Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Canning Fresh Oranges and Orange Soup for Breakfast

I like canned mandarins.  If you notice, most of them are made in China and shipped here.  I don't know about you, but I prefer not to buy food from China if at all possible.  I don't have a mandarin tree (aka tangerine) but we do have a heavily producing orange tree.  The neighbor has mandarins so I am going to try this recipe out using their fruit at some point.  Normally we consume the oranges we grow by either slicing them or cutting them up and putting them into the blender with other fruit and ice cubes.  Many mornings our breakfast drink consists of two or three different kinds of fruit or canned juices blended with the ice cubes.  It's delicious. 

OK back to the mandarins.  Since I won't buy them from the store there must be another way to get little tangerine pieces into a can or jar.  Oh yeah, how about canning them just like I can any other fruit?  It's really that easy but I didn't think about it until just this year.  So now I'll share the secret recipe. 

I don't use mandarins, I use oranges.  Take your oranges.  Peel them.  Take off all the white stringy parts.  They will become bitter during canning.  Put the slices in your canning jars.  Cover with either boiling water or syrup.  I like a light syrup of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water.  You can make them as sweet as you want going all the way to 1 to 1 if you wanted.  Or you could just cover them with boiling water.  Put the lids on and hot water bath between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on the size of the jars.  That's all there is to it. 

But I'm lazy at times when it comes to canning.  Or rather, I don't really care what the food looks like so it doesn't matter if the slices are perfect or if you just cut the orange into slices.  I did both.  Both taste the same.  One looks nice and one doesn't.  I suppose it depends on what you are going to do with them to depend on whether you take the time to individually peel or do as I do.  I cut the orange in half.  Then I go around the sides cutting off the peel.  The I slice off the top.  There's half an orange in very little time.  And because you are cutting away the peel you don't have to worry about any of the little white strings. 

I then put the orange chunks into the jars.  Pack them in but don't smash them down.  Fill the oranges to about 1/2 inch from the top.  Fill with the liquid to 1/2 to 1/4 inch.  Seal.  Water Bath.  See how simple it is?  Each of the small cans costs about a dollar.  If you get the oranges for free then it only costs for the lid and a few cents for the sugar.  You can save so much money.  Even if you had to buy the jars and the oranges, the first time you used those jars you'd break even.  Every year after that would be huge money savers. 

Now for our breakfast for tomorrow.  Mandarin Soup, or in this case, Orange Soup. 
1 pint canned oranges
water (the liquid from the oranges plus the water to equal 1 1/2 cups liquid total)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons potato starch or cornstarch 
3 tablespoons Tang or other breakfast drink.  I wonder if the lemonade tang would taste good? Or strawberry?
3 whole cloves
2 more cups of water
3 tablespoons lime juice (if you have it, otherwise orange juice)

Drain the juice from your canned pint.  Add water to that juice to make 1 1/2 cups of liquid.  Combine this liquid with the sugar, starch, and tang.  Stir until blended.  Add the cloves.  Heat this mixture up over a medium heat until it thickens.  Whisk in the rest additional water.  Heat to a simmer.  Take out the cloves (they were to add taste but you don't want to leave them in) then stir in the orange pieces and the lime juice.  That's all there is too it.  We like this cold rather than hot so I made it tonight and we will eat it for breakfast.  

It's an easy recipe and it can all come from your food storage and fresh fruit.   

Monday, July 30, 2012

Snake in the house

I like snakes, just not in the house.  This morning I was walking down the hall and right in front of Boy's room was a little Racer snake racing me down the hall.  It slithered into Boy's room.  I called the kids to come see the snake.  It then went under his baseboard so I figured we'd just leave it alone.  It was a little more than a foot long, what would be considered a hatchling.  Where there's one there's more...I hope.  Just not in the house. 

Since we didn't gather up the snake I knew it would be found somewhere else in the house.  A little while later I watched it go into my closet.  The kids came running but Boy started throwing stuff around to try to capture it.  Get out of my closet!  I would rather have the snake crawling around in my room than you messing up my stuff. 

So we left it alone.  The full grown Racers eat lizards, small rodents, small birds, frogs, salamanders, and small snakes. Juveniles will consume large insects.  I know there is a frog that likes to hang out in my bathroom.  Fine with me, it will eat bugs in there.  As long as the snake doesn't go into the kitchen to eat the parakeet that belongs to Girl, or the baby chicken that is in the trough in the living room, I don't care where it travels.  I would, however, like it out of the house sometime today so I don't accidentally step on it during the night.  

I went back into my room later this afternoon and there it was in the middle of my floor.  Finally, it's not along a wall or near stuff.  It was easy to catch.  I picked it up and put it outside in the cool soil, right next to the house.  It found a hole and slid right in.  I hope it eats to its heart's delight and becomes a full grown snake soon.  They are usually 3-4 feet in length when full grown.  

I wouldn't really consider my house to be filled with bugs, or at least so filled with bugs that a snake would want to live inside full time.  But after thinking about it, there are a lot of bugs that just seem to be walking through.  We have cricket season, frog season, millipede season, and probably some others that I left out. We also have mice although after last year killing 47 in the house we've had none inside so far this season.  Their time is coming I'm sure.  

So Racer snake, and any other snake that wants to hang around...except rattlesnakes, please...you are all more than welcome to be inside, outside, or wherever your food happens to be hiding.  Thanks for keeping us pest free.  

Of course, telling friends and family that they may spot a snake slithering around in the house is not something that I'm going to readily advertise...unless they are reading the blog. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Making a little money selling junk

Daughter had the first of several yard sales this weekend.  I made $60.  It wasn't a ton of money but making anything off of items that we don't need is not bad.  The first person to show up, an hour before the advertised time asked if we had any "man" things.  You know, like camping, hunting, and fishing equipment.  Sure we do but they aren't for sale.  Actually I did have a few fishing things for sale that I salvaged from the bottom of a dry lake.  I didn't get rid of all my scavenged stuff but enough to make a few dollars. 

Boy piped up that he'll sell his fishing gear.  No you won't!  You can only sell things that you don't want and only if I say so.  You can't sell something you use just because someone offered to pay you for it. 

I wonder how things would sell if I put an ad in saying I'd swap for canning jars?  I think she's going to have another sale next weekend.  We won't be in town as we are going camping but after that, whatever is left will get donated.  I'll make more money taking the donation off my taxes than I will selling it but I promised Boy and Girl 10% each if they help.  They cleaned out the barn and also sorted through some old clothes.  Definitely worth the six bucks each that they will get. 

What will I get with the money I make?  Probably a fruit tree.  I will keep the money separate.  If I just put it in my wallet or in the bank then it won't go to anything special.  Knowing that I cleaned out the barn and replaced it with an apple tree, now that's something! 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The New Chick

We've hatched plenty of chicks and ducks this year with the incubator.  It paid for itself in one year, if I had spent the money on chicks rather than the incubator.  I've never had any chicks hatch from a hen.  We've had the ducklings hatch from their mothers and then I've taken them to raise but never chicks.  Mainly it's because our chickens have always been raised in the coop and there are only three nests for them to lay eggs in.  I always clean out the three nests. 

This year I did a couple things different.  First, I tried letting one of the hens that wanted to sit on eggs stay in the third nest.  I didn't empty those eggs out, just from the first two.  Unfortunately, she wasn't the only chicken who'd lay in that nest.  Sometimes two or three were crammed in.  I'd look under her and there would be anywhere from five to 20 eggs that she'd be setting on.  The problem was, I never knew if the eggs were the same or if they were pecking them and destroying them and just new eggs were being laid.  So, I started marking the eggs with an X.  After a while one egg did hatch, sort of.  The dead chick never made it out of the shell.  After that I brought in the rest of the X eggs and put them into the incubator.  From there we got the 4 chicks, although only one of them lived until I returned (that was when I had to bring the entire thing to oldest daughter's house because I had to leave town right when they were hatching). 

