Wednesday, February 29, 2012

You did the patient assessment, then what?

Someone gets hurt.  Depending on what the injury was depends on how much of an assessment you have to make.  As in last Sunday's injury of Boy's friend, I was able to figure out that he probably broke a bone and then sent the friend and his parents off to the hospital.  That was easy.  What if the hospital's were overloaded?  Or not functioning?  What if you had to take care of the injury by yourself?  Assessment is the easy part.  What you do with the injury is the hard part, especially if you are not medically trained. 

Even if you are medically trained, unless you are a vet or surgeon you probably haven't ever had to do any kind of major repair on a person or animal.  For me, I'm just fine at assessing, stabilizing, and shipping them off to the folks that can fix them.  But we have to be prepared to be able to fix the person if at all possible.  Now that doesn't mean if I decide to look for a future spouse I will follow the lead of Todd Gray in Patriots and decide that one of the most attractive features in a future partner is someone who is medically trained.  Lacking that medically trained future spouse I figured I'd better at least get a few books on the subject. 

I have the Red Cross first aid handbook.  That and the scout manual were my first two books on first aid.  I was given a 2 volume set by the AMA called Home Medical Encyclopedia.  It's an easy reading set that lists most everything that you will come across. It's a reference guide with over 5,000 medical terms including symptoms, diseases, drugs, and treatments.  It doesn't do a real good job explaining how to wrap a sprain or broken bone but it's a good start. I picked up a book for a dime at a library sale called Emergency-Room Care.  It lists just about everything that you can see in an emergency room and gives you the immediate treatment needed.  Unfortunately often that is "prepare for surgery".  

Emergency War Surgery: The Survivalist's Medical Desk Reference by the DOD is on sale at Amazon for under $11.  For about $35 The Doom and Bloom(tm) Survival Medicine Handbook: Keep your loved ones healthy in every disaster, from wildfires to a complete societal collapse by Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy looks to be a really good book and probably one that will go into my library.  Rourke at is having a contest and giving away a copy of their book.  I'd like to be the one to win it, but it you enter and win then I'll be happy too. 

The other day when I was up the hill at GI Jim's I bought a stretcher.  It's old and used but in really good condition.  He had it listed for $20.  It's easy to assume you will just be able to drive your vehicle to where ever the patient is and bring them in for medical help.  That is not always the case.  Even in my yard, in a normal year you can't drive the back pasture during the winter because your vehicle will sink in the mud.  What happens if someone is out back cutting branches and they cut their leg?  You may do the treatment right where they are at but then how are you going to move them the 1/4 mile back to the house?  You going to carry them on your back or put them on the stretcher and drag the stretcher? 

Make sure that you have your medical supplies including gauze, gauze, and more gauze.  Make sure you have a box of gloves.  Many infections will be prevented if the person providing the aid would just wear gloves!  Their hands are full of germs that can cause infection.  Having your supplies and not knowing what to do with them won't help the person in need. 

At least for most injuries you don't have to react instantly.  You can actually pull out the manual and read what you should do.  You should practice.  Have one of the kids pretend that they have a broken leg.  How are you going to fix that if you can't get them to the hospital?  What about a puncture from a nail going through their shoe?  Kids love to be wrapped up, especially if you let them wear the sling or use the crutches for a few minutes after you are done practicing.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Messing up the drug deal

Today I had to drive to the fair city of Bakersfield.  While filling up the truck at $4.47 a gallon (very high for an oil producing county-even with the refinery five hours away) for regular gas I noticed trash on top of the fuel pump.  Not your ordinary trash but peanut shells.  They were broken in half and stacked somewhat orderly right in front of the advertisement in the middle of the pump.  Something about the shells caught my eye.  I guess it was the bright blue color that was mixed in with the shells.  Standing on my toes to see over the stack I saw a somewhat large pile of pills.  Some were hard but most were soft in capsules.  I looked around and nobody was hanging out at the station or waiting for my pump.  I walked over to the water and pulled out the windshield washer/squeegy.  After washing my windshield I put the squeegy away and got a bunch of paper towels.  Some I dunked in the water.  After wiping my windshield dry I walked over to the pump and gathered all the trash, peanuts and pills, put them into the wet papertowel, gave it a good squeeze, dunked it in the water for good measure then threw it away.  I'm sure when the person arrived at the pump to pick up their pills I expect they were quite dissapointed that their purchase wasn't there.  I hope it causes some trouble between the buyer and seller.

I really wouldn't care if people used drugs except for the toll it takes on those who don't.  Whether it's children of drug users who get neglected because the drug is more important, or those who get burglarized by someone needing money to support their habit, the cost to the rest of society is where I see the problem.  When we as parents were told to talk to our kids about drugs, my talk was short and sweet.  Use drugs - die.  Simple as that.  I really don't know of hard core drug users that live past their thirties or forties.  Not that I know any hard core drug users...

I know that two of my kids have used some form of illegal drugs. Oldest daughter and son-in-law quit when they moved in with me after living in the pot capital of the country for most of their adult life.  I told them that I'd call the sheriff if I found a trace of anything on my property.  They knew I would too.  Since they wanted to start a new life, which they've done beautifully, they stopped cold turkey.  I was very proud of their decision.  Son, well I can't say that he doesn't use drugs.  He doesn't have the money to buy any but there's always food stamps to trade.   

One I know has never used anything and one I just don't know.  I was asked by Army daughter, the one who hasn't used anything, why I never smoked or experimented with drugs.  My answer was simple and not what she expected.  I didn't want to spend my money on it.  It's not that I thought smoking cigarettes was horrible, smelly, or bad for my lungs.  No, I didn't want to spend my hard earned money on them and I didn't want to mooch off others so I never smoked.  Same went with drug use.  I'm sure it would have been fun or at least an interesting experience.  I didn't stay away from drugs because it was illegal.  I stayed away because it cost money.  I guess I was always sensible in that respect. 

Whoever's stash of pills I destroyed today is probably having a really bad night.  Good.  I know for the first couple months after TSHTF drug users are going to probably be the most dangerous of all people roaming around.  Someone who is hooked is quite irrational when they are coming off of a cigarette addiction or worse, a drug addiction.  Even those of us who drink coffee need to think about it.  Caffeine is a drug.  You will have horrible headaches and not be able to think clearly if you are addicted to caffeine.  I'm not saying you shouldn't enjoy your coffee now during the good times but realize that you better have enough stored in your supply of provisions to be able to wean yourself off when there's none left to be had.

The Broken Arm and Patient Assessment

Boy just got his sling off last Wednesday after having to wear it for six weeks due to his broken collarbone.  As you recall I was out of the country when he was playing at the school with his cousin on evening and oldest daughter had to take care of this incident. 

On Sunday, Boy and Girl got to stay after Sunday School to hang out and play with the other kids.  One of the moms in particular had requested that I allow Boy to play with her son.  Boy is athletic, competitive (sometimes to a fault), and just likes being outside and moving around.  This friend's son is the same age but doesn't know how to properly hold a basketball, kick a soccer ball, or throw or hit a baseball.  His father is of no use in any of these matters.  So of course Boy can play.  For the last two months there's been no playing.  First there wasn't any Sunday School due to the winter break.  Then Boy broke his collarbone.  No playing for six weeks.  Finally on Wednesday he got the sling off.  Finally he was going to be able to stay and play.

The kids, Boy, Girl, friend's Boy, friend's younger boy, and another person's little girl all stayed after Sunday School to play.  They were all having a great time.  We parents were all inside visiting.  The friend's younger boy came in.  His older brother fell and was hurt.  Friend went outside and walked the older boy back in.  He was not screaming but walking with his arm straight and whining that it hurt.  He wouldn't say where, just IT hurt.  His mom sat him down on a chair and went to get the father who was off in another room. 

I got up and went over to the boy.  ABCs airway, breathing, circulation.  No problems with the airway.  He's breathing because he's talking.  All's good.  Since the arm or neck seemed to be the problem I started off with the fingers.  Capilary refill.  Good. 

Let's talk about the patient assessment.  You always try to get the patient talking.  Why?  Because the more they talk to you the more calm they become.  Get their information.  I already knew this kid but I told him, "I'm going to ask you some questions even though I already know the answer."  First get their information.  What's their name, weight, date of birth/age, chief complaint.  Then see if they are oriented.  Can they orient themselves to a person, place, time, or purpose?  How do they respond to pain?  Purposeful, no response, non-purposeful, or are they unconscious?  How about their breathing?  As I said before if you can talk you are breathing.  But how is it?  Normal, unequal, rales (sounds like popping), stirdor (a rattling noise which means something is blocking the airway), wheezes, apnea, anything else of note?  How about the skin?  Color: normal, pale, cyanotic, flushed?  Moisture: normal, dry, moist, profuse (dripping sweat)? Temperature: normal, hot, cool, cold?  How about the pupils?  equal and reactive to light, unequal, fixed, dilated? How about the patient's history?  Cardiac, seizure, diabetes, hypertension, other, unknown history?

