Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Coming soon to a feed store near you - No more animal antibiotics for sale

Supposedly the FDA has a new voluntary program that is getting rid of antibiotics used in animal feed and in drinking water.  Now I don't want to get into it with people as to whether the use of these antibiotics is the source of all our antimicrobial resistance issues we face.  All I know is that the FDA is now making this "voluntary" to remove them from the feed.  But we all know that voluntary doesn't really mean voluntary.  The FDA has now decreed that the antibiotics for animals are to go from over-the-counter (OTC) to prescription by a veterinarian. 

What does this mean to me?  Right now I can order "animal" antibiotics on-line or even purchase them at the local feed store.  In three years, this will be phased out.  Animal antibiotics, that can also be used for people, won't be easily (or cheaply - have you noticed they are much less expensive for the animals than they are for people) available.  Now this is supposed to be in effect for meat animals including chickens, cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, etc.  I assume that "fish" meds are still going to be available.  But who knows.  The far reaching FDA may ban that as well, after all, we eat fish too. 

If the final ban takes place in three years, I'm sure it will be phased out and unavailable much sooner.  It's time to make sure we are stocked up.  It's also time to do more research to see how long these meds will last in our storage program. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bugs, the cold, and having some fun

Next week I will have been here at my “new” job for a year.  I noticed that my postings dropped drastically over the past year.  I used to post between 200-300 per year, but this year, not even close to 100.  There were a few reasons for it, some I’ve whined about in past posts…
I only sort of have the internet issue sorted out at home.  Tethering my phone to my computer works well but I’m always worried that I will use too much of the allowance and have a killer bill.  I haven’t gone over yet, but it’s still a worry.  I will probably just spend another $10 a month and my worries will be over.  

Most of my prepping at home has come to a halt, at least when I compare it to what I’ve done over the past few years.  I just don’t have time to do much of anything.  When the job was four long days at least I had all day Friday to work uninterrupted on things.  Now I’m gone five semi-long days.  On the weekend we only have one day to play catch-up with all the chores and the other day we are in town for much of the day.  In a way it’s good to be stretched too thin.  If TSHTF we would be pulled in so many different directions that something would have to get put onto the back burner.  This is a good test to see what can be pushed aside that at one time was thought to be high priority.  

Well, I say it’s halted but it hasn’t really.  The pastures are planted in the different grains, and I’m hoping that they rooted enough before we got the freezing weather.  I guess spring will tell.  The sheep are still eating leaves off the mulberry trees.  Probably only one more good rain and the rest of the leaves will fall.  I do feel sorry for them and give them a flake of hay every few days but that’s my brain, they really don’t need it.  

The chickens are on scratch only.  Their egg laying is over until spring.  I have more chickens than we need for egg production and there's no reason to keep feeding them.  I am going to pick out about 1/3 of the chickens and butcher them.

Last winter I put up plastic sheeting at the front porch and also in front of the family room area.  While it did keep those spaces a little warmer, I didn’t like the overall effect of not being able to see out those windows.  I would like to enclose that one space in front of the family room but my money priority isn’t that.  I’m still trying to figure out how to keep the house warmer during the winter.  The ceilings are insulated as are the walls.  Years ago in another house I put plastic on the inside of the windows to make an air space.  I am going to try that again to see if it works.  Same thing with my bedroom.  It’s always at least 10 degrees colder than the rest of the house if I am not running the central heat.  Those windows I will cover with plastic this week.  

Bugs got into some of the rice.  When I buy rice in the 25 pound bag I put it into the freezer before it ever makes it into the house.  After a week or two or a month (depending on if I need the freezer space) I take it out and put it into plastic buckets.  Normally I pour the rice into mylar bags, but for some reason I just put these store sacks into the bucket.  Perhaps I had extra rice that didn’t fit into the mylar bags, or I had filled my rice can in the kitchen, or something.  I just can’t remember why the rice was stored this way.  I’m assuming the little larva that was crawling around in the sacks of rice found their way into this bucket with a flimsy lid.  It just makes me wonder what else has bugs crawling around in it.  I am going to open a bucket of rice with the rice stored in mylar.  Hopefully that won’t have any bugs.  

I’ve also realized that I can’t store crackers so I no longer buy those in bulk.  The grandkids like one kind, then another, then another.  My normal is to buy for a year or so at a time.  Unfortunately, the oil, shortening, fat, or whatever they use in crackers goes bad quickly.  They end up tasting horrible and nobody wants to eat them.  Instead I have stocked up on cracker recipes and can make batches if necessary.  I still buy crackers but only a box or two at a time and they are usually gone before my next shopping trip.    I still have over a year worth of food stored and other supplies.  But I am changing my tactics.  I am going to purchase more freeze dried foods for the future and not concentrate on as much of a variety of everyday items.  No more having 10 varieties of crackers.  No more having 20 varieties of soup.  We don’t need that much variety.  

I also keep trying to reduce the stuff in the house.  I know other people make money on Craigslist or E-bay.  The only thing I’ve had much luck with is selling sheep.  Nothing else seems to sell so I am making a lot of donations rather than making some extra money.  

We had fun at Thanksgiving.  We ended up going down to San Diego sister’s house. I brought an extra grandkid (the 6 year old).  We went on a cruise around the San Diego harbor.  On the way home we stopped off at the Nixon Presidential Library.  The kids liked walking through Army 1.  We also went to Knott’s Berry Farm.  Girl loved the scary rides.  Boy wasn’t quite there yet but did go on a couple of rides that roll you upside down.  The six year old was quite happy with Camp Snoopy rides.  I did get him onto the tower that’s like the Space Needle.  You could see downtown LA.  He wasn’t really comfortable with it because it went up high.  He loved the baby roller coaster so I thought to myself, “why not try a big one?” For our last family ride, (yes I did get Girl and Boy to go on the baby rides) we choose a roller coaster that the six year old was tall enough for.  I kept telling him that he would have fun. Boy and Girl sat together and little Boy and I sat together.  In the middle of the ride, little one screamed so I said “isn’t this fun?” His response, “I HATE THIS RIDE!”  Well he survived.  He repeated his statement several more times.  I thought I ruined his experience.  No.  After he got over that, several times he thanked me for bringing him.  “It was so much fun!”  

One of the things I like about Knott’s Berry Farm is the shootout.  The sheriff always shoots the Bank Robber.  Yes, real looking guns and loud bangs with every shot.  I also like some of the old-time craft demonstrations that the kids can watch.  Normally I don’t buy much, but we did indulge in one item.  They had a bucket filled with snow and a pot filled with heated maple syrup.  The person poured a stream of maple syrup across the snow (about one foot in length) then put a large Popsicle stick on one end and rolled it up into a frozen maple syrup sucker.  Not having lived in the snow ever or even spending much time in it (other than now working in it) I had never seen this done.  It was delicious and of course it was a race to see if you could eat it before it all melted back into gooey maple syrup.  I wonder if you can do it with fake maple syrup, aka known as Log Cabin or cheap store brand, or homemade syrup with Mapleine flavoring and sugar water. If so, it’s a good treat to be added to our preps.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Keeping track of what you buy

I was out hanging laundry this morning and the next door neighbor told me that the rabbits are now eating his irrigation hose.  I pulled mine up and they still want to eat black hose so they just moved over 50 feet and found his.  I suggested we trick them and leave some chewed up hose laying around.  Maybe they won't eat his good hose.  He suggested trapping them and eating them.  Good idea.  Do you want to borrow my traps?

I was in Home Depot the other day buying the parts needed to put in the sprinklers for the raspberries. I overheard one couple talking about what type of lamp they were going to purchase. In the middle of the conversation the lady remembered that she had already purchased the lamp and it was stored away in the closet waiting for the day they would install it. They almost made the purchase again. We've all done that. Gone to the store to buy something that we already had.

I do that a lot but most of the time I do so because I don't want to use the “spare” at home. I'd rather always have an extra as long as I have the ability to go to the store and buy another. There are a couple of issues here. One is remembering what you have on hand. The other is knowing where to look for it. Now my mother has an even bigger issue. She knows where it is but can't get to it because there's so much stacked in front of it. She will just go to the store and buy more.

