Back to the old grind!

May 31, 2013

I took over a bottle of the May 2/4 Amber ale made with the Bellma Hops and English Ale yeast and Deb the Beer lady said that beer needed to be entered in to the local fairs. The three people in the shop really liked the beer and I think this is the best beer I have made so far, and it is truly my own creation.  I went a little nuts getting stuff at the beer store and got stocked up on some different yeast and hops. Bought up some bottles for the mead and about the only things I need for brewing is a grain crusher and perhaps a couple of tools for making my own yeast.

While I was at the beer shop I got another 15 gallon water barrel on sale for $15.00. That is an insanely good price for a food grade water barrel. I  hope to add at least another 3 barrels at that price as I believe that clean drinking water will become very valuable in any disaster.  Water is something I took for granted until my water test and after a few storms we had here in Idaho, I found out just how old and rickety our water supply system is for delivering water.  From no back up power source for pumps to about a two week supply of water treatment chemicals. Most Urban water/sewage treatment plants are running on the ragged edge of failure.  You need a water plan and test it out from gathering(storing)water to making it safe via filters, chemicals or boiling. A gallon a day or a case of bottle water will not keep you alive/healthy for long.

I ordered the GRMS base station from Amazon for $57.00.  My parents have quite a few of those little hand held radios and while they are not secure they should be a good backup for communication.  The one thing my family is stong on is radio comunications from VHF, CB, GRMS and my Mom and I have a couple of SW trancievers as well as SW radio receivers for backup.  Hopefully with the base station at my central location I will at least be able to relay messages to all the family and keep everyone up to date.

Mom and I are going to visit the Outpost Days In Murphy this weekend. Lots of history and just plain old small town fun.  I think we are both throwbacks and like small town or no-town at all, kind of life.  Both health and family make that nearly impossible but we can get out to visit from time to time. I’ll toss a couple of empty gas cans to fill up on real gas the way home and it will make for a nice little day trip.

It is all to easy to get so focused on preparing that you forget to get out, have some fun and live. I know it can be hard to break out of that bunker mentality if you are like me and you feel you have just a limited amount of time or money.  Life will go on and shutting yourself into a little bubble is unhealthy over the long term.  Plan a day trip, go biking, a few days out camping, visiting a museum. Do stuff and keep living life!


Another week of cool weather coming up time to get more stuff done in the Kitchen

May 28, 2013

I managed to get two batches of brew in the buckets so far this weekend.  The German style wheat beer and my 7 c’s Amber.  I like the Amber done with the Bellma hops and the English ale yeast but it takes a bit of time to carbonate and condition.  With the temps so cool I’d like to fill up all my bottles and basement with beer for when it gets hot! It’s remarkable just how many bottles and different types of cases you can get with taking over a few bottles to neighbors for a taste test, then asking about how they like the different beers. I should start adding in a few lagers as some in my family like that type of beer and may change up the hops a bit to make the beer more mild and less hoppy. Using the Bellma hops gives the beer a fruity almost sweet flavor compared to most of my ales which tend to be very hoppy in flavor. That is one of the great things about brewing your own beer is how you can try new recipes or create your own distinct brews that you like for yourself or for family and friends.  Beer also is great payment to the folks that help me out with my yard and garden.

While I was running around getting all the finacial stuff done along with my shopping spree 😉 I fell down on my bread baking so I got a loaf of Italian Bread at Freddy’s.  Now, I remember why I bake my own bread, it is easy to forget just how soft and easy to tear what passes for bread in our local mega-marts.  Even my white bread loaves don’t tear when I apply a bit of butter like this Italian loaf of bread.  I got the coffee on sale at Fred Meyer’s that should be about a year of coffee (for me) in the pantry. I stopped by Cash & Carry to look at boneless  Rib eye they had for $5.98  a pound  (15 pounds average) but I really liked the Tri- tip I got early this year and it was only $3.85 a pound and I found a small one of 12 pounds and got it instead of the Rib eye.  I know that may sound like a lot of money but I have noticed here in Idaho while the cheaper cuts of beef have gone up in price.  Some of the more expensive cuts of beef are staying about the same as last year.  Even if you prep on the “cheap” you can still get quality items if you hunt for bargains.

