A new project to get me away from being “Debbie Downer”

September 12, 2012

I’m by nature an optimistic and positive person.  Don’t know why because most of the family tends to have more of a cynical outlook on life.  I think overall it’s helped with the little setbacks in life that we all have to deal with,  I can not take credit for it it’s just how I’m wired.  I don’t do “Doom & Gloom very well and it wears me down, perhaps quicker than it would a more cynical person.  So watching what’s happening in the world makes it darn tough for me and I know today’s worries are  nothing more than a case of the sniffles  now compared to Double pneumonia when the Collapse happens and it will happen because it’s just math.

Nothing I can do will change what will happen. I just have to keep stacking the odds in my favor for when it does and take positive steps to control my little environment and how I will react.  Learning all-grain brewing is my answer to doom and gloom.  I have already read three different ways to use the spent grains from the all grain brewing method.  I can save $6.00-$10.00 per six gallon batch or beer. I will have one of the best barter items as it takes specific ingredients, skill and knowledge to make beer.  Brewing  is definitely going on my survival resume!

I love learning skills, mastering something even in it’s simplest form is almost “Zen-like” for me.  Sure you can pay a lot of money for anything you want, but to master a simple skill and reach for perfection is very rewarding.  It has a value beyond than dollars or the hours invested. A simple loaf of homemade bread costs about 30-50 cents to make but it’s value to me is much higher!

You can always tell  someone values by how simple they think it is to do, also they have probably never done it.  I hear this a lot from my family. “It’s easy for you”.  Now I’m 100% disabled,  I’m able to mow my lawn in 15-30 minute blocks and rest for 30-60 minutes and that’s using a gas mower. This is not a big lawn, before I was disabled I could knock out both front and the backyard in about an hour including edging and weed waking.  Now it takes two days.

Oh sure I have time and I have tried to learn skills that take advantage of my work/rest cycles. Cheat  using powered tools when I can, but it ain’t easy for me. I may have time but very little that I can do is physically easy.  Somethings I just can’t do because of my handicap. Well I could never slam dunk a basketball but that didn’t mean I couldn’t have fun playing basketball when I was younger.

We all have limitations of one sort of another, I don’t believe that is an excuse not to do the very best you can!

Exciting news! Got the stuff for my first all grain beer.

September 11, 2012

I’ll be using the Brew in a Bag (BIAB) method that started in Australia and is starting to get popular in the USA.  It’s very simple and inexpensive compared to the traditional method of All-grain brewing. Basically you bring your pot up to the temp. your recipe requires 148-160 degree range and put in your grains and let the grains steep for about 90 minutes. After you just make your beer just like normal bringing it to a boil and adding your hops.

If you have looked into doing an all-grain brew you know there is some extra equipment needed to make your wort.  The only equipment I had to buy was two $3.10 mesh bag from the beer lady.  I have two five gallon stock pots rather than a 7-8 gallon pots so I need to split my ingredients between the pots to come up with the six total gallons I need for the fermenter.

I think the greatest thing was the price!  I bought 55 pounds  the two pale malted barley a couple of weeks ago. That’s about $6.50 per 8.5 pounds and the flavoring grains, yeast and hops added another $8.00. So for $14.00 and about 2-3 hours work will give me about 2 cases of beer. I’ ll take  the spent grain to some folks that have chickens for feed if they want it  and even found some recipes for the spent grain, from doggie treats to bread . Looks like freezing is the safest method for storage of the spent grains.

I can see how some cultures relied so heavily on beer. You get 2-3 uses of the same batch of grain. What great multi-tasker, you get beer, bread and feed for your animals.  Not to bad a return on $14.00 worth of grain!

Figuring up the next shopping list

September 9, 2012

I have few items I really want to get this month especially the “Wheat cooking starter kit” from Emergency Essentials for $56.00 counting shipping.  That’s the usual cost  for just the grinder,  for me the grinder will be a muscle powered back up. I have a few energy backups for electric grinders via a generator and solar power.  That should take care of all the grain needs for the short term, though I’m still hoping to find a nice grinder on sale or second hand.  I got an idea for getting some of those collapsible Rain barrels they have on Amazon.  I want to set up the 3 rain barrels I have that are heavy duty and then daisy chain a few of the collapsible barrels to be moved between the sunny side of the house to the shady side depending on the season.  If I did the math correctly, my roof could provide up to 2000-3000 gallons of water per year on average if I have a way to store it.  This water would have to be filtered and treated before drinking but I’d do that for any water I got from an open source. I have two  different types of powder sanitizer, one is acid based and one is chlorine based.  I should be able to sanitize about 50,000 gallons total for drinking and food prep. I think that should be enough for my needs and have a little left over for barter or trade.  LOL

