Monday, October 31, 2011

Toilets and other tasks

Have you ever had to repair a toilet?  It's really pretty simple to take out all the parts in the tank and replace them with new parts.  It's also not too hard to replace the wax ring underneath the toilet.  This does take a little strength to maneuver the toilet but other than that it's an easy task.  That is if you aren't afraid to do a little repair work and if you have the parts on hand.

It's always an adventure going to mom's house.  She's a widow and almost 80 years old.  Some of the things she puts up with rather than having fixed amazes me.  When she was at our house two weeks ago I told her to make a list of minor fixes that I could do when I was over last week.  She made a list of five things.

First was to fix the ironing board.  She was mad at me because "I" broke it.  Sorry mom, I haven't used your ironing board in years. Remember I moved out about 35 years ago and probably haven't ironed much since? Perhaps it was one of your other kids who visited you? She handed me the ironing board, all the while insisting that I broke it.  She couldn't open it so it must have gotten jammed when I closed it up.  I took a look at the board, pushed on the handle and it opened up right away.  No problem here.  She was trying to pull on the lever when she should have lifted.  So "I" didn't break it after all.

Second was the window in the master bathroom.  She hasn't taken a shower in this bathroom for months because she couldn't open the window to let out the steam.  Instead, she has taken a shower in the small guest bathroom.  That shower is so small that it's almost impossible to raise your arms to wash your hair without smacking your arms on the walls of the shower.  But she couldn't open the window.  I looked at the latch to open the window.  I tried to open the window.  The latch was catching on the security lock.  I raised the latch back to the middle of the window and it opened perfectly.  Two chores down, three to go.

Third was "her birds".  This meant that two of the smoke detector batteries were chirping.  How long have they been chirping, mom?  About a month.  About two months ago a neighbor came over and changed a couple of smoke detector batteries but not all.  Obviously these two weren't done.  Mom said that she enjoyed the chirping.  Perhaps it's because you aren't wearing your hearing aid at night so it doesn't bother your sleep.  The batteries got changed.

Fourth was the toilet.  It kept running so she shut off the water to the tank and used a different bathroom.  That was a good move because her water bill went up over $20 the first month of it running. She wouldn't tell me how long ago that was.  We went to the hardware store and bought a complete replacement kit for the tank.  She had very few tools available for me to use...they are somewhere but she can't get to them with all her important things in the way.  Since I didn't have my tools because I flew I went to the neighbor's house to borrow what I needed.  Got that fixed and the water back on. 

Fifth wasn't a repair.  I had to teach her how to take an attachment document from an email, add verbiage to the document, save it in "My Documents", and then attach it to another email.  This was the most difficult task of all!

All these minor chores got me to thinking.  Mom needs someone to come in more often to do chores.  Some of my brothers and sisters do stop by each month but if mom doesn't have a list of chores then they don't do any.  She has a high tolerance for things not working properly.  Mom would probably have gone the rest of her life without using the master bathroom toilet or shower.  She has the money to have someone come repair it but doesn't want anyone to see her clutter.  She doesn't have any supplies in case something breaks.  She can't get to the tools and there aren't any spare parts to anything even if she could get to the tools.  Since she refuses to hire help we "kids" need to do a better job of looking over the house and yard and figuring out what needs to be done, even if it's not on her list.  Her next door neighbor will come over and fix things when asked, but is very rarely asked.  Are there any older folks near you that may be in the same situation?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Traveling and not spending money on food

Since I'm on my one month without spending money I was sort of in a bind last week with my travel plans.  I was planning on driving my truck, which has several weeks worth of food, clothes, sleeping bag, etc.  I was also picking up a ice chest full of antelope.  At the last minute my work told me that I needed to fly rather than drive.  They had a 3/4 ton 4x4 pickup that needed to be delivered to my office.  The night before I was to drive I ended up making flight arrangements. 

Once I got to the office down south I found the truck and had two ice chests put into the back.  This truck has a locking camper shell like my own work truck.  It had two shovels and a first aid kit in it.  There was also a case of water and a half case of Gatorade.  The first day of my trip I was expecting to go out to lunch and this was supposed to be my only exception to not spending money for the month.  I ended up spending less than $5.00 for my lunch.  For the three days I was gone I was given about $95 for food.  Great, I got to pocket ninety dollars.  The hotel and gas were paid for so there weren't any expenses there. 

Because I flew I didn't get to bring much food.  I just had a handful of granola bars and trail mix.  It could have sustained me for the entire trip but I would have ended up being pretty hungry.  It would have been a long, hungry 250 mile walk home, if that were the case.  Since I wasn't going to spend money on food I had to think about a way to get nutritious food to eat.  The first night I picked up my ice chests full of antelope but having frozen meat wasn't going to work.

I had a great idea.  Let's go fishing.  My coworker and I hit the local lake and I caught a couple panfish.  I was really surprised because I'm much better at catching fish on a river than in a lake.  He knew where to fish, fortunately for me.  As we were walking back to the trucks I saw some thistle growing.  Thistle is an invasive plant but it's also edible.  I picked a bunch of thistle (sure glad I had my leather gloves).  We went back to the coworkers house where the coworker cooked up the fish and I cooked up the thistle and also made a salad out of plants in his yard - dandelion, purslane, mustard, roses and alyssum.  He thought I was a little nuts but he ate the weeds anyway! 

I then traded the rest of the fish for some deer jerky and salmon jerky.  I did eat Friday night dinner with my mother at her house.  My meals were:
Breakfast - hard boiled egg (from chickens from home), coffee, granola bar
Lunch - at the Mexican restaurant
Dinner - fish and weeds
Breakfast - granola bar, coffee in the hotel room, pear from tree at hotel
Lunch - salmon jerky and salad, pear from tree at hotel, Gatorade, water
Dinner - meatloaf at mom's
Breakfast - granola bar, coffee, juice from oranges from mom's neighbor, strawberries from mom's yard
Lunch - deer jerky, Gatorade, orange
Overall, I think I did really well with the eating.  This menu was lacking in breads but was pretty healthy. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Escape Routes

Yesterday I had a few hours to spare before I appointment and I was near where my sister worked, so I stopped in for a surprise visit.  She was happy to see me and introduced me to one of the owners of the company.  I had met him before but it was quite a while ago and he had forgotten.  My sister said that her boss had just asked her to find out some information about emergency plans for offices.  Sure I can help with that. 

The first thing I did was get a tour of the place.  It is half warehouse, half offices.  It had a bunch of lit exit signs hanging from the ceiling and walls.  That’s required by the local laws.  I asked where the fire extinguishers were.  They showed me two plus I found a third sitting on a shelf in the warehouse.  Of the two, one was in the warehouse and the other in the office space.  The extinguisher in the warehouse that was hanging on the wall was not visible and I wouldn’t have found it quickly, especially in an actual fire with smoke.  The owner said he knows where they are.  That’s nice I told him, but what if he is passed out due to something falling off the shelves on top of him and at the same time a fire started.  Someone would have to attend to him.  Someone would have to contact the fire department.  Someone should make sure everyone else evacuates the building.  Perhaps someone could try to put the fire out.

Where’s your escape route plan?  “What is that”, he asked?  It’s a diagram of your entire complex.  You know, a directional map like you see at the mall.  You are here with a big X.  Each office is shown as are the restrooms, halls, and warehouse areas.  You have this map in several places in the building with a big X of where you are at that specific location.  Then you show with an arrowed red line the route to get out of the building.

But are there different strategies for an earthquake compared to a fire?  What about a medical emergency?  What about a threat to an employee from a spouse/ex-spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.?