We had a nice little storm move through last night and got some rain. Two more of my rain barrels are full and the garden got a good soak. My Diakon radishes are doing well. I was a little afraid they might have been harmed when we had those few days of hot weather but they seem to be doing well!  Idaho’s weather can be crazy so it can be hit or miss on what does well each year.  The 18 gallon “party buckets” are a bit cheaper this year at $6.00-$8.00 each so I’m buying a few at a time to add to my gardening adventures next year.

I may have overdone it the last couple of weeks. Good stuff happening can be just as tiring as bad stuff sometimes.  While I’m excited everything going good, it will be nice for things to get back to “normal” and I can go back to just puttering around on my schedule instead of running around and jumping through hoops.

All of the financial stuff is done!

May 25, 2013

I signed all the paper work on Friday so the refi is officially done.  The new budget looks really good and I start the new payments on the house in July. I hope since the same people are carrying the loan,  I can pay a little early and get one month  ahead on the payment.  I’m working that idea of paying at least on month ahead on my re-occurring bills, so that even if the banks shut down for a couple of weeks or  a month.  I will have a at least a 30 day buffer to make plans and figure out what to do just in case!   I was a bit complacent until Cyprus happened and I thought about how I would pay my bills if I had no access to my accounts.  How do you pay your bills if you can’t write a check, use a debit card or pay over the internet via an auto- pay?  I can pay a few smaller bills via cash by going into the local office but most bills are auto pay or go over the internet. If you have to pick and choose which bills to get ahead on I would choose the ones that you can’t pay locally first and then the ones on auto pay even if they are local. Late fees can add up very fast and you don’t need to deal with that in the middle of a banking/financial crisis!

I have splurged a bit on a few items I have wanted, but didn’t seem critical. I ordered the little Zodi  propane hot shower with battery pump for just $90.00 at  True Value Hardware store has the big 5 gallon Igloo drink cooler for $19.95 so I got another one for cold/ice water to go along with the one I will use as a Hot water storage tank if the grid goes down for a few days or more.  I took that plain little tap for granted until my water test last year and I will do everything I can to make moving and using water as easy as possible!  Water is one of the most critical items for survival and I think many people in the USA just assume there will always be safe, clean drinking water on demand.  Almost every disaster we have seen in the last few years has proven that idea to be untrue.

I’m trying to discipline myself on spending.  For me that has been a bit difficult as I have held back on spending because of my budget. I  feel as if I hit the lottery with just the small bit of cash I now have and did not plan how to spend.  I don’t think I have spent my money foolishly and I got plenty to show for what I have spent.  It is all to easy to get carried away on getting stuff until you have spent all my cash.  I suppose it shows why having a credit card is terrible for me,  as I would keep spending until I was forced to stop!  So I put a bit of cash back for emergencies and got a few “want to have” items. No more spending for me until I get my check in June and see how the new budget works out.

A pretty good day!

May 23, 2013

Took Mom over to Big Lots and got her the little hand cart/box for moving the feed from her SUV to the “feed shed”.  I got one of these little flat folding hand carts and absolutely love how easy it made moving bulk food around and they take up very little space in the car.

I sign the papers on the re-fi on the 24th!  Still a couple of small hoops to jump through but it looks like a done deal! Once all the paper work is signed I will shift my insurance to a cheaper company for both auto and home and rework the budget with the new numbers.

Since the boat sold a bit earlier this week I have bought a few things I have wanted to get but they just were not in the budget. I also add a bought a couple of extra items on the grocery and tools and hardware budget that I thought would have to wait.  I will be taking advantage of the sale on coffee at Fred Meyers at $5.99 a can I can stock up enough for another 6 months and start look at getting some Green coffee beans for long term storage.

We have a few more days of cool weather coming up so I need to get busy on getting extra bread baked and beer brewed while the house stays cool.  I’m focusing on keeping my power bill as low as possible and try and see what I can tolerate for both cool and hot weather with this CIDP.  So far I have been able to handle both higher and lower temps with a little practice and dressing for the weather. It should get a little easier once summer actually decides to settle in and we are not bouncing between 90 degrees for a couple of days and then the low 60’s for high temps.  It loks like Idaho is going to be a little lacking for rainfall this year and that has me a bit concerned but it really isn’t all that odd for us to have wet years and dry years. Just have to move and adapt with mama nature.

