Figured out a plumbing issue, a new addition to the BOV

October 25, 2014

I think I finally located the washer’s  drainage problem. It is in the trap, and the way the pipe was installed is completely FUBAR.  There is no way to access the ABS  pipes at all without cutting them apart. Plus there are to many elbows and crazy turns in the pipe. Seems like the idiot that installed it was just using up leftover pipe to make things fit or had no concept of how to measure things.  My plan is to cut out a section in the basement and add Y drain fitting so I can run a snake through the pipe if it gets clogged again. The drain pipe trap by the washer will need to be cut out and replaced with a straightforward layout of pipe and I will add in a way to disconnect the pipe so I can clean it in the future.  With the Y fitting I should be able to clean out either the kitchen sink pipe or the washer’s drain pipe if  needed to in the future.  I can be cheap and will some times make do, but for gosh sakes plastic pipe isn’t all that expensive to buy and a few couplers or Y-drain type fittings sure makes dealing with clogs a lot easier and they cost only about $10.00!  I got the dryer vent hose trimmed and hooked up properly so it does not kink and dries much better over all and should eliminate most of the lint build up which is a fire hazard.

I love my house, but it has been frustrating to fix things that were just installed stupidly.  I’m not much of DIYer but some of the things I have dealt with just boggle my mind.  I can’t think of a good reason why to add a two 90 degree elbows before and one after a trap when you can add a longer section of pipe and things would have lined up including the trap.  My plan to buy a new trap and some pipe and it will make the pipe run much cleaner by eliminating the all the elbows and then add straight run of pipe to tie in to the drain pipe in the basement.

It wasn’t all bad as I got a neat little 12 volt coffee maker/soup can warmer at the Holiday Bazaar today. It cost all of 25 cents and it works with my little power pack as well as the 12 volt system in the minivan.  All I need is a 12 volt hot plate and the minivan will have a small 12 volt electric kitchen in case I need to bugout. In some ways I think the minivan might make a better BOV compared to the RV because minivans are so common and they could be less of a target because they blend in so well.  My plan is to have a small solar panel system that will recharge the minivan’s and my little power pak’s batteries for a backup to my little camp stoves if they run out of fuel.  With the addition of the big tent and a few more additions the minivan should make an excellent short term bug out vehicle or car camping rig.



Moving on to winter preps

October 13, 2014

With the shopping list mostly finished up it’s time to get back  to work on winter preps. An important item is getting the basic oil change and fluid check done and have my tires and brakes inspected on the mini-van. I have a coupon for one of the local oil change guys that runs an independent shop and are super good about letting you know about any additional problems. These guys are old family friends and always do good work!  I will stop by Les Schwab and get the tires and brakes inspected and basic maintenance done for free which is part of the warranty.  Most of my emergency kit is set up for winter but I need to double check one of my small boxes for any out of date stuff and make sure all the batteries/ flashlights are working.  One thing about Idaho is the weather can change fast so it’s usually best if you plan for the worst in winter and you won’t be disappointed.

I need to rotate some of my gas cans to ensure I have good fuel for the winter. I got some neat little stick on labels that are made for chalk and they should work for dating my gas cans. I’m rethinking my strategy for gas cans for mini-van in a bugout situation. Almost all of my cans are 5-6 gallons and while I use a contractor trash bag to transport and fuel up those cans in my mini-van. It would be best to have the cans outside the van in the roof/luggage rack for a bug out. Each gas can weighs about 50 pounds and would be difficult to load at the last minute so getting some smaller cans in the 2.5 gallon range is a new addition to my bugout plan.  A plus for getting some smaller cans is it would make gassing up  the generator quicker and also a better size for handing out to family or for barter.  I have some good tie downs for securing the cans to the rack and if I load 10 gallons worth of fuel it won’t exceed the roof rack’s load limit.

