Saturday, June 30, 2012

Drying fruits and vegetables

I remember years ago we planted about an acre of tomatoes.  They were sold as sun-dried tomatoes and were worth quite a lot of money.  How did we do it?  We set up large tables and put plywood on them.  We lifted up one end by about 6 inches so the wood was angled.  We then put a sheet on top of the wood.  We cut the tomatoes in half and laid them on the sheet.  We sprinkled salt on top of the tomatoes.  We then put another sheet on top to keep the bugs off.  Every day we would turn the tomatoes over.  I remember it took at least a week for the tomatoes to dry.  They sure were good! 

Our next door neighbors are out of town.  Their delicious Mission fig tree (the black figs) is ripe now.  There won't be any figs left by the time they return as the birds will have attacked the tree and eaten every last fig!  So they told us we can pick as many as we want.  The problem with figs is if you pick them you have to do something with them instantly.  If you pick them and put them into a bucket and wait a couple hours before processing them you will have a pile of mush and a bunch of little fruit gnats will be all over them.  Then the figs just get given to the animals.  So I needed to think of something to do with this abundance of figs. 

Figs are a great crop.  They will grow wild along watercourses and are easy to grow just about anywhere.  The fruit is extremely sweet and can be used when you have a sweet tooth.  They are also high in calories, which is always important when looking at ways to sustain yourself. 

I didn't really want to make fig newtons today.  I knew I was going to heat up the kitchen in the afternoon making noodles for dinner but to keep the oven going for a long time just wasn't in the cards.  Instead I decided we were going to dry the figs.  Not wanting to use electricity to dry them, I figured I'd just dry them outside.  I used to have a nice drying rack with many shelves on it.  The entire contraption was covered with a window screen mesh to let air flow through but keep the bugs out.  I don't know what happened to my drying rack.  Either I lent it and can't remember who I lent it to or it got borrowed by someone who forgot to tell me they borrowed it.  Either way the drying rack is nowhere to be found. 

I'm not really happy with the rack I rigged together today but it works.  I took a tray out of my dehydrator and placed the figs on it.  I then wrapped the tray in cheese cloth and used big binder clips to hold it all together.  I then used paracord and tied the cord to one clip, threw the cord over the clothesline, then tied the end to the other clip.  I got it balanced well so the tray of figs isn't tipping over.  I made up five trays like this.  There are enough figs to fill 20 or 30 racks so while this is working it's not enough if I needed the figs to help sustain us.  The figs are out in the hot breeze - high of 90 with 10 mile per hour wind gusts.  It's perfect weather for drying fruits and vegetables. 

If I'm using any vegetable and I only use a part of the vegetable I automatically cut up the rest and dry it.  Having these outdoor, electricity free drying racks makes that easy and is another step toward self sufficiency. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

It's not expensive to start your food storage

How much money do you spend a week on cigarettes?  What about beer?   What about candy?  How much is your cable bill?  Were you hungry so you drove through the fast food and spent $5.00?  How much have you spent this week, or last?  Come on, be honest.  If you just changed one of those habits you would be able to prep without having to bite into your budget.  

I can come up with a boring, tasteless food storage plan that you can put together quickly, easily, and cheaply.  It can sustain you for two months.  And you won't even know you've spent any money.  Here goes.  For two dollars a day, Monday-Friday, you can save $10 in a week.  That's $40 in a month.  What can you get for $40? 
25 pounds of rice $8.70 - 125 good sized portions
5 pounds of sugar $3.00 - good in oatmeal, rice pudding, bread, etc.
10 pounds of assorted dried beans $8.90 - 75 portions 
9 pounds of oatmeal $8.75 -  100 portions
20 pounds of flour $10.00 - 50 small loaves of bread
Here's 350 portions of food for under $40! 

Would you be lacking in taste?  Yes.  Missing fruits, vegetables, vitamins?  Yes.  Will you stay alive?  YES?

Sure I know this is a horrible food storage plan but it is a simple start.  You can easily and instantly put away almost 70 pounds of food in one month by cutting out 1/2 pack of cigarettes, or two beers, or a bag of candy, or a movie.  For most people it's not hard to come up with some spare change.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Trying to get through to the thick headed

A little over a year ago (2/22/11) I posted about hanging out with a friend of mine in the desert.  This friend prides himself with being a survivalist but he's wrong.  He's an excellent hunter and fisherman, and he's supplied my family with plenty of antelope, elk, and salmon.  But, a survivalist he isn't.  He came for a visit yesterday.  He spent a few days at the coast in his trailer and figured he'd make the couple hour drive inland to see how things were going around here.  He left the trailer at the ocean since his mother, sister, and brother were going to stay there for the next couple of weeks.  He won't be as he has to return to work on Friday. 

He told me that he is retiring on Dec. 21, 2012.  He picked that day on purpose because he's thinking that TS will HTF on that specific date.  If that's the case don't you think you should retire the week before?  Isn't that a bad day to have to spend in the big city filling out all your paperwork?  Besides, TS may HTF on that day but it won't be because the Mayan calendar is predicting it.  It will be because the calendar is causing it.  I told him that I would expect shortages and craziness to begin at least a month before then and to really escalate within the week before.  Why?  Because people are going to stock up at the last minute...just in case.  Those people will cause shortages.  They will end up being the cause of TSHTF.  Perhaps he should retire on December 1?  

He wanted to know about my putting food up.  He has canned in tin cans, which I've never done, but he's never used a pressure canner for canning jars and he's never heard of boiling water baths.  He has a smoker and a food saver.  He's never used a dehydrator.  He has never gardened.  He doesn't know where to buy silver coins.  He has a lot to learn.  

First thing is his expectation that he will be able to just go out and hunt.  He may be good with a gun but doesn't he realize that everyone and their brother and sister will be out in the woods hunting and that's not the best idea?  He needs to be able to support himself on his piece of property, wherever that is.  Originally he talked about heading to Mexico or North Dakota or Montana when TSHTF.  Now he's talking about in the mountains of California or even bugging in there in Southern California.  If he does it right he can make it.  But I'm sure he won't do it right.  

He wanted to know how I figured out what to put into our home store.  I put in what we eat!  Sure I have freeze dried cheese in there that I don't want to open but that's because the 5 pound bags of cheese can still be bought at Costco and my refrigerator and freezer still work.  We also have MREs that we don't eat.  I explained that we eat just about everything that's stored so it continuously gets rotated.  He'd never seen Gamma seals for buckets and didn't even know where to get buckets.  I explained how I will buy a 25 pound bag of rice and flour then stick them in the freezer for a week to kill off bugs.  Then I'll pack it into the buckets.  I explained Mylar bags and getting rid of oxygen.   He said he wants a home store like ours.  All it takes is money and a bit of time.  He has the money but I don't think he's willing to put in the time. 

