August 29, 2014
I was tempting fate by shopping the last Friday before a long weekend, I was pleasantly surprised how well it went overall. I finally picked up Mom’s chicken from Albertson’s using a rain check from last week’s sale, it only took three tries before the store could have whole chickens on hand as they sell out fast at $.99 a pound. Albertson’s had a coupon for Bud Light 30 pack for only $17.99 so I picked up a case for those family members that prefer store bought beer instead of my homemade beer. Fred Meyer’s had a metal three tier shelf that holds 200 pounds per shelf for only $30.00 that I will be using in the basement for storage. I hope to add a few more of this type of shelving in the future especially the rolling five tier shelf for rotating/moving product. I got a case of the wide mouth half pint jars to hold the salves for $10.99. Some people use a smaller 2 oz. plastic jar for this sort of thing but for only a dollar more, I prefer buying the glass jars.
Lowe’s has wood mulch and play sand on sale, four bags for $10.00 so the mini-van got to play farm truck hauling these bags home. The canvas tarp is working much better than the old beach towel in keeping the cargo area clean and neat. Now the weekend is going to be busy rearranging some plants and getting the outdoor kitchen set up for a better work flow. It looks like the mums sort of bit the dust but I will try moving them to a better spot with improved soil. With the petrified wood the neighbor gave me and the wood mulch I will be changing up the border around the patio giving it a nice decorative contrast of the dark mulch and the light color of the petrified wood add in some green of plants and herbs it will will look pretty and be functional.
We have a Hobby Lobby moving in to the area so I thought I would check out some of the products they offer online and I found a great item I can make myself and use for gifts. It was a canning jar but it had what looks like blackboard paint for a label or message. I have a lot of jars and I could paint them with blackboard paint and make some of pre-mix gifts in a jar and then add a recipe or message in chalk. The person getting the gift could then reuse the jar for storage and add their own label or message. I don’t think I would trust the blackboard paint in a pressure or hot bath canner but if you are using a vacuum sealer it would not affect the paint. I want to try using the paint on my beer bottles as a reusable label for my beers that I think would look very cool for my home brews. The blackboard paint might work on my plastic storage buckets/bins as a label and date that I can change easily as I rotate them.
One of the biggest tasks I want to accomplish this fall is getting my preps better organized and easier to rotate. Getting the industrial strength shelving and adding easy to change/update labels will be a huge step in the right direction.
August 28, 2014
Neighbor S. gave me about a half full paper grocery bag full of hops she picked. I’m going to try a sun drying idea I have been thinking about using my canvas drop cloths and the south side of the house. S. thinks she has a Cascade hops, which is a nice all-around beer hops that is not very acidic but gives a good flavor to a beer without being overly hoppy in flavor. I like using this hops in my amber ales and lagers. I prefer a simple clean tasting beer and I’m not much of a hop head like some home brewers. I tend to be like that with a lot of my cooking and baking as I prefer a few simple ingredients but trying to hit the combination that makes it perfect, at least to my taste buds. I don’t like complexity for it’s own sake. There seems to be something perverse about the human race that tends to make life more difficult than it needs to be and most people I have met seem to confuse simple with easy.
With winter looming in the forecast it’s time to think about some new skills to add during those long dark winter nights. It’s hard to add new skill in the fall though it is a great time to practice your preserving techniques. You might be a hunter and will camp out during your hunt and practice quite a few basic survival skills. I see Fall as a season to practice what you already have learned but winter usually has a bit slower tempo and it is a great time to learn a new skill. I like planning out at least couple of skills to learn before September hits as it is “National Preparedness Month” and you can find a good sale or two for whatever you would like to learn. Another great sale that happen in September is the leftovers from “back to school sales. So getting some educational stuff is usually cheap.