Do they have a list of phone numbers of the people in charge to be able to reach them during non-peak hours?  If they aren’t available, who is in charge?  There has to be someone designated at their building to be in charge.  Like the chain of command.  Who is #1?  If that person isn’t available who is #2, #3, #4, etc.?

There is really a lot they need to do.  The first thing is the map of the building.  After that they can sit down and figure out which is the best way out for each situation.  Once they get out, where do they go?  In some situations perhaps they need to lock themselves into their offices?  Then they need to practice and practice some more.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Police Standoff

Not the way I was planning on having lunch...

Yesterday started very early, leaving my house at 4:30.  I caught a flight, then a connection and made it to my destination right on time. 

Why does this kind of stuff always happen when I'm someplace?  I think it may happen more often than people realize.  It's just that people are so oblivious to their surroundings that they don't know what's going on around them.  After all, if I was seated with my back to the road would I have noticed?  The police didn't come with their lights and sirens.  I would have been oblivious like others in our group. 

What was I to do?  Panic?  No, that wouldn't be good.  I informed the people who were at the table that something was going on.  Of the five of us, three were armed. I wasn't because I wasn't going to count the cheap knife that I had on me.  If someone was rushing to harm me at this location I'd expect one of the others there to pull out their weapon.  We decided to continue eating but to stay aware of the situation.  The building was on the same side of the road that we were on.  If the person that was holed up started shooting his bullets wouldn't come in our direction.  There was a building in the way.  If he ran out there would be enough commotion for us to take cover under/behind many of the cement structures at our lunch location.  So we ate a nice peaceful lunch. 

Once I got off the plane I had the person who picked me up bring me to a sporting goods store prior to going to the meeting.  Once I got to my destination I was given the vehicle's I was to drive home.  I put my gear in it and immediately set up the mirrors, both the rear view and sides, noted that it had a full gas tank, put in some food and drink supplies from that office, and also a couple of coolers.  I asked about the mileage on the truck to know about how far a tank of gas would last.  I won't go more than about 100 miles without filling it up, just because I don't have spare fuel. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Change of plans

I have to leave town tomorrow; going to Southern California for a couple of days.  This trip has been in the works for the last couple of weeks.  I was planning on driving my work truck down and back.  I like traveling with this truck even more than my personal truck because in an emergency situation this truck will allow me into or through places that my other truck wouldn't be able to get through.  This truck has get-home (as compared to bug-out) supplies in it to last me at least two weeks.  Food, water, clothes, bedroll, extra boots, fuel, tools.  You name it the work truck has it. But there has been a change of plans...

This afternoon I was called and told that I need to fly instead of drive.  Since I'm going to Southern California they want me to drive someone elses truck back to my office.  Sure.  I called the travel agent and booked the one-way flight. (work pays, so still no spending) Yes, my plans are fluid but I can adapt pretty easy.  It takes a little extra thought as to how I am going to approach things.

I immediately know of a couple of issues.  First, I am supposed to pick up our frozen antelope meat while I am down there.  I put my 50 and 100 quart ice chests in the back of my truck.  Except, they won't fit in the carry on space in the plane.  I'm not planning on checking luggage.  Second, I'm not planning on checking luggage.  Wait, that's an issue for the antelope.  That's also an issue with not having a gun or knife on me.  Or much in the way of other supplies. 

I am going to have a carry on that will hold two days worth of clothes, an extra pair of shoes, and lots of food.  I'll also have the computer.  My belt with be made of paracord. 

I will be driving home so I'll be able to pick up a few supplies while I'm down there and not have to worry about not being able to bring them back home.  I'll pick up a knife and  matches as soon as I arrive.  Perhaps I can borrow a knife from one of my coworkers.   The new truck will be filled with fuel first thing.  I won't have any fuel cans with me but a full tank should get me home.  If there is an emergency incident that takes place while I am on my way home I should be able to get fuel from one of my known generator capable refueling places. 

I already told work that they will need to supply me with a couple of ice chests. 

I guess this means that I'm breaking my no purchasing for a month.  Perhaps not.  I know that tomorrow the group I'm meeting with is going out for lunch.  I planned on spending that $10 as my only exception to the spending exercise, yet that was all I was planning on spending during the three day trip.  I'm headed out to the bank to pick up 3x my expected expenses (hotel, food, fuel) even though I shouldn't have to pay for hotel and fuel with my own money.  

I will have a couple of dollars worth of silver coins on me.  In case there is any type of emergency, although I'm sure cash will be king, having a couple of silver dimes or quarters will sweeten the pot if need be.

It will be a great exercise to see how well I can do for the three days without spending money (other than the one $10 lunch).  I'm going to try to find free food (fruit trees) or do some chores for a coworker in exchange for dinner.  Something.  Anything to not spend money.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Unabashed: trying to win a contest

Rudy at is holding a contest to give away a book called The Road Home by Andrew Baze.  The book is about a father and son who go on a hike in the mountains.  When they are out a massive earthquake hits.  The story, from what I read on Rudy's blog, details their trek back home.  It also tells the story of the wife and daughter who are at home when the earthquake strikes.  It sounds like a good book, at least better than Survivors. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Boring book so far and money saving preps

Maybe it's just me, since everyone else seems to praise the book, but half way into Survivors I'm bored.  None of the characters have impressed me enough to really care about any of them.  I'm hoping that the second half is better.

I cancelled the satellite tv today.  I told them we like Fox News and Hallmark channel, which is quite at opposite ends when it comes to television programming.  They tried to come up with a new plan for us that would save us about 20% of the bill.  No.  We are now saving 100% of the bill. 

It's during the school week so the tv is rarely on anyway.  I wonder how long it will take them before they realize there isn't anything on when the tv gets turned on?  I pulled the plug on the tv to save the little bits of electricity that it uses while in the sleep mode. 

We got the property tax bills for the three properties.  They went down $400 due to the decline in property values.  Since I had budgeted last year's amount for this year I have a $400 windfall.  Every time I have found money, whether from coupons at the store or something like this I put it toward preps of some sort.  I'm going to pull out the $400 from the bank and put it into the emergency home cash stash.  Wow.  I'm excited.  That's good because I'm getting off the computer to go back to the boring book.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Holiday Gifts on the Cheap

It's almost the end of October.  I took inventory of the gifts I have on hand for the upcoming holidays.  I listed all the people and have 30+ people to give gifts to.  That is a lot but that's the way it goes with a large family - grand kids, kids and their spouses, brothers and sisters, mom, and a few friends.  Girl and boy get more gifts from me than the other grand kids because they don't have parents to provide for them.  Throughout the year I purchase things for people if I see something that fits them perfectly and is not too expensive.  For example, last year a niece going off to college got a first aid kit.  This year she is going to get mace that looks like a tube of lipstick. She can carry it when she runs. 
Not everyone gets purchased gifts.  In fact, most get home made gifts. 
One of my favorites is hand towels and kitchen towels.  I buy the cheapest of the cheap hand towels at Walmart/Kmart/Target.  I get them on sale during the January white sales.  At the same time I get end of season holiday fabric.  I cut a strip of the fabric, fuse interfacing on it and then sew it to the hand towel.  I also have college team fabric and do the same thing.  It makes great gifts for under $3.00 each.  I am going to do the same this year.  Perhaps when I get one done I'll post a picture.
I also bake fruit and vegetable breads as do most survivalists, gardeners, and preppers.  Examples are zucchini bread, banana bread, and our fall favorite chocolate chip pumpkin bread.  You can bake these in a pint size wide mouth straight sided canning jar.  Grease the side and bottom of the jar as you would a cake pan.  Do not bring the grease too close to the rim or get any grease on the rim of the jar.  Make your recipe as normal and pour your batter into the jar rather than baking it in a loaf pan.  You will need to experiment to know how much to pour in.  You want the top of the loaf to come just below where the lid would be if the lid were on.  Do not bake with the lid on! 
As soon as it is done baking take it out of the oven, wipe off the rim, then put on your canning lid (that you have prepared in hot water) and loosely tighten the ring. If you put in too much batter and the loaf bakes up higher than the top of the jar don't worry!  Just cut off the top of the bread so it's below the rim.  Let the jars sit on the counter to cool.  Soon you will start to hear that familiar ping of the sealing lids.   The cake or bread will last a long time, even until the next year, although I'm sure it will be eaten long before then.
That's two of the gifts I'm giving this year.  More to come soon.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A month of no spending and money thoughts

