Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Having to Travel Again

I have to head back down to Southern California this week for work.  I need to be in San Diego on Friday, perhaps Thursday.  I am either leaving Wednesday around noon or if I don't meet that self imposed deadline, then Thursday morning.  I'm not staying in a hotel, instead we'll stay with relatives.  That will save work some money. 

The truck has to get an oil change first thing in the morning.  Then I have to run a few errands.  I need to pick up two two gallon containers of vegetation killer for friends down there.  It's cheaper where I live.  Down south if you want anything in more than a ready to go quart spray container then you are looked at suspiciously.  Me, I'll spray out four or five gallons (mixed from concentrate) in my backpack sprayer each week if I had the time.  I read the directions.  Of the type I use you are not supposed to use more than 1/2 gallon (concentrate, prior to mixing) per acre per year.  I don't use that much. 

I have to run to the bank.  I have several checks that I've accumulated over the past few weeks.  I also want to get some more cash.  Remember, I like to have four times as much as I think I need.  I don't want to take my home stash with me.  I do have a pouch of silver coins that I keep in my bag. 

Since I'm in the work truck I don't need gas money but I will make sure I have gas money with me.  I also have my gas cans that I carry in the back of the truck.  I just emptied them today so they will need to be filled before I leave town.  The fourteen gallon portable gas tank from Costco wasn't able to be properly fixed.  The handle leaked gas all over the place.  I improvised with the repair but I won't be bringing that tank with me.  The gas cans that I will bring will provide 15 gallons.  That's about 200 miles with really lousy mileage.  Not enough to get me back home but if I keep the tank full I will be ok.  I have the ability to get fuel at places other than just the gas station if need be. 

I'm bringing grandkids with me on this trip.  I'll probably also bring the dog.  Because of this I need to pack the shell differently.  Normally the work truck has a bug-out bag, a two week bag (14 changes of clothes), several pairs of boots, the sleeping bag, a week or two of food, water, fuel, sleeping bag and extra blanket, tools, and many more items.  Having the kids with me means more food, more sleeping bags, more bug-out bags, and some additional cold weather gear (it's raining again).  One of the grandkids that's coming is a 16 year old.  He doesn't live with me so he isn't quite use to my teaching map reading, directions, or answering many of the what if questions that I ask the grandkids who do live with me.  He's going to get a good dose this trip. 

The last trip I brought him on I made him look out the window instead of turning into a zombie listening to his music on his headphones.  I pointed out types of vegetation, geology, and such.  This trip I'm going to make it a little more difficult.  I'm going to have him think about a What If situation on the way home.  I will pose it to him on the way down. 

This is something we should all be thinking about when we travel.  Last time I traveled I was in Sacramento and there was a gunman hiding in a parking garage less than 1/2 mile away.  What about an earthquake?  Riot? Dirty bomb? There are many possibilities. Ok, not a wildfire this trip!  He's going to have to figure out how to get us home with some of the freeways closed, and not bringing us through inner city streets.  He's going to have to look at the map and try to come up with other routes. 

Perhaps we'll play the UTM game.  I provide a coordinate, the kids have to figure out where it is, and then they direct me to it.  I prefer UTMs rather than Lat/Long.  It's easier and doesn't deal with the curvature of the earth.  Everything is in a straight line from the point that you are at.  I put together a good training class on UTMs.  Perhaps when I return I'll incorporate it into a post.

Acorns in medical treatment

There are all kinds of home remedies you can use but tannin can be better than witch hazel, calamine lotion, cold compresses, baking soda, or Benadryl because it’s free and easy to make.  That’s always good for a SHTF situation. 

I’ve written that acorns can be a good food to eat and the California Indians used them as a staple in their diet.  In order to eat them you need to process them to remove the tannins.  What about the tannins?  After you process them to eat you have tannin which is very valuable in medical treatment.  Perhaps you don’t want to eat acorns but instead just want to utilize the tannins. 

Tannin can be found in many plants.  It’s found in acorns but also in the bark of trees, plantain, strawberry leaves, and blackberry stems to name a few.  When processing acorns to eat you crush them and pour water over them to leach out the tannins.  When collecting tannins, instead of pouring water over to leach out the tannins you soak the crushed acorns (or other crushed material) in water.  The longer you soak the more tannins you will have.  You can also boil the material if you have the heat source.  Either strain this tea to use or let the material sink to the bottom of your container and use the liquid.

For the following treatments use the tea, or liquid, that you’ve made from leaching the tannins. 

Burns:  Pour cooled tea tannin on the burned area.  Moisten your gauze or bandage with the tannin.  Apply as a compress.  Remoisten as needed.

Diarrhea:  Drink the tea.  It tastes bad but will help! 

Insect bites, chicken pox, rashes and fungal infections, anything that itches:  Wash the affected area with the tea to relieve the itching. In some cases you should be able to soak the affected part to get rid of the itch and to help it heal.  You can also apply as a compress.

Try tannins.  They work and are free!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Top 10 Food Trends includes Foraging

Lists catch people’s eyes.  That’s why every magazine and internet site include lists.  One that came up this morning did catch my eye and I clicked on it.  The food trend predictions for 2011 on Yahoo.  The list wasn’t anything to get excited about until I came to Foraging!  Yes, Foraging is expected to be a top 10 new trend. 

This is scary.  The site said that Philadelphia has gotten into the swing of things by having a lot of sites mapped.  The Philadelphia Food Harvest Map http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=115435414840831758445.00044844c98e0a15821f2 has blue tags for street trees and other public access food, yellow tags for urban farms, green tags of Philadelphia Orchard Project sites, orange for community gardens, purple for PRIVATE GARDENS, red for bee hives.  Tags include apple trees, mulberry patches, orchards, raspberries, private farms, etc. 

The only one listed that truly seems to be available for free foraging is from plants the university is planting on freeway on and off ramps.  A local community near me plants fruit trees in the roadway medians.  These types of foraging is ok.  Most of the sites listed are on private property.  I certainly wouldn’t want the hordes of people coming to my mapped property looking for free apples or oranges.  Of course you should walk up to the door and knock and ask permission to pick the fruit.  Then you should pay them...right...

Check where you live to make sure you are not mapped, probably you aren’t on a site like this but maybe on local sites. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Missing Tools

This past week my daughter decided that the dining room needed to be repainted.  The room is large.  On a normal day the room holds a table, six chairs, two high chairs, two bar stools (there's the bar at the end of the kitchen counter), a china cabinet, a buffet, a bookshelf, and the wood stove.  There's plenty of room on the floor for a good game of legos or hot wheels.  Painting meant moving the china cabinet, which hasn't been completely moved away from the wall in four years.  The area behind the cabinet wasn't painted four years ago when bottom panels and chair rail was hung in the room. 

We moved the dining room table to one corner of the dining room.  We emptied the top of the cabinet putting everything on the dining room table.  Then we pulled the top off the bottom, and positioned it in the middle of the room.  We got to painting.  A piece of baseboard was missing so I found some extra in the barn and brought it into the garage and cut it to size on the table saw. 

We got it all put back together and decided that some of the wood around the door frame needed to be caulked.  Not a problem.  I told son-in-law that in the garage on the shelf next to the trash bags was a box with a dozen tubes of caulking.  He went out there to get the caulking and asked where the caulking gun was.  There's one right next to the box.  No, it wasn't there.  There's one under the bathroom sink.  No, it wasn't there.  There's one in the barn.  No it wasn't there.  How could three caulking guns go awol?  I searched the barn, the garage, and even the grandkids rooms.  No caulking guns. 

My friend called from Oklahoma today.  I said I had to go to Tractor Supply because I couldn't find the caulking guns.  The friend said you have one in the barn and one in the garage next to the box of caulking (this friend helped me rebuild the kitchen a couple of years ago and remembered where things were). 