What you choose as a skill is up to you but don’t just think in terms of survival but learn a skill for you mental and spiritual health. You might want to learn to play a musical instrument or take a cooking or baking class, learn a second language. Whatever you choose pick something that inspires you as a person. Heck you might want to learn welding, being a blacksmith or woodworking or more first aid. It does not have to be directly transferable to prepping though I tend to think most knowledge and skills will have that affect in some way. I always thought origami as a very cool skill but I did not think of it as something that people do for a living. Alienware is a company that builds high end gaming computers and would hire people proficient in origami to fold the computer cables to create a smooth air flow for their high end gaming PCs. I bought a low-end Alienware PC and the cable runs are a work of beauty and function.
I think it is good to start thinking ahead because most hobbies or skills need some equipment to do the hobby. This give you a couple of months to figure out the budget you can afford and also double check to make sure you got your holiday shopping done.
August 27, 2014
Mom did two laps at the mall today without a rest break. I took her to her Physical Therapy (PT) appt. and she had a lot better range of motion in her knee. She has another 3 weeks in the brace because of the partially torn ligament but over all, the recovery looks good so far. I’m very proud that the homemade pain relief salve is helping with her knee pain. I need to start making more types of salves with essential oils as they really do work as home remedies.
We did a little shopping and got all of the banking done today before the Labor Day holiday. We stopped by K-mart to get some of the “Smart Sense” Sparkling water that Mom thinks helps with her Fybro and dehydration from the drugs she is on for knee pain. I got two big bottle of the Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc with a buy one get on free for $12.99. I think these minerals have helped the most with my recovery time after working hard physically. I prefer using vitamins and minerals rather than drugs if I can get away with it. K-mart had a very nice tent with a center partition wall and a 72 in. center height for $99.00 that Mom put on layaway. I’m thinking of doing the same next week as I would like a nice roomy tent instead of the small one I have that is only good for sleeping. The tent could work as an extra isolation room/area for sick people that keeps them from contaminating the house. For the 14 ft. x 14 ft. floor space the tent is is compact and not to heavy to move around for “car camping”. Though it is to heavy for backpacking, it might be okay for bike camping if you use a trike or have one of those bike trailers to haul it around.
I have been doing some thinking about the rolling boxes I got at the Office depot last week for $15.00 and I think they have some potential for camping/Bugout. The boxes hold up to 65 pounds, has tow handle as well as the wheels and handle for lifting or rolling it around. The lid on top makes the box a nice little table to set next to your camp chair. You could set up each box that holds your camp kitchen, clothing and sleeping stuff and one for cleanup and sanitation supplies. They could work well as your shooting supply box holding your gun cleaning equipment some ammo for the range. Once the boxes are empty they fold flat and take up very little space. Being disabled I’m always looking for ways to save physical energy and a rolling box is great. If you have those in your family that tend to overload a backpack, this little box might be an answer to limit space but also give them a box that is easy to move around in case of a bugout situation. Add a couple of bungee cords and a person could strap the BOB to the box a roll on good terrain and not carry so much weight.
My sister came over and got a few of the Patty pans, green tomatoes, a bunch of herbs and some of the plums I got from D. My garden has done much better this year and I’m not sure I can get everything used or preserved so I have been sharing the early harvest plants. While I’m not up to growing all I need on my little bit of ground I think 50% of all my veggie needs could be met once I get a couple more beds and learn more about preserving my harvest. I still need to work on the growing vertically idea and add more substantial plant supports. Using the party buckets worked great for the potatoes and strawberry plants this year and I’m very excited about how the composting pile is working though it is early days for pile to work. It’s taken about 7 years for me to get a good garden and I made a lot of mistakes without even realizing it but as my Aunt said “What makes you a good gardener is to keep trying and never give up”.
August 25, 2014
Took Mom shopping for a few things today and got her list for Albertson’s. My Dad will go shopping for her but of course he never gets it right, or at least to Mom’s satisfaction. Plus Mom has never cared for feeling helpless or dependent, she needs to move and get out of the house so she feels better mentally if not physically. I think she was moving fairly well considering she had all new ceramic parts installed and a partially torn ligament repaired two weeks ago. Her knee has healed enough that she can use the pain salve on most of her knee. That seems to be helping a lot! I sort of like driving Mom around shopping as I get to check out the prices at stores where I don’t normally shop. We stopped by Winco and I can say that Cash & Carry stomps Winco prices for bulk goods like flour, rice and beans if you buy in 25-50 pound bags but Winco has some good prices on canned goods (not #10 cans) and a few gallon items like vinegar. Looks like coffee cans are shrinking again 27.5 oz. down from 33 oz. We stopped by Walgreen’s and the large bandages 3 in. x 9 in. is $6.99 for a 12 pack box. I have a bunch of 4 in. x4 in. bandages but I need to get some of the larger sizes and Walgreen’s has the best price I’ve seen so far.
