Loading wood on the front porch, dodged a frost and shopping lists

October 28, 2014

The new wood rack is filled up to the top with elm and I got four of the big party buckets  filled with mill ends sitting on the front porch for the wood stove. The wood rack has turned into one of the best $20.00 I have spent this year. It makes stacking the wood easier, the porch stays a lot cleaner looking and organized. A huge bonus is I can keep more than a few days worth of wood close without venturing out in nasty weather.  I’m getting the main wood pile stack sort of finished up.  Dad sort of dumped some of the elm when I could not keep up with stacking it. I don’t blame him as cutting and splitting the wood was a lot of work and he needed to get rid of the wood in his trailer and truck bed.  So I’m using my little garden cart to haul the wood that is not stacked up to the porch and the wood rack.  I have almost enough room now that I can finish stacking that last bit of dumped wood properly.

Impressions of burning the elm so far compared to the fruit woods I used last year.  Elm seems a bit “dirtier” at least looking at wood stove’s glass window,  I need to clean it more often compared to the fruit woods. I do have a lot of ash but that is not such a bad thing if I can make a leaching barrel for lye to make soap. It seems that the elm last longer than the fruit woods for a long slow burn. I put a couple of smaller logs on last night and I still had warm coals to start the morning fire after nine hours. Using elm seems to be easier for me to maintain a more normal temp. in the house compared to last year. Of course that could be due to fact I have more experience on how to load the wood stove rather than the wood itself.  As far as the smell of elm burning it seems fairly neutral to me. I would not use it for smoking meats,  then again I would not use pine or fir to smoke food so I thing that complaint is sort of a wash. Save your good hardwoods for smoking meats and burn that elm to heat your home if you can get it cut and split for a reasonable price.

It has been a warm and dry fall so far in the Treasure Valley but the first frost warning happened last night and it will get cool and rainy this weekend. Time to finish up the harvest of vegetables and start getting them processed. I’m going to dehydrate the tomato skins and celery this year.  Thank you Sci-Fi Chick for sharing that knowledge! I will ask my sister to stop by on Thursday and have a day of getting as much of the tomatoes picked as we can get and then I can finish up Saturday whatever is leftover. My sister absolutely loves Fried Green Tomatoes so she will have a good harvest of those and the rest can ripen on the counter.  The grapes will be ready to pick so we will have some late fruits and I’m going to try freezing them and then make some juice, wines and vinegar this winter. I’m not a big grape jelly fan as you can tell.

Huzzah! I found the ladder I want to buy and it is on sale this week.  It’s one of those multifunction ladders so it should cover most of my needs as it is a 17 foot ladder and can fold into about an 8 foot A-frame type ladder along with making two shorter step ladders for painting and stuff around the house.  A bit more expensive than what I originally planned to spend but the extra functions and the higher 300 pound safety rating makes it a better buy.  I bought a 50 pound bag of malted barley today and will get some wheat for beer making next month. I made an Amber ale last night and it is bubbling away and I want to start a black ale and Amber lager this week if I can fit it in with all of the other projects. With the Holidays coming up I need to get busy on making my adult beverages. Paul’s grocery store has some good buys on pork and Walgreen’s has a sale on candy for Halloween I want to stock up on.

Other than that, not too much is happening. I turned the big compost pile added water and started a new pile as the big pile is getting a little hard for me to turn over. November is shaping up to be a busy month for cleaning up the yard and setting things up for next spring. Overall I have a very positive feeling for next year’s experiments for the yard and garden.  While the busted water main threw a big monkey wrench in my plans for 2014.  I ‘m sort of hoping the house is running out of things to break and surprise me.  I think the last major thing I need to do for the house is install a new roof.  While replacing a roof is not cheap I think it is doable in 2015 if things stay somewhat normal. By then I will have paid off the wood stove and built up my solar panel/AGM battery inventory so I can start saving on electric costs.  Prepping is just like eating an elephant, just one bite at a time!


