Monday, January 28, 2013

Busy start of the week

My day started off well.  I had a meeting at 10 between here and the office which meant I didn't have to leave for work at 5:30.  I didn't leave until 9:30.  I didn't accomplish much this morning other than scrubbed the kitchen a bit more than normal.  Big dog was sleeping on her pillow on the back patio and didn't want to come in the house.  Usually I can convince her to come in for a while but she knows that if she's in the house when the last person leaves she will probably have to stay in the house until the next person arrives home.  So this morning she didn't come in.  It wasn't unusual but now I'm thinking that perhaps she had a different reason than just not wanting to get locked in the house. 

I got home this evening at my normal 7:00.  Both big dog and yip-yip always come running into the garage when I drive in.  We have a race to see who will make it into the garage first once the door starts opening.  They always do because I don't want to run them over when I'm driving in.  But this evening only yip-yip made it in before me.  Big dog was hobbling in.  This isn't good.  She had surgery a couple months ago when she tore a ligament.  I wonder if she did the same thing to the other leg?  She's in the house sound asleep now.  We will see if she just twisted something or if she really hurt herself when she wakes up later. 

Tomorrow I have to get off work early for an appointment with the kids.  If big dog isn't better then I'll have to take off on Wednesday to get her to the vet.  I wonder dealing with the dog counts as sick leave? 

Boy is upset.  He tried out for a school team and told me that they were going to tell him tomorrow if he made the team.  I asked if they have practice during school or after.  He didn't know.  I told him if practice is after school then he can't participate since there's no room on the late bus to get him home.  Sorry.  He said he'd try to get one of the parents to bring him home.  Sorry again.  I can't rely on someone else to bring you home.  What if their kid doesn't stay after on any given day and you've just missed the bus?  This is the second casualty of my new job. 

The first was missing the science fair last week since it went from 5:30-6:30.  Girl didn't mind.  She came home with her grade today.  She got a D on her project.  What's worse is I'm a scientist.  This is a perfect example of grandparent actually letting the kid do their own project rather than doing it for them.  I tried to coach her but obviously I let her do it her way.  Unfortunately, she wasn't blessed with scientific brains.  She did work hard on it and earned her D. 

I ordered some pest control items. I wrote about this subject about six months ago.  I finally decided that I should have some of this stuff on hand rather than expect Clark Pest Control to always be available.  I wonder if there is a shelf life for this stuff?  If not, then I may add this to my list of items to purchase a couple times per year.  Right now, it's still worth it to me to have Clark do the spraying because I don't have lots of spare time.  But at some point in time I will have the time and will do it myself. 

On my next day off I have to go back to the range to qualify for the renewal of my concealed weapons permit.  I can't believe it's been almost two years since I've had the permit.  This time I'm not only going to get my local permit but also get one from either Utah or Arizona.  My instructor is qualified to offer both.  California doesn't honor other state's permits and most states don't honor California's.  But many states do honor those from either Utah or Arizona.  If I get the additional permit then when I travel I can still carry legally. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Making a list and checking it twice...

The heading should have been written in December.  I really enjoy my new job and am getting used to the hours and the distance traveled.  It's only four days per week but unfortunately for me my Friday's have been filled with appointments and such so I haven't gotten to just relax on that extra day.  This past Friday I didn't have to leave the house until 2:45 so I actually wore sweats until about 2:00.  I still accomplished things, I just looked like a slob.  And it was so well deserved! 

We had a meeting on Thursday and prior to the meeting I was briefed about how this group doesn't want to cooperate with that group and nobody talks to each other and on and on.  It's not a good way to get the job done, especially since it's all the same company and it's contractors.  I suppose I'm too new to understand the stupidity of it all.  Anyway, I'm not putting up with that.  If I need to know something I will get the information and I will also go straight to the people who don't like to share.  They WILL share.  So the meeting starts..the tables are set out in a U.  Our side sits on one side, the other group on the other side.  Gee, if I knew that was how it was going to be I would have taken a seat in the middle of "their" side.  Instead, I took a seat facing the door rather than my back to the door.  This put me in with my own group but also in a safer position, since I sat there for safety reasons rather than grouping reasons.  The meeting drags on and on.  At the end I asked THEM if I had to go through THEM to talk with one of their contractors or could I talk straight to the person.  After all, in my previous job I knew this person.  Of course they said go straight to the person and they were glad we had a working relationship.  OK, it's on record.  I don't have to follow their stupidity of nobody talking to each other.  After the meeting was over I had a quiet moment with my supervisor.  "See", I said, "that's why you hired me!"  I will cut through this government regulation crap.  I was from the government.  I'm here to help.

