Sunday, September 30, 2012

Review of Homesteading for $3000

James Dakin wrote Homesteading for $3,000 in 2006.  I downloaded it free.  This book starts off OK with the premise that most people think about the homestead as a cute little house on several acres, the animals, garden, and stream and pond.  Sure, that's how I think about homesteading although it doesn't quite describe my five acres of paradise, nor my five acres of bug-out property.  He then goes on to write that you'd have to pay a lot for that, perhaps $100,000 or more.  In my case, in beautiful Great Central Valley of California, much, much, more. 

Mr. Dakin writes about all the ways you can live for less than $3,000 per year.  Much of his suggestions are absurd in a normal situation.  They are good suggestions for when TSHTF.  He talks about travel trailers, mobile homes, old cars and buses, tents, then long as other critters didn't get there first.  He suggests buying a piece of land, even without water because you can just haul water each day.  You don't need a vehicle or want one because that costs money.  A bicycle will do, or a cart and buckets for your water. 

His ideal?  Buy near a small town...that's what just about everyone will tell you so that's nothing new.  Spend under $1,000 for the land (only in the desert can you find that, and even then you won't find that in California) and pull up your travel trailer.  Set up a patio barbecue.  Don't worry about not being able to garden, just buy a bunch of wheat.  Lack of jobs isn't an issue.  Sit back and collect welfare and food stamps.  Not at all my cup of tea!

He did give a few good suggestions.  If you have a south facing window, put a U curtain rod at the top and hang a black plastic curtain.  The sun will heat the space and the hot air will rise above the rod and shower your room with warmth.  I liked that idea.   

A mortgage is not being self sufficient.  I am willing to work for 5 or 10 years to pay off a mortgage than to live the primitive ways that Mr. Dakin suggests.  I'd rather spend a bit more money on a better piece of property and then work to make my property a paradise (as self sufficient as possible) rather than spend less and work much harder just to survive.  Even when I picked out the bug-out place property I made sure there was water on the property, even more water less than 1/3 mile away (hauling buckets of water would get old!), it has firewood, and the ability to grow a garden. 

I read blogs of families who live in trailers and mobile homes.  They haul water.  They use an outhouse.  It's a hard life but they love their lives.  If I was younger and just starting out I may have been more agreeable to that harder lifestyle.  If I have the choice I'd rather try to live less primitive, but still have the knowledge and skills necessary to live without the luxuries, if need be.   Even James Dakin doesn't live how he suggests, nor has he tried all the ways he writes about.  Still the book does have some ideas if times get really tough.  It's worth reading, especially because it was free.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Just one of those weeks

I haven't posted in about a week.  Wow, where did the time go? 

The week didn't start out well.  Great Grandparent (GGP) was visiting and brought the dog.  I told GGP that last time the dog was over (the week before when I was out of town for a week) that two of my chickens were killed.  GGP said, "how do you know it was my dog?"  Since I can't strangle my parent, or even blow my was tempting though... I said that Big Dog and Yip Yip don't chase chickens.  Your dog does.  And it chases my ducks too.  Just watch the dog when it's outside.  GGP called the dog over and said, "be a good girl and don't chase chickens".  The next morning GGP called me over to say the dog had something in the back lawn.  Our pet rooster.  Yip-Yip's best friend that she comes over and plays with.  Our dead rooster.  GGP was really upset.  Not because the rooster was dead but because the dog didn't listen to her.  Yep, can't wait until I'm that age and my mind starts to not make much sense.  Hope my kids learn the art of patience and tolerance by then.  I got smart and built a pen off my bedroom door for GGP to put the dog into.  Will GGP use it next week when I leave for a week?  Doubt it.  I wonder how many more chickens I'll lose?   

I sat down at the computer to write the other night and ended up playing a computer game instead.  My Freecell score is 144 wins out of 145 games since I was given this computer by Max in Colorado.  Every once in a while I sit down to see if the computer will catch me.  It hasn't in quite a while, I think the second or third day I had the computer. 

Son told me that he left the garage gate open and something strewed the garbage all over the yard.  I could have been anything and they weren't able to pick up any tracks to see what they had rummaging through Bug-out renters trash.  At least the pile is getting smaller since every time they come into town they bring some more trash to throw out. 

The next door neighbor at the bug-out place lives in the big city and comes up there once a week.  He has a couple horses, a steer, calf, and goat on the property.  He doesn't have a well and he hauls water in the back of his truck each week.  My son said he was going to offer setting up a pipe from my property to the neighbors so he can use our water.  I said no.  It's fine for son to check to make sure the animals haven't run out and give them some water if they do, but I don't want anyone to not have an incentive to put in their own well, or to not pay for the use of mine because we offered.  I have no idea what type of shape my well is in, or the pump for that matter.  I don't want to wear it out.  Now, if the neighbor asks to barter something or somehow compensates for the water, that's another story.  Again, son can make sure that the animals don't run out of water.  I wouldn't want that to happen but so far the neighbor has made it up each week.  If I offered my water I wonder if he'd not make it up to check on them as often?

The neighbor called me yesterday to tell me that one of his horses was killed by a bear.  Son confirmed that he was walking up the road with grandson on the way to the school bus and they saw the bear over by the pond.  If the bear is out killing horses and is seen during the day there's something wrong.  Son, you need to make sure you are armed when you are outside and the little ones shouldn't be running too far away from the house.  Mountain lion at my place, bear at the bug-out place.  What's next?  How about deer?  That I wouldn't mind in the freezer!

Big dog's leg hasn't gotten any better, so since I'm leaving for a week in just a few days I figured I'd better get her to the vet.  I don't like the vet.  $650 is the least the vet bill ever costs.  It's not going to be any different this time.  He was able to figure out that the problem is at her knee, not her hip.  But he couldn't tell if it was broken, if the ACL was torn, or just what the problem was, other than lots of swelling and she didn't want to be touched on her knee.  She needs to be knocked out for x-rays and then fixed of whatever the problem is.  She also has a cyst on her front leg that will be drained, tested, or whatever needs to be done.  At least she doesn't have any foxtails! 

