Odds and ends weekend

June 9, 2012

Power was restored to everyone yesterday and the Power company claims this is one of the biggest power outages they have seen in decades.  I don’t think that storm should have had such big effect on the grid, this was an average spring storm with wind gust at the highest of 60-65 straight-line winds.  My opinion is that our grid is overused and under maintained like much of the rest of the US and we will see more of the outages take longer to fix.  Having the Water treatment plant fail in Twin Falls really has me concerned because while I have warned folks to prepare for that happening.  I did not think it could happen so quickly and in just an average storm.

Not to minimize some of the storms and damages we have seen here in the USA some have been quite severe. I think that God is sending a message of  “Hey  Stupid! wake up and be ready to take care of yourself and others.”  We have seen just how ineffective the DHS and FEMA have been in these emergencies at best and create a bureaucratic nightmare at worse!  Don’t Panic! and keep doing whatever you can afford to do because even an additional day or week worth of the basics could make the difference!

On a happier note Walgreen’s is having a sale on it’s “Nice” brand coffee $4.99 for 33.9 oz can!  The sale starts on June 10th and while I have yet to try the coffee most of the “Nice” branded stuff is good quality.  I plan to pick up a few cans and even if I don’t like as well as my regular coffee it will make a great barter item!

How to Freeze Dry Food 

Found this the other day and it looked like something to try out. Many stores in my area carry dry ice, and I have several coolers already on hand to try this method out.  Cash and Carry are always having sales on frozen fruits and veggies and now that I’m set for water on hand this could be just the ticket for getting my fruits and veggies in the pantry filled up.  This would be a great method for folks with limited storage space for food or need  light weight food for BOB’s and the BOV.  I think it could also save a lot of money by making your own freeze dried food compared to buying it.

Got the Dark ale and lager bubbling away and doing both batches this way seems to work out since the Ale is ready to bottle faster than the lager I don’t get overwhelmed and have a bit of a break between bottling.  Later this month I hope to get started on the all-grain brewing and learn how to do that and get a few supplies stored for brewing the Pantry.

Get your inventories done and get your yard sale wish list going!  Remember to add the max. price you can pay and stay within your budget.  A lot of money and financial folks are agreeing with me on the 3-4 month idea. But that’s not that bad we have the summer months and harvest that are in that time frame. Which I much prefer compared to having it happen in winter!  Stay positive and upbeat and don’t let the news get you down. The roses still bloom and critters are getting born. Life goes on!


Big storm blew through last night

June 5, 2012

The storm came in last night about 7PM and we saw almost a 40 degree drop in temps between Monday and Tuesdays Highs. Some gusty winds up to 60-65 mph.  I know for some of you folks that’s just a breeze but did do a little destruction here.  Mostly tree limbs down in few spots but Our grid had some major outages and Twin Falls had power knocked out to its water plant. Power was restored but everything had to shut down water usage , Farm irrigation, Industry as well as homes. They placed a ban on water lawns till Thursday and asked folks to conserve water as much as possible!

I think this is a good example on how fragile our water systems are as well as how quickly even a short term interruption can have on our lives.  We have to have irrigation here in Southern Idaho because of the Hi-desert climate and without water the harvest is toast.  Please folks I can’t say this enough of getting your water needs taken care of before summer starts straining the system!

I did find some cool water pump/watering systems for rain barrels at Amazon.com. You can use your garden hose and sprayer just like normal as long as the water holds out.  If your gravity feed system isn’t providing enough pressure to get out to what you have to water, having one of these might be an answer.  Just search solar water pumps on Amazon and you will find the pumps.

The end is near….er!

June 3, 2012

No,  I don’t see the world being blown up but I do see most of the major economic powers going through an economic collapse.  Perhaps a huge reset in how we approach our lives and priorities.  Things can move awful fast for example Greece was the basket case but now Spain is catching up very fast and we are seeing folks pulling money or transferring money from the PIIGS to more “stable” banks in the EU Core, Swiss banks or the USA.  I think moving it will not help except for the short term as all the TBTF banks and Government debt are so entwined and incestuous that once a couple of them go they will all go.  The problem is simply to much debt! and you don’t fix to much debt by adding more debt.

