Mom and I are getting a soap making class

October 31, 2013

Getting  a soap making class from my aunt on Friday. I’m getting kind of excited about adding another skill as well as something that might work as a cottage business. My aunt is going to give us a class on making regular soap and a goat’s milk soap and I think she is getting excited about it too. The  worst that can happen is I learn a new skill and hobby that will provide me with soap I like no matter what happens in the future.

My rain barrels will help with the soap making as the water should be soft compared to city or well water. It seems that the softer the water is the better the lye mixes and makes a better end product.  While the wood I’m burning in the wood stove is a pine and not very good ashes for making soap. Going with fruit hard woods next year and the mesquite I use for charcoal should work very well to make in the future. I found instructions for making my own leeching barrel for lye and a different use for the ashes from the wood stove. I’ll be using the ash out behind my shop and the alley to kill off the Goatheads (puncture vine) and it will also add some traction for the driveway/alley in the winter.

So far the soap making and beeswax looks like a fairly small money investment of a couple of hundred dollars at most. Not all that much money compared to most hobbies and is very small when compared with most small businesses.  Buying and selling local, being self-reliant and telling the government that I no longer need the disability payments would be priceless!

I brewed up a batch of wheat beer and I’m cooling the grains so my aunt can see if her chickens and goats like it as feed.  The grains should be a bit like sweet feed that has some of the sugars extracted. The grain is crushed so it should be easy to digest but when I worked on the ranch as a kid I saw cattle get terrible bloat when overfed with grain. So while I doubt the chickens will have a problem this will be the first time using the grain to feed a larger animal.  Good thing about goats is they have a very strong stomachs and can survive on stuff that other grazers can’t tolerate.

I have no idea if the soap and beeswax idea will work as a business, but I think it does have potential especially with my disability.  I’m going to keep working on more things and researching ideas that I can physically accomplish and make me less dependent on the government.  I don’t much care for being used as a bargaining chip while the PTBs play their little games. Funny how they never put their government checks on the line. It’s always the taxpayer, the disabled, the elderly and the poor that are threatened!


Avoiding over confidence

October 30, 2013

Overconfidence can get anyone though I think it happens a lot more with people that have moved just beyond the beginning stage of prepping/survival and self reliance. We are kind of like that 20-25 year old driver that has a few years of driving experience and we have move beyond the being a little bit scared of screwing up and hyper-vigilante to being relaxed almost blase about driving. Guess what age group has the most accidents? I’m not saying you need to fear or keep yourself at the edge of panic because those emotions don’t help either. In fact the keep you from thinking clearly. But being complacent or over confident can be just as dangerous as panic.

I know I have a tendency towards over confidence, I think it more about my personality I tend to go all out when I find something interesting, I want to become an expert. But there is a big difference between theory and actual practice and I find that especially true with prepping. Heck I have a couple of commenters that have been doing this sort of thing for decades and they are still learning and doing new things. That is one thing I love about prepping and becoming self reliant as a way of life is because there is always more to do and learn.

To help me to become better prepared and avoid over confidence is doing tests and rehearsals. I’m not very good about not cheating when I plan a test in the future for some part of preparedness. I tend to anticipate and make it easier rather than the test coming at me “Out of the blue” and a surprise. So I have started using the news and if a disaster hits I start at least mentally rehearsing how I would deal with it.  I think this works as a start for your to start building up how you will deal with a disaster.  There have been 2 potential disaster that have come with the Government shutdown.  A cutting of pay for government workers, SS and VA and some minor EBT riots. The Gridex II coming on Nov. 13th is another thing you can do a test on.

While we have some warning  you can think though how you will react and what you would do if these things did happen and how will you protect yourself if they happen again. While I have described a few things I’m doing and you can do to protect yourself financially from a Government shut down that has a very good chance of happening again after the first of the year. Possible EBT riots if folks freak about the cuts. I think being ready for a long term power outage around the 13th ala “American Blackout” would be a good test.

I have a pre-storm checklist I do every time there is a weather warning and tweak it for what is the forecast:

  1. Go through the house and check to see if flashlights are working, that I have matches and lighter close by my lamps and easy to find. Replace batteries on non-working flashlights and check the dates on stored batteries.
  2. Recharge everything from batteries to cell phones and small electronics. If you have one of those car batteries jumper paks make sure it is fully charge and test it.
  3. Clean the house or at least the cleaning that requires power. Get the laundry going, vacuum and do the dishes. If you can make sure every gets a bath or shower before the power goes out.
  4. If you are doing this in the evening get the thermos out and make your coffee or tea for the AM. Have extra thermoses so you can have hot water for washing and cleaning up. Trust me having hot water ready to go in the AM makes starting the day a lot easier.
  5. Windup or battery power clocks: While you might lose power that doesn’t mean your job or the school lost power.  Add a little extra time to get things done.