The garden is still producing but the squash leaves have mostly died back so I can get started on some garden clean up. I’m going to let the tomatoes keep going until we get a frost warning and then pick any green ones left and let them ripen on the counter. I have been very pleased with my garden this year. I learned a lot about proper soil and composting so I have high hopes for next year’s garden.  There is some maintenance to do on garden tools and I have many things to do moving from theory to practice.  A big one is storing tools in a bucket of sand with some oil that is supposed to keep lawn tools from rusting.  A very nice time/money saver because I have moved to using mostly electric and battery powered tools is I don’t have to worry about oil, gas or spark plugs with my lawn equipment. If you have not used some of the new battery /electric tools you need to check them out as they are very good.  For a small/urban homesteader these tools can sure make your life a lot easier.

I did a test of of some of the elm in my stove and it worked great. The wood was dry, burned very well and the chunk of wood lasted about six hours. Having the wood rack on my front porch made it very easy to stack up wood and the wood isn’t taking up space in my small living room.  I cleaned up the front porch and have a place for kindling sticks I gathered from the lawn as the trees shed small stuff.  About the only thing I’d like to add  is one of those paper log rollers but overall I’m feeling very confident in my heating preps.  It’s sort of strange as I look at winter as being a cheap energy  season compared to how expensive using electric to heat a couple of years ago. I’m a little bummed I have not paid off the loan early but 2014 was a year of little personal disasters that simply needed money to fix.

Overall things are in darn good shape here at Casa de Chaos. While less than pleased about the potential epidemics the PTBs seem to be courting. I have to say I upped my game as far as 1st aid and medical preps. I’m in good shape for most disasters and if not perfectly ready I have enough on hand to at least have a chance at surviving.

Experimenting with food for the GHB/BOV, 1st aid and a helping hand for Phelan

September 25, 2014

One thing about getting most of prepared meals is they lean heavily towards pasta. If you have someone that is not so keen on processed flour and pastas it makes it tougher getting your little BOV food box filled up.  I tested out a couple of the single serving mashed potato cups to add  a little variety and overall they were okay. The potato cups are made to be microwaved but you can make do by adding some boiling water and letting them sit for a minute or two. These cups are also a little expensive for a side dish item rather than a meal but you don’t have to clean anything but your spoon after you finish with it.  I decided to go with a larger four serving pouch of potatoes because of the lower cost and the package takes up less space. It is easy to guesstimate the amount of potato needed for a single serving or two, so nothing goes to waste.  I found a store brand (Everyday Essentials) of soup that comes in a box like stocks for soups and the ingredient list is actually surprising good for processed soup. These soups have a best use by date a year out and a square box stores in less space than a round soup can so they will work for packing in the mini-fridge.  Ritz crackers in snack pack size were on sale and make a nice addition for the soups so the only thing left is some salted peanuts vacuum sealed in jars and my little picnic/BOV food box is complete.  I tried to keep the size of the food box small so I can slide it away under a seat.

I found some very colorful plastic table cloths for the sickroom and one clear tablecloth protector at the dollar store. These will be easier to sanitize than regular fabric table cloths, cut down on laundry and can be thrown away as  needed.  I got a big bag of Styrofoam cups  for soups/stock and teas for disposable dishware to cut down on water use and or extra work sanitizing dishware.  I need to add more of the clean suits,  N95 masks and gloves but it will take some time and money to build up those stockpiles as I did not anticipate the open border or the virulence of the diseases a person might have to deal with this year.  One thing I’m not seeing in most of the pictures of these out breaks is the patients are not masked at all. So I stocked up on a lot of the simple face/surgical masks that will be used on the patient and save the more expensive N95 masks for the care giver.  I can’t build a fully isolated bio-containment room, but I can afford to keep adding extra layers of protection. It looks like burning any contaminated waste is the best option for destroying any viruses on sickroom items. So I’m working on a “burn barrel” as a possible project next month.  Trying to build all of these items up is not cheap or fast but once you have these items on hand you can use them for multiple disasters that might be rare (biological attack) or even some DIY jobs like adding insulation or a great Halloween costume 🙂