I can offer my services of setting up the house.  Since he has a large family (mother, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews) would he be setting his place up for all or just a few?  I wonder?  Perhaps I'll make him an offer...for $5,000 I can set him up with food for a year and some silver coins.  The problem would be that I could shop, set up shelves, buckets, and all but when TSHTF you should already be familiar with your preps.  You should be eating pretty much the same way now as then. Your lifestyle shouldn't change too much if possible. 

It's been over a year since he and I first spent time discussing survivalism.  He still thinks it means cool clothes.  At some point he's going to have to realize that money won't buy what he needs.  That is a change he will have to make in himself.  I hope it won't be too late.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Forced Evacuation of 32,000 People

With Colorado burning, many people in the city of Colorado Springs and nearby communities have been forced to evacuate their homes.  Over 32,000 people at last count. Even those who are prepared to bug-out may find that their bug-out place up in the hills has gone up in smoke.  I know Max in Colorado Springs is prepared to leave at any time.  He has things packed, including his bug-out bag.  It will be interesting to hear what changes he makes at the last minute on what comes with him.  If you do leave your house some last minute things to do include watering your lawn really well - and roof if you have a wood roof, moving everything off your patio and away from your house (25-50 feet of nothing!), closing the curtains, and moving furniture away from windows and into the middle of the room.
If you want to take a look at the list of federal fires go to this site. Click on whichever fire you want to review.  Many states have the same type of information for the state fire departments. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Home Store Dinner

My work schedule has been so crazy lately, between not being home for days on end or now, with having the grandkids in day camp.  The kids have to be at camp at 9:00 and they are done at 3:00.  I can't get in a solid block of work time so I'm working late into the evening.  Hope I don't get called out of town when they are at camp.  On the other hand, I hope I get called out of town and can earn some overtime.  Somehow I have to pay for camp!  (It's nice, camp says to let them come for the four weeks.  If I get overtime to pay for it, great, if not, don't worry about it.  Can't beat that!)

Mrs. Bug-out renter had her surgery last week so she's set up camp in Girl's room while she recovers.  It's a little over an hour from the bug-out place to the hospital in case she has a problem with the recovery so with us she stays.  Girl has decided that she wants to sleep in the living room instead of the top bunk.  Fine by me.  It's summer vacation so you may as well do something different.

Boy and Girl were helping with dinner tonight.  I sat in my library on the computer and directed them on what to do.  Unfortunately Boy messed up and got sent to bed without getting to eat their delightful creation.  Why?  I told them to get out the mandolin slicer so I could slice the carrots.  I had them peel the carrots with their peelers.  Each kid has their own colored peeler so they can both help at the same time.  When I got into the kitchen to slice the carrots on the slicer I noticed that it had an orange tint to it.  Who used the slicer?  Girl said not her.  Boy admitted to it.  Wow, that's a shocker!  Didn't I tell you kids that you are not to use this slicer?  It is a dangerous tool and you aren't old enough.  Boy said he only used it to cut off the top of the carrot.  Isn't cutting off the top of the carrot using it?  No, it's not slicing it's cutting.  As the smoke was coming out my ears I told him, calmly (much to my amazement) that he needed to get his pajamas on.  He was going to have a pb&j sandwich for dinner instead. 

Once he sat down at the table I asked why he was eating that instead of the good dinner.  He said it's because the slicer is dangerous.  No.  It's because I told you not to use it and you did.  It doesn't matter to me if it's dangerous or not.  That's not the point.  The point is I told you NO!  That means NO.  I don't care if it's something stupid or something lifesaving.  You may or may not understand why I am telling you but if I say NO that is to be followed.  So pb&j sandwich and off to bed he went.  He can read until bedtime...

We had a really good dinner.  It came out of the home store and the garden. 
3 cups rice
6 cups water
1 can roast beef
dehydrated peas
fresh carrots, sliced like french fries
fresh onion, chopped
fresh zucchini, sliced like french fries
3 tablespoons beef soup mix (the mix says 1 teaspoon per cup of water so I used 1 1/2 times)
soy sauce
sesame oil
chopped chives

The kids put it all into the rice cooker and in 20 minutes it was ready.  It's a good thing because I really didn't feel like cooking.  There's plenty left since Boy didn't eat any and neither did Mrs. Bug-out renter, who fell asleep right before dinner.  I just left dinner in the rice cooker.  We'll have it for breakfast.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

More on Tilapia Farming

Even though I just got home from being out of town for work all week I’m itching to head down south this time. 

I discovered a website called Tilapia Mama down in San Diego  Tilapia Mama holds classes once a month for $5.00.  Yes, you are reading that right.  Five dollars.  Tilapia Mama will show you how to make your Backyard Fish Farm (BFF) using either 55-gallon barrels or the 275 gallon totes.  I want to use my 650 gallon stock tank.  According to the website you can raise 12 fingerlings in a 55-gallon barrel with each fish growing out to a pound.  In other words, 12 pounds per 55 gallons.  This means my stock tank should be able to grow out 140 pounds of fish. 

I had read that it was illegal to raise tilapia north of the Tehachapi’s.  Tilapia Mama explained that it is legal if you are raising them in a closed system and you are not selling them commercially.  No, this will be to keep us as self sufficient as possible so I guess we are legal. 

Tilapia Mama figures to get started it will cost about $150. including the barrel.  Here's her suggested shopping list:

1. MyBFF starts with a used 55-Gallon food grade barrel.
Do not cut the barrel. Alternative: Buy a new barrel. 
(Sources: hydroponics store, In San Diego, Brit Cool is a dealer on for 55 gallon barrels and 275 gallon totes). 

For more information on how to put MyBFF together and the protocol for how to use it: Attend Tilapia 101 Workshop on the first Saturday of every month, from 3 to 5 pm.  Barrel must NEVER have had any soap in it.

 Alternative: Next, get the following essential items:
2. Air pump, rated for 36" deep - Petco brand
3. Ammonia Test Kit
4. Aquarium heater, 300 watt

Costco (or any drugstore)
5. Vitamin C (for organic dechlorination)
Home Depot
6. Chlorine Test Kit  (or get it at a pool supply store)
7. Five-gallon buckets (2)
8. Two-gallon bucket (1)
9. Pool Thermometer

San Diego Pet Supply (15th and
Island Ave
, downtown San Diego)

10. Twelve (12) of Tilapia Mama's fingerlings from San Diego Pet Supply, open 7 days a week. They sell the fingerlings for between $1.00 and $3.00 depending on the size of the fish.  