I never made it back to the grocery store to do the final shopping before I started my no spending for a month experiment.  Oh well.  We will have to make due.  I'm not worried as I've got enough food for a year here, at least for the three of us.  But it's the little things, like the poppy seeds I bought the other day.  I only use poppy seeds two or three times per year but I had none.  I didn't realize I didn't have any until just last week because I rarely use them.  I bought enough for the year.  If they were no longer available that would be just the way it goes.  It wouldn't really affect us other than a traditional cookie wouldn't be able to be made. 

Since we had 18 people over for dinner for great grandma's birthday party we used up most of the liquid milk (only one gallon left).  I don't think I bought enough powdered milk the other day when I shopped.  I'm going to try to not get into too much of the storage stuff during this month.  I want to see just how much, or how little, we actually need.  We still have a lot coming out of the garden and the chickens are laying well still.

This is not going to be a hard core no spending.  If some grocery store has a 75% off sale on products I use then I will buy them!  I'm not going to say no to that.  On the other hand, if one of the grand kids busts their shoe we will have to figure out how to repair it.  This will be more of a test to see what small items we may be missing.  We are also going to be building the storage room during this time and I sure hope we have everything we need!  Again, this will be more of a test to make sure our supplies are up to snuff.  Do we have enough nails, screws, etc.?  This is a planned project, what about unplanned repairs?  What is going to break this month that I can't run to the store to fix? 

I've been reading a lot about making sure your emergency cash is funded.  How much emergency cash do you need?  Since the world isn't falling to pieces, like in the book Survivors, it shouldn't be too hard to figure out how much you should store.  How much money do you spend in a month that's not electricity, housing, and those hard costs?  How much do you spend on food, fuel, clothing, household repairs, etc.?  You should have that amount on hand.  Or double it, or triple it, depending on how long you have been saving. 

Now, I don't always keep this as a hard and fast rule.  I get into my emergency money.  One of the grandkids needs twenty for something and I spent my cash.  Just go to the emergency money.  Not a problem.  I'll replace it.  But after a while you forget.  Then comes the big day that you need it and it's not there.  Bernie, over at ApartmentPrepper, had less than $50 on hand.  Oops. 

I do have my silver dimes.  Those are for the real bad times.  The cash I try not to spend, but when I do I try to put it back right away.  Again, I'm not always successful at replacing it right away but then the thought crosses my mind of what if today is the day and then I get really motivated. 

When I travel I always pick up money from the bank.  I don't use the emergency funds.  I make sure I have three times as much as I plan on spending.  I keep that in cash even if I plan on charging my purchases.  Do you remember 10 years ago?  9/11?  All air travel was cancelled.  People were stranded and had to find other ways to get home.  Cash was king!  Rental cars were sold out almost instantly and those that were available were instantly much more expensive to rent.  Having cash on hand to be able to purchase a junker car and drive themselves home was the way to go for a few people I know who got stranded.  

How does one get extra money?  You can cancel your cable, cut back on your phone plan, use less electricity, etc.  This week after great grandmother (free babysitter while I was gone) goes home, I will cancel the cable.  I was going to shut it off earlier but was ordered by the great grandmother to keep her soap operas on or else.  Yes, ma'am.  My son set his tv up with a digital antenna and can get quite a few local channels.  He's going to set ours up the same way.  That's $600 per year we will save.  Will we miss some of the extra channels?  Sure, but if I figure that I'm spending $50 a month for special channels it comes to about $10 an hour!  TV is NOT worth $10 an hour!  

The best way I can make money is when I travel for work.  My hotel and gas are covered.  I get money each day for food and incidentals.  So far this month I've traveled each of the last two weeks.    I stayed at a hotel that provided a decent free breakfast.  They also had snacks in the evening that I was able to use as my dinner.  One of the nights they had food that I wouldn't eat but I was able to eat from my supply in my truck.  The last two trips I took last week and the week prior, I spent a total of $4.18 on things other than the hotel and fuel.  Considering I was given over $200 to use for food and incidentals I think I did rather well with coming up with extra money.  I still have to travel four or five more days in the next two weeks.  I'll only have about $100 to spend from those trips and I think I'll actually have to go out to lunch one of the days and spend $10.  That will still mean I'll be able to pocket almost $300 for preps and emergencies.  This makes me more fortunate than most because I have this opportunity to make a little extra when I travel, but traveling also means I'm away from home.  That I don't care for. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Metal Detector practice

This past week I was out of town once again, having to teach a class.  The next day a friend drove to the town I was at and asked if I could provide to him some metal detector training.  I always have a metal detector in the work truck so of course I could provide some training on the use of the machine. 

Metal detectors have been in use for over 100 years now.  Initially they were very large and not very convenient to use.  They were used during WWII to clear mine fields.  Metal detectors came into more widespread, civilian use in the 50s and 60s.  With the advent of the computer age, metal detectors are widely available in all price ranges ($55 to thousands) and with varying capabilities. 

There are also small palm sized detectors that are used by waiving over someone you have captured to determine if they have a gun, knife, razor, or needle on their person.  I don't own one of these, mine is the large model used for locating items under ground. Many years ago I purchased my metal detector from Kellyco .  They have excellent customer service since the employees are all metal detector enthusiasts.  They can answer any questions you have, including suggesting which metal detector would be best for you in the price range you want to spend.

I use my metal detector to find metal.  Duh.  What am I looking for?  All kinds of things, especially when using it for work.  For personal use I find fencing, coins, nails, etc.  In a survivalist situation a metal detector can be used for finding buried caches of weapons and ammunition, buried containers, cement vaults (with rebar), and of course coins. 

I don't think buying a metal detector would be number one on my list of survival products but it is something of great value.  How often do you read about items being cached?  Can you find something that you cached?  With a metal detector you may be able to!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Figuring out what to buy

I am out of town once again and had a bit of free time this evening.  I went to the store to pick up some groceries.  I had no list, I just sort of wandered in the store.  Since I am not going home for two more days I didn't buy anything that would need refrigeration.  Not that it mattered since in this practic run I'm not going to use anything refrigerated, other than what is in my fridge that would go bad (I'm not wasteful!). 

I am going to use the two ceramic pots with sand and water to make a cooler for the milk.  I will only make a couple cups at a time so the milk won't be sitting around for any length of time.  I will keep the water that I'll use to make the milk in the pot cooler so the water will be cooler than room temperature.  Actually the well water comes out around 60 degrees so it it's too warm, but if I can get it 10 degrees cooler in the pot cooler then it will make the milk that much better.  

Here's what I bought: flour, salt, sugar, honey, pasta, dried potatoes, powdered milk, beans, soy protein powder, blueberry muffin mix, pancake mix, cornbread mix, oatmeal, canned peas, canned corn, rice, grape juice, tofu, canned ravioli, tuna, canned chicken, dried seasoning - parsley, onion, sesame seed, poppy seed. I spent about $60 on the food.

