Back to work

June 30, 2014

I was very surprised by how many hit I got on the not to late to prepare post. I have a small blog and  I get 100-200 hits a day on average so getting over 800 hits is a big deal.  My hope is there are some people who are wanting to get prepared and will take at least a few steps towards basic preparedness. Every person that prepares is one less “Zombie” to deal with and actually is a huge help in a disaster of any sort.

Any way back to work or at least back to class!  Mom and I made some of the pain relief salve.  I paid attention to how long it took to melt the beeswax, about an hour in my small crackpot set on Low. We used the 8 oz. of Coconut oil and 1 oz. of beeswax version and what is nice using the crock pot is you don’t need to babysit it while it melts.  I think you could also use a solar oven to melt the oil and beeswax but I have not tried that method yet.

While the beeswax and coconut oils were melting we watched a youtube video on making goats milk soap. I believe the gal that does these videos is named Amy and if you Google Essential Soap you should find her video classes.  We watched the goat’s milk video class on the Roku box in the living room.  This made it much easier than staring at a small PC monitor and is one of the best features offered by Roku.  Since my desktop PC died I am using the laptop and it is running on the slow side and video is very laggy overall.  I think the video would have been nearly unwatchable on the laptop.  I also got to show Mom how to use the search function for youtube vids on the Roku so I managed to add that as a quick class.

Speaking of the laptop and Desk top I downloaded the latest versions of  Comodo Internet suite and Malwarebytes to check out the laptop for any viruses. As far as the Desktop goes I’m ordering a new video card from newegg.com on the first and hope that it will get me by for a couple of weeks until I can order the rest of the parts for the PC upgrade. I’m considering using Windows 7 as the Operating system since XP is no longer supported. So far the reviews for 7 look pretty good so I hope to report that it is a good upgrade.

Small shopping list to get Tuesday, straw for the modified drip water system for the front beds and some odd & ends. 100 degree temps by Thursday as summer really heats up. Looks like it is time to fire up the A/C unit for the rest of summer.

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It’s not to late too prepare post is popular so I think a little more info may help

June 29, 2014

That post was to get you thinking about preparing in general and where you may want to focus or prioritize your efforts.  Money and/or  time will probably be your biggest limitations. I know it is tough out there making a living and adding another thing sure seems impossible considering all the effort,  but you can do it.  In a way all you are doing is “time shifting” your efforts and resources. In 6 months you will need heat, food, water, light, shelter, sanitation and security. Nothing you do today has go to waste and most likely will end up saving you money.  You need toilet paper and tooth paste tomorrow and for the rest of your life so why not stock up when it on sale instead of paying full-price because you “must” have it today because you ran out?  Why not have a few items for backup cooking, portable water and heating which are great for camping/bugout or a terrific backyard BBQ/Tailgating setup?  These items are multi-taskers that you can use all the time. I’m not one of those stock up and forget about stuff until there is a disaster. I work almost daily to figure out how to use all of the stuff I stock up. The little battery powered chainsaw I use for trimming trees in my yard will work at cutting trees on the road in the event of a windstorm or cutting up wood for the campfire.

Some unique ideas for prep that I don’t see mentioned on other sites:

  1. Five gallon Igloo jugs for water storage:  These jugs are one of my favorite water storage multi-taskers as they will keep water hot or cold when primed so they are perfect for all seasons. I can usually find this type of jug for $20.00-$25.00 new or at a yard sale for about $5.00. Smaller jugs tend to be cheaper at yard sales maybe a dollar. Heck if you get enough warning time to fill sinks and bathtubs ahead of a storm why not fill a couple of igloo’s full of cold or hot water?  These Igloo jugs can work as a backup “cooler” for any food that need to be kept cold.  My no tap water test became a lot easier because of these jugs. It’s a lot easier to boil water in the evening and fill those jugs and wake up to nice hot water for morning wash or washing hands and cleaning dishes.  Add in any high quality thermoses you find at a yard sale. You can use a thermos to cook things like Steel cut oats or other grains for breakfast and I have tested my thermoses and the will keep water very warm for up to 48 hours.
  2. Large stock pots: I use these for brewing beer but they are great for boiling and heating up a lot of water. I recommend the 2-5 gallon range or 8-32 quart as most are labeled. I used my big stockpots when my water main went out/repaired over 5 days and with my igloo jugs I could take a bath or a shower every morning with hot water.  These stock pots can also be used as a water bath canner with the addition of a few parts.  If you get hard water stains use a bit of vinegar to soak the pots and they will look brand new.
  3. A pressure cooker: These are small pans in general and they are not for canning, but they do cook food fast especially foods like beans, brown rice or steel cut oats. These little cookers are great for cooking meats that get freezer burnt so you don’t toss/waste those meats. These cookers cost about $20.00 bucks at most stores.  Less cooking time means you save fuel! Remember your pressure canner can be used as a pressure cooker but a pressure cooker is not a canner!
  4. A French press for coffee or teas:  I prefer a “French press” coffee maker compared to a percolator type. The percolators are great for an open fire but with a French press I simply add boiling water and leave it alone for a few minutes. Percolators can boil over, French presses never boil over and I think takes less fuel overall to make a great cup of coffee.