MyBFF Optional Items
These items are useful, but optional: 
Optional: Net Laundry Basket (for keeping the small fingerlings together in the MyBFF barrel)Optional: Kiddie pool (for growing duckweed)
Office Depot
Optional: Large Binder Clips   to to(to attach the net laundry basket and for the hoop greenhouse) Item # 963439  
Optional: Dip nets (for handling fish and duckweed)
Home Depot
Optional: Hot water heater insulation (to help keep the barrel warm)
Optional: Canvas drop cloth (to cover the insulation for a more durable covering)

Optional: Plumbers hand pump
(effective for transferring water by hand)
Optional: 1/2 inch PVC (for hoop greenhouse  over to cover MyBFF backyard fish farm)

San Diego Pet Supply (15th and
Island Ave
, downtown San Diego)

Optional: Pellet food to supplement duckweed. Tilapia food must be safe for human consumption.
Optional: Dip nets (for handling fish and duckweed) 

Hydroponic Plants
See Cornell University Method for Hydroponic LettuceResource: Cornell Lettuce Handbook  
For more information on how to do it: Attend Tilapia 101 Workshop  
Home Depot (for Cornell University Method Hydroponics)
.6 mil plastic for bed liner
1/2 inch PVC for hoops
3/8" rebar
hole saw
4 x 8 rigid insulation for rafts
mixing tub (to raise duckweed) 

Nursery or Garden Supply
pH test kit
128 cell trays
Peat Moss/Vermiculite/Dolomite Lime
Epsom Salt

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Travel Again

Yesterday I had a field day and from now until Friday I'm in the Sacramento area for training and meetings.  The training is fun since I'm in charge of the class. It's an enjoyable class to teach.  We have about 40 students coming and it will feel like old home week when I get to class.  About half of these people are people I've worked with over the last 20 years.  It will be nice to catch up with everyone and see what they are all doing with themselves. 

I'm in the work truck which is fully packed with several weeks worth of clothes and food, enough fuel to go 600 miles, and enough tools and gear to get me back home or anywhere else I need to be.  Fortunately for me, I have the ability to drive down any road and for the most part not worry about safety - for the most part, so I stay well armed.  People are usually happy to see me. 

There was one time, last September or October, that I was out on an incident and had one of the people who I supervise with me.  We were way off the incident because we wanted to check something out.  He was navigating, I was driving.  We couldn't really get lost, there were mountains to one side and desert on the other.  We were trying to get up a canyon but, although he had been there just the week before, couldn't remember which canyon or how to get there.  So we drove really bad 4 wheel drive - low gear dirt roads.  How are we going to justify this if something happens to MY truck?  I'm the responsible one, perhaps I should have turned on the GPS to at least try to point us in the right direction?  We had coordinates that I could have punched in.  I could have pulled up the quad map on my computer.  But no, he was directing.  So I took my truck on what looked like a two track road.  Then it turned into bits of a wash.  Then nothing but sage brush that I had to just drive over.  One of the canyons we went up brought us into a very desolate area.  Crazy survivalists (as compared to sensible survivalists like me) were probably lurking behind each yucca.  I don't think they'd appreciate hearing "we are from the government and we're here to help."  No, we were going to get into a predicament.  I drove past this one compound and then found a place to turn around.  When I started down the hill there stood a very tanned, half dressed man waiting for us. 

My partner started to panic.  "Just sit there and shut up", I told him.  I'll talk to sound too smart (my employee is an ex-college professor).  I stopped the truck and just started jabbering away.  I told him the truth about who we were and what we were doing.  I also told him we were lost.  To my pleasant surprise, he gave us directions over to the canyon two ridges over.  That's where we needed to be.  And away we went.

OK, today I went to Ikea.  Brought the work truck and figured someone would accost me with why am I driving that truck to Ikea?  Because I didn't want to sit in a hotel room and do nothing?  While at Ikea I found a couple of items that just called out for me to buy.  They have really good prices on tea candles but it's so hot out that I didn't buy any.  I didn't want them to turn into a paraffin glob.  They did have some solar lights on a string.  These were fun looking, about 20 lights all strung together and each light was covered by a colorful little plastic balloon.  It will be great for some fun decoration in the back yard.  I bought two strands.  The little solar panel charges up the AA battery, which then powers the lights when you turn on the switch. 

I have about a dozen individual solar lights that line the walkway in front of the house.  Those could be used in bedrooms and a handful could be put into a container and set on the dining room table.  These strings of lights could be used to light up the kitchen, hallway, or any area where more light was needed.  They could even be bunched together to have an extra bright light to be able to easily read by. 

They also have kitchen utensils.  I like to stock up on wood spoons (3 for $1.00) and today I also bought 3 plastic utensils that will not melt in up to 450 degrees (not a real hot pan, but good enough for cooking eggs), costing 99 cents for the three. 

They had some really heavy duty school backpacks for the grand kids for $14 each.  I have a bug-out plastic bin filled with things for the grand kids.  Now, they will each have a real bug-out bag that they will be able to help me fill.  I know the first thing Girl will put in hers.  A whistle.  She loves whistles. 

And now, I'm back at the hotel.  Tomorrow will come soon enough.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Personal Survival Kit contest - sounds interesting

Black Scout Survival is holding a contest that I think will be interesting.  Instead of the usual, let's hear your story, this contest is asking people to write about, and include photos, of their personal survival kit.  Contest rules:
  • The kit must be a Personal Survival kit (sized kit).
  • Needs to be a container of these size examples (but not limited too): Pelican 1010, Otterbox 1000, Witz containers, Altoid tin, Tobacco tin, ALOKSAK's, life capsules, etc....
  • Submit 2-3 photos of your kit. Make them good pics!!
  • List and description of items
  • A summary of why you chose these items and anything else you want to include.
  • July 1st-Aug 1st
  • The Prize Pack will be around a $250 value containing Survival/E&E gear.
I'm hoping that he posts everyone's entries.  Even if they aren't the winner perhaps each one may hold one or two items that others don't.  It's a good way to pick up some great pointers.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Septic System - Keeping it working well

Most country folks aren't hooked up to the local sewage plant.  They have their own sewage plant at home called a septic system.  As long as you take care of your system and don't overload it with items I'll list later in the post, it can continue working just about indefinitely. 

My septic system has a septic tank, which is a cement  tank that has two attached sides, two pipes coming in (one from the house, the other from the trailer setup), and two perforated pipes heading out.  It also has a round cover that can be removed if the tank needs to be pumped out.  Why would it need to be pumped?  Too much stuff is in it and it can't  dissolve fast enough to run out the lines, or the lines are plugged up and therefore what's in the tank has no where to go.  Actually, it does have somewhere to go.  If the tank is full and it can't go out the pipes it will come up into your shower or tub or whatever your lowest open drain is (the toilet, sink, etc).

