Quick Gardening Poll

Have you ever had a garden?

Roma Tomatoes

Seedlings in Peat Pods - SOTS

Have you started your garden yet?

Spring has arrived!

Peat pods seed tray - SOTSSo what does that mean? It means it’s time to start our gardens! Are you as excited as I am? I hope so! I am really excited because it’s not only time to start the garden, it’s time to start an all-new garden. Last fall, my family and I moved into our new place so this is going to be a new and fresh start for us. We are going to be starting from scratch so it’ll be a little bit of extra work. The first setup is always a little tougher. We are fortunate in that there are fruit trees here that are already producing. Most of them look about 3 to 6 years old, so that is definitely a plus! We don’t have to wait 5 or so years for the first fruit to come in. There are apple, pear and cherries and one of the cherry trees is probably 20 to 30 years old. It’s pretty big. Everything else is the younger stuff. As for the varieties? We don’t know yet, haven’t gotten that far.

Other than the trees, we have found one rhubarb plant, 3 blueberry bushes and a few garlics. So as far as the gardening is concerned, we’re working with a pretty blank slate. It’s gonna be fun!

So what are we doing?

Seedlings in Peat Pods - SOTSWe have decided that we’re going to install at least 3 raised beds as our main garden. They will measure 3 feet by 12 feet each and will be a foot deep.That should give us plenty of planting space, especially if we are doing intensively managed Square Foot Gardening. We’re getting them in a little bit late, but I think it’ll be fine. We already have a bunch of seedlings started indoors so we’re good. About four weeks ago, I planted (let’s test my memory):

Read moreHave you started your garden yet?

Leading by Example

Why do we try to change those around us? Whether we are doing so because we are close to them and love them and therefore want the best for them or we are trying to just get them into our camp, to get them on our side. Why do some many of us push and push instead of just showing others what can be done by doing it ourselves? Why do we not lead by example more and push less? If we really want people around us to follow our example, especially those we love, that is exactly what we should be doing.

Just show people what can be done

If I want to show how much your life can improve by becoming more self-reliant, I need to live a more self-reliant lifestyle, wouldn’t you say? When I go out to my garden and harvest all the greens and vegetables that we are going to eat that night, that action says more than if I were to just come down on someone for depending too much upon the food system. If we have friends over and they ask why our vegetables taste so much better than what they get at the grocery store, I can tell them that it’s because we grow them. Not only do we just grow them, we grow them for the nutrition and flavor, and not just to withstand weeks of transportation like commercial growers do. We grow them for our benefit, not solely for profit. I can also tell them how they can do it too. I can show them some good ways to start out and tell them of other benefits of producing at least some of what they eat.

Read moreLeading by Example


When something breaks, could you fix it?

Is that a strange question? If something in your house breaks, big or small, major or minor, could you fix it? Whether you could actually fix it or not, would you even try? Maybe that’s the question right there: would you try?

Do you try to fix something or do you “call a guy” to fix it?

I think this has to do with mindset just as much as skill, maybe more so. You may not know what you’re doing when the heating element goes out in your clothes dryer, but if you have the mindset of “I’m gonna damn well figure it out,” well, you’re probably gonna damn well figure it out. Especially in a time like today. You don’t even have to go down to the library to look up how to do something. Anything you could ever want to know has found its way onto the internet; from how to install a water heater to how to refinish a dining room table to how to build the table in the first place! The knowledge is out there and it is more accessible than ever before in the history of man. You just need to know where to look (which is not very hard) and you have to actually look for the information. Yes, you have to want to find it. You may laugh or think I’m being facetious, but I’m not. I know people that will use not knowing where to look for information as an excuse not to do something. Really? Type anything into any search engine and you will find something! Even if it’s not exactly what you’re looking for, it’s probably moving you in the right direction.

“I tried and it’s a no-go!”

So you tried it and you can’t figure it out. Well, you tried, you took whatever apart to get into it, but you either got stuck, you don’t have the tools you need, it’s just too complicated or dangerous and you

Read moreWhen something breaks, could you fix it?

Letting go of our biases

What would happen if people would let go of their preconceived ideas when analyzing a new thought, idea or thing?

I know we all have our own ideas and experiences that act as a filter through which we see everything else. Kind of like a filter in front of the lens on a camera, it changes how we will see the image when the picture is taken. The same is true with our preconceived notions and how they affect the way we will see an idea. And this is especially true for new ideas.

What if we could train ourselves to look at new ideas without that filter? To look at the pros and cons of an idea with a more open mind before dismissing it? Of course, preconceived ideas and experiences can be a good thing. If I jump off my roof and break my leg, I will most likely think about that experience if someone were to say “hey, we should go up on the roof and jump off.” That’s where it can be good. That’s not being stupid, especially if you’ve already done it and it turned out not so great. That’s not really what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about hearing or seeing something or an idea and skewing what it could become based on your biased view and not really seeing the idea for what it really is.

