Things done, things to do…

October 31, 2011

    I got a few of my to do list done this weekend. Waxed 10 pounds of cheese. I really like the wax I bought from the local gal that is my beer, wine and cheese ingredient supplier. Sorry, I don’t have a brand name just “yellow cheese wax”. I have to say the wax went on cheese in a smooth thin coat and I’ll do a couple more coats of wax on it and it will be ready to store. The sirloin has been cut up into 6 thick steaks, a 4 pound roast and 2 pounds of stew meat chunks. It sure nice to know I have plenty of meat of all kinds ready and in the freezer.  I’ll be doing some canning of some of the meats in the the future so I’m not so dependent on electricity keeping the freezer running. Got the 40 pound bag of cat food in the Buckets and treated with DE and horror of horrors I ran out of buckets! I still have a big bag of Dog food that needs to get stored properly for the future.
    Mom and I have a big shopping day planned Tuesday. Fred Meyers has 10% off senior day and some items on sale (Tuna 2 cans for $.88) and some bras on sale. Big Lots has the solar LED lights I want and if Mom and I combine out stuff we should get $10.00 off the total cost. Then off to Paul’s to pick up some more buckets, Cascade on sale and a quick stop by Albertson’s for some wet cat food 4 cans for a dollar. Stop by the Beer lady and get ingredients for more beer.  All of the stores are within a mile of my house so I just make a loop and I don’t waste gas just to get a good deal on those items.
     I’m hoping I can order Mom’s 50 watt solar panel and then she will have all the parts need for her sun powered system. Emergency preparedness. com has a complete solar oven for $201.00 with shipping that I’d like to get this month. I think I’ve crunched all the numbers and while tight it should be doable. If I can buy it I will have accomplished all my goals for this year and then some I had put on a wish list but I didn’t think I could afford to get done.  Now for the fun part at least for me is starting a list of goals for next year.


Why prepare? Or why I started blogging on how I prepared

October 29, 2011

     I think it should be obvious on whay to prepare from Katrina to Fukishima to the rising costs of food and energy. If you don’t buy into what is happening daily around the world is a reason to prepare I’ll never convince you. 
The first reason I started blogging my preparing is my Mom told me to do it. Yes I respect my Mom and she is 65 and I’m 45 and I still do a lot of what my Mom says to do. I think we have become peers but she’s got 20 years of education at the school of hard knocks, so I pay attention to what she has to say. I may not agree with her but I better have a darn good reason not to agree. 
    I went through a personal finacial armageddon. I bought the hype that debt was good and over-leveraged. Then was down 3 weeks with flu, pnemonia then 4 months in the VA hospital and the  Extended Care Unit at the VA. Not good not working for 6 months no insurance and no way to pay any bills or debts. I was screwed and I should have lost everything, but my parents swooped an rescue me. Oh sure had some repos, paid off and cut up credit cards. But what really killed me is I didn’t even have my basic food or needs in my house when I got home from the VA. Mom was great bought me microwavable dinners, a tiny 4 cup coffee maker I could fill myself. I was very bad off with my CIDP even after I got out of the hospital. Life became a full-time job. I think it was a gift from God to save my soul if not my life.
    I was very lucky that I had the VA pick up my health care bills. Well not exactly lucky because health care was one reason I joined the Army.  Lucky in my Parents that spent $32,000.00+ plus of their savings to save  my finacial butt. (I’ve paid them back $28,000.00) But while I had credit and I was so over-leveraged I didn’t have anything I could say I truly owned. Not food, an emergency fund, nothing was real it was all an illusion of wealth. I had stuff, I owned nothing.
   I decided that I need at least food I could cook or bake to survive. That was my start in preparing. One advantage of hitting rock bottom is you have no where to go but up! Sure I did it on the cheap, I bought basics, I learned how to store grains, rice and beans long term. I can, dry and sprout to have good food. I have learned a bunch of skills about food preservation and recipes.Planting a garden to using a generator. Looking at a little Solar setup, to harvesting black walnuts. Nothing is ever perfect or safe. But he who will not risk will not win.
   Don’t get nuts trying to convince folks that prepping is the way to go. It’s basically if they get it, I don’t have to explain, and if they don’t get it, no explanation is possible. Time is getting short for prepping and soon we will move into survival phase. 

