Happy Mother’s Day and yard maintenance.

May 10, 2015

My sister is just “giddy” about doing a Mother’s day meal for Mom. She got some lobster tails on sale from Albertsons this week for $4.99  and I have the sirloins and 16/20 count shrimp I got on sale last month so it should be a darn good feed on Sunday.  I think my sister felt a bit hurt we didn’t do anything special for Easter so she is just “champing at the bit” to do a great Mother’s day thing.  My sister is a darn good cook and she is finally asking me about sales on stuff.  In her mind I’m still the “little sister she had to protect” though that fantasy does not have much basis in reality. Heck we all go through our trials and tribulations with family.  I don’t know if things are getting better, but at least they are getting different!  I may whine, piss and moan about my sister but she was there cleaning my house when I got disabled and shopping for the few little items I could afford to buy when things tough for me. Yes she’s a bit of a nut, but she has a good heart and will help out when she is needed.

Overall the Mother’s day meal turned out good though my Sirloins were medium or well done rather than med. rare.  My first BBQ of the year and I always have to re-learn my charcoal heat for cooking. My sister’s lobster turned out awesome and she made a very nice salad plus pie and cake. I didn’t cook up the shrimp as we had plenty and Mom said that worked out great as she would not have to share her shrimp dinner with anyone else, LOL.

I got the grass mowed for all of the yard in just a couple of hours. That’s kind of unusual for me as I usually need a break it down into a couple of days.  I have been adding a lot of mulch around the garden/flower beds so I don’t save to mow as much grass.  The part of the front lawn I de-thatched, aerated and fertilized this spring is looking green and vibrant. I added a bit of fertilizer to the other half of the lawn but did not de-thatch or aerate the soil is sort of green but it is not doing as well as the area where I did all the work. The wood mulch seems to be having an impact on the front rose beds as well as the holly plants along with retaining moisture. While SW Idaho is not quite as desperate for water as Cali. I believe in being pro-active on water conservation and adding mulch seems to be one of the best things I have done for water conservation in my lawn and garden.  Another thing I have noticed where I have laid down mulch is weeds don’t seem to send deep tap roots, but tend to spread roots in into the mulch that is decomposing. You still have to weed your beds but mulch seems to make it a much easier job. This is only my second year of adding a thick layer of mulch to my first thin layer of mulch to my beds.  Remember water does not move simply by gravity but also through osmosis to find a it’s level. If you mulch heavily to cover bare soil, any available water will move to dryer sections if you have a semi- level yard.  Trust me if you don’t think water is important simply cut off all your access water via city/power pumps of water for one day.

I got the compost pile turned over and working again. Oh! my gosh, it was a job and half! I’d like to blame Mom about adding compressed hay and straw but I dug deep and got compressed hay and straw I must have added earlier.  The compost pile has broken down stuff though it would do a better job if I kept up with the turning it over and adding water regularly. Smokey the cat was very happy with me turning over and soaking the compost as she got 3 mice today!  I’m using Pallets for my compost pile walls but I think a person should add wood slats or some rigid wire at the middle board so the compost drops and I think it would be much easier to gauge your water saturation level as well as add more air to your composting. Plus it will make gathering the finished compost easier to remove from your bins. I’m getting some lovely compost on the bottom layers of my bins. It is just a lot of work to dig down to that layer.

Some good news I have a few peas that are coming up in the front garden beds.  I had about given up on those plants but they are coming back. I had great luck cutting back the rose bushes and all but one old bush is showing new growth.  My apple tree is already setting fruit though my cherry trees are looking pretty sad this year.  I will cut the cherry trees more this year to get rid of a lot of the dead stuff, suckers and crotch growth. I’m not the biggest fan of cherries though it is a great fruit and the wood from the trees is great for adding flavor. I won’t be heart broken if my cherry harvest is minimal. I added a little bit of fruit wood to my wood pile via a neighbor pruning his trees. All I have to do is cut the wood to size and he doesn’t have to haul it to the dump.  That is a win/win in my book.

One last thing please stock up on all poultry and poultry products while the cost is low. Freeze it or can it, get all you can acquire now for under a dollar per pound before the price hike after “avian flu” gets on the Main Stream Media.  Approx. 30 million birds are already infected and will go to the garbage dump. So based on supply and demand I expect the price for any poultry product cost to jump  a lot higher.