I decided to buy a Prius.  It hasn't been delivered yet, the dealer is bringing it to my house next week.  Why a Prius?  It won't help me in any way if we have an EMP, that's for certain.  But, barring that disaster, it will pay for itself in about 6 years.  After that, it will be a free car.  How?  With the amount of miles I'm driving just in my commute I'm using 7 gallons of gas each day.  That comes to 28 gallons a week just to get me back and forth to work; never mind the extra driving I do to bring the grand kids to their religious training a couple times a week or the trips to southern CA.  The 28 gallons at four bucks a gallon...sure it's only $3.59 today... would be $112 a week.  In the Prius, I will use 2 gallons per day.  That's 8 gallons a week.  Or an $80 difference each and every week.  In a year that comes to $4160 in gas savings.  In six years the car, insurance, and registration will have all been paid for by the savings in gas.  As long as an EMP doesn't take it out before then.  I hate Prius's.  They are ugly.  But at this point in time I don't care. I was thinking about getting a Subaru and a friend of mine works at a dealer, but since I was going just for fuel economy, Subaru couldn't come close to the 50 mpg that I'm going to get.  I am focused and that focus means that I will be driving the most ugly small vehicle I've ever sat in.  I like my truck.  I want my truck to last for a lot longer than the 12 years I've had it and making this commute in it isn't going to keep it healthy.  On the other hand, if the weather is bad, I'll drive the truck. 

My focus for the year is to get the house and our life in ship-shape, tip-top order.  I have my list of lists.  Each month I am trying to purchase or complete on of the topics.  If I only focus on food, then I will fall short on everything else.  Same goes with ammunition, clothing, water, self sufficiency, etc.  Right now, we are good for over a year with everything...even enough in the savings to pay mortgage and taxes.  Then it goes to two years, then three, etc.  Again, my goal is that five or six years from now we will be 100% self sufficient.  That doesn't mean that I'll be spinning my own wool or cotton to make material for our clothes but it does mean that I will have enough supplies on hand to make what we need if we don't have those items in storage. 

Since I don't seem to ever get anything right the first time around, this weekend we pulled up some of the t-posts and fencing panels around the fruit trees in the front pasture.  Since the sheep won't be placed into the front pasture for several more months we have plenty of time to go our typical snails pace at getting this project done.  We have about a dozen trees in the front.  First I put in four t-posts in corners about 8 feet apart.  The tree was in the middle.  This meant that the tree was 4 feet from any fence.  Sounds fine until the sheep started pushing in the middle of the panel.  Also, they'd climb up on their hind legs and eat whatever they could reach of the branches hanging out.  After all, the truck may be 4 feet from the fence but none of the branches were!  Last year I got this brilliant idea to add a fifth panel and a 5th t-post.  This gave a little more stability to the panels but the sheep still ate everything that got close to the edges.  Three of the trees had full 16 foot panels.  Those trees had a span of 8 feet from trunk to edge where the sheep could get to.  Any you know what?  They were able to get to some of the branches!  Whatever!  16 foot panels is good.  I really don't want those fruit trees to have that wide of a spread.  Also, instead of putting the t-posts in the corners I've put them in the middle of the panel.  That way the animals can't push in the middle  It works.  The 16 foot panels are only on three of the trees.  We have a lot more to do. least before we put the animals back into the front. One of the problems with trying to save money, especially when I didn't have much, was that I just Micky-mouse the project and it isn't done well enough to last forever, or as close to forever as I want these projects to last. 

I found that our local Target is now selling freeze dried fruit in bags for $2.99 for anywhere from 1 to 1 3/4 ounces.  I checked on a large company's site to see their prices.  This company has freeze dried strawberries on sale in #10 cans.  Their prices are about $3 an ounce if you buy the case.  This means Target is cheaper, except you are buying in bags rather than in the cans.  I'd rather buy them cheaper and package them up myself.  Target has strawberry, mango, pineapple, mixed berry (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry), apple, and others in stock.  The other week I bought some that were marked down for even cheaper.

Nothing so far has had anything to do with my Making a List and Checking it Twice.  I am making a small goal each week that is a subset of my larger goal of total self sufficiency.  I have my notebook that includes my list of lists.  This week, I'm getting out my list of lists that I compiled and also Rawles's list in his book How to Survive TEOTWAWKI.  I want to see how I'm doing when comparing it to the list.  That way I will stay on track to accomplish my goals.  It's worth going over again. 


Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Horse?

Brother-in-law said that someone he worked with was giving away their horse.  Did I want it?  I had to think hard about this one. 

A horse would be a good animal to have on the farm if it was trained and if I had an abundant supply of food. I don't. The pasture isn't irrigated so I would run out of food for it. Perhaps I wouldn't if I didn't have any other animals, but the sheep (and future goats) are much more valuable to me. Sure I could use the horse to get from place A to B if I don't have a vehicle, but if it would starve to death then it wouldn't last very long as my mode of transportation.

I could also use the horse to help plow. It used to be said that a farm without a milk cow and a horse wasn't much of a farm. I think a farm with sheep, chickens, and goats are more useful, and they eat less food which means I can keep more animals. I'd rather have 10 small animals than one horse. 

I bet, if things went sour, I could convince my neighbors to finish fencing their 20 acres.  They are using about 5, so that could mean 15 acres of pasture.  That could support a horse without having to suppliment the food. 
Many years ago, when my kids were young we had two horses.  One of my kids liked them and rode them. She also somewhat took care of them.  But I didn't think they were taken care of well enough and certainly not ridden often enough.  You can't have a horse and expect it to behave properly if you don't give it more than an hour or so every week.  That pasture was irrigated.  Just because it can eat from your pasture so you don't have to feed it doesn't mean you are taking care of it.  Anyway, I gave those horses to a friend.  About two weeks later one of the horses threw her kid and the kid broke his arm. 

So now I'm thinking about another.  I always said that I'd like another horse when I retired.  But retiring from one job and taking another isn't the same thing as retiring.  I don't have time, especially with this new job.  I leave before dawn and arrive home after dark.  That doesn't give me time for the horse during the four days I'm working.  The other three days I'd have time.  What about if the kids helped out during the four days I couldn't?  Forget that.  They can't even seem to make their beds or eat breakfast in the morning.  When they get home they have time to play but can't seem to find the time to collect the eggs.  So a horse?  No.  I turned it down.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Will we survive another four years?

The president will be in office for four more years.  Here in California the Dem's have a super majority.  They can do whatever they choose because they can't be stopped.  New laws and new ways to take my money...I'm not in a good mood.  Now I can't keep myself depressed for the next four years, that won't be wise, but I'm trying to plan things a little differently.  Both yesterday and today I was asked by former coworkers if I really missed my state job.  I, as politely as possible, said that I don't miss anything about it at all.  It's really strange, I've only been away from that job for less than a month and yet it seems like forever.  It's just a distant memory.  While I actually was a state worker who cared about how the taxpayers money was spent, I'm still happy to say I am no longer a state employee. 

If things go south now, I am prepared, sort of.  Bug-out place may be getting a good face lift but it doesn't have the garden or out buildings that I want.  It's a slow process there because Son really does a lousy job doing anything that can't be completed in 10 minute spurts.  If it takes longer than that he isn't interested because it would cut into his TV or computer game time.  I'd like to get some fruit trees planted this spring up there.  I'll have to put in the entire watering system because I am not certain they would keep them alive if they were responsible for watering.  Daughter-in-law probably would, Son, I doubt it.  It's too bad because I do have the money to upgrade the yard and some of the buildings.  I just don't have lots of time to do any of it.  And although Son says he wants to live there forever he isn't willing to put out much effort. 

That brings me to the main property.  If TSHTF and we didn't have to leave this house we'd be just fine.  The yard is set up the way I want.  The house is set up fine.  We have lots of food in storage and the ability to pretty much provide for ourselves as long as we aren't over run by others.  Today I pruned a few more of the fruit trees.  Only 7 more to go.  I just wasn't in the mood to do more this weekend and next weekend we are out of town so perhaps the weekend after that I will finish.  Normally I just have the grand kids pile the trimmings along the front fence.  Fruit wood is such good wood to burn I have decided that we are going to take the larger diameter pieces of wood and cut them to length for the wood pile.  The largest pieces are only about 3 inches in diameter but that's good enough to get a really hot fire going. 

The new neighbor is turning out to be a good neighbor.  He's putting in a large chicken yard and plans on housing a couple hundred chickens.  He already has a clientele (that he delivers dressed chickens to, they don't show up at his place).  He doesn't care that his other next door neighbor hates chickens, children, noise, or really anything and everything.  We are going to get along just fine.