I haven't asked my kids who all live local and seem to think that my house is their shopping center.  If they didn't take them then where are they?  It's a minor thing to lose but as usual, when I was at the store buying a new one I reminded myself that if TSHTF, I wouldn't be able to just run into town to buy one.

The other thing that crossed my mind is just how much minor stuff needs to be done around here.  It's easy enough to do and it doesn't really take much time.  We just never seem to get around to them.  Do I have all the right equipment for each job?  I have lots of caulk but no gun.  My nail supply of heavy duty nails is good but I was in short supply for the smaller finishing nails.  I need to do another garage inventory of small items.  I also need to lock even these little things up from family members.  That's a shame...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Symbolism of Christmas

Many say that Christmas is an American holiday and everyone should celebrate it.  They are truly wrong.  It is a Christian holiday and those who want to celebrate Christmas as an American holiday because it's fun rather than a religious commemoration are missing the true meaning.  We think the commercialization robs it from its religious values but so much of what is thought of as commercialism is truly symbolic.   The meaning is forgotten in the American holiday.

The wood tree - the wood of the cross and life and resurrection. 
A star on the top of your tree - the stars that the wise men followed.  (same with the lights on your house)
Tinsel - angel's hair and therefore is a symbol of the angels who attended the birth of Jesus. 
Mistletoe - is a symbol of life. 
The wreath -  the crown of thorns.
The red berries - the blood. 
Gifts - to remember the gifts of the wise men.
More gifts - for the unselfishness of Jesus

Each Christmas symbol does have religious importance.  When you have these symbols in your home do not distance yourself from the religious significance and adopt them into an American celebration that is merely fun.  This is disrespectful to the Christian religion. 

Merry Christmas to my Christian friends.  Have a wonderful day.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Irrational Fears

What is a rational fear?  What is irrational?  I suppose it all depends on who you ask and what their perspective is.  I bring this up because I got a phone call from a person who got into an argument with their spouse and then their eight year old ran off to get away from them arguing.  The person was hysterical because the kid just ran away and the spouse just took off as well.  I asked, what did you do?  Why is it always me?  How come everyone always jumps to the conclusion it's me?  Why didn't you ask what the spouse did? 

I said it's because you are the one on the phone that's acting hysterically.  What did you do? 

It all started with someone rolling through the stop sign at their corner.  The spouse yelled at the driver who provided a hand gesture in return.  The driver then drove off.  The hysterical one then let into the spouse because "they live in gang territory" and is going to get shot someday because they can't keep their comments to themselves (The entire country is gang territory as far as I'm concerned, but if you don't join in you don't usually have as much to worry about - at least on a normal day to day basis, but I do believe that much of the ruin of cities is gang related).  The two started arguing about it and the eight year old took off instead of listening to the parents scream at each other. 

I tried to calmly talk to the person on the phone.  A gang member isn't going to shoot your spouse.  Now, if your spouse was a gang member of a different gang then perhaps you would have something to worry about.  Call the county sheriff or the local police.  Ask them how many non gang members the gang members shoot.  I'm sure it's none, or very, very few.  I said that their fear was irrational.  Then the person on the phone said all they do is worry...about the spouse losing their job, about kids getting hurt (they aren't allowed to climb trees or swing too high), about gangs, about everything.  Again I said it's irrational. 

We can get into a debate here about gangs because they are something to rationally fear but our behavior towards anything that happens is either rational or irrational.  We get into trouble when we behave irrationally.

The body has physical reactions to fear, both rational and irrational, and the two kinds of fear cause different physical reactions.  Just a couple of examples are that rational fear diverts blood flow from your digestive tract to your muscles as well as sending nutrients to your muscles.  Irrational fear makes you nauseous, lightheaded and you think you are going to faint, lose control, or go crazy.   

Irrational fears are a waste of your time and can really affect your psyche.  What's the difference?  Rational fears are healthy and can protect you from danger.  These are the types of  fears that I believe I have.  They are the kind of fears that make me live the lifestyle that I do and are the reason that you are reading my blog.  (I'm sure it's not just because you like my writing style).  These fears protect you.  Irrational fears don't have history or sense behind them yet they stop you from doing something or behaving in a way that brings you happiness and peace. 

Make sure the preparing you do is out of rational fear.  What are your reasons for becoming a survivalist or a prepper or whatever term you want to think of yourself?  Having rational fear will lead you to making wiser choices. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A sunny day...chores to do

The sun is out.  We got another 1 3/4 inches of rain in the last 24 hours.  I've never seen anything like it in the 14 years I've lived here.  When I lived in the northwestern part of this state we received over 40 inches of rain a year but I haven't lived there in almost 20 years.  Here, we've received over half of our yearly rainfall in a week. 

It's time to assess any real damage caused by the rain.  We have a mud soaked barn.  Some of the young fruit trees are in several inches of standing water.  That's about all that I've found so far.  I need to walk the fence line to see if the posts are still all upright.  I  may need to pull some posts and pound them in straight. 

Today we will drain the water around those trees again.  The grand kids are carrying buckets of rock from the rock pile into the barn.  They are just adding to the short area between the barn door and where the buckets of chicken food are.  It's a 40X60 foot barn so we aren't going to be able to rock everything.  I do have some scrap wood that I can't use to build anything.  It's sitting in the wood pile to someday be cut up into firewood.  I think we will bring it into the barn to use as walking planks. 

I also need to think about keeping the barn dry in future years.  Perhaps putting rain gutters on and diverting the water into the pasture.  Remember for every inch of rain you get over a 1000 square foot surface (and the barn is 2400 square feet) it's equivalent to 600 gallons of water so the barn collects 1540 gallons of water for every inch of rain.  This means that about 10,000 gallons of water has been dumped over the sides of the barn over the past week.  No wonder it's a muddy mess. 

This afternoon I promised the kids we would set up the targets in the back yard and do some target shooting.  They have a daisy bb gun, some air gun pistols, and we will also shoot the .22.  It will be a fun afternoon.

Tonight we are going to have a fire drill.  After last nights discussion of the lights going out, and they didn't, I think we will turn off the circuits to the lights when we have the drill.  More house fires happen during the holidays, so it's an appropriate time to do this. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Misplaced in the woods

Today I had to work in the woods.  It wasn't pleasant because of the wet weather.  I also had one of the grand kids with me because he is 8 and wanted to go.  With the grand kids on school vacation, I end up taking them to work with me as often as possible.  My work vehicle is an Ford F-250 4X4 extended cab with a camper shell.  It's a nice vehicle, gets around well in the woods, and holds lots of stuff.

I made sure that my hand held radio was is good working order and had it tuned to the correct channel and tone.  I also let "my rescuer" know where I was going and when I expected to be out, just in case.  After we left the paved road, I opened the locked gate, drove through and closed and locked the gate behind me.  I was able to drive about a mile before I needed to engage the four wheel drive.  That was a good sign since the road was along the edge of a meadow and lots of water was coming onto the road.  Things were holding up well. 

I was only able to drive another mile when I decided that we weren't driving any further.  People often get into trouble when they drive where they shouldn't because they are relying too much on their four wheel drive and not on the stability of the road they are on.  We got out and walked.  We donned our rain gear; we already had our boots on.  I was wearing heavy duty work boots.  The boy was wearing knee high rubber farm boots.  I was equipped with my radio, he with his whistle.  He is allowed to go ahead of me as long as he can see me.  He's also not allowed to venture too far off the road and has to stop when the road forks. 

Before I left the office yesterday I took the quad map for where I was going to be today and blew up the couple of sections that we were going to be in.  I used a rite-in-the-rain 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of paper so it would be useable in the bad weather.  This way I can mark where we are and use a pencil to follow us as we go.  There's space on the enlarged map to make notes on.  I got out the quad map and tried to orient him to where we were.  I showed my grandson the creeks, hill tops, and even the truck trail that we were on.  He is to pick out landmarks.  These can be rocks, trees, bird nests, etc.  We mark them on the map. 