Christmas is coming. Yes, I know it's not Thanksgiving yet. Do you have your wrapping paper? Did you buy it last year after Christmas? Do you know where it is? I remember years ago, when the day after Christmas sales started at the early hour of 8:00 in the morning (stores didn't open until 10 normally). My sister and I would hang out together and hit all the sales so we could store it for the next year or two. It was a good idea because we bought a supply of a couple of years and we actually used it until it was almost gone. Then we'd repeat the shopping spree. Great bonding time! On the other end of this spectrum is someone like my mother who probably has 50 rolls of wrapping paper. But for the next holiday she will go out and buy more because it's easier to buy more than to move boxes around to get to what she has.

So, while I was at Home Depot overhearing that couple, I was wondering to myself about how many things most people buy intending to do that project on our next rainy day bit of free time. I have an ongoing project list. It's never ending. I mean, does anyone ever have a project list that is ever complete? Right now my list includes repairing the trailer vent (I bought and repaired two. I needed 3), winter trim the fruit trees, repair the garden beds, clean out the center barn, fix the chipper, fix the kids shower knob, rewax both toilets, paint the laundry room, and the list goes on and on. I can purchase items in advance for many of these projects. For these projects I need one vent cover, trailer bathroom vent fan, screw driver, electrical tape, ladder, 3 dozen 6” nails, drill, gas hose, pliers, a slip ring and the pliers for it, a new knob, toilet wax rings, paint, brushes, etc. On the list next to each project I write down items necessary, what is on hand and what needs to be purchased.

For example, to fix the trailer vents I need to purchase one more cover and a vent fan. I have the ladder, screw driver, and electrical tape. Even if I wasn't planning on completing this task for another month or so, or six, if I bought the vent and fan I'd check them off on the list. That project could get completed at any time. (Like before the rain!)

Tonight we had fried chicken and fried zucchini. Sometimes I'm just in a mood for fried food. The three year old granddaughter is over for the night and she helped me pick the zucchini. Yes, it's the middle of November and I'm still picking zucchini from the garden. In 16 years of gardening here in the Great Central Valley I've never had zucchini, eggplant, and even tomatoes still flowering in November!

At bedtime the little one asked if she could wear Girl's pjs from when she was little.  Sure.  I pulled out two of the four pairs of Girls pjs from when she was three.  Do you want the two piece thermals or the one-piece foot pjs with the long zipper? She chose the one-piece today.  I have really cut back on how many clothes I keep on hand for just-in-case.  With all the hand-me-downs plus the few I bought for Girl she had drawers stuffed with clothes.  Just because a little one may have 20 t-shirts doesn't mean I need to keep all 20.  Two or three is plenty.  The younger grandkids all come with a bag of clothes to use during their stay, but they always want to wear Girl's or Boy's clothes from when they were little.  It's cute. 

I was told I'm keeping my job. I'm glad, but a part of me was really wishing I'd have gotten laid off. I'm not quite financially ready to not have a job, but we would have managed, and I would have been able to really concentrate on working here on the property. But, this means that although I don't have much time to spend concentrating on prepping, the money is still there to be able to purchase prep items.
I've gotten used to the new cell phone already.  No more bouts of frustration.  I do have to watch how much time I'm tethering the phone to the computer but so far, so good.   

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Stop eating the hose!

I am back on line.  Obvious since you are reading this.  I am still frustrated with the new phone but it's getting a little better each day.  I can plug the phone into my desktop computer and it will get on-line that way.  I was talking to a friend and he sent me some links to put into the new phone which would turn it into a hotspot, which I was told will use less of my Internet allowance.  So I tried doing that and hooking it to the desktop.  It didn't work.  How was I to know the desktop didn't have the right parts in it?  Then I tried it on girl's computer.  Still didn't work.  It didn't dawn on my that when I had the Internet card it always had to be plugged into those computers.  There wasn't anything just streaming over the air.  But the work computer, now that's a different story.  I can use the WiFi part of the phone with the work laptop.  So rather than have the phone plugged into the computer in my library I'm sitting on my bed with the computer on my lap. 
Now I know most of you are snickering that this is simple stuff.  It's simple if you know and understand it.  It's foreign to someone who doesn't.  Just like last week when I got the new phone.  I didn't know how to use it at all.  Girl set the alarm for the phone to go off at the end of the workday and I had to ask one of the young employees how to shut the alarm off.  Then I downloaded the 204 pages of instructions for the phone and printed it up.  Great bedtime reading.  Prior to that, I was talking to a friend on the phone and he said, "just tap the phone and ask it how to do that. It will tell you."  "What? My phone will talk to me?" If you have no experience with the technology then you don't know what you don't know!  So now I know...sort of.
I pulled the irrigation hose out front because the rabbits had eaten through it.  The neighbor said he hasn't had a problem because he keeps his hose out in the open rather than tucking it under the plants.  He said that with the cars traveling down the road the rabbits won't go into the open to eat the hoses.  Sounds good to me.  That may work at his house but not mine.  I didn't replace the irrigation hose.  Instead I bought another 100 feet of garden hose.  I decided to just hand water the raspberries.  I watered them.  Pulled most of the hose back up the driveway and felt good that the plants got watered.  I went back outside a couple days later and watered again.  This works.  Sure it's not as convenient as the irrigation hose and just turning a knob but the weather is great, it gives me a little peace and quiet to go out and water, and I'm making sure that the plants are watered.  After all, we haven't had any rain in a long time.  A couple days ago I went back out to water again and no water came out of the nozzle.  Those kids.  I'm sure they undid one of the couplings.  After all I have about 600 feet of hose all connected together.  So I walked the hose line to see where it was undone.  It wasn't.  There were huge holes in the garden hose.  In three different places! 
I can't shoot the rabbits because I'd either be shooting at the road or at the house.  Neither is an option.  I can't poison them because there are quail in the same area and I wouldn't want the birds to eat the poison.  No, I just have to outsmart them.  I repaired the hose but I can't keep doing that.  I give up. Can't give up.  That's not an option.
Today I bought irrigation pipe.  I am not going to bury it, instead it is going to get strapped on to the fencing about 3 feet off the ground.  I bought risers and 1/2 circle sprinkler heads.  No more drip irrigation for the front.  It's heavy duty now.  These raspberries are cosing me a fortune!  I could buy raspberries forever and probably not spend as much money as this irrigation mess has cost.  I just have to remember that it's not just the raspberries.  It's a barrier between the house and the road.  I have the fencing and then three feet wide and four feet high of brush pile and then the raspberries in front of the brush.  Maybe next summer we will actually get some raspberries to pick.  Then I'll forget all about the rabbits destroying my irrigation.
The thought has crossed my mind about how I would get this stuff watered if TSHTF.  I have a lot of plants and trees that need water.  The mulberries are almost old enough to grow without being watered.  The olives don't need water, nor do the figs.  Everything else around here has to be irrigated.  If I had to carry everything out by bucket I would spend hours each day watering.  In order to run water through the hoses you need to have good pressure.  We have a pressure tank so I wonder if we hand pumped the water into a large holding tank and then this water went into the pressure tank so run the irrigation?  If TSHTF I may want things along the road to look dead anyway.  It wouldn't be a good idea to have everything around me lush and green when everyone else around has everything dead. 
Girl was in a Veteran's Day parade over the weekend.  We had dinner tonight with Army daughter and Navy son-in-law.  I called military brother and wished him well.  There's a big parade in the city tomorrow that we may attend.  Other than that, tomorrow the irrigation is being put in.  The rabbits are going to have to learn how to jump if they want to eat any more of my hose. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Life without Internet

Have you thought about what your life would be like without the Internet?  We found out this week, and I sure was in for a few surprises.  I do have Internet at work but I can't get onto any non-work email or blogging sites, or many sites I normally visit.  Some I can, but do I really want work to see that I'm getting onto a survivalist site?  No.  Same with my banking.  Do I want work to see what's in my account since they can be a ghost on your computer at any time.  Never!  And at home we had nothing.