I haven't had the septic system pumped at my house in 10 years.  That long ago we had lots of people living here and they weren't paying attention to the "rules" of the septic system.  Here are the rules:

Rule #1 - No feminine hygiene products down the toilet.  I don't care what the package says, the answer is NO.  Put it in the trash can.  I don't want to see it there so you'd better wrap it up with the little newspaper pieces or bags that I've provided in the cabinet next to the toilet.

Rule #2 - No fat or grease down the kitchen sink.  This doesn't decompose well and we have to add enzymes to break it down.  I'd rather not have to add anything if at all possible.

Rule #3 - Scrape your dishes into the chicken bowl or compost bowl.  While we have a garbage disposal
attached to the sink we don't want to use it.  Why put things into the septic system that we know will take a long time to decompose? 

Rule #4 - Don't send lots of harsh chemicals down the drain.  Around here we use less than a cup of bleach in the laundry and as part of our sanitizing system.  Even when I wash the floors with Murphy's oil soap or Pinesol the water gets dumped out on the lawn.

Rule #5 - Use as little anti-bacteria soaps and cleaners as possible.  You have good bacteria in the tank eating the scum.  Why do you purposefully want to add bacteria killer?

Rule #6 - Not that you would smoke in my house but no cigarette butts down the toilet.

Rule #7 - How many sheets of toilet paper do you really need to use?

Rule #8 - If there are a lot of people at the house and you don't know for sure if they followed the rules, add a little bit of septic system enzyme.  I have some on hand, just in case.

When we had our friends from Oklahoma here last week we went through lots of toilet paper.  About 500 sheets each and every day!  That's a lot, even if only 3 of the 10 people were males and the other 7 were female.   I didn't have to worry about the system though.  Why not?  Because they are used to not flushing toilet paper or feminine products.  They use it and put it into the trash can that's right next to the toilet.  Sure you have to empty the trash every day but it sure was a life saver for the septic system.  If TSHTF and you no longer have trash service then it's easy to throw that bag of trash into your fire. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Handouts vs. earned benefits

Today is a complaining column.  Sorry, but sometimes I have to get it off my chest.  I love KMJ radio, both AM and FM.  But one of the things on their, and many other talk radio, bandwagon to bash is the government worker.  Not those taking government benefits "handouts", but those taking "handouts" - I mean salary for doing what the citizens of the state want. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that nearly half, 48.5%, of the American population receives some type of government benefit in the first quarter of 2010.  I don't know what the numbers are now. I'm not talking about people getting paid by the government for doing a job.  I mean people getting paid who haven't earned it or paid into the system.  Almost 50% of taxpayers don't pay federal income tax.  In 2007 it was almost 40%.  And we wonder why things are going to get worse and worse?  It's obvious that since most people receive handouts, they will be the majority to vote in more handouts. 

Programs designed to help the needy, accounted for the largest share of recipients.  They received benefits such as food stamps, subsidized housing, cash welfare, or Medicaid (here in California it's Medi-CAL).  Then there's Medicare and Social Security. 

I have an issue with reducing Social Security benefits, just like I have an issue with reducing retirement benefits for state workers.  That's the crux of my complaint today.  It's not really a union issue.  As far as I'm concerned get rid of the unions.  The state had a department to deal with pay scales and retirement scales.  Then Gov. Brown, his first time as governor, created unions for state workers.  Now there's the same department to deal with pay scales and retirement scales but they also now have to work with the unions.  While people say the unions have brought about a lot of changes, it's true, but most of those changes would have been brought about by the state's department anyway.  Those things always are evolving.

So what am I getting at?  Remember the Social Security "Lock Box" that of course we all know doesn't exist, but were led to believe it did?  Same goes for the state on their retirement system.  Everything you hear now-a-days is that the state is falling apart and it's all because of the state worker and those darn unions.  Their retirement benefits need to be taken away, or at least cut back.  

Has anyone ever run the numbers?  Well I did.  Here's what I found.  Most state workers get a defined benefit.  This means there's a specific formula you can follow to know exactly what you will receive when you retire.  Most people get what's called 2% per year with 55 the retirement age.  The percentage you can earn can go up to 2.5% if you stay until 62.  So how does it work? 

If you start working for the state at 25 and work until 55 that's 30 years.  2% per year means 60% so at the end of 30 years, when you reach 55 you can retire with 60% of your income.  How can the state sustain that?  It's easy.  Not only that but unless you live to be over 90, the state will profit from you!  Let's pretend you earn 50,000 a year.  Now I know that the first few years you won't earn that so the number may be skewed but that's OK for now.  Between what you have to put into the retirement "lock box" and what the state puts in, it comes to about $7500 a year.  

This money gets invested into stocks, bonds, real estate (not so good at the moment) and other things.  For this example I'm going to say the investment earns 5% per year average.  That's  reasonable.  Sure there are years that it's not going to earn anything, even lose, but over 30 years, the average used to be 8% so I'm super conservative with my 5%.  By the time the person retires at 55, their "lock box" will hold $498,000!  

With almost 1/2 a million dollars in their account, if they take out $30,000 per year (their 60%) and they still earn 5% interest on the remaining money, their money will last for 36 years!  Yes, until that person reaches 91 years of age!  (If it really averaged 8% you could pull out $30,000 per year forever and the state could pull out $30,000 per year forever - and never touch the principal until after you die - then the state would get an $800,000 bonus!) So what's the problem folks?  Stop blaming the state worker and their retirement income on the state's budget problems. 

But, there's a catch.  Of course, there's a catch.  During good investment years, when the state is flush with money they don't pay in their share into this retirement fund.  The state says "look how much extra is being made in the stock market, so much so that we don't need to put any money in."  The state worker still puts in their share, just the government doesn't.  That would sort of be sensible if there weren't ever down years.  In bad times, like now, it's easy for everyone to jump on the bandwagon that the state can't afford to pay their share!  They can't afford it.  This means that while the state worker has put in their required share, the state hasn't held up their end of the bargain at all.  Then when it comes to paying the retirement money, the 1/2 million that should be in the lock box isn't. 

So what's my argument?  This "benefit" that everyone is jumping on as a way to save the state isn't really a benefit.  It's part of the pay package.  The government should be putting in their share during good times as well as bad.  But instead, during good times the state government opens up their pocketbook and hands out even more money and handouts to people who haven't earned them.  Then when things tighten up nobody wants to make cuts.  Instead, it gets blamed on the state worker.