Bug out Vehicle/camping setup

October 26, 2014

I added quite few things this year to my bugout/camping setup in order to use the Kia Minivan as a Bugout vehicle rather than just relying on the RV as my BOV. One reason is fuel economy, I can get a lot further away using the minivan compared to RV based on fuel mileage alone. Another consideration is the minivan offers a better chance at blending in compared to the RV.  Lets face it if things get bad the RV will probably look more like a target to others, where as a minivan is the vehicle of choice of “Soccer Moms” everywhere.

I keep a lot of small items in the mini van at all times because of there are plenty of little drawers and cubby holes that can hold many items that are just always great to have available. Some of the newer minivans have in-floor storage which is very handy. I have a few items I keep in the minivan at all times for emergencies. In the small glove box I keep a 12volt USB adapter and extra cable so I can recharge my kindle or my cell phone. I have a small fold up solar panel and a wind up flashlight with adapter for additional charging options. I keep a ball cap with a clip on flashlight for working hands free in the dark in the CD case drawer. Under the driver’s seat I have quilted wool shirt and snuggie for keeping warm if I get stuck in a snow storm or just slide off the road along with a collapsible snow shovel for digging out. I use a large canvas tarp to protect the cargo area but can be used as for shelter if needed. Then there is my small car box http://myadventuresinselfreliance.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/the-car-box/ along with basic tools and 2 cans of fix-a-flat. I keep my small thermo electric cooler in the car at all times and I have stored two boxes of soup, shelf stable pudding and jello, a package of dehydrated potatoes and some Ritz crackers. With my my small rolling backpack as my GHB I could survive for 3-7 days without loading a single thing.  Of course prepping isn’t just about survival and getting by. It about planning ahead to be somewhat comfortable long term.

I think your first step to preparing your BOV is prepping your 72 hour bag/BOB. This is your bag you can grab as you go out the door if there is fire in your home. I keep mine in a closet on my way out the door. http://www.theplacewithnoname.com/blogs/klessons/index.html refers to this bag as you are gone in 60 seconds. If you have not seen this site it is one of the most detailed I have found that deals with a Bug Out situation (Katrina) and what went right and wrong and how he fixed the things that went wrong.

For my Bug out/camping gear I use two totes to hold most of the items I need. One is a cheap rolling tote I picked up that was sold as a basic kitchen set up for a college student. These college kitchen totes are fairly cheap around $40.00 or less and you can have a full backup kitchen for camping and bugout with one purchase. Plus it is already packed and ready to go though I adjusted mine quite a bit adding and subtracting items. The other tote is a heavy duty Rubbermaid Roughneck that you can lock with a couple of padlocks. I used these totes while in the Army and they are in great shape after 20 years of hard use. This is the tote I need to adjust by trading out the small tent for my new larger tent as well as changing out the older full sized air bed for a smaller twin size air bed. I like air mattress to sleep on as the air insulates and some of the foam camping mattresses sweat and soak your sleeping bag.  By using these totes you can use them as tables, sinks or even to catch and store rain water. You know how I love multi-taskers!

On the shop shelf ready to load is my duel fuel camp stove that use white gas or unleaded fuel and  next to it is a siphon so I can use the gas from the minivan or from a gas can. I have a small plastic French press coffee maker in my GHB and by adding my new little 12 volt coffee maker I am covered for making coffee and teas. I have two sleeping bags, one is a lighter weight bag for summer and the other bag is the old Army Arctic weight, down filled sleeping bag for winter. These bags are super cheap now that everyone wants the new Gortex sleep systems. If you have a tent and good mattress to stay dry, these military surplus sleeping bags are a bargain.  For lighting I have a propane lantern and a small battery powered lantern. For comfort I added a small battery powered fan for the summer and moving air. I will be moving one of my Mr. Buddy propane heaters to the camping shelf for heat in the tent. These are great little backup heaters and while this shelf is for the BOV you can always use these items in your home if a disaster happens. I think of  loading the items on the shelf as my 15 minute Bugout. I need to move a small chemical toilet to that shelf and add a few more detailed maps to the minivan. I wish my shop was insulated so I could store 10 gallons of  water on the shelf. The best I can do is have a 5 gallon camp jug and my BOB in the same closet so I can have some clean potable water to start my bugout. I have a small Hibachi type grill ready as well as a small barrel type wood burning  stove I need to finish burning off the old cheap paint and add to my Bug out/camping shelf.   I have one of those battery jumping power packs that I keep charged in the house. It has both an AC and DC outlet with  a 400 watt inverter that I can grab and go in my 15 minute Bug out plan. Sorry I almost fogot the pets and pet carriers so they critters have a safe place to ride and have food. If you have critters you must plan for their needs as well as you own in a disaster.  No,  I don’t think letting them go, and roam is a good answer as your pets need the basics like any other family member.