I have been reading Phelan at for a few years. What got me was her description as  “I am a death metal homesteader” You got love that for originality!  She in her family have had a run of bad luck and she has been a successful homesteader in Kansas, the ‘holler” has been very challenging for her this year. As in “But other than that Mrs. Lincoln, How was the play?” sort of challenging! has met the goal of $1000.00 to run a power line to her place but a little extra would really help replace the stove pipe that exploded.  Yes, you read that correctly the stove pipe exploded but at least that was outside the house and there wasn’t any fire! Send your prayers and send what money you can afford to get the stove pipe fixed.  I know how hard it was going 5 days without tap water and she has been cooking, canning and doing laundry over an open fire for many months for her Hubby and 3 growing boys!  She has enough experience being grid down she needs a little break and learn about how wonderful electric power is again! I will be adding her to the blog roll as I sort of missed her site when I changed over to wordpress. Go read her blog and I bet she can teach you something. I know she has taught me a thing or two.

Got 2 laps done at the Mall, Mom is improving and sharing veggies and fruits

August 27, 2014

Mom did two laps at the mall today without a rest break.  I took her to her Physical Therapy (PT) appt. and she had a lot better range of motion in her knee. She has another 3 weeks in the brace because of the partially torn ligament but over all, the recovery looks good so far. I’m very proud that the homemade pain relief salve is helping with her knee pain. I need to start making more types of salves with essential oils as they really do work as home remedies.

We did a little shopping and got all of the banking done today before the Labor Day holiday. We stopped by K-mart to get some of the “Smart Sense” Sparkling water that Mom thinks helps with her Fybro and dehydration from the drugs she is on for knee pain. I got two big bottle of the Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc with a buy one get on free for $12.99. I think these minerals have helped the most with my recovery time after working hard physically. I prefer using vitamins and minerals rather than drugs if I can get away with it. K-mart had a very nice tent with a center partition wall and a 72 in. center height for $99.00 that Mom put on layaway. I’m thinking of doing the same next week as I would like a nice roomy tent instead of the small one I have that is only good for sleeping. The tent could work as an extra isolation room/area for sick people that keeps them from contaminating the house. For the 14 ft. x 14 ft. floor space the tent is is compact and not to heavy to move around for “car camping”. Though it is to heavy for backpacking,  it might be okay for bike camping if you use a trike or have one of those bike trailers to haul it around.

I have been doing some thinking about the rolling boxes I got at the Office depot last week for $15.00 and I think they have some potential for camping/Bugout.  The boxes hold up to 65 pounds, has tow handle as well as the wheels and handle for lifting or rolling it around.  The lid on top makes the box a nice little table to set next to your camp chair. You could set up each box that holds your camp kitchen, clothing and sleeping stuff and one for cleanup and sanitation supplies.  They could work well as your shooting supply box holding your gun cleaning equipment some ammo for the range. Once the boxes are empty they fold flat and take up very little space.  Being disabled I’m always looking for ways to save physical energy and a rolling box is great.  If you have those in your family that tend to overload a backpack, this little box might be an answer to limit space but also give them a box that is easy to move around in case of a bugout situation. Add a couple of bungee cords and a person could strap the BOB to the box a roll on good terrain and not carry so much weight.

My sister came over and got a few of the Patty pans, green tomatoes, a bunch of herbs  and some of the plums I got from D.  My garden has done much better this year and I’m not sure I can get everything used or preserved so I have been sharing the early harvest plants.  While I’m not up to growing all I need on my little bit of ground I think 50% of all my veggie needs could be met once I get a couple more beds and learn more about preserving my harvest.  I still need to work on the growing vertically idea and add more substantial plant supports. Using the party buckets worked great for the potatoes and strawberry plants this year and I’m very excited about how the composting pile is working though it is early days for pile to work.   It’s taken about 7 years for me to get a good garden and I made a lot of mistakes without even realizing it but as my Aunt said “What makes you a good gardener is to keep trying and never give up”.