What I consider an unearned benefit is what is handed out to people who haven't earned it.  Whether it's food stamps, housing benefit, medicare, or my new favorite - government sponsored van pools.  Where in the constitution does it talk about government sponsored van pools?  Now I'm not saying that people should starve.  We are a compassionate nation.  But at some point people need to differentiate between those state workers who do a job that the citizens of this state request and those who just stand out there with their hands out.

KMJ and the rest of the media should stop trying to skew the facts. There isn't a need to change the retirement system if the state pays its share every year, not just paying when they feel like it.  If they want to change the retirement system starting today, fine.  Just leave what's in my "lock box" alone.   I'll deal with it because I too can invest my retirement money.  I'm not stupid - I'd probably have less cash and more beans, bullets, bandaids, and barter.   

Friday, June 15, 2012

Over 100 outside and picking up bones

It was over 100 today at home and it's supposed to stay that way for an entire week.  Around here we don't get summer rain, it's pretty much dry from now until October or November.  That means lots of watering to keep things alive. 

Since I've been away from home for the past couple of days I made sure I watered everything well before I left.  The baby chicks and ducklings got put into the extra chicken coop.  I knew they'd all die of thirst if they stayed in their troughs on the patio while I was away and I didn't want to obligate the neighbor to come over several times per day to check on them.  In the spare coop I filled their little water basin up and then put a couple of bricks inside it.  That way if any of the younger ducks or the chicks decided to get into the water basin they'd be able to get out and not drown.  They all made it just fine and there was still enough water left that I could have been away for another day.  But that's only three days worth of water, not enough if I get called away for a week or two. 

I can set it up to have the water drip through the main chicken coop and the extra coop.  I will try that over the weekend, since next week I'm out of town from Tuesday afternoon until Friday night.  During this next bit of travel I am going to have the opportunity to meet another blogger, this one just north of Sacramento.  Then hopefully no more travel...unless it involves some overtime! 

Everything is growing like crazy.  I even got my first okra today.  Not bad considering the sheep ate the plants down just a week ago.  Finally the eggplant took off.  It seemed to be in shock for an awful long time after transplanting.  I think the hot weather really perked it up.  I watered everything again tonight.  I'll see about not watering until Monday. 

One of the things I did with the garden is add a mulch.  I have bark in between the rows of garden boxes, not only to keep down the weeds but to make it so it can be walked on during the winter.  Otherwise everything sinks into the mud.  I had thought about adding bark to the beds but one video I was told to watch by a fellow blogger talked about using wood chips.  Woodchips are really inexpensive, especially when compared to bark.  I can buy a huge bag (also known as pet bedding) that will cover an entire garden bed several inches deep for five dollars.  Not all the beds have this mulch.  I have to be careful because this works well for plants that like acidic soil.  I'm not sure how beneficial it will be to plants that don't, other than it sure will conserve the water. 

One of my friends suggested I purchase a tall water tank.  While shorter, wider tanks may be able to be better hidden by bushes, the taller tank will provide better water pressure if water has to come straight from that tank and not through my well's pressure tank.  This is important because with all we have to water, if we couldn't get a good flow out of a hose it would be an awful lot of buckets to carry.  I'd rather use the hose.  So, I'm looking to make some overtime at some point this summer to be able to add a water tank to the property. 

Work was interesting working out of town today.  Unfortunately because of the nature of the job I couldn't bring the grand kids.  They are up at the bug-out place with Mr. and Mrs. Bug-out renter.  They are pulling weeds.  Mr. and Mrs. Bug-out renter will give them lots of snacks, let them stay up late, and most important, let them play in the creek.  They'll be happy. 

On Monday afternoon I set up this project we worked on today.  I was able to arrange having about 25 people come help me.  The two people in charge of this group of workers were not happy.  Their supervisor told them to drive to point X and then get the work order from there.  It was all very secretive, which was just how I wanted it.  Not happy was putting it mildly, until I told them what they got to do.  Let's walk around and pick up body parts.  Mostly legs but there were other parts as well.  They were pretty excited when I pointed out the skull fragments.  It was unusual because there were no teeth or finger bones today, mostly legs and arms.  At the end of the day the  two in charge of the crews were pretty pleased with themselves.  One person remarked that when he woke up this morning he sure didn't ever suspect that they'd learn to tell the difference between a human bones and deer.  Yes, it was an interesting day.  I'm glad to be home. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bank Run/Shut Down Rumor

All over the Internet this week have been rumors of Italy shutting down its banks last week.  Two people were quoted in every single "news" article: Peter Giordano and Peter Jordan.  Want to know what I remember from my college Italian classes?  Giordano and Jordan are the same name in Italian/English.  This, I'm afraid is a bad hoax.  Sure I can understand it not being the headline for ABC.  Gosh, it hit Drudge.  Sorry, it's still not true.  It made many many blogs but no news organizations, not even the Italian news.  Now that's not saying their banking system isn't in a world of hurt.  It is a mess.  Probably even worse than the mess our banking system is in. 

How about some truths? 

Lot's of people are predicting bank runs in Italy and Spain.  I believe this is in the process of happening.  People are slowly, or quickly withdrawing money. 

In Greece the citizens are so worried about switching over from the Euro to the Drachma that they are pulling out millions of dollars worth of Euros each day and stocking up on long storing foods like pasta and canned goods.  This is a real bank run! 

Spain is selling bonds and their banks have recently been the biggest buyers of the bonds.  Let's see, the banks are buying the bonds with "money" they are borrowing from themselves.  That doesn't sound like their bond sales are really working the way they are supposed to be.  It's a good way to crash Spain's banking economy and it too is already on a downward spiral. 

Survivalblog made a big issue of this banking "holiday".  Last year there was another rumor of banking "holiday".  Sure, the bank was closed on that day because it was a real holiday, not a shutting down the bank because we are having a bad day and need to regroup.  If this really happens in any European country our stock market would be going crazy, so would the gold and silver prices.  They are going up and down but no huge jumps or crashes. 

Guess what folks?  I predict on the first Wednesday of July in 2012 the banks will shut down here in the US.  Better pull your money out now even though they will only be shut down for a day.  But, some of the ATMs may run out of money, especially if my post panics everyone!  (Never mind that the 1st Wednesday is 4th of July, a federal holiday - when banks close.)

I 100% agree that instead of socking away tons of cash, either in the bank or under your pillow, you should invest in food, household supplies, a good reliable vehicle, ammunition, silver or gold, your property and backup property. This isn't to say that you should not have good old American dollars.  You still have to pay your bills and at this time greenbacks are what's required. 