Back to the important stuff and things I can actually control!

October 28, 2011

      I got  #5 of Monteray Jack cheese so I’ll need to get  be busy waxing cheese. No real rush if you look at the use buy date for the harder cheese it will last quite along time in the fridge if stored properly.  Cheese needs to breath, so if you put in an air tight bag you will get mold. I have good luck placing a bit of parchment paper of the cut end and hold it in place with a thick rubber band. I’ve also read that you can wrap it in vineger soaked cheesecloth, but I haven’t tried that method. But that will keep it good until you are ready to wax.
    Bottleing up some dark ale and being an “acid minded moron” as well. I didn’t get my sugar ready for carbonation so had to get that going. It’s okay and I caught myself in time, but that is one step that seems to be the hardest to remember. Bottles are all clean and waiting in boxes to be filled and everything has been sanitised. Always remember to make sure the spigot on the bottling bucket is in the off position before filling. Yes, I did forget on my first batch but I caught it before it became a disaster and was just a small mess to clean up. Bottle caps sanitised and standing by ready to go. Always clean up extra bottle caps just in case it gets on the bottle wrong and deforms. Give your equipment a good rinse as you are done with using it. It really helps if you don’t wash them right away.  If you have chickens, pigs or a compost pile the leftovers of the wort can be tossed in to feed or the pile. 
    Going to be a good week for shopping as my check and the things I want to get on sale actually lined up. Big Lots has a set of solar-powerd LED string lights for $15.00 each. Small lights but the add a very nice look to the patio. I want to get 2 or 3 more sets for around the house. The really expensive bacon I like is on sale and I’d like to get at least another 5# canned for the future. Wet cat/Dog food is on sale so I can stock up again. The pets only get about a teaspoon a day for breakfast. So a can lasts about a week for the critters.
    Got go and pick the grapes and try out my idea for a home made press. Clean out the raised beds and start the winter garden in the windows. The little celery bulb is putting on growth and is looking good for the future. I was afraid I may have killed the raspberry bushes I was given, but new growth is coming on 1 of the bushes.  I’m going to take over a 6pak of dark ale in trade the neighbor that gave them to me. Strawberry  starts are a goner. They are supposed to be easy but I kill all the starts I’m given.
My walnut tree has become a menace dropping nuts, but I think I have a plan for gathering and using them this year.
    I’m trying to use the winter months practicing some new skills, reading up on stuff to be ready to hit the ground running (in the loosest sense of the term) on adding garden space as my lasagna garden should be breaking down  for next spring. I’d like to add an outdoor brick oven to my patio area, and I think I found the spot for a little green house.

What are you doing for next 2 months and next year. Sure it may all come apart but life goes on…. Make some plans look forward not with dread but with a joyful spirit on what you will do and learn, and if you die go to God with sweat of work upon your brow and the love of truth in your heart and I believe he will reward you as a true faithful servant. God gave us life so we must live it.

Using #OWS as a learning tool of what happens in a collapse.

October 27, 2011

As I have been watching the OWS protestors I have notice some very striking things. I think we can use what they are going through will be comparable to what happens in a collapse.  The reason you didn’t see these things happen in the TEA party is that everyone agreed on government is to big. It was a protest not a camp out, and everyone was responsible for themselves. The organizers of the events got the proper permits and facilities before the start of the event. The TEA party was prepared! It has been said that OWS are lazy, dirty, hippys, but I think they are reacting like most people in a large group with no true focus or goal. But OWS was not prepared and only had about  half of the things they needed. They have food, shelter, and water some 1st aid but no plan for sanitation, rules for conduct. Now they are trying to do it on the fly and that does not work well in a group without a focus.

