Getting ready for winter…

October 12, 2015

The wood delivery did not happen this week and the wood guy is out hunting for a couple of weeks.  This is great for me as I wanted to pay cash for and have the  last cord of wood delivered after the 21st of October. But I thought the firewood guy wanted to deliver this week, so I have bit of cash on hand I did not anticipate. Now I can buy the pork bellies on sale and try out making some bacon in my (new) smoker.

Last winter Mom was huge help on sealing up the windows for the winter. I have to say I did not pay much attention to caulking and sealing off drafts around windows until Mom mentioned it. By golly, I sure noticed a big difference after Mom and I added plastic to the windows and started caulking around the wood frames to start sealing out the drafts.  This year we are going to start caulking around the frames outside while the weather is good and then move inside as the weather gets nasty. From what I have read on the DIY pages on the internet is you should figure using about a half tube of caulk around the average sized window but I’m not sure if that includes applying caulk inside and outside or if that is just on the outside of a window and frame.  DAP caulk is about $2.00-$3.00 per tube and the clear exterior type caulk is $6.00 + per tube. The plan of attack is Mom and I will caulk the windows outside while we have good weather this week. I will be able to give you a report about how much caulk you will need to to “winterize” your windows.

I have to say Mom is like many women and she notices that detail type stuff.  Like how she noticed some of my home siding caulked is cracked and needs to be replaced.  She is correct but it is going to be a big job to scrape off the old caulk and add new caulk to the seams.  Plus my home’s paint job is going to to look a bit odd as I don’t have any touch up paint in the correct color to blend in the caulk. I’m hoping the clear caulk will make the weather proofing look seamless but I think I will have to repaint the house in a new color.

I finally got the tulips and garlic planted, yes I’m a bit late as I should have planted the garlic the last week of September. I cleaned out some of the grape leaves as well as trimming back some of the tree limbs.  I was quite a surprise how much sunlight hit my front yard garden beds simply trimming the grape vines back. I am toast after my yard work on Saturday. I filled a large dumpster and a 25 gallon trash can full of yard waste. SW Idaho having a very warm fall this year via the El Nino and the jet stream going with a strong SW flow out of Cali/ Arizona weather pattern. A warm/wet winter would be great for the area. I’m stocking up just in case we see a -20 F. winter.

Mom and I used sales to top off my pantry. Paper goods, and got a bit low on coffee and some of my barter goods.  One thing nice about my plan of shopping at a six month supply, via sales is I have time to shop before I run out of stuff.  The local Fred Meyer store had the big can of store brand coffee for $4.99 each.  I always get a bit concerned when certain items go on sale at many stores because it seems the stores are clearing out old inventory before a new price hike or introducing a new smaller cans they want to stack on the shelf.  This isn’t a hard and fast “shopping rule” just something to be aware of when you shop.

An update on cooking with propane during the summer. I used about two 15 pound propane tanks grilling/ cooking most dinners over the summer months.

Fall cleanup is happening this week!

October 6, 2015

I got things organized in the shop and found the wood base of my work bench. I got the garden tool organizer( Lowes $13.00) built, filled with my garden tools and I love it.  I doubt I’m the only person that stacked garden tools in a handy corner of the garage or shop. Speaking for myself, I often get pummeled by tools trying to get the tool  I want, plus the “wanted tool” is always at the back of the pile.  While I can only speak for myself,  searching for tools or fighting them when the tools go into “avalanche mode”  is  a mild pain in the butt.  I think it is critical to reduce all stressors now before any disaster hits. During this cleanup I found my small garden shears, but Mom’s trowel is still MIA.

I hauled four loads of the free rock/gravel to my driveway area, donated to me by one of the neighbors. First lesson learned, is I love my new square, long handle shovel for loading up rock. I noticed when Mom and I were loading up the rock that I moved more rock with my small shovel compared to mom’s big scoop type shovel.  Second lesson learned, make sure the tires of your wheel barrow or garden wagon are aired up before you start hauling rock or any heavy load! Mom and I want to add a real air compressor to our tools but you can get a small electric compressor for about $20.00 used and they are great for keeping all tires aired up.  That saves gas on your automobiles and physical effort using your garden haulers like wheel barrows or wagon.  I don’t want to be greedy but the neighbors will let me haul off  more of their excess rock so I can fill in in front of my little RV or add the rock to the alleyway garden to kill out the weeds.

