Buying tools, cleanup, organizing and getting ready for fall/winter

August 31, 2015

I have been buying up a lot of basic wood working tools and home maintenance items. Yet at times I find my mindset stuck in the past when I did not have tools/knowledge to do basic repair jobs. It’s not enough for a person to have tools on hand, you have to learn how to use those tools, that can be a scary at times. You can lop off parts of your body or worse cut some lumber wrong and have to buy more lumber to fix your screw up.  Desperation might be a good motivator in the collapse but knowing you have a Emergency Room available if you”screw the pooch” on your DIY projects is better right now. Learn how to use your tools safely on DIY projects so you respect tools and not fear them.

I have a been a bit slow on creating more shelving for storage. Or as I call it being an acid minded moron. While I tend to like 55 gallon drums for storing “long term basics” like grains, beans and rice long term.  I have really dropped the ball on short term (2-5 year) food storage. Since most of my food storage is in my basement the shelves don’t have to be pretty, just solid.  My hope is that as I build the shelves I will become more proficient working with wood as I learn some basic carpentry skills. Worse thing that can happen is I  screw up a cut and have more kindling for the wood stove.

I called up L about some wood but it did not work out. Good fire wood but it need cut and split to fit my stove. While the price was great, neither Mom or I are physically capable of cutting/splitting wood this winter. While I’m not rich I can afford to buy a few cords of wood that is cut and split to fit my stove. Many people can’t afford split wood so getting free firewood of any sort will be helpful to them. I’m sure some folks will think I’m foolish passing up “free” fire wood of any sort. I figure God wants me to do my best and be honest with my need. Do I need fire wood? yes, I can also pay for it and other people can not pay cash.  If they are willing to sweat cutting and splitting wood, good for them!

I finally got a hold of the guys Mom suggested for firewood and have a delivery of 2 cords scheduled about the 16th of September. I have seen the wood they delivered to Mom and Dad for years and feel confident I am get a good bang for my buck. I have sort of bad feeling about the folks I called earlier as one cord of wood delivered for $100.00 is very low priced for this area. I think they might mean a “face” cord rather than a full cord of wood.  I hope I’m wrong as I would like to stock up on firewood and $100.00 a cord delivered is a bargain!

I will get another 3 bags of mulch for the alley way garden. My sunchokes and mossy rose put on a lot of new growth after adding a thick layer of wood mulch around the plants. Plus it seems that the weeds are not growing back as quickly. It seems that using the wood ash, a thick layer of wood mulch and adding in more layers of rock is helping to kill out the weeds naturally.  While not as fast as using a weed killer, I have been a bit surprised that many of the weeds I dug out in mid July have not made a come back going into fall. I added a 2 light weight garden hoses and a new oscillating sprinkler that were on sale. I need to call the water dept. for a leaky irrigation valve to find out who is responsible for it and how it should be replaced. I recommend every prepper with a yard/garden have a couple of backup hoses and a few hose repair kits on hand.  Moving water by hand is a lot of physical work.

I don’t think you need to panic unless you are still in the “Market” or a TBTF (To Big To Fail) bank. If you have not moved your cash accounts into a local bank or credit union that should be a priority. Start saving about one month’s of bills as cash on hand and pre pay any reoccurring bills you can afford to pay, such as insurance, electricity and what ever utility that will allow you to pre-pay. You might be like me and suck at saving cash but don’t mind being cash poor if all the bills are paid. So pre-pay utilities now and your utilities are covered somewhat this winter.

I think an Economic collapse of the USA is the greatest disaster we may face. That does not mean it will happen, just that it could happen. If you are ready for an economic collapse you are ready for most local and regional disasters.

  • Food for 3-12 months
  • Water on hand for at least 2 weeks and filter plus water source for additional water needs
  • Shelter and energy that is not grid dependent for at least a month
  • Security via lighting or alarms along with security measures to protect you, your family and others
  • First aid and sanitation

Prepping and self reliance is not a zero-sum gain. While you might have start off slow depending on your budget. The effort you put in is good for all kinds of local disasters up to so big disasters like an economic collapse. I did not add fire extinguisher to my home because of an economic collapse. I added them because of how often house fires happen!

This prepping and self reliance stuff is usually simple. That does not mean it is easy!





What is Next?