This was just a nine year old boy who either broke or sprained something or just got scared because he fell.  In this case I was just trying to figure out whether his parents should take him to the hospital or just give him a pat on the rear and send him back out to play.  First off, what happened? The kids were all playing chase on the trampoline.  He fell out through the little hole in the netting where you climb in and out.  This meant he fell about three feet to the ground.  What hit?  His shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand. Basically his left side.  His eyes looked fine, his breathing was good, skin normal.  Let's do a little bit of touching and moving.  Can you lift your arm?  No.  It hurts.  OK.  Let me touch your shoulder.  No whining.  Collarbone, no whining.  Elbow.  No whining.  Wrist.  No whining.  Can you move your wrist?  He did a little then complained it hurt.  Joints good.  How about the bones? How about here  on your upper arm?  Loud yell.  Sorry.  How'd you like to have your parents bring you to the hospital so you can get a sling just like Boy had.  Boy piped up that he would even lend his friend his sling now that he doesn't need it. 

Fortunately the humerus was broken but in just about the best place to break it, which is not at the joint.  He broke the bone just below the shoulder.  What is the best thing for a break like this?  Let it hang.  The sling that he has to wear isn't one that bends at the elbow to keep the shoulder immobilized.  This one is more straight with the arm pinned to the side rather than across the body.  The intent is to let the bone naturally grow.  Even sleeping is done sitting up or at least propped up in bed with a bunch of pillows.  Usually surgery isn't necessary unless the bones end up too far apart or if the nerve ends up getting pinched in the bone.  Fortunately it's just a simple break.  His hand and fingers may feel numbness for three or four months even if the bone is better in two. 

Boy was really excited that I was there and got to work on his friend.  After all, I missed out taking care of his fracture.  The boys got exactly one hour of play in.  They now have to wait another two months. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Family members threatening (in a non violent way) to get their way

Today was one of those days that makes me wonder how the thought process of my children works.  I'm not talking about Boy or Girl but my older children.  The ones in their 30s.  Army daughter called several times.  The first time I was on my way to the office.  Sure I'll come over next weekend to help organize your food storage.  We can even start a checklist to figure out how much food you go through and try to get some sort of a deliberate storage plan set up.  Once I got to the office she called several more times.  I didn't answer her the rest of the morning.  Son tried calling but fortunately for me I was busy and didn't answer.  I was at the office, everyone just needed to leave me alone so I could work undisturbed.  Army daughter then called in the early afternoon but I was still too busy to answer her.  Good thing.  Unfortunately for me I answered her call just before dinner. 

Have I spoken to son, she wanted to know?  No.  Well it's not her place to tell me his news but she'd like to run a scenario by me to get my opinion.  OK, and I'm sure this will be in full detail of what you have just told me that son wanted to talk to me about.  Sure, lay it on me.  Son and daughter-in-law got into an argument and son wants to pack up the boys and have the boys and him move in with daughter, son-in-law, and baby.  He'll leave wife (daughter-in-law) at their apartment.  He wants to do this rather than have daughter-in-law pack up the kids and move out.  If Army daughter doesn't take them in then they'll be homeless. 

My first response.  I'd take the kids not the parents.  I don't care if the parents are homeless.  It's not that I don't care it's that I'm tired of coming to their rescue.  They will be homeless by choice not by circumstance.  I tried to convey this to Army daughter.  So you have your brother and his kids.  Then what?  Is he going to sit at your house all day and play video games and watch TV?  Don't forget that you have the baby and your school work.  You need a semi-quiet house because you are in graduate school.  Remember?  No, she said he'd have to get a job.  Why would he do that?  He hasn't worked in about 2 years, why should he start now.  Daughter said that they can't afford three more people.  Don't worry, he'll bring along his welfare check and food stamps.  So why exactly would he have to get a job?  She said he should go to school.  And then what?  He said he wants to teach.  But he tells me his leg (from when he broke it as a teen) hurts too much to stand very long.  How is he going to teach? 

Then she went on to make more excuses about the marriage of son and daughter-in-law.  Of course I had to stop her and say if he shut off the video games and got rid of the satellite and movies and all that then perhaps he'd get a job.  If his leg really hurt why didn't he take some of that $7,000 tax return gift the feds gave him and spend some at the doctor?  Because he wanted a new TV?  Why doesn't he get his drivers license.  He always said it was because he needed his birth certificate in order to get the California license from when they moved from Washington almost three years ago (homeland security issues state a birth cert is needed when you move from one state to another...unless you are an illegal).  Well, I gave him his birth certificate about two months ago.  So what's his excuse?  But he will be homeless...

Army daughter wanted to know if they could move in with me.  NO!  How about if they move into the trailer?  "Then what?" I asked her.  His wife would have their one car.  He has no license.  I live 10 miles out of town.  What would he do all day?  Watch the kids?  No, he'd just put them outside and let them run.  He'd sleep.  Or he'd figure out a way to have TV or computer time.  No, he is not welcome.

I asked her what is wrong with daughter-in-law taking the kids, other than we would miss them.  Just because we would miss them isn't a reason for son to screw up our lives.

I know.  If he is really the one to have the kids, have him drop the boys off with Army daughter.  She can have them during the week.  I'll take them on the weekend.  Son and daughter-in-law have a two bedroom apartment.  One bedroom for each of them.  Without the kids they can figure it out themselves.  Of course nothing will get fixed until son gets off his lazy rear.  This, of course, is where I throw in the fact that it's nature not nurture, since the kids were all adopted.  We do know that when they do something well then it's all nurture, not nature...  Daughter-in-law is part of this mess too.  She will spend as much time reading a book as he is on the computer or TV.  She did work for 8 months until she got fired.  We were surprised that she held the job as long as she did.  I don't think either has really looked for work since.  After all, they have the tax return and welfare and unemployment to live off of. 

Why am I bringing up the mess that daughter-in-law and son have made in their lives?  Because right now are the "good times".  You can go to the store and the shelves are full.  You can walk around town and not expect to get mugged or shot.  You have a place to live with all the electricity and water that you want to waste.  Sure jobs are hard to find, but jobs can be found, especially when you live in town.  They are surrounded by shopping centers.  I've seen help wanted signs.  They just don't want to work.  I'd rather son hangs out at Labor Ready all day waiting for an employer to call.  I'd rather he goes knocking on doors asking if people want their weeds pulled in their yard.  Or bring his lawn mower around.  $5.00 to mow your lawn.  Not much money at all but surly better than sitting on his rear playing video games. 

What if there was a real collapse?  The stores were empty?  The welfare checks or food stamps stopped coming?  No electricity?  Riots?  The entire apartment complex on fire?  Then what?  They have no plans for their present let alone their future.  If TSHTF I said before, I'd let in their kids, not the parents.  The other day one of the things that came up in a conversation was if you have people at your retreat that are not related then it's much easier for them to be the "gate keeper" to keep out the relatives that you don't want to let in.

Army daughter, let them be homeless.  It will be by choice.  Don't let their laziness and threats mess up your peaceful home. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Power failures for long periods

Here in California we are fortunate to never have had a prolonged power outage that I know of.  The worst case I can remember was about a week due to a fire.  Even then, the wildfires will still be raging and the power company is following right behind with replacement poles.  Power has been out for a few days from earthquakes.  Even last summer when San Diego, Orange, and Imperial Counties went dark it was only for a day.  I doubt that many people learned anything from that experience.  For example, I spoke with brother-in-law's mother who was stuck in San Diego due to the power outage.  She still doesn't pack anything in the car for emergencies or carry anything in when she's parking and taking the public transportation into downtown.  In other parts of the country the power grid goes down a lot more.  That's due to ice storms and wind storms.  We just don't have that kind of weather here or when we do it's so localized that it gets repaired quickly. 