It’s like what a lot of Americans did during the housing bubble. They were told house prices would always go up. So they leveraged their home to payoff the debt of student, car loans, Lines of credit and credit cards. If they had stopped there and cut up the cards and did not take on more debt they might/ could have made it. But, then in 4-5 years they would run up all debt again and re-fi the Home loan again. The debt and interest rates just start eating you alive and if you listen to the talking heads in the media that kept saying crap about “Recovery Summer” 2010 and 2011 and housing prices have bottomed out, the Stock market is booming!  So you need to take more risk and more debt. Obviously I don’t believe the MSM talking heads, just look how well the Face book IPO did and a week before the  IPO it was going to save California and make everyone rich.  Last Friday it was being called a “Black Swan” event and may take down the market.

I will want to eat in the future, having safe drinkable water is also high on my priority list.  I know the police are not required to protect me and are incapable of it as in the statement “When seconds count the police are minutes away”.  I want to be somewhat comfortable and not die of heat stroke in the summer nor freeze to death in the winter.  They way I take care of those little issues is to PREPARE the best I can and always keep adding new skills because none of those items are going to spoil or go to waste no matter what happens in the future.

It’s odd I’m starting to see some of the fresh meat and dairy prices coming down here in Idaho of course our gas prices are some of the highest in the country. But Idaho always lags a bit both going up and coming down with respect to gas prices.  Gas prices are coming down in several parts of the country, but the mid west and east will get hit hard with rising electrical costs starting this winter I believe it will start up, so if you heat with oil try and fill your tanks this summer and get some propane backups. Camping equipment may start showing up either in yard sales or on sale at your local mega-mart so if you can get a propane heater and little camp stove it can make a huge difference even if you just use it occasionally it may help out on the power bill.

Keep working on it as no one can see what will happen in the future. Better to be ready 10 years early than 1 day late!


Beer Part II or bottling, carbonation and conditioning!

June 1, 2012

You little beer fermenter has been bubbling away and the air lock is no longer showing any bubbles. Now if you have a hydrometer you will want to take a measurement and see if your yeast has converted all available sugars into alcohol.  For these recipes I get about a 1.010-1.015 for both the ales and lagers on my hydrometer.  I would not make any checks with the hydrometer until the airlock stops bubbling as you want to avoid any possible air contamination.  When I started brewing I didn’t have a hydrometer and just worked ales by if the bubbling had stopped.  But the Hydrometer is a really good to have on hand if you are doing lagers as they don’t buble quite as much as ales and work a bit slower than the ales.  The hydrometer gives better readings and is very important to your recipes. If your yeast is still working and you bottle you can have bottles explode when you start the carbonation process!  Letting your beer sit a little extra time in the fermenter will not hurt the flavor, so if in doubt wait a day or 2  and take another reading.