The rain started coming down harder.  After I worked for about an hour or so I decided it was time to turn around and head back to the truck.  We walked back the same way we came in.  Normally I would just cut straight through but I wanted to do some more map work. 

I let the eight year old take the lead.  I stopped him every few minutes to see if he knew where we were.  We were trying to find his landmarks.  At one point we came to a fork in the road.  He couldn't remember which fork was the way to go.  He was a little confused with the map.  Remember, he's only 8.  I let him figure out which way to go.  He choose wrong.  We walked about 10 minutes before he realized that we should have come to one of his mapped landmarks by then.  He was not lost, but he was misplaced.  We sat down on a rock and tried to figure out what went wrong.  He couldn't quite figure it out so I had to step in and explain that he turned the wrong way at the fork. 

I realize that the error was mine.  We were using the map and the topography but I neglected to bring a compass with us.  I didn't need it for this project.  I did bring my GPS because I track everything that I do, but otherwise we didn't look at it.  When we came to the fork, if he had a compass he would have perhaps been able to make the correct choice of which direction to take.  We should have also observed some better landmarks.

The nice part was he didn't get panicky when he realized he didn't know where he was.  I'm sure the main reason was because I was with him and he assumed that I'd get him out of there.  Another reason was that he is not afraid of being out in the woods.  That's important to teach not only kids but adults as well. 

More Rain and What If?

We have extra grand kids here tonight.  I said they could come but no tv, computer, or video games.  No electronic entertainment.  They came anyway.  Two hours was spent in the backyard building a fort using the swing set and tarps.  Then they came in and played Battleship. 
Meanwhile, I went out to feed the chickens and ducks.  The barn is flooded as we have had 5 1/2 inches of rain since last Friday.  There isn't much standing water but the soil is saturated.  We rocked a path through the garden to the barn door and into the barn where the chicken feed is stored.  That path was soggy but I didn't sink in.  When I walked from the feed containers to the interior pen I sunk to above my ankles in mud.  I was inside the barn!  The pen itself is dry but there wasn't a pathway to get there without sinking. 
Some of the young fruit trees are in standing water.  I went out and shoveled water out and threw some sand down.  I also put a handful of fertilizer around each tree. 
Actually I'm pretty pleased that there aren't many problems due to the rain.  5 1/2 inches is half of our normal annual rainfall and we've gotten it in five days.  The ground around the house is draining well and away from the house.  The area with the septic tank is draining very well.  There isn't any standing water near it at all.  The trailer has a leak in the roof.  I put plastic over it and will figure out exactly what happened after the rain stops. 
At the dinner table we had a discussion about What If?  What if the power goes out when we are sitting here eating dinner?  Do we start screaming?  Do we knock things over to get matches and light them?  No, the kids all responded together.  We get a flashlight.  Who gets the flashlight?  They all said that they would.  I said no.  An adult would.  You would sit patiently and wait.  Would you start waiving your hands and knock things over?  No, we would wait patiently.  What if there wasn't an adult around?  The oldest person sitting there would get the flashlight.  Would you all light matches?  No.  There are flashlights. 
What about if you are in your rooms?  Nothing.  We'd use the flashlights in our bedrooms.  We'd go to bed.  What if you have to go to the bathroom?  Can you do that without tripping over things?  You should be able to get from your bed to the bathroom with your eyes closed and without tripping over things. You need to make sure your rooms are picked up.  We need to be safe. 
Do we expect the electricity to go off?  No.  But we plan for it and we practice.  Remember there are some rules about being prepared.  Believe in God and plan and practice.  You won't have to worry, things will be fine. 
The bug-out place...that's another story. 
The dirt road is down cutting on both sides and pretty soon there will be a big gully where the road is supposed to be.  I told the renter to deal with it as well as possible.  We really can't do much about the road until spring.  All we can do is try to divert the water.  Male renter spends lots of time with a shovel in hand.   At least they didn't have their vehicle parked at home when the creek rose.  Their vehicle is parked on the correct side of the creek and they have to walk the mile in. Female renter has some medical issues and probably won't leave the property until spring and after the road is fixed.  I made sure they had enough supplies stored to hold them over for a couple of months in case they didn't want to walk the mile out.    

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Flash Mob and Situational Awareness Training at the Mall

The latest craze is to Flash Mob.  Flash Mob is the term for a bunch of people getting together to do something unusual who were given the information by text message of where they are meeting and what they are doing.  For example, 200 people went to Macy’s once to pretend to buy a rug.  They were instructed to say they lived in a commune and had to make all decisions collectively.  They overwhelmed the employees and blocked the entrances.  Yesterday 5000 people showed up at a mall near Sacramento to sing a Christmas song.  There were so many who showed up and made so much noise that the place shook and the mall had to be evacuated for everyone’s safety. 

Being caught in the middle of something like this can be terrifying.  This isn’t just happening in large cities, but also in small towns.  Mobs are just descending to docrazy things to create chaos (or awe) and have their five minutes of fame.  You just need to keep up on your situational awareness.  If something doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t right!  Listen to your conscience and change whatever behavior you are doing.  If you were at the mall (to me that’s terrifying enough!) and people started gathering, or even people just stopping in place, WATCH OUT. 

There’s a lot of mall and big store shopping going on right now.  Even when you are in crowded places try to avoid the crowds – sounds contradictory but just because you are at the mall doesn’t mean you have to be stuck in a group or let down your guard.  Know where the exits are - not just the main doors but also the emergency exits.  Know where they are and know where they lead.  Know where you parked! Little things can make a difference.  Sit at a table facing the entrance or cashier. 

If you think you’ve come across a “bad guy” make eye contact.  (I like doing this behind my sunglasses (I always wear sunglasses when I’m outside) – but they still know (or think) I’m looking at them.)  Making eye contact may make them pick another victim. 
When my kids were little and we’d go someplace I would dress them in the brightest colors I could so they would stand out.  It would be easier for me to spot them.  Don’t do this.  You really want to blend in or at least not stand out. 

You can have fun as an individual or with your family to raise your situational awareness.  Assess your surroundings.  Make it a game when you first start out.  When you are at the grocery store, look for someone who has their cell phone in one hand while pushing the cart with the other hand.  Look for someone who is wearing their wallet in their front pocket.  Look for someone who is pushing around a cart with one or two items in it and really doesn’t look like they are shopping.  Look for the family that dressed the same.

If you can, you should always be armed.  I’m not allowed to carry a gun on me or in my vehicle at work (it’s a felony if I got caught and they wanted to charge me).  That doesn’t mean I can’t be armed.  A rod, a bat, a fire extinguisher, a knife, wearing boots, an umbrella, etc.  There’re all kinds of arms, not just guns – although I prefer guns, which is why I have applied for my concealed carry permit. 

Drugs and alcohol will slow your reaction and affect your judgment.  It’s bad enough to do this at home (where hopefully your practicing to get out of bad situations can counter some of the effects of your impairment), but you really shouldn’t ever imbibe away from home.  You are putting yourself and those you need to protect at risk. 

Try not to talk on your cell phone when walking around, sitting down to eat in public, or driving.  Even hands free.  When you do this you tend to focus on the conversation and not on your surroundings – and not on your kids.  How many people have you seen at a store, park, or wherever, and they are having a long loud conversation on their phone and ignoring the kids?  Not only is this lousy situational awareness, the kids don’t appreciate being ignored. 

When you leave a store have your keys in your hand.  When you are carrying your packages don’t hold them in your right hand or over your right shoulder, if you are right-handed.  Keep your arm and hand free to give you quick access to your weapon.  In my case, today while I’m working, I’ll carry an umbrella in my right hand.  That’ll make a good weapon if anyone needs to get pushed away from me.  