But what if the power grid was interrupted for a period of time?    G.I. Jim has some suggestions:
1. Load and carry your firearm.  You may be prepared, but others will not be.  Don't let your preparations make you a victim.
2.  Assess your food situation.  Use refrigerated leftovers and thawed meats first!!  Move one or two frozen items at a time into the fridge after a few hours to help keep fridges contents cold.  Know what is in the fridge and freezer so you don't have to keep opening and letting out the cool!  Keep a supply of charcoal/wood or a backup or two of propane for that type barbecue.  If this looks like it will be an extended power failure, start smoking and jerking meats (thawed first) over barbecue at low heat.  Don'[t wait for everything to thaw and try to do it all at once. 
3.  Water pressure will start to fail in the city after a wile.  Fill EVERY available container with water.  Even if the container is non0sanitary, fill it!! Toilets don't flush on air.  (Fill the bathtub if you can.)  Also while on the subject, pee outside.  Save the water for b.m. flushes.
4. Make it known that you are armed.  Carry your long gun in the yard as you are prepping.  This will keep your honest neighbors honest and will make others think twice.
5. Never let your fuel tank get below three quarters of a tank!  Have back up fuel, in cans, that you rotate once a month.  Have enough to get out of Dodge and somewhere safe! Also back p propane canisters for Coleman stove/lantern or white gas.  Batteries, batteries, batteries!!!
6. If you have an R.V. keep it stocked and fueled.  The holding tank will provide you a storage for your waste and the water tank, batteries, generator will give you power to listen to broadcasts to assess the situation and get out of Dodge if you have to. Plus, with a stocked R.V. you hook up and go, before it gets rough!
7. Have maps of the area.  Stay off the well traveled highways, as they will clog up first.  I cannot emphasize enough, taking "Sunday Drives" and finding different ways to get to your fall back position.  Even though some use the same routes through some areas, there are 14 different ways from the city to the town GI Jim lives in!  If a bridge is out, can you turn around and detour another way?  Having ways that are only 4 wheel drive in addition to the 2 wheel drive roads are another good backup plan if you drive a 4x4.  Having to make detours to get to where you are going is a great reason to have your tank always close to full.
8. Make sure you have your prescription meds with you and do not put off refills. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hiding money, memory cards, and other small items in your toothpaste tube

(I've edited this post from this earlier today because a suggestion by a commenter needed to be included in the body of the post.) Here's a new way to stash some money, a thumb drive, memory card, or other small item in your bag or hotel room when you travel. You could use this method at home too but it seems to me there would be so many other places to stash the money or memory cards (such as my safe or spaces in the wall) that I probably wouldn't use this at home.

Take a used up tube of toothpaste.  Cut off the fold at the bottom (not the cap end) and clean out the tube.  Now you are thinking, wait a minute, there’s a big hole at the end of the tube.  True.  From the dollar store or Walmart or anyplace like that you can buy a little plastic thing that goes on the end of the tube to roll up the tube tightly to get out all the toothpaste.  They cost about 50 cents each.  After you roll up your money and put it into the toothpaste tube put one of these things on the end and just use it to roll up the end of the tube.  If you are using one of the large 8 oz. toothpaste tubes you can just roll up the end of the tube without using the plastic piece.  If the tube is too light weight then you can put some coins in it or even leave some toothpaste in the tube and put the money into a plastic bag before inserting into the toothpaste tube. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

More on acorn processing

About a year and a half ago I wrote a couple posts on acorn processing.  On  I wrote about four different ways to process acorns for eating.  I also have written about using the processing water, which is full of tannins for medicinal uses. I haven't tried all four ways and in fact was taught a fifth way which I will never try again.  It worked but what a mess.  The fifth way is to put your acorn mush into a bag in your toilet tank...not the bowl, the tank!  Every time you flush the water gets rinsed away and new water replaced.  This will eventually leach out the tannins.  The problem with this is that while the acorns are being leached they turn everything a slimy brown, including the inside of the tank.  It's been years since I did this experiment and the tank is still brown.  It dyed the bowl for quite a while too. Not something I'm going to replicate.  I wonder if the person who told me this was laughing inside about how they got a gullible person to think this was a good idea. 

Today I was up the hill and stopped in at GI Jim's Military Surplus and Supply in Prather.  Nice store.  He can get almost anything you need and he's got lots of advice to share.  Also, when customers come in they will share their stories.  Jim said that he told some folks where they can get whole grain wheat. I told Jim that I get mine from one of the local feed stores.  It's recleaned wheat that is pretty clean.  No rocks just chaff.  It's about 25 cents a pound buying it in the 50 pound sack. Jim was saying that someone he knows has 4 55-gallon barrels filled with wheat.  I have mine in buckets but barrels is an interesting idea.  It sure would save on space and I could keep it in the garage rather than in the home-store room.

On the back shelf in the store Jim has printed up some fliers for folks to take free of charge.   One of the fliers was on acorn processing.  Other than the toilet trick the only acorn processing I've done is by grinding them then leaching them.  Jim's way uses one of the other ways I mentioned.  Boiling.  I'm going to retype Jim's flier:
Acorns are a food of abundance in the foothills of the California mountains.  One of the problems is the slow process to remove the tannic acid which makes them bitter.  G.I. JIM has perfected a way to do this a lot quicker.  Her are the steps to doing so.
1. Take your acorns and put them in a pot to boil, shell and all.
2.  After about 15 minutes at boil, don a leather glove and a carpet knife (razor knife) and slice the shell off the meat. (the glove is to keep you from cutting your acorn holding hand...Be careful!!)
3. Empty the pot, saving the original water and refill the pot with fresh.
4. Boil the meat of the acorns again until the water turns brown.  Again drain the water off saving it in the same bucket as the first boil.
5. Continue the process of boiling and refreshing, until the water boils clear.
6. You now have an edible acorn.
7. These may be ground into flour, I use a coffee grinder.  Grind them up and allow the flour to dry out.
8. One of my favorite recipes is acorn pancakes, using 70% acorn flour, 30% Bisquick with just a touch of baking powder thrown in.  I used to serve my children "brown" pancakes with a little vanilla and cinnamon thrown in.  They never knew they were experimented on! They can also be used for bread and biscuits with normal recipes.
9. Saving the water has an ulterior purpose.  The water, although it will darken your skin, is a natural insect repellent.  It also can be used as one of the components for tanning hides. 
With the abundance of acorns, there is no reason anyone should go hungry if the food system collapses.

Now for me to throw in a few of my comments:

I think this way is a great idea as long as you have a good way to heat up water.  If you have the ability to cook for any length of time then I'd definitely choose this way to process the acorns.  If gas/propane/electricity/wood was in short supply then I'd go back to the more labor intensive method of pouring water over and over and over to leach the tannins. 

Prior to the settlers coming to California there were about 300,000 Native Americans in the entire state.  This was a huge population density compared to other native tribes throughout the country but there were years when they went hungry, which was one of the reasons they turned to an acorn diet.  It is very labor intensive to process but was a stable food source since the acorns would keep in their granaries for a couple of years.  They could load the granaries in good years and have food on hand during bad acorn seasons.  But again, the entire population was 300,000.  Our fair state has 100x that many people.  Unless you have oaks on your property you will be fighting for that resource with others just as you will be fighting for wild game.  But those who live in the oak woodlands will definitely be at an advantage over the city folks.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Where did that lamb come from and using the dehydrator

I was so busy with work today that I never made it out to the field.  Just office stuff but I sure got a lot accomplished.  The low point of the day was when someone from the main headquarters called to ask about certain positions.  He was also calling to sort of tell me that my boss is changing once again and that most likely once they officially promote him he was going to be it.  I told him it was like I was getting demoted.  I'm not really but my supervisor is at the second from the top level in this organization.  This person also works for my present supervisor (although he is much higher in ranking and pay) so he'd be on the 3rd level which would put me on the 4th level.  He tried to tell me it would be so great because my present boss is too busy to pay attention to my program.  "And what's the problem with that?"  I asked.  If I have an issue I take it to my boss, otherwise he knows the job is getting done and he leaves me alone.  I give him a briefing every other week when he has a conference call with all his underlings.  This guy is going to be a pain.  I suppose I can bring him all sorts of issues to keep him really occupied.  That would be fun!

I've been so happy with the amount of lambs we've had this spring: 8 lambs from 6 ewes.  We had nine but lost one.  Today I went out to give the sheep a treat of some hen scratch.  I counted the lambs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.  What?  We have 8.  Counted again.  Counted again.  We have nine.  How could I have missed one?  Easy.  I thought the 8 lambs were from 6 ewes.  They were from 5.  Of the first five one had a single and the rest had twins.  The last birth was a single.  Obviously I wasn't paying enough attention or looking at the sheep well enough. 

One of the ducks is injured.  I think one of the sheep must have stepped on it and broken something.  It's trying to keep itself alive and we go out several times a day to pick it up so it can drink and eat.  I can't figure out what's wrong with it.  It doesn't complain when I open up its wings.  There is no blood from any cuts.  If there was internal damage I'd think there would be some sort of outward sign, especially since it was injured sometime during the weekend.  If it doesn't make it we will be down to three ducks.  I'm still amazed we have any.  We started with 6 almost four years ago.  Two flew ducks.  For two years we've had some ducklings hatch but the mother wasn't able to keep them alive.  I'm hoping that she lays more eggs this year and I'll try to scoop up the ducklings as soon as they hatch and raise them myself. 