What got me thinking about this was a commenter on one of my posts – How can we change anything? The person basically missed the whole point of the post which was enacting change in things that you don’t like, whether in your own life or in your community. And if not changing something,

Read moreLetting go of our biases

Rights of the Individual

“Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.  I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”

~ Thomas Jefferson ~

Statue of Liberty
Lady Liberty
Gasoline can closeup

How do I store fuel?

Today, I wanted to explore some different options for fuel storage. There are 101 reasons to store the fuels that you would normally rely on, which, now that I think about, would include firewood, pellets and coal. If you rely on wood or coal heat to get you through the winter, by all means, you should be storing plenty. I am going to go out on a limb and say that 99% of you already know that. I wanted to get into fuels of the more liquid variety.

So what kinds of fuels do you use?

  • Home heating oil – No. 2 heating oil
  • Gasoline
  • Diesel
  • Kerosene
  • Propane

How much do you rely on these different fuels?

Heating Oil Tank
Residential heating oil tank

Does your home require heating oil? If it does, how big is your oil tank? How long can you heat with oil before you need to have the tank refilled? If fairly large, you may not have to worry about this. If it is a smaller tank, you may have to weigh your options. Would it make more sense to buy a bigger tank? Or just know that you will be refilling it more often?

The same goes for heating with propane. If you have a 330 gallon tank, you may fill it 2 or 3 times in a winter, depending on the load. With a 1,000 gallon tank, you’re probably going to be fine.

So what does your vehicle run on?

Let’s start with gasoline: It’s a good idea to store extra

Read moreHow do I store fuel?

Why do I do this?

So I wanted to explain why I am doing this. Why did I set up SickoftheSystems.com and start writing about the systems and what we can do to lessen our overall dependence on them? The simple answer is that I want to help people.

I want to help people look at things a little differently than they have been told to do so. I want to give people hope in their own lives that they’re not stuck, that they don’t have to be a part of the systems as much as they are and that some systems can be thrown out altogether. There are ways around them, there are ways through them. We may still have to work within them for certain things, but we don’t have to bow down and take whatever is thrown at us.

Another reason is that it helps me. It gives me a chance to get things off my chest, things that otherwise I would haul around. It gives me a voice that can be heard by more than my wife, coworkers, city council, etc. Call it a form of therapy?   That sounds about right. It also gives me hope that other people think the way I do. Having thoughts about how things could be or should be can be pretty depressing if you think that you’re the only one thinking them. The fact that others know that there are better ways out there gives me hope and should give you hope for this great country of ours.

I also want this to become a community of ideas. Each one of us have our own ideas about different things; what works, what doesn’t, how this should be handled, how that could be rectified. We all have tons of ideas and this should be a place that we can put some of those ideas to work, to get them out in front of more people and see what happens.

Read moreWhy do I do this?

Garden in July

What systems are you dependent upon?

And how dependent are you on them?

These are a couple of questions you should ask yourself and try to answer honestly. Even if you don’t like the answer. If you ask yourself these questions and figure out which systems that you and your family are reliant upon, then you know where to start working if you would like to be less dependent on them and more dependent on yourself. In other words, be more self-sufficient and self-reliant.

So what systems are you dependent on? If you are like most of us, you are dependent on most, if not all, of them to one degree or another. That isn’t anything to worry about though. Not really. What is more important is how much you are dependent on them. For a list of The Systems, go back to What Are The Systems and take a look. Read through them and jot down which ones you rely on. It’s not a 100% complete list so if you can think of anymore, write those down too. And maybe comment on that post letting me know what I might have missed.

Read moreWhat systems are you dependent upon?

Blackout! How you deal without power

There you are in the bathroom, brushing your teeth and getting ready to turn in for the night. Your wife is already in bed reading her book. And then, without warning, the lights go out. With a mouth full of toothpaste, you poke your head out of the bathroom and look in your wife’s general direction as if she just killed the breakers from her cozy spot in bed. So it’s 10:30 PM and the whole neighborhood just went dark, what do you do?

First, you would probably grab a flashlight (that is hopefully handy and the batteries aren’t 12 years old) and go check the breakers to see if it’s just your house or not. If those look good, on to step two – calling your power company. Hopefully their number is saved in your phone or posted near the house phone so you don’t have to search for it. The power company is probably very aware of the situation already, but give them a call anyway and let them know that your power is out so you’re “on the list.” Or in the count, at least. Do this while you’re on your way to get your Blackout Kit.

Read moreBlackout! How you deal without power

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