Depending not only on your income but also your expenses will depend on how much money you feel you need to keep on hand.  Me, I have money in my 401k and also work has a retirement plan for me.  I have some money in an IRA but I'm not putting any more money into that.  I've even cut back on the 401k.  Instead I'm saving the money in cash at home, in my Liberty safe not under my pillow.  When I save $1500, which takes a long while, I will buy silver dimes and quarters.  Why $1500?  In California they charge tax if you purchase less than that, so instead of losing almost 9% right off the top I save it up.  If you aren't any good at saving up your money then buy four dimes each week.  That will cost you about $10.  It's a start!  

I don't have tons of silver coins saved though because when I have extra money I put it into the property or supplies.  To me, spending $20 on a fruit tree that will provide $20 worth of fruit almost every year after its first few years in the ground is the best use of my money.  Where else can you get a 100% return on your money year after year after year after waiting only a few years for the first payout? 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Quadrupling the space in a little trailer

The company left last night after dinner.  They traveled in their van and pulled a small 4 1/2 x 7' trailer.  They were able to tote along their sleeping bags and ice chests without loading down their van.  It worked out great.  Even better was my idea of adding height to the sides by taking my panels that I use for my little trailer and putting them in their trailer.  Their trailer originally had sides that were about a foot high.  This worked out just fine for holding everything they brought with them.  It was all covered by a tarp just in case they hit a thunderstorm on the way out to California. 

By adding my panels, the sides of the trailer went from one foot to four feet high.  That's an awful lot of stuff they could carry.  Why did I suggest this?  Three years ago when they moved to Oklahoma they left a bunch of stuff here in my barns and side yard.  My friend said I could have or use anything I wanted and at some point they would pick it all up and bring it back to Oklahoma.  Well, they've been out to visit a couple of times but always in the truck so they've never had any extra space to bring their extra stuff home.  By adding height to the trailer I was able to get rid of this junk.

Not all of it was junk.  They did have a 1/2 mile roll of wire, which I use for wiring up my panels.  I didn't have to return that.  There was also a roll of doubled wire which I used to string up the grapes.  There was still over 1/4 mile of that wire left.  She took the rest of that roll home.  She also took home the full roll of barbed wire.  That would have been good to keep as a just in case but she wanted it and it was just stored here and never used.  I had to return that.  

There were six over the fence animal feeders.  I have been using the two best for the last three years.  The junky ones were stored on the side of the barn.  She took home the junk ones and left the best here.  They can rebuild those.  She also had 2-55 gallon barrel feeders.  One I used in the barn stall and the other in the front pasture.  She took one and one is still here in the front pasture. 

The stock tank that the ducks were in, the metal 2x6 tank...hers.  I said I'd run up to the feed store to get a 2x4 for the ducks and then she could have her 2x6 tank back.  Instead she bought us a new 2x4 tank.  She said it cost less than if they had to spend even one night in a hotel.  Very true.  There was a little dump trailer that was left here.  She was able to get that into her trailer.  And lastly, she had an old wood stove that was half way sunk in the mud of our center barn.  That went as well. 

I was extremely impressed that we were able to fit all of that into their little trailer and also fit in their sleeping bags, duffel bags, and ice chests.  Those panels are great!  Now I'm sure when I get ready to move the sheep from the front pasture back into the back pasture I'm going to be looking around for my panels that I cut to size to fit my trailer.  I'm probably going to lose my temper when I can't find them.  Hopefully one of the kids will remind me that those panels are in Oklahoma along with all the stuff my friend was storing here. 

Now there's more room for my things.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Too Many Things! and still achieving self sufficiency with 7 extra people

The guests went on an excursion today up the mountains to see the sequoia trees.  For people who've never seen them, look at your living room and imagine the trunk of the tree larger than that!  20-40 feet across!  It's an amazing sight, especially for the kids from Oklahoma who have never really seen a tree with a diameter larger than about a foot or two.  They took Girl and Boy with them so I have a house to myself!  What am I going to do with all this peace and quiet?  Read, work in the garden, hang laundry, surf the Internet. 

Yesterday the guests went thrift store shopping so the kids could get "new" clothes.  They returned with between 6-10 tops, several pairs of shorts, and a couple pairs of shoes...for each of the six kids.  I asked what they were going to be doing with the clothes they had.  Keep them, of course!  Each kid has drawers and drawers of clothes and their closets are packed.  Their laundry room is always jammed with clothes too.  It's a whole different philosophy than what I have for the grand kids.  They have more than they need, and even more than they wear, but Boy and Girl have in total less clothes than these six kids brought with them on their two week vacation. 

Yesterday we had a party for our friends.  Their local family came (although their local family doesn't want all these people staying at their houses), all but two of my grand kids came, but only oldest daughter and her husband showed up.  I think the rest of my kids didn't want to be around the place with 16 children running around.  I thought it was great fun.  We bbq'd some hamburgers, I made chili from scratch...including soaking and cooking the dried beans, homemade pickles and salsa, loaves of homemade bread, homemade tortilla chips and corn bread, homemade cake, homemade lemonade (that the kids all squeezed).  Coming from Oklahoma, the kids had never picked fresh oranges or lemons!  The entire dinner for 23 people cost under $20. 

My friend saw my bleached white flour (I used half of this and half whole wheat) and commented that she uses unbleached flour and whole wheat flour at times.  I brought her out to the garage and showed her my grain mill and poured a cup of wheat kernels into the mill.  This is how WE get whole wheat flour! 

Breakfast this morning consisted of scrambled eggs and making french toast with the left over bread.  With seven extra people in the house we are actually using all our eggs that the chickens are laying each day!  The kids squeezed oranges for our juice.  Breakfast for 10 people cost nothing.  Now, that's self sufficiency.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Following the rules