We are living in some scary times but good things can still happen to a person that puts in the hard work of getting lucky!  I can’t tell you that hard work guarantees success. But I’m pretty certain no work guarantees failure!  Watch the corn and wheat crop futures to see if they spike. Beef and turkey are higher but if you watch and wait you can get some good buys. Sugar has come down in price in the last month. It’s only $3-$5.00 per fifty pounds but it is the first downtrend I’ve seen in about 3 years.  Once you have filled your pantry with your basics you can be flexible on what you buy. If something jumps or drops in price be ready to shift your focus and always go for the best bang for your buck.  Don’t forget to buy the popcorn or your favorite beverage because it looks like it will be a heck of a show!


Getting some stuff done and buying up tools

May 21, 2013

I was going to just comment on my last post but so much is happening I figure it needed it’s own post.  Kymber, I told my Beer Lady about the May 2/4 you talked about on your blog and she just loved the idea.  I stopped by her shop to crush some grain for a couple of batches of beer and pick up a little hops and yeast.   I  scored on some of the green Grolsch flip top bottles. That gives me a four 12 pack cases of flip top bottles and about four 24 bottle cases that use bottle caps.  I always take the 12 oz. bottle cap bottles to friends or as gifts/barter. Also save any six pack bottle carriers as they are very handy to have on hand.  If you can get find a local brew shop or beer guru so you have some backup for any questions that pop up.  Hopefully you can skip some of the mistakes I made and have a great beer brewing time.

I got the little wagon put together with not to much cussing. I think with the little drop gates,  I will be able to sit down and do a lot of my work in the garden. I got one of those dense foam knee/seat cushions to use on the metal wagon so it should be comfortable for work. I love the little wagon already as it took my single step off the patio after I loaded it with some light stuff to put in the shop for an incoming wind storm. It was so nice to make one trip and be done.  I got a little shopping/tool  dolly for $20.00 and it made moving my beer grains around a breeze. Plus it will help bringing bulk groceries from the shop to the house much easier for me.  Trying to man-handle some of the heavier items have been a bit more difficult than I want to admit, but just like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer because it feels so good when you stop.  I’m thinking about getting one of the little tool dollies for Mom to move her feed grains from the truck to her feed shed. It folds flat and takes up very little space in a vehicle.

I bought the Kindle “Keyboard” model from the pawnshop for $60.00. I may have lucked out on getting the version with the most memory for books and quite a lot of features such as a 3G and wifi connection. I loaded it up with a lot of prepper books I got from Amazon’s “Kindle for PC app and you can transfer the books between the two. Add in some free books and some cool download .pdfs and a internet option for reading the web or blogs and I’m very happy with it. Of course Mom wants one for her so we will keep looking for another Kindle at sales or pawn shops! I was a little surprised Mom wanted one as she is  paper rather than digitally oriented but I think this is a good thing to add to anyone’s preps. You can have a lot of books on hand that is very light weight compared to carrying several books.

I got an extra faucet adapter for hooking up my wort chiller or even a hose for filling up water barrels. These adapters all seem to be made of plastic and are easy to cross thread or strip when you put them on.  I want one more for backup but just having one extra on hand makes me feel better.  My main drain has been very slow lately and the “Drain King” isn’t fixing the problem so I got a 50 foot plumbing snake to run through the drain and clear any build up and blockages. That 50 feet should get me out  close to the main city sewer line. For less than $25.00 I think it is a good tool to have on hand for basic clogs. My small bathroom has a small leak around the toilet and I can’t find it!  I got some stuff that is supposed to work as a plumbing patch I will be testing out to see how it works but I may have to replace the feed line and that is a pain.

Last week I bought up 3 hoses and today I got some replacement  O-rings and a pressure wand for my water hose to clean off the house, window screens and it worked great for eliminating some wasp nests.  Having good tools and some replacement parts is something I want  have on hand. I have had great luck so far getting work done in my yard and house if I share the tools with the neighbors for things they need to get done on their yard and house.

I don’t know bad things could get if the economy tanks. But having parts and tools to take care of some small repair jobs could become very important in the future! Pawn shops are one of the best places to find good quality used hand tools. If you are not checking out your local pawn shops you are probably missing out on some great bargains.