The grand kids want me to get the new job I applied for because I told them I'd take them out to eat a couple times per month if I did. Now instead of loving Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, etc. they are pointing out Applebees, Olive Garden, et al. Sorry kids. How about once a month at Yougertland instead? Me, I want to get the job so I can pay off the house before I retire and also put up more preps. I have no other desire to spend the extra money on anything else.  The recruiter for the new job I want called to tell me more about the job.  All sounds good except the pay is $10,000 a year less than what I was expecting it to be.  It didn't sound very negotiable.  Put me in a rotten mood.  But then I got back into a good mood considering it's still a lot more per year than I make.  That along with retirement money from my job I have now, and I'll be set.  Interviews are in a couple of weeks. 

I have about half the fruit trees trimmed.  Then I remembered the 175 feet of figs along the back of the property.  I haven't trimmed those in about 10 years.  I just let the animals trim them for me.  I should get out there and trim those properly.  That's my task for tomorrow.  Boy is stacking firewood rounds.  Oldest daughter's husband dumped a huge load of mostly stove length rounds when their tree fell over last April.  It was too heavy to do anything with.  Now it's dried out enough for Boy to handle.  Girl, she's going to be working in the garden.  She'd rather stack the wood but she's just out of the cast for her broken finger so she doesn't get to do the hard stuff, only the boring stuff.   

It's less than 3 months until the holidays are upon us.  I'm making all home made food gifts this year.  My plan was to make hot sauce.  I bought new bottles, including the plastic squirter insert, the caps, and also shrink wrap to make it look professional.  The only problem was my peppers decided not to cooperate.  Last year I was up to my eyeballs in peppers.  This year, two plants grew.  That's not even enough for us.  But I do have last year's peppers soaking in vinegar.  They've been in the mixture since they were picked a year ago.  Tabasco soaks for 3-6 months.  Mine should be perfect!  Blend them up, add whatever I want to make it unique.  Cap, seal, GIFT! 

We have had a bumper crop of okra.  I wonder if anyone wants dried okra?  Doubt it. 


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gardening Chores

Today I got to spend several hours in the garden.  It felt great!  I haven't been home for any stretch of time in such a long time.  Army daughter was supposed to come over today with her family and she called to say they weren't coming, as long as that was OK with me.  Perfectly fine.  I want to garden.

I weeded all the garden beds.  The grand kids weeded the old asparagus bed, which is really the walkway between two of the garden beds.  Last winter we dug out many of the old asparagus plants but lots grew back.  We will dig out the rest of the row this winter.  That won't really get rid of them because if there is a little root left they will regrow.  I'll end up having to spray roundup or something on them to kill them off at some point.  But for now, we will probably end up with another hundred roots or so to plant somewhere else or to give away.  If anyone wants asparagus roots let me know!  My new location for them is along the fence line going down the driveway.  I have about 50 or 60 feet planted right now.  I can put in another 100 feet on this fence line.  If I want I can plant them along the entire property fence line.  1/2 mile of asparagus.  That would sure produce a lot.  It's really an easy plant to grow.  You just water them for the first or second summer, then they just grow during the spring and after you are done cutting them they fern out and die out during the summer if they don't get water.  They will come back the next spring.  They don't really spread out wide.  I think mine spread from about 6 inches to about 2 feet in width in about 10 years.   

I trimmed back 10 of the fruit trees.  When you look at the way most people grow trees in their yard and then you look at the way they are grown in commercial orchards you will notice a completely different method of growing trees.  Most home grown trees have a center stem and all the branches grow off that.  Or they have several stems.  Usually the tree starts branching somewhere between waist and shoulder high.  There may be dozens of branches.  Not in commercial orchards.  Most trees have three to six branches that all start about one foot off the ground.  It looks like the center stem was cut out and the branches all grow around this cut area.  When the trees are trimmed each fall you end up seeing the main branches and just little stubs of stem growing from each branch.  If you've seen it you know what I mean.  They look nothing like backyard trees.  I'm in the process of converting the trees from center stem to the commercial style.  This means over the years I've cut out the leader stem and trimmed and trimmed the trees to get them growing right.  I'm almost there!  The trees are looking good and I'm hoping next year I get an excellent crop.  I still have about 40 trees to trim. 

Not all the trees need trimming, and some of them, including the fruiting mulberry look more like yard trees than orchard trees.  I wanted them to look that way.  I wanted to be able to walk under those trees. 

While I was trimming trees, and feeding the leaves and branches to the sheep, I was thinking about really getting this property to fully support us - not only feeding us but making some money on the side.  My food storage program will feed us for over one year but if it's supplemented as I expect to be able to then it should last quite a lot longer.  My intent is to not have to rely on the bought food storage but to be able to provide all the food we need...forever.  When TSHTF I would expect life to be a little chaotic.  I'd expect to be relying on the food storage more and having less time to deal with the garden.  Once things settle down I'd expect the garden, chickens, ducks, sheep, and goats to feed us entirely. 

This means I have to expand more of the garden into permanent crops.  I also have to get more serious about keeping the sheep out of some of the pastures so I can plant them with grain.  I'd like to put in some additional trees.  The winter weather keeps killing the avocado trees I plant.  I'm thinking about planting one and putting a permanent type of greenhouse on top of it.  Just trying to wrap it isn't working.  This will provide a high calorie high fat fruit.   I'm also going to put in many more apples.  An apple tree will provide fresh fruit, it's easy to dry for storage, it produces juice, cider, and hard cider.  It's a great all around tree.  I don't have enough. 