I took Pam’s advice and added a few concrete pavers on top of the tarp/roof over the wood shed and added a few rocks and pavers at the bottom of the tarp to keep the wind from getting under the tarp and trying to carry it away. With one more cord of wood delivered this week I’m feeling confident about my winter heat plan.  I would recommend getting the Igloo insulated drink  5  gallon jugs on sale  this time of year and you add them to your water storage plan. These jugs will hold hot water for 18-24 hours can be filled at the last minute with hot water via the tub/shower for any minor/local disasters and they are a real physical energy saver if your water is cutoff for any reason.

I got my patio cleaned and organized. That is not a big deal for most people that do not cook a summer’s worth of dinners on the grill.  Or just added a new smoker. I used the leaf blower  and made quick work cleaning off all leaves, spider webs and dirt  and lots of dust on the patio.  I used two 15 gallon propane tanks should last via cooking one meal per day for about 65-75 meals this summer.  Now this a meal planning number and not set in stone. I mostly grilled over propane and did not use a lot of charcoal this summer.  If you plan to cook on a grill or propane gas cook stove as a backup cooking system I would plan to use at least one 15 pound propane for cooking one meal a day per 30 days in good weather. If you want to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner on your propane gas grill the 15 pound fuel tank will last about 10 days,  depending on your choice of meals.  I feel using grill cooking dinners this summer cooking  was a good test. Hopefully you will get some idea about how much propane you will need on hand  for 30 days worth of meals. Remember how I prep is not the same as how you prep. You might be concerned about food smells if you cook outdoors and a small Butane hot plate you use indoors might be your “cooking “solution.

I cooked my first meal in the Romertopf and it turned out pretty good. Mom had seconds on the chicken and saved the sauce for Chicken and dumplings later this week. I used Progresso recipe starter Garlic sauce, and I tossed in a can of mixed veggies and mushrooms. I thought it turned out okay and Mom really liked it. The romertopf chicken recipe recommend adding few bacon strips for flavor and I think that would have made the meal  pop!


Big score at the thrift shop and shopping this week’s ads

October 1, 2015

The local thrift store did not have any sheets, but I finally bought a Romertopf, terracotta casserole dish/cooker.  The Romertopf is a an unglazed terracotta cooker that sort of recreates cooking foods wrapped in clay and tossed on hot coals of a fire. It is a slow cooker that works in an oven. What is great about using a romertopf is most meals require very little oil or water to make a dish and a make and forget sort of meal that can cook slowly in an oven.  You have to heat the terracotta slowly but the energy use should be very low for the pot.

I got a Magic Chef  dehydrator and need to get busy on drying the tomatoes and other veggies.  Mom did not have much luck dehydrating tomatoes.  With the new “Magic Chef” fan driven dehydrators, drying  the harvest should work faster/ better for storage.  I am learning and sometimes that includes wasted food as I learn.  Since I grew the plants,  I don’t have a big problem with it getting “wasted” and chucked in the trash/ compost bin if I screw up on preserving it. I screw up a lot and that is how I learn.

Albertsons has some great buys this week.  I picked up some shrimp, two pound bag for $10.00 and I had a coupon for butter $1.88 per pound with a limit of 2 pounds per coupon.  I have to make a few more trips to Albertsons to stock up on butter at this price. I’m not sure of why, but wholesale butter prices are starting to spike up.  Last week, reported that butter “futures” were up to $3.10 per pound. I think that butter is a great prep item to stock up. You can freeze it, bottle/can it for longer storage. Butter is natural fat plus a little bit of butter adds a lot of flavor to meals or bake goods.  Albertsons now has the tall bic lighters 5 for $5.00. I love bic lighters and from what I have read from  Selco (Survivor of the 1993 Bosnian war) and ferfal (surviving the economic collapse in Argentina) good lighters tend to be a great barter item.  I want to stock up on the lighters just for my own use and have plenty of extras for possible barter.

My sister loaned me a super sized tarp to cover the wood pile this winter. The tarp covers the wood pile area and will give me time to buy all the materials to replace the roof properly for a long term fix. I complain about how the roof was installed but it did an okay job protecting the area from rain for almost 10 years. Once I get the new roof installed it should last for another 15-20 years.  I am looking at adding a rain gutter system to keep the water run off out of my neighbor’s yard and should  re direct water part of my alley garden I have been working on this year. I ordered one more cord of wood to be delivered next week since I’m not sure how much I will use of this new wood if the winter gets cold.   Worse thing that could happen, is I have enough wood for a cold winter. Best outcome is I have a nice stock of seasoned wood for next winter. One of the things I did not think about heating with my wood stove is how much stacked wood I need to have on hand for a cold winter because I went cheap to start with the mill ends, augmented that with buying a quarter cord “box” of fruit wood and last year my aunt gave me free elm wood that Dad cut and split but I got a literal wood pile and I did not make a good stack of wood to estimate my usage over the winter months.