Sorry to be all doom and gloom but you must buy low wherever you can and survive high.  While I do not expect an empty  meat department of poultry items. I think $2.50 per pound price and higher would not be out of the ordinary.  Buy now for less than a dollar per pound or wait an pay $2.50 + per pound. Your choice….

Stocking up on meat, solar and odds & sods

May 6, 2015

Both Paul’s Market and Albertson’s are having good sales on meat last week and this week. I have been spending some of mu “mad” money stocking up especially on poultry items. Paul’s had chicken thighs and drumsticks for 79 cents per pound, so I bought a little over 6 pounds for the freezer. I really like chicken thighs as they are very easy to can compared to cutting up a whole chicken.  I bought a 14 pound turkey at $1.49 per pound at Albertson’s this week because the “avian flu” is getting very bad in the mid-west. The stories I have been seeing say that over 21 million birds have been destroyed or will be destroyed in the near future to contain this flu outbreak . While chickens grow quickly as a meat animal.  Turkeys need at least 7 months to grow to cooking size and some people are forecasting a very limited turkey supply for holiday meals this year. While $1.49 per pound seems like a crazy price to pay for a whole turkey it isn’t a bad price compared to most meats you buy in your local mega mart! If you want turkey deli meat or a big bird for the Holidays I suggest you try and get a turkey or two in the next few weeks even if you pay $1.50-$1.80 per pound and store that bad boy in the freezer. While holiday traditions are very important to your morale you might think about doing a holiday ham now that pork prices are starting to stabilize or drop just a little bit.  I am looking at making a “Holiday Food” storage box/container for items that you need to make my holiday meal. Things like spices, stuffing, canned pie fillings or cranberry sauce, divinity, fudge and snacks can all go into the box now and the holiday meals covered no matter what happens to the economy!

I got a fairly good deal on some 85/15 hamburger today at Pauls, though paying $2.99 per pound for hamburger on “sale” still strikes me as odd. A while back I paid that for Sirloin but when things change your price point changes.  I have spent a bit more on food because I’m stocking up but I should be okay because I basically only stock-up on sales and with dollar cost averaging my budget should be okay in the long run!  Albertson’s is having a sale on Lobster tails for $4.99 for Mother’s day as well as Rib eye steaks for $6.99 per pound.  Speaking only for myself having some of those “luxury” food items to cook at home really make me feel good and boost my morale. Mom and I have been living on chicken and pork for a few months and cooking up a small sirloin steak really hit the spot and gave us boost mentally.  I think you need a good protein and fats at least once a day and while you can survive on beans and rice I don’t think there is anything wrong with stocking up on the good stuff when you can afford it.  You won’t be eating lobster and prime rib every day but you will have some very nice special holiday meals once and awhile.

Last but not least on the meat front Albertsons has it’s butcher block bacon for $2.99 per pound. This is my favorite bacon as it has a a nice smoke flavor and is more salty than sweet.  My price point for good bacon is $2.99 and I can afford to get 5 pounds at that price.  Don’t get me wrong as I have bought plenty of bacon ends and pieces on the cheap around $2.33 per pound but I will stock up and freeze bacon when I get a good buy!

Building the small solar power system starting with the RV. I got a hub that will make my wiring solar panel very simple for the RV if not the most efficient use of the panel over all.  While the solar panels and AGM batteries  is not perfect it should power the RV’s fridge on DC power and give me a fridge until I can store the food safely. tinhatranch.com has a great solar power system primer for a small 400 watt system that will power a small chest freezer, a couple of fans and charge up small electronics and some electric odds and ends would make a huge difference in any short term disaster. Any power generator simply buys you time during the reset. You may have generators, an RV and go solar but they really sort of suck compared to big dams or coal fired turbines via cost per kilowatt hour.  Independence of the grid is priceless and just being able to store/use a bit of energy, without being dependent on the PTBs is huge.