Since we had a couple of roosters that our friends gave us that are in the front pasture, I ended up putting a couple of our hens that like to sit on the eggs out in the front pasture too.  Then just recently I let our eight older chicks and all the baby ducks into the front pasture.  With the sheep out there it looks like quite a farm!  One of the hens laid a bunch of eggs under a downed branch and has stayed on that nest for weeks.  This morning Boy was out in front and he called in to me to tell me that we have a chick.  The mother hen hatched one.  She was out in the front pasture strutting around with that baby!  Our first "real" home grown chick.  Now I know we don't need electricity to keep our chicken flock sustainable.  Another step towards self sufficiency.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Trip to GI Jim's

Brought the grand kids to GI Jim's yesterday on the way to the bug-out place.  I bought a $20 gift certificate for each of them so yesterday they got to roam the store to pick what they wanted.  Boy knew exactly what he wanted.  A gas mask!  He's been dreaming of the day when he could have one and yesterday was it.  He wore it last night and today.  He told me that he needs to stock up because he'll need one for each person in his family.   He's so cute. 

Girl had a little bit harder of a time picking.  I was trying to steer her towards some camping supplies...a cooking pot, a hand crank radio, etc.  No, she had her heart set on a knife.  OK but no more carving your bedroom desk.  I was not happy about that last year right before I took away her pocket knife and put it into our bug-out supplies.  You want to lose this one as well?  Just carve into something that you aren't supposed to!  What can I say, she likes to cut things.  She's good at butchering chickens, although she'd prefer to let someone else clean fish. 

Me, I picked up some more paracord.  I just make things, like belts, straps, etc.  None of those paracord bracelets for me.  That just screams "I'm a trendy prepper" and I spent $10 on a cute 25' 550 bracelet.  Something else I picked up, to supplement the few I had was two suturing kits.  Have you ever sewn anything up, other than your clothes?  Let me tell you, years ago when I had knee surgery they asked if I wanted them to video tape it.  I said no, I'm not looking at that.  Stupid me.  I've sewn up one of my goats and a cat before.  Nothing big but it sure wasn't pleasant.  I don't ever want to have to sew anyone up!  Give me steri-strips and superglue, please!  No stitches.  But what if stitches are called for and you are way out in the woods or if TSHTF.  What are you going to do then? 

How about some practice?  Take a chicken...even if it's not just freshly butchered, how about one from the grocery store.  Slice through the skin and meat.  Now sew it up.  Then try it with a leg of lamb.  Put a paper towel on it and slice the leg. Then try sewing it up, including the towel "skin".  It's not as easy when it's bloody as compared to the chicken.  It's also not someone you know who is probably screaming in your ear and moving around a lot.  But practice.  Watch videos of surgeries.  Buy some little suture kits because fishing line and a needle should only have to do in if all else fails.  Don't be unprepared for this just because it's not pleasant.  Believe me, I'd much rather spend the day in the garden, kitchen, or shooting.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Going up to the Bugout Place

Today I'm going up to the bug-out place.  I haven't been there, or at least stuck around to walk around, in quite a while.  I will be bringing Mrs. Bug-out renter back up there.  She has pretty much been in bed, or in the bathroom, since she got here on Saturday.  She's made no more messes.  She had only eaten about 1000 calories in four days. 

Yesterday I dropped the kids off at the water park and then headed to the office.  I was going to work for 6 hours there.  Before I left I told Mrs. Bug-out renter that if she didn't get better she'd be in the hospital on Wednesday or Thursday rather than back home.  Surprise, surprise, when I returned home yesterday evening who was sitting at the kitchen table?  Mrs. Bug-out renter.  She was drinking a cup of apple juice and reading a book.  Once I got home she went back into the helpless mode and went back to bed.  

This morning she was in the bathroom yelling at someone to get out.  Nobody was in there but her.  I called through the door, nobody is in there but you so stop believing that  someone else is.  She said I was in there.  So I opened the door and said no I wasn't but now I am.  Eek, she screeched, now there are two of you!  I went back into the kitchen and the kids wanted to know what was going to happen to her when I went out of town.  I said, loud enough for her to hear, that if she couldn't get herself up and ready for the day she will be in the hospital.  Then I went out and did some yard chores.  

When I returned Mrs. Bug-out renter was up, hair brushed, dressed, and ready for breakfast.  She ate, then we had a chat about how she is a grown up and she needs to start acting like one.  If she doesn't then she can't live in the Bug-out place.  It was like talking to the grand kids when they are being naughty.   She made her bed, read, and ate lunch.  Now she's hanging out, OK she's sitting on the chair, but still hanging out with the grand kids.  Like the snap of a finger she's back to normal.  At least as normal as an fake epileptic but real schizophrenic can be! 

The alarm company is coming to the Bug-out place tomorrow morning.  They will be putting in the burglar/smoke alarm.  She will also be getting a monitor for her wrist.  Press the button and she can talk to a real live human.  If there's a problem the service will call me and if they can't get a hold of me they will call 911.  I told her that if 911 comes too many times and they haul her off to the hospital too many times then she's done.  It will be an assisted care home for her.  She's barely 50 but that's the way it goes.  If TSHTF, like it did in One Second After, she will be dead, just like all those folks in the old folks home.  They won't last long when the help is gone. 

As it is, if all works out well and she is capable of being on her own, then I will be bringing out supplies once a week.  That's not really a bad thing at all.  Once she and Mr. Bug-out renter had moved out there, I pretty much stopped fixing up the property.  It was like I didn't want to intrude on "their" space.  But now he's gone, I need to be working up there more and having to get out there once a week will force me to do so.  There are so many things I'd like to do to the place.  At least with her still paying the rent I'm not hit with a double whammy of no rent payment and the pay cut the state just gave us state workers. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Boy's Friend, Get Out of My House!

Boy had his friend come over.  It's the last time he will play with this boy outside of school.  This little boy's father is very much into history, in particular, WWI and WWII.  While I am into history, I don't know or care about every minute detail, I am interested in the why and what lessons can be learned.  I want to know why we reacted in ways that we did.  What are the warning signs that history may be repeating itself.  While the small detail may be important (when the Japanese military needed to put on a good  meal for show, they'd just cut the leg off a prisoner to have a good chunk of meat), I want to focus on other things.  Sorry all you who get really excited about this stuff. I want to know why and how to prevent it in the future.  If I can't prevent it I want to be prepared.  

The father of this friend has chosen to be enamored with the wrong side in each each war.  Now I'm not saying that I would support each war we've been in but not supporting our participation is a lot different than cheering for the other side!  Their house is full of war antiques.  Certainly none are things I'd have in my house, that's for sure.  Like father, like son, Boy's friend is also enamored with the wrong side. 

Boy and his friend were sitting at the kitchen table and friend was talking about war.  He was throwing out all kinds of facts to boy, bouncing all over the map.  He started talking about what a great guy Mussolini was.  Then he went on to say how the Germans didn't declare war on England.  England declared war on Germany.  No explanation to Boy, just his facts.  While this is a true statement, I made the comment to the friend that England did so because of Germany's aggression.  Just like the US declared war on Japan - but not until Japan bombed us.  Japan didn't declare war in a speech first.  Just because a country declares war first does NOT make them the aggressor.  The friend then said sure Mussolini broke the Treaty of Versailles but it was necessary. 

Then the friend started talking about all of Germany's accomplishments during the war.  What? Like telling people that there were jobs waiting in a nearby town, so get your families together and pack one suitcase.  You all are going on a train ride to your new home. Never mind that they were either gassed on the way or wound up in concentration camps.  Oh no, said the friend, he'd never heard of that.  I figured the friend was going to tell me about the autobahn or guided missiles.  No, Germany was able to make the country strong  by getting rid of mental illness.  The US should follow the accomplishments of Germany.  If we did then Mrs. Bug-out renter would be cured.  Friend...GO HOME! 