If you got a shopping list together of these items you would spend about a $100.00 total if you caught a few on sale. Probably a lot cheaper at yard sales or thrift stores.  Now this is a kitchen tool/equipment heavy post but I have used all these items in tests and they do make life easier in a disaster plus they are great multi-taskers that you can use everyday.


It’s not to late to start preparing or getting self-relient

June 27, 2014

It is never to late to start getting prepared or self-reliant. No one knows what will happen in the future though we can make educated guesses based on history or what has happened to people but the biggest thing you need to do is start/begin. That is often the hardest step to take so it’s okay to whine we have all been there.  While I do think there is time to prepare you will need to priortise how you spend your money because things are getting tight and you can’t afford to make many mistakes.

  1. Shelter:  I know this might seem an odd item to put first compared to most blogs, but for a late/new prepper you have to know that without shelter, cooling/heat you can die in a matter of hours, either from heat stroke or hypothermia in winter.  So evaluate your shelter, do you have a basement? Basements stay cool in summer and warm in winter and since the are below ground they make a great start for a storm bunker.  If you don’t have a basement can you cut off heating/cooling part of your home so you are cool or warm?  I’m not a big fan of central air and I have found you can put a small A/C unit of 5000-6000  BTUs in a window and have a cool spot to sleep and only uses 500-1000 watts of power depending on it’s size. Cost for the small A/C unit is about $200.00 or less.  Heat in winter: If you don’t have alternative heat source like a wood stove or fire place I would recommnd the Mr. Buddy type heater and store a few propane tanks away from the house.  I have tested these heaters and in below zero temps it will keep at least 2-3 rooms warm if supplied with a fan. A 1 pound tank will last about 4-6 hours depending on temp. outside and how hot you set the stove. For my test I used a Mr. Buddy heater and the hose adapter for the average propane tank and about -10 to 20 degrees as a test. Well insulated small house 1200 Sq. ft stayed about 60-65 degrees with an added fan to circulate heat. An average propane  tank would last about 5 days. The Mr. buddy heater will cost about $70.00-$140.00 depending on features and a small 15-20 gallon propane tank will cost about $50.00 or less. It’s not easy to come up with that cash but add in a small 1500-2000 watt generator and for about $300.00-$500.00 you will have a backup heating and cooling system that you control and will last a week or so.
  2. Water: You need water to regulate your body’s thermostat in both hot and cool weather. Water is a great cleaner and is needed for yards and gardens.  Now filtering water is needed  I recommend the Sawyer water filter for about $20.00 on Amazon. I recommend rain barrels of some sort but if you can’t afford a rain barrel I would go with a tarp and any rain collector you can set your hand on.  I have no faith at all that any local creeks or river will provide clean drinking water without some sort of treatment. If you are counting on a local creek as your backup water supply there must be others thinking the same. Water is very heavy, one five gallon jug weights over 40 pounds if you don’t have some sort of vehicle to transport the water. You are screwed!  You can store all the water you want for pennies per gallon if you want to have it on hand all you need is a container. Your choice but I figure about a $1.00 per gallon storage price is okay.  I’m sure there will be plenty of excuses that you can’t afford rain barrels, or water storage barrels. That’s okay for you as I have been preaching to get prepared for at least 5 years. Your choice, I know I have safe drinking water stored today and have tested my water plan.
  3. Security: I think guns is a big part of security, but you may not be of that mindset.  I do think a person should escalate if allowed from pepper spray on up. But when push comes to shove many “bad guys” or desperate people will kill to eat. If you stand in front of your preps the “mob” will see you as a threat and as a person that is keeping them from the basics of life.  I hope the “mob” will move along when faced with deterrent and a person that is willing to implement but I can’t say that will happen.  I think knowing your neighbors and setting up a small little barter collective is the best defense against the mob! I don’t know for sure as I’m new to the whole global economic collapse idea. But I know it is a good idea to know your neighbors.
  4. Food: Store long term foods, all grains, rice, beans and any basics like coffee, salt, sugar.  Other than coffee most of these item last for decades if store properly. Learn how to grow a garden, gardens take work and it is not easy to grow plants. It takes a bit of practice but even a black thumb like me can grow a darn good garden if persistent.
  5. Skills to barter:  I have no idea what you are good at. I seem to be good at medicinal and some basic thing like soap. I’m fairly good at building PCs.  I also have a good selection of tools. I have no idea what will be of value if the SHTF all I can do is try and learn basic skills and hope for the best.   I think bread making might be huge and of value. I have all ingredients on hand already and it strange that many people think making bread is akin to magic if not bought from a store.