Personally I think we should go local with small power project similar to the old farm co-op models.  One person could provide a simple wifi network , email or chat server with off the shelf components for a small block of neighbors. I could add a charging station for phones and small electronics via my jumper pack charged via a generator or solar.  These thin are not easy but they are simple if you can think outside the box the PTBs try and put you in.  At harbor freight the have lithiom/ nicad  batteries good for 800 charges. Let’s say that is marketing hyperboly and the batteries are only good for 400 charges, that little battery is still good enough for 12 months of charges every other day.

The very worst that can happen is going to pre-electric late 1800’s and not the stone age.  Even if an EMP hits like a “Carrington event” the human race can make new turbines as they are relatively simple, if not always easy constructs of magnets and copper wire.  The human race will not suddenly lose the ability to create steel, kevlar or how to weld/blacksmithing.  Radio/ TV/fax machines are simply eltro-mechanical devices and we know cell phones and computers are possible and can be built easily.

I have no doubt that may get a bit dicey but there is no reason to go “mental” and imagine things will get midevel if you are prepared.

Puttering around the house, trike maintenance and dealing with Riot control agents

May 3, 2015

I finally got started cleaning up and organizing the basement. The basement is sort of a catch all for all the items that need to be in a temprature controlled enviroment and can not be stored in my shop. I got the paint and cleaning supplies awawy from the food supplies and stacked on shelves just for those sort of items. In general you want to store cleaning/home improvement (paint, caulk etc.) supplies away from your food supplies. Any how I got a few items organized, so I could walk easily  and swept the small carpet and the concrete floor to clean up dust and trash.  While my basement isn’t “all that” I  think of it as my little bunker. Keeping it clean and organized is a challenge.  I’m not one of those people that does “A place for everything and everything in it’s place.  Quite often I get stuff I think I might need/want on hand, find a place to put it and then figure out how to organize it later…  Not such a good plan if you are just starting to prep as you can miss getting items you need and get overly redundant on some items.  I thought I had plenty of both C and AAA type batteries. Nope! I have lots of AA and D batteries. Don’t stress out just fix it as soon as you can afford to stockup again.  I try to think positive on all I do to prep. While I may miss a few small items, in genearal I am well prepeared to handle a minor disaster.  When I screw up I don’t beat myself up, I simply adjust my shopping list and top off those missing items.

I got my adult trike out and cleaned it up, aired up the tires and added a headlight and break light along with a little bell. Bikes and adult trikes don’t get much love or notice in the prepping community and I think a bike or trike is something all preppers should have on hand and practice everything from bugging out to daily shopping.  If you are semi-healthy and walk a couple of mile per day,  a bike/trike would get you about 6 miles away from ground zero. Let’s say you are physically capable of walking 5 miles per day. A bike/trike would probably triple that mileage and weight you could carry more stuff means give you better chance at survival.  Practice using a bike/ trike and have a plan for bugging out. It might be using a backpack and a basket or using a child trailer but get your bike setup ready and practice shopping, riding around and setting up your  bug out routes now!

I have been Teared gassed and while very unpleasant, there is a lot you can do to adapt to being gassed. # 1. Don’t freak out or panic. Getting gassed is very unpleasant but it is not the “end of the world”! #2.  Do not rub your eyes or mouth or your skin.  As quickly as possible rinse your skin  and face with cool water for at least 5-10 minutes and strip off all contamimated clothing.  Have a basic mask, bandana and safety goggles at all times when entering a potential riot area.  For tear gas “sip your air” through your mouth.  Getting tear gassed is very unpleasant your first time. You ever wonder why anarchists go into the fog of tear gas. They have a bit of protection and have leared to deal with gas. Tear gas is pretty unpleasent at first, but with a bit of practice it isn’t that bad to deal with if you are prepared.  I would recommend any one going into a possible riot zone wear a long sleaves and be ready to strip to shorts and a t-shirt.  Thinking in layers is just not for winter.  While a gas mask on hand is great, it will be easier to stash a couple of masks and goggles in your jockey box and add a bandana to your every day carry gear.

While I give you some ideas. Be aware and prepare, so you don’t have to go through riot areas. That means you must keep your vehicle topped off.  You need to plan your routes to avoid any “potential riots or bad areas”.   Be polite and respectful to all and have a plan to kill all around you.  I did not choose this option I’m simply taking measures to protect myself.