! Why stand in a long line and pay twice as much when you could have been prepared ?

I'm assuming canned food is the ticket, I heard it's good for years, but honestly I don't know much about it. I heard there are some cans to avoid because of the liner being toxic () I don't know anything LOL, I am a computer repair guy!


Some people have already brought up the idea of storing dry beans and rice. I would add that lentils actually have an advantage over beans in that they cook faster. It's 20-30 minutes for lentils, VS an hour for beans. In my opinion beans actually taste better, but lentils are far more convenient. Especially if you're cooking without power. Lentils have just as much protein as beans do.

Winco sells food grade storage buckets.

Always store beans, rice, and lentils in a spot that's not too hot in summer. An attic is a terrible place for them. They'll get rock hard, take a long time to cook and never really cook very well. Also avoid damp places in winter where they would mold.

Definitely whatever you do don't forget lots of salt. It's often demonized as bad for you, but the truth is, if we didn't have modern supply chains and lived off the land, our diets would be severely lacking in salt, more so than any other mineral.  
4 months ago
You might want to consider Christmas Valley, OR. I went there myself in search of a homestead place and know quite a bit about it. I spent about 1-2 weeks visiting there talking to locals and exploring the area.

You can get a piece of land there for $2000 to $10,000. I even know some people there who financed a piece of land in that price range, if I remember right their payment was around $200 a month with very little down. There are options like this on Craigslist and Zillow right now.

Lake County technically has building codes but they don't seem to enforce them. There are unpermitted RV's and tiny homes everywhere, driving around the highway you'll see more obviously unpermitted dwellings than those which appear to be permitted. How long it will be like this I can't tell you for sure. When I talked to the locals, I learned that Lake County recently hired a code enforcement officer. But if they do start enforcing codes, your neat and tidy off grid home won't be the first they come after. There are some really dumpy properties there full of trashed RV's, abandoned mobile homes, even burned out mobiles, etc. and they'll have a lot of other people to go after before they maybe even think about knocking on your door. Locals also tell me that code enforcement will be much more strict along the major highways, and if you buy property that's hidden from the highways they're more likely leave you alone.

There are certain unavoidable risks when you simply choose to ignore the building codes because they don't seem to be enforced. I can't promise they'll leave you alone forever. But you will definitely have "safety in numbers" in an area like this where off grid dwellings are very common. I know you said you want a "legal dwelling". Well, we all prefer to not have to worry about code enforcement, and to be able to get insurance and all that, but you might have to compromise somewhere.

There will be challenges. This area is a desert. Winters are cold, down to the 20's or colder. There is constant wind. If you disturb the soil, you'll be eating dust, but otherwise the place isn't really a dust bowl. Like most deserts the soil is alkaline which will limit what plants you can grow.

Water will be a consideration.  There are no rivers or creeks, the water just drains down into lakes instead. If you're lucky you might even find land with a natural lake on it already, there's your water source. I wouldn't drink any surface water in the area. If you have to drill a well it won't need to be deep as there is a good water table, but that will still cost you some money. You can also fill up water containers at the Water District in the town, for 5 cents a gallon on the honor system. You can legally irrigate 1 acre per homestead/house using well water.

Your firewood options are limited. There are a few Junipers here and there. No public lands real close that I'm aware of. Whatever gets harvested takes them a long time to grow back in the desert. Sagebrush wood burns really fast and won't last long. You'll definitely need a truck to drive to the mountains if you're serious about harvesting firewood.

Christmas Valley is a small town with a gas station, dollar general, some small expensive grocery options, some local stores selling car parts, hardware and agricultural supplies.

Ultimately I haven't moved there... yet. I'm in a worse financial position than you and have some other options to look into for now. But maybe for your situation it might work out. I would also be happy to answer any questions you or anyone else might have about homesteading in the area.

Robert Tiller wrote:I don't know if this is the best place to put this but I just need ideas to help me escape this bind before it is too late. I need a few acres of land that could be built on legally in the future as my finances develop.

I'm 23 and live on my own, I moved out of a bad family situation at the age of 18, was homeless but for now rent a room. I've saved around 10,000 dollars, I have no debt but don't really have credit either. I occasionally see chunks of land float around within the price range but there's always something critically wrong with it such as it being wetlands, landlocked, illegal to build on, contaminated or various other nightmarish things I could never fix in my financial situation. I understand that anything I could afford is guaranteed to be very low quality, almost completely non arable desert, that would bring very limited payout in terms of homesteading (For something like that at least a greenhouse is an option) but I will take whatever I can realistically get. I have watched all those land websites (landwatch zillow etc) and it has been very fruitless. I tried calling logging and mining companies to see if they ever sell off land after they strip it and all told me no or give per acre prices (and minimum quantities to buy) so high it is impossible.