The Boat is sold !! (short post)

May 19, 2013

All done for the boat, had a heck of a time getting Dad to take 1/2 the money.  But I can always go through Mom for the last little bit 😉

I finished up the shopping and I got two 25 pound bags of sugar at Paul’s.  Along with the 10 pounds of pork chops at Albertson’s I grabbed 6 cans of the Hunt’s pasta sauce at .88 cents each.  The Hunt’s sauce is my cheat for quick and easy meals and if you go with the the non-meat versions it is tasty and you can use it for anything that needs a little red sauce to punch up a meal.

I have a couple of flowers on my tomato and pepper plants in the garden but It looks like the strawberries bit the dust. I want to add some raspberries in big pots and I’m going to try again with the strawberries but in the front yard beds and see if they do better than in the back yard.

I got the front yard mowed and did a little clean up of some rose bushes that are just starting to bloom. The little tea roses smell is starting to kick it up and along with the lilacs it makes me feel happy!  Big Lot’s has a little drop side garden cart for $60.00 that I think I will splurge on.  The little cart would help me move some of the heavier items around and be perfect for bringing in wood or groceries.

I got the puppies cleaned up a bit, trimmed some nails and hair. I think Tuffy tore a nail as he is limping a touch when he steps wrong.  Diana got her ears cleaned along with a trim and brush. I’ll hit them a couple more times this week to finish up the job without stressing them to much as they don’t like the scissors or clippers.

Things seem to be coming together quite nicely for getting my goals done for this year and I’m a little ahead of schedule so far (crosses fingers).  A little more has been added to the “Emergency fund” as well a few bills paid. Once the house refi is done I can setup my new budget and see how much I can get done this year for my long term goals.

Gosh I hate waiting!

May 18, 2013

This should be the week when all of the refi and boat selling is done.  While I had not anticipated either thing happening  about a month ago I really hate waiting for the last little bits to get done. I want to finalize my new monthly budget,  and I think I have mentally spent any excess monies about 42 different times in anticipation of the little windfall coming my way.  I have learned the hard way until I get paperwork or money in hand, never count on it.  One major screw up on the monthly budget seems to take about 3 months to fix and it’s just not worth the stress.

I do have a few little purchases I want to make besides the stuff for the wood stove.  I have been adding solar lights around the house to replace some of the older out side lights. Amazon has a couple of motion detector solar lights that should work as a porch light up front and a good light for the backyard that covers from the shop to the house.  With the improvements in solar lights in the last few years I see no reason to pay the electric company monthly for any new lights I want to install. Amazon has a small GRMS radio base station for a great price. I am the most centrally located and probably the best prepared of all of my family and this would give us another form of communication not dependent on any company or infrastructure. With the little base station we should have plenty of redundant commo for everything outside of an EMP or Carrington type solar flare!

For my Beer making I want to get a grain crusher. Grains for beer need to be crushed to release all those sugars not ground like flour. Plus grinding 4-5 pounds of flour with a small grinder is a lot of work and not fun. Most of these crushers are setup to use a hand crank or a drill to make fast work of a lot grain.

I also want to get started on my third barrel of my seven year food plan that will hold my  Rice. Between the buckets on hand and the 55 gallon drum,  seven years of rice should be one of the fastest and easiest to reach that goal.  As I read the Bible I am starting to understand there is very little that is not applicable to life.  The seven years of famine, drought, disasters of all sorts can happen to us at any time and is not just an arbitrary number to tell a story. Many cycles in nature happen in seven year patterns and having that much food on hand gives you time for options  to adapt, move or wait it out.  You can survive on the food and remain healthy but you will probably want a bit more variety over that many years so you will have to do something to make your life better!

I’m not getting all that much money and I know the average tax return for most people will be about 3 times as much and that they count on that every year for stuff.  That couple of grand you get back  can go a long way on making sure you have food to eat,  water to drink as well as improve your security and shelter!  Better to be years early than 1 minute to late on preparing.

A few more great buys added to the shopping list and some good news!