August 28, 2015

I’m trying the saving cash thing again and so far I seem to be more successful compared to my previous attempts. It is not a lot of cash, but it doesn’t seem like it is “burning a hole in my pocket”.  With the market getting crazy, I seem a bit more focused on what little cash I can save.  I know some folks like silver and JM Bullion has a new product and I bought a Elemental 5oz. divisible bar. The 5 oz. bar is slightly larger than a deck of cards.  I think this is a great buy for all preppers and silver stackers. With the silver spot price under $15.00 per oz. you can get the bar for about $85.00. I have bought from JM Bullion and while they are not the fastest for shipping, they charge no shipping costs and generally have a low premium cost for their silver. The 5 oz. Elemental bars offer more silver at a lower cost than the 100 gram Valcambi bars but you don’t have quite the same “name brand trust” with these new bars. I think getting almost 2 more oz. for a lower cost pus you split the bars into 1/4 oz. rather than 1 or 10 grams make them a better buy.

I have been seeing some outlandish numbers tossed around about the future value of silver and gold in dollars. I don’t think some of those numbers are unreasonable but remember it is not that gold or silver are gaining value, as much as the Dollar is loosing value. A pre64 quarter will probably still buy a gallon of gas or a loaf of bread. But the value in dollars might be $3.00 like today or a few hundred if silver is valued at $601.00 per oz (per John Williams at Shadowstats).  I think before buying silver you should buy the ingredients and learn to bake bread rather than count on silver or gold to save you.  In Wiemar Germany the cost of bread went from about 4 marks during the war (1915)  to over several million marks by 1923.  Bread did not become incredibly valuable store of wealth,  but the German mark became essentially worthless. I recommend you buy 50-100 pounds of unbleached white flour, some yeast and salt and learn to bake bread. At the very least you won’t have to pay inflated costs for a loaf of bread and you might sell a few extra loaves at the local farmers market and pay off your house.  Trust me if gold and silver skyrocket priced in US dollars,  Hunt’s pasta sauce and Angel soft tissue paper will sky rocket in cost right along with it.

What I suspect will happen is all of the basic things we need to live such as shelter(rent), food, energy(gas for cars and utilities) , health care, will keep inflating. Toys and what most consider wants, not needs will get cheaper or deflate. For example I got an email from Harbor freight for a 900 watt generator for under $90.00 that is normally about $120.00. Harbor freight is not giving me that sale price because they love me or think I’m a great human being.  They need to liquidate and have cash flow/inventory problem. Car prices are starting to crash and what was a $60,000 pickup is being advertised around $35,000.00. The shale oil fields are no longer making profits and several companies are close to insolvency.  These are all Macro-economic events but Joe Six pack has a $500 dollar a month pickup truck payment due and just got laid off.

What I recommend is:

  • Get out of the market, I think this a “dead cat bounce” done by the PPT and the Fed. If it is paper profits or paper stocks, get your best price and leave. If I’m wrong you can sell high and BTFD rebound.
  • Don’t trust the big banks with your cash. If you have saving you are now an Unsecured creditor to the TBTF banks. I would put your money into a credit union, pay your bills monthly, withdrawal most in cash, and orpay a month or two ahead if you are allowed on bills.
  • Buy tangible goods you can stock pile at home. Food, fuel, tools whatever you need. If I’m wrong you don’t have to buy food for a month or two. No short term power outage will be a big deal and you will have either the camping or tailgate set up that will be the envy of your friends.  If you don’t have a wood stove I would recommend a Mr.Buddy heater and a store a couple of 15-20 gallon propane tanks.  The Mr. Buddy heaters are relatively safe and each 15 gallon propane tank lasts about 5-7 days depending how cold it is outside. I have cooked nearly all my meals this summer using a Weber gas grill and used about a 1 and a 1/2 tanks so far.
  • Store cash to buy  tangible goods you will need, and are starting to get cheap.  I know fiat paper has no real store of value but most folks think “cash in hand” is a good thing. While I prefer not to take advantage of people’s ignorance.  At this point a person must be willfully ignorant if they do not know the real value of their stuff.
  • Have a bit of fun and try new things. I fried up some zucchini using a dip in egg wash and some flour with season  salt, fried it and it was wicked tasty.