While our visitors have their own farm animals and are experienced with them, one major thing that differs is their always get out.  They said that their steer is over at their neighbors and they'll have to retrieve him when they return.  They let their ducks, chickens, and geese free range in the pasture, front porch, or wherever the fowl decides to go.  This is fine and dandy if you don't mind their mess or the occasional dog attack. 
They have about 5 or 6 or 10 dogs.  They are not well trained although they think their dogs are well trained.  They have accidents in the house but even worse than that, when they are bored they will chase down and kill their fowl.  At our house, Yip-yip's father did that once.  He was caged up for the rest of the time Army daughter's family lived here.  Yip-yip tried it once.  I whacked her and yelled at her.  Then I caged her up.  After I caged her I brought her outside and put her near the coop and yelled at her some more.  She may occasionally chase one of the ducks or chickens but she is just trying to round them up, not attack them.  Even when she doesn't think I'm watching she won't harm the ducks or chickens.  She will chase birds, squirrels, and rabbits, so I've taught her the difference.  Our friend's dogs haven't been taught well. According to one of the kids, the dog will not chase any fowl if it's on a leash.  It won't even look at the fowl, but take it off the leash and it goes into attack and kill mode.  That's good for strangers, not your food source.
The grand kids are still in school for another day which meant the six visiting kids were out in the back playing on their own.  Now since they live on a farm I asked them to feed the chickens and also water the animals.  They did so and brought in the eggs.  Good job.  Now don't forget, other than the chicken coop, do not open any gates or doors.  You can climb over any fence you want...that's the joy of having cattle panel fencing!  They were outside for a couple of hours until it was time to go over to their friend's house to swim then head to the zoo. 
I'm working at home for the days they are visiting.  I took a break from work and went out back to check on what they did.  I'm glad I went outside because once again the sheep were in the garden.  My poor okra and peanuts.  Just when they were recovering from last weeks sheep attack they got hit again!  The sheep looked up and knew they were in trouble.  They went running back into the back pasture through a gate that I had left open.  That wasn't how they got out.  I had them penned in the corrals at the barn.  They didn't have access to the pasture so it wasn't a problem that I had left that gate open.  So how did they get out?  I walked the fence line of the corrals.  No, none of the cattle panels were unattached.  I went into the barn and lo and behold, one of the four stall doors was wide open.  Kids went in and out that door and didn't bother to close it.  The sheep just walked right through the open stall door and into the garden.  Kids! 
I called up my friend to let her know that not only did they leave the door open but they were told not to open any doors.  That got me more upset than leaving it open...not listening to what I told them they could and could not do.  That got me to thinking about having other people in the group who don't pay attention to the rules of the house.  Even I break the rules.  If you read the above paragraph I said that I left the gate open to the pasture.  I've been driving the vehicle and trailer back and forth from the front, into the pasture, back out front, back into the pasture, etc.  Since I knew the animals were penned in the corral I didn't bother closing the gate each time.  See - breaking rules and justifying it...   If our livelihood and lives depended on certain things, whether it be the garden and animals or not allowing light from the house to be visible at night, nobody can break the major rules of the property without there being dyer consequences.  While it's not such a big deal now...the okra and peanuts will grow back, it could be a killer if TSHTF and people, kids or adults, don't pay attention to the consequences that their actions may bring.  

What if TSHTF when you have houseguests?

Our friends from Oklahoma are here for a week long visit.  The husband didn't come, just the wife and six kids.  No dogs this time!  The grand kids are thrilled they are here since that family was our "best friend" when they lived five miles from us. 
As I was making dinner last night for nine rather than three I got to thinking about our preps.  We travel a lot and many of our friends do as well.  Most types of collapses will come on gradually so even if the friends were here they'd leave to head home if things started getting out of control.  But what if it was an EMP or something where they couldn't leave?  How well would we do if all of a sudden we had seven additional people who brought nothing with them other than a weeks worth of clothes and a sleeping bag?  It's not like these people are friends or relatives who would decide to come to our house so we could take care of them.  They would have gotten stuck here and although they would be very comfortable here would really prefer to be at their own place.  How would you deal with something like that?  Are you prepared enough?
I would instantly have to take charge and have a group meeting to discuss expectations from everyone and divy up the chores.  Did they bring any weapons?  I know the mother knows how to shoot but I don't think any of the children have ever been taught.  I think I will discuss that with her now.  They try to be as self sufficient as possible but I don't think they really believe that their world will change in any way. 
Having these houseguests would make our food last less than six months, maybe less than four.  I don't have shoes or other supplies that children need as they grow up.  I have those types of supplies for my grand kids but not an extra six kids.  At least this group lives on a farm and knows how to do chores.  We'd instantly expand the garden and hopefully expand the chicken flock.  I'd be kicking myself right now for having sold 8 sheep last Sunday! 
I have to go to Costco this weekend, or sometime soon since we have very low on shredded cheese.  I think I will pick up a couple more bags of rice and sugar.  Both will last forever.  Rice mixed with garden vegetables will provide a filling dinner.  I know since that was dinner last night.  Zucchini curry over rice.  I used zucchini, onions, garlic, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, a cup of water, a little oil, and turmeric, mustard seed, cumin, cayenne, and salt.  It was fantastic although some of the kids thought I went a little overboard with the cayenne.  It's good for the digestion so eat it.   Sugar adds calories and makes food taste good.  Don't knock it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Amount of water to drink

Here's a guideline for how much water/Gatorade we should be drinking.  Now these amounts are for someone doing hard physical labor in hot weather, but it's still a good guide and a real eye opener for those who think you need 1 gallon of water per day per person to survive.  As you can see here, you may survive but you sure won't be able to do much hard work in hot weather.

Typical bottle of water = 16.9 ounces
32 ounces = 1 quart
Number of water bottles needed per person/per hour = 2 (1 quart per hour)
Typical case of water = 24 bottles
Water to electrolyte enhanced drink ratio = 2 to 1 (2 bottles of water for 1 bottle Gatorade)

Water needed per person based on a 12 hour shift:
Bottles 24 / Cases 1 / Gallons 3

Number of cases needed per person:
3 hour shift = ¼ case
12 hour shift = 1 case

If it is hot and you are working hard and not drinking this amount you will end up quite weakened.  Your vital organs, including your brain, will not function properly. 

Did you notice that the amount of liquid needed if you are working a 12 hour day in hot weather should be three gallons - two gallons of water and one gallon of Gatorade?  A 55 gallon barrel of water will last one person 2 ½ weeks.  For one person!  Do you really have enough water stored for you and those you expect to work hard when TSHTF?   

I love my well!  Even so, we have about 40 cases of water/Gatorade that we rotate (drink and replace) each year.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Preparedness items cause of house fire

I read this article,, telling how an 84 year old woman  who is the coordinator of her community emergency response team (CERT) lost her home to a fire.  The fire investigation determined that some of the empty glass bottles she stored to be used to share water with neighbors after an emergency reflected sunlight and burst.  When it did it directed fire onto the wood pallets and that was it.  Her entire house is gone.

Just a reminder that we as preppers have a lot of stuff.  Make sure that it's not going to cause its own disaster. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Encounter with the sheriff

I got up early today, did a few chores while the weather was cool including planting some more vegetables in the garden and hanging laundry on the clothesline.  I also shot at and killed a few squirrels.  The squirrels and rabbits bred well this winter and there's dozens of them everywhere.  We have a barn cat and she's catching the mice but there's just too many critters for her to catch them all. 