Keep your windows in your vehicle rolled up and doors locked while driving.  

Be careful out there among the English.

Monday, December 20, 2010


We got another inch of rain over the last 24 hours.  This makes four inches since last Thursday night.  Since it’s still raining I thought I’d just put up a quick reminder about hypothermia.  When do you have to be worried about getting too cold, especially when in the water?  Hypothermia happens when your body loses heat quicker than it produces heat.  This can happen when you are in cold weather.  It can happen when you are in water, especially cold water.  Water doesn’t have to be really cold either. 

There is a formula to use that’s easy to remember.  120 is the magic number.  If the air temperature plus the water temperature added together is at least 120 then you really aren’t at risk for hypothermia. 

If you get wet and you have dry clothes to change into, then change your clothes.  If you don’t have dry clothes then keep the wet clothes on.  They will help you retain the heat you have.  Remember your body temperature is almost 100°.  If you are in water and you can swim to shore or a boat then do so.  If you can’t but you can float on something while you wait for help you are better off doing that.  By floating your clothes will act as a wetsuit to help retain the heat – you will last 50% longer than if you swim (unless swimming will get you to shore).  Swimming will cause water movement between your clothes and body which will cause colder water to come next to you.  Swimming can cause cramps and also pumps warm blood to your extremities where the water will cool it.  You need to keep your core warm.

Typical symptoms of hypothermia are shivering, impaired judgment, clumsiness and loss of dexterity, slurred speech, inward behavior, shivering stops, muscle rigidity, loss of consciousness, death.

The grand kids want to go play in the pond over on the neighbors property that has been created from the rain.  It's 50° outside so the water is about 50°  also.  That equals 100, which means that they shouldn't play for too long but sure, they can go play in the water.  I just have to watch and have them come in before or when they start shivering.  I shouldn't wait for impaired judgement...they are kids, their judgement is usually impaired!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Flooding near the bug-out property - all is perfect!

The rain is here.  In the first three days we've gotten 3 inches.  That's more than ¼ of our yearly total.  There have been no issues with the rain here at home.  The bug-out place has received about a foot of rain with these series of storms so far.  I had no idea what would happen there with lots of rain since I bought it last February, after we had received most of the rain.  My friends are living on the property now and are cleaning up the very neglected property.  They've sent me pictures and provided me with updates on how the land is holding up to the rain.


You can't cross the main creek and have to walk in the last mile to the property.  I did know this about the property when I bought it and that was actually one of the things that I liked about it.  I know that you can get to the back of the property going through a couple of private ranches but that's something that I'm going to deal with next summer. 


Once you've crossed the main creek, there is a small creek that has to be crossed about ½ mile from the house.  It has a 12 inch culvert and appears in good condition.  When I had my friend out there who was the dozer/grader operator, I had asked about pulling the culvert and putting in a rocked ford.  I'd rather not have culverts because they are always subject to plugging and blowing out.  He said he thought the culvert was the way to go and instead I should widen the road there.  The culvert stuck out about two or three feet from the edge of the road so there was room to widen the road.  Today the normally dry creek is flowing over the road.  I'm sure water is flowing through the culvert but more is flowing over the road.  This explains why the culvert is sticking so far out over the edge of the road.  The water is downcutting the road there.  It looks like the rocked ford is the way to go here after all.


There is a pond ¼ mile away from the property that our dry creek empties into.  This pond at one point had an overflow culvert.  It too blew out a few years ago, I was told, and instead has a 15 foot gape at that road.  This road leads to the back side of my property.  It's really better that the road doesn't go through there because it would be a huge security gap if it did.  This "dry pond" did have about three feet of water in it last February. Right now it is full, about 20 feet deep, with water ready to overflow through the blowout.  If it does blow out again, that pond will no longer be a pond.  That's ok with me. 


The house itself is doing fine.  The outbuildings are all holding up.  There is no movement of the soil on the property.  Most of the buildings are raised up a foot but the shop/garage has a cement foundation straight on the ground.  I need to make sure that the water doesn't seep into the building.  In a bug-out situation, most of the reserves would be stored in this building.  This building is really sturdy.  Two of the walls are built directly into the edge of the hill.  Those walls are made of cement.  The floor is cement.  There is an inner room that's made of brick.  The building has a wrought iron gate across the area you drive into and also a 10' tall roll up door.   


I also want to put a conex on the property.  There is one area which was previously dug out from the side of the hill.  It looks like it was going to be a pad for a motor home or trailer.  It would be a perfect location for the conex, and it would be easily buried all the way to the door.  I could put an outbuilding in front of the door and have a door from the outbuilding go into the conex.  For now I need to check to see how much water comes out of the hillside where this conex will be placed. 


I need to assess where the fruit trees are going to be planted next spring.  So far, I haven't seen any areas where water is pooling and would drown young trees. 


Overall, I'm pleased with how things are turning out with this storm.  We are only half way through so things may get worse.  I don't know what to expect with the bug-out place.  I'm just glad that I have the opportunity to deal with anything that comes up prior to a TEOTWAWKI situation arising.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Voluntary/Manditory Federal Government Intrusion concerning your sheep and goats

I've been contacted by the Federal Government concerning their Scrapie Identification Requirements for Sheep and Goats.  It seems that I have been breaking the law and they are determined to make me comply.  For any of you who have sheep or goats, did you know about this government intrusion?  Scrapie is a fatal disease...sort of like mad cow disease.  It is only is certain sheep, primarily Suffolk, which I do not have.  In 2003 the USDA found .2 percent of cull sheep, that's 1 in 500 of cull sheep were infected or exposed.  Since 2003 scrapie has been decreased by 80% which means 1 in 2500 cull sheep.  (This isn't good, strong, healthy sheep, this is 1 out of 2500 weak, sickly sheep) Even if exposed it takes about 5 years for any symptoms to show in your animals.  It can't be transmitted to people.   
The government, in their zeal to eradicate this problem have come up with two programs.  First is the Scrapie Flock Certification Program.  It is a voluntary program in which an owner's flock/heard can be "Certified" as having a very low risk for scrapie after 5 years of participating in and meeting the requirements of the program.  In this program you identify all animals 12 months of age and older with official ear tags, tattoos, or electronic ID.  You buy the ear tags for a dollar each.  You keep required records on animals (including buyer/seller contact information); and allow annual inspection of the flock/herd and records (all animals must be accounted for)!  The benefit it you get certification of low risk after participating for five years. (It seems to me that all herds are very low risk for scrapie - but hey, what's a little government intrusion in exchange for a certificate?)
Animal Identification for the Movement of Sheep and Goats is a mandatory program that provides free official ear tags to owners to meet State and Federal movement requirements for goats and sheep.  This ID is required upon change of ownership, for the exhibition of animals at state and local fairs, and for the interstate movement of sheep and goats.  You are required to identify the animals with the ear tags, and keep written records on all animals moving interstate (and in California all animals leaving their premises and doing any moving within the state).  The government actually has the nerve to say that the benefit of this program to the producer is that you get FREE ID TAGS.  Wow.  Government intrusion into how many animals I have, who I sell them to, and who I bought them from - names, addresses, and phone numbers are required to be kept for five years.  Smile, you get the ear tags for free!  Makes me want to comply right away.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Batten down the hatches