This is a great time to try new things and test your preps.  As you test your preparedness level you will gain confidence and be less prone to panic.  I want you to ask your self a question. If you knew the stock market would collapse to 5000 on Monday the 31st of August what would you buy this weekend. I trust you could make a solid, well thought out shopping list for Sunday. While you don’t need to get it by the 31st of August. You will have a good Idea of what you need on hand this winter.

Watching the “Market” today was interesting! In a Train Wreck sort of way

August 25, 2015

I think this is the “normal, pre-crash volatility” that signals a crash is coming, but I think there is still some time left before the crash.  How much time? I have no idea.  I don’t think it is time to max your credit cards for the Apocalypse just yet. Though if you have some particular weak point I would get it fix now rather than putting it off or waiting for a sale.  My thing is getting my wood pile stocked for winter. I have a already ordered one cord from an unknown and after I see the quality I might get a few more cords from them.  Wood around here goes on sale around September. So it is very difficult to get it delivered earlier in the year. Mid September is my drop dead date for getting wood at a sensible price.  I still have wood leftover from last year and I’m going to check out some free hard wood for the taking at the local Sears store parking lot just to add a bit to the wood pile. My neighbor trimmed the heck out of his fruit trees this spring and I still have that to cut up and stack.

I paid off the wood stove this month.  Huzzah! The only debt I have now is my house. With a little bit of luck I can put that money into savings and not into some other little emergency that always seems to crop up when you are at the bottom of the economic food chain.  Sometimes it seems that no matter what you do something will always need to repaired, replaced or remodeled if you own stuff! Lumber is very cheap right now. I got eight very nice 2×4 studs to fix up the overhead cover of my wood pile for under $18.00 at lowes. I think having a small stockpile of “building grade lumber” is a must for anyone into prepping and self-reliance.  While at lowes I noticed they had some deeply discounted lumber and other building supplies that looked like it was mis-cut to a shorter length or was pre- ordered and then abandoned.  I saw some treated wood(deck?) that would make great raised beds for a wicked low price.

Onto the sales: I splurged shopping at my local Tru-Value, via the coupon book/ad this month. I added another ABC Fire Extinguisher for $15.00 for home safety.  That gives me 2 multi-purpose extinguisher on each side of the house and a small handheld in each room. I figure we can handle a small fire or at least douse the flame to escape the house.  The small  ABC extinguishers can be moved to vehicles or added to camp gear.  I often have to buy low end so I have a least something on hand that will be effective. That does not mean you should stay low end and consider it good enough.  As you get better prepared you will find you have many items that could be gifts to friends/family or can be added to the barter box.

Yard sale bargains: I finally got my non-electric smoker box for $25.00 at a local yard sale. If things go “sideways” and electric power gets iffy you only have a few ways to preserve meat.  Old fashioned “potted meat cooked and buried in a layer of lard. Canned meat via a pressure cooker, or a some way of salted, dried or smoke. For me canning seems safest and I have canned meat.  But I really want to try some of the smoke and “potted meat” just for a bit of variety.

My recommendation at this time is get ready for winter. Focus on food, water and energy + your backups. While I may not have all the wood I want on hand I have been stocking up on propane tanks and I have 30 days worth even at below zero temps. Get tight with your cash and have at least 1-3 months on hand for utilities.  Don’t plan savings for your mortgage or rent if things get tight. Pay ahead any bills you can and keep some cash on hand even if it is just $20.00.

I don’t things will get “sporty” at this time, but I have been wrong before, so you must weigh your risks.

Gosh I love people that are prepared!

August 17, 2015

There is a big fast moving fire in SW Idaho and while we got a lot of smoke here at Casa de Chaos, we are safe so far. I called S. Lynn to let her know we have a spot for her critters and family, right now she and her homestead are okay (no evacuation orders) she is  some distance from the fire plus the Snake River should act as a fire break.  S. Lynn told me she has the vehicle pre-packed with all important documents.  All she needs to load is all the critters  and have a place to land if the fire gets to close.  I am not worried about her because she is prepared and has a place to land if the fire starts getting close to her place. It was funny that she was more worried about the new fence rather than the house getting burnt down.