I also bought 2 gamma lids and some cleaning supplies.  The buckets were different compared to the last time I was in the store.  The buckets seemed to be thinner than what they used to sell.  I didn't really need new buckets but each time I go to Winco I pick up a gamma lid or two.  They are under $7.00 each. 

Is it enough for the entire month?  No.  As I said, I was just wandering around because I had nothing else to do this evening. Since I plan on doing the real shopping trip on Sunday I want to make a shopping list.  Before I know what to buy I should come up with a list of meals for the month.  
Breakfast: cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, bisquits, eggs, bagels, canned sausage, milk, juice, quik.
Still needed:  Canned sausage, baking powder (I have tons of baking powder so I may not actually buy this), and Nestle's quik.
Lunch: soup, bread, pb&j sandwiches, hb eggs, tuna, tortillas, fry bread, left overs from dinner.  Fruit. Milk, juice.
Still needed: pb.
Snacks: muffins, cookies, fruit, candy.
Still needed: candy.
Dinner: chicken, beef, tofu, fish, ravioli, tortillas, fresh vegies, potatoes, beans, noodles, rice.  Fruit, milk. 
Still needed: chicken, beef, fish, more flour, cheese sauce, butter flavor crisco, more milk, more flour.

One of the comments from yesterday was asking why I would go shopping for the food rather than use what I had, since I don't want to shop for the next month.  I could do that.  But what if there was a breakdown in the food supply sometime during this month?  I'd be pretty ticked off that I could have purchased this month's food and chose not to.  I'm looking forward to the start of this practice run. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

No shopping for a month

This voice in my head says prepare now, actually practice now.  Store food now.  Store water now.  Store everything.  A couple months ago I didn't buy anything for 10 days.  I'm going to try this for a month!  I am going to make a few exceptions though.  My new challenge is going to end right at Thanksgiving. Not only am I going to buy things for Thanksgiving dinner I am going to take advantage of the sales that take place at that time.  Other than that, no shopping...starting Monday.  This means I am going shopping this Sunday when the grand kids are in Sunday school!

With the advance shopping, as compared to last time when I decided that starting that day there would be no spending, I hope to buy most everything I think I will need for the month.  I am going to try to not use my storage stuff - ok, I'll use the storage stuff because I will want to rotate, but the new stuff will get stored. I am going to want to use the same items and the same amounts as what I buy.  I'm also not going to use the refrigerator or freezer...this experiment will be over by Thanksgiving, thank goodness!  I'll use the fresh stuff up in the fridge.  I don't want it going to waste. 

Why am I doing this?  Practice.  In one year it will be December 2012.  Do I think the world is "going to end"?  No, I do not.  Do I think that there will be a run on the stores next year?  Absolutely.  And with a run on the stores it will take a while for things to settle back down.  So next year at Thanksgiving and Christmas, think semi-chaos at the stores. 

So starting Monday no more shopping for the month.  Good thing I bought the supplies to build the hidden room.  I hope I got everything I need!  

I don't even think I'll let the kids or grand kids know.  I wonder how long it will take them to figure it out?  I wonder how much money I'll save?  Yes, I know that I'm going to purchase in advance but I bet I will still save money.  I wonder if I can go for the entire month.  I will keep you updated.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pots and pans for an army

When I first started prepping I kept everything and collected even more.  I loved going to garage sales and getting great deals.  I also went to antique stores and bought more.  Looking back at what I was doing I realize that I was way off track on my purchases. 

I have three different residences.  The main house on five acres, the bug-out house (weekend getaway on 5 acres - a total dive that the bug-out renters live in), and the 25 year old travel trailer.  Each has stuff in it to live well.  What about the extra?  What am I talking about this time?  Pots, pans, and baking equipment. 

Back in the 70s and 80s a lot of new brands of pots and pans came into the market.  Having grown up in a home with Revere ware and a couple of cast iron pans I wanted something different. I bought an entire set of good pots and pans.  Magnalite was the upscale version of Wagner ware and still guaranteed for life (except the company went out of business).  I bought every size pot and pan they sold.  I probably spent close to $1,000!  Back in the 80s! 

Thirty years later and they are still great pots and pans.  But I don't use any of the pans anymore.  I use cast iron.  In fact, I use two cast iron pans each day...the 10" pan and the flat 10" pan for flat bread or pancakes.  I rarely use the 1 qt. Magnalite pot or even the 2 qt.  I have a couple of 3 qt. pots, the steamer inserts, and the double boiler inserts.  These I use at least weekly. I have the 5 qt., 7 qt., 16 qt., you name it.  If they made it I have it.

But I didn't stop there.  I bought even more, just in case.  I just don't know what the just in case was for.  After all, they pretty much last forever.  I'd go to a sale and find old Wagner ware stuff - both for stove top and oven.  I'd get excited because I could buy this stuff for under five dollars and remember the cost of the new stuff and think, wow, such a deal!  I wanted one or two or three or five of everything!  I have enough pots and pans and baking sets to supply my grand kids. 

Once we had 100 people for dinner.  We had to borrow tables and chairs (we ate in the backyard).  I had enough supplies for all that cooking and baking plus more to spare.  

This weekend I was in the barn looking at some of the shelves and figuring out exactly what I have.  Ok.  Enough is enough.  I know the saying that two is one and one is none. At what point do you figure out how much is enough?   I don't expect to hold any more 100 person meals.  If all my brothers and sisters and their kids, and my kids and grand kids all came over we would have thirty or so.  So why do I need more pots and pans and baking equipment to serve more than that?  I don't. 

I've had these things for thirty years.  I'm going to live 30 more and they will last that long.  I don't need any new stuff.  So now I'm going to give some things away to kids and grand kids.  I'll sell some of my pots and pans.  Maybe I'll be able to make enough money to buy something that I don't have!  Like dehydrated cheese.  That I need!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The easy grape arbor

I was asked if I could show a picture of the new grape arbor.  Sure, here it is.  Now all it needs are grape vines.  Next year... This is the first picture that I've posted of some of my yard.  In the little garden bed you can see the new strawberry plants and a couple of the new grapevines.  In the background you can see a tire swing and a couple of the tires in the grand kids tire course.  And, the "lawn" I just mowed. 

I was hoping to take most of the day off to do more cleaning.  I only got in a couple of hours for cleaning and about six hours of work.   It was the typical Monday which meant continuous conference calls and solving the world's problems that crept up over the weekend.  I'm trying to make it even from last week when I put in several 15 hour days. Maybe tomorrow I'll get to take a couple more hours off.  I got an email from one of the people I supervise wishing me a happy bosses day, which was over the weekend.  I think that's an appropriate time, when people don't see their boss so they don't have to say anything.  Half the time I don't even know who my boss is.  It changes every couple of months. 

I got the garage floor hosed down and threw away a bag of trash that somehow made it to the floor and shelves and not the trash can.  I had 15 cases of water spread out in a couple different locations in the garage.  They are all together now.  I got two bags of donation clothes ready to give away.  Not bad for a couple hours work.   

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tractor work

Got lots of work done in the yard today.  We made the grape arbor out of the cattle panel.  It looks great and since it's next to the grape "fence" that separates the lawn from the walkway I was able to string some of the grapes right onto the new arbor.  Girl said that was cheating and that I should plant more grapes.  I will plant them in the spring.  For now, we will use what's already growing.  I'd like to plant some concord grapes as they make good juice grapes and the two types we grow now are good for eating out of hand and making raisins. 

We rehung the tire swing.  We were given a couple of old tractor tires and added them  to the tire obstacle course.  The kids had a great time racing through the tires and then trying to hop from one tractor tire to the other.  Even I tried.  Fell flat on my face.   