California is getting hit with a series of storms this week.  We aren't expecting to see the sun shine for a while.  Around here we may get 3 to 4 inches of rain, which is a lot considering we get about 11 or 12 inches of rain in a year.  The mountains around here are expecting 10 feet of snow.  That's good.  It's not going to be too cold - in the 50s during the day and 40s during the night.
I listen to the talk about sandbagging.  I can't think of a worse time to start thinking about that than when the storms are going to come.  This is as silly as people who run to the store to buy plywood to cover their windows the day before a hurricane is supposed to hit. 
This got me to thinking about how we are preparing for the storms.  When we get storms what usually happens is the phone service goes out for a week.  We don't have a land-line any more so this isn't an issue (but still do have non-electric plug in the wall phones in case we need to dial 911 (not that we'd get any help)).  In the 14 years I've lived here the electricity hasn't gone out for more than three or four hours.  That's good because we don't own a generator nor do we have solar backup.  The main road to our house floods, but that's a mile and a half away.  By flooding I mean there is a foot or two of slowly moving water pooled over the road.  Any four-wheel drive vehicle can cross it.  If it ever got higher then there's always the back way around.  
The ground is pretty well saturated on our five acres.  A bit more may soak in otherwise it's going to pool up.  The house is about a foot higher than the yard.  We won't have flooding here.  It doesn't really seem like it when you drive up the road but the elevation changes about 30-40 feet from the corner, a mile and a half away, to our property.  Halfway between is a creek but we are a good 15-20 feet higher than it.  I've never seen it go over its banks. 
Here at the house the septic system is very well drained and hasn't ever gotten to a point of being so saturated that the liquid waste comes to the surface.  At my old property this happened almost every year.  The road would flood and the entire yard would be covered by a foot of water.  The backyard would be one big disgusting septic mess.  Glad we don't live there anymore.
I really don't have to prepare for the storms.  We are prepared for anything that's a temporary inconvenience.  I'm still not prepared for stores shutting down for 6 months or no electricity for a month.  The worst case from the storms would be having no electricity.  This would knock out the freezer.  There's one shelf of meat and if it looked like it was going to go bad it would get smoked.  That I know how to do.  The house is full of food.  No electricity would also knock out the well.  This would be the biggest issue if the storms lasted.  We do have lots of water stored, and with the rain I'd be able to keep the rain barrels (ok not barrels but animal water troughs strategically placed around the house) filled to flush toilets.  (Or I could send everyone outside to the outhouse)  The roof is cleared of leaves so no water will build up in the valley, the tiles are all in place.
The oil lamps are full.  There is a good supply of wood brought up to the back patio so we don't have to even get wet when we get wood for the woodstove.  The laundry is all done.  The cell phones and computers are fully charged.  The animals are in their pens.  The vehicles are full of gas.  The grandkids are on school vacation for the next three weeks.  Guess it's time to curl up with a good book. What could go wrong?  (always ready for a good test of our preparedness)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

License to Carry a Concealed Weapon

I've applied for my CCW License.  People say it's hard to get one in California but that's not true.  It all depends on where you live.  In my county, the sheriff encourages it.  Yes, I did type that correctly.  At one point the sheriff said that due to budget cuts their response time may be slow and their staff cut and the best way to protect yourself is to protect yourself. 

What does it take to get a license?  It's a long process but not a difficult one.  First you call the sheriff's department and tell them you are interested.  They send you a package in the mail that you have to fill out.  As soon as you fill it out (it took about 10 minutes) you call them back and make an appointment.  The appointment took four months. 

You show up to their office a few minutes early...if you are late you lose.  You have to start the process all over.  You meet with an investigator.  You hand over your paperwork and talk for about an hour.  You get finger printed. Then you wait. 

After about a month they send you a letter telling you that you are approved.  Then you have to pay about $250.  At that point to take a weapons course with one of their approved instructors.  After that you turn in the certificate and you will receive the permit. 

All in all it takes over half a year from start to finish. 

I'll go over the list of questions.
1. You have to provide your name, and any other name you've used (maiden names, married names), date of birth, place of birth, height, weight, etc.
2. Have you ever had a CCW permit or have you ever been denied one?
3.Have you renounced your citizenship, received anything other than honorable discharge if you served in the military, been party to a lawsuit, been under a restraining order, on probation or parole?
4. List your traffic violations and accidents in the past five years.
5. Ever been convicted of any criminal offense?
6. My favorite...Have you withheld any fact that might affect the decision to approve this license?
7. List the weapons you wish to carry under your CCW.

The interviewer has additional questions.
1. Ever been treated for mental illness or been found not-guilty by reason of insanity?
2. Addicted to drugs or alcohol?
3. Involved in a firearms accident or domestic violence incident?
4. List your arrests or formal charges.
5. Why do you want a CCW?

That's all there is to it.  I am waiting for approval, then have to take my class, then have to wait for approval.  I figure by February or March I should have my CCW. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What's in your medicine cabinet Part 2

I am lacking many of the OTC medicines that were listed yesterday but there are other medicines that we have on hand.  Some are similar and in our household are substituted for some of those listed yesterday.  This exercise did make me realize that I need to purchase more.  Although we don't use medicines too often, when we do need them we go through a lot.
1. Aspirin. several different strengths, about 500 tablets total
2. Guaifenesin (Musinex-decongestant) 400 tablets, 400 mg.
3. Zincoxide powder (anti-fungal) 10 containers
4. Tolnaftate powder (anti-fungal) 4 containers
5. Bismuth Subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol) 64 oz.
6. Chlorpheniramine Maleate (antihistamine) 300 tablets, 4 mg.
7. Calcium Carbonate (Tums) 600 tablets, 500 mg.

Monday, December 13, 2010

What's in your medicine cabinet

Today in Survivalblog was a list of ten essential OTC medications to stockpile.  http://www.survivalblog.com/2010/12/ten_essential_otc_medications.html  After reading the list I decided I liked the list.  I would add a few more, including aspirin.  Nevertheless, I decided to look in my medicine cabinet and see how much of each I had on this particular list.  I'm still in the process of restocking my meds since I had the one houseguest's relative who helped themselves to everything they could find - all my prescription drugs and most of my OTCs.  I FAILED miserably!  I didn't realize it but I have almost nothing.  I have some items in the trailer and some in the vehicles.  But What if IT is Today?  I'm in big trouble. 
I'll just go over the list in order and include what I have in the house
1.  Ibuprofen - 500 tablets of 200 mg. and 100 tablets of 400 mg.
2.  Acetaminophen - 500 caplets of 500 mg.
3.  Diphenhydramine - 30 tablets of 25 mg.  
4.  Loperamide - nothing
5.  Pseudoephedrine - 10 tablets of 240 mg.
6.  Meclizine - nothing
7.  Ranitidine - nothing
8.  Hydrocortisone cream - 2 tubes
9.  Bacitracin ointment - 2 tubes
10.  Clotrimazole - nothing
I do have other types of medicines and I'll list them tomorrow.  But looking at this list, I need a trip to Costco...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Letting the chickens loose