I can’t think of a major disaster that might happen in my area that would require me bugging out more than about 10 miles from the rail yards (chemical spill/explosions via a derailment). Most of the disaster that could happen are things like snow/wind storms that are more “bug in” type events rather than a bugout scenario such as a major earthquake, hurricane or your town is in the path of a tornado. I still have a bugout kits for myself and my vehicle that I can load quickly just in case I need to GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) quickly.

You need to take in consideration your health and fitness level when bugging out. I still tend to think of myself as that “buff army chick that could ruck for 25 miles”. But, I’m almost 50 years old and disabled. I can walk about 3-5 miles with a walker in the morning and do about 1-2 hours physical work after my nap in the afternoon on a “good day”!  Everyone has limitations so you just do the best you can to mitigate any weakness and push hard on making the most of your positive attributes.

Most disasters tend to be short-term and local or regional. So your Bugout/Bug in plans should work if you get some time to implement it.  You just may or may not get all that much warning for your local disaster.  I don’t think all cities are “death traps” though many metro areas have weak points as far as survival. While I don’t think survival in a major Metro are will be easy. I don’t think going rural will all that easy either. I think the best option is have a city person with a bit of land for a quick landing in the event of a rural disaster and have a rural spot to land if cities get all crazy. I’m not saying a person doesn’t need a spot to land that is a a couple of hundred miles away. Just that having a bug out spot 5-20 miles away with friends or relatives is a good place to start!

The great thing about prepping to become self-reliant is your basic short term preparations feed into your long term goal of becoming self reliant. One of the most common disasters people face is a house fire. Grabbing your BOB and leaving your house works the same for a house fire or if a nasty riot happens on your street with cars burning!  A rain barrel that you use to water your plants can also be used as a backup water supply.

Another hot week coming up, tested the garlic and learning to embrace failure

August 10, 2015

It looks like 100 degree + temps this week and then a nice cool down into the 80’s-90’s next week along with cool evenings around 55 degrees F. that will help cool down the house over night.  I have never seen a weather forecast for “Gradient Winds” before and while I looked up the definition I don’t understand how they might affect me.  If any one out there has some experience with this sort of wind I would appreciate any comments about how I should prepare for them compared to straight wind storm of 60 mph or gusty winds in the 45 mph range.

I tried some of the garlic with dinner tonight in a saute with onions and swiss chard and while the aroma was powerful, the taste was quite mild and did not overwhelm the greens. Sorry I did not write down the name of the garlic but I will get a name when I buy garlic this fall for planting.  I read through Mom’s Sunset cookbook of garden vegetables and I got some great ideas for meals. I really like how the book covers charcoal grilling veggies and storing both short and long term.  I’m learning a lot of new ways to cook veggies that are tasty and use alternative cooking methods besides my electric stove.  I’m becoming a big fan of summer squash and greens like chard that hold up well to cooking with direct heat and going savory with the squash rather than sweet.  I know the that trying new ways of cooking can be scary because you are afraid of wasting food if you don’t like the results.  But I think you should learn new ways of cooking food now when you can replace the food, rather than try and cook in new ways in a disaster.  Any mistakes can be counted as the “tuition” of learning new ways to cook and bake.  Now is the best time to learn and practice new things!

Failure is a good thing, as you tend to learn more from your failures rather than your successes.  Here in the USA we seemed to value “not screwing up” and maintaining the status quo more than we value innovation.  To paraphrase a military axiom “He who will not risk, can not win”. Trust me you will have failures and some of those failures will be happen because of things you can not control.  Some of those failures will be on you because you just simply screwed up or you are still learning. None of those things are not what I consider failures but they are teachable moments.  Sometimes the best lessons learned is learning what not to do in any given situation. For example I have been baking bread for years and occationally I will make a lousy loaf of bread. It happens to everyone and you try and define what went wrong and go on with your life. Failure it not a big deal if you are willing to learn from it.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, and most of it is small stuff.




Totally Awesome Friday! Saturday started off less than well.

August 8, 2015

I felt a bit under the weather this last week and did not get much done, but today many things came together.  Mom and I got to meet/visit with S.Lynn at her yard sale. Her place looks great! If I could afford a little homestead I’d want it to look like her place. I missed out on the yard sale walkie-talkies but I got a great table top Weber kettle grill and charcoal “chimney”.  Plus several of the tools I have been wanting were at her yard sale. I got a miter box and saw, a rechargeable spot light along with a caulking gun. Mom got 3 really cute summer blouses and some lovely wine glasses.  Best of all we had a nice drive in the country stopping at a few little roadside farm stands.