Playing taxi driver and a few updates

August 21, 2014

I get to run Mom to her Doctor appt./followups as Dad has to run up to Montana for the weekend.  I’ll also be helping to do the garden and take care of the chickens a little bit as Mom isn’t quite up to doing much walking or moving around on uneven terrain.  Playing taxi is something me and my Kia mini-van seem to do a lot at least within the family. I don’t read a lot of good things about Kia’s on the web and very few people consider a mini-van as the vehicle when the SHTF and I’m not sure why unless it not a very “cool” vehicle.  I love my Kia and everyone I talk to loves the Kias they bought and would buy another. I have an older 2003 model Sedona but I can add up to 6 very comfy chairs or remove them for hauling and storage and it comes with a luggage rack standard for even more storage. I can add both my walker and Mom’s and still have a plenty of room to go shopping. While I would not take it off-roading the mini-van has descent ground clearance for an urban environment and has a bit of weight and you sit higher than most cars. For a  “grey man” type prepper vehicle I think it would be hard to beat the all around advantages of a mini-van.

Update on the grass seed: It seems that giving the grass seed area a daily watering of short duration is better than watering a lot via the sprinkler 2-3 times a week. The areas were I laid out a thin layer my new compost back in July has broken down and worked into the soil.  I’m a little slow at times learning but I finally figured out what I’m doing is building a new layer of topsoil. Building topsoil the natural and cheap way is not fast but I have been quite surprised that you can make a very good start on making good topsoil with all natural ingredients from a composting heap adding some mulch and not killing the weeds but adding good plants for your area that displace the weeds in time.  Heck I have only been doing this new method for about 6 weeks and about 2 weeks with the new grass seed and the water main area is growing grass and taking on a a green hue if not vigorous growth yet. My idea for the grass is to become somewhat established this year as I improve the soil in hopes of very good growth next spring. I see the potential and my theory seems somewhat sound but I won’t really know how well it works till next spring.

I was chit chatting with my Aunt who is a great gardener about how I’m gardening and how well it seems to be going and she said that a good gardener is one that never gives up and is persistent, I would also add that is willing to learn!  I have seen a folks that give up after a year or two of gardening and most of the time it is not their fault as we have had “wonky” weather the last couple of years as this area seems to be shifting to hotter dry summers and colder somewhat wet winters for high desert.  Well I’m not going to let a simple thing  like weather stop me. I have spent over 7 years just trying to grow strawberries and about 3 years trying to grow potatoes in Idaho. I got about 10 strawberries and I think I’ll do a bit better on potatoes but what made my garden this year is I got a bit smarter and I did not quit trying.

If you are hitting a wall in your gardening don’t be afraid to try something a little different. Form me it was using my party buckets and adding store bought soil and mixing it with my yard’s soil with the rototiller along with starting a large compost heap. Using seeds and plants that are better suited for my region and mulching with a vengeance to save water. I think I’m getting a bit better working with mama nature instead of imposing some arbitrary human timeline or schedule.

More cleanup of the shop and alley

August 11, 2014

There are  some shelves in the shop that have been used as a catch all for junk. I’m working my way through the stuff I need to keep and throwing away the junk I can’t use. I’m a little surprised how fast the clean up went as I did not have to much left to do over all. The scrap wood went into one of my buckets for kindling this winter so I will get some use out of the clean up. I want to move some of the supplies in the basement that don’t need temperature control into shop. That should free up quite a bit of shelf space in the basement.  Things I will be moving will be cleaning supplies, paper products and that sort of thing.  My neighbors gave a neat barrel that works perfect for holding chunk charcoal so I got that filled but I think I will give it a paint job to make it look a little nicer sitting on the patio. One of the first back up cooking ideas was to get a bunch of chunk charcoal now I have a several 40 pound bags for cooking but those bags are not the easiest thing to handle when you want to BBQ, so this barrel should work for keeping a supply of charcoal on the patio ready to use without a wrestling match of me vs. a 40 pound bag that is at best messy or at worse I lose the fight against gravity and inertia.