If you do this little checklist you can make sure your stuff is always ready to go in the event of a real disaster. You will start off with everything clean which should give you a little extra time and breathing space before you need to go with a  low-tech or no power solution. If nothing bad happens you have done your test, confirmed everything works and if you are getting low, add that item to your next shopping list.

EBT cut coming on Nov. 1st Every body panic!!!

October 29, 2013

I live on fixed income so I know that even a small amount of money can have a big effect on your budget. While I don’t get EBT I have often dealt with rising cost and taxes and the PTBs always say it’s just five or ten dollars what’s the problem? Well the problem is I keep getting five or ten dollars to death and that amount of money is a much higher percentage of my income compared to the average american.  So I do understand that what seems like minor cut can have a noticable effect on your budget. Add food inflation at the local mega mart and over time it does make a difference.  I’m not going to rehash all the ways you can save money on your food bill. I got pages for that, what I want to talk about is if things go sideways and get ugly.

Nov. 1st will be a terrible day to go shopping simply because of the crowds of shoppers. It’s the first of the month and a Friday many  people that is payday and sad to say all to many people in america are living paycheck to paycheck. Far to many people are close to desperation when they go shopping because they are not planning ahead or make poor choices when they do shop. One huge money saving advantage for my shopping happened after a built up a good supply of the basics for 3-6 months  was I no longer felt desperate if I didn’t go shopping on a certain day. While some folks treat shopping like a full-contact sport and enjoy it. I much prefer having a nearly empty store and a more calm and relaxed approach to shopping. I don’t get into that competitive mindset of grabbing the last item off the shelf or screwing my fellowman out of some product on sale.

The PTBs are really gearing up for people to freak out when the EBT cuts become apparent to people. Some people will be notified that they got cut on the cash register receipt. Not a good way to notify folks if you want calm. Right, wrong or indifferent how would you like to find your boss cut you pay by $36.00 a month and your notification was the ATM or bank statement. I bet you would be a little angry and if you are doing the shopping for the month along with others that are somewhat desperate, angry and annoyed you might find the local store a powder keg ready to explode. It won’t be about the small cut in benefits, it could escalate into the PTBs or whatever bogeyman  want us to starve.

I would not think people would riot over a small cut in EBT. But then again I was surprised when the EBT system went down for a day or two, people seem to think they and their family would starve in a matter of hours. Rather than being mildly inconvenience and they would have to go shopping in a day or two when the system was backup and working.

I normally would not go shopping on the 1st of the month and especially not on a Friday. But I think it is even more critical to not shop on the first or even during the weekend so you avoid the crowds. If you don’t have enough on hand to put off shopping for a couple of days you need to rethink how you shop and having at least 3-7 days buffer period for when you go  grocery shopping. Winter is coming and if a storm hits or the power goes out you don’t want to go with out or out in the storm just to get some basics because it hit during your payday and normal shopping day.


Thank you God

October 28, 2013

While I don’t go out of my way stating I’m a Christian I don’t hide it either and I would like to take a moment and thank God for all the good in my life.

  1. Thank you God for letting me find my purpose and passion in life.
  2. Thank you God for making me disabled and teaching me what is valuable and compassion for others.
  3. Thank you God for not cutting me slack when things got tough, so I could find the strength to persevere.
  4. Thank you God, for all those little miracles and bits of “luck” that pointed me in the right direction.
  5. Thank you God for teaching me the value of all people. Everyone is an example some good and some are bad.
  6. Thank you God for not smiting me as I’m working hard on that praying for enemy thing. I have gotten up to pity and charity though.
  7. Thank you God for letting me understand and discern so much.
  8. Thank you God for giving me this life to do what I wish and teaching me the good stuff I can do with this life.
  9. Thank you God for free will so I could learn and screw up.
  10. Thank you God for all the challenges and I was  a bit slow but I get it now.
  11. Thank you God for all that I have been able to accomplish. I know I did the work but looking back it seems like a miracle all that I have got done in a short period of time.