I was also talking to daughter-in-law today about getting trees planted at the bug-out place.  I will buy them if they keep them watered.  It seems like a good trade-off. I couldn't get Mr. or Mrs. Bug-out renters to keep trees watered so even though I've owned that property for two years now, it still doesn't have any live fruit trees.  That is going to change this winter!  It gets too cold there for most of the citrus fruits but I may be able to put a couple in. 

Yes, I love gardening.  It lets the mind wander and is good exercise.  And you get to eat all day long!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sheep, clotheslines, bugs, and a new job???

Once again I haven't been home for several days in a row.  After learning about the mountain lion I half expected to come back to only a handful of sheep.  I finally made it out to the pasture today.  The ram met me up by the barn but there weren't any other sheep in sight.  I couldn't have lost ten, could I?  The back of the pasture is tree lined and the sheep like to hang back there during these hot days, so I headed toward the back, not knowing how many I'd find.  Amazingly all eleven are still in the pasture.  Was the mountain lion just casing the place for when he's hungry next time? 

I spoke with the local fish and game warden and she said that nobody has reported any animals being killed in my area.  She gave a good hint for luring it back.  Keep one of the sheep (an old one) out in the pasture at night as prey.  If the lion kills the sheep you can find where it carried it off to (it won't eat it all in one day) if you watch the sky.  Usually the buzzards will find it, although you won't have many birds circling that first day you should be able to see one or two.  Then you stake that spot out because it will come back in a day or two to get the rest of the kill.  Then you shoot.  She said to make sure you kill it, not injure it.  No problem.  If I see it I will kill it. 

I'm fortunate that the sheep walk themselves up to the barn each night, which is probably what is saving them.  But several years ago the lion was bold enough to catch one in the middle of the day so if they are hanging out in the very back, they will be easy prey.  Keeping an older ewe out to be purposefully caught?  It's an interesting idea. 

The garden is  producing well.  It's still over 90 each day.  Is it because the evenings are cooling off  a little?  I'm getting more eggplant and okra than we can eat so it's being put up. 

The clothes line broke.  It lasted for about 300 loads of laundry and being blasted by the sun.  Not bad for the six or seven dollars that it cost.  But that's only about a year worth of use.  What if I couldn't get any more clothesline?  Should I go to plastic coated metal?  How about heavy fencing wire?  Does anyone use this?  It sounds like a good idea and should be able to easily hold 20-30 pounds of clothing.  Right now I wrap the clothesline around the trees in the backyard.  I wonder if they would last longer if they were not rubbing against the bark?  What if I bought the metal wheel to guide the line? 

After being gone a week I came home to being told there were bugs in some of the food.  It's just little black flour bugs, but bugs are bugs and are a good way to wreck food, or at least wreck your appetite.  When I was told there were bugs in the food I had this flash of horror that all the food in the home-store would be infested.    Demand can be used in the house.  You mix it, put it into a sprayer and spray the floors.  It will kill the bugs.  I'm not sure how the bugs got in, other than walked through the open door.  When I buy any type of grain (whole or processed) or nut I always throw it into the freezer for several days prior to putting it into storage.  I took the container of cereal and crackers and put them into the freezer.  Dead bugs. 

I was gone a week, home for three days, gone for two, home for a week and a half starting yesterday, then I'll be leaving for a week and a half.  It's been a long summer.  I wish I got paid overtime! 

There's a possibility that I'm going to be changing jobs.  I applied for a job about six months ago that was out of state.  Over 200 people applied for that one position.  I was in the top ten but then they decided not to fill the job until next spring.  This new job is a local job...well, it's an hour drive, but we wouldn't be moving.  There may be over 100 people applying for this job.  I've already been told I'm the #1 candidate so it will be mine to blow at the interview...or dazzle them!  There are positives and negatives to any job choice we make.  The positives are 4 day work week, 1 1/2 times the salary, very little overnight travel.  Some real positives, especially 1 1/2 times the salary.  I just keep dreaming of more preps, including some of the more expensive upgrades I want to do to the property.  I could pay this place off in less than five years if I put almost all the extra toward the mortgage.  Wouldn't that be wonderful. Will this crazy society last five more years?  I would also be able to upgrade the bug-out place.  That is already paid for.  Perhaps that's the better thing to do?  Definitely some good positives and lots to think and dream about. 

What about the negatives?  Now, when I'm not traveling I can work at home or at the office.  I don't know if the new job will allow me to work at home on office days.  Now that all the house guests are settled in their own places, when the grand kids are in school, working at home is the absolute ideal place to be.  I need to think about some task?  Think while pulling weeds, fixing hoses, watering the animals.  It's easy to keep up with the place and work, and I get more accomplished working at home than when I am in the office.  With the job I have now I travel a lot and trying to raise a couple of grand kids and travel doesn't work out well for them.  They get passed around to their aunts and uncle a lot.  Work provides me with Internet, vehicle (I can commute in it, it's not for regular personal use), cell phone, etc. but only 2/3 the salary of the possible new job.  New job - guaranteed 3 days off each week rather than now working 5-7 days per week (including one stretch of 23 in a row this summer - sure they gave me an extra $903 for that so I'm supposed not mind working 112 hours per week for over three weeks)  The new job is sounding better and better isn't it?  I'll know in about 2 or 3 months if it's mine!