May 15, 2013

I haven’t seen a prices like this in many years and you know I shop hard for bargains. Paul’s’ Market has sugar 25 pounds for $9.96 and Albertson’s has Pork chops for $.99 a pound.  I’ll be spending just under $100.00 on this shopping list but I will be getting a huge amount of food:

  1. White Rice 50  pounds
  2. Steel cut oats 25 pounds
  3. Vinegar 4/1 gallon bottles
  4. Mozzarella shredded  5 pounds
  5. Eye of round Beef  5 pounds
  6. Sugar 25 pounds
  7. Pork chops 10 pounds

You can make a heck of a lot of different meals with just the meats,  rice and cheese.  Add in the oats for breakfast and baking you add variety to your pantry very quickly as well as eating  healthy meals. The vinegar and sugar will be used for preserving and of course baking from scratch. With summer coming I have been wanting to try cooking oats overnight in both a crock pot and thermos so I can wake up, breakfast is done and the house is cool by keeping the use of the big stove to a min.

I picked up four, one oz. coins at the local coin shop and one American Silver Eagle at my pawn shop for a great price just a couple dollars over spot price. Physical silver at spot price is getting almost as hard to find as Ammo.  I  got another couple of boxes of ammo  at $8.00 each for Sasha at the pawn shop.  I don’t have as much ammo as I want,  I’m slowly building up by buying at a good price.  This method of waiting and buying only when I find a good price seems to be working out and I have read a couple of stories about people that panic bought with credit cards or their emergency stash and now it’s starting to bite them on the butt financially.

Called up the mortgage people on the refi and it looks like a go! All we are waiting is the payoff paper work on the old loan and we will finish in a couple of days. Once that is done I’ll change over my insurance for both the car and house for a total savings of $140.00 per month on those bills.  That is going to be a huge help on getting my emergency fund finished up and get to work on the stuff for installing the wood stove.  I’d love to have the wood stove finished up this summer when I can get off season prices as well as having it installed before fall arrives.

If you can stay calm and focused you can get yourself prepared without spending a lot of money. In this age of instant gratification most of us don’t have much practice at discipline financial or otherwise,  but for me it has been worth the effort to get free of debt and working toward being self-reliant.  As my  refi proves you don’t need to get credit cards or take on debt to  improve your credit rating even after you have screwed up your credit.  I know every time I think about getting some high ticket item on credit and have to make a monthly payment I get a shiver down my back!  Don’t compete with anyone but yourself and how you will make your life better for yourself and your family in the future.  Remember you are not your car and you are not your house, but a divinely created creature made by God and for a purpose that you must find and fulfill.

Last but not least I made up a batch of my Amber Ale trying out a new hops called Bellma and using an English ale type yeast and I’m not sure what I’m doing but this batch is packing a punch of almost 8% potential alcohol which is high for beer. The yeast are very happy and I had to add a blow off tube to the fermenting bucket as the brew kept filling my little airlock.  I tasted a bit of the wort and I think it will be a good tasting batch of beer.  For kymber and jambolney 😉

Recipe is:

  • 10 pounds of pale malt 2 Row
  • 3/4 of a pound of 80L Crystal
  • 1 pound of 40 L Crystal
  • 1 oz. of Bellma Hops (pellets)
  • 1 package of Safale #04 Dry yeast

I split all the grains and hop in half and use 2 five gallon stock pots with my Boil In A Bag (BIAB) method. I steep the grains at 154 degrees F. for 90 minutes and them boil the wort with the Bellma for 90 minutes.  This will make 5-6 gallons of beer or 48-52 , 12 oz. bottles of beer. I found if I just barely boil the wort I get a better product and I don’t release as much steam in the house or lose much to evaporation.  Get a couple of heavy duty cooling racks or a small grills to set on top of your pots to let the grain in your bags drain as much as possible.  I find going with 2 pots and bags easier to do becuse of the weight of the soaked grains in the bags.  Remember the biggest ingredient of your beer is the water you use so start with good tasting water!

I can’t…. Geez I hate that phrase like stuff is easier for me than it is for others

May 12, 2013

Or some other nonsense that “I’m not like you” like I’m special for reading a recipe for baking bread.  You know what you are right you are not like me. I figure out a way to get stuff done and you want a hero to save you like some idiotic Disney princess.  You are right you are not like me as I’m 100% disabled and live on less than 20 grand a year. Or you get food stamps, energy or housing assistance and a free Obama phone.