I don't know how long I'll be able to maintain my current rent situation, I rent a room and part of a greenhouse on a farm but the relationship with me and the home owners are extremely strained. And I'm starting to suffer serious burnout and fatigue from the stress and working too many hours, I really don't know how long I can take it.

4 months ago
What's interesting about cats is that their common tabby patterns are likely a reflection of the fact they were never fully domesticated.

When an animal is domesticated, it undergoes genetic changes where the neural crest never fully develops. A domesticated animal never reaches full adulthood in terms of its survival instincts. It has less instinctive fearfulness than its ancestors did. You can walk right up to a cow that's had little human interaction in its life - try that with a wild bison and it will either run or attack you.

The neural crest also controls development of coloration patterns on an animal. When domesticated animals have large patches of one color (think: cats, pitbulls, mixed breed dogs, cattle, pigs), this is a result of a neural crest that was never fully developed. They weren't specifically bred for those color patches, the patches happen because of domestication.

Some researchers bred wild Foxes for the tame behavior of a domestic animal and discovered that domestication caused them to lose their camouflage stripes and instead have solid blotches of different colors, even though this isn't what they were bred for.

A few dog breeds such as Huskies still retain the appearance of their wild ancestors but most do not.

Interestingly, cats are the only domesticated species where they still often retain the camo appearance of their wild ancestors. A tabby cat looks pretty much the same as a bobcat, just a bit smaller and slightly different ears. This is probably because cats were never fully domesticated. They must be raised around humans from birth to ever be tame household pets. Cats that are raised only by their mothers will turn back into wild animals, and can even fend for themselves as feral animals in some environments. They are an invasive species in Australia.

Cats are not, and have never been, a fully domesticated species. Our ancestors welcomed having cats around to deal with their rodent problems. They preferred cats that were such good mousers that they needed little or no food. Cats weren't just fluffy pets for purring in your lap, they had a job to do.

So perhaps that tabby cat you have, looks like a Bobcat because it actually is still a Bobcat to some extent. It isn't an animal that's been bred to full domestication, and it trusts you only because it was raised around humans from birth.

This raises a question - Are tabby cats less tame than other cats? I'm not sure anyone has ever researched this question. I know one of the best cats I ever had was a tabby cat, so I'm leaning towards no.

5 months ago

Jim Aldridge wrote:If you were designing a homestead in a way to save money as the costs of groceries increase, what would you focus on? I know that certain items, like eggs, are cheap enough in the store that you can buy them about as easily as you can produce them. What are the animals and vegetables that can be produces on a homestead that will actually make the process make the most sense from an economic perspective?

You'll do best with things like fruits and vegetables. They're relatively easy to grow, yet they cost quite a lot in the grocery store.  This is because the logistics of harvesting a crop and getting it to the store before it spoils in 1-2 weeks for many crops adds to the expense. They must be properly stored at the right temperature and humidity. You've got fuel, labor, and other costs all along the supply chain that go into the final price of the product. Unfortunately many grocery stores also view produce as a way to bring in revenue with inflated prices, not a low-profit item to bring shoppers in the door.  

With fruits and vegetables you've got a product that is relatively cheap and easy for the farmer to grow at the point of production, and easy for yourself to grow, yet quite expensive for you to buy at the store. So this is where you really come out ahead.

Raising your own animal products such as eggs might not be quite the inflation-beating bargain you'd think it is. It takes many pounds of feed moved through the supply chain to produce one pound of eggs in your own henhouse. By the time you've paid for all those costs of buying the food at the farm store, and the logistics of getting it there, you're almost better off just buying eggs that come from a centralized location where they buy feed by the truckload. Smaller animals such as goats, sheep, small pig breeds, and chickens are more practical for the farmer who only wishes to feed their own family, although if you aren't growing food for your livestock you've still got that issue of having to buy food for them. One cow can produce 8 gallons of milk a day, or 400 Lbs of meat.  What you'd do with all that milk or meat would have to be determined.

Staple crops such as wheat, barley, and dry beans aren't very practical to grow at home from an economic perspective. You can't compete with the efficiency of machines that plant or harvest a whole field in a day. So as long as we're talking about 10% inflation, not a true SHTF scenario, then staple grains aren't something you'd really need to be growing.
6 months ago

John C Daley wrote:
"If you get a longer loan term, the compulsory payments are lower, and yes you will pay more money over time, COMPARED WITH A SHORT TERM LOAN, if you ran to the end of a 30 year loan.

