Just puttering around today

September 14, 2014

I missed adding adding the Sterno stoves and fuel for a cooking option that is safe to use indoors. The stove uses an alcohol based gel that is cheap, easy to store and I was surprised that they can boil water in 5-10 minutes depending on the shape of pan you use. The fuel can be scooped from the can and used as an aid to starting a fire.  Each can of fuel should burn for 1-2 hours and I have seen the cans for sale at  dollar stores.  You should always keep the lid handy after opening as it is the best way to put the flame out and if you don’t reseal the can after use the alcohol will evaporate and the gel won’t burn.  I don’t know if Sterno still sells the little “emergency kit” but they had a small box with a folding stove that held the can of fuel, 2 cans of fuel along with a large 27 hour candle and a 6 pack of 9 hour candles for around $15.00.  I think these are a great stove to send with your college student or have in the car in case you get stuck for several hours because of weather/ traffic or add to your barter box. Remember you will be dealing with an “open flame” so you will have to be careful, but overall these stoves are an inexpensive setup that offer about 3 days of light and cooking in a neat little package.

I made up a small batch of the pain salve but this time I used some small cap and bail jars I found at Joann’s in the craft section for a dollar each.  These are the square bottles and it looks like the will hold about 3 oz. each and for the price I’m doing about as well as what I could get from Amazon but I get to support the local economy.  This pain salve I make is very popular and at the very least I think you should have some on hand for your 1st aid kit and it works great as a barter item. My hope is to do a little selling of my “home remedies” at a local farmers market or bazaar as an income stream not dependent on the government.

Speaking of home remedies I found that Preparation H has helped Diana the peke’s cyst  irritation and it seems to have helped a little with the swelling/inflammation of the skin around the cyst. This is not a cure but it has made Diana more comfortable until her surgery to remove the cyst this week.  I have used Preparation H on my dogs for things like swelling and pain around the anal area, it works well and the dogs don’t care to lick that area after I apply it.  Another product I like is Zymox for bacterial/yeast ear infections in floppy eared dogs. Diana has had problems with yeast infections in her ears and this clears it up within about 5 days. I picked up the Zymox at the local farm store at a cost of $16.00 for 1.25 oz. and while that may seem a little expensive, it is cheap compared to most pet prescriptions. I would have your vet check your animal first if it is having ear problems but if your dog is prone to bacterial/yeast infections of the ear this stuff works great and a little bit goes a long way. I see pets and animals that help you survive as family members and you should build a 1st aid kit as well as learn some basic care for whatever animal you have. While you may not be able to cure some illnesses you can at least do your utmost to keep the animal comfortable.  I have been hearing the term “disposable pets” lately and it makes me very uncomfortable. It’s a life and I think you should do all in your power to make it a good life no matter if it is inconvenient. Perhaps it is because I’m 100% disabled but I have gotten damn sensitive when some idiot tries to justify “eliminating” creatures because they are no longer useful.  I believe the mark of a truly great people or civilization is how they treat the weakest members. I mean doing the actual work not pretending you care as you sit in a highrise/estate and have a limo/jet that takes you about where you proclaim you really care.

Sorry to wax philosophical so lets get into some other things I got done. The goat’s milk yogurt seems to be okay given to one of my local testers. I don’t eat a lot of yogurt and  I like to get others opinions on my little experiments. I like to think I won’t let any personal bias affect what I do but I’m only human and after doing the work I think there is a natural tendency to look for the best.  The amber ale is bottled and the flavor seems very good overall and it has a nice little kick of 6% alcohol.

Money will be a little tight as I have to pay for Diana’s surgery and get the chimney cleaned before the wood stove is needed for heat this winter.  I still suck at saving cash for an emergency fund! It seems for me it’s those dang paper dollars that seem so easy to spend. Maybe coins might be a better option for me to save as my emergency fund. More complicated and less convenient but that is a feature and not a bug for me at least. If I have to start buying rolls of coins so be it, as long as I have saved up enough for a good emergency fund.  It’s dumb, but if it’s dumb and it works it ain’t dumb!