The friend's mother came to pick up her son.  I told her what happened, that I countered what he was saying and it upset him that I wasn't agreeing with his facts.  She said that he is too young to learn about things like the Holocaust.  But he's old enough to think Mussolini and Hitler were OK guys because the country made some accomplishments? 

I need to explain to Boy why he won't be spending time playing with his friend.  Unfortunately families like that get mixed in with families like mine in the eyes of the government and the media.  All survivalists/preppers are not alike.  Make sure that the people in your group are like minded!  These folks are definitely not in my group. 

At what age do you start to get more graphic about horrible details?  The grand kids have been aware of the Holocaust for many years.  They've been aware of 9/11 even though they can't yet grasp it.  I thought United 93 was an excellent movie - difficult to watch but worth watching.  I wonder at what age this movie would be appropriate for them to see.  It would give them a different perspective of the "bad guys", especially when compared to the rantings of Boy's friend.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"Calgon, Take Me Away"...Don't I wish!

I am living in the land of chaos!  Forget about the country, it’s chaos at my house.  No, it’s worse than chaos.    

The kids wanted peanut butter chip pancakes for breakfast yesterday.  Boy was helping.  Go out to the freezer and get the peanut butter chips and the pancake mix.  First HUGE mistake of the day.  I made a great breakfast then we headed outside to continue cleaning out the barn.  The top floor is now clean.  Boy then went over to a friend’s house to play.  When I dropped him off I told the friend’s mother that I’d be back in about 6 hours.  I went home, for some reason went into the garage, then went right back over to the friends to pick the Boy up.  He left the freezer door open.  Everything was melted, thawed, or soggy.  I was not happy.  He got to help me load it all into ice chests and put some into the house freezer.  The soggy breads went to the chickens.  Happy chickens!

As I wrote last week, Mr. Bug-out renter got a new job and is moving to Reno.  Initially Mrs. Bug-out renter said she didn’t want to go.  She was adamant.  We kept explaining why she had to go with him.  Her health is not good and she can’t be left on her own.  After he goes and gets settled he’ll come back and get her.  In the meanwhile she will stay at my house with us. 

Then Mr. Bug-out renter changed his mind.  He won’t be coming back to get her.  She can just stay here.  On top of her normal physical and emotional issues, she is so despondent that she isn’t getting out of bed.  Girl is on the top bunk and Mrs. Bug-out renter is on the bottom.  Other granddaughter spent the night last night so she pulled out the trundle and the three of them shared the room.  Mrs. Bug-out didn’t come to dinner.  More for us. 

Last night I was working a bit and Girl came into my library to tell me that she keeps having bad dreams of the bad guys coming.  Don’t worry, our house is safe.  Go to bed.  I decided to go to bed early.  Just as I get in bed Boy starts crying.  Boy!  Get up and go to the bathroom.  That usually stops him from continuing his nightmares.  He got up, went to the bathroom then started whining as he was walking back to his room.  Boy, get in here.  He came in.  What is wrong?  He was whining how he needed to get on my bed and sleep with me.  You are not getting on my bed and sleeping with me.  Go to bed.  He started towards his room and started whining.  OK, get your blanket and you can sleep on the floor next to my bed.  He laid down and started whining how I had to touch him.  I’m trying to sleep.  Fine.  I grabbed part of his shirt and held his shirt for about five minutes.  I was either going to stretch out his undershirt or choke him.  At that moment it didn’t matter.  I was tired.  It was enough to calm him down and get him back to sleep. 

This morning Mrs. Bug-out renter woke me up to tell me that she was using my bathroom because she had diarrhea.  And you need to use my bathroom WHY?  After smelling up by bathroom I figured no time like the present to get out of bed and out of my room. 

The three kids made breakfast.  Since other granddaughter is the youngest of four she likes coming here where she is right in the middle of Girl and Boy.  After breakfast Boy was playing in his room and the two girls were hanging out at the kitchen table. 

All of a sudden I smelled the most awful smell.  I thought the dog had the worst gas so something.  I checked on the dog and she was fine but I looked down the hall and what a mess.  Really.  Mrs. Bug-out renter was in the middle of getting dressed in the bedroom when she had to go.  Her diarrhea was back.  She ran from the room straight across the hall to the bathroom.  She missed.  With no pants on she exploded all the way from the bedroom to the bathroom.  There was her mess on the bedroom floor, splattered onto the walls, the hallway floor, the bathroom door, the bathroom floor, the toilet, and her.  As I cleaned up this most disgusting mess, many thoughts ran through my head.  First thought…I am an angel.  Second thought…as soon as she’s feeling better I’m making the hour drive back to the bug out place and dropping her off.  Third thought…what if she made this mess there?  The place would be ruined.  Fourth thought…if TSHTF (stop laughing at the literalness of this phrase) she’d be dead in a week or two.  With nobody to watch over her she’d overmedicate, pass out outside and be eaten by vultures, or burn down my bug out place or all three.  I’m not sure what I’m doing with her here but she won’t be staying here for long.  On Monday I will be figuring out how to get the security cameras up and running in the bug out place.  Then once she’s got her strength back I bring her back there. 

The kids were asking what happened.  As Mrs. Bugout was telling me how embarrassed she was I told her the kids didn't see it that way.  I told them, "You know how sometimes you get sick and throw up and you don't make it to the bathroom?  Sometimes there's a long path between your bedroom and the bathroom of your mess.  Same thing. Only this came out one end rather than the other!"  Because I was just matter of fact about this they weren't freaked out or anything.  It was just the way it was. 

I’m not joking about passing out outside and being eaten by vultures.  That happened to a friend of mine.  We were supposed to meet up at a conference about ten years ago.  He never showed up.  He called into work and said he wasn’t feeling well and was going to be out for a little bit.  A week went by and he missed an important meeting at work.  They sent some folks out to his house to see how he was doing since he wasn’t answering his phone.  They found him all right.  He had been watering his garden when he must have passed out.  The water was still running a week later.  There was nothing left of his body but scattered bones.  The birds were still there trying to get the few last pieces of him. 

Time to start canning.  All the fruit that I put into the freezer?  It needed to be canned.  Boy is helping whether he wants to or not.  It’s sure fun for the kids to help we can when they can come in and out of the kitchen all day long.  Today, he’s in for the entire time I’m in.  After all, I wouldn’t be canning on a day that’s supposed to be over 100 and humid if it weren’t for him leaving the freezer door open. 

GI Jim is thinking about being on Doomsday Preppers.  He would have a lot to offer although they will make him out to be a total wacko.  That's ok with him.  My concern is more if they give a description about where he lives.  Everyone knows where he works, he owns a military surplus and supply store.  While it's easy to figure out where people work and live once you know just a little bit about them, that doesn't mean you have to have it advertised to the entire country!  On the other hand, he's preparing to bug-out even though he lives an hour out of the big city and even on the outskirts of a small town.

Did I get any closer to independence this weekend?  Sure.  I cleaned out the barn.  Made a little money.  Gave away a dead duck to someone who really likes duck...in exchange for a venison steak.  I canned lots of fruit and 16 quarts of grape juice.  I also kept my cool under disgusting circumstances which helps the grandkids keep theirs as well. 