One of the farm stands sells garlic that is approved for Idaho. I got a couple of different types of garlic to test to see if I like cooking with them and if they taste good I’ll  buy some for planting this fall. Mom got some sweet corn (ambrosia) and a couple of zucchini at the same little farm stand.  I planted butternut squash and my patty pans volunteered but I did not plant any zucchini that mom likes so much. Luckily I have neighbors that planted zucchini and I can trade other plants in my garden for what they did not plant.

Speaking of neighbors,  good neighbor L got a 1/2 yard of gravel for me while she was at the local farm store.  I was a little surprised how much area a half a yard of rock covered and that it only cost $10.25 for the load. L and I got Mom’s parking area under the carport covered with this first load. (S. Lynn if you did not sell the scoop shovel I want it!)   After seeing the coverage  looks like I will need about 2 yards of rock total, to cover the rest of my alley way parking area.  I’m hoping for one last sale of the wood mulch and then the alley way should block the growth of most of the bad weeds, then sun chokes and mossy rose can start replacing/choking out the nasty weeds. A very good thing is Mom feels much more confident exiting her vehicle as she tends to drag her foot(bad knee) at times.

Saturday started less than well as my old router died.  I thought I had a bad network cable but Mom’s connection was “toasted” this morning.  I can live without internet but my phone and my TV’s Roku and kindle library is some what dependent on a solid internet connection. Plus I want a solid router for a Local Area Network or LAN that I can build a Mesh wi-fi network in the future.  I installed an old model Linksys WRT 54 G and once I got it reset to factory defaults the router worked out great. I made a batch of the Bellma hops black ale and I hope I’ll add another “Falconer’s hops Amber lager this weekend while it is semi-cool.

So goes life


A good day scrounging and hitting a yard sale, plus a hot day this weekend

August 3, 2015

I picked up a garden wagon of rock from neighbor A across the alley.  I got many large “river rocks”, five larger sized Basalt/igneous rocks and a lot of smaller sized chunks of petrified wood.  Those rocks complete the border around my patio “kitchen” area, though I will need to adjust the placement all of the stone border to make it look good.  Creating a stone border costs a lot of money if you buy rocks at the local big box store.  This way I save a bit of money and neighbor A saves time and energy not carting off rocks that do not fit her yard plans.  Neighbor A gave me a few sheets of corrugated clear plastic that was  in a trash trailer.  The stuff is thin enough to fold and needs to sit in the sun with a bit of weight to flatten out for my wood pile roof installation.  I don’t need “pretty” I need materials that will repel water and keep the wood pile dry this winter.

At the local yard sale Mom picked up a thick flannel sheet set, I got a queen size quilt and a battery powered camp lantern.  Mom scored some really nice lounge/camp ($70.00-$100.00 new)  chairs for $7.00 each that will be great for a camp or yard set up.

Saturday was a very hot day! 108 degrees F. on the backyard patio temp. gauge and no breeze to speak of. I have a very well shaded backyard and it tends to be cooler here at Casa de Chaos than the official temp. for the city of Nampa. Sunday will be another scorcher and then a massive drop of at least 20 degrees for the high, thunder bumpers and rain.  While the weather is less than optimal from my prospective. It really is not “extraordinary” compared to other weather I have dealt with since the early 1980’s.  I think a very cold winter is coming, in this area and I would not be surprised if we see -10 to -20 below zero F. for a few weeks this winter.  I can’t say what you should do, but I’m stacking cash for firewood as quickly as I can and ordering two cords of wood for the next 3 paychecks.  I know that is a lot of wood and I hope to get a bit more so I have enough wood on hand for at least two seasons of winter heating.

Cash on hand:  “The prospect of hanging tends to focus the mind”.  I’m still working on my Emergency Fund but suddenly I am finding myself a bit more motivated to get my cash savings built up now, rather than doing it “someday”.  In any sort of economic collapse with fiat currency, physical cash tends to run out quickly yet is still valued. As we have seen banks can close for a “Holiday” and I don’t want to be like the Greeks that stand in a line for hours each day just withdraw $60.00 in order to pay bills.

Not a fun idea and I doubt the folks you meet will have a positive outlook.