Speaking of the pain salve I need to make more as my neighbor A. really likes it and wants a jar. I need to figure up the costs for making a jar but since A. has given me a great chair and some lovely rocks that look like “petrified wood” along with offering me a nearly new bathroom vanity and faucets. I figure I owe her a bit of pain salve as payment. A. gave this stuff to me for free but I want to give her something in return that helps pay her back at least a little bit.
When I got to Mom’s house D. was there and I got to have a cup of coffee and she offered to drop off some plums and peaches from her family gardens to my place. This gal is “wicked smart” about gardening and growing stuff in this climate, heck she grows blueberries here and that is almost impossible to do in this area. She put me on track for the correct grass seed blend for my place and just by sitting and having a cup of coffee I have learned so much from her!
Diana the peke is doing much better with her teeth. She had an abscessed tooth and is on some antibiotics for the week. The cyst on her tummy is growing and I have added a little rice bran oil for vitamin E which is supposed to safe for Dogs and can help with fatty tumors and cysts I have not seen any improvement yet. I figure I’ll keep adding the Rice bran oil till Friday when she finishes up the antibiotics, but I think Diana will need surgery to remove the growth. It won’t be cheap but I think can schedule the teeth cleaning and surgery at one shot and that will save a vet visit and it isn’t cancer so overall I can’t complain.
Sci-fi chick of the Bacon & Eggs passed last week and I’m bummed out. I considered a blogging buddy and she made me feel like we were friends. My outdoor kitchen for canning was inspired her and she managed to do so much not only paying off her homestead but sharing how she gardened, canned , worked so hard and accomplished so much on a shoe-string budget. I love her 30 minute Dinner roll recipe though it takes me 45 minutes to make them! LOL She was wonderful because she wasn’t perfect. She shared both the ups and downs of homesteading. God speed my friend!
August 21, 2014
I get to run Mom to her Doctor appt./followups as Dad has to run up to Montana for the weekend. I’ll also be helping to do the garden and take care of the chickens a little bit as Mom isn’t quite up to doing much walking or moving around on uneven terrain. Playing taxi is something me and my Kia mini-van seem to do a lot at least within the family. I don’t read a lot of good things about Kia’s on the web and very few people consider a mini-van as the vehicle when the SHTF and I’m not sure why unless it not a very “cool” vehicle. I love my Kia and everyone I talk to loves the Kias they bought and would buy another. I have an older 2003 model Sedona but I can add up to 6 very comfy chairs or remove them for hauling and storage and it comes with a luggage rack standard for even more storage. I can add both my walker and Mom’s and still have a plenty of room to go shopping. While I would not take it off-roading the mini-van has descent ground clearance for an urban environment and has a bit of weight and you sit higher than most cars. For a “grey man” type prepper vehicle I think it would be hard to beat the all around advantages of a mini-van.
Update on the grass seed: It seems that giving the grass seed area a daily watering of short duration is better than watering a lot via the sprinkler 2-3 times a week. The areas were I laid out a thin layer my new compost back in July has broken down and worked into the soil. I’m a little slow at times learning but I finally figured out what I’m doing is building a new layer of topsoil. Building topsoil the natural and cheap way is not fast but I have been quite surprised that you can make a very good start on making good topsoil with all natural ingredients from a composting heap adding some mulch and not killing the weeds but adding good plants for your area that displace the weeds in time. Heck I have only been doing this new method for about 6 weeks and about 2 weeks with the new grass seed and the water main area is growing grass and taking on a a green hue if not vigorous growth yet. My idea for the grass is to become somewhat established this year as I improve the soil in hopes of very good growth next spring. I see the potential and my theory seems somewhat sound but I won’t really know how well it works till next spring.