Monday is almost here.  I’m thinking I could get in a little peace and quiet if I go to the office and work rather than working from here.  Sort of like running away from home. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Stupid Duck, Dead Duck

Yes, this is really about our ducks.  We raised 15 ducklings this year.  They are three different ages.  The oldest two went outside into the extra chicken coop.  They were visited every day by the mature ducks and they all were well acquainted prior to me opening up the door and letting them out.  They stayed in the garden area and in the barn and animal pens.  The next group I let out into the front pasture.  It has 2 inch chicken wire around it so the few chickens don't get out.  Well these ducklings decided to go through the 2 inch wire, go through the 2 inch chain link between my property and the one next to mine all the way to the next property where three were killed by their dog.  As I said, stupid ducks. 

The kids rounded the rest up and brought them back home.  From there they were put into the extra chicken coop.  I also put the youngest group of ducklings into the chicken coop along with the 8 chicks who were too big for the trough that they were in.  The ducks stayed in that until just a week or so ago.  We brought the chicks and ducks into the front pasture.  I figured the ducks were too big to go through the 2 inch wire.  I was right.  The chickens have figured out where the little holes are and they squeeze through but the ducks seem to be content. 

After all, I put not one but two kiddie swimming pools in the front pasture for them.  I even put wood ramps leading up to the pools and put a brick in each pool so the smaller ducks could easily climb out.  Every day the ducks go for a swim.  I make sure to fill each pool in the morning.  The ducks like splashing it out but they are all big enough to climb out even if the water level gets low.  Several weeks ago one of the ducklings drowned when it couldn't climb out of the pool.  That isn't a problem now. 

So then how did stupid duck die today?  Somehow it got stuck in the mud by the swimming pool.  It flapped and kicked so hard it dug a hole for itself.  I went out to fill the pools this morning and counted the front pasture ducks.  1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10...where is 11? Then I saw it flailing around by the pool.  I went into the pasture and picked it up.  It was so tired.  I held it for a while and it paid me back by pooping all down my clothes.  I brought it out to the fruit trees.  The tree is fenced so the sheep can't get in.  It was in the shade, with water dripping out of the hose.  It rested for a bit then hobbled around and went about 50 feet to a different tree but instead of getting on the other side of the fence away from the animals it stayed in the main part of the pasture. 

The little rams are starting to run and butt into each others heads.  The little duck didn't watch out and next thing I know, the rams are running right to where the duck was.  We now have 10 ducks in the front pasture.  Stupid duck.

Friday, July 20, 2012

When in a mood...organize and clean

The grand kids are done with camp.  How can I keep them occupied today?  I know, put them to work cleaning.  But not just any cleaning.  Girl is cleaning out the top floor of the barn.  Boy is cleaning out the bottom floor of the barn.  Everything that doesn't have anything to do with prepping is leaving!  It will all go into the trailer and over to Army daughter's house.  They are having a garage sale.  I told Boy and Girl that they can earn up to 10%.  It all depends on how hard they work.  Boy will be getting his 10%.  Girl, I'm not so sure.  Me, I'm trying to work at home today...at least in between supervising them.  I'll probably put my time in and not have to work this weekend.  Wow, to actually get in my 40 hours between Monday and Friday.  That's been unusual lately. 
My barn and garage has been the storage spot for all my kids.  They have brought over things they didn't want to get rid of but didn't want to store at their own places.  And why do I need to keep an infant bath, two potty chairs, walkers, jumping toys, swings, etc?  They've all said no more babies (perhaps son's wife will - you can get more welfare if you have more kids!).  It's all going to the garage sale.  If they want to claim it they'd better pick it up there.  Same goes for clothes.  I'm keeping enough for changes for each age and size but not entire wardrobes.  Unnecessary stuff. 
I was in charge of a book sale once.  I was given all the leftover books because they wanted to throw them away at the end.  Now I'll sell them or donate them.  I have a bunch of old chairs.  While you can never have too many chairs, I don't want these.  They are cracked and will put splinters where you definitely don't want splinters to go.  If someone else wants to deal with them fine...otherwise they'll make great firewood. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A day filled with stress, and none if it is mine

Three things happened today.  The first was sort of funny although I wouldn't have thought so if it was me.  Last Friday I assigned one of the people I supervise to a good project.  I really didn't want to wreck my weekend so I gave her the assignment.  Since I took the assignment the week before I knew she'd appreciate this one.  Working 16 hour days for two weeks gets tiring but she will bring in a great overtime check.  I figured she'd be happy.  And she was until today.  I got a text message from her that she was thrown under the bus.  What happened?  To go back a few days, she said there was only one issue that was a major item, everything else was going smoothly.  OK.  Does she want me to drive up there to help out with that issue?  No, she can handle it.  At least until today.

Today she got bombarded by the media.  They were acting like paparazzi.  They finally caught up with her for an interview.  She kept trying to steer their questioning but they kept repeating the same question a million different ways just to trip her up.  They didn't but she was as nervous as can be.  The interview wasn't the best on TV this evening.  Fortunately they won't run it again.  Unfortunately it will be able to be watched for a few days on the web until it is removed.  She didn't really perform poorly, she was shaking from nerves. 

I try to keep away from TV interviews.  I don't mind the newspaper because it's much easier to say a catch phrase that you know will be repeated.  There was one interview once that made national and international papers.  It was fun to have friends and relatives from all over the country read my quote in their local paper.  TV, that's a different story.  The last time I was interviewed for TV I got scolded by my bosses.  Why?  I had my sunglasses on for the interview.  That's against Department etiquette.  Sorry, the sun was in my eyes.

We have a rule at work.  If you are on TV, you owe your coworkers ice cream if they catch the interview.  She owes me ice cream.  She will be able to repay me with some of that overtime.  Let's see 100 hours of time and a half.  I think I'll have a triple scoop! 

The real stress for the day is going to affect me - really it's not much stress but it will take up some of my time every day that I had not counted on.  Mr. Bug-out renter announced that he is taking the job in Nevada but he isn't going to bring Mrs. Bug-out renter.  It seems he wants his open spaces of Nevada just for himself.  There's no "little miss" on the side, he just wants to be by himself.  What about your wife?  She isn't able to care for herself, especially at the Bug-out place. 

According to him, that's OK, since she's my friend I'll make sure she's fine.  I'll what?  Yes, he's leaving this weekend and he knows that she can't be out there by herself.  I will need to arrange for a person to go out to the bug-out place to check up on her daily.  It's an hour each way from my house.  I don't have the time or the gas money to make the trip each day. 

I was thinking about putting in security cameras that I could monitor.  If I talk to her on the phone each day and also monitor the cameras then I'll know she's fine.  She has grown kids but none of them want her to move in with them.  They don't want to deal with her medical issues. She has a brother who is married with two little kids.  His family is moving this weekend and he's said that once they get settled in their new place his sister could move in there.  That may be a good solution. 

Until then, I suppose the good news is that I don't need to find a new renter for the bug-out place.  Mrs. Bug-out renter will still be paying the rent.  Putting in cameras isn't a bad idea either.  If the place is left empty for any length of time having cameras monitoring the property is a good idea.  I hope it doesn't cost too much since starting in July we got another 5% pay cut.

I did have some more good news.  Max in Colorado Springs offered to give us one of his extra computers.  Thanks Max.  It will be put to good use.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

10% return on your money? It's easy!

Catchy title today.  Not only is it in the headlines in our local news but it's made national news as well.  The Ag Secretary is praying for rain.  According to reports less than 40% of corn crops are considered great.  About the same % is considered poor or very poor.  That's not a good outlook for corn.  Because of the drought food prices are expected to be going up - especially corn and meat.  

What does this mean to you?  Initially meat prices may fall.  Why?  Because of the shortage of corn many ranchers will kill off some of their stock.  (sort of why I sold some of my sheep) It will cost too much to feed their stock and they know it.  So initially there may be a glut in the market for things like beef and pork.  If there is and you eat it, then you should buy it.  Learn to can and put it up.