Last but not least is food http://myadventuresinselfreliance.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/the-charity-bucket/ I call it a charity bucket but it will work nicely to hold your dry goods for your Bug out and camp food. I’m a firm believer that a person can’t have to many buckets on hand and each bucket can hold about 14 days worth of food for one person.

Overall I have covered most of the basics from water, shelter, food, heating, cooking and sanitation. I will leave you to add your basic defensive and security measures. In my Every Day Carry gear (EDC) I have a 9mm, pepper spray, a tonfa/billy club(in the car),  multi-tool, a P-38  can opener,  a jump-drive with important files, and some backup “junk silver” and mad money.  I can’t tell what disaster you might have to deal with, but this post should give you an idea where to start and cover the basics you would need if you have to bugout.

 

 


Figured out a plumbing issue, a new addition to the BOV

October 25, 2014

I think I finally located the washer’s  drainage problem. It is in the trap, and the way the pipe was installed is completely FUBAR.  There is no way to access the ABS  pipes at all without cutting them apart. Plus there are to many elbows and crazy turns in the pipe. Seems like the idiot that installed it was just using up leftover pipe to make things fit or had no concept of how to measure things.  My plan is to cut out a section in the basement and add Y drain fitting so I can run a snake through the pipe if it gets clogged again. The drain pipe trap by the washer will need to be cut out and replaced with a straightforward layout of pipe and I will add in a way to disconnect the pipe so I can clean it in the future.  With the Y fitting I should be able to clean out either the kitchen sink pipe or the washer’s drain pipe if  needed to in the future.  I can be cheap and will some times make do, but for gosh sakes plastic pipe isn’t all that expensive to buy and a few couplers or Y-drain type fittings sure makes dealing with clogs a lot easier and they cost only about $10.00!  I got the dryer vent hose trimmed and hooked up properly so it does not kink and dries much better over all and should eliminate most of the lint build up which is a fire hazard.

I love my house, but it has been frustrating to fix things that were just installed stupidly.  I’m not much of DIYer but some of the things I have dealt with just boggle my mind.  I can’t think of a good reason why to add a two 90 degree elbows before and one after a trap when you can add a longer section of pipe and things would have lined up including the trap.  My plan to buy a new trap and some pipe and it will make the pipe run much cleaner by eliminating the all the elbows and then add straight run of pipe to tie in to the drain pipe in the basement.

It wasn’t all bad as I got a neat little 12 volt coffee maker/soup can warmer at the Holiday Bazaar today. It cost all of 25 cents and it works with my little power pack as well as the 12 volt system in the minivan.  All I need is a 12 volt hot plate and the minivan will have a small 12 volt electric kitchen in case I need to bugout. In some ways I think the minivan might make a better BOV compared to the RV because minivans are so common and they could be less of a target because they blend in so well.  My plan is to have a small solar panel system that will recharge the minivan’s and my little power pak’s batteries for a backup to my little camp stoves if they run out of fuel.  With the addition of the big tent and a few more additions the minivan should make an excellent short term bug out vehicle or car camping rig.