Somehow I must have offended someone.  I had 80 followers, now 79.  Isn't that amazing?  79 people regularly read my struggles of trying to work, raise grand kids, prepare for a disastrous future, coupled with some good laughs now and again.  Thanks for helping keep me on track. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mountain Lion once again

Several years ago 20 of my 22 sheep were killed and hauled off by a mountain lion. Then big dog and mountain lion got into a fight. Big dog won, although she did end up with a huge scar down her belly. I think that was five years ago. We haven't had any trouble with mountain lions since.
The neighbor was out walking along property lines and took a picture of this footprint next to my back fence. If you look at it right you will see a massive footprint (not the shoe, right next to the shoe).  This isn't of my dog!  I wish it was.   It's a big ol' mountain lion paw print.
I am going to have to come up with some sort of strategy to protect the sheep.  Locking them up in the barn is one way since usually the lion will attack at night.  The problem with that is that I travel and am not home each night to lock them up.  I could keep the sheep locked up all the time.  I'd have to feed them rather than they eat the pasture if that were the case.  They'd eat about $20 per week of hay.   I don't know if I would even break even when it would come time to sell them.  I don't want to lose money on the animals.  On the other hand, if I don't have any left because the lion kills them all then that's no good either. 

Even if I am home at night to lock them up, letting them out during the day may not be an answer either.  The last time the lion was so bold that it jumped over my 4 1/2 foot high fence at 3:30 in the afternoon, killed a ewe, put it into its mouth and jumped back over the fence and off to wherever it was going to take the kill.  That lion was so clever that the county trapper wasn't even able to catch it. 

I can get another depredation permit to try to kill it.  Any other suggestions, or anyone want to come shoot a mountain lion?


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Crazy Busy

Last week I was thinking about trigger points.  With my schedule so busy it's hard to think about things that may bring it to a dead stop.  Having spent so much time away from home how can I ever prepare?  I hardly even have time in the evenings to read in order to expand my knowledge base on survivalism. 

Finally having a few minutes to myself this evening, I am finally able to get back on line.  This past week I had over 100 emails that I didn't even look at.  Some were somewhat important but many were solved without my having to step in to make even one comment.  I wonder how much time we spend on things like email that are not at all necessary.  Remember the times prior to email?  Computers and email were supposed to be much more efficient.  I don't know about you but I think that it's made us have more on our plates because with the instant communication and ability to put things in writing, we have more to do, not less.

I got home Friday night after putting in 6 days and 76 hours.  Not one cent in being in management.  It was good to get home but it was even better to be away.  I was able to miss Mrs. Bug-out renter moving out and son and his family moving into the bug-out place.  Mrs. Bug-out renter tried to talk son into letting her stay there and just paying rent for a room.  Son and his wife wanted no part of that.   They packed her stuff up and on Saturday morning brought Mrs. Bug-out renter and her things over to my house.  She couldn't move into her new place until Sunday so son and a couple of grand kids unloaded the U-haul and loaded it into my trailer, my garage, and the side of the house.  Son-in-law came over to pick up his kids and also the washer that Mrs. Bug-out renter didn't want Mr. Bug-out renter to have.  You see, even though son moved all their stuff up on Friday, and Mrs. Bug-out renters stuff out on Saturday early morning, Mr. Bug-out renter showed up Saturday late morning to pick up the rest of his things.  We kept Mr. and Mrs. Bug-out renters apart because nobody wanted to deal with any drama.  Moving three different households in a couple of days is plenty of drama even if everything goes right.  As I said, I was glad I was away from home for some of it!

Today son and family and other grand kids came over to help move Mrs. Bug-out renter to her new place.  Such a relief to have her out of my "responsibility".  She tried to talk me into letting her stay at my house.  After all, the grand kids "needed" her.  Too much drama and she needs to be self reliant.  That won't happen at my house.  She' turn the grand kids into her little slaves.  No one gets to do that but me!  (Joke...sort of!)  On the drive over to her new place I told her if she "blew" this new home the only place she had left was to go to her brother's house. She wanted nothing to do with that! 

Mr. Bug-out renter left all the trash (1/2 the garage) and the dog.  Other than that, I think he took everything that was his.  Now the trash is left for son to deal with.  Since son and family don't have a lot of money they will probably just bring it down bag by bag for daughter-in-law to throw away when she goes to work.  It will take a while to get it all cleaned up.  Son has big plans for the place.  We'll see how that goes.  He's talking more mature than he has for a while, but all I have to do is reread some of what I've written over the years and it is a good reminder that he talks a good game but hasn't done much to prove himself.  Time will tell.

After being gone for a week, during record highs for this time of year, I was wondering how my garden would fair.  I watered all the trees rather well so I knew they wouldn't need to be watered while I was away.  What about the garden?  I set the water up so that when it was turned on in the back to water the chickens and sheep that the garden would get watered at the same time. I knew it wouldn't be enough to water really well, but it would be enough so nothing would die.  It worked just like I planned.  Everything in the garden looked great when I finally was able to go out to check on it all today. 

The front didn't fair as well.  Great grandparent/babysitter said that I needed to fix the water for the strawberries.  Uh oh.  If the strawberries aren't getting enough water then the raspberries aren't getting enough water.  Sure enough, a couple of my raspberry plants look like they aren't going to make it.  I watered them for a long time yesterday so perhaps they will spring back.  I'm going to have to take cuttings of the raspberries and try to root more.  Of the ten plants I have growing I think three or four are not going to make it.  I really need about 20 plants to cover the front hedgerow of branches. 

The chickens didn't do so well either.  Big dog and Yip-yip have both been trained not to kill the chickens or ducks that wander into the yard.  Great grandparent/babysitter's dog hasn't been trained.  I don't think that dog will ever be trained in that fashion.  I was expecting "Meanie" chicken (the one that thinks it should live in the house) to be killed.  He came out OK, although Boy had to rescue him one day when the dog trapped him in the log pile.  They pretty much kept Meanie locked in his cage for his own safety.  The chicks and ducks in the front pasture will go under or over the fence to wander in the front lawn.  They don't hurt anything so I've never tried to force them to stay in the pasture.  Two chickens got out but didn't make it back in.  The visiting dog killed them.  I'm not sure how to train chickens to stay away from dogs when the two dogs that are here don't bother them.