  1. Everyone starts off in harmony. Sure things will be a little uncomfortable, but we are all in this together and we all have to help out. Everybody loves everybody and we all just get along for the greater good. 
  2. People don’t have realistic expectations and demands. It doesn’t seem to be working and what little support/sympathy they had is being loss due to what the OWS folks are doing themselves. Many folks have their own agenda and when conflicts and cracks start to form, there is no one rally point or idea to focus on and bring folks back together. 
  3. No responsibility or accountability lets everyone do what they want at anytime. But in this close living relationship everyone must work together or the group disintegrates and dies.
  4. Physical and psychological stress starts to build up. Most Americans don’t live outside 24/7 eat at communal kitchens at specific hours or live with such a lack of privacy for weeks on end.
  5. Sanitation or the lack thereof will start taking it’s toll. Sickness from vermin, improper storage of food, poor hygiene, exposure to bad weather and improper disposal of garbage and human waste.  The biggest killer in war time is not bombs and bullets but sickness. The US military fights a full time battle just to maintain basic sanitation in conditions similar to OWS. 
  6. Crime is starting to rise NYC has seen 154% increase of crime in the last couple of weeks. Part of it is that the police are focusing on OWS so they have a reduced presence elsewhere in the city and some is OWS it self. We are hearing  complaints from OWS about homeless “freeloaders” are taking advantage of the free food and free clothing items. Petty theft and assault  is on the rise among OWS as well.

I have lived in conditions similar to OWS when on Army field training. Except food, water, fuel. sanitation were always at the forefront and planned well ahead of training. That did not happen for OWS and now you can see how and what happens by not being fully prepared. These folks have some food, water and some shelter, but you can see so many things they do not have and are not prepared for like something as simple as enough  porta-potties for the group.  

Use this as a mental exercise for you family or network. Think about your group goals, survival is to broad to use as a goal. set up jobs, activities, skills, learning and play.  Think of what will need to be done daily, weekly, monthly and for a year. Then rotate the jobs so no one gets burnt out and everyone learns how to do a little of everything and learns something new. Plan on getting on each others nerves and what you will do to combat that and get people focused again on the things you need to do to survive.

Fall has fell and it’s time to think about winter.

October 25, 2011

     I know this can be an even more stressful time for folks with what is going on with the world. But I did a few things different this year that helped to reduce my stress. Get through this year and try it for next year if it doesn’t work for you please comment and tell us how your system works.
#1   Started my Xmas shopping in January. Please don”t think I’m a super organized, but I worked hard getting my costs down in the last half of 2010. I taught myself to keep cash on hand and think about it differently. I started thinking that if I wanted to buy something would I sell some of my small amount of silver in order to purchase it? This mental game worked for me, and suddenly I wasn’t spending all of my check and I had cash on hand. I stopped using my Debit card and checks so much and paid cash during my normal shopping and bill paying. For me there was a huge difference between swiping the debit card and breaking a 20 or 50 dollar bill. Plus all of my change started going in a jar and after about 3 months it usually grew to $20.00-$30.00 I could run though the change machine and spend for groceries with out paying much of a premium. I know that may not sound like much to a lot of folks, but that’s a 50# bag of rice or beans or flour, yeast, sugar and salt for making bread for 6+ months.
 #2   I  started keeping a $20.00 bill for “Mad Money” in my wallet away from my normal spending money. This was for great deals at yard sales or something I saw at the Macy’s outlet/Mall while Mom and I walk. I drive by a little pawn shop that let’s put stuff on layaway with 1/3 down. It’s amazing what that little $20.00 will buy or put on layaway. I started with some lovely sweaters I got at the Macy’s outlet for $3.00 each. I think I got 8 over  2 weeks. Then checking the pawn shop in Feb. and they had a Mr.Buddy heater for under $50.00 that I put on layaway and paid off the same month.  About June some turkey went on sale. I bought 2 and had the start for Holiday meals. I did Prime Rib last year for New Years Eve/ Dad’s birthday and wanted to do it again.  I had hoped to get it under $5.00 per pound but with beef prices what they are now.  I settled for 2 very nice 5# prime ribs for $5.39 per pound. I bought a few other items all through the year. I think you get the idea how far that $20.00 can go with a little patience. This also works for a SHTF moment as you have cash on hand for gas or those last minute items or if electronics go down you can pay with cash.   
#3   It does not matter what or how you start to get prepared. You must actually start, not plan to start at some later time because of excuses not to start. Be it guns, ammo, food, water, a garden, buying a packet of seeds for herbs or the Boy Scout Handbook. The most important thing is to start with 1 item, that 1st step is the most critical. Make yourself  budget $20.00 as a start for preps. It can be monthly, weekly or daily, but spend that $20.00 towards your future. That  $20.00 will buy a hell of a lot of TP! or bulk foods, heck you can trade an empty propane tank for a full one for under 20 bucks at most grocery stores. 
#4    Learn how to do stuff for yourself. Winter is a great time to build some skills. On my blogroll we got folks that do everything from building boats,  running a small business/farms to commodity s, stocks and Macroeconomics. They also have links to others with skills to teach. You have access to the Internet use it for learning as well as looking a LOLCATS. You can get Kindle for PC and Amazon and other sites have free downloads of books. Check out Project Gutenberg and many survival sites have free downloads.