Organizing, Inventory and cleanup started

September 13, 2014

I didn’t get finished today but I did make a big dent on the organizing and cleanup of the basement.  I was quite surprised by how things had  spread out and how much space I saved by getting everything into it’s storage container.  I store some of Mom’s prep for the kids in 10 and 18 gallon Tupperware type bins and I finally got all those bags and cans in the bins and rotated them so the oldest bins are up front and the newer bins are in the back.  I left a walkway and plenty of space for any new bins so I won’t have to move and re-stack the bins as we add new stuff.  Once Mom’s knee heals up a bit and she can manage the stairs we can do an inventory of her items.

I topped off my 55 gallon rice drum, the whole wheat drum is about 3/4 full, the mixed grain drum got another 50 pounds of corn and the bean drum is 2/3 full but has some room for any good buys I find this fall.  Overall I’m feeling very positive about how the long term food storage goal of 7 years is shaping up.  I know storing in a 55 gallon drum seems a bit daunting but that drum actually takes up less space than the same amount of bulk food stored in buckets. I don’t think using the drums can work for everyone but if you moved beyond a year’s worth of bulk food storage, using a food safe 55 gallon drums might be the answer for you.

Speaking of bins and drums Mom and I are doing two different outlooks and food storage. Mom’s focus with the bins is mostly canned food that is easy to prepare and the bins have a little of everything. My approach tends to focus on bulk food items that require more knowledge of cooking from scratch. Both ways work, but if you are not into cooking from scratch Mom’s method is better for you. Remember store what you eat and eat what you store.

Inventories and rotation is one of the least favorite jobs of many preppers myself included.  It does not have to be all bad because I usually find a few happy surprises of items I actually stocked a lot better than I remembered. For me It was butane fuel cans, one pound propane tanks and plenty of adapters that power small electronics via different power sources.  Of course the corollary is that you find something missing  you thought you had on hand. I’m still looking for the thing I missed or used up and did not replace!

Last but not least is I will be adding a lot more shelving.  While I will be using some wood shelving units to start, I picked up an industrial strength metal 3 shelf unit that is rated to hold 200 pounds per shelf.  I suppose it’s another one of those things “You know you are prepper when you get excited to buy a shelf that holds 200 pounds”. I got the shelf unit at Fred Meyers but what I want to add is one of the 5 shelve units that is on wheels I can move around to where it is needed.  That will have to wait as Diana needs a little surgery and the chimney needs cleaning so my spending is already planned out this month.

Looks like the EN68 virus is in Idaho and some good sickroom ideas

September 12, 2014

The EN68 virus is the respiratory illness that hit St. Louis  hard and is spreading very rapidly. EN68 acts lot like the common cold but kids with asthma seem very hard hit with breathing difficulties. It “seems” that the virus has hit about 10 kids in Idaho so far, but it has not been confirmed that it is EN68 yet.  While Ebola has been generating the most buzz on the sites I visit, there are plenty of nasty little viruses already in the USA that we need to prepare to deal with and have a plan.

Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy at http://www.doomandbloom.net/ have some great ideas for sick/isolation room set ups and supplies to have on hand.  I never considered having a noise maker on hand for the patient if they needed to get someone’s attention and a whistle would probably not work that well for someone with breathing problems.  A small bell would work great and I noticed my home phone has a “page and intercom” function that will work great as long as there is power to recharge the phones.  A baby monitor is something I’m going to start looking for at yard sales and thrift stores. A wireless doorbell might also work as an easy to use signal device.  I think you will want a noisemaker/monitor that is a simple push button operation or voice activated in your sickroom, but even a simple wind chime could work if you attach a string the patient can easily reach.