My last job provided me with Internet access at home.  I had a wireless card that they paid for each month.  All was great.  When I left that job they never shut the Internet card down.  For 10 months it continued to run.  At first I assumed it was because I was still helping out by running a class for them but a couple months ago I was told that they would be running the class themselves and I didn't need to help at all.  OK.  But the Internet kept coming.  Until last week.

I got on the computer and so Internet.  I reset the card.  Nothing.  I reset the computer.  Nothing.  I tried the card on a different computer.  Nothing.  It's shut off.  I didn't have time to go purchase something else.  Someone said I could tether my phone to my computer.  I've seen it done before.  Unfortunately, I didn't have a smart enough smart phone.  I couldn't do it.  Today I had to upgrade my phone.  Now, I just plug the phone into the computer and away I go. 

But for almost a week there was no Internet.  It got me wondering about how I'm using it and what would happen with a real Internet disruption.  So what if there's no Facebook.  I would miss email since it's the main way I communicate with most of my relatives.  But texting would work, if the phones were still working.  But what about my banking?  What about using the Internet to research or entertain? What about me chronicling what I'm doing by writing this blog?  It's much easier to do on the large computer screen and the real computer keyboard. 

Paying the bills?  Most of my bills pay automatically so I don't really have to worry about them.  As long as I get paid there's enough to pay the bills.  It's almost autopilot, although I do pay close attention anyway.  I don't have very many bills being sent to me anymore.  Just a few years ago I was getting bills sent and also getting them on-line.  I changed my mind on most of the bills and now very few are sent in a hard copy - but I make copies every couple of months so I do have hard copies around.  How would I know what I owed if I didn't have access to a computer?  It was disconcerting not being able to track it easily, even if it was just a week.  I could get on to the banking site on my old phone but it was hard to do much once I got there.  This new phone is easier and running the computer is even easier.  But what if it went away? 

I couldn't check out the weather forecast on any of the Internet sites using the computer.  I turned on my weather radio instead.  I couldn't look up some information that Boy was questioning me on.  He was also writing a report on New York City.  We couldn't look up to do the research.  I pulled out one of my book boxes of "Know Your America" that I collected 45 years couldn't really have been that long ago, was it?  Most of his questions could be answered by these booklets from the 60s the rest of his research had to be completed at school.

I sure got a lot of things done around the property this weekend.  A couple of times I went in to the library here at home and looked at the computer.  Definite withdrawals!  Oh why won't you work?  Instead, since it was a beautiful day outside, I hit the chore list and got a huge amount accomplished. 

Saturday night I went to the football game.  The grand kids got left home since the game didn't even start until 7:30.  At least the game ended at 11:00.  Fresno State 8-0!  The last 7:30 game ended at midnight!  I was home at midnight and changed all the clocks back an hour.  Good, an extra hour to sleep.  Glad I changed the clock because Boy came in at 6:30.  When are you getting up?  I told him to go make some breakfast and that I would get up at 8 to make a cooked breakfast.  He only came in one other time.  Drives me crazy, but a good crazy.

I finally dragged myself out of bed and made a great homemade breakfast.  Home grown potatoes, eggs, and some chicken sausage.  Homemade (but store bought wheat) bread and home grown and made jam.  Even the orange juice came from the garden.  Army daughter and Son-in-law were supposed to come over today to help with chores and to "pay down" what they owe me.  They never showed up.  Not surprised.  Boy, Girl, and I washed the car. Boy even when out to give the chickens food and water without my asking. Girl even unloaded the dishwasher without making it seem like I was asking for the moon.  Who are these children?????  Was it because I was more available because I wasn't sitting on the computer for an hour?  I don't know.  Maybe not having the computer available isn't such a bad thing after all - except I would miss reading what everyone else is doing.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Inspired to work

I had a good day at work today.  I told the boss I was planning on holding his container of peanuts hostage since he missed a meeting with me.  He'd miss his peanuts and then we'd have to talk.  The only problem with that idea is the "hostile work environment" it could create since so many people are on edge.  But he has a good sense of humor and thought it was funny.  My boss said that as far as he knows my job is secure.  I'll find out on Friday morning when I check my email. But they will still do a second round of layoffs in December or January.  Still, I think I'm staying.

I told oldest daughter that I may have gone out with the severance package if I had a little more money on hand.  For example, if they bought their house that they are living in (that I own) rather than just renting it - something that they keep telling me they plan to do in two years - I'd have had enough money.  They only have to give me my down payment back.  No interest, not asking for more if the value of the house has gone up.  I just want back what I put in.  If they had bought the house then I'd be retiring in three weeks.  But they haven't.  Oldest daughter kind of laughed at that.  You aren't ready to retire, you like to work.  

She is so wrong!  I may like working but I'd rather be working at home.  Preparing this place for whatever may come.  That would be a full time job.  Spending more time with grand kids.  That, too, could be a full time job.  Commuting 100 miles round trip each day for work?  No, that's not my #1 goal of what I want to be doing with my life. 

I got home today and was inspired to do extra around the house until the grand kids got home.  Boy said he was going to make dinner (he bought some spicy frozen chicken wings with his own money) so I didn't have to stop what I was doing to get dinner started.  I made sure the chickens and chuckars had water.  Collected the eggs, that hadn't been collected since Sunday.  Watered the palm trees. Watered the raspberries.  Gathered up some leaves that fell outside of the sheep pen and fed them to the sheep.  Took down a load of laundry off the line.  Put a load of laundry up, started another load and got that one up too.  I cleaned out under the sink in the laundry room. 

It's amazing what gets stuffed into corners under a sink.  I still have a diaper trash container.  I can't remember which baby it was used for?  Maybe from Girl?  She's now 12.  I have a package of the plastic bags to go with it.  You put the diaper in, twist the top, and the bag knots just above the diaper.  This way you can keep a bunch of dirty, smelly, disgusting disposable diapers stored in your house!  You only have to take out the diapers a couple times per week.  No thanks!  I'll take them out each time, or at least after every dirty diaper, and at least once a day.  Why would people want to store dirty diapers in their house?  Unless they are stuck in the house?

If the SHTF, and we had a little one in the house we would use disposables rather than cloth.  At least if we knew about when they'd have a dirty diaper they'd go into the disposable for that.  I'd rather not have to spend valuable time washing diapers if at all possible.  But we do have a supply of cloth diapers around here and could put two kids into diapers full time if necessary.  We don't have too many disposables because all the grand kids are past that stage.  I remember at one point that we had hundreds of disposables.  I used most of them with the last grand kid.  We still do have a large box of each size, just in case. 

Also under the sink were a couple of bottles of bleach, a couple bottles of vinegar, and a container of Costco laundry soap.  Two bottles of baby shampoo were also under the sink.  Score!  The extra bleach and vinegar are going out into the garage.  So is the laundry soap.  The shampoo we will keep under the sink since the little ones all get their baths in that sink when they come for a visit.  The six year old is just starting to get too big.  It will be a sad day when nobody is small enough for that sink.

Dinner ended up pretty good.  We had the chicken wings, home grown potatoes, and the last of the garden fresh tomatoes.  We were all stuffed.  Boy was pleased. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Either I'm not getting laid off or I just got tricked into quitting - either way is a good time to hunker down and prep!

Work has been very tense lately.  I suppose it's good that they gave people several months notice about the layoffs.  Trouble is they said somewhere around 30% are either getting laid off or will transfer to LA.  I'm not going to LA.  About 10% decided to retire.  That's not me.  I've only been at this job for 10 months.  For those who decided to retire they are all getting a going away bonus of about a year salary on top of their retirement accounts.  Good for them. 

The company is being generous and even for very short time people like me, because of my age, I could raise my hand to have them choose me and get about 5 months salary as a gift when they boot me out the door, plus qualify for unemployment.  It was tempting.  Very, very tempting.  I figured out that I could live on my retirement from my other job, but there wouldn't be much for extras.  That's ok for now, but as the grandkids get a little older, I'd like to have a little more money, not settle for what will barely work now.  So I didn't raise my hand.  I almost did but my supervisor talked me out of it. 