For my birthday a while ago I was given a pineapple slicer.  You cut off the top of the pineapple and then push this thing on and twist.  It slices the pineapple into rings, just like you can buy in the can.  We each had two slices for dessert tonight then I cut the rest up into chunks and put them into the dehydrator.  One thing I realized was you get more pineapple by buying it in a can than you do buying it whole and slicing it.  I can buy cans of pineapple for just under a dollar at Winco.  This pineapple was a good price at $3.00 but there's no way we had the equivalent of three cans of pineapple.  I suppose it's a neat tool if the situation calls for fresh pineapple but we are perfectly content with buying pineapple in a can.  The kids were pretty excited that they are going to have dried pineapple in their lunch tomorrow at school.

Speaking of drying fruit, a friend shared a recipe with me today and I thought I'd pass it along.  She grows seedless watermelon (not a good idea if you want to save seeds for the future!) and then cuts off the rind, slices the melon into thin strips and puts it in the dehydrator.  Each strip is about 1/4 in thick and about an inch wide.  Each strip is as long as the melon.  Each strip is put onto the dehydrator screen.  If you used plastic wrap like you do for fruit rollups it won't dry right.  It takes between one and two days to dry out the melon.  They should be sort of rubbery, with a taffy consistency.  Then you put the pieces on wax paper and roll them up.  You don't roll them tightly, just enough to store them.  After they are rolled up you put them into a canning jar with a paper towel or paper napkin inside the jar just in case there is any moisture.  She said that she uses desiccant although a paper towel should work.  You can rehydrate the melon if you are juicing it.  She said her kids will eat them "fresh" that way...perhaps if you put them in the freezer to harden a little.  I couldn't see eating soggy reconstituted watermelon but I definitely can see us eating watermelon "taffy".

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Free shopping trip and a little yard work

Boy got the green light from the doctor today.  No more sling.  His broken collar bone is healing nicely.  He can run and play but for the next four weeks no more falling down or diving for soccer balls and hitting posts.  Ouch!  With today being a minimum day at school I figured it would be more disruptive to the class to bring him back to school so he got to play hooky today.  Lucky him.  First we went to Sam's Club.  We only bought a few things because I like Costco better for the most part.  Then we went to Costco.  I was specifically looking for the weed blocker fabric that's 4'x220'.  Each store had a different brand but both were name brands.  Costco was four dollars more so Sam's would have been the better choice.  I didn't feel like going back to Sam's so it will have to wait until next time I'm in that part of the city.  I had a $117.42 check from Costco.  Every year they send me a check, the amount depends on how much you spend during the year.  Since I was planning on spending about $60 of it on the weed blocker plus some other groceries Boy and I just sort of roamed the store and bought a bunch of groceries, including some things that I normally don't buy (like a 4 pound bag of chocolate chips).  I didn't keep track of the money we spent.  He's show me stuff and on almost everything I said no.  He wanted junk food.  I bought a three pound bag of tortilla chips and the chocolate chips.  That's about as junk food as he was going to get out of me.  They had a five pound bag of tortilla chips for only fifty cents more but I didn't buy it.  It's going to take a lot of effort to go through the three pounds and will probably have some end up as part of my "bread crumbs".  We went to the checkout line and I was shocked when the total price came up.  $117.10.  I had thirty-two cents left out of my $117.42 check.  Nothing like a cart of free food.  Wow!  Of course I still have to go to Sam's and spend $60 but I'm still impressed. 

On the way home we stopped off at the nursery.  I wanted to get a couple more peach trees.  I have two peach trees and they are both early producers: the peaches are ripe in June.  The two trees I bought today ripen in mid August through the beginning of September.  I'll get them in the ground this weekend.  I also bought some in-line hose shut off valves for the drip.  For the trees out front I have one 200' length of hose and each tree has its own line that T's into the hose.  I turn the hose on and the 11 trees all get watered at the same time.  In about 15 minutes they've gotten enough water that I can turn the hose off.  The raspberries were also attached to this hose.  Well, 11 T's was all the hose could support.  This 12th wasn't getting an adequate supply of water.  No use planting 10 raspberry plants if you are not going to give them any water. 

I'm also going to plant the two new trees out front which means even more trees are going to be T'd off the main line.  At some point I'm going to have to run a second main line since I'd like to plant more trees out front and I'm not going to want to have to turn on and off each t each time.  If I run two hoses I can leave the T's open most of the time because either hose A or hose B will be on.  The front is an area about 150'x200'.  I can't plant anything right down the middle because there's a leach line there but the rest of that pasture area can use more trees.  I put panels around each individual tree so the sheep can't get to the tree.  They can stick their heads through the panels and eat the grass on the ground but can't get to the branches to strip them clean. 

There are two different kinds of in-line valves: the easy to use and the hard to use.  Of course the nursery didn't have the easy to use.  The easy to use has small barbs that you push into the hose and a ring that you push onto the hose and slide it on top of the barb to tighten it.  It's easy to use.  The type I bought was the compression type that you just wiggle the hose into the end of the valve.  In hot weather it's pretty easy to do because the hose is warm and will easily squeeze into the open end of the valve.  Not when it's cool outside.  The hose is stiff and doesn't want to squeeze in at all.  It was a sight watching me fight with a little hose.  It took me about an hour to put those 11 T's in.  My shoulder and upper arms are really sore.  The easy T's would have taken 15 minutes and I wouldn't be even the tiniest bit sore.  Oh well.  Since I didn't want to go to an irrigation store I just bought what they had.  Neither Lowe's nor Home Depot carry what I needed.  I'm dreaming of a nice shot of something to take away the aches but not tonight.  A hot cup of tea will have to do.  Since I goofed off half of the day I have to work more tonight.  Tomorrow will also be a full workday, other than a stop at my favorite surplus store on my way up the hill.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What a long day

It was such a long day that I never even made it out to the chicken coop to collect the eggs.  I got up this morning, got the kids off to school, and tried to open the garage door to get the truck out.  The door wouldn't open.  No power.  I tried the mud room light.  No power.  I went into the kitchen and looked at the microwave.  The clock wasn't lit.  Hum.  I wonder how long the power has been off?  I didn't even notice. 

It was on when I made the kids their breakfast because the kitchen light was turned on.  It got turned off as soon as they got away from the table so it had to have been sometime not long after that.   I think it's kind of nice that I didn't notice the electricity was off.  It would have been different in a house with the TV blaring or the music on.  We must not have used much water because unless it's in the pressure tank we won't get water with the power out.  I guess if I wanted to throw in a load of laundry I would have been out of luck.  (I can set up the handpump if needed though so a forever power outage won't stop our water supply.)

Anyway, I needed to head off to work even though the thought of no power always makes me wonder how large of an area is affected?  My street?  My town?  The entire Great Central Valley?  The state?  And for how long will the power be out?  I climbed onto the bumper of the pickup and reached for the cord to unhitch the garage door from the electric opener.  I pulled up the door and pulled out the truck.  I then had to get a ladder to reach the handle to close the door.  Why'd I open it all the way?  That was dumb.  I got the door closed, then flipped the latch to hook it back into the system.  If I didn't do that then anyone could just slide something under the door and roll it up.  No, I needed to lock it up.  I then had to go back into the house and go out through the back door. 

I was wondering where the power was out as I was driving down the street.  During the night a power outage is easy to spot.  It's dark.  During the day it's harder to tell.  I turned on the local news on the radio.  It came on so I knew there was power in the city.  They were talking about all the evils in the world and didn't focus on anything local.  As I drove by the corner gas stations I noticed that neither place was pumping gas.  That's a good indicator that the power was out there too.  I'd be able to tell if there were signals but the closest signal is 10 miles away.  At that point I was in the city.  They had power. 

I stopped by oldest daughter's house.  She wanted to show me their handiwork.  This included replumbing the shower, doing some drywall, painting, and her most prized work...having planted five fruit trees in her front yard.  This I had to inspect.  She got three of them planted perfectly.  The other two I started digging through her soil.  You need to get a shovel under these two trees and pull them up another six inches.  You did a beautiful job planting them see this graft?  It has to be several inches above the soil line not below.  Otherwise you will have suckers growing up from them.  In fact, they will probably grow so vigorously that they will kill off the grafted tree and you will have something growing that you don't want to have growing.  Not too often do I give advice without being asked.  But in this case, she knew that I was the expert and she wasn't and I knew that she'd do exactly as I said.  So the advice, or rather the order was given.  I'm sure the next time I'm over there I'll see five perfectly planted fruit trees.