It won’t be easy to prep but it is doable for a 3-6 month time frame for your family. Will it be enough? I have no idea but at least some minimal prep gives you a bit of time to plan to keep things going.


Amber Lager bottled and more garden stuff

June 26, 2014

The Amber lager is all bottled,  I bottled a case using the 12 oz. bottles and bottle caps for the 3rd of July party. I hope my German wheat beer will be ready in time along with the black bellma ale but the timing will be close.  The good neighbors are downsizing the party and I can’t blame them with the cost of everything going up. Things are getting tough all over, one thing that is helping me is I planned ahead. I did a budget based on somehow losing 30% of my buying power either from Government cuts or inflation. While it is not that bad yet, it has really helped me make each pay check go a bit farther.  Plus there is a big mental aspect to it as far as not being surprised and trying to reset your budget priorities at the last minute.  If things go well I’m a bit ahead on savings and paying off debt, if things get ugly I have a bit of a buffer in my monthly budget to adapt to the “new normal”. The water main issue taught me that I need a good cash savings plan and just maintaining the basic payments of the monthly budget was not enough to be  somewhat financially secure.  As we all know “Stuff” happens and usually at the least convenient moment.  I’m not perfect on the “savings plan yet, as there have been some sales that are to good to pass up. But refilling my savings envelopes is my first priority with each paycheck.  I’m getting closer to making cash savings a priority but I’m not there yet!  I’m not beating myself up about the savings plan because doing something new take a little time and practice for me and compared to how I used to save cash I’m doing at least 50% better than I did last year so it is progress!

Speaking of saving cash it would be a lot easier if the stuff I need did not go on sale between my checks!  Lowe’s has the wood mulch on sale till the 30th, four 2 cubic foot bags for only $10.00. Getting the yard and garden healthy and looking good  is one of my priorities this year.  So dip into the savings and get the mulch as the garden and the trees in the yard add to my food supply, the healthier those plants and soil become, the better. I may not be able to purchase those things in the future.  I don’t know if this will help a beginning gardener but I put a little sawdust around my plants in the “edible garden” and it kept me from weeding out a Borage plant I was trying out and the little sign for it disappeared.  One very nice thing about doing the edible gardens in the front yard is the greens are growing slowly compared to the greens that are starting to bolt in the backyard “full sun” beds.

I have a friend at the Grab the Apple Forums that is really smart on gardening though he considers himself a beginning gardener. For the urban gardener he recommends to sit outside and really watch the sun and see if you have some micro-climates based on structures and existing trees and plants.  He sees an urban garden as a better thing than a large field because you can go with pots, go vertical and add in cold frames, plastic and greenhouse since all of your plants are so close and you tend to them daily.  I don’t know if his approach will work for everyone but it is starting to work for me and my garden.  He doesn’t use chemicals but mostly looks at improving the soil and he is in the DFW area of  Texas and he has not “watered” his lawn or garden with a sprinkler since 2012 and his stuff looks as good or better than those that dump chemicals and water on their lawns. Not bad considering the drought that is going on in Texas for the last couple of years.

Update: The pain salve works great on menstrual cramps. I rubbed a bit of the salve on my lower back and it seem to release those cramps in about 5-10 minutes at most.  I don’t think of myself as a wimp and I can tolerate/work through some pain but those cramps would send me to bed and taking  Ibuprofen tablets like they were M&Ms.  I call this a pain salve and it does help with muscle, arthritic and neuralgia but in my experience so far it works best on muscle cramps and spasms.