He said that he was told if the company said move to LA or lose the job that they would give us the choice and give us the severance package.  Since that would really be my only reason for not wanting to stay I agreed not to say I'd leave.  As long as this is true...  We've been misled before.

It did get me to thinking though.  If I figured that I could live on my retirement then why am I not putting away more money each month, or at least, why am I not spending as much money on preps each month?  Where has the money gone these past 10 months? 

I bought the slug, I mean Prius, and it's 2/3 paid for.  It will be fully paid for in about five more months.  I gave a lot of money away to friends, family, and charities.  The charities will continue to receive. The friends and family money is getting cut back to nothing!  I'm tired of working hard so they can come over with their hands out.  Army daughter and son-in-law watched the grand kids for me from Friday after school until Saturday evening.  On Friday night they all went, along with son and his family, to the local pizza parlor/arcade.  They spent about $100 yet they all complain how broke they are and can barely pay their bills.  This year for their holiday gifts each kid (adult couple) is getting a Dave Ramsey book!  I don't think they will be happy.  Too bad!  If they follow his advice it will be the best gift they could get. The bank of parent is now closed.

Lately I put off spending money on preps.  I'm not sure why (adult kid moochers with their hands out?) but I'm making a new commitment to spend a certain amount of money each and every week.  Whether I buy something for the house, food storage, trailer accessories, protection, I do have a list.  I just stopped buying a while ago.  I think it was probably the uncertainty of the job.  But that's dumb. 

This weekend we aren't going anywhere other than the football game. The time got changed from 4:00 to 7:00 or 7:30 because one of the ESPN channels picked it up.  This will give me a day to shop and a day for yard work and chores.  Boy wants to dig a root cellar.  He wants to put it by the trees.  I told him the root cellar is a good idea but it can't be by the trees because their roots will get in the way.  He said he would dig around them.  He really thinks a root cellar should include tree roots.  He's 11 and never seen a root cellar, what can I say!  But he does have a good idea.  If I get laid off that would be a good project to tackle. 

Last night we had a huge windstorm plus a trace of rain.  It knocked over the clothesline which still had on it two loads of clothes.  Fortunately they were just about dry and most didn't get dirty from laying on the ground all night.  They got picked up and shaken off.  Only a few need to be rewashed.  More laundry is going on the line tonight.  Hope the wind doesn't repeat itself tonight. 

Because the weather has been warm I've had to supplement the feed for the sheep who are now penned up on our front "lawn".  They are doing a good job of roughing up the ground to get the weeds but the leaves aren't falling off the two mulberries as quickly as I was hoping because the trees having figured out that it's autumn.  Maybe with the change of weather last night the leaves will start to fall.  I hope so because I've been giving them a flake or two each day.  That's still not much, about $30 a month.  I did make a good profit from the sheep I sold even if I do have to buy some hay.  But come on leaves!  Fall already.

I started putting in the winter garden.  I planted onions, garlic, broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce.  Mustard is a weed so that never has to be planted!  I'm still picking zucchini and eggplant but probably only for another week or so. 

We got about 6 inches of snow at the office today.  The roads were still warm so driving was fine.  The plows were also out.  Winter is coming.  Winter was one of the reasons I was thinking about raising my hand and leaving.  I don't like driving up 5000 feet in elevation to get to the office.  I won't be panicky about the driving like I was last winter.  I have learned to drive in the snow and ice, I just don't care to.  But for now I have a job.  They still are going to make more cuts and want to transfer some people.  Hope it's not me.  If it is, I will be out of a job but we will be ready. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chicken feed protein change and getting ready for winter when it's 85

I know winter is coming.  It says so on the calendar.  That and it's dark when I wake up at 4:45 each morning.  But you'd never know by the weather.  In the 80s all week is not winter is coming. 

The raspberries started dying last week.  I figured it was because it was the end of the season.  After all, it's supposed to be fall.  I am still watering a couple times per week because of the weather but something just didn't look right.  Some plants were green and others very brown.  I went out and took a look at my hose and found a section three inches long that had the entire top half chewed off!  The critters are at it again.  So I dragged 500 feet of garden hose out to the front and hand watered each plant.  It took a while to fully saturate the ground and each plant.  I bent each of the brown stems.  They were still very pliable and some had small leaves shooting out of the stalks.  They weren't dead, just very stressed.  I also noticed that on the plants that were still green they had just bloomed.  Even the plants are confused as to what season this is.  This is the second or third hose that's been eaten.  I think I'm going to have to trench the ground and put in PVC pipe and sprinklers.  I wonder if they will eat that too?  I'll have to look into it before I put out that kind of money and effort.  I just don't want to have to hand water the berries all year.  Now if I lose my job at the end of the month when they tell everyone who gets laid off, who gets transferred, and who has no changes, then I'd have lots of time and may not mind hand watering!   

I also climbed up onto the roof to sweep off leaves and dirt.  I'm amazed how much dirt ends up on the roof.  How does it get there?  I don't like being on the roof.  Well it's not really the roof but the ladder.  Most deadly or severely injurious accidents at home have something to do with ladders.  While I always use good practices while climbing up and down there is always a possibility of making a mistake.  My sister's neighbor across her street fell off a ladder while on the roof.  He died.  But all was well, the ladder didn't move, my roof is clean. 

I went to my local feed store to stock up on chicken lay pellets.  When the chickens stop laying during the winter I used to give them scratch and some greens since it was much cheaper than the lay pellets and they weren't laying anyway.  Now, the price is about the same.  I figured I'd stock up with several hundred pounds.  My local feed store only had three bags.  OK, I'll take those three.  I noticed that the bag was different and I commented on that.  The owner said it's the same company, which is local to the Great Central Valley (many different feed companies are local), just a different brand.  I looked at the bag and did see the same main company name.  When I brought it home the first thing I noticed was that the size of the pellet was halfway between the old brand's mash and pellets.  I always buy the pellets because there seems to be less waste by the chickens than using the mash.  The chickens seemed to like it.  Then I read the label.  Now I'm pissed.  This new brand by the same company has 14% protein rather than 16%.  Less protein, more filler, same price.  No thanks!  Are all feed companies going to this?  Is this the new marketing trick? A 50 pound sack is a 50 pound sack but if you change the formula you will make more money off the sack.  How many people are going to notice the change in protein?  Probably not many.  There are several feed stores around.  I'm going to be checking them out and hopefully I'll be able to find one that isn't switching the product. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

A day off?

Today I had the day off of work.  While most of the country does not take Columbus day off, other than the already vacationing federal government, the company I work for calls it a holiday.  A day off.  And the grandkids were in school.  How should I fill my time? 

First thought was sleep in.  I did.  Until 6:00.  That's an hour and fifteen minutes later than normal on a Monday. I couldn't really sleep later than that because the grandkids get up at 6:00.  I figured they'd like to have me sitting in the kitchen drinking a cup of coffee while they go about their morning.  I was right.  At 7:45 they were gone.  I had already watered the trees and animals.  I brought in the eggs, and fed the chickens, chukars, and sheep.  Time to go back to bed?  The thought crossed my mind until I remembered my list of things I needed to do.

First I put the left over chicken into a pot, filled it with water, garlic, onion, sage, savory, cumin, salt, pepper, celery seed, and baby carrots.  Put on the lid and put it into the Sun-Oven.  I directed the box toward the afternoon sun, since I didn't know when I was going to get home.  I knew it would heat up to about 200 with a little sun hitting it in the morning and to somewhere around 300 after lunch.  It's not really efficient if you don't turn it to face the sun, but since I was just simmering the soup it worked out just fine. 

Then I drove 40 miles to the seed store.  I didn't want to buy wheat, oats, and barley seed from the feed store.  I wanted good planting seed, and I don't know the variety of seed that is in the feed sacks.  I don't know of any seed stores that are much closer and this place sold me some great seed when I wanted seed corn a few years ago.  I need to keep an eye on the weather because I want to plant the seed the day before it rains, maybe two days at most.  Since it will be broadcast spread rather than drilled in I don't want the birds to eat it all.  If it is spread then the rain falls it will be pushed into the soil by the rain.  That would work out perfectly.  Or, if I knew someone with a driller...but I don't, or at least I don't know anyone who would plant the 1 1/2 acres for free.  (1 1/2 acres will produce over 1500 pounds of grain plus hay and straw.)