I cooked up the London broil on the gas grill but I have to say I really missed the smokey sweet flavor I get using the mesquite charcoal. I cooked a some of the Patty pan squash on the grill and I love the mild flavor of  the white patty pans as it give me a lot of flexibility using it in meals.  If you want to plant a summer squash but don’t want to deal with Zucchini that can get large and tough I would recommend the patty pans.  I am going to try a few recipes but substitute the patty pan squash instead of zucchini and see how they turn out.  A big plus for me is patty pans are small and are  perfect for a household of 1-2 people with very little waste when you cook them.  Plus these patty pans are all volunteers so they are very easy to grow and save seeds for the next year.

I got one small area of my future “alley” garden covered with cardboard and a few rocks to hold it in place. That area is quite a bit larger than I had anticipated but  once I add the mulch and some nice plants that can handle poor soil  it will be a big boon to my garden and herb production next year.  Wind isn’t to much of a problem around my house but that alley acts as sort of a wind tunnel if the wind direction hits just right.  The wood mulch I get has a better chance of staying in place compared to the straw and “compost” I have on hand.  I have a couple of neighbors that are bagging and trashing lawn clipping so I might set up my alley way as a dump spot for those organic materials. This could be a big win for me as I get free compost materials for the “alley garden” the neighbor save trash bags and filling their trash bins and if the “Alley Garden” works I bet one or two might join in and make their own alley gardens.  The worst thing that can happen is we start killing out weeds and the best thing that can happen is we get a sort of modified community garden along the alley.

Last but not least I added the GHB to the car and I’m very pleased with the low weight of the bag. Even I can lift the bag with one hand and having it on rollers with a tow handle makes it a breeze to maneuver on good terrain. I don’t have quite as much water on hand but the mini- van’s Emergency kit give me some options to add at the last minute if I need to walk to safety rather than driving.  If you haven’t done a lot of backpack camping or “ruck marched” via the military I would recommend going with a smaller back pack as your “get home bag” figuring about 20- 25 pounds as your max carry weight until you test how well your strength and endurance.  People don’t walk much in the USA and while some hardcore folks may poo-poo my walks in the Mall with my Mom I know I can average 10 miles per day if I do it in small bites. That may not sound like much but some folks haven’t walked 2 miles at one time and are not capable of  of even short walking trips without counting extra weight of a back pack.  While in the Army my “Battle Rattle” added about 25 pounds to my weight and I carried it day in and day out for weeks and I was in very good shape. I was not carrying a back pack/ruck when weighed for my Battle Rattle when boarding a plane for the NTC. The weight items can add up very fast a few pounds at a time.  The M-16 is a very light weapon at about 6.5 pounds it’s ammo is fairly light weight compared to larger calibers and we in the army consider 240 rounds in mags a combat load. Kevlar helmet 3 pounds, NVGs,  Gas mask 3.5 pounds heck even combat support troops carry an easy 20-25 pounds on their persons everyday for training, If the are the gunner carrying a M-249 at 25 pounds unloaded, stuff gets heavy fast and that only Signal pukes like I was in the Army. Combat Arms and grunts carry a much heavier load in their rucks 70-110 pounds is fairly normal for those guys depending on the weapon mix. Those grunts can maintain 4-6 mile per hour walk in good terrain for 25-30 miles, set up a perimeter and bring some heat when they are in position. If you can’t do that don’t try! Be as light weight as possible and get to your defensive position. Tactical doctrine in the Army calls for a 3-1 advantage at least, to attack a defensive stronghold and the Military knows they will take casualties.  Stay light weight and mobile in your thinking. Don’t get bogged down in thinking you need every new gadget, a paper map and a compass is old tech and so is the wheel , but still works great if you learn how to use it!

Cleanup of the car and garden with a little organizing

August 8, 2014

I got the car washed and gave the interior a good vacuuming to get the rest of the straw out of the cargo area. I have a large beach towel that I use for protecting the carpet but the straw always seems to spread and get in the areas along the edges of the carpets and interior body panels. I like using the vacuum at the car wash rather than drag my house vacuum out to the shop and use it. Plus I have a heck of a time reaching the top of the mini-van to wash it.  I’m switching out the beach towel and replacing it with my canvas drop cloth from my GHB.  I like the canvas drop cloths because they are great for setting up shade here in the desert and it breathes a lot better than your regular poly tarp. If you get it wet and hang it up it works as a cooler via evaporation plus if you need insulation to stay warm or cool you should think in layers and trapping air between them to act as an insulator. While I can’t fit this tarp in the GHB having it in the mini-van at least gives me the option of having it on hand. If I need to hide the off-white color is better here in the desert than a bright blue tarp.  I decided to go with a small camp axe rather than a bow saw for my wood cutting needs.  The axe is better working as a hammer though I think a small bow saw is a great wood cutter, my space and weight is limited so the axe wins as a multi-tasker.