The chickens stay in the chicken coop.  It's pretty big.  The enclosed part is 8 X 12 and the wired run area is 12 X 16.  Right now we have 16 chickens (or maybe 17, I can't ever remember).  The is lots of room for a lot more but we have a hard time keeping up with eating all the eggs they produce when it's just three or four or five of us.  I've always been worried about hawks, cats, dogs, and anything else that may want to chase or eat my chickens.  This winter I am doing something different.  I'm letting them out.  I'm going to let them roam the garden and scratch up bugs, weed seeds, weeds, and let them fertilize the ground.  
Because daughter and son-in-law have two dogs that are not trained to leave my animals alone, I am fencing the garden area.  It's almost done but today I got busy at the grand kids Sunday School and didn't accomplish any yard work at all.  We left at 7:30 this morning and came home at 5:00 this afternoon.  By next weekend I will have it all fenced and have the chickens roaming.  Daughter's dogs went after the ducks yesterday afternoon and bit one.  The duck is ok and I can't wait until the dogs are gone.  They are little yappy dogs, which are good for watch dogs but not guard dogs.  
If I let the chickens wander the garden I'm thinking it will be easier to introduce new chickens into the flock.  When they are all in the coop it's a free for all chase of any new chicken that come in.  I have to make hiding spots so they don't get picked on.  This way will be better.  I'd like to get new chickens this year.  Some of my chickens are five years old and don't lay much of anything.  My youngest chickens, besides the one in the cat cage in the house, are now almost three years old.  It's time for more and time to get rid of the older chickens. 
I think I will try my hand at dressing the chickens.  I used to butcher them when my kids were younger.  Now, it's easier to sell them for $5 or $6 and then buy an already prepared one at the store.  It is a skill that I will pick up again and get proficient at once again.  Then I'll continue to sell the older hens.  It's really important to have the skills to butcher and clean chickens.  For some reason, I have no problem butchering my sheep or goats but don't like butchering the chickens.  Don't know why that is.   
When I buy chickens I usually get them in January.  They stay in my baby chicken cage on the back patio with a heat lamp on them.  I put the cage on the covered patio and right outside the kitchen window.  Then when the kids are eating breakfast they can watch the chicks.  It's great fun.  Where we live it will freeze several times during the winter but I cover the cage with a blanket (on three sides and on top) in addition to the heat lamp.  I keep the view from the kitchen window so we can keep an eye on them.  I've never had a problem with them getting too cold.  I've never had the power go out and the lamp go out, but if that were the case, I'd bring them into the garage.  If I kept them covered with the blanket and warmed bricks in the fire place, and then surround the cage with the bricks, they'd make it through. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Testing your supplies

How long will your supplies last?  While others talk about using rags, cloth diapers, cloth feminine products, etc. in a TEOTWAWKI life, I'd rather go in the opposite direction and use more paper products at that time so I have less items to have to wash and sanitize. 
I have a huge stack of paper napkins even though we always use cloth napkins.  I have lots of boxes of kleenex and about 30 rolls of paper towels.  I know how long paper towels last in my house.  I have a roll in the laundry room and another roll in the kitchen.  A roll of 80 in the kitchen will last about 3 months.  The roll in the laundry room lasts 6 months at least.  I rarely use them since I use lots of rags.  I know if we are in a TEOTWAWKI situation I would expect to use more.  I expect that I'd use a roll of paper towels in a month.  That's about 3 sheets per day.  That sounds about right. 
Well, my expectations have been shot out the window.  As I've said before daughter, son-in-law, and infant are home with us now.  Since they've been here (2 1/2 weeks) we've gone through four rolls of paper towels.  They use them to dry their hands, blow their nose, as  napkins, wipe spills on the counter, and probably other things that I haven't witnessed.  I'm not telling them to cut back because I really want to know how fast they go through things.  I want to figure out other people's normal. 
I thought my 30 rolls was a 2 1/2 year supply.  If they keep it up it will be a four month supply.  The expense isn't that great but I'm looking at other items that we use slowly and seeing how fast they go.  Since I know that if things go south I'll be supplying my immediate household and several other family households who aren't wise enough to prepare. I probably have greatly underestimated how many I would use if I wasn't using the rags and cloth napkins. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

25 Minutes for police to respond...That's Comforting

Here in Sacramento this morning there's a police standoff with an armed suspect (or at least the guy said he was armed).  It's less than 1/2 mile from where I'm at in my meetings this morning.  Lots of sirens to be heard.  The news is reporting that the call came in at 6:22 but they didn't show up until 7:00.  It's around shift change time so it's not easy to get people out quickly.  Hope it all turns out well but another reason to make sure you keep yourself aware of what is going on around you and don't expect the local police to come to your rescue. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Trying to shut down the credit cards

With all the Wikileak problems going on I find one of the more interesting problems, other than total treason by those involved, is the group of people trying to shut down the credit card companies who have pulled their ties with the website.  Supposedly this shutdown was orchestrated by a 16 year old.  If one teenager could shut the credit card companies down for a couple of hours as this one did, could you imagine the chaos that would occur if there was an actual well planned attack on this system?
How much money do you have on hand?  I'm traveling today and have enough cash on me.  As I've said before, I have cash in my wallet to get me home.  Cash in by bug-out bag to get me home.  Cash in the truck to get me home.  And finally cash in my hidden pocket to get me home.  Four times what I need.  I plan on charging my gas...

Trip to Sacramento and school lockdown

I'm heading to Sacramento today.  I'll have a full tank of gas and 15 gallons in cans in the back.  A full tank should get me there and back but I'll fill up on the way up, once I get there, and possibly on the way back.  I have a sleeping bag, warm clothes, boots, food, weapon, and can walk back home if needed.  I will be meeting with several people who I know are semi like-minded but their intent as soon as they retire is to move out of the state.  I have thought about that but I really don't like extreme cold and lots of snow.  It could be because I've never lived in it, or it could be that I just don't like the cold! 

I'm not taking grandkids with me as this is a business trip.  Daughter called me up today to tell me one of her kids school was in lockdown today.  Apparently she saw the police at the school this morning (they live within sight of the school) and sent her daughter merrily on her way anyway.  About a half hour later she went to talk to the ladies in the office and the door was locked.  They let her in and told her that the classes were all locked down.  She couldn't get her daughter back if she wanted. The police standoff that was a half mile away is over now and all is well.

This of course got me to thinking about the grandkids I have at home.  Their school is five miles from home.  They are dependent on the school bus.  What about a lockdown there?  How do I get them back?  I need to check to see if I can legally get them out during a lockdown.  It's another reason to home school your kids.  Unfortunately at this point in time I can't because I have to work.  They can't come with me to work and I can't leave them home on their own. 

If I retired I could home school them.  I could retire today, but if I did we would have to move because I couldn't afford to stay in our home.  I could move to town.  I could move somewhere else with a lower housing cost and still have some property.  I think this takes me back to conversations that I will be having with my friends tonight about leaving the state and moving to a place with snow and cold weather.  We could move to our bug-out place - no snow.  It's not ready to permanently support us. 

Perhaps the temporary solution to worrying about a school lockdown is to pray that TSHTF doesn't happen while they are in school.

Could this happen here?

Each year a friend of mine goes on vacation to some foreign country to see sights he can't see here.  He's gone on safari and stayed in little villages where they need the gatekeeper to keep lions out at night.  This year he's in Ecuador.  I just revieved the following as part of an email, "My friend who I'm traveling with met me at the Quito, Ecuador airport on the 27th and we spent my first day exploring old town Quito. Ecuador was conducting its national census the following day and we were confined to our hostel while the government went around and did head counts.The whole country had to stay indoors..."

We complain about our national census.  If we don't send in the paperwork they send workers out to count us.  Many people don't participate, or don't fully participate.  It's too personal with the information they want to collect and it's supposedly illegal to not participate.  Could you imagine a system like Ecuador?  It's census day.  Nobody is allowed to leave their home so the workers can find you.  I'm sure if you don't comply there will be certain punishment.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation imagine something like that happening here.    

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Preparing Your Family website giveaway of Food Production Systems For a Backyard or Small Farm

Rourke, over at http://modernsurvivalonline.com/ put up a post about a contest at PreparingYourFamily.com website.  They,  http://preparingyourfamily.com/food-production-systems-for-a-backyard-or-small-farm/, are holding a give away of a course from Rooster Crows Productions on DVD called 'Food Production Systems For a Backyard or Small Farm' .  This DVD is broken down into 10 different modules.  It looks like it would provide quite a bit of information, and video is great for showing how it's done.  It's one thing to read about how to do something, it's even better to see it in action - even if that action is on the screen.