After coming back into town I went out to lunch with a friend.  I haven't done that in about five months: not since we went to five days per week instead of four.  After that I headed to Lowe's.  I had a couple of things I wanted to pick up - just a quick 10 minute stop.  Unfortunately I got lost in Lowe's.  Not really, but 1 1/2 hours later I was on my way home.  How did that happen?

I got home, took the laundry off the line, unloaded the seed, watered the berries, played with the sheep, dogs, and cats.  I wiped down the jars of applesauce and apple slices that I canned yesterday and put them into the home-store.  Then I noticed the clock.  How can it be 5:00 already?  I haven't done anything!  I was going to work on the trailer, sort through some things in the garage, put some stuff onto Craigslist, clean the barn and coop, and the list went on.  The kids are almost home.

I fried up some pan bread since I didn't make rolls to go with the soup.  Dinner was great. 

Tomorrow after work I'll try to get one thing on the list completed.   Who knows, by the end of the week I may get everything accomplished that I was planning on doing today. 
In three weeks our whole office learns who keeps their jobs, who loses their jobs, and who gets transferred to Southern California.  I am pretty sure that my job will stay local and there won't be any changes for me.  But the thought of losing my job brings a smile to my face.  That would be ok and I wish that they would lay me off.  Not what I had really planned, but it sure would give me time to get more of my chores done! 

Oklahoma friend is now making cheese and soap and is hoping those endeavors supplement their income.  They are also getting paid to tame down other people's cows and goats to be hand milked.  That's an interesting way to make extra money.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dried Peanut Butter

The other day I brought former Mrs. Bug-out renter to the store so she could get some groceries.  She wanted to go to Wal-Mart and shop there.  I don't normally walk up and down the grocery aisles at the store so it was going to be an adventure.  I was on grandchild duty, and while Boy and Girl were at Sunday School I had the 3, 4, and 6 year olds with me.  The 3 year old in Bug-out's cart and the 4 and 6 year old in mine.  They were perfect!  (Did I mention that they instantly fell asleep and slept the entire shopping trip?)

As I was perusing the aisles I noticed something I'd never seen in any grocery store.  Now that doesn't mean it's not carried everywhere, it's just that I hadn't seen it.  Dried, powdered peanut butter.  6 1/2 ounces for under four dollars by Bell Plantation.  It said the bottle made 15 servings.  I figure it costs about twice the price as if you bought a jar of Skippy or Jif.  That's not bad for something that you can store.

I didn't make it into peanut butter yet but I did open the jar and eat 1/2 a teaspoon plain and dry.  I liked it.  It will be good to throw into shakes, add to pancakes, brownies, or anything else that I'm cooking.  Give it a try.  If you don't like it you aren't out much money.  If you do like it, you can purchase it from food storage companies sealed in cans for really long-term storage or you can buy it in mylar bags or plastic bottles from the store. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Science Day

Many of the local schools had a science day field trip into the mountains today.  I was fortunate enough to be able to get the OK from my supervisor that I could go teach a portion of the class.  The kids were in groups of 5 to 10 kids, all in grades 4-6.  Each group had an instructor leading them on their rounds and at least one teacher and one parent.  They went on a nature walk and stopped at about 8-10 stations.  I was manning one of the stations.  I was assigned a perfect topic.  Food.

First I talked about how if we want some food all we have to do is go to the grocery store and buy some.  Even if we don't have much money we still can buy food.  In fact, we have to have food or we would die.  Then I asked if any of them had seen the TV show Survivor.  About half had.  We talked about that show.  You are sent to an island or someplace secluded.  You have to figure out how to get food and shelter.  If you don't then you get sent home and you don't get any money.  Here in the woods, if you don't figure out how to get food and shelter YOU WILL DIE! 

I talked a little about eating meat.  How many eat beef?  Chicken? Pork?  Then I started with some wild animals.  Deer, elk, antelope, bear?  How would you kill them if you didn't have a gun?  We talked a little about spears, darts, and bow-and-arrow hunting.  I had some spear points and arrow heads.  I had a very quick demonstration about making them, including sharpening a the point with a deer antler.  Then we talked about how to find the right reed for the arrow shaft and how to hook the arrow on to the shaft.  It was a quick discussion but it kept their attention.

Then I asked if they only eat meat.  No?  That's right, we eat fruits and vegetables and bread and tortillas (about half were Mexican).  So if we are out in the woods we would need to eat those types of food too.  I then gave a quick demonstration of shelling acorns and pine nuts, talking about how you need to leach acorns but the pine nuts you can eat straight.  We even found some hazelnuts in the woods.  They weren't any good because they are ready at the beginning of summer, but nevertheless, they now can recognize hazelnut bushes. 

I showed them some other seeds that I called medicine seeds.  They look a lot like acorns.  Just because they look similar doesn't mean you can eat them.  But I did crack that one open.  I used a flat rock for the bottom and a hand held rock to crack it with - mano and metate style.  I then ground it up in a mortar, using a pestle.  How many of you have mortars and pestles at home?  About 3/4 of the Mexican kids did and about 1/4 of the Caucasian kids did. None of the African-American kids did.  After grinding up the medicine seed I asked for a volunteer kid that had a cut or scratch on their arm.  Each group had someone with a fresh scratch.  I then rubbed the ground meal on the scratch.  See?  Just like a triple antibiotic ointment.  Only better because we just made it ourselves. 

I held up a cattail and asked them what it was.  I've written about cattail before. It's a great plant!  I told the kids that they should look for cattails and impress their parents by digging up some roots and bringing them home for dinner.

I had a bag of mustard seed.  They each got to eat a few.  It's good flavoring for food like acorn or cattail.  We also learned about mustard leaves and herb plantain.  I told them that you can eat the small leaves right from the plant or you could go to the grocery store and spend lots of money to buy the very same thing. Only at the grocery store it's called fancy salad!   

Then at the end of the talk I said I was getting a headache.  No problem.  Here's a willow branch. I took one of my rock blades and scraped off the bark of the willow.  I then put it into my mouth, chewed for a very short time, and spit it out!  Yuck, that tastes horrible!  Everyone laughed, every time.  Then I asked if they ever ate grape or cherry flavored children's aspirin.  They all said yes.  I then asked if they ever had adult aspirin.  That aspirin you are supposed to swallow whole.  You don't chew it.  If you did it would taste horrible.  In fact, just as bad as that willow bark I just chewed on.  Do you know why?  Because the first aspirin was made out of willow bark.  If you really are going to use willow bark for a headache, if possible make the bark into a warm tea and drink the tea.  It still doesn't taste good but it's much better than the acidic taste of chewing on bark.   

The kids had a great time. So did I.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Truckers Strike and Untrustworthiness of Americans

Truckers are promising a strike in a week and a half.  They are supposedly not going to deliver goods Oct. 11-13.  Good, they will be taking a four day weekend because the 14th in some circles is a holiday.  I don’t know if they plan on doing this nationwide or just in Washington.  I’ve heard that the trucks are going to block the roads in DC.  Little good that will do, especially if the government is shut down (don’t I wish!). 

Anyway, I wish them luck.  The strike had good intentions but it won’t do any good.  What are they striking for?  They are all over the board.  To make Congress listen to the people.  To remove President Obama from office for crimes of treason.  A real Congressional hearing on Benghazi.  Removing all non-Constitution following Muslims from government positions.  Remove Eric Holder from office. Protest fuel prices. 

Now I’m all for having Congress listen to the people.  We the people have to vote in people who will listen.  It’s really that simple.  Unfortunately, the wrong people get voted in because more people are supported by the government than not.  How about removing the president from office?  We could have voted him out.  No, didn’t happen.  A real Congressional hearing.   No, most American’s don’t care.  Why?  That is old news.  I vote for removing ALL non-Constitution following people from government positions.  Doesn’t matter if they are Muslim, Christian, Jew, or any other religion.  The president likes his buddy Eric so he’s staying.  Protest fuel prices? But I heard they are going down a few cents so we should all be happy!  (You are catching a little sarcasm here I hope.)