I also mowed the lawn, I mean weeds.  The front looks nice.  Then boy and I mowed up front by the road.  He sat on my lap and steered and I pushed the pedals.  It took a while for him to start looking at the tires.  He'd turn the steering wheel too much or not enough.  I kept telling him to look at the tires.  They'll show him how much he's turned the wheel.  After mowing the weeds down he pushed the brush piles into better looking piles. 

We started mowing the back "lawn" too since everything greened up with the inch of rain we got last month.  He got bored and wanted to go do something else.  Sure, I'll finish. 

Being that it was such a nice day out I wasn't done with the tractor work.  I went to the garden area where there's a spot about 50 x 75 that was just a brush pile.  I decided to mow that down.  It was a little harder to mow so I knocked it down with the bucket first.  It worked wonders. 

Then I got stupid.  Hey, I'm out here so I may as well spread some of the rocks.  Except I forgot to take the mower deck off the tractor.  Bad idea.  Very bad.  Somehow I knocked the front bar that holds the mower deck on to the tractor out of place.  This meant that the only thing holding it on was the PTO hookup.  The front bar got dug into the ground.  I raised the tractor up off the front wheels using the front bucket.  No, that bar is dug in so I'll have to get a shovel and do a little digging.  I could try to take off the mower deck but it's in the pile of rocks.  It's a real pain to take off when I'm on the cement, in the rocks it will be impossible.  (When the JD dealer showed me it seemed like a piece of cake!) So I have to get the front bar pulled out of the dirt and hooked back up to I can reattach the mower deck.  I did a walk around to see just what a mess I made and saw the back tire was flat!  I sure hope I didn't run over a nail and that a rock somehow made it lose it's seal on the rim.  Ah, we had a party to go to this afternoon.  Sorry tractor.  You are staying outside for the night.  I'll get back to you tomorrow. 

It's probably going to take me a couple of hours to fix my stupidity.  Making mistakes like this is just a waste of time and I'd prefer to spend my time in a different way.  There are three good things about this though.  First, I did it and not one of the kids or grand kids.  Then I'd be really angry with them for treating someone else's (my) tool disrespectfully.  I'd rather just be ticked off at myself.  Second, not that I have time for this but I'm glad I did this now with the good weather rather than in pouring rain.  Lastly if TSHTF my tractor would be out of commission because I have very few spare parts, if I need to buy items to fix this. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Should you be getting extra for barter?

I read about it all the time.  Get extra for barter.  Almost to the point of hoarding something that you use but you can also use it as something to trade.  I was thinking about it today.  I keep reading that I should have extra seeds and bullets so I can trade them for something I need.  While I agree that I need to stock up on what I use and may need, and get extras to share, I don't quite agree with the theory of getting as much of certain items as I can get my hands on so I can barter for something else. 

I will try to have extra.  In fact, my motto is that unless you have enough for your expected lifetime (or the lifetime of the product) then whatever you're collecting isn't too much.  But do I really want to get two or three lifetimes worth of seeds, bullets, or whatever so I can trade?  Wouldn't I be better off spending my money and effort getting enough of what I need? 

Sure you should plan on having extra to be able to give away to family or friend that runs a little short on something but do you really need to start stocking up on the extras before you stock up on your own basic needs?

The kids were good today so they got to go to the football game.  We even went out to dinner!  Taco Bell.  Five items, two for each of them and one for me.  Came to a grand total of $5.25.  They were very excited about being taken out to fast food.  Normally the only time they eat something not home prepared is when we travel, and even then we usually bring our own food.  Driving less than an hour to attend a football game doesn't constitute out of town travel so they thought it was extra special.  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Overlooking the mess

When was the last time you took a real good look around your house or yard?  Over the last 10 months I just turned a blind eye to the mess that Army daughter and son-in-law made, otherwise they would have driven me totally crazy rather than just a bit crazy.  This afternoon I started looking around with a very critical eye.  Since it's time to start getting things ready for the winter I figured I may as well clean things up too.

I noticed the dog pen that they built not long after they moved in.  It never held the dogs as the yip-yips kept figuring out ways to either crawl through the holes in the fencing, dig under the fencing, or when Army daughter just forgot to close the gate, just walk right out the door!  This pen was really an eye-sore but after a while, I didn't even notice it existed.  Today I saw it.  Today I took the ripped tarp down, took panels down, unwired the wire fencing that was attached to the panels, dug up the t-posts, and put it all away.  What a difference but I'm not finished.  In the morning I have to pick up the dog toys, the water bowl and food bowl, and blankets and other bedding.  It's just amazing that the stuff has been there for 10 months and wasn't even noticed.  The grass is growing tall there because it couldn't be mowed when the rest of the yard was.

What else has been just left, to be put away, fixed, or whatever, in my spare time?  I'm sure there is more around here.  In fact, the kids tire exercise course got moved and we have tires in the front and tires in the back.  How about if this weekend we put the thing back together?  How many broken toys are in the toy box on the patio?  How many more are laying around the yard?  What do you have that is just piled or forgotten?

How about the garage?  Now that I can get to things, it's time to go through the clothing bins and be realistic.  If I'm going to save some of every size it needs to be practical things.  If the SHTF how many frilly girl dresses do I need to save for the one-year old for when she is 5 or 6 or 10?  Not a lot.  If there are only three grand kids left under the age of five why do I need enough for five or six kids?  I don't.  Let's go through this and donate what we don't need. 

What else needs to be done?  A lot.  How much of this stuff can we do in nine or 10 hours.  A lot.  Boy started his weekend chores today.  He wants to go to the football game tomorrow night so he's volunteering to do chores.  That's a good trade off.  Girl just keeps practicing the trumpet.  I make her practice outside.  After all, outside is where the bands play at the football half-time events!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Public food and ramblings

I took a road home today that I hadn't been on in five or six years.  While driving it I was surprised that it hadn't changed much.  On this trip I wanted to focus on public food and I really kept my eyes open for it. 

On the way home I noticed a pickup pulled over to the side of the road with an older man under a tree.  Fortunately I had my glasses on so I could see the detail!  This tree was a walnut tree and he was gathering walnuts.  Normally the public right of way isn't just the road but anywhere from five to ten to thirty feet from the edge of the road.  Even if you use what may be the minimum distance, that tree was dropping an awful lot of walnuts onto the public part of the road.  There was an old fence there so the man was staying on the road side of the fence.  It looked like he was almost finished filling up a 5 gallon bucket.  I don't know how many walnuts that would be once they were shelled but free food is still free food.

I noticed hundreds of pounds of tomatoes along the road.  The tomato truck drivers have the trucks filled to the brim and when they turn corners too fast they lose some of the load.  There are set areas which have so many tomatoes or onions or oranges just laying there and nobody picks them up.  I couldn't in the work truck but if I was in my own truck I would have.  If you are on a hunt for free food, it would be a good idea to carry five gallon buckets in your vehicle. 

There is an orchard of pecan trees about 10 miles from here and they hang over into public space.  That orchard is surrounded by houses so I'm sure if TSHTF those trees would be stripped.  I only know of a couple of almond trees on public land within a few miles of my property but there is about 100 acres of vacant land that has old fig and almond trees on it.  We have our own figs but not almonds.  Up until this year we always went to a neighboring 100 acres of almonds and were able to pick what we wanted.  You see, about 15 years ago that farmer's barn burned down and I lent him some of my tools.  In exchange he said we could pick grapes and almonds.  Unfortunately, the property is for sale and for some reason every tree was cut down!  I sure hope they don't plan on making it into some 5 house per acre subdivision.  That would be good reason to instantly move.  So I'm going to have to scrounge for almonds.  I shell them and put them into the freezer.   I don't roast them unless I need to.  They stay raw until it's time to use them.  If we didn't have the ability to put them into the freezer I'd probably roast them and then put them into airtight containers. 