I need to call the utility companies and have them mark all pipes and stuff on my property. There is a very  neat Humanure pit that is supposed to be good for about 25-30 people that is about 8 foot by 8 foot and 8 foot deep that has been tested by Peace Corps/UN organizations, a couple of those per block of single family homes would work great if the city sanitation system went down for a week or more.  With a little prior planning you can keep folks healthy using low tech alternatives.  The PTBs want all control so they can be seen as the provider of all things good of civilization and if you find out you can get by without them they lose power over you!  No I don’t want to use a poo bucket or an outhouse but I want to know I can and make it safe for myself and my neighbors.  Bugs, vermin and microbes never respect property lines!

Next is fuel I’ll be getting another small(20 pound) propane tank for cooking and heating. Mom got some cool kerosene lanterns and together we have several backups for heating and cooking for the knucklehead kids. I will be getting my fuel cans rotated and refilled.  I’m saving up to get some tires in Oct. and some extra parts on hand for my gas engine stuff. That’s whats stopping me from going to the Spokane prepper’s fair and visiting Miss Violet at the Traditional skills blog site.  Sure it would be fun, but needs come first before vacations and there is always next year!

Buying up plenty of toilet paper I got a little low of having only 40 rolls on hand waiting for sales. I like the Big Lots 12 double rolls for $5.00 but Walgreen’s has a sale on Angel soft tp at $4.00 for 12 rolls that I want to try out.  Yes 40 + rolls for me means it’s time to shop for more as I’m to low

Oh sure I’m stocking up for and “Economic Collapse” of some sort, deflationary or hyper inflation but life goes on.  The whole point of prepping is to have a buffer for hard times no matter what happens,  you and your “tribe” can ride it out if not comfort at least with minimal discomfort.  I’m thinking it will be hyper inflation rather than a deflation, but unless wages start getting inflationary as well hyper inflation can’t take off and you are looking at the stagflation of the late 70’s.

Brain is just a spinning

September 9, 2012

So many ideas are popping up I’m having some difficulty deciding what I want to write about. You all know that I’m a news junky and have been doing a lot of work trying to learn the markets and anticipate what they will do and how can I make the most intelligent daily buys to stretch those green piece of paper.  I’m surprised how often I’m ahead of the curve. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t have many perceptions to unlearn that makes me a little better than average of seeing what is coming.

I have been seeing a little good news on the coffee prices finally coming back down and if you are a big coffee drinker that is good news. Chocolate seems to recovering and while still high the prices seemed to have stabilized.  I think the biggest advantage of having six months or more of what you want and need stored is it gives the ability to shift your spending on basics and have a buffer as commodity prices rise and fall. I’m very happy I got my 25 pound bag of grits/polenta, I have plenty of masa and my popcorn is in great shape. So I’m feeling positive I’ve gotten all corn needs fairly well covered, though I think I may add another five pound bag for the RV.

Whatever you may save on buying meat you may want to grab extra grains and flour if you are not good on your basic grains.  I know I’m good on grains and even have a few extra food safe buckets in case I see a sale. I’m adding more varieties of beans and I want to get a 25 pound bag of 16 bean mix, and start adding in some oils. I’ve just about used  up all the canola oil I got when I thought it was a healthy choice. I like olive oil for most of my cooking but if you are doing deep frying or high temp stuff there are better oils than olive. Might try out peanut oil as I’ve read some good things about it for High temp. cooking.

Dug out a few of my cookbooks and going to try some new recipes out now. I like doing my food experiments in fall as it is not to hot to cook inside. Found a neat little recipe for using canned sardines in an Italian cookbook I’ll try out.

I’m not on Facebook or twitter but I have been watching some twitter feeds via Twitchy.com and I have to say the anger and vitriol  that people express is staggering.  Quite a lot of folks are saying they will riot if Obama loses and they seem quite ready to commit violence if they don’t get their way.  I’m reminded of what the holocaust survivor said after being liberated from a Concentration camp “If people say they want to kill you, believe them!” I’m not trying to scare folks but prepare them and make sure you have your security measures in place.  Perhaps they are only playing an “Internet tough guy” but always better to be prepared if they really mean it!