When people calculate the interest cost of real estate, they often don't account for inflation. 20 years ago, the minimum wage in my state was $6.50 an hour... now nobody is willing to work for less than $15 an hour. A person making double the minimum wage 20 years ago would have been making $13 an hour then, and would be making $30 an hour now. If that person had taken out a mortgage 20 years ago, the payment in today's dollars would be very, very little financial pain. On a long enough time scale, inflation will wipe out your debts just as much as your hard work in paying down the principal. A 30 year mortgage isn't actually 30 years of financial pain, it's really only about 15 years and then it becomes much less of a financial burden.

I also believe a once in a lifetime home buying opportunity may be around the corner. Rising interest rates makes it difficult to buy a house, which will eventually cause prices to drop substantially. The monthly payments on any new mortgage are quite high with 6% interest rates. Eventually the price of houses will come way down because people just can't afford to buy.  

So the ideal move would be to buy a house 1 to 2 years from now, when prices are low and interest rates are high. You just deal with the financial pain and buy whatever you can make the payments on right now. Then in 3-5 years when inflation is less of a concern and the Fed lowers interest rates, you refinance the house at much lower interest rates. At this point you owe very little on the house you bought for cheap, and you're not making very high monthly payments on it either. Then inflation continues to chip away at what little you still owe on the house and you've really got it made.

6 months ago

Anne Miller wrote:

Nathan said, "If your water contains pathogens, then you need some sort of a filter which removes all solid materials from the water. This is used for water than comes out of dirty creeks and rivers.

Does the $20.00 filter remove pathogens?

Does the water still need to be boiled to remove parasites?

Can you give an example of this $20.00 filter?  

A picture or maybe an Amazon link?

The water will not have to be boiled. Here is an example of an approximately $20 filter that can be purchased that does all this and takes up very little space in a backpack:

And yes, this simple model removes the pathogens you're typically concerned with. The listing says that "It can filter out particulates as well as bacteria and protozoa like Giardia and Cryptosporidium, but not viruses. It works in many configurations. "

Pump filters such as this are slow and take a lot of time and patience.

There are other types of filters besides those with a pump. Gravity feed purifiers are especially handy because you can set them up and walk away, then come back later when the filtering is done.

REI has put together a pretty good list all all the different types of water purifiers and filters that are available and the pros and cons of each. Their page also links some gravity feed filters.

6 months ago
There are really 2 different types of water purification discussed in this post which are used to purify different 2 types of water.

If your water contains pathogens, then you need some sort of a filter which removes all solid materials from the water. This is used for water than comes out of dirty creeks and rivers.

If your water comes from the ocean, then you need desalination. This is when you remove the salt from the water. It's a complicated process, and it always requires an energy input. Desalination is completely unnecessary for water that comes out of a creeks or rivers.

Most preppers would have little interest in desalination as a technique for getting water when SHTF. Unless your bugout plan is to go to an ocean beach somewhere that's also a desert, it's going to be much easier to just find a freshwater source such as a creek, than to try and desalinate ocean water. For homesteading/gardening, desalination isn't of much use either. Unless you happen to live very close to the ocean, your available water source isn't going to require desalination.

Just a simple, $20 portable filter that fits in a backpack is really all you need. It's slow, you need a lot of patience and a lot of time, but it gets the job done if you need drinkable water while camping outdoors.

C. Nygren wrote:Howdy Yall,

With the multiple water treatment facility failures in the news I was digging into water purification/desalination and came across some interesting papers I thought I'd share here.

Yoon et. al. (2022) have now started field studies for a filterless desalinator! From what I've read it was designed to run off a little ($50) solar panel and only weighs 10kg. Looks like it currently only produces about .3L/hour, but with with additional solar panels and a battery backup that would be 7.2 Liters/day while off-grid. From related articles and interviews it sounds like the researchers are intending to create a desalination kit that would be available to consumers, likely at a reasonable cost as they target low-income families in coastal nations. While a bit too heavy for hiking, it sounds like it would be great for bugout vehicles and off-grid structures with access to non-potable water sources.

Guo et. al. (2022) looks further from market, but is more intriguing imo. Its a gel film that essentially acts like a powerless dehumidifier, just pulling water from the air but with no electricity! And its not just for the humid swamps, one report was saying that 1kg of the gell could pull 6L/day in humidities lower than 15%, and 13L/day with humidities up to 30%. In interviews the researchers are envisioning this gel as (eventually) available in hardware stores. Now it looks like the gel has to be heated to release the water, and the lifespan of the material hasn't been reported yet, but I still think its exciting.

At the moment I'm mostly geared for distillation over an open flame. What are yall's favorite current and future potential methods for water deslination/purification?

Yoon, et. al. (2022) 'Portable Seawater Desalination System for Generating Drinkable Water in Remote Locations'. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2022, 56, 10, 6733–6743 (Sadly there is a paywall).