This evening son was telling me that oldest daughter told him that her family plans on moving up to the bug-out place when the world "ends" in December because there will be lots of food up there.  I need to have a chat with her about how long she thinks the turkeys and deer will last when everyone else wants to head to the mountains to hunt for food.  Son is convinced that the Mayans are right in their calendar predictions, that the world is changing, not ending.  He thinks that there will be a polar shift and we'd better prepare for 200+ mph winds, flooding for 300 feet (we get ocean front property when it's all done), and utter chaos for a few days.  After that it will all settle down, other than all the dead people from the coasts getting flooded.  It's an interesting premise but not one that I'd ever take seriously.  Still, he has preparation on his mind. 

I have a crazy schedule for the next month.  Out of town 3 days this week, 3 the next, 2 after that, then 7 days.  After that, I hope there's no state disaster so I won't be stuck on duty.  On the other hand, maybe I could pick up some overtime since none of this upcoming travel will give me any.  All I do is pray that nothing locally bad happens while I'm away.  With the state of the middle east, there are worries every day, but hopefully there will be enough notice if the trouble heads toward home. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What's your trigger point?

This is moving weekend for Mrs. Bug-out renter and son and his family.  She is moving out and he is moving in.  Mr. Bug-out renter is coming back from Nevada to pick up his stuff.  He's also said that he wants to get a dumpster to dump the trash.  It would be nice since it's his trash but I'm not holding my breath.  Son and I have discussed them getting trash service and for the first month getting a huge dumpster sized container rather than just a trash can.  It may be a lot more expensive but considering the amount of money that will have to be spend on gas hauling all the junk to the dump it may be well worth it. 
Normally I have very little trash, so it usually gets dumped off at oldest daughter's house (since I pay for her trash service out of the property tax bill).  But at the bug-out place some of the carpet was pulled up and just left, a king-sized mattress was dumped, and some other big item things that just won't fit into a trash can.  If there was some area that had erosion I'd use the carpet to help stabilize the ground but there's none of that going on. 
That's not what I was planning on writing about today.  Do you know what your trigger point is?  What set point do you have before you take some action?  You have trigger points for just about everything in your life.  How many rolls of toilet paper will you be down to before you rush to the store for no other reason than to buy more?  Sure you will put other things on your list but that trip just will not wait another day...  That's something simple.  Never let the gas gauge go below 1/2 tank.  Again, easy trigger point.  What about a wildfire coming your way?  At what point would you say it's time to pack it up and scoot?  When it's 5 miles away, 2 miles, 1/2 mile? 
It's September 11.  I'm sure you remember where you were eleven years ago.  My cousins were in New York City, within spitting distance of the twin towers.  After the first tower was hit they didn't turn and run but after the second tower was hit, which they witnessed, it was an instant turn and walk away.  They didn't stop walking for about 15 miles until they reached a relative's house.  I was in Sacramento, several hours from home.  I got into my truck, stopped at a store and picked up some additional gas cans, filled them with gas then headed home.  After that was done I called the office there in Sac and told them I wasn't coming in.  We were all kept on duty that day.  Fine I'll stay on duty, just closer to home.
What about now.  I'm even further away from home this week.  What's my trigger point to make me leave and head home?  If something happens I'd want to get home before panic sets in and clogs the roads.  Would that be one hour, five hours, days, or nothing at all would happen?  When the terrorists attacked us, other than airports shutting down, which affected many, not much happened here on the west coast, other than we all stopped doing everything so we could be glued to the TV.  The roads didn't shut down, people still showed up for work, the stores were still stocked.  If we didn't have TV or radio or Internet life would have continued like nothing happened.  So for there to be some disaster to shut down my five or six hour trip home it would have to happen here, to block my return path.  But would it be something instant?  Even if there was a huge earthquake, people wouldn't be packing the freeways to head out of the area, would they?  What about a riot?  Perhaps after some high profile racially tensioned trial but that would be something predictable.  You'd know something could happen due to that cause.  A wildfire normally takes a while before it gets large enough to cause mass evacuations.  So how long would I have?  What should my trigger point be?  On a fire they have trigger points.  We attack the fire this way but if it gets to -here- then we pull back and attack from -here-.  Specific written trigger points.  Then there's no second thoughts when it gets to that point. 
Since the reason I'm away from home is I am teaching a class, I can't just up and leave if there's some sort of disaster that happens elsewhere.  But where does that obligation to the thirty students who paid lots of money for this class end?  Would it be that the classroom would no longer be available?  No power, no water?  Is there a trigger point?  I've never thought about it.  That's not wise for someone who is supposedly so prepared.  My get home bag would be sufficient but it would take me two weeks to walk home if I didn't have too evade many obstacles.  But how do I know when to go?  What has to happen?  Major accident with my mother or one of the kids - I'd be out in an instant and the other instructors would have to just deal with it. 
But what about something that would affect everyone?  EMP?  I'd be in a world of hurt if that was the disaster as I'd not have a vehicle.  Wildfire?  No, I'm not afraid of that.  Neither am I worried about earthquakes...unless Shasta Dam breaks.  Then I could be in trouble!  Terrorist attack?  From what happened in New York, that would only affect me if it was in the direct path of where I am at or where I am headed.  Should I just keep my head in the sand and not even think about it since I don't expect anything to happen?  It sure would make it easier if I didn't ever have those thoughts in my mind. 
Proper planning means you don't just do things off the fly.  You prepare.  You have to be flexible but your preparation should make things so much easier.  Once I watched this man's child.  His ex-wife had tried to kidnap the kid the week before.  He was terrified that she'd succeed.  What was my trigger point?  The doors or windows.  If the slime put in step into my home that would be the last step she'd ever take.  I was armed and ready.  She wouldn't get two steps.  She wouldn't get a chance to try to talk to me.  There was a specific trigger point - my line in the sand.  So my question for the day is do any of you have trigger points in place?  What are they? 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Is Your Get Home Bag a Joke?