It is up to you! I truly believe your life will depend on how well you prepare. Be it an earthquake, Hurricane, Tornado, Blizzard, a lost job, and economic collapse or the Zombie Apocalypse. Perhaps FEMA, DHS and the rest of the Alphabets of the Government will be ready and do well. But would you bet your life on it?  If you are not prepared you already have!

What a great week for me getting stuff done!

October 24, 2011

  Changing weather patterns tend to have a huge effect on my flares and as you can guess the changing of season makes for some ruff days. But this last week while a little tough physically was great mentally for finding my place in life and getting stuff done. I was getting a bunker mentality and way to focused on what I wanted to get done for me. But this last week I got outside myself and gave to my new charity “The Lighthouse for Men” It was only about $40.00 that I spent but it was also 25 pounds of pancake mix and 15 dozen eggs. I have felt so good since I gave. I think it was God speaking to my heart and telling me to get off myself and how bad things are and get moving forward with life.
    I taught my neighbors how to make beer by making it step by step and what works for me. They carried home the fermenting bucket I loaned them and will show it off to some friends that are coming to visit. They are so excited to add another skill and drink some good beer that they have made themselves.  I miss the teaching and mentoring the most since I left the Army. Sure it’s great to master a skill, run around shoot weapons and get dirty. But as a NCO I was mainly a teacher, a keeper/dispenser of the tribal wisdom and I miss that the most. . In a way this blog is my way of sharing, teaching and training.
   I know as a kid I wanted to live a life that made a difference. My Mom also instilled in me a very healthy respect for reality and good and evil by her actions. In the last year or 2  I have changed my outlook quite a lot. I’m not so rigid in my ideas in politics or lifestyles. I’m learning skills from all over the spectrum from tree huggers to Mormons, from left, right and center. I’m looking at the message for worth and not the messenger. I’m a firm believer that everyone is a role model of sorts. Even folks that make bad choices show you what not to do with your life. I also believe in what goes around comes around. Just think about Khaddafi. I find it some what ironic that he expected to be treated better by the rebels than he ever treated his enemies. He counted on the rebels beliefs in what is good and evil to save him.