I was chit chatting with my Aunt who is a great gardener about how I’m gardening and how well it seems to be going and she said that a good gardener is one that never gives up and is persistent, I would also add that is willing to learn! I have seen a folks that give up after a year or two of gardening and most of the time it is not their fault as we have had “wonky” weather the last couple of years as this area seems to be shifting to hotter dry summers and colder somewhat wet winters for high desert. Well I’m not going to let a simple thing like weather stop me. I have spent over 7 years just trying to grow strawberries and about 3 years trying to grow potatoes in Idaho. I got about 10 strawberries and I think I’ll do a bit better on potatoes but what made my garden this year is I got a bit smarter and I did not quit trying.
If you are hitting a wall in your gardening don’t be afraid to try something a little different. Form me it was using my party buckets and adding store bought soil and mixing it with my yard’s soil with the rototiller along with starting a large compost heap. Using seeds and plants that are better suited for my region and mulching with a vengeance to save water. I think I’m getting a bit better working with mama nature instead of imposing some arbitrary human timeline or schedule.
August 20, 2014
Mom did her first walk in the mall since her surgery. She did only one lap but that is about a mile, I think she did great. The doc and other medical personnel are starting to realize she’s not a wimp and she will work hard to get the the knee back into shape. Mom is using a walker instead of crutches, personally I prefer a walker instead of crutches for being less painful on your arms and the walker gives you a lot more stability compared to crutches. If you are stocking up on that sort of thing for your home health preps I recommend you get a used walker instead of crutches!
I love back to school sales and I got some great deals. At Office depot they have a Lexar 32 GB jump drive for $11.99 so I picked up two. One of the jump drives I will try with my Roku recording TV shows to see how it works with the new Digital converter box. The other jump drive I will use to make digital copies of important stuff like pictures, critical paperwork like insurance and Birth certificates that sort of thing. I have a smaller 16 GB drive I carry at all times in my EDC bag and I can tell you they are very handy and most likely if a disaster hits I will always have access to copies of my paperwork.
Office depot had a rolling box with extendable handle for only $15.00 and it come with a lid. I have a box that is similar though it cost $20.00 and did not come with a lid. The rolling boxes are great for moving heavy stuff from the shop to the house. I use the first box as a wood box for the stove. It makes getting wood in from the woodpile a breeze especially since I have a concrete sidewalk from the woodpile to the house. The boxes are not all-terrain but in a town or city it makes hauling loads much easier for me.
There some more shopping I would like to do but I will have to hold back for a few days as I have to take Diana the peke to the vet Friday. She has a growth on her stomach that needs to be checked out and I’m not sure of the cost that will be involved to have it removed. I think it probably just a mammary growth/tumor that some older female dogs can get occasionally. The area doesn’t feel hot and Diana doesn’t seem bothered by it in the least so it’s not painful to her. I think at worse it could be a cancer, I don’t think it is that bad, but it is best to find out right away. She might need a day surgery to remove the growth. I can swing the cost of a day surgery for a benign tumor fairly easily. If it’s cancer the cost would be prohibitive and then I would just keep her comfortable and go as long as she had a good quality of life. I can’t see doing chemo at her age and it would be very hard on her physically.
UPDATE: Diana has a cyst and not any cancer. For now we are just keeping an eye on it and if it doesn’t bother Diana we just leave it alone!
August 18, 2014
I find myself straddling the 21st and 19th century as I work towards self reliance. Just in my living room I have a LCD TV, a Five disc DVD player along with kerosene lamps and very efficient wood stove I can cook on. My patio has solar lights and motion detectors and I have an older cheap charcoal grill/smoker along with my Weber propane grill and double propane burner set up. I have all kinds of gadgets that can run on solar panels and batteries, little dynamos and homemade candles for light. I grow an herb and medicinal garden make my own bread and beer yet buy penicillin and Cipro at my local farm or pet store. I reduce, reuse, re-purpose and recycle but I’m not a tree hugger or greenie environmental wacko, I’m cheap! I can kill and butcher my own meat and grow a garden. I have solar panels and a wood stove. While I’m not all that high on the economic food chain I think I have done very well overall and quite often because I have gone against conventional wisdom and really looked at my cost of living.