My friends I think hard times are coming and we may be faced with some very ugly things and decisions we will have to make. Hold on to the core, the values that make you what you are as a human being and not an animal. Watch a sunset a sunrise, stomp through the falling leaves and imagine you are an army. Prepping takes a lot of work but don’t forget to live a bit and have fun.  Its easy to be miserable and be all gloomy and pessimistic.  There is a good chance some of us will die no matter what we do to prepare. All a person can do is stack the odds in their favor.

I would be having a blast of a time if it wasn’t for the PTBs being so annoying and screwing up my plans. There is a lot more to learn and do so count your blessings and get back to work. We are living in historic times my friend!

Solar panels arrived early, the church bazaar and my aunt

October 26, 2013

The panels got here today which is over 3 days earlier than what Amazon suggested. I already have a bunch of thing to get done so the panels will have to wait a bit.  We have a big cold front moving down on Sunday afternoon and I want to get a few more buckets of wood cut up. Doesn’t look like we will get any snow here in the valley but it will be windy, rainy and cold.  Perfect weather for the wood stove, solar panels not so much!

Mom and I try to go to the holiday bazaar and see what’s available and the money goes to a good cause. I think we got some nice deals. I found a nice multiple disk DVD player and the best part other than the price of $1.00 is I had an old Sony remote control that worked with it with no programing.  My sister’s DVD player died so I will give her one of mine so she can watch her movies. There was a nice fireplace tool set made of iron with brass accents that I got for $4.00. That saves me at least $20.00 if I purchased the tools new, add in a couple of books and a small cast iron skillet and I think I did pretty good. Mom got a Homedics spa for the bath tub, I got one of these at the local thrift store and love it. Not quite a jacuzzi but it is the next best thing and a heck of a lot cheaper. Mom got a nice little windup clock. Those clocks are getting impossible to find anymore. Every clock I find has either a battery or must be plugged in. Oh that’s great if you have power but not if you are a prepper.  Having a couple of wind up clocks and some manual cooking timers are a couple of things anyone that goes through a power outage should have on hand.

Went out to visit my aunt and get some of her home made goat’s milk soap for the neighbor. The soap smells so nice and it works great. My aunt and I talked about getting some beeswax that she uses along with some essential oils and other natural ingredients. It turns out that the Farmer’s market several folks sell clean beeswax for about $1.00-$2.00 and oz. But many beekeepers don’t want to go to the trouble of cleaning beeswax so sell the stuff in bulk. One of the ideas I have for a cottage industry is selling clean beeswax. The process takes some time but I think I have figured out a couple of ways to keep the energy cost low.  Beeswax has a lot more uses than I had first thought, plus it’s a  local product.

I think one of the best niches I can look for money making opportunities is on jobs that take time but not a lot of physical strength or dexterity.  Who knows the Solar generator and my electric tools such as the chainsaw and rototiller might be in high demand. I think recharging batteries or tech device might be a market if the SHTF. It certainly was a big thing when Sandy hit the east coast urban areas.

Income and out go

October 24, 2013

I t has been a big wake up call for me, that the PTBs talking about simply cutting off entitlements. Intellectually I knew it could happen but it is quite different when they come out and say it. I based my financial preparations on the idea that my “entitlements” could be cut up to 30%. Through inflation or a cut at the PTBs level.  Completely cutting off all cash flow to me was not something I thought I would have to face yet. While I have taken steps to protect myself for a few months,  I am unable to pay off my house quickly and becoming a refugee of any sort is not on my to do list!  I know many people believe that cutting entitlements is a bluff and it is, but sooner or later you will get called and that could get very ugly very fast as we saw with the EBT debacle.

I know for myself the fastest way to get money was to start saving it. Prioritizing your spending and paying for the basics first, then looking at things you don’t need or get much value is next. Getting rid of and staying out of debt is a huge thing and it is all to easy to slip back into debt and interest payments. If you start or only make min. payments on your debt you may be in trouble and I know I’m catching myself thinking that if I can make the min. payment I’m okay, at best I’m only okay for month. I have played this game before and lost with debt. I should know better, but it shows how easy the “debt monster” can sneak up on you even if you are aware of it.

For 2014 the goals will focus on cutting the strings of the PTBs that make me dependent on the government and then trying out different home based/ cottage type industries that generate some positive cash flow. Get that wood stove loan paid off as quickly as possible and build a good “emergency fund”. Simple things but not always easy. I think the wood stove and solar panels will payback quickly but I find myself wanting to make just the min. payment rather than retiring the debt as quickly as possible.