I'm in one of those moods again that I want to spend every last penny on preps.  Unfortunately, I'm down to every last penny at the moment.  I have the money to buy the materials for the hidden room but no money for shelving for it.  Once the room is complete I'll move the shelving out of the garage and put it into the room since it will be more important than having the shelves in the garage.  I know I got that overtime money from that thing I was at last month but the money is spent.  The grand kids all went to camp over the summer with me giving a promise to pay when I got an extra check.  The extra check came while I was out of town.  The camp expenses are paid.  I have enough extra to build the room.  Easy come, easy go.

I didn't get home early enough today to check to see what happened to my ewe.  Tomorrow morning I'll be making my rounds on the property.  Until then, the animals are still penned up in the barn.  I did go out to give the chickens and ducks water.  The chickens were almost out.  They dumped over one of their water dishes.  I'm going to have to fix that seven gallon water container.  It's one of the types that you fill from the top and it creates a vacuum to only let out the amount that they drink out of the reservoir.  The problem is the plastic reservoir has a crack.  You can't buy the individual part.  I am going to JB Weld the thing together this weekend.  That should do it. 

Army daughter and son-in-law haven't picked up their yip-yips yet.  They keep saying that they need to get them to the groomer before they can come to their new house.  It's been almost two weeks since they moved.  Perhaps I'm inheriting a couple of yip-yips.  I hope not.  Yip-yips and chickens do not mix and I want to open the door to the chicken coop and let them finally wander in my garden to eat bugs.  I'll have to keep them out of the part of the garden that is still producing because I have enough competition with rabbits and squirrels, I don't want to share with the chickens too.

Before I left for this last teaching trip I bought Survivors.  I came in the mail while I was gone.  I'm too tired to start reading it tonight.  I did start a pot of beans for tomorrow.  I have a little quart sized crock pot.  I put in a cup of pinto beans.  Tomorrow night we will have beans with our dinner.  Don't know what I'll be making yet but it will include the beans.  It's good to be home! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Blackberry not working?

Most of the people I work with carry Blackberries.  Today they were unable to get onto the internet or check their email.  They were in a panic.  I was not.  I don't carry a Blackberry.  I could.  Work would like me to.  I choose not to.  I still carry a cell phone and it can do text messaging and send and receive emails through the text system.  That's good enough for me. 

The people who carry Blackberries (or I phones) seem to be stuck looking at them all the time.  Normally when I teach a class I tell the people to turn their phones onto vibrate.  In our positions we can't have the phones off but that doesn't mean they need to interrupt everyone around us.  With phones that connect to the internet and especially email people are continuously looking at their email.  Is everything really that important that you can't review your email during your break every hour or 90 minutes, you have to do it during class?  How often do you look at your email?  Remember what your life was like before you had email?

Last Monday in Europe the internet and email portion of Blackberry came to a screeching halt.  This problem started spreading and hit the US today.  We need to figure out some sort of backup to our ways of getting instant information.  Sure it was only the Blackberry.  I Phone was fine.  Actual internet was fine.  What if there is more to it than just an overload of one system that then overloaded the system worldwide and caused it to crash. 

What about the supposed assassination plot out of Iran?  If that country is willing to come to America to kill and cause mayhem, what else are they willing to do?  Detonate a nuke about the country?  EMP anyone?  Then your Blackberry will come to a screeching halt for more than just a day or two.

I left the north state and am in the state Capitol tonight.  Only one more day of teaching, then I'm heading home.  Dinner in my own house tomorrow.  I'm going to make homemade bread.  I miss the grandkids and the animals.  I have to figure out what happened to the ewe since oldest daughter told me that a ewe is dead in the back of the pasture.  I had her put the rest of the sheep in the barn stalls in case the sheep were attacked.  They are safe up by the barn but oldest daughter is using most of the rest of the hay to feed them.

Yes, it's time to get home.   

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Meat and fruit

Class went well today.  This group was smaller, less than thirty students but they were more experienced so I didn't have to explain much of the basics.  Some wanted to get into a debate about rules and regulations.  No debate, I win.  Some rules are meant to be broken.  For example, there is a driving speed limit but if there's a fire or other emergency, of course, the fire engines or sheriff can go quicker than the speed limit.  But other rules can't be broken because if you don't want to follow the rule then you just don't get to do what you want.  If you want the color green and you have three crayons, blue, yellow, and red you must use blue and yellow to get the green color that you want.  If your colors are yellow and red, no matter how much you want to get green it will not happen.  You just have to change the colors to yellow and blue.  So as I said, no debate.  You do it that way or you don't get what you want.  See, class was easy to teach today.

I went by some of the local schools here in the town I'm visiting to see their gardens and public fruit trees.  Some of the trees had fruit but most were completely stripped bare.  It reminded me of when my kids were little.  They'd be so excited to eat the fresh fruit that they'd pick it a couple weeks before it was ready to be picked.  By the time the fruit would be perfect to eat the tree was already empty.  At least the grand kids will wait until I say GO.  Then they eat and eat and eat.  One of the problems with public fruit like this is that I'd expect the fruit to be picked prior to it being ready to eat.  After all, it's a race to get your share so you'd better pick it first...even if it's not ready to be picked.

There are many date palms growing around here.  People don't know what they are supposed to do with them so there probably will be dates available for the picking when they are ready.  I found some blackberries still on the vines.  They were in a very shaded area that is about a month or so behind most of the berries in this area.  That was an exciting find. 

One of my coworkers moved to this area.  I was able to go over there for dinner.  Nice bbq steak but better than that was his homegrown food.  Pineapple tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions made into a salad.  Broiled seasoned potatoes.  For dessert honeydew melon.  Didn't need the steak but it was nice to have too.  He had several chickens in a very large pen.  The pen was fenced with cattle/hog panels and had a small, perhaps 6x10 chicken coop in the middle.  The chickens hang out outside during the day and go into the coop at night.  He said they've never tried to fly out even though the fence is only four feet high.  My friend throws in squash, melons, and other overripe things from his garden.  He said they average 3/4 an egg per day during the summer.  That's good - 5 to 6 eggs per week per chicken.  He only has five hens, which gives him enough to eat plus a dozen to sell. 

I set my grapes up by imitating what he did with his berries when he lived in my town.  They are set up between the front walkway from the driveway to the house and the lawn.  They are in a long garden bed with strawberries as the ground cover.  At this house he now lives in he had his grapes in a really cool setup.  He bent 16 foot cattle/hog panels into an arch and staked them down.  The arch was about five or six feet wide and at least six feet high at the peak.  He had two vines planted on each side and the vines were growing up over the top.  This was fantastic.  First thing I though of was the grand kids would love being inside this little "room" during the summer, picking grapes from their roof.  This would also look great at the beginning of my walkway at the start of the path from the garage to the front door.  I can't wait to get home and build some of these.  It will be a quick and easy weekend task.

My other friend, who went to South Dakota to do some hunting, shot three antelope.  One is going into our freezer.  I have no clue what to do with it.  I suppose I cook it like I do goat or lamb?  I'm going to have to figure it out since we'll be getting about 60 or 70 pounds of it.   