But food prices are going to continue to rise like they have over the past couple years.  I read somewhere that food only went up one or two percent last year.  If that's the case I wonder what those people were buying.  Most food items have jumped significantly. The following website has been tracking what he calls his grocery list for a year's worth of food for an adult.  http://www.grandpappy.info/hfood1yr.htm In the past 4 years food on his list has gone up 32%! That's almost 1/3 more.  But you know that already. 

If you put $100 in the bank today and planned on buying food with that money in one year you will have $101 to spend.  Do you really think the food today will only cost $1 more?  The basics are going to rise.  Cereals are going to rise.  Everything is going to rise.  Every extra penny you have should be going into food storage.  What better way than this to make 10% or maybe even more on your money? 

On a side note, for those who raise chickens and other animals, not only is the scratch and lay pellets going to go up but so is hay.  Why?  Because if the animal feed gets too high it will be supplemented with hay.  So stock up here too if you use any animal feed or hay.  I still have two dozen chickens in the chicken coop but all the chickens we are hatching in the incubator will end up in the front pasture.  Right now we have a dozen out front.  There's almost an acre for them to search for food.  I probably won't have to feed them at all if I don't want to.  That's the best way to raise livestock and poultry.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Playing Games Without Electronic Devices

My grand kids are deprived.  At least that's what their friends think...and sometimes they think so too.  Why?  Because they don't have handheld video games.  They don't have the latest IPad.  We had a Wii.  It broke so we don't have a Wii.  My older kids felt sorry for the grand kids so they gave us some other gaming system.  I don't even know what kind it is.  I haven't bought any games for it.  I think they have a couple of car racing games but that's it.  It's mostly used as a DVD player.  When the other grand kids come over they bring their own games for it. 

Boy has a really old computer that was a hand-me-down from my sister about 4 years ago.  Girl had a new one that was given to us.  Her older cousins did something to it and it no longer works.  Thanks boys.  Boy came in this afternoon asking about the game Hearts.  His computer has it and he can't figure out how to play it.  Sure, pull up a seat to my computer and I'll show you on my computer.  After playing one hand I realized that he wasn't going to figure out how to play the game watching the computer.  Go get a deck of cards.  Call in your sister and let's go to the dining room table.

I sat them down and taught them how to play.  I like four people rather than three and since there wasn't a fourth I played two hands.  We played three rounds with the cards all facing up on the table.  Then we played a couple of hands while holding our cards in our hands.  Then we played the last game with me not giving them any hints or help at all.  They had a great time.  And, they learned another game to play that doesn't need electricity or batteries. 
I told them how my brothers and sisters and I used to spend hours on rainy days playing cards.  Sometimes we'd play cards after dinner when we didn't want to watch TV.  If we were in trouble and grounded to our rooms playing cards was a fun way to pass the time. 

When was the last time you played a game of cards?  It's much easier to play FreeCell on the computer but I remember playing it as a teenager with a deck of cards all sprawled out on the floor.  Get your kids into card games and board games.  If you need to, take a break from your busy life and play with them.  Of course boy will want to play Hearts on his computer and that's ok.  He at least knows how to play it using a real deck of cards.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Making dinner with a "fireless" cooker

Last night I made dinner using a "fireless" cooker.  You really do need fire but not for long.  A fireless cooker is sort of like using a crockpot only it doesn't need to use electricity all day.  It also doesn't give off the wonderful cooking odors, which can be hazardous to your well being in a SHTF situation.  You see, food smells travel a very long way.  You don't want to be advertising to all those within a 1/2 mile or so that you are making a fantastic meal, do you?

I made a bean stew.  I started with dry, rock hard, navy beans.  I used two cups of dry beans and boiled them in water.  After they boiled for a few minutes I took them off the stove and dumped out that water.  I then added more water to the beans and also small pieces of meat, vegetables, and seasonings.  No salt.  The salt will make the beans tough, so that needs to be added right before you eat.  I used enough water to almost fill the pot.  I boiled this filled pot for about 15 minutes.  I wanted to make sure the meat was hot all the way through.  Then I took it off the stove and placed it into my fireless cooker. 

What is a fireless cooker?  It's a well insulated box that will continue to cook whatever you put into it.  If the insulation is good enough your food will be ready in anywhere from 4-8 hours, depending on what you are making.  Since I started out with dry beans I knew it would take all day to "cook".  People use all kinds of things for their cook box.  You can use a cardboard box with insulation and then place another box inside that one.  I know someone who has a piece of furniture that is a big storage box.  When needed, she converts that into a fireless cooker.  Me, I used a cube ice chest. 

I have a couple of old bedspreads that are very thin and worn out.  I don't need them for blankets.  They'd make terrible rags.  They'd be perfect for a dog bed or something like that.  They make perfect stuffing (insulation) for the fireless cooker.  I opened the ice chest and placed one of the bedspreads on the bottom.  It came up the sides a bit, which was perfect.  I then put in my covered, filled pot.  I put the other bedspread on top and down the sides.  The two bedspreads plus the pot fit perfectly into the ice chest.  I then closed the lid and waited. 

About 15 minutes before dinner I opened up the ice chest.  The pot was still so hot that I had to use pot holders to take it out.  Dinner was perfectly cooked.  There weren't any odors.  I didn't use any extra propane to cook it other than heating it up in the morning when I didn't mind the stove on.  This is an easy way to cook soups, stews, and such without having to heat up the kitchen, use a lot of power, or have smells wafting through the neighborhood.  Another great way to prepare your meal.

I forgot to take pictures of the cooked food.  Sorry, there's none left to show now!


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Food Storage - If you don't like the stuff now, what makes you think you'll like it when TSHTF?

We had a can of lentil soup for lunch today.  Along side the soup each of us had a nice homemade roll.  The kids got koolaid to drink.  (They sure thought they were living high getting koolaid!)  While we were eating the soup I came to the brilliant conclusion that I don't like lentil soup.  I don't like lentils as a side dish.  I just don't like lentils. 

I ate the soup with a smile on my face.  I have no intention of swaying the grand kids into not liking food.  It did get me to thinking about lentils and other things I may have in my food storage.  Now, most of the soup we eat is homemade but I do have close to 25 cans of soup for days that I just don't feel like cooking, which can also be the beginning days of TSHTF.  I keep the soups rotated, which means we do eat canned soup every once in a while.  This can of lentil soup needed to be eaten. 

Of course, eat a can, replace it with two.  But I won't be replacing it with lentil soup!  I have dry lentils in my food storage.  Why?  I can't for the life of me understand why I thought it would be a good idea to spend money on them.  It was probably one of those purchases where I thought it would be nice to have a wide variety of foods. Sure, if you like eating them.  But I don't.  When TSHTF and someone comes along wanting to barter for food, the first thing to go will be lentils. 

Note to self.  If I don't like it now I won't like it then.  While it's important to have a variety of food so you don't get into a food rut and not want to eat, don't store what you don't like.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What I learned from the radio talkshow including dealing with constipation

On Friday I had to work down in Southern California.  I got home this evening.  As soon as I made it down there I got another call that someone needed to be assigned to the north part of the state and since my counterpart is on vacation I ended up assigning that to someone from Southern California.  I think this entire summer we will just be criss-crossing the state.  Unfortunately for me it doesn't always end up as overtime, even if I'm working 16 hours a day for a couple days.  It's a weird formula for managers as compared to those who work for us.  They get time and a half no matter what.  So, I'd rather they work than me.  It may save the state money if I did all the overtime and didn't get paid for it but the point of not getting paid is they actually don't want the supervisors taking the assignments if at all possible.  So I'll enjoy my time at home...if I can. 

On my way home from down south I was listening to some radio station from who knows where.  The first host was very interesting.  He gave lots of pointers for getting and staying healthy.  The second host spoke about exercise.  Since I was driving I couldn't really take notes, but there were quite a few pointers I remembered. 