I think I can make up my shift in spending fairly quickly and get back on track for clearing the debt I have incurred the last couple of months. I might be beating myself up a bit more than is called for as the last few weeks have been extraordinary. We may face another “shutdown” in 3-4 months and I don’t see anything that makes me think that the economy will come roaring back to life. 2014 is going to be an “interesting” year in the Chinese sense of the word!

Testing Testing 1 2 3 Testing Updated

October 20, 2013

While I appreciate the Government giving me an opportunity for a “real-time” test of my financial preps.  I can’t say I’m all that thrilled with their methods, but with about 2 weeks notice in September,  getting paid my little disability check on the first of October. I was able to change my financial priorities and pay all my bills until November if the PTBs had cutoff both VA disability and SS.  The PTBs have been kind enough to give us a follow up test beginning in January 2014. So if you are not feeling confident in your financial preparation you have three months to fix what you can and get ready for the next time.

I tested my wood stove for heating up water in my large stockpots. The fire I started this morning was dying down and I set one of the full pots on the stove to see how well it would heat up the water. I measured 120 degrees F. after about awhile (sorry, didn’t check the time) and I didn’t add any wood to the stove. That temp. is just about perfect for washing up and cleaning things like dishes and  I’m very pleased with the results.  Using the wood stove and my five gallon Igloo insulated jugs, it should simple to have plenty hot water if the power goes out for an extended period of time.  Last year during an extended power outage a couple of cities sent out boil tap water directives. Most people had no way to boil water without power and this was just a little wind storm with 60 MPH winds.

I did an accidental test of my first aid skills cutting into my thumb with a bread knife. Nothing to bad but I cut deep into the top of my thunb and of course it bled a lot. My bandages in the kitchen were low so I got some more out of the “pantry”.  I taped up a bit of gauze using the 3 M microfoam tape. I like this tape as it sticks to itself and skin with no extra steps. It’s great for applying pressure to stop the bleeding quickly.  I still needed to cut wood and my little work gloves did a good job protect the thumb somewhat from bangs  now that it is overly sensitive. I waited a day to do my dishes but I could have put on one of my vinyl gloves if I had to finish up cooking and stuff.

Mom found a gal giving away free strawberry plants all we had to do was go dig them up. Thank goodness we got the regular shovel as the ground was mostly clay and tough to dig into to get the strawberries out.  A little bit of work but we got 3 plastic shopping bags worth of berry plants. The gal had some raspberry plants and asked if we wanted any ? So I got another raspberry plant to go with one Mom brought over.  I put the strawberry plants in a couple of the 18 gallon “party buckets” and the raspberries in five gallon buckets out on the sun porch for now and hope they will do okay. I have paid a lot of money for the privilege of killing berry plants at least these were free!

Last but not least, using the two liter soda pop bottles for beer is working out great. If gets to the point of bartering beer I feel a lot better about giving someone a 2 liter soda bottle rather than my expensive flip-top beer bottles. I still have a lot of those soda pop bottles on hand from when I started storing water.  I’m glad I didn’t get rid of all those bottles when I started using the water barrels.

Update: I tried out the “Liquid Skin” I got at the dollar store. You get two tubes for a dollar and they are a one time use product. A few observations:

  • It’s very difficult to open the tube with all the shrink wrap plastic on the lid.  I got it open but I also re-opened the wound at the same time. While I understand companies have to protect themselves, having to use a knife to open “band aid” might be contra-indicated.
  • One time use and very difficult to get a small amount of the liquid out of the tube. If you are trying to treat a cut on your hand, which this product is marketed towards, I hope you have someone around to help you or the cut is not on your dominant hand.
  • Drainage issues. Many deep cuts will seep or drain a bit as they heal. Using a normal band aid that is not a problem but I think it could be a problem with the liquid band aid. The manufacturer claims a light “solvent/oil” can remove the band aid but using oil or solvent of any type on a wound just does not sound like something for my TODO list.
  • Okay there are some good things about the liquid bandage. It is a lot less cumbersome than a regular band aid and it does seal the wound. I noticed that my thumb is less sensitive to any little bumps. It feels a bit like having dried Elmer’s glue on you hand, you feel pressure or pain but it’s muted.

My overall impression of “Liquid Skin” is mostly negative for using on a fresh cut/wound. But I could see using it after a couple of days to protect the injury or if you can’t use a regular bandage. As a prepper, I can buy over 50 different size bandages or a bunch of gauze pads and tape for a dollar each. So I can’t recommend adding Liquid Skin bandages to your pantry.