Early this morning the sheriff helicopter was flying around the neighborhood.  Now my neighborhood doesn't have that many people living in it.  Our mile has a dozen houses stretched across both sides of the road.  There weren't a bunch of sheriff cars and trucks, in fact, I didn't see any, so who knows why the helicopter was flying around.  I didn't really pay a lot of attention to the helicopter since I didn't see any other sheriff activity; I just locked up the house and left to go pick up the kids from Sunday School.  Last night they spent the night at Army daughter's house and she brought them to Sunday School so all I had to do was pick them up.  

This afternoon the grand kids and I fenced in a pen in the front pasture.  Afterward they went off to play and I went back to shooting squirrels.  All of a sudden I hear the neighbor two properties over yelling at me that I'd better stop shooting at his house or he'd call the sheriff.  I called back, "I'm not, I'm shooting squirrels."  He's worse than the bitter old man who lived next door before he passed away.  This guy is loud and mean.  A couple weeks ago Girl was picking oranges next door and he started screaming at her that she's stealing and get off that property (not his property).  Anyway, I went inside and gathered the kids for dinner and told them that the neighbor not only yells at 10 year old little girls but now he's yelling at me.  I explained that we just need to be polite but pretty much ignore his rants.  Don't forget, if God is judging us at that very moment we certainly don't want to be acting as poorly as this neighbor. 

We ate dinner and I told the kids to get to bed right after dinner.  I was heading outside to turn on the water and what did I see?  The sheriff pulling up our driveway.  Great.  I went back inside and told the kids to get to bed.  The sheriff was over and I was going to be busy for a while.  I put the .22 back into the safe.  Normally it sits out on the dining room table if I'm shooting squirrels and rabbits, except when we are eating I put it on the kitchen counter.  I put it away at night and bring it out in the morning.  I always announce to the kids "don't touch the weapon, it's loaded" and you know what?  They don't touch it.   Anyway, just in case the sheriff wanted to come in I thought it wasn't a good idea to have it sitting out with the kids running around the house. 

I went outside and said hello, I assume *** called you to complain.  He threatened that he was going to do so.  The sheriff asked what was happening, my relationship with that and other neighbors, and then wanted to see the wood pile that I was shooting at.  As I was showing him a squirrel popped up it's head.  "If you weren't here I'd have shot that squirrel,"  I told him.  He kind of chuckled.  I told him normally I stand here or there to shoot.  I don't shoot towards his house or any house.  As you can see, it's over 250 feet away from here. 

The sheriff wanted to know if I was shooting my .22.  (You see, they are registered and the sheriff knows just what I own...almost)  Yes, I use the .22 rifle to shoot squirrels and rabbits.  But, I have a concealed weapons permit and I do shoot other weapons.  Not toward the house.  See the big brush/dirt pile at the back of the neighbors property.  We shoot in that direction for all practice shooting.  It's just when I shoot bunnies and squirrels that I shoot where ever the critters are. 

The sheriff then told me that the helicopter was dispatched earlier in the morning because this same neighbor had called and said that "someone" was shooting at his house.  Wow, the sheriff helicopter was looking for me!  Not really because I wasn't shooting at his house.  Not even in the direction of the house.  But he didn't tell them initially it was the neighbor two properties away shooting.  That's sort of a false report. 

The sheriff then apologized for bothering me and said he was going to go back over to the other neighbors house to explain to him that when you live in the country people are going to be shooting. 

Not a problem.  Come back anytime.  Next time I'll have the lemonade and cookies ready.  I think tomorrow morning I'll get up and shoot some squirrels...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tie-down buttons for tarps

Today I was showing Boy some "flowers" that I have to add tie-downs to a tarp or any plastic sheeting.  These are little plastic pieces that are called tie-down buttons.  They are reusable and easy to install on any tarp.  They are only about 50 cents each but you don't even need to buy any if you don't want to.  You can make due with quarter to half dollar sized round stones or even large buttons. 

Why do you want to have some of these or at least know how to make them?  They are designed so you don't need to use the brass grommets.  That way if you need to secure a tarp you aren't relying on the placement of the grommets if they aren't in the right place or if they are ripped out.  I've seen people punch holes in their tarps because they don't have grommets or the grommet is ripped.  Then they have to get duct tape to tape up the hole so it doesn't ruin the rest of the tarp.  Tie-down buttons are easier.  You can also use any plastic or piece of material; you don't have to specifically use tarps (perhaps securing a tablecloth to the picnic table).   

How do the tie-down buttons work?  You put the little button underneath the tarp.  You put the top piece on top of the tarp and slide it over the tarp and button.  Pull on it until it is tight.  Then you can tie your rope into it.  If you don't have these buttons you can improvise to make your own using a round pebble or actual button.  If you use a rock you'd put the rock under the tarp then take string and on top of the tarp knot it around the rock.  Here's some examples that I found in Flood Fighting Methods by the state of California. 

I had a leak in my trailer roof (the vent cap blew off) and the easiest way to tarp the trailer was to put plastic over the trailer and every few feet put in a button tie, then tie the rope to a rock.  It kept the plastic on even during heavy windstorms.  Try it using a plastic bag as your tarp.  Take a marble and put it underneath, then tie some string on top.  You'll see how easy it is to improvise and not make you reliant on grommets.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The more you rely on things...

Here's a challenge for one of the days this weekend.  Even if it's not all day, how about for a couple of hours.  How self reliant are you really?  The more you rely on things that others produce the more helpless you become if it's not available, or the more you are taken advantage of when you get charged outrageous prices for something you "need". 

Now I'm not saying go on an electricity free weekend like we've done in the past.  Just thinking about electricity, around here it's used for lights, refrigerator, freezer, whole house fan, air conditioning (not yet, it's not 90 in the house yet), well pump, computer, tv, dvd player, stereo, garage door openers, heat for the chicks and ducklings, washer, dishwasher, coffee maker, microwave.  I think that's about all.  What if the power went out? 

Just take the time to reflect on electricity and other services you use.  What if it wasn't available?  How would you survive without it?  Does it have to be a huge loss?  What do you need and what don't you need?  Even though my list of electrical uses is large we really don't use much electricity.  My bill is always under $40 except during the summer it may spike to $50 except when there's company, then it goes higher.  Most company can't function without leaving all the lights on, blaring the tv, and running the air conditioner.

You have candles for light, or grease for a button lamp?  Can you cook without electricity and put up food for the long term?  Where is your food coming from (but that's a little too much to think about for this short exercise)?  Do you have enough entertainment that you don't need the tv, dvd player, music, or computer?  The biggest question - can you make your morning coffee without a coffee maker? 

Just go over what you do this weekend, even if just for a couple of hours and then figure out what you would do if you had to do that task without relying on electricity/vehicle/phone/___ (you fill in the blank).