I have nice RV and if I have to bug out I rather take it if I’m ahead of the normal traffic but the  mini-van is a lot less conspicuous in a panic situation so I have staged a few bug out boxes in the shop that I can load quickly if I have to leave via the mini-van or even using my trike depending on the situation. I hope I’m set up well enough to bug in for most disasters but you never know how things will go until the disaster hits so having 2 or 3 backup options I feel is the best way to go.

Harvested a few of the patty pan squash,  a couple of lemon cukes a few strawberries and the very first potato here at Casa de Chaos. I took over some of the squash to the neighbor S. as her garden bit the dust during the heat wave that happen while she was on vacation. She also clipped  some of my basil that is doing so well this year. Dug down a bit and got my first red  tater from one of the buckets. While getting the first potato was nice the soil in the bucket is great after breaking down this year. It seems that my best soil combo is my clay soil, some of the potting soil I got from Home Depot and a healthy mix of straw/manure or my compost. While not perfect and it still needs a few tweaks this fall and winter I believe I’m on the right track.  It’s not exactly cheap or fast to fix abused soil but it seems to be paying off in the long run. After the first bunch of work it becomes more maintenance rather than a lot of hard work that you do at the start of soil prep. At least I hope that by having good soil and using mulch and compost  will lessen my work load over time and get better harvests.

Redoing the GHB and inventories

August 7, 2014

Two thing that has always concerned me with my disability is my BOB (Bug Out Bag) and my Get Home Bag(GHB).   I don’t have the strength or stamina to handle a heavy bag and let’s face it my walker is not exactly setup for rugged terrain. I’m a big believer in doing the best you can with what ever physical limitation you have to work with and try and find ways to make things work.  I was very thrilled to find a rolling back pack at a yard sale for $3.00 and tonight I shifted my stuff from my old bag to the new one. I had to dump the canvas tarp due to space limitations but I kept my nylon tarp as a shelter. I took out the Sterno fuel cans and added the small backpacker stove with a can of fuel.  I got a better stove for about the same weight and space. Actually I’m a little surprised by how much space I have left over in the backpack  after the transfer, as it is a much smaller bag. I have a few items I would like to add but between my the mini-van “emergency box” and this new GHB I think I can handle a minor disaster somewhat close to home.  The GHB setup at this time consists of the following…

  • Shelter: Blue plastic tarp, a Space blanket, Fleece sleeping bag and glove liners. I need to get a good pair of leather gloves for the bag though I have a pair of heavy duty work glove in the car emergency kit. Because my hands don’t always work that great tying knots I’m going with bungee cords instead of rope for setting up a shelter.
  • Water: I have a Sawyer mini-water filter and 3 metal quart water bottles with quick clips I can add to the bag. I like a metal water bottle because you can boil water to sanitize it. I have tested the bottles over the mini-camp stoves and even using a Sterno stove I got a boil in about 10 minutes using these bottles.
  • Food: 2 of the Kraft pasta meals, 1 Top ramen package, 4 packages of instant oatmeal, 10 bullion cubes, 4 packages of hot cocoa mix and 5 packages of cheese and crackers. Many packages of salt & pepper along with some hot sauce, Parmesan cheese and red pepper flake I got at various food joints.  Not exactly a balanced diet but good enough for at least 2 meals a day for 3 days. All sealed in a zip lock bag
  • Heat and cooking: I have a small backpacker stove and a can of fuel which should last 3 days even with heavy use. I have a large 16 oz. metal cup to boil water or cook simple meals and heavy duty plastic fork,knife and spoon for eating. A bic lighter and a small box of wooden matches for starting a fire. My stove has a small sparker for lighting the stove but I like having a backup lighter and matches.  The car’s emergency kit has a Sterno stove fuel and extra metal cup so I think I will have enough stoves and heat for cooking for several days. I keep a small 12 volt therm o-electric cooler/warmer in the mini van at all times.
  • Light: I have a ball cap with a clip on head lamp for hands free work. Three 9 hour emergency candles.
  • Health and sanitation: Comb, small travel toothbrush and toothpaste, Small package of wet wipes, wash cloth and small hand towel, Toilet paper sealed in a zip lock bag, feminine pads and Ibuprofen, 3 pairs of latex gloves and a face mask.  The car has a first aid kit I can add to the bag if needed. Several small kitchen trash bags. 2 Large Construction grade garbage bags.
  • Things I need to add: Detailed local maps. Leather gloves. A heavy Duty Space blanket like the SOL emergency blanket. Ham radio. The Minivan already has a CB radio and small backup solar panels for powering the cell phone and small electronics. Last but not least my German walking stick.