So what if the strike happens?  Since most or at least many grocery stores will run out of inventory after three days, especially if they think that a strike will cause shortages, I’m sure there will be shortages.  If so, how are you going to survive the holiday weekend if you haven’t stocked up on beer, hotdogs, and chips?  If it’s other supplies, will the stores running out of TVs or leather goods really make people think?  Will it break the economy?  Not at all.  It will make the news which will take away from the real story of how our government is destroying this country. 

Today on the radio the question was asked if we trust Americans.  An article came out that discussed the trust of the people and also the politicians.  But the question was posed a little different today.  Do you trust the people?  Should Americans be trusted?  The answers were pretty much yes, they trusted the people and “their” politicians but not the other people with opposing views.  It digressed a bit.  If you were from a strict country (meaning a Muslim country) and you watched American television would you trust Americans? Then the answer was overwhelming.  NO!  On the other hand, every single Mexican TV program that is on in this great central valley shows the women with skirts to short and tight and tops that are three sizes too small.  Exploitation, yes, but it doesn’t bring about the same amount of hatred as do our programs. 

I don’t watch much TV.  I still don’t trust the majority of Americans.  Why?  It’s not about what is right or wrong.  It’s about beating the other side, which is also us.  Another poll again questioned Americans.  Do you dislike Obamacare?  46% said they opposed it.  The next questions was do you dislike The Affordable Healthcare Act? Only 37% said they didn’t like that!  Nine percent more didn’t like one over the other.  Never mind that they are exactly the same thing.  People are picking sides because it’s a side, not because it’s a crappy Act.  That is why I don't trust most Americans!  You know, I have built more trust with some people who read this blog and I read theirs than with the public in general.

As soon as the Senate passes a budget that the President signs (Do you know there hasn't been a budget in 5 years? They just keep extending what is there plus adding to it.), then we can talk about the government providing healthcare reform.  I wonder if the Congress will pose that question?  In the meantime, winter is coming; there is unrest in the air.  I think I will stock up even more and prepare even more.  How about you? 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Practice what you preach

Last weekend I was plowing up the back pasture and all of a sudden the ripper was cockeyed and I was done.  I unhooked the implement and left it out in the field.  The tractor went back in the garage.  Yes, I keep the tractor in the garage.  It holds four vehicles so why keep it in the barn?  And there it sat for a couple of days.  I didn't really have a clear view of the problem area.  All I knew was the right side wasn't broken and the left side was.  So I took photos of both sides.  I then put them onto the computer and was able to see what the problem was.  A split ring had come off.  That should be an easy fix, or so I thought.

First I went to Lowe's, then Tractor Supply, then Home Depot, then O'Reilly's, the Pep Boys.  They all carried split rings, just not that size.  Pep Boys suggest I go to the local Ag Hardware.  That's a store that  is similar to Tractor Supply but twice the size.  That was a good suggestion because I didn't want to drive another 15 miles to get to the John Deere dealer to pay 10 times the price.  Of course Ag Hardware had it there.  1 1/8" split ring - 69 cents. 

The grandkids had a birthday party to go to today so I didn't get home in time to put it on.  That's OK.  I'll get to it next weekend and then finish ripping that pasture.  It's something that I can fix myself.  I just had to figure out what was wrong.  Because this had the same item on the other side it was pretty easy to figure out.  If I didn't figure it out it would have cost $50 to have JD come over to pick up the tractor and although they would have probably charged $5 for the part they would have charged another $50 minimum for labor.  The .69 fix would have cost over $100.  I bought four split rings.  Sure the first one lasted for 10 years.  I'm sure the other side will break soon.  Now I have extra because I don't believe that they are made as well as they were even 10 years ago.  I doubt that these will last another 10 years.  We will see.

Oklahoma friend called me up a couple of days ago.  Friend knows that I am prepared. Friend is as well, even if I did make remarks about how they had to buy firewood because they never bucked up any of the downed logs on their 87 acres.  Or at least friend is trying to be prepared.  Friend called to ask my opinion.  The question was prefaced with "Don't think I'm one of those crazy people".  Friend told me how most of their neighbors are thinking the country is going to fall apart and they are preparing big time.  Friend said that because of what everyone else is doing that they are going to seriously prepare as well.  If you can't beat them then join them.  And what did I think about that?  Crazy? 

Not in the least.  I then went through a bunch of scenarios.  Loss of power for several weeks...oh yeah, like every winter where they live.  Since they've lived in Oklahoma, the winter with the shortest outage was 15 days!  How about a freak snowstorm?  Tornado? That's their normal life.  Of course they need to be prepared.  Country collapse?  You know, I just don't know if that will happen.  Who can predict that?  Take 9/11.  While it was a horrible attack on our country, unless you lived where the attack occurred or you had friends or loved ones who perished, or you were part of the rescue effort or clean up effort, it didn't really affect you.  Well, sure it did, emotionally.  But we aren't talking emotionally.  When bad things happen in this country it is usually a regional problem.  There may be shortages of things due to that ragionality but life will pretty much go on for the rest of us.  Unless of course, we have an entire country collapse. 

I told friend that I think preparing is great.  After all, if all of your neighbors are prepared then there is less risk to you that they will be coming after your stuff.  Friend should keep talking with these neighbors.  Ask them questions.  Even if friend doesn't want to believe that there could be a full collapse connections can be made and neighbors can meet to figure out how they can all cooperate.  Some raise milk goats and cows, some chickens, some fish, some garden, some love hunting.  Friend is a trauma nurse.  Can't get a better person than that in a group. 

We moved the sheep to the front yard yesterday.  They will be eating the little bit of grass and all the leaves that will fall from the mulberry trees.  I have to get the seed still but my plan is to plant one pasture in wheat, one in oat, and one in barley.  Since I have six separate pastures I may plant two of each type of grain.  I've planted the pastures before but with last years 5 inches of rain for the entire season, just about nothing came up.  I want to plant it again, just to make sure I get a good crop this year. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Let's just give permission for everyone to track us

At what price do we give away our privacy?  Do we care how much convenience costs?  I don't think we do. 

There is no outcry that the doctor's offices are supposed to go to paperless records and all records are in one great big national database.  If the doctors don't do this then they don't get any reimbursements for Medicare patients, or in the case of California - MediCal or Medicare. So in order to get their money they have turned over all our records.  Again there is no outcry for the loss of privacy so let's now take it a step further. 

What about EZ Pass or FasTrak?  Look at all the benefits you get from these programs.  You don't have to get into the toll booth line to pay.  Instead your vehicle is read electronically.  That's OK you say because all toll booths nowadays have cameras and you are ID'd anyway.  So what's the harm?  Right?  WRONG! 
New York uses the EZ Pass throughout the city to help with real time tracking of vehicles to detect traffic patterns.  Fine if it just gives a click like the ropes across the road use counters.  No, this process tells them where your personal vehicle is.  The government's own personal GPS system that you pay for. 
The Pass is also used for court cases, whether it's criminal or civil.  Just think.  You can be a prime suspect in a _____ because your vehicle was tracked leaving the scene of a crime. 
Best of all, you can use the Pass like an ATM card at some McDonald's.  Yes you can.  What a convenience.  McDonald's can now read your traffic pattern.

California is thinking about having electronic license plates.  They will be a source of income to the state.  They will track if the vehicle registration is due, but also make it easier for authorities to know if there is a problem just by being near a vehicle.  Anything can be put into these plates.  They are even talking about selling commercial space.  Yes, you can be at a signal and with the car stopped and you will be flashed an advertisement from the car in front of you.  McDonald's anyone?  Your license plate can be showing an advertisement for some nearby business.  Or the state can program in if you are on parole, if you are a gang member, etc. on the part that isn't publicly visible.  Who knows, maybe when the car is stopped it can flash child molester here.  Sounds good!? as that will keep us safe.  And people will flock to these new electronic plates because they will be cool.

I've now figured out a great marketing plan for here in California!  If McDonald's detects by your Pass that you are a McDonald's user twice a week in the afternoon, they can start flashing commercials on the license plate in front of you at a signal every afternoon.  Brilliant marketing ploy.  And you know something?  We will accept it.  After all, it's free marketing in a free society isn't it?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Can you fix it?