You need to touch finish up the last of the basics if you haven’t already this month. Make sure your BOB is ready for fall and winter  and the same goes for your BOV’s kit and  maintenance. Get out those kitchen knives and give them a good sharpening and take that lawnmower and give it a good check up. How are your saws and saw blades looking? and your axe have you sharpened it up?

How’s the snow shovel and or blower doing and is it ready to go? Do you have sand and Ice melt for your walk and weight/traction for your vehicle.  Have you got oil, kerosene or propane for your back up lights and heat and have tested them out? Extra wicks or mantles?

This is a great time to get those items as camping season is winding down. So you could see some great sales on camping equipment. Get extra mantles and wicks as they will need to be replaced, figure a mantle per 3 months of daily use, Kerosene lamps have at least one replacement wick per lamp. Use up older gas and get new gas in all gas cans with a storage treatment. If you have a gas station that sell no ethanol gas, spend extra for it and store it as it will last much longer and better fuel mileage should make up some of the extra cost.

I do think things are going to get tougher and they have already been darned unpleasant.  Don’t panic! keep your goal in mind but be flexible and  adapt your plan to what is! Not what you wish things to be!

Got my Grits/polenta

September 5, 2012

I got my 25 pound bag and I’m glad I didn’t wait longer as the price went up $2.00 for a that bag in 2 weeks.  I grabbed a couple of small boxes of instant grits, before all you southerns get out your verbal pitch forks, these boxes will be when I need a quick and easy meal when my CIDP flares.  Cash & Carry has a 5 pound bag for $4.19 so if need a lower cost to start that may work for you. I think doing a normal breakfast meal might be the hardest to do in a SHTF environment.  Plus adding variety to meals will help with food fatigue if all you have is rice and beans.

I have not check the price on Masa Harina as I’m in good shape but I noticed the commercial bag of popcorn is smaller for about the same cost as last year. So it looks like rising corn prices are already happening on bulk corn products.

Albertson’s had a couple of really good buys this week. Hunt’s pasta sauce 24 oz. can for 79 cents each. With 5-6 serving per can, you will be able to heat and eat, or use it as a sauce base for other meals.  Albertson’s has sirloin steaks for $2.88 per pound and I have to say my local stores always have good quality meats.  Finding any good beef steaks for under $3.00 a pound is a buy.

Put $25.00 in the Kia and that got me up to 3/4 of a tank at $3.80 a gallon. Idaho’s prices always lag behind the USA going up and down. But the lowest it got this summer was just under $3.50 a gallon and it’s climbing fast. The worse part is watching Diesel prices jump.  It’s already $4.50 per gallon that’s going to be brutal on Independent truckdriver’s and moving goods on the interstate. I was reading that when/if diesel get’s to $5.00 a lot of independent’s will shut down because they are losing money on each load.

Added a few more soda bottles of water for handing out to people.  I’m still getting soda so I figure I might as well refill the bottles with water and have them on hand. Might make a big difference to some folks and I can use them to fill up the empty spaces is the freezers so I always have some backup ice to keep things cool.  I wish I had found a spot to keep my other soda bottles I used before I got my water barrels. I could have given the empty ones to someone that wanted to store water but didn’t have any money for barrels.  I’ve read about folks using the bottles for storing smaller amounts of some bulk foods for non-preppers. But I haven’t seen any data on how good of a long term storage container the soda bottles are for food.

That’s about it for the shopping and preps this week. Still need to setup the BOBs and BOV for fall but I have what I need just need to add more warm clothing and update the food.  I need to organize Mom’s boxes and do some bin color coding for the paper goods she has been getting. I think she has enough stuff for a classroom if we need it.  I need to clean out a few shopping bags  I  just dropped in the pantry and get stuff put in the right spot.  Going to be a busy weekend

No alarm clocks

September 3, 2012

I ‘m getting used to a new keyboard so my typing slower and even less accurate than normal. I did get almost everything on my list but the Alarm clock!  Darn things were battery powered and I really would like to get a wind up watch and alarm clock. I never thought it would be so difficult to find windup clocks.  I got almost 10 yards of 100% cotton muslin  for $12.50.  I’ve an idea about using it for diapers and all around patching stuff.  Kitty snacks and good deals on paper towels, laundry soap and I’m seeing how long the Big Lot’s double roll tissue paper lasts and quality. I like the Big lots paper towels so I hope the TP is as  good. Another big bottle of laundry soap and a total of 12 rolls of paper towels that should last about 12 months for what I normally use .  It’s always fun to check the block on anything and say I’m good for a year.