Monday, October 10, 2011

No gas at the gas stations, fruit and salt

It 350 miles from home to where I'm at in Northern California.  I stopped for gas twice, although my tank would have gotten me from home to here on the one tank.  I stopped for gas about 60 miles south of here. Or at least I tried, and tried again.  It was after dark, I was getting tired, but I had a reservation and I needed to keep plodding on.  I was driving on Interstate 5 and got off at an off ramp where I've gotten gas before.  That gas station was shut down.  Not a problem.  I got back on the freeway and got off at the next off ramp.  There was one gas station there.  It had about 10 pumps and about 30 or 40 cars waiting to pump.  Yes, each pump had a car filling up and had three or four vehicles stacked up in each row wanting to fill up.  The gas was about 20 cents a gallon cheaper than other gas stations had posted along the freeway.  I don't need this wait.  I got back on the freeway.  I got off at the next off ramp.  That gas station was open but they didn't have any gas.  Each pump had a sign that they ran out of gas.  What?  Sunday night and all the pumps are dry?  I got back on the freeway.  I got off at the next off ramp.  That station was open and not busy.  I filled up with gas.  This station was about ten miles past the first exit I had originally taken to try to get gas. 

If I was really running low on gas rather than having 15 gallons still in my tank I may have panicked, or waited 15 minutes to fill up at that one station.  If I wasn't smart I would have just said forget it and traveled the further distance to my destination and just worried about getting gas before I head back south on Wednesday.  No, I'd rather be up here with a full tank. 

The class I taught went well.  34 students enjoyed class, at least until I said it was exam time.  Normally I don't give exams, if you show up you get a certificate.  This year is different.  They need to earn their cert.    We had a couple of people who got a little worried that they weren't going to pass.  I think the entire class did well enough.  We'll see when I get around to grading these things. 

I did a little research and several of the schools in the northern part of the state have planted small orchards on the school grounds.  This website lists schools that have planted trees.  Here's an example from their site: Public Schools in Redding, California February-May, 2010: FTPF's "Fruit Tree 101" program plants 60 fruit trees with environmental lessons for 50 students at Lassen View Elementary School, 14 trees at Cypress Elementary School, 36 trees at the Shasta College Community Teaching Garden, and 42 trees with 400 students at Shasta Meadows Elementary School.   Check out programs like this in your area to see if there's any public plantings. 

It's raining today so I didn't do anything after class other than go back to the hotel and eat free dinner.  Not much on their menu tonight: salad and meatballs.  The meatballs didn't look good so I just had salad.  One of the cadre members and one of the students we out to eat something other than the salad.  I ate so much at the breakfast and lunch that salad was plenty for dinner.  I'm sure I'll be famished in the morning though. 

Tomorrow after class we are going to take one of the new cadre members plus whoever else wants to go on a field trip.  We'll only have about an hour until it starts getting dark so it'll have to be quick.  The sandstone in this area naturally produces salt.  Nothing more fun than laying on your stomach and licking rocks to get salt!  There are salt crystals that form during the summer but for now, it's just licking rocks.  Do you know of any local salt producing areas where you live? 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Another trip out of town

I have to leave town for five days to teach a class.  I never like leaving home for any length of time but during this time of year isn't as bad as during the summer.  Because of the rain we had at the beginning of the week I don't have to worry about watering anything.  The chickens have big enough feeders that they won't need to be fed.  They shouldn't run out of water unless it gets really hot and they drink more than usual.  The dog will just go next door and eat there.  Army daughter is supposed to come by and pick her two dogs up tomorrow or Monday, otherwise they'll be eating next door as well.  I should probably bring over some dog food for the neighbor since they will be feeding my dog.  Their 5 pound dog doesn't eat nearly as much as my 85 pound dog!  Oldest daughter will be coming by a couple of times.  She can check up on the animals, and will collect the eggs and some food from the garden.  Grand kids will stay with their cousins.  They like doing that because bedtime at their cousins is 30 minutes later than it is here at home. 

The work truck has a camper shell on it so it's easier to carry the extra supplies that I need.  Remember, I'm going to be gone for less than a week but will carry enough supplies for a month.  I always have a clothes and food container in the truck along with a backpack, sleeping bag, etc.   If I need enough gas always on hand to make 350 miles (my furthest distance I'll be from home), and a tank of gas can get me that far then the amount of gas that I'm carrying in the cans should never be less than the amount that I'll use in the tank. If I carry 10 gallons in the gas cans then I should fill up when I've gone 150 miles.  I've got a couple of gas cans and I make sure the truck is never less than 1/2 full.  This means stopping every two hours or so to fill up.  That's fine.  I can stretch my legs. 

Five nights in a hotel means I'll be coming home with a bunch of soaps, shampoos, etc.  I usually play a game when I travel: how little money can I spend.  It's hard to do when I travel with others who want to go out to eat each night.  Or they want to go out to breakfast.  Work pays for the hotel, there's a limit, but where I'm going most of the hotels come in under the limit.  So, I pick out a hotel that gives free breakfast (real food, not continental) and also free evening snack.  Most often the evening snack is enough for dinner.  Lunch is being provided each day.  This means I can go the entire time without spending money on food.  I get a little stipend for food and miscellaneous items each day.  It's not enough if I have to buy three meals at restaurants but it's plenty if I buy my food at the grocery store, or for this week, most will be provided at the hotel.  I will probably still end up going to the store to get something fresh toward the end of the week.

I could possibly come home with $200 extra.  That would be most of the money it's going to cost for my new hidden room.  That, by the way, is going to be built at the end of the month.  I have travel this coming week and the week after.  Then I think there's only one scheduled travel day for the rest of the year.  I'd rather be home but the extra dollars are nice to have.    

I do want to play a survivalist game this week.  It will be to find the public food.  What do I mean by that?  Around here there are fruit trees planted in the roadway medians.  Almost every grocery store that has plants growing in the parking lot grows rosemary.  When I was a young adult, along the freeway in Southern California one of the decorative plants they grew were pomegranates.  I know that there are some date palms growing in one area.  I know there are lots of blackberries, but even with the late summer, I'm sure most of the blackberries will be past their season.  I don't know what else there is that's public.  I'm not looking for weeds, although plantain, mustard and purslane are available just about everywhere!  It will be a fun challenge. Maybe I'll find enough fresh stuff to eat that I won't have to buy anything. 

I never really expect any disaster to happen when I'm traveling.  For the most part, unless our country is attacked, a natural disaster, or some major accident, I would expect some sort of warning that some event is going to happen.  Like the little protests that are going on (I'm not sure if they are little in other parts of the country, but they really haven't caught on around here) they aren't stopping anything.  I am concerned about food prices going up once again.  I may have a chance to go shopping for dry goods while I'm out of town.  They have both a Winco and Costco not too far from where I'll be so if I have a quiet evening to the store I'll head.  I'd suggest you do the same!

Friday, October 7, 2011

LIghts out

The rain we had the other day caused blackouts in the local area which resulted in about 20,000 people not having electricity.   Power going out during a rainstorm is expected.  Either a tree will fall on a line, something will get hit by electricity, or my favorite, a car will speed on the oil slicked roads and hit a power pole.  We kept our electricity on throughout the rain, not even a flicker of power outage. 

Now this rain was two days ago.  Yesterday as I was driving to work I noticed a school bus stuck in the mud.  Around here the school bus pulls off the road about a foot or two.  One side of the bus is kept on the blacktop road.  The bus I saw forgot about keeping half of the bus on the road.  The entire bus was pulled into the dirt.  It sunk to the middle of the tires.  The tow truck to pull it out was huge.  The kids all got transferred off that bus and onto another one.  The kids thought it was a great adventure.  Girl and boy were on the "rescue" bus.  Prior to any rain the ground around here is hard as a rock.  In fact, if you need to dig during the summer time you better get a pickax, and even then it may not get you anything.  If you really need to dig you may as well find someone with a backhoe or a trencher.  But give us an inch of rain like we had and heavy vehicles will sink. 