I got Mom’s laptop loaded with a nice bit of anti-virus software from Comodo , updated her  email contact list and updated to Service pack 1 finally on both laptops without a glitch.  So far, I really like Windows 7 OS as it seems to work well with my old Office 2003 install. Plus the desktop is not all that different compared to Windows XP. As far as I know I can’t create my own restore point in  Windows 7 like I did in Win XP. But the Win 7 software seems to create restore points that are solid. After using the laptops for a couple of weeks I would recommend both as good buys as a laptop for prepping/survival as well as a basic PC for most people.


Yard and garden work/cleanup.

September 27, 2015

I conned Mom into getting my Strawberry planter squared away while I weeded the front yard flower beds and planted a daffodil bulbs and some pansy for additional color next spring.   My hope is I will add enough plants I like to start choking out the weeds I don’t like have in the front beds. The front yard house bed I planted Colorful/Flowering Kale and it is looking great with the cooler weather. This bed will be my leafy veggie bed next year. I planted a multi-color swiss chard  in a raised bed and we are still getting a nice harvest of leaves.  Mom also got a great harvest of tomatoes out of the back yard raised bed garden today. My first mossy rose plant was looking a bit sad, but it has perked up a lot after getting a few chunks of wood dropped on it as well as moving the mulch around it.

The “Good Neighbors” are officially moved out and the new neighbor is moving in this week.  I feel a bit sad for myself but I’m very happy for N & L making a bit of profit on selling the house and moving on with their lives. They are the type of people that will create a great community wherever they go.  Luckily, for me they still have many friends and family here in the valley so they will be visiting from time to time. I know it is darn easy to talk about “kids these days” in less than positive words.  N & L and their friends give me a lot of hope for the future.

I know the future may appear bleak and things look sort of dark.  It is always this way when the paradigm changes. Keep on prepping build your skill set and building real wealth you can pass on to your kids.  The tale of the glass half full of water, an optimist states it is half full, a pessimist states the glass is half empty. A realist states the glass is always full, even if it is full of air. Be a realist, it is up to you fill the glass!

Wood delivered today!! Huzzah

September 25, 2015

I am so glad that I got the wood area cleaned up last week!  Off loading the wood and getting it stacked only took about 2 and half hours with Mom and I working.  A huge bonus, I did a lot better job stacking the wood correctly this year. Last year Dad chucked in the wood and I had to burn, then  I stack the wood as space became available. I might order another cord of wood to finish filling up the wood area since I’m not sure how this wood will burn in my fireplace.  I have never started a winter with a neatly stacked wood pile so I’m not sure how much “neatly stacked” wood I will burn over the winter.   Over all Mom and I have done most of the winter prep, though we need to caulk the windows in October and will put up plastic to seal the windows and then all winter prep will be done.

I did not have much of a “last minute shopping list” for the Government  budget shutdown as I stocked up last week via sales.  I added a few items to this week’s shopping list as I had the cash on hand and a bit more motivation to stock up on some trade goods.  I had to ration myself as I have sister on EBT and she might need a “care package” if the government shuts down. Luckily I have several types/ levels of care packages on hand. I think the PTBs will pass a CR or Continuing Resolution and we can face this again in December. Just so we know how much we need those “Congress critters” and government workers.

I don’t suggest anyone panic, as I see the point of prepping is to avoid any panic. If you prep you should be ready for not shopping for at least a couple of weeks or more.  You have nearly a week to add a few last minute items if the government shuts down and EBT cards are  not refilled October 1st.  An event that probably won’t happen in October, but some day soon I think if “SHTF”  happens and you should be ready to stay home and to protect you and yours.  I got a couple of bottle of booze today at the liquor store and I had no idea about prices, because I seldom buy liquor.  I got couple of a pints/fifths and saw the prices for stocking up on booze. Whining about the price of stuff is not helpful. Get the stuff stored and then complain about the cost of stuff!

What I recommend is you keep stacking and learning new skills as many of my readers have already built a good stockpile of the basics , before I got a clue about prepping.  If you are prone to panic, stash away any credit cards and go to cash or stack more PMs (Precious Metals).  Have cash/emergency fund on hand to pay the bills for 1-3 months at a min. Get into a local bank or Credit union for any “direct deposit”  money and keep cash on hand for any small bills or basic shopping.