Then I headed to the office.  The kids didn't have religious school this afternoon.  Their teacher is out of state.  I let the kids stay for the after school day care program.  This meant I could work at the office for a full day.  And I did.  I got to the office at 8:30 and I left at 5:30.  I didn't take a lunch break; I just worked.  It was just one of those days.  At least it wasn't like the other day when I had three "emergencies" in a row.  The worst was "I remember a burial was right in your project area but I can't quite remember where."  Nothing like a needle in a haystack, or in that case a few bones in a 1000 acre project. 

I made it home a few minutes before the kids got home.  As I was driving in the dark I wondered if the electricity had come back on.  If not, no big deal.   I would have to open the garage from the inside instead of pushing the garage door opener on the sun visor in my truck.  I just wouldn't be running the dishwasher or doing a load of laundry before heading off to bed.  Dinner would be easy.  My stove is propane.  The lights came on, the garage door opened. 

We ate dinner and I got the kids off to bed.  I don't like days that they stay after school.  Supposedly they get their homework done there.  They get home, eat dinner, and head off to bed.  Not a good way to nurture a family...but it seems that's the way the schools like it...they want to be the family and the home is just the place that you sleep.  Around here the schools feed breakfast, lunch, and after school snack.  There's a couple schools in town that feed dinner too.  Who needs families??? 

During dinner I asked the kids what special vegetables they wanted to grow in the garden this year.  They both voted down radishes.  I think I'll plant Japanese radish rather than the little round red radishes.  Boy wanted lots of cabbage.  Girl wanted carrots.  Isn't it great that kids sit around and discuss what vegetables they like the best?  Can't get that out of too many city kids.

When I put Boy to bed he always says the same questions.  1.  Do I have to still work?  2.  What time am I going to bed?  3.  See you in the morning, God willing.  He's so sweet. 

Yes I had to work some more.  Even though it was a long day, Boy has his doctor appointment tomorrow to take the brace off which means less working for me.  I'm sure glad at times I'm able to work a flexible schedule except sometimes all it seems that I do is work.  I'd rather be out in the garden.  I can't wait for the weekend!

Monday, February 20, 2012

So many chores, so little help

Since it was a three day weekend two of the older grandsons came to work on their truck.  This truck was a pile of junk when it was given to me a couple of years ago but they are diligently working on it. The boys are going to turn 15 and 16 in the next month.  The truck won't be ready to drive although their mechanic dad said that he's going to help once summer comes and by the end of summer they will have a running truck.  No more riding their bikes to school if they have their way.  

I did tell the older boy that if he fixed the mess of fruit trees that the oldest grandson "trimmed" I'd pay him. He could earn money to buy more parts for his truck.  No.  He'd rather work on the truck and do yard work for neighbors where he lives.  Those neighbors pay the boys about $20 per hour to do yard work.  I pay much less...but I feed them well!  Of course they know they get fed well when they are here anyway. 

Adding two more mouths to the table, especially teenage boys, was only a slight challenge.  I decided I wasn't going to use any more meat than I would have for the three of us.  That meant the meals would be stretched by vegetables, rice, or pasta.  Last night's dinner was almost completely home grown and what wasn't home grown was still home made. 

I baked one of our home grown and butchered chickens in a apricot/peach sauce. The boys weren't quite sure what to make of the chicken.  After all, dark meat is really dark.  It's nothing like you get from the store.   I made noodles since we have so many eggs.  I had leftover bread from the night before.  Our vegetable was combination of potatoes, turnips, and carrots - all home grown.  The turnips are still out in the garden growing.  We have about 20 of them left from the fall.  One of the boys asked if the potatoes were home grown.  I said yes. He was just about to tell me that they tasted different when I said he's probably thinking that the turnips were potatoes.  He was.  I don't think he's ever had turnips until now.  We had pear crisp for dessert using last summers pears. Girl made lemonade.  She calls herself the lemonade pro. 

After dinner I put the chicken bones from the parts we ate and the back into the crock pot, filled it with water and set it on high until bedtime.  Then I turned it to low for overnight.  This morning I cut up the left over chicken meat, put in the left over vegetables and rice and herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme - sounds like a song...huh?) and let it cook till lunch.  I made bread dough this morning but instead of making a loaf of bread to go with the soup I made fry bread.  To make this you take your soft dough (just grab a handful, which I'm guessing is about 1/2-3/4 cup) and put it into a pile of flour.  Smash it down, flip it a couple times to coat it well with the flour.  Roll it out flat - like a tortilla but not quite that thin.  Cook it on a hot lightly oiled or buttered skillet (I use a cast iron skillet).  When it starts to brown flip it over.  When that side looks done take it off the skillet.  Fry bread is so easy to make. 

Girl dug holes out front for the raspberry plants.  I got those in the ground today.  I weeded the garden and also watered everything.  It's so strange that in the middle of winter I had to deep water the fruit trees and garden.  I took out my pots for starting this years vegetable garden.  All the blogs around here have written that they've got everything planted in their containers already.  No me.  I took the pots out of the barn.  That's as far as I got. 

Perhaps in the evening after the grand kids go to bed I can get my seeds out and start thinking about what I want to plant in the garden this year.  I want to put in more permanent plants.  Perhaps some sunchokes.  Perhaps rhubarb, although I seem to kill rhubarb.  Almost every year I get called away during the middle of the summer.  This means the garden is on its own for a couple of weeks.  Most plants survive although they aren't happy until they get that deep watering upon my return. just dies. 

I have a planter that's about 3 feet wide and 25 feet long.  It's against the house with a brick wall along the 25 foot length of the planter.  It's south facing.  Any ideas on what I can grow it in?  Plants can't hang out over the planter as that would encroach into the walkway.  I have another planter almost as long with the brick wall and it has roses in it.  They grow beautifully in that location but I'd rather put in something edible.  I've thought of a rosemary hedge.  Any other suggestions?

This week is going to be busy because I'm only going to get about 3 days in.  On Wednesday Boy gets his arm out of the sling.  Since it's a minimum day at school I'm not going to bring him to school after the appointment.  That doesn't leave much time for working so my work days will probably end up being pretty long days. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wanting to add to the group

After yesterdays post where I'm complaining about not having group members who want to work, I had an interesting talk with Army daughter.  She called last night because she needed a little cheering up.  Her in-laws are visiting from out of state and the dinner news was how this aunt and that uncle were sick and dying.  She needed a pep talk.  What did the conversation end up with?  They need shelves in the garage.  Why?  Because their storage food is all over the garage and when they have the garage doors up the neighbors can see everything.  Not only that but her next door neighbors don't have any food storage and they know that Army daughter does.  Then she said that since next door husband is armed (he is in a special law enforcement agency) if the TSHTF  she'd expect him to just forcibly take their food.  After all, son-in-law sees no need to be armed. 

That's a good possibility.  Her answer?  Store all their food at my house.  Then when the time comes for them to take shelter here their share of food will already be here.  That's true.  They can also give me money and I can just use it to purchase food.  Or, I suggested, we shop together?  It shouldn't be only my responsibility to get the food for your family.  (Army daughter and son-in-law are very good at offering to pay but not put in the effort if they can get out of the work - in a SHTF situation, they'd do their fair share and more...just not now!) 

I told her that she should have two different types of food programs.  The first is what she is doing at her house with stocking up.  The second, which they aren't at yet but is more on the line of what she wanted to store at our house was long term food supply.  She seemed to understand that you start with stocking up and it can and should morph into long term. 

She still had concerns about the neighbor.  What if things went bad and they were filling her car up with food for their quick get away to my house and the neighbor forced them to give him all their food?  I told her that I wouldn't expect them to be waiting until the last minute to leave.  There are warning signs, it's just that people don't always pay attention.  If they pay attention, they will have time to pack up the car and bring their stuff here.  If they don't have time, then that's when they realize that by planning for their long-term storage at my house they can just leave things at their house and any neighbor in need can come and help themselves. 

She wondered about the neighbors.  They are really good people and are turning into their best friends.  Interesting that they are your best friends but you can't trust them.  Not a bad thing...really, you've only known them five months.  I suggested she have a talk with the wife.  Perhaps they've just never thought about food storage and trying to be a little self sufficient.  Maybe Army daughter can convince them to start stocking up on some long-term items. What skills to they have other than the wife knows how to make cookies?  See what their ideas are about societal issues.  They should have strong opinions, after all he deals with pretty bad people.  Perhaps if they really get to know the neighbors, and these neighbors prove to be hard workers, then perhaps they can be offered the opportunity to come to our little patch, and prepare to work hard to grow enough food to feed themselves and more. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

More on the fencing - a test run for "the group"

Last night I didn't sleep well.  I'm sure it's because I had a soda right before bedtime.  Anyway I had wonderful dreams of mathematical equations.  (the mind of a scientist...)  I figured out that the bid for the fence was going to be $18 per t-post.  Now keep in mind that the fence is already there, the posts are in - just leaning over.  I also figured that it would be much easier as a two person job.  All someone has to do is clip the three wires that hold the t-post to the panel. A second person can hold the fencing up while the other person pulls the t-post into place, pounds it down, and then wires the fencing back to the t-post.  This system would work as a nice production line with three or four people working as a team.  We could get through the 250 t-posts pretty quickly. 