If something breaks we usually have several options.  We can fix it ourselves.  We can hire someone to fix it.  We can get rid of it and get a new one.  We can keep it broken and just stare at it every once in a while thinking someday we will fix it.  We can just do without.  How much stuff do you own that you can't fix?  Perhaps you are really handy.  Can you fix it all?  Do you have parts at home to fix it? 

I was thinking about this today as I was pulling the mower deck off the tractor.  I wanted to put the ripper on to plow the pastures before the rains fell.  What can I fix on the tractor?  I've fixed the mower deck.  I can replace teeth on the ripper.  I can do a minor repair to the tractor.  If something major happened to the tractor, even if I could fix it, I don't store too many parts for it.  Now I just haul it to the JD dealer.  If TSHTF, I guess I'd be out of luck.  What do I have the tractor do for me that I can't otherwise do?  Well, I can hand mow a yard.  Better yet, we just put fencing up in the front yard and the sheep are going to be moved to the front lawn.  We don't have to rake leaves or mow and next spring I will plow their manure into the soil.  Mowing is what I use the tractor for most often. 

Today I actually used the tractor to rip the pastures.  I figured that they are so compacted that any moisture received by a light rain won't penetrate.  I spent five hours on the equipment today and will probably spend a couple hours on it tomorrow.  When I started the grasses were eaten down to less than 1/4" in height.  The soil was cracked due to lack of moisture.  (When I say cracked, I mean it!  Many cracks were 2" wide and 1 foot deep.)  My neighbor ripped theirs last year and this year their pasture was more than twice the height of mine.  If I didn't have the tractor I could hire someone to plow the field.  What if TSHTF?  Nobody around here has any working horses or oxen.  None of the pastures would get plowed. At least my pastures will be done this year.  Ripping them lasts for several years; you don't need to do it every year. 

Take a look around and what you use at your house.  If you can't fix the zipper on those jeans are you going to throw them away?  Do you have a replacement pair if there aren't any at the store?  We know all about the things we should store just in case.  What else do I have that may need to be fixed?  The car, truck, freezer, refrigerator, tv, stereo, dishwasher, broken chair leg, door swelling, faucet, light switch, broken zipper, lost button? It goes from difficult to easy. But even the easy is impossible without the tools or ability. 

We all have a lot of modern things.  Most break easy and often.  Which of those things do you not want to live without?  Think back about 50 years.  What was in the "modern" home at that time?  Think back 75 years.  What equipment ran the home and property then?  What about 100 years ago?  I look around in my home library.  What surrounds me?  A printer, computer (thanks Max), a shredder, a stereo.  That's all new stuff that I probably don't have the ability to repair and replacements may not be available even if I could repair them.  On the other hand, do I actually need any of this stuff if TSHTF?  It's convenient, that's for sure, but an absolute need?  No.  What about the rest of the things in this room?  Books, shelving, chairs, table, file cabinet.  Bigger stuff.  If any of these items break I won't have to rush to the store to purchase repair or replacement parts.  I can probably fix what goes wrong.  Do I have enough tape, glue, staples, nails, material, and tools to make all of these repairs?  Probably. 

I'm going to start looking at each room with a more critical eye.  How about the living room?  Table, sideboard, sofas, chairs, TV, VCR, lights.  I can probably fix everything except if glass breaks on the table and also the TV and VCR.  I don't have spare parts or pieces.  Even if I did for the TV or VCR I have no clue how to fix them. 

The kitchen is more difficult to assess.  I have a lot of stuff here and more kitchen things stored in the garage.  I have a wheat grinder.  It's an older model that will run forever, as long as there's electricity.  But it can be hand cranked and I have a hand crank for it.  I have an electric dehydrator.  If it breaks I'd try to figure out how to fix it.  If I can't, I can use a substitute (screen, wood, sunshine) to dry food.  What about the day to day things in the kitchen.  The coffee pot... Mine even grinds the beans.  I'm on my third one since they don't last long, but I like it!  If I didn't have the ability to buy a fourth when this one dies in another couple years I do have backups.  Yes, a back up coffee maker that doesn't grind beans.  I also have 1000+ filters.  You just put the hot water into a mason jar, throw your grinds into the jar, screw on the ring but replace the lid with a filter.  Turn it upside down over your mug and you coffee drips in.  I also have a stove top percolator.  There are many different ways to get coffee once the coffee maker dies. 

I expect to be able to use my propane stove for a long time.  Even if I can't get a propane delivery for several years, we'd be able to cook.  As long as the stove doesn't break.  What about the electronic ignition?  Do I have matches if there's no electricity?  What if there is electricity would I know how to fix that?  What if a knob breaks?  Can I repair it or replace it or will I be turning the stove on with a pair of pliers?  What if you have a gas stove and you want to convert it to propane if TSHTF?  It's not expensive but you should buy the parts now and know how to change them out. 

Can I change out the pipes under the sink? The kids just busted the sink stopper in their bathroom.  That's an easy fix; the screw probably came undone and fell off.  Then I realized that not only the screw isn't there but all the parts under the sink have disappeared.  Did someone else try to fix it and threw away parts? 

 How about a dishwasher?  Do I have spare parts?  Do I know what I'm doing if I do have parts?  What will I use as a substitute if that appliance is no longer available? Do I have enough dishpans of good quality?  The dollar store bargain is no bargain. 

Can I fix a drier or will we be destined to using the clothesline forever?  Do I have enough line for the clothesline or will the clothes eventually get hung over the fence to dry?  I got into a debate with someone who said it you can't fix it you shouldn't own it.  I don't agree with that premise, but I do agree that if I can't fix it I better have some sort of substitute in mind if it breaks. 

Let's take our front yard hose as an example.  Within the last month I've fixed it twice.  I could have just thrown it away and spent $35 on a new one.  I had spare parts at home for the repairs so I used to parts.  The next time I was in town I bought a new set of spare parts.  So what went wrong with the hose?  First it needed a new washer.  That's about a 10 second 10 cent repair, yet I've seen some people throw away the hose because it leaked.  No it didn't.  They just didn't know how to do such a simple repair.  Then the hose got a pinhole leak in it.  I cut the hose and put a repair piece on it.  That cost a couple of dollars.  If I didn't have the spare part I could have taken some old irrigation hose that's a little smaller to use in the hose repair.  I'd put that in then clamp each cut end over the hose repair.  What if I don't have clamps?  Wire will work.  I can fix it properly or I can improvise and still get it to work. Or I can buy a new one.  Right now I have many choices.   

Take some notes for the next few weeks.  What did you fix without really giving it a second thought?  What needs to be fixed that you don't know how to do?  Is it worth fixing or should you just get rid of it?  While I don't agree with "if you can't fix it you shouldn't own it" I do agree that we should do a better job of learning how to fix things.  Even the simple repairs, such as a garden hose, will make life much easier when life as we know it ceases to exist.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Better Fired than Dead