Another thing I did not consider was the fabrics I have on every table or the wood furniture in my potential sickroom.  It is a spare bedroom and like many I have tablecloths, rugs on the floor and other fabrics that are germ collectors. While I have plenty of clear plastic and even garbage bags to cover stuff,  I want to add some of those colorful plastic picnic table cloths that are disposable or can be washed down with a sanitizing cleaner to add some color and keep the sickroom feeling to a min. for the patient. Adding some essential oils to cover the sick room smell will also help.  I have no doubt the patient will know they are sick but keeping morale up is critical to the healing process!

The latest thing I want to start adding is some different colored non-food grade buckets and lids for items that must disinfected or thrown away depending on the material.  It does not do a lot of good to have the patient isolated and then have all those used items sitting around in the open until you can either clean or dispose of them safely.  That means garbage bags, buckets and trash cans with good lids. The buckets and garbage cans can be lined with garbage bags and easily sanitized with a bleach solution before you leave the sickroom and then given another good cleaning after the “contaminated” material has been removed.

Just like the Army has a protocol for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological hazards that consists of three stages so should your sickroom.

  1. You have your safe area: Probably the rest of your living quarter that must never have any exposure to contamination.
  2. A clean room/area: this is the place you have all your protective equipment and your buckets to put on and take off when you must enter the sickroom. This area is you cleanup before and after entering the isolation room. Nothing goes in or out of this area without being cleaned or sealed to protect the living area.
  3. Isolation room: nothing goes in or out without being protected, sanitized or covered to limit the spread of any contamination!

I’m very lucky that my sickroom is next to my bathroom so washing up will be easy during most disasters.  Also this can make a great second decontamination station in the event of a Nuclear, Biological or Chemical attack for any one caught outside.  In the event you get caught in a one of those “disasters” the best thing you can do is strip and wash that stuff off of you and do not bring any contaminated material into your living quarters!  Having a closed bucket full of “clean” flip-flops, t-shirt  and a pair of shorts to put on as you head to your “clean room” will help if you are “body shy” as I am, and then you can get a good scrubbing done. Personally I will be setting up another “clean room” on my porch/entrance that can erected quickly and try to preserve some modesty without being a threat to my living area.

I know this may seem a little extreme but as you prepare your basic “sickroom” you are also starting to setup how you protect yourself and your family against thing like a Dirty Bomb or a chemical attack so these precautions are really multi-taskers and good for many types of disasters. It could be a train derailment and some nasty chemicals are leaking from tanker cars.  Or if you live in the Pacific Northwest it might be Volcanic ash that can be very corrosive (add water get sulfuric acid) and very bad to inhale, the ash can settle in your lungs and slice those up (think powdered glass) or act like concrete when the ash finds moisture. I went through Mt. St. Helen’s back in 1980 and trust me that ash will get into anything! We were very lucky that the 1980 blast was abnormally low on sulfur content.

Last but not least if you need to seal your home don’t forget to cover your vents in the bathroom, kitchen or if the chimney if you have a wood stove or fireplace.

Holy OCD Batman, do you think you got enough stoves and fuel?

September 9, 2014

Well yes and no because most of my stoves either need good ventilation or are small in size for my “Bags” . Some of my stoves are task specific for certain scenarios though I prefer multi-taskers some stoves are good for cooking or good for heat or need to be used with plenty of ventilation so those types of stove suck for use indoors.  It always surprises me when people die because of carbon monoxide poisoning during a storm because they try to use some stove or heater that needs a lot ventilation indoors. It happens with depressing regularity when ever the power out in winter.  While many of the heat and cooking sources many preppers use are designed for camping in the great outdoors. There are options that are relatively safe to use indoors if you take proper safety precautions.