This brings me to the next topic, which I didn't include as an option yesterday but GI Jim pointed out in his comment.  What about having people come together and help?  A fence fixing day with the group, or possible people in the group?  Of course I had thought of this but didn't really think it was much of an option for me.  Why?  My "group" of like minded people is very small - at least when looking at the useful people with real skills or the desire to put in a full day of work. The group is really San Diego sister, other sister and brothers, mother, Bug-out renters, and probably kids and their families.  Other than San Diego sister, other sister, and Bug-out renters, the rest aren't really willing to work.  OK exception is mom.  She's a great- grandmother.  She has a semi-pass for hard work but she's good at watching the kids and puttering around in the garden.

Last night daughter-in-law and her kids came over for playing and dinner.  Where was son?  Back at their apartment sleeping.  It takes a lot out of you when you play video games all day...  He has been complaining lately that his leg has been hurting a lot.  He broke it about 15 years ago (half a life time ago) and I don't think it healed properly.  But he won't see a doctor, he'd rather use the pain as an excuse why he doesn't work and just sits on his rear.  (When he does help, watch out!  It's not really helpful.)  I told her what the bid was.  She relayed it to son.  He called today to complain about one of his sisters..just real issues... and he brought up the high bid.  He said that it was a crazy bid.  The person was probably just trying to take advantage of a single, busy, supposedly well off (homes can be deceiving!!!) grandparent who needed to get something done.  In this conversation about the laborer he mentioned that I'll probably be better off just doing it myself.  No mention of sure I'll come over and help.  Not even that he'll stay home to watch his kids and send daughter-in-law over to help.  Nothing.

OK, next kid.  Talked to oldest daughter today.  They are redoing the bathroom in their house.  They got a bid for that.  It was a lot more than they wanted to pay so they instead bought everything themselves and started on the demolition of the bathroom this morning.  They have a neighbor who does tile and he's going to come over to tile the shower.  He's charging way more than I'd expect but that's just me.  I'd rather the neighbor come over and talk me through me doing it myself.  That way I could learn to do it.  Oh yeah, I already did assist with installing the tile in my bathroom and in Girl's bedroom and the kids bathroom.  Oldest daughter didn't ask for my help since they'd rather pay an expert to do it for them. 

I told oldest daughter about the bid for the fence.  She said that he oldest son is going to need a job this summer.  I could hire him.  Oh, and can son-in-law come drop off two of their boys for a couple of days to work on their truck? Especially since they want to help with the demo of the bathroom and oldest daughter doesn't want them to.  Sure bring them over.  I discussed with the boys once they got here that it would be good for them to help with the fence repair.  They said they were busy with the truck.  I would even pay.  Nope too busy. 

How about Army daughter?  No.  Between son-in-law working and going to the gym, and Army daughter in school they don't have time to help.  They will help pay if I don't have enough money to pay.  Of course she then said that they have $25 left in their checking for the rest of the month.  Things are tight with their new house they bought and that she's in between courses in school which means her GI bill isn't coming in at the moment.  If I wait until next month they'll help foot the bill.  No thanks.

What about those who are "in the group"?  San Diego sister would be willing to help.  But brother-in-law just got a new job after being unemployed for a while and really can't take time off to come up.  Sister could come with nephew.  He's home schooled so the two of them could come up without brother-in-law.  If I said I needed them and they really had to come they'd be here in a second.  My fencing project isn't an emergency.  But they are almost the only ones who'd show up to work for free.

Bug-out renter will come over and help - for free or for money.  This is probably who I will end up teaming up with to get the fencing done.  Add in the two grand kids (Boy gets his arm out of the sling this's been a very long 7 weeks.) and I bet we will be able to get it taken care of in a full day or two.  Mrs. Bug-out renter can be in charge of feeding us.  I put an email out to him.  If I'm lucky we can tackle it this weekend.  I have the next two days off and the kids don't have Sunday School tomorrow. 

I'll put the call out to other people I know "friends and acquaintances from the local area", but seriously, I doubt any would show up.  They are either too busy with their own families or can't see that they'd get anything out of it since they probably wouldn't come up with any tasks that we could help them out with. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Do it yourself or hire it out?

The fencing down the sides and back of my property is all constructed of cattle panels and hog panels (almost the same, just closer together at the bottom for hog panels).  These are very heavy duty wire panels that are 16 feet long and 4 feet high.  I have a t-post at each end and one approximately at the 8 foot center.  Fifteen years ago I put this fence in.  I did hire one person to help with the job since at that time not only did I have to put in 2000 feet of fencing, dragging panels by hand, but the weeds were five feet high as well.  I paid an hourly wage and got the person through a company called Labor Ready. 

To hire someone from Labor Ready you call up the company, tell them what you want someone to do, and let them know how long you want to hire the person.  I would always say one day.  You can either bring the company a check or pay by credit card over the phone.  The person will show up at the time you want them and will work for however long you agreed to.  You then sign a sheet telling Labor Ready what you thought of the worker and how many hours they worked.  The worker then takes this back to Labor Ready and they get paid.  Usually you pay double to triple minimum wage but the worker gets just a little more than minimum wage.  Still better than not having a job.  If you like the person you can call Labor Ready to hire them again, or better yet, just make the deal with the worker.  You then can pay them more than Labor Ready paid but not as much as when you paid the middle man. 

I've been looking at the fence lately.  Over the years with the animals leaning against the fence and with the ground the way it is, the fence has started to lean over.  Instead of the t-posts vertical to the ground at a nice right angle some are at about 45 degrees.  Not good when you want to keep animals in.  The sheep haven't tried getting out which means this is a good time to fix the fencing.  2000 feet of fencing at 16 feet per panel means I have 125 panels.  With 2 t-posts per panel that means 250 t-posts.  Since the ground is soft from the rain the t-posts can be hand pulled.  A post puller won't be necessary.  I was figuring that perhaps I could work on the fences and maybe hire someone to help, or better yet, hire someone to do the entire job.  After all, it's 15 years later.  I'm 15 years older. 

Around here people stop by properties and ask if you have any odd jobs.  Usually our front gate is closed but sometimes it's left open when the kids leave in the morning.  When someone does work at one property around here they want to make sure they hit every house in the neighborhood to let everyone know that they have worked locally and the quality of their work can be checked out.  The property two houses down had 250 fruit trees that needed trimming.  The house next door hired the same person to trim some of their palm trees.  This laborer came to my house wanting to know if I had any work that he could do.  Well...I have this fence.  How about if you give me an estimate.

It took him about 45 minutes to walk from one end to the other looking at the posts.  He came back and told me that he would bring a crew of 6-8 people and they'd have it done in a week.  It will cost about $4,500.  As I choked down the price I told him that I'd discuss it with the family and get back to him.  I'm not sure if the neighbors let it slip that "single grandparent and two grand kids" live here or what but I made it very clear that I had to discuss it with the other family members.  I told him someone would get back to him on Tuesday.  He said that they could start this weekend.  No.

I was shell-shocked with the price and amount of time.  I got to much time do I really think this project is going to take?  Now I do know there is a lot to it, and other than the weeds not being an issue like before there is actually more involved with redoing the fence than there was to originally put it in.  This time the wires need to be cut off the t-posts, the posts pulled out of the ground or at least pulled straight up.  Then the posts have to be pounded into the ground and the fence panels wired back to the t-posts.  How long should this take?  I figured it would take 15 minutes per panel.  It really shouldn't take that long but I wanted to round up.  That means four panels per hour.  With continuous working, it should take 32 hours to do all the panels.  I'm figuring on one person.  I don't see that a second person working side by side would really save a lot of time since I don't have two sets of post pounders.  I guess one person could be undoing the panels as the other pounds the posts.  Would it cut down the time from 32 to 16 hours?  I don't know.  But this person who bid the job, even with only 6 people on the job, estimated the job to take 240 hours.  That's 2 hours for one panel.  I don't think so!