Weekend ramblings, beer, indoor garden and EBS

October 23, 2011

      I am getting a few things done just by puttering along. I hung my little solar light string over the patio. I’m not sure if I like the placement yet so I’ll let it go for a couple of days and see how it looks at night. I’m trying to replace all my exterior lighting with solar power. LEDs and the new type panels are a much better choice than just a couple of years ago and it saves money on the electric bill.
    There is one part of beer making that kinda sucks and that is cleaning the bottles. I got 1 case cleaned on Sat. and working on the second case today.  Now I have 3 cases of 12 oz.bottles and 36 of the big bottles. I’m planing on getting 1 more case of the 750 ml fliptop bottles. I like having the 12 oz. regular beer bottles for sharing and the big bottles make the bottling process go faster. I always like working with what I call the rule of 3’s. I’ll have enough bottles for 1 batch of beer carbonating, 1 batch conditioning and one batch for drinking/getting cleaned up.
     I got the mini-green house cleaned and set up in a south facing window. The plastic cover was cheap and so dry rotted I just tossed it away.  I think it will make a great spot for a winter garden for herbs, my celery plant and maybe some greens. The monster cooler is in the basement with the potatoes. Hopefully it will work like a mini root cellar at best or a place for them to sprout and I’ll have seed for potatoes next spring. Still have to grab a few more tomatoes and peppers out of the garden and get them drying as a freeze is coming Monday night. Then  get to work putting the garden to bed for the winter.
    I been thinking about the big EBS alert that is happening at 2 PM EST on the 9th of Nov. DHS will take over all radio and TV broadcasts for 2-3 minutes. Quite a few folks are concerned about this EBS and I don’t blame them, but instead of getting all worked up about this I suggest you use it as your own test of how you would react to an Emergency. Do you have paper hard copies of your important papers. Could you grab them and have it in the car along with your BOB in 3 minutes? Is you gas tank full or do you have some gas stored for your car/generator. How is the oil level in your generator? Do you have flashlights and is your backup lighting and heat source ready to go with fuel. Extra batteries and are the batteries in your flashlights good? Can you turn off your main power and your water main? Matches or lighters where you can find them even in the dark? I think since you can’t stop it  from happening you would do well to use this as an opportunity for planning how you will react at school, work or at home.

Making beer and helpful neighbors

October 21, 2011

    Busy beer day! My neighbors and I made a run to the local beer lady today. They picked up some fixings for Amber ale and I got the Dark ale and some more flip top bottles. They have been my lab rats for testing the beer and I made up a batch of the Amber ale which is their favorite. Well along with picking up the ingredients they will try making their own beer. I’m loaning them a fermenting bucket to start with and I will walk them through the steps. They have collect bottles and next month the plan to buy a bucket set up. Just like most of us money is tight, but they can enjoy this hobby on the cheap and learn a new skill as well! Plus I love to teach folks.
    I had a busy day as well bottling 1 batch of beer and brewing up the dark ale and  I think I’ve figured out how I’ll do Lager type beer in my garage fridge. I got a thermometer so I can set the temp between 46-54 degrees F. That will give more flexibility and some variety in beers.
   Now for teaching  them beer making  my neighbors are coming over to clean out my gutters. They have been great and  we share tools, veggies and stuff. so I think we both gain. I think its very critical to build your support network now. Friends , family,  neighbors can be your start if you can get them working toward being self-reliant. It may start over some gardening or tools or a BBQ of them expressing an interest in doing stuff for themselves. 
   I stay away from going all  J.W Rawles or Kurt Saxon. But smoking your own meat, canning, or sharing shopping tips or baking your own bread are fairly safe topics and you can see if they follow up. Saving money has always worked best for me in opening the door for any prepping discussion.
    Don’t give away to much about your preps to start and  follow up of how did that bread recipe work out…. and so forth. I think you may find a few folks that respond positively. Don’t forget you local businesses to support instead of the big box stores. You will want them around if  TSHTF as long as possible. Develop a relationship with them. It might make the difference of you getting into shop or cashing a check when strangers will be turned away.

I love the smell of imploding and TBTF bankers. It smells like victory!