We carry two types of bags.  There's the Get Home Bag and the Bug Out Bag.  These two bags should not be the same.  If they are then you are just playing.  Or perhaps, you should have several Get Home Bags.  Your Get Home Bag is what you should always have on you if you don't plan on bugging out without your family, or other things from your house.  I think most people have the mindset of get home, then bug out.  Right? 

If this is true, and it certainly is in my case, then I need to make sure my get home bag will do the trick and get me home.  The first thing that came to my mind is a mini-helicopter so I can fly from here to there  That being impossible to stuff in my backpack, or my budget, what should be in a get home bag? 

It all depends on how far away from home you are going to be, doesn't it?   Every get home bag that I pack is a little different depending on how far away I am from home and what season of the year it is.   It's always a given that I am armed.  I have at least one firearm and at least one knife (unless I travel by plane).  I always carry cash on me.  I always have the cell phone.  I always have 25-50 feet of paracord. 
  1. 10 miles or less from home.  Assuming that I can drive home, all I'd need is gas.  But let's pretend that the vehicle won't work.  Doesn't matter if it's an EMP or the road is blocked.  I'm on foot.  I need a good pair of shoes.  For a walk from one end of the city to the other a good pair of tennis shoes will work.  And make sure there's a pair of socks.  I only need one pair of socks, it's won't take that long to get home.  I'd also want to pack along some water bottles. 1 pint per mile if it's hot. Otherwise I can go two miles on a pint. 10 miles means 10 pounds of water on a hot day.  I'd also want a few snacks.  Jacket and hat, depending on the weather.  That's all that's required.  I was thinking about my sister's in-laws during the San Diego power outage.  They had come into the city but had left their car about 20 miles outside the city and hopped on the public transportation.  They didn't have a get-home bag on them.  So, instead of just walking back to their vehicle, or to my sister's house to get a ride back to their vehicle, they were stuck in down town.  Most people were stuck.  Why?  Because they refused to walk home.  They didn't want to get separated from their vehicles.  Instead many spent the night in offices or their cars.  Didn't make sense to me.
  2. 50 miles or less from home.  Again, easy drive.  I can get around most traffic jams without too much trouble.   I know every country road because I've driven it.  All of them!  How do I know?  I have a map that I mark with a highlighter once I've gone that way.  I make notes about the road, the houses, the people.  I actually have a four foot long state map in my office with all the roads marked on that too.  I always try to take different ways home.  People are always surprised when they come into my office and see the map.  Yes, in 15 years of mapping just about every road on that map is colored.  If I'm walking I'd want more food and water.  Instead of trying to pack a lot of water I'd make sure the water filter is in the bag.  This is still a one day walk so needing something to sleep in or on isn't needed in this bag.  Second pair of socks perhaps?  Mole skin!
  3. 50-100 miles from home.  Now things get a little more difficult. I always have enough gas to get home if the vehicle works.  If you are on foot you aren't going to make it home in one day.  Instead of tennis shoes I'd have my boots packed.  There's more of a chance of hiking up and over or going around rather than staying on roads.  More food, water and filter.  A space blanket or two. I would have to crawl under some bushes to sleep for a few hours.  How cold is it going to get at night?  Do you need extra clothing?
  4. 100-300 miles from home.  This is the distance I am at most of the time that I'm "out in the field".  Again, I always have enough fuel to get home.  Between what's in the gas tank and in the fuel containers in the back of the truck I don't have to stop for gas.  There's enough to get off the main road and head on the backroads.  If I'm 300 miles from home I will be going through some large cities on my way back.  This can mean very slow going - especially if you can't use the vehicle.  It could take weeks to get home.  Do you understand that?  Weeks.  Why is 100 miles so different than 20?  After all, if you can go 20 or 30 in one day then why can't you go 100 in 3 or 4?  It all would depend on what you would encounter along the way.  The first day of any crises you shouldn't really have chaos in the streets.  At least if you stay away from the areas that you wouldn't normally want to go through anyway.  But day two, three, four...each day will get progressively worse.  You may not have the opportunity to walk openly for hours on end.  Here's where the serious packing needs to come in.  If it's that slow getting home, how are you going to feed yourself?  How are you going to keep hydrated?  Where will you sleep? You will have to sleep or you will not keep your wits about you.
As you can see, this really isn't a list of what YOU need to have in your get home bag.  You need to come up with your own scenarios of what situations you will encounter.  You need to know the terrain, the number of days you expect to be trekking home, the weather, the types and numbers of people you may encounter. 

I actually have several get home bags.  I have my main bag that's in each of the trucks - that bag is always in the truck.  I don't need anything else if I'm not going far out of town.  If I'm going further away I'll put in my get home bag prior to leaving home.  It's sort of redundant because each truck has enough stuff packed into it to keep me fed and bed for several weeks. 

I guess the whole point of this post is to have you think about what you have in that backpack that should always be in your vehicle, if you aren't too far from the vehicle, or in your possession if you are away from the vehicle.  If you are anywhere at all, how will you get home?  That's the question that only you can answer by presenting  yourself with a bunch of scenarios.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Some tidbits

It's not going to be a long post today, just some tidbits that I keep telling myself to write about.  Then I forget. 

The can opener.  Way back in the olden days I had a professional can opener that was attached to my wooden cutting block kitchen island. I got it from Thriftimart when they were taken over by Safeway.  It was the kind that the meat and deli departments used when they opened their number 10 cans of food.  When I sold that house I sold the island and the can opener because the new house didn't have a place for it.  I'm still kicking myself because that was the best can opener in the world!  Now I have three Swing-Away can openers.  They are the next best, and much more portable.  They come in fancy colors.  Mine are red, white, and blue.  Were you expecting anything different?  Actually the white one is somewhat new, at least to me.  When we cleaned out Army daughter's stuff from the barn she had a box of kitchen items from about 10 years ago that had been packed away.  When I went through the boxes I came across a white Swing-Away.  Army daughter, do you want this?  No.  She doesn't need it.  Great.  It's now mine. 