Get an inversion table.  He said a cervical decompression machine is best but since most people don't have a spare $25,000, an inversion table was the alternative he recommended.  These can be bought for under $150. 

Exercise tears the body down.  It's during the recovery period that the rebuilding of the body takes place.  Depending on what you are doing depends on how long the recovery time is.  If you don't take enough time to recover then you will damage rather than build.  That's why interval training is important.  Change what you are doing and what you are focusing on so each part has time to fully recover before you start to tear it down again!

Another tip was to clean up your house.  If you get it organized then your entire being will be less stressed.  The host made comments about how hard it is to part with things because they are a link to your past.  The only problem is often that past will hold you back.  That's why people hire organizers to come in to clean out their house.  This doesn't mean a prepper or survivalist needs to get rid of their preps.  Not at all.  It means how many old used coloring books do you need to keep?  Do you need every spelling test that your kid has brought home from school?  How many pairs of shoes do you need?  One suggestion I've been told if you are a packrat is to take one of those 20 gallon totes and put everything in it that you want to save for each kid.  Or one per five years.  Or you pick but do something to organize your space.  It will give you more room for bullets, beans, and bandaids. 

How about your emotional health?  Keep a two sided list.  Worries/Dreams.  Write it down.  Write down everything you worry about.  Health, black cats, earthquakes, UPS drivers, EMP, whatever you worry about.  Write everything you can think of for a week.  Then go back and circle the items that aren't rational.  If you have a trusted friend then have them circle the items that aren't rational.  It's interesting because what a survivalist thinks is rational (ie EMP) most others would say is irrational!  Once you figure out what isn't rational realize that you are wasting time worrying about those items.  The worries that are rational you need to figure out a plan to prepare for them so you can take them off the worry list.  Or at least make them non-issues. 

Do the same with your dreams.  Write them down.  Then see if you can work toward them.  The question posed was if you could be doing anything, money not being an issue, what would you be doing?  Whatever you write down, as many things as possible, try to figure out how to get to any of those results. 

Your skin.  Get a boars hair brush for your skin.  Every morning go over your body with the brush to remove dead skin.  If you don't think your skin sheds then get a black towel or mat and brush off your skin while standing on the mat.  Don't clean off the mat for a week and you'll be disgusted with the amount of dead skin that has accumulated with your daily brushing.  Why will this help the prepper?  You probably won't be showering every day once TSHTF.  But you still want to take care of yourself as best as possible.  Just giving yourself this daily brushoff will stimulate the skin as well as keeping the skin cleaner and healthier.  Try it.

Dealing with constipation.  In the morning when you awaken, before you eat or drink anything else, drink a tablespoon of olive oil.  If you can't take the taste then mix it 1/2 and 1/2 with lemon juice or orange juice.  Then get on with your normal morning routine.  About an hour after you get up you will find yourself in the bathroom and you will no longer be constipated.  You'll feel much better if you add this to your daily routine.

And the last tip comes from Psalm 46: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we are unafraid, even if the earth gives way, even if the mountains tumble into the depths of the sea, even if its waters rage and foam, and mountains shake at its turbulence. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bug-out Renters Moving

Last night Mr. Bug-out renter sent an email letting me know he got a job offer in Reno.  That's not where they'd like to live and Mrs. Bug-out renter is having a fit having to leave the Bug-out place.  She's not physically well enough to be able to stay there without him.  His job starts in 2 weeks.  He will go to Reno, figure out where they are going to live, then try to move Mrs. before his job starts. 

This evening I got another email from him.  He said that there's a possibility that another job is opening up in a ranching town where he was born and raised.  He would even be able to rent his little apartment at the ranch that he'd lived in for years before he and Mrs. Bug-out renter got together.  Now he's hoping for this job instead.  So am I.  He'll be much happier on the ranch than in a city.  Mrs. Bug-out renter is not going to be happy no matter what but should like the ranch better than the city. 

This leaves me with the question of what to do with the Bug-out place.  Because it is so out of the way it's an easy target for the druggies to loot.  They take what they can to sell for drugs or whatever.  Mrs. Bug-out renter has several times walked out on the front porch, carrying a shotgun, yelling at strangers to go away.  And they do!  But, what about an empty place? 

If they move out how do I keep my preps safe?  A burglar alarm wouldn't do any good.  Nobody would hear it and even if 911 was called when it went off it would probably take 45 minutes for the sheriff to show up.  Do I need to get a metal container?  Even if I did it would probably be used as target practice.  I could hang up the motion camera to get photos of the hoodlums but that doesn't mean the sheriff would have time to do anything to make problems go away.  I really don't want to move out there full time, I'd rather be where I'm at.  I don't know anyone else that I'd want to rent the place to. Anybody have any ideas on how to keep an unoccupied structure undisturbed?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Such a deal if you are from the Great Central Valley

I'm still out of town and am checking email prior to passing out from exhaustion.  This came across so I figured I better get it posted.  It's a $20 gift certificate for $10 at GI Jim's up in Prather.  http://valleydailydeals.com/e/dxjso9pw/zur58x29mos2n3ijo0kil6/link  You can purchase up to three.  That's three trips up the hill but worth the drive.  It's a great deal.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Got to go to work

I was hoping to put up a good post today about the new chickens that are in the process of hatching.  Instead I have to pack them up, and the grand kids, and take them over to oldest daughters house for a few days.  I have to go to work. Finally got some overtime scheduled that will pay me.  I don't mind the normal overtime but not getting paid for it gets old.  At least this time I will get paid for ruining my weekend. 

When I got called they asked when I'd be leaving.  Thinking my normal prep time, I said 30 minutes.  The person on the phone said that's awful quick and not very safe.  I didn't feel like reminding this person that in exchange for keeping my truck at home I'm supposed to be ready to leave in three minutes.  Three, so I thought 30 was being generous.  Since I was told to go slower, after all, I don't need to be there until early morning...and it's a 300+ mile drive, fine.  I'll stay home for a little while and water everything really well.  That way I don't have to rely on the neighbor as much. 

The incubator is packed.  All I need to do is find the cat so I can lock him in the house.  Then I'll be out of here.  I don't know if I'll be posting while I'm gone.  It depends if I work 12 or 16 hour days.  If it's 16, then I probably won't.  Probably will be gone for four days.  That's just right to make some money and start missing home.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Pest Control

Some time a while back I wrote that I have a monthly pest control service come to the house.  It costs $35 a month and overall I've been satisfied with their service.  If I needed them to come out a second time in a month then they'd do so.  Lately I don't know what they've used on their regular monthly service but it sure hasn't lasted long.  I've gotten overrun.

Now around here we have seasons, much like the weather only with bugs.  We have cricket season, frog season, millipede season, mouse season, gnat season, etc. with all these creatures coming into the house.  Lately the gnats have been so bad that you can't open your mouth on the front porch or you'd be eating them.  It's gotten to the point that at night they'd somehow make it into the house and cover the entire ceiling in the kitchen.  I would have just put up with it until my regularly scheduled appointment if it hadn't been for the fleas that I saw on my bedspread.  That's it.  Clark, I need you! 

My loyal pest control guy came out yesterday to spray the house and yard.  This time I paid attention to what he sprayed.  He used two products: Demand CS and Tengard.  I got on line to www.epestsupply.com .  They sell these two products, and many others.  They offer free shipping.  The Demand was used inside.  It costs about $1-4 per use depending on how concentrated you need it.  It is used on the following pests:  Ants, Bedbugs (adult), Bees (don't worry bees, you stay out of my house and we are both happy!), Beetles, Boxelder Bugs, Carpenter Bees, Carpet Beetles, Centipedes, Cigarette Beetles, Clover Mites, Cockroaches, Confused Flour, Beetles, Crickets, Earwigs, Firebrats, Fleas, Flies, Lesser Grain, Borers, Millipedes, Mosquitoes, Red Flour Beetles, Rice Weevils, Saw-toothed, Grain Beetles, Silverfish, Sowbugs, Spiders, Termites (above ground only), Ticks, Wasps.  