I think you should protect yourself buying goods with no counter-party risk.  You will always need food, water, energy and security.  Get out of all debt other than your mortgage if you have low interest rate first and do not take an interest only ARM/ HELOC.  All credit/debt must evaluated critically if it is the right move for you.  Debt can make slaves of us all, but you can use a bit of debt to improve your economic position. By used cars for cash, don’t pay interest on credit cards and pay all bills monthly.

I bought two refurb. laptops on credit and it is so tempting to get stuff now and pay later but I can’t call the economy in 2 weeks little lone in 2 months.  I’ll pay off  debt as quickly as possible (October) and if the stars align I’ll buy a bit more on “credit if I don’t pay interest.

Overall we have a great setup going into winter.

Warning !! Food stamps may not get paid Oct. 1st if the government shutsdown

September 24, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government shutdown Oct. 1 could immediately suspend or delay food stamp payments to some of the 46 million Americans who receive the food aid.

The Agriculture Department said Tuesday that it will stop providing benefits at the beginning of October if Congress does not pass legislation to keep government agencies open.

We had a trial run of this October of 2013 What did you do during the great ebt blackout . People were very upset and a lot of food got wasted as shopping carts full of food were abandoned and people just left the stores.

I will be finishing up my shopping and getting my gas in the next couple of days. But I’m not taking any other special precautions at this time. If the government shuts down I’ll probably just stay home and see how things work out.


Busy weekend organizing stuff and deliveries of rock, wood and shopping

September 21, 2015

I was very surprised to get another load of rock delivered via good neighbor N.  The good neighbors are moving and made the “rock” offer before they got a such a quick offer to buy their house. Mom’s parking area is completely covered in rock and should make getting around this winter easier and safer with her bad knee.  We put down a thick layer of the rock. Hopefully between the rock, wood ash and the  homemade vinegar weed killer, the weeds  in the alley will finally die off!   I made a lot of progress on the alley way garden this year.  I want to add more plants that do well in poor soil, love lots of sun and are drought tolerant. I have seen sunflowers do well in the alley so I might add a few plants as a border and next year add a bit of shade for plant that need a bit less sun.

I got a lot of the wood area cleanup done. I pulled down the make shift plastic and got a good look at the construction of the roof.  It is worse than I thought and needs to be torn down and completely rebuilt. I will need to get a few more treated 4×4 posts and  a couple of 2x6s to frame the roof correctly. I’m not sure I will get all of the work done this fall so I will cover the wood with tarps a quick fix and start buying up more lumber as I can afford it. While things are not quite the way I planned, I don’t mind doing some quick fixes until I can afford to put up a proper roof. Plus once the roof is built I will have extra tarps, which are great to have on hand for quick repairs due to storm damage and making shelter from the elements.

The $100.00 cord of wood arrived this weekend.  Well it wasn’t a cord of wood nor was it regular firewood, it was all mill ends and I already have plenty of mill ends on hand. I had a bad feeling about ordering this wood as it seemed to good to be true. I did not take delivery, though I felt a little bad that the guy did all that work for no pay off. Perhaps they will be more forth coming on what the wood is and how much the they are really giving people for the money.

Albertson’s had a great sale on Quilted Northern toilet paper, Brawny paper towels and MJB coffee for $4.99 each. 12 packs of the toilet paper, 8 packs of paper towels and the 26 oz. can of coffee.  The “catch” is you had to buy at least 6 on sale items total to get that price  though you could mix it up buying 3 of one item and 3 of another.  While I don’t mind buying store brands but, many have gotten very cheap as far as quality. Getting a good name brand product I like is worth spending the money when it goes on sale as you tend to get a “good bang for your buck” it seems you use less product for the same results.

One of the things I love about preparing is once you get your basics stockpiled you can shop only the sales/loss leaders and you save a lot of money! I just spent about $75 dollars at Albertsons and all I got was 72 rolls of good quality toilet paper, 18 rolls of great paper towels plus increased my stock pile of coffee.  I don’t feel the need to grocery shop weekly as I’m good on my other food/ household items though Cash & Carry had chicken quarters for .39 cents a pound if you buy 40 pounds. The chicken is packed in 10 pound bags so you don’t have to store the whole boxed case if you have a small freezer. I have plenty of chicken on hand now!

I can’t speak for all preppers but for me, what I consider a six month supply on hand for any item means I should start looking for sales. A three month supply of an item means I need to shop and build up my supply even if the items I want are not on sale but can be had for a good price. I’m doing all of my prep on a fixed income so I have to work sales.


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