I don’t think technology in of itself is evil. A LCD TV uses a lot less electrical energy compared to an old CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) TV. The little LCD TV Mom got at a yard sale cost her $10.00 and I had to buy the power cord $15.00 and a digital converter box for $33.00 so it could get digital channels but all of that only costs about 50 watts of electrical energy needed to run. Heck that is not even an old fashioned light bulb as far as electrical cost! This TV is also a multi-tasker as it has the right hook ups for a PC or laptop as a monitor. I’m sure some folks will poo-poo my ideas of using technology preparing as and EMP or CME “might” render it all useless. But that is a darn specific disaster scenario and I can save energy/money everyday until that specific disaster hits. Even the gurus are not sure how bad a CME or EMP might effect modern electronics so you might as well take advantage of the energy savings now and try to have backups in a Faraday cage if things go all FUBAR.
I like solar power at least on a small scale for most to have a bit of basic electrical power. No, you probably can’t afford a whole house setup to start, a few 20 watt or one 100 watt solar panel and a good battery is doable for a couple of hundred bucks. You can buy these items as you plan for them each month. Actually building a small solar powered system will cost less than what many people spend on an Iphone and data plan or a couple months worth of Sat./cable TV. Of course if you are one of those people that think you impress folks buy paying the highest price or having the latest gadget give you some sort of status among the plebes, I hope you enjoy it while lasts because without a signal or power all that you get is a very expensive paperweight.
One thing I recommend if you are looking at having a generator or going solar is get your wattage as low as possible before you make a big investment in backup/alternate power. Right away you will begin saving money and you can start by killing vampire loads with surge protectors on any appliance that requires a remote or has a clock. I was raised by a light nazi and learned to turn off lights when I left a room but even I saw about $5.00 per month savings just adding those surge protectors and turning off vampire loads. I use a lot of solar lamps around the house for my outdoor lighting as well as little nite lights in the house. You can’t work by most of these lights but they are great at night for a little bit of light and they save on electrical cost. I really like my motion detector out door solar lights as a security feature. These lights give off a soft glow and brighten considerably when motion is detected. I notice a light that turns on in the dark much more than seeing movement in a flood light. By getting your electric load as small as possible you will save money as you can get by with lower wattage on your generator or your alternative energy setup.
Now for lighting I like oil or Kerosene lamps as a gallon of kerosene will light a lamp for two hours per day for a month. If you are sensitive to the fumes from kerosene you might prefer oil lamps. This is very old tech in some ways back to the Old Testament era of using oil for lamps. I adore my wood stove while the basics of a fire for heat are well understood this stove is very high tech in it’s design which makes it very efficient so I save a lot of money on my electric bill. I also use a small window air conditioner that uses new technology but is also much cheaper to run compared to the whole house unit I ran two years ago. I’ll be looking for a small swamp cooler at yard sales this fall because they do a pretty good job cooling here in the high desert and they use very little electricity compared to an A/C unit of the same size.
I have a lot of books but I love my kindle as I have over 150 books already stored on it and many that I got for free. There is no way I could have all of those books on hand if I did not have a kindle. With the new digital decoder box with the USB port for recording TV show I can now do the same thing with a jump or hard drive and none of that is possible without technology. If you are a prepper/survivalist weight and space becomes two of the things you can run out of very fast! With a Solid State Drive( SSD) getting cheaper and jump drives more capable of holding a lot of data, laptops, tablets get smaller and cheaper there is no reason not take advantage of the space and weight savings. You can build a small faraday cage or box and there is a very good chance you can save all that data even through an EMP of CME event. Remember both of those events are line of sight (LOS) and the earth is round so there will be place with electricity and electronics and while replacing transformers and power will take time to replace, it will happen!
Age does not make an Idea bad as you may have noticed we still use the wheel and it still works.