Cleaning up the shop and testing a portable dishwasher

June 24, 2014

One of the biggest selling points of this house was the big shop.  Sad to say I often use it for a catch all for future projects and many non-shop like items.  I’m starting to get tools and the shop needs to be put to work as a shop rather than just a storage area.  One of the jobs I got done is putting my Bug out/camping tote by the car along with the multi-fuel stove and sleeping bags. I keep the RV well stocked but it’s possible I may have to use the mini-van or even my trike in a bugout situation depending on conditions so having everything in one spot ready to go was one of my prepping tasks.  I live about 6 blocks from a rail-yard and a major chemical spill is one of my bugout scenarios.  Bugging out is not my preferred method of survival but sometimes the best thing you can do is  get out of the impact zone of a disaster. I need to do a test of how long it would take me to GOOD with the min-van as well as the trike but at least everything is ready to go now.  I need to add  more high quality maps for the car and the trike like I have in the RV.  Overall I think I am fairly well set and can boogie in less than an hour without a test and be good for 3-7 days.

Anyway back to cleaning up the shop I got my tools sort of arranged and gave the shop floor a good sweep.  Some thing got moved to easy access from work to a SHTF scenario.  I put my wheel barrow up on a block to repair the tire via adding a bit of “Slime” and the bike is ready for the tire treatment my neighbor gave me for puncture proof tires.  You did add stuff to your tires in case of flats to your BOV whatever you choice you  make right?  I don’t know how fast or easy you can change a tire but I know I can’t bust lug nuts put on with an air wrench.  I get fix-a flat and carry a couple of cans in the mini-van  and the RV. Might not be as good as a spare but it is quick and easy and just might make the difference in survival mode.

The Dishwasher… my built in dishwasher crapped out a while back and my Mom found a portable dishwasher at a yard sale as a replacement. Well doing dishes by hand is not a big deal but I hate washing beer bottles and I had been considering getting the portable up and running  but my kitchen floor plan is sort of small and I hate having both a non-working dishwasher and portable taking up space.  Heck screw it let’s see if the portable works?  It does, with a few add on modification to the faucet and floor space is about the same, but I lost some shelves but gained counter space. That’s a doable trade off.  Testing the dishwasher, I had no leaks and it got some very dirty dishes clean.  I had to rearrange the kitchen a bit and gosh clean up behind the fridge and the floor as it was disgusting! I had no idea how the grease settled in a kitchen when you don’t use an exhaust fan!  Okay it looks a little goofy having 2 dishwasher in the kitchen but it will do until I save up funds for the new built in dishwasher.  It seems a bit silly to cut off  all the plumbing to the existing built in  dishwasher when I want to install a new one in the near future!  I also bought all the parts to make the portable dishwasher work outside and I could use it in the patio kitchen easily.  It’s a “redneck” solution but I don’t know of many “out door” kitchens that have a dishwasher!

Prepping and getting self-reliant as a disabled person presents some unique challenges. In someways you can never be fully independent but there is a lot of stuff you can do to make yourself valuable. Now I have been buying a lot battery powered tools and going as much as possible to alternative energy to power those tools.  It has been amazing to me just how much work you can get in return after someone “barrows” a tool to work on stuff.  I’d loan out a cheap tool first and see how your neighbor is about offering help as well as returning the tool, but if you are disabled you will need help for some physical jobs and it is best to find out now who you can depend on even if it costs a bit of money.

If you can think “outside of the box” it is amazing the ideas that you can come up with and use.


But I don’t want to clean my room! I want to go outside and play!

June 22, 2014

I have been enjoying the yard and garden a lot this year. There are many reasons but overall  the work I do outside does not seem like a chore but is a lot of fun.  One of the most enjoyable things is to just sit on the patio after doing all that work. Today I had to do some cleaning in the house and while it needed to be done all I could think about is sitting outside.

I did get to do a little bit of work on the front yard mowing and getting the lawn watered. I dug out a soaker hose from last year and tried watering from the normal irrigation water thinking the soaker hose would do a bit better under pressure compared to using the rain barrels. Even under pressure the soaker hose did not spray out water it  just did a faster soak compared to the barrels.  This is good news,  I can lay down the soaker hose on the edible front yard garden beds and then cover it with some straw mulch. That should water the front beds using the rain barrel water exclusivly! It won’t quite be a drip irrigation system but I hope to see similar results.