  1. Wood stove or fireplace: This is one of the best sources of heat and cooking but they are somewhat expensive to install and the fuel they require takes up a lot of space. They need good ventilation and they can be a fire hazard for a multitude of reasons. If you maintain the stove properly and burn dry wood it is one of the best alternative heat sources you can have in your home. Big down side is you put out smoke and people will notice it in a grid down situation and they may want to get in on that heat.
  2. Mr. Buddy type propane heaters:  I really like these heaters as they have many safety features and are fairly efficient. Propane storage is fairly safe and a 15 pound tank lasted about 5 days in below 0 F. temps when I did my test heating about 800 sq. ft. of my home. Using a fan with one of these heaters is very helpful so if you can afford it I would get the top of the line model that has an fan built in or have a battery powered fan to circulate the warm air if the power goes out. These heaters are great if you live in an apartment and all you can store is one pound tanks or for bugout/camping. Always turn it off at the fuel supply at night or while you sleep to save fuel and  not leave it running unsupervised!  Big upside to these stove has no odor while burning so it makes a very stealthy heater.
  3. Kerosene Heaters: I don’t care for these heaters used in a house, as the odors  fumes and ventilation needed,  is a lot to deal with for most people. In a tent it could be an option as few of those are air tight or insulated. IMO they are not what I want to use for a heat source but it can be a backup if you get one cheap and make sure you maintain it properly. Always turn it off at the fuel supply at night or while you sleep to save fuel and do not leave it running unsupervised!  Like kerosene lamps you will need extra wicks and trim them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Big upside is you can store just one fuel for lamps and heat. Downside less safe than a Mr. Buddy heater for safety features, requires more ventilation and many find the fumes irritating.


  1. Wood stove for cooking: Has the about the same Pros and Cons as a wood stove for heating. Also cooking on a wood stove is a skill that takes some practice compared to modern appliances. Burnt and possibly inedible food will happen and is part of the “learning experience”  using your wood stove. On the other hand it is very easy to have a pot of warm/boiling water always on hand if your water heater stops working. I have a two-step box type wood stove I would recommend on of these stove if you can’t afford a traditional kitchen wood stove for cooking.  If you are looking to use your wood stove for cooking I recommend getting cast iron cookware.
  2. Butane stoves:  One of the best options for cooking especially if you have limited space for prepping supplies. You have probably seen this small burners on cooking shows or at catering events when they cook food on site. These little stoves are lot like cooking over gas burners and you don’t need a lot of ventilation when you cook.  The fuel is cheap and comes in cans that are in most stores. I can get a four pack of fuel under $7.00 at Cash and Carry and if you are frugal that amount of fuel will last 2-4 weeks. Upside these stoves are multi-taskers and you can use them for camping, bugout and  BBQ. You don’t need to buy any special cookware, if you cook on a stove top you don’t need any special skills to use these burners.  Downside, pure butane can freeze in cold weather.
  3. Camp stoves: The stove can be propane, white gas, or even run on unleaded gasoline in some of the dual-fuel stoves, require good ventilation and should be used outdoors only. Upside the stoves are easy to use, require no special skills or cookware. Downside is using it outdoors, cooking odors might attract people.
  4. Solar ovens: These are slow cookers and work very good for recipes that you might use a crock pot or an oven at low heat 250-350 degrees F. depending on your level of sunlight. Upside free energy,  foods don’t burn so you can start cooking a meal in the AM and forget about it until dinner time. I have not noticed any strong food odors while using a solar oven until the meal is mostly done and you take the pan out. Downside You need a sunny, warm day generally to cook. Rice and grains, meats and veggies do fine but beans don’t seem to cook well for me.
  5. Grills gas and charcoal: Upside Most people have used a grill of some sort and fuel is readily available and easy to store. You can smoke to preserve meats and add flavor by roasting veggies before canning.  Downside Food odors are easily noticed. Heck I’m a smoker and I can usually pinpoint any one grilling/BBQing  over a block or two distance. If not grilling meats or veggies you will need special cookware for baking.

As you can see there are going to be trade offs you will have to make for your cooking and heating backups as no one solution will be perfect. I honestly had no idea I had collected so many cooking and heating stoves until I did my inventory.  Besides my wood stove I think the dual-fuel camp stove that can run on unleaded gas was one of my best purchases  for a bugout type scenario as I have cans of gas standing by to be loaded in the mini-van for bugout and not having to pack another fuel to cook with is awesome. For cooking indoors I will be getting one of the Butane Stoves  just in case I need to be stealthy and can’t run the wood stove.