October 19, 2011

I hate the TBTF, there are plenty honest mid-level and small banks that were ready to step in and save a lot of consumers. They were in it for the profit margins and their own self interest. Funny their self interest aligned with the consumer not D.C. and not Wall St.
If you want my money pay for the privilege of using it. It wasn’t all that long ago that banks used to compete and pay 5% + for savers and offer  toasters and all kinds of gifts to attract savers. So what changed? Do you know? I’ll give you hint look at IRAs and the Fed.  Do your research and if you haven’t found the link in 3 days. we will have a study group. It has to do with a consumer and debt economy.
Go forth and learn you don’t need a masters in mathematics or economics. If you have ever had a ARM loan there is a hell of a lot difference between a 3%interest+ payment and a 6% intrest+  payment. If you have a Credit card go from 9.98% to 24% interest you know the payment difference is quite high even if you don’t understand the math. Almost all banks make you pay interest first. If you have a 5 year loan for $5,000.00  at 1% lets say it’s a family or friend loan. The cost of the loan is 1% interest over 5 years. What is 1% of $5,000 for 5 years = that is the cost of the loan. Now most of us will break the cost down to an average price of principle and interest per month payment. Most banks will ask you to pay interest up front and a small portion of principle. That is why if you look at your house payment you are paying $500+ for a payment, at least $300 goes for  interest and $65.00 on principle(the actual loan) and a bit for insurance /property taxes Banks front load the the interest. A simple home loan for $90 grand over 30 years will cost you over $200,000.00+ adding in interest which is front loaded on the loan and will be paid first to the Bank. Why would banks demolish homes? Cause they got all the interest for providing the loan up front.
   You will get a statement for your home payments. Take a good look at interest paid and principle paid. If you bought a home in the last 10 years I bet you paid more on interest than principle and DC gave a tax break for being a moron for paying the banks interest first. #1 admit you got took you signed that contract of your own free will. #2 start working to change the system.  Even if you have to admit you were a moron don’t let someone else get scammed. #3 check out MERs and your county assessor. I’m not saying you should not pay your debts but if the bank broke the contract its a broken contract. I mean I could not tear up my Mortgage paperwork and declare that contract null and void yet not  keep my home. The same should apply to banks or the mortgage originators.

I did my "Random act of Kindness" today

October 19, 2011

      I wasn’t able to afford to do all I wanted but I did get 25 pounds of pancake mix and 15 dozen eggs for the folks at the “Lighthouse”. I figured why wait to do some good?  I know those guys can have a good and filling  breakfast to start the day. As tough as it gets for all of us to make ends meet. It’s doubly hard for charities that depend on private donations. I’m certainly not rich and this comes from my pocket. But for me it’s worth it because,  it feels good to help someone out and I don’t feel so poor if I can give to charity. I think it also helps me look outside myself, get off any “little pity party” I want to have and think of others.  That is good for me, it’s all to easy to get a bunker mentallity and think only of yourself.  I’m reworking the budget so I can add some additional food purchases for these guys on a monthly basis.
     The onions have finished drying and I put some in 2,  8 oz. wide mouth jars and 1 pint jar. I figure about 3 pounds of fresh onions dried to about 16oz. of dried onion by volume. Sealed them up with my foodsaver jar attachment. I’m very excited doing the jars for gifts and goodie baskets. Got to hit the local dollar store for more baskets, some pretty jars, lables/gift/recipe cards. I need to stop by the farmers market for some sweet and hot  peppers and carrots for the stone soup basket. It looks like it’s all coming together for the Baskets.
     I did get some shopping done for myself and got a couple of good deals. I’ve been concerned about meat and dairy price going up so getting those items got moved to the top of the stock up on list. I got beef sirloin for $2.29 a pound and got 11.5 pound chunk that I can make a few steaks and a roast for the freezer. A 5 pound block of mild cheddar cheese for $13.95 that I’ll wax this weekend and store in the pantry.  5 cans of  tuna in oil for 49 cents each, using some points on my customer loyalty card. I’m not a big tuna eater though I do like a good “Tuna melt” sandwich, but heck I can’t even buy a can of catfood for that price! I know that I can feed my cat a treat if nothing else. I got a big bag of Dogfood and so the dogs should be good for the next 10 months on food and the dry catfood I buy went on sale this week. So all pets should be good to go for several months.
     I think buying stuff on sale or “loss leaders” is the one of the biggest advantages of being a prepper. You don’t need anything and your shopping list is built on what you will need in the future, not what you must have today. I did have a screw up as I thought I was good on dishwashing soap. Nope I ran out and had to scavenge from my RV supplies. I’ll have to replace that and get a few more bottles for the pantry.  It happens to me sometimes and you just fix it. Usually if I drop the ball on something it’s cheap and easy to replace for under $5.00 or I have basic fixings for stuff I could use if I can’t go shopping. This is a very good lesson on keeping yur inventory up to date. I’m positive that dishsoap is lurking around someplace in my pantry and I’m looking right at it and missing it. But since it won’t spoil I’ll by some more and it will Magically appear and I’ll remember why I put it there.  Probably so I could keep track of it! LOL
Keep faith in yourself and keep moving forward.