I have a little fanny pack that I use for my Every Day Carry (EDC)  gear that includes my Leatherman multi-tool, a small compass, a small AM/FM radio and flashlight combo, pepper spray, p-38 can opener and a 9mm.  It is strange when I think about my mini-van and GHB combo that those 2 items make me more prepared for a disaster than 95% of all Americans.

Foxfire at Amazon, reveiws and making shopping/cooking plans

July 10, 2014

The Foxfire books cover a lot of knowledge out of Appalachia and is available at Amazon for about $3.00- $ 15.00 kindle editions depending on how many volumes are covered in the book. I have heard many prepper and homesteading types recommend this series so I’m trying out a small sample and see if I want to purchase a few of the cheaper volumes.  Have any of you read the Foxfire series and is there a volume or subject that you would recommend a prepper/wannabe small urban homesteader to have on hand?

Tried out the Sugardale bacon that was on sale at Albertson’s for $2.97 per pound. It is a more salty rather than sweet tasting bacon and the smoke flavor is minimal. The bacon is called thick cut and I guesstimate it is a 14-16 slice per pound.  Not bad for the price, though I prefer a more pronounced smokey flavor in my bacon. I did a taste test of the “Cheezy Skillet dinner Chicken Alfredo” and it was okay but not the best tasting of the ones I have tried so far which would be the “Chicken chili mac”.  These meals are  good enough to add to the BOB and the GHB in the mini-van and for .69 cents each a bargain. It looks like the “normal” price for these little dinners will be about $1.69 and I don’t think I would pay that price, or add these meals to the pantry.  But I think if you get them on sale they are worth test and a good food item for your bags.

I will hold off a bit getting the desktop PC parts till August. The laptop is running okay and with the herbs starting to come on I really want the counter top distiller for making essential oils. Plus the distiller is a multi-tasker I can use for purifying water or even making tinctures and perhaps some other uses that might be valuable in a disaster scenario 😉

Not related to shopping per se but I will be making the last payment on my Les Schwab account and retiring that debt.  Anytime I can payoff a debt is a good thing and having to run the A/C in this heat will add to the electric bill so that money will be needed to cover the extra costs.  Speaking of heat and A/C the neighbors central air or heat pump died and so Mom loaned them a small A/C unit to help cool at least one room in the house so they could sleep until they could pay for repairs or get their own A/C backup going.  I think having one or two of the small 5000 BTU A/C units as backups might be wise if you live in hot and or humid parts of the country. These smaller units will cool a good size room or two and use about 600 watts with about a 800-1000 watt surge for the compressor. A small 1500 watt generator should be able to handle the load if the power goes out due to a storm or black/brown outs.  It won’t cool the whole house but I have found having a cool room to enter on a hot day is wonderful and being able to sleep at night keeps you healthy and better able to deal with stress.  These small units are fairly simple to install and can help treat heat injuries and might be critical for young children or the elderly preventing heat injuries.