Now that it's two days after the rain the ground is the perfect moisture level for pulling weeds.  They come out like they are anchored in sand.  Weeding is a breeze.  The sheep are in heaven with all the weeds they are getting fed.  I am also making a pile of weeds in the barn and plan on feeding them to the sheep later in the winter. 

In the garden today I pulled up about five pounds of potatoes and the same amount of turnips and carrots. I was able to dig out the potatoes with my hands.  For dinner Saturday night we are going to have a great vegetable dish of these three vegetables grilled in olive oil.  Should be good.

This morning the weather was beautiful albeit a little chilly.  The sky was blue, you could see the snow up in the Sierra, and not a rain cloud in the sky.  Around 7:00 the power went out.  It was quite unexpected.  Since I just read One Second After, you know what I did?  I went into the library room and picked up my cell phone to see if it still had power!  Sort of silly, I know.  But as I was walking into my library room, not acting with any sort of panic, I was thinking What If? Glad it was just a 20 minute outage. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

This came in a work email today:
The Eighth Annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month is being celebrated during October 2011, as a collective effort among the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's National Cyber Security Division, the National Cyber Security Alliance and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.
The month highlights the importance of empowering citizens, businesses, government, and schools to improve their cyber security preparedness. In this digital age, we are all connected, and the actions of one can impact many. Thus, it is essential that each of us understand our important role in securing cyberspace.
For the week of October 3, 2011, we will look at 3G vs. 4G (G is for generation).  Most wireless carriers’ commercials feature claims that their networks are now 4G, the successor to current 3G networks.  One thing these commercials fail to do is explain what 4G really is, and that’s likely because none of the major carriers — AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile — actually has 4G networks.  To read more, please click on the following link
All this got me thinking about the internet and computers in general.  I know that I keep a lot of my information on the computer and on computer backup files.  But all my important private information is also in print.  Do you have a copy of your bank statements only on line?  What about your insurance documents?  Don't you think a printed copy would serve you well?  I have fallen a bit behind on printing things up that I find while surfing the internet but still do pretty well at it.  If I find something that I like I save it to a document just in case the website goes away.  Think about it folks.  One pack of 500 sheets of paper is only a few dollars.  If you download everything you read today that you think is important you will go through, what, 20 sheets of paper?  I'm not even telling you to file all your papers yet.  Just print them and stack them.  Wait for a nice rainy day when you don't really have anything to do.  That's a perfect time to sit in front of the pile, read through your important downloads and file them away for another rainy day.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Neighbors and inventory update

Apartment Prepper asked if you could rely on your neighbors.  I responded with a no for most of them.  Today my neighbor did something that only reinforced my feelings about him.  As you know, out along our front fence I’m building a hedgerow of brush.  This spring I'm planting berries in front of the hedgerow.  I’m taking all our trimmings (after the sheep eat off the leaves) and stacking them up front.  It’s made a wonderful habitat for quail and other critters.  Well, an inspector was out roaming the neighborhood figuring out which trees needed to be trimmed beneath the power lines.  The neighbor went out and spoke with the inspector for a while.  After the neighbor left I did the same thing.  “What are you doing here?”

The inspector told me what he was doing.  I recognized the company name on the truck and know that they are hired by the utility company to conduct these inspections then trim trees in their right of way.  He asked about some of my trees since I have a row beneath the lines.  No, they’ve never been trimmed.  In about five years they will need to be and by all means, please come in and trim them.  I got an estimate from a tree company several years ago and they wanted to charge $150 per tree minimum.  I don’t have $2000 to spare.  Besides the trees don’t need to be trimmed in height until they reach just below the power line. 

Somehow the conversation turned to my brush pile.  He wanted to know if it was an irritant for the neighbor or a habitat for creatures.  Both.  He had a good chuckle.  He said it’s working as an irritant and he can imagine that it would work for the habitat.  You see, the neighbor, finding out that he was some sort of “official” inspector requested that the inspector order me to remove my brush pile.  The neighbor never once asked me why it was there.  He just went to authorities.  I wouldn’t trust this person with anything…ever.

My neighbors on the other side are great.  They are the daughter and son-in-law of the owner.  The owner, for his 90th birthday, decided he wanted to live in town.  He still comes out every weekend to putter around in the yard.  They’ve doubled the size of their garden, they’ve planted more fruit trees, they share their extras, and they know how to repair their equipment.  They can their fruit and are trying to be self sufficient.  They also don’t mind when the grand kids are here.  Of course, I don’t mind when their grand kids are over at their place either. 

I spent some time today cleaning up the hall closet, which means going through the inventory of cleaning supplies.  Keeping everything in a written inventory is really important because if you don't you will over buy some items and under buy others.  You won't be able to keep it all straight in your head no matter how smart you are.  As I was inventorying what I had on a new inventory sheet, how much I previously had was going through my mind.  I could have sworn that I had four gallons of liquid hand/dish soap prior to Army daughter moving in and now I have two gallons.  But then I looked at my previous inventory sheet.  I started off with 1/2 gallon! 

Very little liquid soap is used as hand soap since we have lots of bars of soap.  To wash dishes I place all the dishes in the dishpan, put a few squirts of liquid soap, and fill the dishpan with enough hot water to cover the dishes.  They get washed with a rag without using any more water for the washing.  Then they are stacked in the other side of the sink where they quickly get rinsed.  More often than not I stick them in the dishwasher prior to getting rinsed and just run them through the rinse cycle in the dishwasher.  It uses very little water this way.  They drip dry and are put away in the morning by boy (girl on weekends).  Doing the dishes this way, I don't have the water running continuously.  Army daughter would fill the dishpan with soapy water and then use her sponge which she squirted with additional soap every few dishes.  She’d run the water continuously as she washed and rinsed. Then she'd put them in the dishwasher and run a full cycle.   

Anyway, I need to get more hand/dish soap.  Or at least I thought I needed more dish soap. Every time I'd go to Costco I'd pick up more dish soap.  Yes, we went through a lot while she was here but I still managed to raise my inventory considerably.  I don't need anyone telling me that I don't need soap in the inventory and I should just make my own.  I did that back in the was the cool thing to do.  Now, I'll just buy it if I have the opportunity.  If I don't have the opportunity to buy it at least I know how to make soap the old fashioned way.  

My own computer won’t let me comment on my own site.  Great… Arsenius the Hermit, Thanks for offering the help of your friend.  If you can get me his contact information by posting it to the comments, I will NOT post the comment but will still be able to get the information.  Thanks!

Nonfood Pantry listbefore/now
409  multipurposegal.0.53
aluminum foil large heavyfeet125600
aluminum foil regularfeet2501000
bags freezer gallonpack36
bags freezer quartpack77
bags sandwichpack113
candles3-4 hour50432
canning lids
small mouth
doz8didn't count
canning lids
wide mouth
doz7didn't count
cleanser liquidoz486
cleanser powdercans712
coffee filters750750
diapers size 320
diapers size 46
diapers size 5-630
murphys oil soapbottle42
paper cupsdidn't count
paper napkins5001000
paper plates heavy25275
paper plates regular500500
paper towels kitchenpack945
paper towels shoppack44
plastic cupsdidn't count
plastic silverwaredidn't count
plastic wrapfeet700500
simple greengal.22
soap dishgal.0.50.5
soap dishwasherbox44
soap laundrybucket34
scotch brite
tissue kleenexbox1221
toilet paperroll4593
trash bags 10 gal400400
trash bags 13 gal5200
trash bags 30-33 gal90175
voltive/tea candlesdidn't count
wax paperfeet75100