 

 


Cleaning up and more prep for winter

October 24, 2014

There was a massacre of dust bunnies and old spider webs today at Casa de Chaos. I have been working on my fall cleanup both inside an outside and today it was time to clean up the rooms I don’t use daily.  I have to say I have sort of ignored those rooms as far as cleaning regularly and boy did the need some attention.  It wasn’t truly bad as I got most of the work done with the vacuum and semi-damp sponge for dusting.  I moved some old PC cases out to the shop for parting out along with the counter top microwave to clean up one of the bedrooms that has become a catch all.  I trashed my laser printer that died this year.  It looks like my desktop PC motherboard finally bit the dust. Time to get new parts to upgrade the machine. I can reuse the a lot of the old PC parts but the motherboard, CPU and memory sticks will have to be new.  I figured the  new parts will cost about $190.00 through Amazon. I checked Newegg.com and I’m saving about $40.00 and getting a slightly better CPU.  Plus I can buy the parts over time so there is no huge one time cost. I setup my laptop for now and it works fine as my backup until I buy the new parts.  I’m a firm believer in repairing stuff if you can and always take a shot at repair, as you really can’t break something that is already broken. But if you can’t repair it, get rid of it and move along.

If you are a smoker the walls will get stained but one of the better cleaners I have found for walls is Florex carpet stain cleaner. It works as good or better as sudsy ammonia and it does not give off the ammonia smell that can be quite unpleasant.  The walls need to be repainted using a gloss or semi-gloss rather than flat latex paint. The gloss paint is easier to clean as the flat paints seem to absorb dirt and smoke.  One of my winter projects is to get the walls repainted and use a good paint which has gotten very expensive in the last few years.

I’m very pleased how the elm is burning in the wood stove.  Having the wood rack on the porch is working even better than I thought it would when I bought it.  So far I am not seeing elm as a dirty, nasty smelling type of wood. Now the grain of elm wood twists it can be a lot of hard work to cut and split, but my Dad has a hydraulic wood splitter so I have dry elm cut for my wood stove and my physical effort/work with the elm has been minimal for wood cutting.  I think elm smells okay while burning though it seems sort of neutral not good or bad  to me.  I don’t find burning elm unpleasant at all. Now the elm I got is dry, so the odor might be more pronounced if the wood is green.  A neat little trick for your wood stove or fireplace is add a little bit of newspaper on top of your wood stack to light first and that will heat your chimney and get it warm to draw air well and then light your paper and kindling.  I have added new lithium batteries to the smoke detectors but I need to add another Fire extinguisher to my preps.  The carbon monoxide detector is new  so overall I am ready for winter wood heating. The chimney sweep seemed very impressed with my basic set up but I prefer to go above and beyond the basics as I have lived through  a chimney fire and it was very ungood.

Some good news Mom got the big knee brace off today! Doctor recommends she put it on if she does any heavy work to protect the knee but now she can start working on increasing her mobility and strength.

 


Prepper fatigue

October 20, 2014

I have seen quite a few people either burn out or give up if they are a prepper. I understand as it can get tough to keep your spirits up and stay motivated in the face of so much doom and gloom.  You might not have many friends or family that supports what you are doing or even ridicule you, which can make it doubly tough to keep on going.  I think many of us have gone through those stages at least I can say I have dealt with it and I have done  a few things that seem to have helped me get through those times.

  • Take a vacation from prepping and the news for a week or two.  If you have more than 6 months worth don’t go shopping for prep items for a week or two and live on your preps for awhile.  You are getting a little payback/reward for all that prepping you have done and you can see it as sort of test but the main thing you are doing is recharging yourself mentally and spiritually.
  • Get out of dither mode:  I did this a lot, as I had a hard time figuring out what to do next so I would of blast off in all directions and not have a goal I wanted to achieve so I wasted time, energy and a little bit of money.  One thing that helped keep me focus is I would put myself in disasters in the news and how I would handle it. It might be a power outage, no tap water,  a storm or a riot and I would start walking through the steps mentally and even do a test of that situation.  The test can be a simply or as complex as you want to make it such as, if you are running a generator are your power cords in good shape and working?  Have you tested the cords recently and know they work?
  • Start working next year’s goals and write them down.  Then write down the steps of the plan to make it happen. It doesn’t have to directly related to prepping but I bet in some way it will end up being a skill or product that will be of value if only to you. Don’t be afraid of failing as that is often when I learn the most about doing something.  Also LIFE will come along and screw up all your plans sometimes and you will have to adapt. I believe the ability to adapt and not panic will be one of the most useful skills you will learn if the SHTF.  So don’t look at as a failure, think of it as redefining your objectives!
  • Try to stay positive and moving forward towards a goal. This is probably one of the hardest for most people as it is very easy to become pessimistic.  I tend to be more of a natural optimist and it takes a lot of work sometimes to keep that sort of outlook when everything seems to be falling apart.  Remember the only thing you can control is yourself and your actions!  I think that was the hardest lesson for me to learn as I have a tendency to want to fix things and there are just some things I can’t fix.  So rather than “bang my head against a wall” I just stopped playing the game.