On to cooking plans in this heat that looks like it will continue for some time.  I was sort of hoping for a break in the heat to bake up some bread and boil up some wort for beer but that does not seem likely so it’s time to finish up the outdoor kitchen and do some more tests of  cooking equipment.  The beer making should be simple as I have already done one test making wort on my big propane burners all I need to do is setup the burners and propane tank.  I have not been able to build the outdoor bread oven but I do have a propane camp oven I have not had a chance to use in a real test for baking, nor have I tried cooking bread in the solar oven.  This weekend looks like a great opportunity to try some new outdoor cooking/baking options.

Last but not least testing the portable dishwasher faucet attachment. While I did use a couple of dirty words attaching the new part it works great for the portable dishwasher and not as many leaks so I am saving water and I  run the dishwasher  about 2-3 times a week after 9:00 pm at night so I save a bit of energy compared to washing dishes daily.  I really want install a hi-rise kitchen faucet with all of the stuff I do with large pots and my beer making, canning along with my cooking and baking from scratch a hi-rise faucet would make life easier in the kitchen.  While the faucets are not very expensive this will have to be a late fall or winter project as my cash is committed to a few other projects that have priority.

A day of firsts

July 9, 2014

It looks like I have my first Strawberry just beginning to form in my strawberry bucket.  I know  many people have good luck growing strawberries but I have not been one of them so seeing the berry start to form is thrilling.  One of the potato buckets plants is starting turn a bit yellow so it looks like this weekend I will have my first potato harvest since I started gardening.  The broccoli is ready for a harvest but the brussel sprouts did not do so well this year.  Found my first little tomato while I was weeding. The little tomato is only about the size of my thumb to the first joint but it is nice to see a bit of fruit on the tomato plants.  Peppers are adding a bit of fruit and I have one of the “gypsy peppers” that is almost 2 inches long. I pulled the Bok Choy and romaine that bolted in the sunny beds  and will start some of  Prize head lettuce for a second harvest I hope!  I pinched off quite a few flowers on the basil and gosh it is growing great as it is about 18 inches high this year. I wish I had selected a bit more varieties for the basil but “live and learn”.

Albertson’s is having a good sale this week on meat and dairy so I dug into my savings for some bacon under $3.00 per pound, Hamburger for $1.99 a pound and some nice pork chops for $1.99 per pound. It was all bulk packaging but I suspect we are only seeing the beginning of rising costs for meat and having the freezer stocked and canning meats as much as possible is going to save quite a bit of money for the rest of the year. There is a new product I tried out for the BOB/BOV called Cheezy Skillet dinners and while not great they are at least comparable to MRE’s in taste and quality. For.69 cents each they were worth trying out and much cheaper than an MREs and they don’t need much space to store or water to rehydrate.  These meals are set up to be heated in the microwave in a minute, but they should do okay being warmed in a pan full of water for a couple of minutes using your Bugout stove.  I would never overestimate having a warm meal is to your morale is in a disaster situation. Adding something like this along with some sort of ramen noodle and a 3 packages of of the quick cook oatmeal will give you three meals a day for three days for a low cost to add to your BOB. I don’t think I would add it to the pantry must haves just based on my impression of taste but looking at the nutritional info you could do a lot worse.  My impressions, may not be yours because some folks love MREs,  I am not one of them so do your own tests and see if these are acceptable to you.  You can always toss those failed experiments in the “Barter Box” if you don’t care for the product.  I’m guessing but I think you may find folks that like almost anything even if you don’t care for a product.

I’m becoming the go to person in the neighborhood and while it can be a bit inconvenient at times it is about building trust and networking.  Got a call from one of the good neighbors for a bit of Ibuprofen for some pain at 11:00 pm at night.  The pain salve was not working for them and they needed a little extra help and since I am sort of a night owl watching a bit a tv for a change it was no big deal to help out.   I’m willing to help out in a heartbeat and even if they had called after I went to bed I still would have helped as I know pain and getting a good night’s rest is critical to healing the body.  These neighbors are good people and sometimes help is required at odd times.