Tengard costs about $3-5 per gallon diluted.  Tengard One Shot contains permethrin - the same active ingredient used in the popular Dragnet FT and Permethrin Plus C insecticides for termites. It can be used as perimeter insect control on lawns, ornamental trees, shrubs, and on buildings and under you slab.  It kills: Ants, ant mounds, armyworms, bedbugs, bark beetles, bees, beetles, borers, boxelders bugs, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, centipedes, chinchbugs, cockroaches, crickets, earwigs, elm leaf beetles, fire ants, fleas, flies, firebrats, ground beetles, gypsy moths, millipedes, mole crickets, pillbugs, scorpions, silverfish, sod webworms, sowbugs, spiders, termites, ticks, wasps, etc..  Again, I don't want it killing bees so I won't be spraying it near them.  I won't use it near the garden or anything that the bees use.

If I had purchased these myself I would have used about $20 worth of insecticide.  This means it cost $15 to have someone else apply it.  To me, that's a bargain for an hour or two of their time.  But they don't always use that much stuff or spend that much time at the house.  This time they went overboard because of the fleas.  They also go to oldest daughter's house (aka my house that they are renting).  I pay for that service, so it's not really $35 a month it's $70. I think for that price I can tell myself I'm needed rather than Clark.  Even when they came over with the mouse sticky traps I ended up having to buy more at Tractor Supply when they were on sale 2 for $1.00.  After all, we trapped almost 50 mice IN THE HOUSE!  What can I say, I keep a clean house and the pests love us anyway.

What if it is today?  What if I can't just call up Clark and have them come spray?  I need to be able to do this myself with my own products.  We really can't be like the local native Americans.  In this area, they'd burn the place off and move 1/2 mile down the creek or river and start over to get away from the bugs.  They'd come back in a year or two, once their new place was overrun by bugs.  I can't do that.  We need to be able to control the pests, especially when TSHTF.  Having to deal with bug bites or critters getting into your food or garden just isn't going to cut it.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Grapes are almost as valuable on a homestead as apples.  Both can be eaten fresh.  With apples you can make applesauce or jam, juice or cider, hard cider (alcohol), dried apples (fruit roll ups or sliced), and even apple doll heads.  With grapes you can make grape jelly, jam, raisins, juice and wine.  Our property was lacking in both when I moved here 15 years ago.  There were two apple trees, two pear trees, one yellow plum, and lots of figs.  I planted more apple trees although I think we could still use more.  After all, if we don't eat them or preserve them they make great animal food.  

This is the fourth year the grapes have been in the ground for four of the plants and the second year for the rest.  We now have over a dozen grapevines.  The property behind me had over 100 acres of grapes and when I moved in that landowner said we could hop our fence and pick as many as we wanted.  He gave permission for me to pick enough for fresh eating, raisins, and grape juice.  It was a great deal!  Then that owner sold the property.  The next owner did nothing with it, including not watering.  In our area you have to water or things eventually die.  And they did.  I was fortunate to see the whithering writing on the wall and decided to plant some of my own.  

The older grandsons dug four holes and planted two Thompson and two Red Globe vines.  The first year I pulled off all the little grapes that started to grow.  I wanted the plants to put their efforts into the roots, not the fruit.  The second year, two summers ago, we got two or three bunches.  In the middle of the summer I took a bunch of cuttings from the grapevines and pulled off the leaves, dunked in bottom in water, then in a rooting powder.  I shoved the stem into a big pot of filled with soaking wet potting soil.  I dumped a bucket of water into this pot everyday to keep it really moist. 

Then last summer I planted the newly rooted vines into the ground along the walkway in the front.  Most lived and grew about 1 foot or two in height.  This summer, their second summer in the ground, I trimmed them back to have one main trunk going up the post.  They are now about 3 feet tall and very healthy.  I expect that next summer each will start producing a bunch or two.  I will, of course, take off those bunches so the plant can get fully established.  By their fourth summer in the ground, in two more years, they will be fulling bearing grapes. 

The original four plants grew quite a few bunches of grapes last year.  Even though it was their third year in the ground the plants were probably 5 years old (if I compare the size of the plants when I planted them to the ones I grew from my own starters) so I kept all the grapes on.  Unfortunately Boy was being helpful and he picked them all at the same time and brought them into the house.  Many of them weren't even ripe.   

This year we have about 50 bunches of grapes from our four vines!  I have given the grand kids strict orders to not pick any until I tell them they are ripe, and then only to pick what they are going to eat.  Do not help me out by picking them all!  If I ask you to pick me some grapes I mean ONE bunch.  Even with this many grape bunches I do not think there will be any left for making raisins.  The fruit tree crop is so bad that other than apples, oranges, and mulberries, it's slim pickings off the trees.  The mission figs on the neighbor's tree have already gone to the birds.  I did get several trays of dried figs made first.  The Kadota figs (the green ones) are going to be ripe in a few more weeks.  Still, the grapes are going to be the favorite fruit once they ripen. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Steal of a Deal at the Grocery Store

Yesterday I had to go to town so I stopped at Von's to pick up a couple gallons of milk and some hot dog buns.  I was expecting to spend about $10.  Instead I spent almost $50.  When I go to the grocery store I always look at the 1/2 price bin.  Sometimes they have good deals.  Such deals, I couldn't pass them up.  Except one.

One of the "deals" was a package of canning lids.  It was marked 75% off.  Excellent, until I looked at the "regular" price of $9.99!!!!  Yes, a penny less than $10 for one package of lids.  Not lids and rings, just lids.  With 75% off the price was $2.50.  Gee, I can normally get them regular price for $1.69.  No bargain there.  But I did get a bargain on some other items. 

Knorr sells soup and bouillon mixes.  They also sell seasonings.  In this case they had both alphabet noodle vegetable soup mix and chicken noodle soup mix (just add 4 cups water for 4-90 calorie servings) on sale.  Normally the price of those packages are about $1.50.  Yesterday they were marked .59 and were 1/2 price of that!  I bought about 30 packages of soup mix for .30 each!  What else did they have?  Noodles!  Besides elbow, spaghetti, and the sort, I buy 7 ounce packages of the Mexican type of noodles.  These are usually alphabet, teardrop sized pieces, or angel hair.  Normally it's 3 packages for $1.00 or .33 each.  It comes out to about .75 a pound for the noodles.  Not yesterday.  They were priced at .29 each and on sale for half so .15 each.  That comes to .35 per pound for noodles!  We bought about over 20 pounds.

What else did they have?  Salsa.  I know, why would I buy salsa if I make it?  Remember Army daughter is related!  She won't eat homegrown when she visits.  This was organic salsa normally $2.50 a jar, which I thought was a good price for organic.  Somehow the price ended up at .75 each.  I bought all four jars! 

The final item was some cans of sardines.  Normally over $2.00 on sale for .99.  Not as good of a bargain as the rest of my purchases but good nevertheless.  Sometimes I just never know when  I'm going to be adding to the food storage. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Declaration of Independence!

Happy 4th of July!  You do know this is the celebration of the Declaration of Independence, right?  It's not about the constitution.  That came later.  It's not about our first president, George Washington.  We didn't have a president for about a decade.  Were you aware of that?  I'm sure you all are, I doubt much of the country knows any meaning other than fireworks, hot dogs and hamburgers, and apple pie and ice cream.

The grand kids are old enough now to understand some of what happened.  As dinner tonight I read the entire Declaration.  I tried to make it as exciting as possible even though most of the words they didn't understand.  When was the last time you thought about this sentence, "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security"?  