This would be an asset to us as we try to be self sufficient with our food.  We aren't self sufficient enough at the moment but getting closer each year.  I hope I win the contest.  If I do, I'll report on what I've learned and applied to our lives.  I'm new to their website but it's one that I'm going to continue reading.  Check it out. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Boring Books on Trees (with interesting bits of information)

Any time I have the opportunity to collect books I do so.  Yesterday one of the offices was being cleaned out.  When people retire or change jobs often they leave their library there because they don't expect to use those books any more.  I figure anything that will give me more knowledge that will come in handy in a SHTF situation is worth bringing home.  Some were government publications, others for the general population.  Here's some:
California Forests: Trends,  Problems, and Opportunities - I like the chapter on Forest Damaging Agents: fire, insects, diseases, weather damage, animal damage, people caused damage. Those topics give you things to think about even in your own orchard.  How can you prevent damage?
Pruning Trees:  I can't remember the title but I think that was it.  It was a good book because it showed lots of color photos.  It also provided photos of damage caused to trees by improperly pruning, but then showed ways to try to correct the damage.
Preliminary Guidelines for Managing California's Hardwood Rangelands: - This one is my favorite.  Contents includes Ways to regenerate oaks, Conducting a firewood operation, Is hardwood range management profitable, All about acorns.  There's also really good information on the carrying capacity of the land to support cattle and other animals.

While these may not be the exact types of reference materials you are looking for, they provide a good deal of knowledge.  Although I can tell you things from my experiences it is nice to be able to get other points of view from subject matter experts. 

New Chicken

I'm known as the farmer at my office.  Yesterday at the office someone said that her son was given a chick as a gift.  They kept it for a week and now don't know what to do with it.  She offered it to me, sort of.  She said that someone else said she'd take it but if it was a cockrel then she'd give it back.  I said I'd take it no matter the sex.  She gave it to the other person anyway.  That person brought it home then called me to ask if I thought it would be too cold to leave it in the coop at night.  I had no idea how big it was or if it was feathered out.  I suggested that she put the box she brought it home in into the coop with a hole in the side so the chick could go in and out.  This way it would be warm if it got too cold and it could also have a place to hide if her other chickens were picking on it. 

This morning I got a call asking if I wanted the chicken.  The other person wanted to keep it in the house but her husband said no, he didn't want it at all.  So now it's mine.  It isn't fully feathered and needs to be kept warm for another week.  After that it will be able to go out into the coop.  I will make an area it can run and hide in as it's not going to be accepted by the others for quite a while.  I certainly don't mind getting free chickens.  This one even came with five pounds of food.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mini caches in the yard

In the Think Geek catalogue they had a hide-a-key holder that was a piece of pvc pipe with a sprinkler head attached.  http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/security/b7c9/   You take off the sprinkler head, put the key into the pipe, then put the whole thing in the ground in your lawn or planter area.  Nobody would no the difference, other than it looks like a fake sprinkler head. 

I thought that was a great idea but instead of spending the $4.99 on a fake one this is something that can easily be done using the real stuff.  Depending on the size pipe you could put in keys, coins, or anything you could think of.  If you put a real sprinkler head on to match the real ones it would be easy enough to plug it up so no liquid would get inside.

I do know of a crew who was working in the state park clearing trails.  They found a metal pipe that was capped at both ends.  They opened the cap and found 10 gold coins from the 1800s.  Obviously this story wasn't advertised because the park personnel didn't want the general public to tear apart their park looking for more capped pipes. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Another trip down south and gifts

We just returned from yet another trip to Southern California.  Brother, who lives out of the country, was home.  He's here for a week so the entire family is taking advantage of his visit and had about 20 people over including all my brothers and sisters.  It's wonderful coming from a family where we all like each other.  Brother is the super uncle to all the kids and to many of the adults as well.  He's traveled the world, in fact, in the past two weeks he had Thanksgiving in England, then his birthday in Austria, then went to a gathering at Westminster Abbey last week prior to flying home to Southern California.  Sister-in-law made the comment that most people don't even have one adventure in their life like brother has had and he has them continuously. 

Brother brought gifts.  All the girls got jewelry and shawls.  The shawls were handmade that he picked up while in Afganistan.  The jewelry was a bit over the top.  I'm still scratching my head as to what granddaughter needs with a string of pearls, but I know I'll look spiffy in mine while I'm cleaning out the chicken coop or something of that sort!  Seriously, I'll figure out some time to wear them. 

I gave people a list of gifts I'd like this year.  A 100' hose, a hula hoe, candles, a good pencil sharpener that can be screwed into the wall, and other very practicle items.  I got just about everything on my list and received some gift cards too. 

What gifts did I give?  All practical stuff to put them on the path of preparedness, even if they don't know that's what I had in mind.My niece got a first aid kit.  I told her to keep it in her car.  I gave one to son and to brother-in-law.  Another niece got an exercise ball.  Their entire family is very athletic but this one would rather do indoor activities, so the ball seemed to be the perfect choice.  Grandsons all got sling shots.  I think my daughter is going to kill me!  Mom got a raised garden bed.  Sister got a fruit tree.  Other sister and brother-in-law were commenting on our sleeping bags and blanket liners when they were over at Thanksgiving.  I ordered two of the sleeping bags and liners for them from the same place I got mine: Major Surplus and Supply in Gardenia.  http://www.majorsurplus.com/Army-Digital-Fleece-Sleeping-Bag-P14011.aspx and http://www.majorsurplus.com/Mil-Spec-Oversized-Double-Layer-Sleeping-Bag-P14019C1957.aspx.  The sleeping bag is rated to 10 degrees.  Last winter when we traveled to Colorado and Oklahoma and didn't run the heat in the trailer we slept perfectly using both the fleece as a liner and then the sleeping bag.  This was the most expensive of all the gifts I gave anyone, but these two are the most likely family members that I'm going to be able to convince that they need to prepare for when TSHTF.

This morning, sister, brother-in-law, and I were sitting around the breakfast table talking politics.  Brother-in-law is totally fed up with San Diego.  Sister said when she brought her son to Children's Hospital last week for some treatment that she was in the extreme minority.  She spoke english.  She said most of the signage was in Spanish and she didn't hear anyone speaking english, including staff.  It was almost like she was in a foreign country.  We were discussing how the state can get out of the financial trouble it is in.  Of course, listening to the politicians it's all the fault of the government employees.  We came to a different conclusion.  If the state would stop providing benefits to illegal immigrants, and if they'd require receipts for food purchases on food stamps and outlaw purchases of soda, chips, cookies, etc. the state would be in much better shape.  They are getting very fed up with their living situation.  Good. 

I still have gifts to make and give.  Towels, hats, gloves, and other useful items.  One friend wants me to teach her how to make bread.  Great gift.  Another wants some of my soup recipes.  I'm going to make some recipe cards for her.  4X6 index cards are inexpensive and make great gifts when you write down recipes and include little stories about how the recipe came into the family.  Granddaughter added more to her list today.  She requested buckets, a mop, and dust rags.  Much more practical than her pearls.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Shopping daily

My daughter, son-in-law, and baby are temporarily staying with us.  They used to live in an apartment.  Now they are on our five acres.  Son-in-law has only been to Southern California before.  He didn't realize that there was farmland in California and although he heard we had trees, never really witnessed seeing any. 

For the last couple of days I've had him tag along with me on my travels (except during the time I wrote about on Thursday).  He's seen farms and foothills.  He hasn't been to the timber yet.  That'll come another day.  Yesterday after we left the bug-out-place, where he didn't come walking with me or the equipment operator, we had another prep talk. 

We have had several talks and I keep bringing up things like my storage of supplies.  They don't know about all of it but they think I'm just a hoarder of stuff.  Today I said I just don't like shopping.  I will go to the store once a month or so other than to get fresh milk and bananas.  Otherwise, I have it on hand.  Same goes with other supplies.  Having spent his adulthood in apartments, they've never had more than a couple of days worth of anything on hand.  When I was visiting them right after the baby was born I ended up stocking several weeks worth of food.  They ended up packing it all up and brought it with them when they moved in here.