  1. Your fermenting is done and now you are ready to bottle. If you are carbonating via sugars and in the bottle you want to get those sugars dissolved in some water and then cooled. Some folks swear by “corn sugar” but I use 2/3 of a cup of plain white sugar dissolved in 2 cups of  almost boiling water then cooled to room temp.  The heads of both my ales and lagers are rich and thick with a nice “lace” left on the glass.  Some folks use Kegerator’s or CO2 gas, but I haven’t so you if you go for that on your carbonation ask them for the directions on what you should do or your beer ingredient supplier. They will have better info for that process than I do!
  2. Sanitation again is critical. Make sure your bottles are clean and I  give each bottle  a little spritz from my spray bottle of 5 star cleaner.  Spray down the bottling bucket as well as the bottling wand.  If using bottle caps get them soaking in a bit of 5 star cleaner.  If you are using 12 0z. bottles having them in a 6 packs or a case box makes this a lot easier than if they are loose bottles in a box.
  3. Prepare your bottling bucket make sure the spigot is off and add your sugar for carbonating. Then using your “Raking cane” and tube siphon the beer from the fermenting bucket to the bottling bucket. Trust me even using LME your yeast beasties and leftover grain will form a sludge in the bottom of the fermenting bucket and you don’t need that in your bottles.
  4. You don’t want to add air to your bottles and this is where the bottle wand really shines as well as creating the head space for the carbonation to take place. Because of displacement your bottle wand will create the correct head space in bottles from 12 oz. to 32 oz. that I have used.  I’m not sure if it will create the correct head space on bigger bottles or liter+ size  growlers. But I think you should be fairly safe from any and all CO2 explosions.  At least I’ve never had a bottle explode of any size or type.
  5. I still use my Mr. Beer plastic bottles for checking carbonation.  If you can squeeze the bottle, carbonation is not done. So having a few resealable plastic liter/quart bottles will give you a way to check your carbonation level without actually opening your glass beer bottles. Wait at least 5 days after bottling before checking and 7 days or more you too will have good carbonation.  I think when you are new to brewing you tend to get impatient to try your beer or at least I was!
  6. Using the bottle capper, I found having a surface about hip high worked better for bottle capping rather than kitchen counter height.  Now I’m about 5’5″ and average kitchen counter was about 3- 4 inches to tall for me to make capping easy and quick. My preference but I’ve seen the same height work for folks that are taller than I am though they can use an average counter as they have those 4 inches. If you are a bit shorter a kitchen table may make capping go quicker and more easily than using the kithen counter.
  7. Now you have bottled your brew and it needs to carbonate. I take my bottles to the basement and place it in a Rubbermaid Tuffbox which holds exactly 2 cases of bottles and I have 2-3 of the Mr. Beer plastic bottles outside to check the squeeze factor of those bottles. While I never have had a blown or exploded bottle I don’t trust them. It’s a lot easier to clean a Rubbermaid tote and dump broken glass in the trash, than cleaning shelves or floors, walls from exploding beer bottles.  Check the plastic bottles every few days but give your ales at least 5-7 days to carbonate and lagers 10 or more.
  8. Now your beer is carbonated but now comes the conditioning. It’s not really like aging a wine or hard alcohol. It’s a bit like giving your beer time to let all the flavors start to slowly meld. If you made a stew or soup the taste is actually richer/better after it has sat over night in the fridge. Now it takes a bit of time especially for the lagers as they start out at a lower temp to condition and really develop all the flavors. So a month or more is not unusual.  Most recipes will give you a basic guideline of how long to condition. But it’s your beer and you will have 48-52 bottles to see what you like and how long you want to condition your beer.  You can have an ale ready in less than 2 weeks or you can work on a beer that takes 6 months or more to be ready to drink. It is up to you and what you like.

If you follow the instructions/recipes  I can almost guarantee your worst beer made at home will be better than probably 80% of most beers you can get in a grocery store. You will get the full benefit of all that grain and yeasty goodness almost like liquid bread as you are not pasteurizing and killing off the good bugs of beer.  Brewer’s yeast is considered a great supplement and chock full of vitamins and you will be creating your own as well as a yeast that maybe used for bread making a great use of extra grain and a barter item that you can use today and will become more valuable I think in the future if the SHTF.

Shopping for the four month gut check and a screw up

June 1, 2012

I screwed up and missed a payment and it cost me $24.00 in “Stupid Fees”.  My own stupidity, and I did almost exactly the same thing last year in May.  I think it because the bill falls on the 10th and I just need to pay it on the first of the month and count it done.  I’m telling you all because all can have a screw up and all you do is fix it, move ahead and don’t beat yourself up over it.

So my shopping list got squeezed a little bit but I still got the brisket, sausage and veggies.  But I had to skip the sugar and rice this time around.  Not to worry I still have plenty of both for the year.  My roll of Mercury dimes are here and I found a couple of the Walking Liberty 1/2 dollars, so I do feel like I did get a good buy while silver was on sale this last week.

Picked up the fixings for the Dark Lager and Ale to brew up this weekend. I’ll be doing some testing and see which one turns out the best for entry in the county fair next month. I can only enter 1 beer so it will have to be the best on I can make!  I’ll be finishing up the Beer making post that cover bottling,  carbonation and conditioning this weekend.

I’m also getting some more free plants from the nieghbors. Lemon balm, tomatos and some more leaf lettuce. Plus my little cucumber bushe have got the first little flowers on them so I’m excited about that!

So over all the screwup didn’t hurt to bad as I was able to adjust my shopping list.  Still got my ammo, tobacco and some other odds and ends done so I’m feeling confident of going a few months with out being able to shop.  If gas prices can start going down I’ll be getting another propane tank and get busy on the RV tanks.

Looks like some folks are starting to wake up that things are not getting better and we might be heading for a huge reset.  Don’t panic and keep working your plan and stay with the priorities.