But Jamie the world is falling apart and I can’t possibly stop watching the news or prepping or whatever for a week or two.  Well guess what the world is always falling apart in some way and how much news do you think you are going to get if things get really bad?  I’m sure if the “Zombie Apocalypse”  starts you will pick up on it happening simply by watching those around you.  You can always cut your “news vacation” short if you need too.  You don’t be completely stressed out before things go sideways.


Lots of cleanup and organizing done

October 18, 2014

I finished up cleaning and organizing the basement and added a few more shelves that made it a lot easier.  I only need to tweak stuff  now to make it work better rather than the “Oh God!” how will I ever get this all done, sort of thing.  One nice bonus is getting my buckets cleaned and organized so I can give it a look and know when I need to start finding sales to top things off.  As I get older I find I don’t deal as well with not having things organized as I did when I was a kid or young adult. Time is too precious to waste looking for stuff so having my things organized seems to reduce my stress level and shopping lists are a lot easier to get done.  Perhaps it is the Army training of having things in it’s place and cleanliness is always a big issue. Being dirty and disorganized does not work well when I am under pressure/stress.

I ran over to my sister’s place and cut off a few tree limbs that were brushing up against her deck and gutters in a bad way.  My sister was impressed with just how well the little B&D battery powered chainsaw did on cleaning up those limbs.  The trees should be okay until spring or possibly next fall at her place with this little bit of trimming.  I dropped off the new skin salve for my sis and I hope it works. Both her and Mom really like the scent and Mom has been using it with her dry skin for a couple of weeks and likes it.  Mom and my sister have a sensitivity to citrus and they have to be careful even taking C vitamins so using Lemon essential oil is just not workable for them. Me, I would eat lemons and never had to much problems at all with any sort of citrus.  Now this skin salve mix has cedarwood, clove and tea tree along with using Rice bran oil (naturally high in Vitamin E) and a bit of lavender that seems to make other Essential oils more effective based on my experience.  This oil has more of a spicy aroma rather than a sweet/ floral aroma of the previous skin salve.  My sister also loved the little wire cap and bail jar the salve came in this time.  She thought those little jars would make great little xmas presents/stocking stuffers as they are so functional and look great.

Dad came over and fixed one of the RV vents that got trashed this spring.  With an older RV there will always be a few things that must be replaced as they age and late 70’s era plastic fixtures is one of them. Dad said we need to get some roof coating done as water is starting to attack some of the seams of the metal of the roof.  It’s nice I am set up with the pressure wand so cleaning is not a big deal if a person can climb up on the RV’s roof. Dad said he’ll replace the old battery with the new AGM battery I already bought. If he can help me remove the busted futon/sofa then the little RV will have a great start for being ready to bugout or simply go out on camping trips.  I still want to replace the RV awning with the attachable tent/cabana room but it is tough to dedicate $500. 00 dollars when you are trying to deal with everything starting to go sideways.  Especially when bugging in seems to be the priority prepping need at the moment.

Dad really liked the new wood rack and how I cleaned up the porch for this winter’s heating.  Yes, I’m nearly 50 years old and I feel good when my parents are pleased that I am ready and I get a little pat on the back and a “You are doing good kid”.  Parents always worry about their kids and age does not matter. Knowing that some of the kids can handle stuff makes less stress for parents.