I moved back indoors and got a wheat beer started. I think the German style wheat beer is my favorite for summer. I’m getting better at cooling the wort. A good trick is add ice on the outside of the pot once you get below 100 degree F. using a wort chiller.  At a higher temp the ice bath is sort of wasted effort for me. My Amber lager is still bubbling away and I hope within the next few days to get it bottled.  The outdoor kitchen is now a high priority job. The new exhaust fan helped a lot to keep the kitchen temp down but brewing beer will increase the house temp. noticibly.  Electric costs doing a brew job is darn noticible if done during a week day.  I’m no fan of ” smart meters” but I have to say being able to call up my electric useage has helped me reduce my costs.

The big indoor cleanup was changing out all the curtains, blankets and linens and washing them up.  I checked the weather forecast and it was clear as a bell until Thursday and then today  the clouds started rolling in along with a forecast of rain.   I would not mind the rain but the cloud cover prevents it cooling off at night. I may have to run the A/C unit tonight and I was hoping to put it off using the A/C  a bit longer.  Of course my mindset has changed radically about what is an acceptable monthly electric bill.  I do seem to handle the summer heat much better this year.

Quite a lot got done this weekend. I’m working smarter not harder but I think the new vitamins are helping a lot with recovery.  I have a good tired, rather than being completely wiped out and down for a day or two for recovery.


Cutting wood and weeds

June 21, 2014

After Dad moved the RV back to it’s normal parking spot it got hard to walk through to the alley as some of the wood pile sort of spread out.  The wood area became sort of a catch all for limbs and branches from my tree trimmings.  I needed to clean and organize it a bit just so it easier to cut and stack the mill-ends. One of the lessons learned about the wood stove is you can’t have to much kindling, saving some the tree trimmings and letting them dry worked out good but I had to get those branches down to kindling size. I almost filled a 32 gallon rolling garbage can with the branches I could break by hand and it did not take all that long to do. The bigger branches I cut with the B&D battery chain saw.  Gosh I love using that little saw!

The weeds in the alley are awful, mostly cheat grass and goat-heads. I used the weed wacker to cut everything as close to the ground as possible and then raked everything up. If I can stay on top of it I should be able to make a dent in the cheat grass, the goat-heads will have to be dug up then tossed.  I don’t want to use a chemical plant killer but find a good plant that will look nice plus help choke out the weeds. I think lavender would be good in one area but I end up laying down a barrier and adding rock to hold it in place.

Got a start on the “slash pile” and  it will take time getting it cleaned up. This is a big job for me and it is one of those jobs that does not show daily progress very well.  It will just look like a pile of dirt and wood until it is all cleaned up.  One reason I was so happy about getting the wood from my Aunt G. is it is contained, no dirt or trash and I can work on it and see progress. Dad said I  didn’t need to worry about stacking the elm as it is already dry and is protected from rain/weather.  If you start letting things slide too much, all of sudden it seems like you have a big mess. It is as much about attitude as it is appearance for me.

The wood mulch is working out great. I am fighting  some morning glory and some other weeds but over all I think wood mulch idea is working.  I’m not seeing a huge benefit using the landscape cloth compared to laying the mulch directly on the grass/weeds.  In some ways it seems easier to deal with the weeds without the landscape cloth.  One bonus is I no longer have to mow between the raised beds and it was kind of a pain to go around all the beds and I still had to use the weed wacker where the mower did not cut.

The new raised bed just had the first little weeds appear so I’m changing my mental mindset to weeding.  Right now I grab a few weeds while I check the plants and with my small beds I can keep up with the weeds if I clean around my plants everyday. The little bit every day seems to work better for me rather than letting the weeds go for a longer time and making it an all day job. I added a bit of old rabbit poo to the big bed as the soil was starting to build a clay crust.  I’m working on the compost pile but I’m not feeling much in the way of heat. The mix is not correct yet!  But I thought that might happen with me starting it off “brown heavy”.

With my CIDP doing  several  different jobs that use different movements seems to work better rather than doing the same sort of movements for the same amount of time.  The new mineral/vitamin mix helps a lot on my recovery time and the pain relief salve is a huge help with the pain/cramps/spasms.  With a chronic “condition ” It can be very hard to motivates yourself to work in spite of the pain.  If you have injury you need to rest it and let it heal. But with my CIDP I can’t rest the injury and too much rest is contra-indicated most of the time.  Working those muscles, bones and nerves might hurt,  but if I don’t over do it, I know I feel better at least mentally and usually physically.