Son-in-law said that he likes to go out shopping each day.  If he stays home he feels like a hermit.  I told him I'd rather stay home and would prefer to never shop.  After our stop at the fire station I said that we needed to head home because I was hungry and it was almost lunch time.  He noted there was a restaurant (the only one for 15 miles) next to the fire station.  I said yes there is and it's a nice little steak house.  I eat at home.  I've had to explain to daughter and son-in-law that I don't pick up fast food and bring it home for dinner, nor do I eat out very often.  When we travel we will eat out as a treat for the kids, but not every meal.  Son-in-law said they'd rather eat out every day for at least one meal so they can just relax.  I don't get it.

They also like to shop.  They go to the mall almost daily.  We went to the mall last August for granddaughter to get her ears pierced.  Completely different lifestyles are happening in this house!  They bought bottles for the baby.  Baby didn't like those nipples so instead of buying one or two of a different kind they bought a large set of another type of bottle.  They probably spent thirty dollars on it.  Baby didn't like that one either.  They bought yet another full set of bottles.  No, baby still didn't like what they were offering.  (I know you are thinking that the baby will get hungry enough and will eat, but not this baby.  This is the one that was in ICU for her first seven weeks.)  I suggested they warm her bottle a little bit warmer than they have been.  Wow, baby likes the first type after all.  Every day they come back with a new outfit for the baby.  Sure they are cute outfits but so very unnecessary.  I tried to tell them that grandson that I raised for his first four months had half a dozen outfits.  I washed clothes often enough.  So does daughter but they like to buy baby things anyway.  They just like to shop and spend money.  I watch them waste it and dream of all the prep items I could be buying instead.

I am trying to convince them to spend on something of value to the future.  I'm just not getting through.  Their habits are going to be hard for me to change since they don't think they need to change them.  I'm trying to lead by example because I'm wise enough to know that advice offered when it's not wanted is certainly not going to be heeded.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fixing the road

Today I brought an acquaintance from work out to my bug-out place.  The road is in need of repair and my little tractor isn't heavy duty enough for this job.  The person I brought out can run heavy equipment such as bulldozers, tractors, graders, etc. 

The property can be accessed from two different roads.  The main road is the one that crosses the creek so this road can't be used for a couple of months out of the year.  Actually, you can park the car on the opposite side of the creek and cross the footbridge.  Then you can drive out.  It does mean a mile long walk from the property to the creek crossing but if you don't mind leaving the vehicle unattended in an area where local ner-do-wells hang out, then you are set.  The bug-out place is really in a perfect location if you are well prepared.  You'd have very few visitors during the winter.

There is a second way to get to the property.  It's through a couple of ranches.  I haven't contacted any of those ranchers but may be able to use those roads in an emergency situation.  The second road doesn't come to the front of the property.  It goes to the back end of the property.  This road used to intersect with the main road until a pond overflowed and blew out the culvert.  There's now a hole at the end of that road about 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep.  Therefore the two roads don't intersect.  I was told that it wouldn't be too hard of a fix.  It would cost about two or three hundred dollars for the 36 inch culvert that would need to be 50 or 60 feet long.  I don't know if I want to spend that kind of money doing a major repair on someone else's property.  I'll have to think about it.
Much of the main road needs to be graded.  The slope of the road in most places is exactly opposite of what is needed.  Where it should slope in it slopes out.  Where it should slope out it slopes in.  There is down cutting on both sides of the road, in some places the road is getting so narrow that you worry the truck may slip off into the ditch.  In other places the road is flat through a meadow.  Here, if water does pool, it can't be directed off the road because the entire road is downcut into the meadow by six inches.  There is a twelve inch culvert that appears to be working well to direct flow of a seasonal creek.   First I was thinking about pulling the culvert and installing a rolling dip.  This would work but the culvert is doing a good job and is well rocked.  It's just the road is too narrow so in this spot it will need to be widened.

I asked his opinion on this and he said he could clean it all up with a grader.  He busy until after the first of the year, and hopefully we won't have too much more rain until then.  If the road gets too wet he won't be able to work the soil well.  If it's too dry it won't hold.  I am thinking about having him grade a road through the property to go from the back to the front.  It would be good for convenience but on the other hand it would open up the property and make it much less defensible.

I then went to the local fire station and talked to them about the road.  I was hoping that they could possibly help with some of the road repair...wishful thinking since the property isn't on a major fuel break...  Anyway, their engine could easily cross the creek even at its highest flow.  Their issue would be at this culvert because the engine will not fit on the road.  If they went off the road they'd smash the culvert.  That's not their problem as they would be able to make it to any of the back properties. 

I know I have to balance keeping the place private but still making it accessible.  It's a fine line between the two. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Out in the Woods

Today I got a call that I had to go out into the woods to look at something.  Normally when I go out I spend the time in the woods by myself.  Today I was with four other people including one very well armed peace officer.  While the other three walked off, peace officer and I hung out together. 

We needed the peace officer not because of the violation that we were looking at but because in many places out in the woods violent criminals are hanging out.  They are either growing pot or working in drug labs.  In either case, they are often seen fully armed walking through hilly treed areas near water.  They set booby traps.  They intimidate the locals and are stealth enough that understaffed law enforcement isn’t able to catch them. 

It was a good day out in the woods.  I got to spend time discussing and practicing situational awareness in a possibly dangerous situation.  As we went through the woods higher in elevation than the three others that were with us, we were looking for evidence of footprints, broken branches, and bent over grasses.  There were many rock outcroppings and I searched for hidden shelters or evidence of any human occupation. Fortunately we didn’t come across any. 

One of the things that was done very wrong was the parking.  I left my 4X4 truck at our meeting place around 10 miles away.  The five of us went out in two vehicles.  Both four wheel drive.  We were on dirt roads for about five miles.  The roads for the most part were good enough that only two wheel drive was needed.  This was only because they’ve only had a few inches of rain so far.  Once the rain and snow starts the road would be a muddy slimy mess that even the 4X4 wouldn’t have gotten through.  The vehicle I was riding in had lousy tires, which I commented on.  The driver said that he’s not going to ask for new tires until next year.  I wouldn’t go out in the woods with those tires if the road weren’t good.  He’s going to get stuck somewhere this winter, I can guarantee that.  Anyway, about 1/8 mile before the locked gate the road started to get really slimy.  He put the truck into four wheel drive and turned it around.  The driver said that he didn’t think the other vehicle should come that far and possibly get stuck.  In my opinion the road was slimy but still could have been used by the other vehicle to turn around.

Instead, since the driver thought it would be a bad idea, he had the other vehicle park before getting to the slimy area.  The road was so narrow, with hill slope going up on one side and steeply dropping off on the other side, that the big trucks couldn’t turn around.  There were very few turnouts on that road. 

We got out of the vehicles and walked into the dangerous property leaving the trucks parked in the middle of the road.  The dumb part was that ours was facing going out but the other truck was facing coming in.  If we had to make a quick escape we couldn’t as our route was being blocked by our other vehicle.  I spoke to our peace office about this and he said that he’s able to drive backwards quickly.  I thought that was very arrogant.

We didn’t have any incidents while we were out collecting evidence, but what if we did?  What if we needed to make a quick escape?  The person driving the other truck had to back down a narrow road for almost two miles before he came to a spot wide enough to turn around.  He certainly didn’t go fast and the vehicle I was in was stuck behind it. 

We are taught about safety zones and escape routes but today we were complete failures on following through with what has been taught.   I think I was the only one who even thought about it.  This I think makes it worse because I did think about it and still allowed it to happen.  I was the highest ranking person there but I let those who requested me make the decisions as to not step on their toes.  So today, rather than say we were failures, I need to put the blame solely on me.  I knew better, I pointed it out, but did not insist on doing it right.  Fortunately for us, harvest season is over; the bad guys are gone for a couple of months.