I woke up in the middle of the night with "better fired than dead" running through my brain.  I woke this morning right when the shooting happened in DC.  No, this wasn't any type of premonition, don't read anything like that into this.  This shooting did take place at a federal facility, which means nobody is armed except the bad guy.  Everyone is a sitting duck until someone who is armed shows up.  I've heard in this case it took 2 minutes for the first armed officer to show up.  Five minutes after that the full "active shooter" team arrived.  Whether it's 2 minutes or 7 minutes, it's too long of a time.
My last job I wasn't supposed to be armed.  Same with this job.  We aren't supposed to carry a weapon or have one in the vehicle.  It isn't illegal, just against company policy.  I have a CCW permit.  I can carry so I will.  I am almost always armed.  Better fired than dead. 
Now I haven't told anyone at work that I write this blog because I include little bits of what they shouldn't know.  But it always makes me wonder... who at work would tell the boss that I carry?  I can name a few who probably wouldn't but I think most would.  Even if I believe they wouldn't say anything, nobody will ever know that I carry unless I pull it out to save my, or their, life.  A disgruntled person came into one of our company's offices in another city and killed several people.  How does the company deal with it?  We have yearly "active shooter" training. 
Have you ever had this training?  Lock your office door (my office doesn't have a door), hide behind something big, turn off the sound on your phone so nobody knows you are there.  If you choose to go after the shooter you MUST continue your action.  What?  If you run out of your office and you see the shooter and for a second you think you are going to jump him but then you run out the back door that is wrong?  You have to go continue your action of going after the shooter?  So much for the training.
How about if the training teaches us how to booby trap the place.  For fun some of the people in my office and I have made booby traps.  Have you ever seen a pair of scissors with the point facing eye level flying at you from a rigging on the ceiling?  We did that for fun one day.  In only a few seconds I can turn my scissors, pencils, and some rubber bands into a flying weapon.  Have you ever taken habanero peppers and ground them up into a powder?  There is a door by my desk that no longer opens into the hallway.  Well, it opens a little.  I've got pepper powder rigged there. 
I can carry in a school zone but the teacher can't.  I can understand having a rule for women teachers that you can't have a weapon in a purse.  Carry should be carry.  On your body.  I think school districts should change their rules, just like I think the company I work at should change their rules.  Carry on  your person, not in a bag, fanny pack, or a hidden space in your briefcase.  On you! 
Rumor has it the DC shooter had a concealed weapons permit.  There is going to be additional push to get rid of firearms.  There always is after someone shoots up a place, which is all too common it seems now a-days.  But all these mass shootings have one thing in common.  They were all weapons free zones.  Yes, no guns allowed for the good guys, only the bad guys because they don't follow the rules.  After all, they are the bad guys.  We need to keep up the fight to stay armed.  I will stay armed.  As my saying goes (at least to myself), "Better fired than dead."   

Friday, September 13, 2013

Wasted Food

I got off early today and stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few things.  We needed all our dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, ice cream.  When I buy these I remind myself that I don't have time to keep a goat or cow.  Those animals take a commitment of twice a day every day.  While I'm working I just don't have the time.  Some people can squeeze it all in.  I probably could have 20-30 years ago when I was raising the first set of kids.  Now, I can't.  I'm too tired at the end of the day.

After shopping I drove home and got it all put away.  Wow, home for several hours before the grand kids get home.  I guess it's chore time.  Either that or a nap!  No, chores win out once again. 

I went out to the chicken and chucker coops.  They had very little water.  It's not that they don't get watered, they do.  But the chickens especially, when they get hot, will jump into the water tubs and splash in the water to cool off.  That works well except they splash out all the water.  Then they get over heated while they are waiting for me to give them more water, which may be several hours later.  They are stupid chickens, after all. 

As I had the water running, I put another 50 pounds of lay pellets into the feeder.  With the price of pellets I'm just about breaking even with the amount of eggs I'm getting.  That's OK, I suppose.  I don't want to lose money.  But, I also look at the chickens as sort of an insurance policy.  You always lose money on insurance, unless you have an accident and the insurance pays up.  Same with the chickens.  You may lose money on them but if there's a shortage of eggs, or of anything at the grocery store, now they will be paying up.  Their eggs will be worth their weight in gold (Figure of speech, I hope they are never worth that much!).

Then I went over to the fruit trees to pick some pears and apples to put into the green salad we were having with dinner.  I noticed a bunch of fruit laying on the ground.  Normally I don't get too upset about that, but today was different.  I raked a bunch of the dropped fruit up and fed it to the chickens and the rest to the sheep.  Sure, feeding the chickens fruit will cut down on their food bill, but what about our food bill?  Chicken food is about $15 for the 50 pounds.  That's about 30 cents per pound.  The fruit is worth more than 30 cents per pound.  I don't think there's anything at the store I can buy for 30 cents a pound!  I shouldn't be letting fruit drop to the ground.  It should be getting canned, dried, frozen, made into fruit leather, or eaten fresh! 

The chickens get the trimmings so it's not like they aren't getting fresh fruits and vegetables.  Tonight for dinner I made a vegetable mixture of tomatoes, eggplant, green beans, garlic, and onions.  All the trimmings from that went to the chickens.  They eat plenty of fresh stuff.  When I include the weeds I split between the sheep and chickens they eat very well.  I've been foolish with the fruit.  Just because the pantry is full doesn't mean I should be wasteful.  Next summer may be a bad fruit year.  This year we had a bumper crop of fruit, but considering the previous two years we got almost nothing, who knows what the future may bring. 

If I bought it from the store I'd sure pay more attention to the fruit and not throw it away.  The same should be said about what grows on the tree.  It's like the store only more convenient! I guess I've had the same mentality as Son and Daughter-in-law.  They are on food stamps and are very wasteful with their food.  They over serve food to the kids and themselves and then throw half of it away. I always believe it's because they don't pay for it.  It's "free".  Sort of the same attitude I've had with the fruit trees.  But that is going to change. 

We have four pear trees and three apple trees that are filled with fruit.  Between this weekend and next I'm going to make sure I put up enough apple sauce and pear sauce to last a year or two.  I'll also cut up apple chunks and pear chunks.  I can them in a light syrup and use them for everything from pies to fritters to cakes to fruit salad!  After that, if there's fruit left that falls to the ground I won't be feeling so wasteful when I feed it to the chickens, chuckars, and sheep.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Keeping the family fit

I was always an athletic kid.  I got it from my father who triple lettered in high school.  He was the jock's jock.  That love of sports was passed down the family.  I remember the book Aerobics by Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper.  Dr. Cooper realized you could judge how fit someone was by how far they could run in 12 minutes.  Ages, times, and distances were all listed.  It then was expanded to other types of activities.  It was all put into a point system and you needed a certain amount of points every week.  All us kids made sure we got our points.  It also gave us goals of times or distances to try to beat.  Now, I'm recalling these details even though they were from the late 1960s so if what I'm saying isn't perfectly exact, that's really OK.  I just remembered that if you followed any of the plans you would get fit.  And, as a survivalist, a beer belly and weak arms and legs just won't do.

When my kids were younger, I'd bring them to the school track and make them run their age.  This meant the 6 year old had to go 1 1/2 miles, the 10 year old 2 1/2 miles.  My kids were always running under 8 minute miles.  Army standards are slower than that!  Now the grandkids are runners.  Girl runs under a 6 minute mile.  She has been doing this since she was 10!  She is now the ripe old age of 12.  The kids are competitive, and individual sports where you are timed or use weights are great because while they compete against each other, they are also competing against themselves. 

On Wednesday Girl was mad when she got home from school.  What happened?  Something happened during PE.  Now at our schools, PE standards are set at the beginning of the year, measured in the middle and at the end for improvement.  Federal funding is given to the district by the amount of improvement.  (Sounds like a perfect reason to fudge, doesn't it since an in-shape kid will have less percentage of improvement than an out-of-shape kid.)  They had to get tested on pushups.  Down on the ground...and these aren't the sissy pushups but regular pushups.  One, two, three... The teacher was counting.  Girl got a little bored and did 10 as the teacher counted to eight.  OK, we are done! 

What?  Girl wasn't done at 10.  She figured she would do about 50 or 60 before she'd tire out.  She used to do 100 but since she didn't really do pushups during summer, her goal was 50.  She had to stop at 10.  That way there'd be room for improvement.  Not only that, but she would bring up the rest of the class enough that they'd qualify for the extra federal funding on her ability alone. 

Last night I didn't let the kids go to the football game.  After all, it was on a school night rather than on Saturday.  Fresno won 52-51 against Rutgers.  After every touchdown the Army ROTC runs down the goal line and does one pushup per point.  Normally Girl takes up a space in the bleachers and does pushups along with them.  Thing is, once the score was 28 the Army ROTC stopped doing one per point because many of them couldn't keep up.  Instead they just did seven for the touchdown.  Girl on the other hand would have done them all.  That would mean by the time the game was over she would have done about 250! 

So Wednesday Girl was mad because she only got to do 10 pushups.  This morning she was mad because she missed out on 250.  Now the challenge will be to keep her thinking pushups are fun and staying fit during her upcoming "lazy" teen years.