No you are not like me!  I  think there is no harder job than raising a child into a good and descent human being. I did not think I would be good at that so I had no children. I didn’t see children as a punishment to spoil my selfish plans nor as a raise in my welfare benefits. I just didn’t think I would be a good parent and since I have not married I did not see a reason I should possibly hurt a child by not raising them in the absolutely best environment of a two parent family.  My job in the military ask me to deploy for training, wars and other  time away from home. Not to mention I was running herd on a bunch of 18-20 year children and trying to square them away and dealing with all that stuff of being out in the big world with no mom or dad and very few societal brakes.

I’m not mad at the preppers or survivalist that grace my blog from time to time. I’m angry at the people who some how think what we do is easy and they can roll up to your house with no skills, no food, guns and ammo and think you should take them in just because you did the hard work of going without to prepare and they didn’t. You did the hard work but they do not value that work.  I think the cost of entry for folks showing up at your house,  all preppers to charge should be two oz. of gold for each person or 60 oz. of silver per person. The next person that says they will just go to your house tell them there is a cover charge of  two oz. of gold or 60 oz. of silver per person and see what they say? Ask for the silver or gold up front, and while I doubt few will pay you will know how they value survival.  Perhaps they might prefer getting ready themselve rather than paying you!

Got the big garden bed planted, bought some books and adding to the shopping list

May 9, 2013

If you are starting raised garden beds I would recommend you make them no more than 3-4 feet wide.  My big bed is 8 foot x 8 foot and working that bed is a real pain. I got the big bed finished planting this bed has the cabbage/ Bok choy, three types of squash, water melon and cantaloupe and some cucumbers off in one corner. I still have a bit of room for adding one more big square of plants but I’m not sure what I want to add in that area.  I added a little bit of leaf lettuce to one of the small bed and I still need to pick up a little oregano for the other small bed. But I think you can say I got the garden planted.

I have been looking for a new spot for my compost pile and I think I finally found a good spot in the back yard that will get some good morning sun but and is accessible to the yard without a lot of work.  If I ever get to the point of raising chickens the compost pile will be close to the chicken pen and they will be able to scratch through the pile with just a small addition of fencing or a chicken tractor.  I still need to pick up  a few more soaker hoses but I can get those on the 15th and once I have those laid out I can start planting the beds in the front yard with decorative/edible plants.  Looks like water is going to be cut by about 30% and the irrigation district is already talking about doing odd/even days of watering based on your address.

The books I got are cook books but a couple are fun as one is about tail gating/camping and has many ways of cooking via charcoal to using a thermos for making meals.  I have a couple of cook books like this for camping and they offer a lot of great ideas for off the grid cooking.  One book is how to use a food  processor for all kinds of work. I had no idea you could use a food processor to knead bread. I don’t know about you but I don’t always take advantage of all of those things those kitchen gadgets can do to save time and physical energy.  The last 3 books are cookbooks of Chinese food , Dog food for your pup and vegetables as meals.  I have become one of those people that read cookbooks for fun as well as ideas for different meals.

C & C has some additional good deals on food so I’m adding in some shredded whole milk shredded  Mozzarella cheese for the freezer, five pounds for $10.98.  A case (4/1 gallon bottles) of distilled vinegar for $9.98  and some Eye of round beef for $2.44 per pound package size is about 5 pounds.  That brings next weeks shopping list up to $63.00 before sales tax including the 50 pounds of rice and 25 pounds of steel cut oats. As you can see once you get your basics you can shop only bargains and have a little cash leftover. Spending  $150.00 per month is a big shopping list for me as I usually stay under $100.00 for food.  I don’t consider things like laundry soap,  pet food,  even TP or health and sanitation items as part of my grocery list.  Those items are part of my budget but I shop for them separate from my food budget because of how sales hit and where I do my shopping at drug stores or a farm store or Big Lots. While I may buy a bag of charcoal or even a five gallon igloo water jug at C & C that is part of  my prepping budget of energy or water storage not part my food budget.

Breaking things down on my budget works for example;  I plan to spend $40.00 for energy per month but based on sales and need I can choose to get  propane, charcoal or gasoline yet stay on budget overall.  This gives me a lot of flexibility within my overall budget. We have all seen how things can change very fast depending if folks get in a panic over an item like rice in 2008 or ammo in 2013.