Mental reset and a new use for the pain salve

September 8, 2014

I was a little whiny about packing my gun and then I measured it’s weight loaded and it’s only two pounds!  There are lighter weight alternatives but two pounds is really not a lot of weight to add to my little fanny pack of Every Day Carry (EDC) gear. What I found interesting is my gun did not seem as heavy to carry today since I weighed it!  I need to get used to the extra weight so it becomes just a part of my routine but it seems a lot easier now. I have to watch myself because I still fall victim to “Normalcy Bias” and forget that just because something didn’t happen in the past does not mean it can’t happen in the future.

Had a very nice visit with my aunt stopping by to pick up the spent beer grains. She gave me  two bottles of goat’s milk for my projects and I gave her some of the comfrey salve.  Her husband was recently stung by a wasp and he put some of the pain salve on it and in a minute or less the pain stopped and the swelling subsided and then one their friend’s daughter got stung and they tried the salve and it worked great and they want to get some of the pain salve to have on hand. While my tests have not been scientific this salve seems to work great even on skeptics so I think we can rule out a “Placebo” effect.  I was a little surprised about how well the salve worked with wasp stings and I wonder if it is the natural beeswax that is the effective ingredient and the Essential Oils are  soothing and the coconut oil acts as a carrier easily absorb into the skin.  I don’t think that Essential oils are a miracle cure for everything but they do seem to be very effective as a home made pain remedy.

We had to stop by the vet and pick up Mom’s dogs that had a little dental surgery and I got to look at a few items the have for pet medicines and found I.V. bags of saline and ringers lactate for sale. The Army gave me a class called “Combat Lifesaver” and I learned to give I.V.s and also have all the equipment to make it happen but I do not have the bags.  I have a place I can go and stock up on a few bags which will up my medical supplies for supporting a patient.  From what I have been reading about Ebola the most critical aspects are isolation, a very aggressive treatment of symptoms and supporting the patient with fluids.  All of medical care consists of keeping the patient alive while giving the body a chance to heal itself and 50%-75% of what goes on in most hospitals is supportive care to keep the body going while it heals, so having away to deliver fluids directly into the bloodstream is a big deal. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea make it hard for a care giver to keep a patient hydrated so I.V.s are the answer.   People will die, heck people die everyday but by adding to your medical preps you can start stacking the odds in the patient’s favor, know you did all you could to help a person.

Your preparations don’t mean you will survive! All you are doing is trying to stack the odds in your favor. Don’t die from being “stupid” or from things you can control. You can’t control the economy, political process or Mama nature, but you can do a lot to try and mitigate the risks from those things.


September is national preparedness month so make your wish list for prepping

September 6, 2014

While you may not have a lot of money to put towards preparing I think writing out a wish list is a very good exercise for a couple of reasons.

  1. Writing something down makes it a real goal and not just something you are thinking about doing.
  2. You may find a substitution or a different way to meet that goal instead of just buying something on the “wish list”.
  3. Make a budget and stick to it.

After you have written out your wish list, break it down from stuff you want to buy to a goal you want to accomplish. I would love to have a solar  or use my wood stove to heat my water rather than use electricity. I can’t afford that right now, but I can buy five gallon insulated jugs for about $20.00 each and those can store “hot” water for about 18  hours that I heat on a stove . Trust me after my 5 days with no tap water having 5-10 gallons hot water ready to go in the AM for cleaning up is a big deal! Heck you will probably have to boil water to make it safe anyway so you might as well store that heat energy so it does not got to waste.

After you get all of your wish list done start prioritizing your most critical needs of the basics. Then the start thinking about backups or your plan B type items. I hope to bug in because with my handicap I will look like an easy target if I have to bugout, but if there is a train derailment of a chemical car, I will probably need to leave quickly so I have setup a couple of options for a 30 minute or less bug out. The big Rubbermaid roughneck totes work great for camping gear and I have my gear on a shelf in my shop next to the mini-van. It is not “perfect” but it does stack the odds a little more in my favor.