This was good because the blue can opener is in the trailer and the red one, in the kitchen, was not working very well.  It would only cut about half the can and skip over the rest of it.  I'd have to go over the can several times and finally call Boy in to have him open it with his little thumb can opener.  Frustrating to say the least because Swing-Aways are supposed to last forever.  I thought about putting it into the giveaway pile.  I'm glad that was only a thought and I didn't do it.  Instead I got out the can of WD-40 and sprayed it.  I then sprayed it again.  I let the can opener sit on the counter for a day with the oil soaking in.  The next day I rinsed it off and the can opener was as good as new.  Sometimes I forget that WD-40 can fix just about anything!

Interesting that Hantavirus is making the news because it sickened campers in Yosemite.  I wrote about the virus in May.  You may not know exactly where the mice may be making their nests but it sure makes sense that they'd use the insulation in the walls. 

A seven year old girl is recovering from bubonic plague.  She's the third case in the US this year.  This is a "normal" statistic.  The US has half dozen cases each year.  Individuals get the plague.  When it becomes wide spread, then we need to pay a lot more attention.  After all, 600 years ago it killed 1/3 of the European population. 

I wanted to remind people that my link to the Apartment Preppers Blog does work, and they do update their site daily.  Somehow my blog will not pick up the fact that they update their site.  This doesn't occur to any of the other sites on the list.  Also, I look at a lot more blogs than what's listed.  Those listed were the first ones I started reading.  I just haven't updated it and I probably won't.  But know that I do look at the other blogs. 

Do other people's dogs and cats act nonchalant around chickens and ducks or are my animals odd?  I came home today and Yip-yip and "Meanie" (the rooster my daughter named) were playing on the grass.  The dog chases the chicken, the chicken chases the dog.  The chicken pecks at the dog's ear, the dog sniffs the chicken's rear.  They are best friends.  The cat was laying on the lawn just watching the show.  The four ducks that are usually in the garden (two mallards and two pekins) decided to come hang out on the lawn with the cat.  It was an odd scene.

Do you know why Dec. 21 has fallen off the map?  There is nothing being discussed about it at all.  All focus is on the two parties and the election.  That's great, but really.  All the hype then nothing.  I'm not expecting the world to end in December, or before then if the person I'm not voting for wins the election.  But I am expecting some sort of chaos to break out this winter.  I'll be prepared. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Life Overload - No wonder I'm not feeling well today

Do you ever get to the point where you are so busy that you don't think you have time to breathe?  I'm almost at that point.  I'm trying really hard to back away from what's happening in everyone elses lives because my schedule is just too full to add any more.  There isn't any real "drama" in my life, but it seems to be going on all around me and trying to suck me in.  So far, I'm winning, I think...

Yesterday afternoon we moved the last ewe to the back.  Girl and her friend were in the front pasture and were somehow able to get the ewe out the gate.  She ran straight into the backyard, straight into the barn, and straight into the open pen and out into the back pasture.  It worked like a charm, except, big dog was helping and somehow she sprained her hip.  Big dog did this a month or so ago and it took over a week before she was able to put pressure on that leg and about two weeks before she tried running again.  Now she's done it again. 

Normally big dog stays outside all night and barks at the coyotes and keeps all the critters away from the sheep.  Not last night.  She laid on the floor next to my bed.  About once an hour she put her head on my bed.  If I didn't rub her head she'd smack the bed until I woke up enough to rub her head.  Needless to say, I didn't get a great nights sleep.  Feeling sorry for myself won't cut it because the poor dog is just miserable.  She finally went outside around 9:00 this morning.  She found a cool shady place to lay down and that's where she stayed.  She's back inside sleeping now.  I massage her hip and leg, which she likes.  She isn't whimpering when I touch anything so nothing is broken.  Anybody have any suggestions for making her feel better?  She weighs over 100 pounds so she's not easy to pick up.

With my sleep interrupted I woke up tired and just feeling worn out.  I decided that today would be a good day to work at home.  I really have a lot to do at the office but I didn't feel like going anywhere.  Tomorrow I have to go to the office and pack a bunch of stuff.  I've got a class that I'm teaching out of town next week, leaving on Sunday, but I'm out of town this week on Thursday, again on Friday and coming home Saturday, just to pack up and leave for the week.  Tomorrow will be office time, whether I want to or not. 

Well, I wrote the previous paragraphs about three hours ago.  The I went to pick the kids up from school.  Boy is playing football and Girl is running cross country.  I'm surprised they let her run considering she is excused from PE due to the cast on her arm.  Nevertheless, the school wants to win and she's one of the fastest kids in the county, so they overlooked her being excused from PE and let her participate in after school sports.  Anyway, I picked boy up and was told that if he didn't have his physical he can't play with the pads on which means he'll be watching most of practice rather than participating.  I don't have the paper for the doctor to sign so I'm not bringing him to the doctor if you don't give me the paper.  I got the paper.  I then called the doctor and he's got a physical at 10:15 tomorrow morning.  Girl has a doctor appointment at 4:00 to look at how the broken finger is coming along.  Somewhere in between I have to go to the office and pack the boxes and binders up.

I'm not worried about "not working" much today or tomorrow since I'm working (driving home for 4 or 5 hours) on Saturday and then heading out again on Sunday with a 6 hour drive.  Next week each day will be between 10-12 hours - and I don't earn overtime.  I think the taxpayers will be getting their money's worth this month.  Forgot, next Friday will be 16+ hours. 

Mr. Bug-out renter is coming back in two weeks to pick up his stuff.  He is bringing his daughter because her things fill an entire bedroom.  Mrs. Bug-out renter is having fits.  She says she is getting so sick she may need to be hospitalized.  Fine.  Call the ambulance.  I'm busy.  I probably won't be there when Mr. Bug-out renter is there.  It's not that I don't wish to visit.  I'm just busy.  I'll be getting home from being gone for a week when he shows up at the bug-out place.  I will probably opt to stay home. 

