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.