What was the gist of the letter we wrote?  We said we wanted to split off from England and be our own country.  We said we believe God would allow this.  We believe that all men are created equal. We have rights that are giving to us by God.  Some of them are the right to life, liberty, and to be able to pursue happiness.  (The pursuit of happiness doesn't guarantee that you will be happy.  The choices you make throughout your life do have an affect on your happiness.)  Since the King of England wasn't being fair to the American colonists, they wanted to split away and form their own country. 

They included a list of reasons they wanted to make this split. The king didn't want them to pass laws that were good for everyone.  When they did pass laws the king wouldn't sign them.  (I explained now that if the president doesn't sign a law it can still be a law.)  The king thought the colonists shouldn't make the laws, the king thought he and his friends should do so.  The king also sent soldiers and government people here and then made the colonists pay for them and forced them to allow the soldiers to stay at their homes uninvited.  The soldiers didn't even have to follow any of the rules!  When the colonists broke the rules they had to go back to England for a trial. 

The king said we could only buy things from England, even if we wanted to buy them from other places.  That way England could charge extra taxes.  They charged us taxes for everything!  Then because we didn't like it the king made deals with the Indians to fight against the colonists. 

The colonists knew that God would agree with them.  God wants us to be free to serve God, not the king of England, not the president of the US. 

This was the quick kid version.  England wasn't fair.  We set about to change it.  The thoughts the colonists had about the English governing them bring about the same thoughts we have about our government today.  To reduce them under absolute Despotism - under rule of King Obama.  The president we now have isn't fair.  I hope we are smart enough to change it. 

We had our hot dogs, chips, pickles, corn on the cob, koolaid, and ice cream.  It's starting to get dark.  I'd better head out to the backyard to start the fireworks. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The "new" old sewing machine

Last night I stayed up until 11:00 making Girl a new outfit for 4th of July.  I took her blue America t-shirt that I bought last year and added long sleeves that are striped in red-white-blue.  Then I made a skirt to match the new sleeves.  She's going to look adorable!   Boy wanted some sleeves too so I added them to his stained USA shirt as well.

This brought me back to thinking about clothing for the future if there aren't stores to go buy clothes in.  Not a problem...girl doesn't need to be dressed in the height of fashion.   She isn't normally, just every once in a while I get a whim to make something fun.  I don't want to have to think about sheering sheep to collect the wool, then processing it, then weaving it, just to make clothes.  It's an interesting skill to learn but not one that I am interested in doing on a permanent basis.  Since it isn't then I need to make sure I'm prepared for not only me but growing kids.  I have some 20 year old things hanging in my closet and in the drawers.  The grand kids can't do that.  They don't even fit into things from a year or two ago.  It all has to be replaced. 

I have several shelves filled with fabric.  I have denim fabric, fleece, knits, and extra fabrics.  These will make pants, skirts, sweats, pj's, shorts, swimwear, and underwear.  I have patterns of all sizes for men, women, and children to make all necessary clothing.  Just about everything that they will need in the future.  I have the sewing notions including thread, needles for the machine and hand sewing, scissors, dollar reading glasses so I can thread the needle, oil for the sewing machine, extra bobbins, elastic, and much more. 

When I was in high school I decided to make some of my own clothes.  I didn't want to use the sewing machine.  Several outfits were made entirely by hand sewing.  After I got the hang of it, it really didn't take a long time to sew the clothes together.  It looked great and it gave me a good feeling that I was able to make them without the machine.   

What about the sewing machine?  I was given a new machine as a gift about five years ago.  I love it.  When I was asked what kind I wanted I said something that has several stitches but not filled with electronics.  I wanted the stitches all to work on a cam system.  So that's what I was given. 

Today I dropped 16 year old grandson off at the train station.  He's going to some relatives on his dad's side for a month.  Since I was downtown, and not in my work truck, I decided to stop by some thrift stores.  I wanted to see if there were any canning jars.  I didn't find any.  I did find some brand new jeans, never worn with the tags still on them, for the Boy.  He will fit into that size either this school year or the next.  For $2.00 a pair you can't go wrong.  My best buy was a "new" White sewing machine.  It's probably 75 or 80 years old, I have to do some research.  It works - I was able to sew a seam prior to buying it.  The best part?  It was tagged at $29.95...but it was 1/2 price!  So for $15.00 I bought a sewing machine in it's hideaway desk.  Not a bad deal.  Still, I wish I found canning jars.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Still Plugged Up? Still No Benefiber? Don't Blame Me.

By far, the most hits on this blog are on my Benefiber post from two months ago.  Today I got this comment, which I found to be the funniest comment I’ve ever gotten on my blog (on All Plugged Up and Benefiber is Nowhere to be Found) so I had to post it.  Well thank you for stocking up 3 years worth. Two people in my family have diverticulitis which is life threatening - intestines can rupture and you can die - or you can suffer with the infected pockets and wish you would die - it is horrible. We can't find Benefiber which is the only thing that we found to prevent these attacks But we will sleep better tonight knowing that you have your 3 years supply. Well, actually, I feel really sorry for the Anonymous person who posted.  You see, Anonymous is confusing me -  a prepper and survivalist, with a hoarder.  That is certainly not me. 

I suppose it is MY FAULT that during times of plenty I spurred the economy of this country by purchasing items that were plentiful, using cash.  I suppose I could have waited until just before the items were pulled from the shelf.  Or, better yet, as soon as they get restocked I stand in line and buy them all up!  No, it’s better that I bought them when the shelves were full.  Nobody suffered because I bought three large containers.  This Anonymous person probably bought a little tiny container…and probably used their EBT cash card to boot (obnoxious comment, sorry to all those who truly need EBT cards…this comment wasn’t meant for you).  If my life depended on something as simple as a shelf stable product like Benefiber, I’d bet my life on it that I’d stock up for 5 or 10 years, not just three. 

Let this be a lesson to you Mr. or Ms. Anonymous.  Make a list of items you or your family needs.  Buy them or make them…NOW.  As for my having Benefiber and you don't, if you reread that column and the other comments (suggestions) posted, you will know that I posted some substitutes which are easy to deal with.  High fiber food, exercise, water.  The reason people would rather use Benefiber than high fiber food is it's easy and pretty much calorie free.  After all, if I'm watching calories I'd rather have a cup of coffee with Benefiber and a cookie on the side than a cup of coffee and a bran muffin.  Same amount of calories and fiber...the cookie just tastes better.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Staying Put and a Problem with the Pole Barn

I didn't get the job that I applied for in Utah.  They had over 200 applications for this job. I was in the top 10.  Close but no cigar.  The job I have now will continue to be my job, but I am still looking for another job.  It's not that I don't like where I work, I do, but the state pays so little (don't be fooled by those stories about overpaid and underworked state employees - in MOST cases it's not true) and we just got hit with another pay cut.  There's one job that's pretty local that I really want.  It won't be available for another 6 months or so but it pays about 40% more than I make now.  This company wants me for the position.  So perhaps not getting the Utah job was to make sure I was around for this local job.  We'll see.  I was looking forward to driving to Utah for the interview and then stopping by some of the preparedness stores on the way home.  It just wasn't meant to be.

We are getting another pay cut starting today.  My paycheck is going to be about $300 a month less.  I'll still be able to pay my bills but the prepping with money is going to come to a screeching halt.  That's ok because I have a great big list of projects to do that don't require money since I have most of the materials.  Except one.  I was out in the big barn today...it's a 24X48 pole barn.  One of the poles has been eaten away right about ground level.  On a pole barn, every pole is necessary.  This is not good.  I'm going to have to figure out how to fix this.  I may have to dig a hole next to this pole and just put a new pole next to it.  It's definitely something that I can't do on my own.  Any pole barn experts out there who can give me some hints?