Son may be up there because they may move out of their apartment that same weekend.  Happiness and joy... Mr. Bug-out renter moving out, Son and family moving in, and Mrs. Bug-out renter not moving in to her new place for another month!  Yes, I think I will stay away from that situation!  See what I mean about drama all around.  Thank God I have a job and it will be taking me out of town!

Just feeling blah meant I didn't do much around here today.  I watered the front yard: the strawberries, raspberries, and fruit trees.  I planted asparagus seeds along the fence line. Instead of a 50 foot row of asparagus I'm hoping for several hundred feet of asparagus.  If I don't pick the stalks they make a nice looking fern type of hedge. 

I sent girl out to collect the eggs and feed the chickens the bits of scrap from the house.  Boy got sent out to the compost pile to dump the couple dozen egg shells that we've used this week. 

I was thinking about going to Costco today but with feeling blah I decided against it.  I need to pick up some fresh milk.  The kids are getting tired of powdered milk..."it's not even an emergency...can't we have "real" milk?"  I made a list for Costco.  A pack of toilet paper...we are down to our last 72 rolls.  A pack of Kleenex...we are down to our last 15 boxes.  Shredded cheese...can't keep this in stock...down to our last 10 pounds.  And most important, the new Kirkland version of Benefiber.  Maybe tomorrow?  I do need milk before leaving on Sunday but the rest?  That's just to keep stocked.  I was really amazed when I went through the home store.  I didn't "need" anything.  Nothing is lower than 9-12 months or so.  It was a good feeling.  Oh yeah, I need some sweet rolls.  Great grandmother is coming to watch the kids when I'm gone next week.  She likes sweet rolls for breakfast.  Can't convince her that eggs are better.  She complains about the cholesterol - so eat the whites.  Nope, she'd rather have sweet rolls - made with real butter, of course!

I learned that it wasn't that I didn't get the job I applied for in Utah.  They didn't fill the position at all. It was decided to wait until spring and fly the position again.  I may be able to make that trip out to Utah for the interview (and to hit up the food storage shops) in the spring after all.  Better save up the money because if I have to opportunity to go, I'll be shopping.   


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Yard Work seems fitting for Labor Day

While the Labor Day weekend is supposed to honor all the laborers, in this house I find it a perfect time to labor in the yard.  The weather is still hot, mid 90s, but it's tolerable considering how may days we had over 100 in August. 

Yesterday I trimmed the suckers off of 20 fruit trees and ran the mower through those fruit trees.  Prior to working out there I pulled up all the drip irrigation hose that went to those trees.  They don't have any misters or anything like that on the hoses, it's just the hose with two holes punched in along each tree.  The problem with the hose is sometimes those holes enlarge, I suppose from the pressure of the water coming out, and some of the trees get huge amounts of water while others hardly get any.  I need to redo the hose and put sprayers at each tree.  Ideally I'd get some underground pipe put in but that takes way more effort than I wish to exhume.  I'd either have to rent a trencher or kill myself trying to dig all the trenches.  The soil around here is just too hard. 

Today I got those trees watered so that's a task I won't have to do for another couple of weeks.  If they had fruit on the trees they'd need to be watered weekly, but not now.  Only the pomegranate, persimmon, grapefruit, and lemon trees need water once a week.    

Boy cleaned out the chicken coop and put everything that he scooped up into one of the garden beds.  It filled a space 4 feet by 8 feet.  That will make some good garden soil in the spring.  We also need to clean out the stall in the barn where the sheep hang out at night.  There will probably be enough manure there to fill in another of the garden beds.  In another year all 12 of the garden beds should be filled with excellent soil.  The beds that we have filled have held moisture really well and the plants seem to be very healthy.  The other beds plants just struggle since there's very little organic material in those beds.  It took over five years of gardening before I ever saw my first earthworm.  The soil was that dead!   

I still have one ewe up in the front pasture.  When we got the sheep out of that pasture and back into the back of the property that ewe couldn't get coaxed out.  Now she is all by herself, except the ducks and chickens that are out front.  Tomorrow we are going to convince her to go into the front pen to eat a handful of grain.  If we can do that we can lock her into that pen (which means closing her off from the rest of the pasture) and then just open the gate from the pasture into the front yard.  From there, we can just chase her into the back.  She will go straight for the barn and from there, it will be easy to put her into the back pasture with the 10 other sheep.  The hard part is getting her out of the front.  There isn't any more grass up there so hopefully we can trick her with the grain.

Girl's broken finger is healing.  She's got a cast almost to her elbow and all her friends have signed it.  It's making her very popular since she's the first kid at school this year to break something!    Unfortunately for her, she still has to do chores.  She tried to convince me that she couldn't.  I don't want her cleaning out the chicken coop or any dirty chores like that but there's plenty of laundry, dishes, sweeping, etc. that she can do. 

The kids picked a huge bucket of pears and apples.  Tomorrow, since I'm off, I'm going to can pears and apples.  I normally just cut them into chunks, add a little sugar and some water, and put them into the boiling water bath.  Much of it will be used for applesauce or pear sauce but I don't can it that way.  I find it just as easy to open up the jar and then blend it with the stick blender.  I can pour off some of the sweetened liquid prior to blending and use it in juice or pancakes or anything.  By pouring off the liquid I'll get a thicker sauce.  By not making it into apple sauce when I'm canning I can use the apple chunks for so many more recipes.  I just find it more convenient that way.  I suppose other people would probably make some sauce and others chunks.  Just making it all into chunks makes the entire job go faster and since I won't want to spend lots of time canning when it's hot out whatever I can do to speed up the process works for me!