 


I swear my head might explode with the USA’s Ebola response

October 16, 2014

I t seems that I was correct that my planning and preps for Ebola were significantly better than the Medical community in the USA!  That is really terrible news  that I’m better prepared than the entire US government and the health care system for Ebola. I still can’t believe the clip board guy was “supervising” the transfer of Nurse Vinson with no protective gear at all.  Unless things have changed a lot in the Army we never had a “supervisor” running around checking how we did MOPP4 without being dressed the same or it was an “umpire” during a training event. It sure as heck did not happen in in Gulf war one in Kuwait I’m told.   This guy touches  people and the handrail of stairs getting on the plane and appears that he took something from the guys wearing suits and the have their own suit oxygen supply(SCBA) gear.  So I find it hard to accept that he was a “safe” distance away.  Nothing we can do about the morons in charge, all you can do is get educated and top off your preps and “don’t be that guy” or take your procedures for granted.

I did find a lot of great buys and did even better than I expected.  Cash and Carry actually had vinyl gloves on sale 100 count box for $3.29. I picked up a 100 count box of the blue Nitrile gloves for $4.99 and a 100 pack of disposable aprons for $9.07. At Home Depot I got the full face shield for about $12.00 using my military discount and another 20 pack of N95 masks for about $18.00.  I know the prepping blogs I like recommend a N or P100 full face respirator but my budget just can’t stretch that far yet. I think I have time as we don’t have an International airport so we should get a bit of warning if Ebola gets to Idaho or goes exponential.

Stopped by the Local True Value store and I got the last 20 gallon metal trash can for $15.00. This metal can will become my burn barrel if needed and for a savings of over $20.00 I can drill my own holes in that little rascal.  I have been wanting to get something for a burn barrel setup for some time for my sanitation preps if the SHTF and I can’t depend on trash service.  With the Ebola thing, the burn barrel moved to a higher priority as it seems fire is the best way to deal with the contaminated waste.  While I was at True Value they had all of leftover seed packet in a big bin and they were 50-75% off. My stored seeds underperformed this year, I think because of age so I got selection of 20 different non-hybrid seeds for the garden.

I added a lot of the double sided poster tape and I finally found some chalk for my “blackboard” labels for reusable (I hope) canning jars and beer bottle labels. I had no idea that chalk had become a seasonal product and many stores do not stock it year round. I found the chalk at Joann’s Arts and crafts. I can see a lot of potential uses for those blackboard labels and chalk from inventories to labeling buckets and even shopping lists. Especially if paper is hard to come by if TSHTF.  Lists are a great thing as you can take your time making them and it is easy to check it off or erase everything and start again if it is needed.

I stopped by the local farm store and got some of the doggie treats that my cat loves. Yes my cat love the doggie treats and my dog actually prefers the small cat treats. I did name the place Casa de Chaos for a good reason. I got a 70 pound “tube” of sand for my burn barrel set up and the patio kitchen as an additional safety measure around any charcoal grills and stuff.  Added a few more packages of beer yeast and set aside $20.00 for the IV purchase for the sickroom/re-hydration.

I know it’s tough to shift or even try to add things to your shopping list when a disater or something blindsides you. If you are on the lower end of the economic food chain you tend to lurch from emergency to emergency and there is often nothing left for an “Emergency Fund”.  I can’t speak for others but for myself I handle these little disasters of stocking up the best I can given my availible resources.  I think it is a very bad idea going into debt to prepare. I know it is tempting as I now have a darn good credit rating and all kinds of people want to loan me money. I suck at credit cards as they are just to easy for me to rationalize spending for preps as I do need them. But no matter how much I save short term,  I will always lose out to compounding interest. Please don’t think I’m condeming those that use a credit card and pay it off monthly. Some people can do that, I ain’t one of them!

Harry:  Me and Diana the peke had a nice evening by the fire she got a nice brush out and I watch Galaxy Quest and had a few laughs.  It was a nice relaxing night.


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