I don't want to take a week off of work to do this task.  Do I want to spend four full weekend days working on fencing?  No.  I'm still thinking about hiring it out, or at least hiring a helper and making it a two person job.  I was figuring $15 per hour.  If I hired the person for 20 hours that would be $300.  Even if it took them an entire week it would be $600.  Certainly no where near the amount of the bid of $4,500.  Do it myself or hire it out?  I'll probably just do it myself until my arms get too tired pounding posts.  Then I'll hire it out. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sale on Freeze Dried meat and cheese and other unabashed plugs

As you may have noticed, I do not have ads on my blog that you can click on to earn me a few cents from your purchases.  I figure there are enough people doing that so I'm not monetizing my blog.  Every once in a while I plug my friend GI Jim and his store up in the small town of Prather.  I also have a link to Major Surplus and Survival down in the LA area.  I used to shop there, until I discovered GI Jim, but there's no reason to remove them as a link.  I've also plugged books like the Prepper's Pocket  Guide, which I got for free as a reviewer, but the book is worth plugging even if I did get it free.

One of the sellers I've promoted is Misty Marsh.  She is a Shelf Reliance consultant.  I'm not sure how their consulting business works nor do I really care.  I'm not getting into storage food sales.  Misty will provide free samples if you wish to try something out.  But, these aren't free to her.  She has to pay for them.  Still she will provide you with a trial if you want to sample before you buy.  Today I received an email from Misty about a sale.  I thought it would be worth passing on.  This sale goes from Feb 20th through March 18th. 
3 Freeze Dried Ckn & 3 Ground Beef Pack: 
Retail: $246.54
Sale price: $144.60 ($24.10 per can)
6 Freeze Dried Cheese Pack:

Retail: $270.82
Sale price: $154.65 ($25.78 per can)
When I bought my 6-pack of freeze dried cheese a couple of months ago I thought it was a great price.  I paid $180 for the six cans.  Yes, I know it's about $4.00 a can less on this sale.  Many of us are getting tax returns.  I think this is a good way to spend some of that return. 
This is not available online; if you are interested, you must contact Misty directly to order them.  Her email is: and her phone number is 760-814-9833.  She is taking pre-orders since the sale doesn't start for a couple more days.  And no, I'm not getting an extra discount by passing her email along to you.

Always one to look for a bargain, GI Jim, you said that you were hoping to stock some storage foods.  If you are, since I haven't been your way in a little while, let me know and I'll unabashedly throw your name around some more. 

Although I do a lot of canning, including canning cheddar and mozzerella cheese, and we raise our own lamb and chicken, I still believe there is a place in my food storage for freeze dried food.  I'm going to tell you that it's not ever going to be the bulk of my storage program but it has its place. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Planting oats and new lambs

I was able to get the oats planted today, or at least that's what I called it.  I had about 50 pounds of oats that I threw out into the front pasture a handful at a time.  I had the one chicken follow me as I was throwing it out.  He didn't want to have to hunt and peck for the oats; he wanted me to put down little piles so he could gorge himself.  I obliged.  At first I was worried that he would eat all the oats but one chicken isn't going to eat that much.  Most of it should sprout before it gets eaten.  I hope.  We got a third of an inch of rain last night.  The pasture ground was wet and soggy. 

As per their normal the sheep finished lambing these past two days.  That's because it rained each day.  We got two more sets of twins so after losing one lamb on the first day we ended up with 8 lambs by 6 ewes.  I don't know how many males or females we have yet.  I'm going to wait until the weekend before I catch them.  You don't want to do anything that will make the ewe reject the lamb and if you castrate too soon I've heard that the ewe may reject it.  I don't know why but Barbados sheep are stupid so I don't want to take any chances on the ewes rejecting their lambs. 

I've been reading about a group called Animal Welfare Approved. They provide standards for what they consider ethical treatment of farm animals.  If you wish to be certified by them you can apply and they will send someone out to evaluate your farm, free of charge.  I suppose if you were going into business having this certification could allow you to charge higher prices, just like you can for organic and free range eggs.  I don't know enough about this group to know whether it's a good group to be associated with or not.  I will not have them come to my property because I do not wish to get put onto their list of approved farms, even if mine would qualify due to my treatment of my sheep and chickens.  I do know that if you don't know anything about raising animals they do have some useful information on their website. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dental work and free publications

You all know my thoughts about any kind of medical treatment.  If it should be done it needs to be taken care of NOW.  You never know what tomorrow may hold.  Last year I had surgery on my arm dealing with a nerve problem that I could have lived with and waited for surgery sometime in the future.  No I wanted it right away.  Same with my teeth.  I am fortunate to have pretty good teeth.  Or at least they were until I hit 50.  Before that I didn't have any cavities.  Now I've had a couple.  I had one of my front teeth break off when I spit a piece of candy out.  This last dental exam was not good.  I was told that one of my molars had several cracks in it.  I even saw the picture to see for myself.  How could this happen?  Anything from grinding teeth while sleeping to munching on ice cubes to eating a piece of candy.  Because of my philosophy, waiting is not an option.  The tooth may stay the way it is for a long time or it may crack more and actually hurt!  Taking no chances I went in to the dentist today.  They worked on it, put on a temporary cover (not really a crown but a new technology), and told me they'll call me in a couple of weeks when the lab gets done creating the new non-crown.  I left the dentist office with a very numb mouth. 

The grand kids were supposed to have their religious school today, or so I thought.  I hurried back from the dentist to pick them up and bring them into town.  Oops no school so I just let them play with the other kids that were there.  On the way home we stopped for pizza and a trip to the new yogurt place.  After eating the frozen yogurt my mouth was feeling so much better.  Not my wallet as the evening cost $20!  In a couple of weeks when I have to go back to the dentist I'll probably do the same and frozen yogurt.  My mouth will thank me!

I've posted a couple times about dental care.  That's because it's such an important topic and one that we really can't do much on our own when it comes to repair.  We can do temporary fixes and hope things work out or we can pull teeth.  The main thing is to work hard at having strong healthy teeth. 

I suppose to fix this cracked tooth, if it was a time when TSHTF, I could use my Temparin Max Lost Filling and Loose Cap Repair by DenTek.  I have several of these packages in my dental storage.  Each package costs under $3.00 and makes up to 8 repairs.  I could use this to make my own crown for my tooth if I didn’t have a dentist to go to.  My few packages wouldn't last very long since this stuff is supposedly temporary.  I don't know how long it actually lasts because you are supposed to use it until you can get to the dentist, not instead of the dentist.  Anything would be better than having the tooth break apart and expose the nerve.  Then I’d have to get mighty drunk and have it pulled. 

I’m continuously getting on the grand kids about their teeth.  According to the dentist they should be brushing for two minutes at a time twice a day.  I even bought the little tooth scraping picks and their own flavored floss from the dollar store.  I figured the more “things” they had to play with, I mean use to clean their mouths, the more chance they will actually brush their teeth.  I’m not yet getting through. 

If you want to read the publication Where There Is No Dentist, you can buy a copy or download it free from Hesperian.  This same website has the downloads to Where There is No Doctor – including updated and new chapters in their newest book that hasn’t yet been published, Where Women Have No Doctor, A Community Guide to Environmental Health. A book for Midwives, Disabled Village Children, and a few others.  It’s definitely worth checking out the site.  They provide all these books free of charge.  If you like their books feel free to donate a few dollars. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

More yard work and the ebb and flow of prepping

Of course yard work never ends.  It doesn't end for people with postage stamp sized lots, I don't know why I'd think it would ever end here!  We got 1/3 inch of rain last night which gave everything a really good soaking.  Maybe the lawn seed that I threw out last week will grow.  I hadn't watered it I just spread it around the yard.  I also hope some of the oats and wheat grow.  Again, I didn't plant them the proper way which would have meant disking the soil prior to throwing the seed out or using a plug to plant the seed into the ground.  No, I just threw out the seed and hoped for the best. 

We are missing one of the two chickens that I put out in the front pasture.  I have a feeling that it got carried away by a hawk or something.  Yip-yip can't get in.  There are no feathers showing evidence of a struggle by some other creature.  It's not walking around the neighbor’s yards.  It just disappeared.  The other chicken is lonely. We are going to get some new chickens this year in addition to what's in the coop.  I was thinking about putting the older chickens out front and keeping the younger ones in the coop as my new layers.  Can chickens survive ok if they've lived their lives in a coop and then you let them go?  Will they know enough to scratch and peck for enough food?     

This morning I got up and planted the 30 new strawberry plants.  I also extended the hose out front to water the new raspberry plants.  I still only have two of the ten raspberry plants in the ground but I'll be more comfortable getting them planted now that there is water out to them. Living in a place that must have irrigation makes me day-dream about living somewhere that has enough rain to only need irrigation during times of draught. 

That was all the yard work I got accomplished today that has to do with being more self sufficient.  The wind blew hard last night and tore off one of the panels of the shed that covers our trash/recycles/firewood.  That had to get fixed before the rain starts again.  I worked for 8 hours today just like I'm supposed to.  Boy was home from school for Lincoln's birthday holiday and had a friend over.  Girl didn't get back from Army daughter's house until right before dinner.