The last section for the wish list is long term survival. Personally I think the most critical time after a disaster will be 3 days to three months and that is the period we will see the most deaths of the unprepared. I anticipate we will see people working very hard to get along though under a lot of stress and around the third week people that have not dealt with stress long term are going to get very cranky!  This is a part of your mental and spiritual preps of having things for recreation, jobs for people that are within the limits of what they can do physically so the feel valued!

You are going to see that some people are just lazy, create drama or start clicks within your group. You can’t stop it! So you must have a plan to deal with it. So make a plan now for when it happens. This the time to add those long-term items to your wish list like a green house or heat source not dependent on the PTBs.  Trades, skills and hobbies along with the tools needed. It can be a greenhouse or a harmonica, glass blowing or welding. While things that translate into being useful for survival are great, don’t discount things like drawing or painting for a hobby. This can be very cheap or very expensive depending on your wish list! But don’t think you can’t add it to the wish list just because it seems too expensive or you don’t see an immediate value as a survival good. Remember it’s a “wish list” nothing is set in stone and you can adjust, erase and tear up the paper and start all over if you want!

I have a access to eggs and goat’s milk via neighbors and family that raise those animals and I want to add to my place something different and I’m thinking aquaponics, raising ducks or small potbelly pigs might be doable here at Casa de Chaos as an alternate protein source.  These ideas are theoretically doable as long as I don’t run afoul of the PTBs and the city codes.

Observations this week

September 5, 2014

The six piece set of bamboo wood kitchen utensils I got at Big Lots for $5.00 are great and are much better tools for making 5 minute Artisan bread or cooking up a batch of chorizo without absorbing the the oils or colors.  Also never use a slotted wooden spoon to mix your Artisan bread as the flour sticks in the slots and is difficult to clean!  Bottle brushes are great for cleaning those slots out when you forget and use a slotted spoon.

Driving around town for someone else is tiring, but I don’t mind driving Mom around as she plans thing out so we don’t do a lot of backtracking.  Another plus is she isn’t just my Mom, she is my friend. A few lessons learned:  don’t skip lunch and while Mom bought lunch today I should have enough stuff in my van we could set up a little picnic and practice making a meal with my portable stove and using the 12 volt thermoelectric fridge /warmer. Eating out can get expensive fast and by using the mini-van’s “kit” to make a simple meal will save money and give us a some practice for making meals when bugging out. Breaking down some of your practices and incorporating them daily is something I want to try out, as the simple task can trip you up and sort of build up to a big mess.  I think there is a place for a long term test of your prep as I learned a lot on my first “Five day no tap water test” though I only made it three days I fixed most of  my problems and when my water main went out for five days I could handle that little emergency with less work and stress.  Speaking of Mom, she seemed to be doing a lot better on her walk and in physical therapy today. Between getting her pain meds on a schedule and using the pain salve I think she was able to do more work with less pain.

Both Mom and I are little broke because of some unexpected vet bills but we hit a couple of yard sales and I got one of those “little dipper”  crock pots ($2.00)  and it is perfect for melting the beeswax for the comfrey salve. My small strainer fits perfectly over the jar with the comfrey infused oil and sits on the lip of the little crock pot to drain.  I had been wracking my brain on how I was going to get the beeswax melted and mixed with the comfrey. I got another popcorn tin for storing crackers for a quarter. I like using these tins with just a little DE and found crackers stay fresh tasting as when I bought them even storing them six months plus. When I had to use my food storage because of a large vet bill I really missed having salty snacks. I added a big bag of popcorn and crackers stored in these tins and it has worked out for me.

I haven’t gone through a “major natural disaster” but I have been through some small personal disasters and my preparations, skills and knowledge have really saved my butt a few times.



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