Guo, el al. (2022) 'Scalable super hygroscopic polymer films for sustainable moisture harvesting in arid environments'. Nature Communications volume 13, Article number: 2761 (No Paywall!).

6 months ago

Sam Benson wrote:
I'm wondering if anyone has ever done this or know anyone who has. Or if you have done wilderness survival, what is the least amount of stuff you had with? I realize that location and season would play a big role in whether this would even be possible. Curious to see your replies!

Surviving in the wilderness for one night isn't exactly challenging unless you're in an environment with extreme cold. You're just living off stored body fat. The real question is whether you can forage or catch enough calories to not eventually starve and to keep your strength up for multiple days.

I've experimented with eating various different plants that can be foraged, even tried eating large quantities of them.  Here are some of the best sources of food.  Everything on this list should be boiled and leached. Leaching means you change the water at least once to remove bitter flavors etc.)

Cottonwood leaves (high in protein. I've eaten up to about 2 cups of cottonwood leaves at a time, which cause very mild heart palpitations for me. For this reason I don't exceed this amount. Generally considered edible. Use caution and start with a small amount. )
Old Man's beard (high in calories. Requires extensive leaching for 1-2 hours and changes of water to get the bitterness out)
Pine bark (just the edible, soft inner portion. Not the woody part. Not  all species are considered edible)
Miner's lettuce (seasonal, regional)
Fresh Maple leaves (broadleaf maple is what I've eaten. Not all species considered edible. Wilted maple leaves are poisonous)

Now whether or not you can actually live on this, and how comfortably/satiated you'll be, is somewhat of an open question. I've done some experimenting and found that this things actually can make the hunger go away for a matter of hours or half a day. I'll admit I sometimes caved at the end of the day due to lack of willpower. It takes time and patience, you need to start thinking about your meal hours before you're hungry because all this stuff must be boiled. Eat before you're even hungry because it takes a while for the calories to digest.

Either way this kind of diet is at best a starvation diet. There are few indigenous cultures on Earth that have ever survived on any sort of exclusively vegetarian diet. One particular Native American tribe did eat pine bark as an actual dietary staple, and were ridiculed for it by their neighbors. Most indigenous tribes and cultures around the world certainly preferred to include meat in their diets and don't actually live on this sort of food.

For this to ever work you must consume large portions of everything, up to what you can stomach. Just keep eating. Eat as soon as your stomach isn't full, before you're even hungry. Most of what you're eating is fiber that will just pass through. What you do digest will take hours to give you energy. With borderline edibles you must mix stuff up so you're not eating too much of any one plant source.

Unfortunately, I had to travel for work and am still travelling at this time. I was never able to finish my experiment with trying to live on this sort of food. I will post updates when I'm able to. I hope this serves as a starting point and provides some options to explore edibles and this possibility. I think you could at least survive on various boiled plant leaves and bark.
6 months ago
Another important consideration that would help answer this question is how much water will you have available during the growing season?

Riparian trees tend to have the fastest growth potential and the most efficient use of sunlight. Their metabolism is adapted to breathe in lots of CO2 from the air and guzzle water in the process, not to conserve water. Riparian trees can often grow 3+ feet per year in good conditions. That's not a coppiced tree with established roots, that's the growth rate of a sapling.  Trees adapted for dryer locations, such as pines, can never match the growth rate of riparian trees.

On a small lot, you'll want to get as much food and fuel out of limited amount of acreage that you have. With sufficient water, including some riparian species will allow just that. Most riparian trees such as Alder are considered hardwood, but they will not burn as long as oak or madrone.

I would start by examining your local rivers and seeing what grows there. Many aquatic species are very easy to clone, sometimes just by sticking them in water. Anything growing locally will be well adapted to your local climate.

Cottonwood is an often overlooked source of food if you're willing to eat tree leaves as opposed to a garden variety vegetable. The leaves of most species are considered edible after boiling. They taste like green beans and are very high in protein. I cooked up well over a cup of them once and ate them. It does best in sandy soil but can also grow in clay type soil. Anything other than rocks.

Many aquatic species such as alder and cottonwood also fix nitrogen in their roots, just like legumes. They're great for making organic compost, especially when you don't have an external source.

Another of these fast growing riparian trees to consider growing is the Lawson's Cypress. (Here in Oregon, it's called a Port Orford Cedar if it grows in the wild near creeks). They're absolutely beautiful, very lush looking and deep green, they grow 3 feet per year, and they form a dense canopy making perfect habitat for birds.  They're also good shade trees with their dense canopy and will help lower cooling costs in summer. They're will grow in your climate zone.
8 months ago