We had a completely home grown dinner tonight.  The kids were not at all happy with me!  I made chicken liver from the chickens we butchered, which I like and they don't.  I also made mashed potatoes with the end of our home grown crop.  I was able to harvest some tomatoes off the plants that I dug up and potted before frost.  They didn’t taste great but at least they weren't store bought.  I chopped up the tomatoes with a fresh onion from the storage bins in the garage.  There are only a couple of onions left.  I added cilantro and made fresh salsa as our vegetable.  The kids don't like fresh salsa.  They'd rather it was canned to meld the flavors together and to lessen the sharpness of the onion.  We had home made lemonade from the lemons in the garden.  It was an odd dinner as the salsa and lemonade didn't go well with the liver and potatoes. 

Dinner was sort of like my prepping mood this past week.  Every once in a while I get the attitude that I have to rush and get everything as ready for the end of things as I can.  Not this week.  My attitude has been more of who cares; I'd rather be oblivious to the problems of the world.  Nothing bad is going to happen anyway.  That doesn't stop me from doing prep work; it’s just running through my head that I'm wasting my time.  I know that preparing is extremely important, and probably a life saving effort, but that's my mood lately.  Perhaps it's because it's still winter and I'm just starting to get the winter doldrums. 

An end note of no particular importance...on the way to Army daughter's house yesterday I asked the grand kids if they could guess what we were going to eat.  They had no clue.  I guessed fried tacos, chili and Fritos, or spinach ravioli.  Then I said that it would be fried tacos because last time we had ravioli and the time before that chili.  They knew I was going to be wrong and she was going to make us something we've never had before.  We had fried tacos. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Walk - downloaded free at Amazon

Last night I went to bed around nine.  If I'm not overly exhausted I'll read for a few minutes to a half hour at most.  Last night I got out my Kindle and started reading The Walk.  It was a free download.  I still haven't bought any books for the Kindle.  I have a hard time spending money on something that isn't something that can be put on the bookshelf when I'm done.  Yes, I know that the Kindle is very convenient and that it holds thousands of books.  Even the Kindle being free (a friend gave it to me after upgrading to get the latest, greatest (the first Kindle that only lets you read books and doesn't have color or a touch screen)) isn't enough of an incentive to buy a book for it...

Back to The Walk.  I, too, would have problems figuring out exactly where I was or how to get out of LA even though I've also been there 100s of times.  I guess the thing I liked the most about this book is I know the places he writes about.  For instance, when he wrote about the shopping center in Calabasas and the Ralph's grocery store, I've been in that grocery store!  The main character, Marty lived up the parkway in one of the neighborhoods that has the gate and security guard.  I know the area.  My cousins live up there.  Each little neighborhood has a gate and security guard.  So for me, it made the story more true to life. 

What didn't I like about it?  I missed the twist.  In the movie The Sixth Sense I knew something was wrong the entire movie and figured out that Bruce Willis was a dead guy.  Although it looked like everyone was conversing with him, only the kid really was.  Why?  Because the kid could see dead guys.  But in this book, I blew it.  I knew that Buck was annoying and so unrealistic, but it didn't hit me until the end of the book when they spelled it out.  So, for that, the author did a good job.  Me, I'm ticked off that I missed it.  I knew something wasn't right but I guess I was too tired to figure out what wasn't right.  If you have NO clue about what I mean, you'll have to read the book. 

What else didn't I like about the book?  It's R rated.  Maybe PG-13 for some families but not mine.  I wouldn't share this book with the grand kids like I did The Road Home

You can download Kindle onto your computer if you don't have a Kindle.  Then you can download this book for free.  You can download a bunch of reading for free.  What I do is get on Amazon and type in Kindle free books.  They come up with a list of their 100 top free books.  You can also just type in a book and see if it's free.  Usually it isn't but many are only a dollar.  Still I haven't bought any!

This is the night of digressing.  I suppose it's because I read the entire book last night from start to finish, which meant I didn't turn the light off until 12:23 this morning!  The grand kids came in at 8:15.  Don't forget to get up.  We have Sunday School and have to leave in 45 minutes.  Of course they were in their pajamas and hadn't started their chores...

The book... I think the most important lessons learned from this book is that you have to dig deep down inside you to get that extra strength you need to get you through situations that are horrific.  Just using normal logic doesn't always cut it, especially when other people are in the picture.  Sometimes you have to move away from your straight line even though it can take you a little further away from your goal. 

One other thing.   Marty commented that he was prepared, especially after the 94 Northridge earthquake.  They had food, water, and other items stored at home.  He expected that when the next "big one" happened he would be home or close to home.  He was less than 30 miles away, so he wasn't really very far but he had to travel out of the big city with high rises and streets that he wasn't familiar with before he got to the San Fernando Valley, where he immediately felt a calmness come over him due to the familiarity of the area.   Marty's family is prepared for a few months to deal with a major earthquake since that's the disaster most likely to affect them.  But what about other types of preparedness situations?  Do most people who prepare pick their most likely disaster to prepare for and leave the rest behind?  We all need to be realistic about our plans if disaster happens, especially when we are away from home and we need to get home to be with our families.   

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Making lemonade but getting nothing else done

We were invited to a birthday party and that took up most of the day.  It rained for a little bit today so before we left for the party I took the 8 raspberry plants that I haven't yet planted and put their pots right at the edge of the eave of the house.  That way the rain could come off the roof and land in their buckets.  Then I wouldn't have to worry about watering them. 

Once we got home I checked on the chickens and also the sheep.  We had one ewe up at the barn with her new baby.  It was still wobbly; she had it while we were at the party.  That makes 6 lambs, although one didn't make it so five lambs that all appear healthy.  One more ewe is pregnant.  She should pop that one out any day now. 

I checked on the transplanted blueberries.  They looked good.  I took a look at the broccoli plants and one had been dug up by something.  I dug another hole and placed the plant back into the ground.  The onions have grown a little since I put them into the ground.  I went into the barn and got an on/off valve that goes on the drip hose.  It's still attached to an old piece of hose but I cut it into a small size and brought it into the house.  I'll cut off that old piece of hose so I can reuse the valve.  Hopefully tomorrow I'll get the drip hose put out front to go to the raspberries. 

I don't know though.  Tomorrow I may accomplish as little as I accomplished today, which is just about nothing.  The grand kids have Sunday School tomorrow and then Army daughter wants us to come over for lunch.  I wonder what inedible food we'll get this time.  Or will they will be serving one of their three staples: First is tacos.  Everything is fried, which is delicious but oh so bad for me.  Next they make the spinach ravioli from Costco.  They put the ravioli on top of a fresh spinach salad drenched with salad dressing.  If they used 1/4 of the dressing it would be much better, but still it's edible.  The third thing they make is Frito chili.  They put Fritos into a bowl and dump canned chili on top.  That's the extent of their cooking.  I did give Army daughter a Better Homes and Gardens red plaid cookbook for a wedding gift.  She gave it away during her white elephant gift exchange at her party last December.  Don't think she ever cracked that cookbook open.  After all, they can make tacos, ravioli, and chili!  After we leave Army daughter's house we will head home but probably won't get here until about 4:00.  That doesn't give much time for yard work. 

For dinner tonight I sent Girl into our home store to get some Nalley beef stew.  I had bought it a couple of years ago.  I was so pleased because it was about half the price of Dinty Moore.  What a bargain.  At least until I opened the can.  The taste was just fine.  But where's the beef?  There were little pieces of potato and carrots.  At least they were discernible.  Not the beef.  It looks more like they used ground beef but each little piece of ground meat was its own little piece of meat.  Nothing bigger than a speck.  I did throw in the last of the antelope meat just so we'd get some little actual pieces of meat.  This with the rest of last nights loaf of home made bread plus big glasses of freshly made lemonade made for a filling dinner.  The kids aren't picky.  They liked the Nalley!   

Initially I had bought a half dozen cans of the Nalley beef stew.  We still had two cans left and their expiration date is this April.  I rotate food but I didn't buy any more Nalley beef stew. I do have a couple cans of the twice as expensive Dinty Moore but I'll save these for when we go camping or if there's any other nights that I just don't feel like cooking.  I'd rather put the ingredients together myself.  I always have potatoes and carrots on hand.  They are easy to grow and/or cheap to buy from the store.  Even using canned, dried meat, or freeze dried meat, if fresh isn't available would be better than using the canned stew.  But, the canned stew does have a place in our food storage when either I'm completely lazy, tired, sick or TSHTF and I can't get anything made except opening a can!  Just not too many cans, and not Nalley!