Stopped by Office Depot for the keyboard and I picked up a 16GB jump drive for $9.00 . Office Depot had an 8 GB drive for $6.00 which is just a little cheaper than the Big lots usb drive.  These are great because you can make digital copies of all your important papers, pictures, your e-book prepping library and always carry it with you in case of a fire or flood, you have your data.  May not work after an EMP event but for everything else they are a cheap insurance.

Added more tobacco to the pantry for use or trade and Dollar tree is getting the UHT milk back in stock. The UHT milk is more expensive than the regular milk in the store but, it stores months longer and is shelf stable. I like having it for camping and as a backup to canned/powder milk.  If dairy starts spike in price having backups for fresh milk , UHT, canned and powdered milk should stay fairly low priced because of the lag time in production.  Added a couple of spice mixes for the house and RV and some easy to clean ceramic pet bowls for the RV.

I’m looking to get some oil at Fredmeyers. Five quarts for $11.99 and in October I’ll be getting some new tires for the mini-van.  Time to get everything ready for winter and doing maintenance on vehicles. I may not be able to do somethings but if I have the product on hand I’m sure I can get someone to do the work in exchange for some beer!

I’ve been skipping the silver to get a few more backup items and ammo. I want to keep some extra cash on hand for any food sales and stuff for the holidays. I still need a couple of Turkeys and Prime rib for holiday meals though I’ve got most of the presents already on hand.  Silver is more of a long term item and the cash on hand is still taken by everyone. I have on average only 300 rounds for each gun and want to get up to at least  500 rounds per gun then get the dies, powder and primers for reloading my own bullets.  I think I have a good amount  of junk silver, bars and rounds that are easy to to convert to stuff if we see a collapse. I’m no Rockefeller but I should be able to get by for a few months.

Nice day getting some things done

September 1, 2012

Finally got the barley in buckets and checking out some different recipes for all grain beer.  I’d like to start a couple of batches this next week and I found a couple of recipes for an Ale and a lager that look like a good place to start. I’m doing a simple LME ale tonight because the beer lady is having a sale on the Amber extract and it makes a little over 2 cases of beer for about $20.00. I’ve been saving my LME containers for storing flavoring grains to give some variety from pale to dark beers. I want to get a couple of dark ales and lagers done up for gifts and holiday parties this winter.

I was getting some shopping items for long term and stopped by my favorite pawn shop to see if there was anything I couldn’t live without and got a good price on some 9mm ammo. So  250 rounds for Mini-me is in the pantry and I have a few rounds for each weapon. Still more to get but I’m feeling a bit more confident as far as security is concerned.

Stopped by a dollar store to look for some kitty snacks and while I came up on empty for the kitty they did have low dose aspirin, a generic benadryl and generic Ora-gel so I got several boxes.  If we can’t get to the dentist having that ora-gel will help a lot with the pain. Never forget a teething baby can make everyone miserable. The low dose aspirin can help as a blood thinner, a backup for some heart meds and is a good pain killer for dogs.  Benadryl is for allergies of course but may help with insect stings, acute allergic reaction and as a sleep aid. I also got 600 straight pins for sewing.   I’ve been getting a lot of fabric and with my CIDP,  I’ll need all the help I can get sewing anything, so lots of pins and they might be a good trade item.

These are everyday items that may become critical in a disaster. I have been keeping Greece in mind as a collapse/long disaster scenario and they can’t get or buy aspirin because the gov. medical system isn’t paying and folks got dependent on getting everything for free so they don’t stock up. At a dollar a box or bottle I can have plenty on hand and rotate my OTC meds.  Kids are back in school and they are great little germ factories so make sure you have some OTC meds treat colds and help with the symptoms.  Gloves,  masks, bleach and sickroom supplies as they never spoil.  Honey, lemon, soothing teas and Rosemary will help keeping folks comfortable.  Books, puzzles from crosswords to Sudoku, watercolor paints, sketch pads will keep the mind occupied and aid in healing.

A smart plan six months ago is still a smart plan no matter how you feel. You may have to change up a few priorities because thing get cheaper or more expensive.  A little less of this, a little more of that, depending on how you spend, your strengths, weak points and goals.  Basic needs first and the skills that go with them. Don’t worry about barter/trade until you take care of the basics. Don’t worry about cash, gold or silver other than your 3-6 month emergency fund and are out of debt.

It’s the old story on how do you eat an elephant?  Just one bite at a time!