We got all the chickens into the coop.  Something was killing the ones in the front pasture.  The ducks didn't fare as well.  While I told Boy and Girl to catch the chickens and ducks and stick them all into the coop, when I got home three days later I checked on the critters.  Lots of new chickens were in the coop.  They seemed to be getting along well enough.  Where are the ducks?  I went out front and saw three piles of feathers in the front pasture.  I took a look around.  One dead duck.  One duck foot.  No live ducks.  Kids! Where are the ducks?  Boy said that he couldn't catch them and girl wouldn't help.  Neither did oldest grandson.  Boy!  Did you tell them that you couldn't do it and that I said they would die if they weren't caught?  Did you insist?  No.  He couldn't do it.  They didn't help, so he went out to play football.  The ducks are all dead.  Boy is giving his football away to the school.  Girl and Boy looked through the Murray McMurray catalogue to pick out new ducks and give me the money for them.  They gave me $22.  I told them I didn't want any more ducks.  Go put that money into the donation jar. 

Wish I didn't have to work and could be here full time.  Being a single grandparent of a fifth and sixth grader is not easy anyway.  Having to work the long hours doesn't make it any easier.  At least my work travel is over for a while.  I do have to go back to LA for a few days but I probably won't do that until the next month or two.  End of March would be the best since they are on spring break.  It would be a perfect time to travel.  I'll just bring them with me and drop them off down in San Diego.  Hopefully I can hold off until then.  

Since I leave before the sun comes up and don't get home until after the sun sets for the next four days, I got everything in the yard all squared away.  Even if the grand kids don't step one foot out into the animal area the chickens and sheep are set for the week.  Their water and feeders are filled.  We had twin lambs born last week when I was gone.  Maybe we'll get a few more this week.   

Right now, what's going on in my brain is looking at this place with a four or five year plan.  Never mind that I'll be pushing 60 at that time, I want to set this main property up so that I don't ever have to leave it.  Ever!  In the next four or five years can I plant enough of a garden, keep a sustainable amount of livestock, produce enough electricity, keep enough clothing or yard goods on hand, put in an additional propane tank to only have to fill it up every few years, have a full supply of hardware, everything...not really even need the use of my truck (although I won't get rid of it).  That's my new goal.  All I have to do is survive the next four.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Getting rid of your cold and stuffy nose

GI Jim just posted about herbs on his site  This ties in well with what I was going to post today.  While we all try to stock up on medicines from the store and pharmacy, using herbal medicines is often an easier way to go.  If you try to use these items now, prior to supply problems it won't be something new and different you'll have to learn during times of stress.  There are lots of books you can read, or information you can pull off the Internet about herbs, spices and natural remedies. 

I don't catch a cold too often because I try really hard to keep my hands away from my face, which is one of the main ways germs are spread.  But sometimes I don't succeed.  This week when I was down in LA I ended up catching a cold.  I sat in class with my nose running and me sneezing.  While one person offered me a Sudafed, another offered me a cup of tea.  (Yes, I took both!)  What if the Sudafed wasn't around?  What if you didn't do anything smart like stock up on medications or on herbs?

There are plenty of medicines you can create by using what's around you.  For example, I don't have a pine tree in my yard but a neighbor does.  Or the local park will.  No matter where you live in this country you are probably not more than a few hundred feet from a pine tree.  They have green needles all year long.  Pick a handful of the needles, cut them into about 1 inch or smaller slices, and put a handful into a cup of just boiled water.  Seep the needles until the water is cooled down enough to drink it.  You've just made an excellent cold remedy that cost you nothing and works great.  If you want to add a little honey or sugar go ahead.  Another recipe for colds is honey and cinnamon on a spoon a couple times a day. 

What if you have a stuffy nose?  In California we have eucalyptus trees everywhere.  You don't eat the leaf but you can boil them up and breathe the vapors, or just breathe the vapors from the crushed up leaves if you don't want to boil them up.  What do you think Vick's Vapo-Rub is?  It's just petroleum jelly and eucalyptus oil.  I will take some of our horseradish root and grind it up, add a little vinegar and beet juice, and eat it.  Or, just smell it!  Either way, you will be unstuffed quite quickly.  My most favorite and best remedy?  Chicken noodle soup! 

Yesterday Boy had a doctor appointment.  This was a regular doctor who hands out prescriptions all day...  The doctor wanted to shake my hand hello but I declined saying I was just getting over a cold so I'm sure he would prefer not to shake my hand.  Not only did he say it wouldn't be a big deal because he keeps his hands away from his face but he told me another way to help get rid of the cold. 

Take your two hands and put them together like you are shaking hands.  If you keep your wrists straight one of your pointer fingers should be resting just past the bone at your wrist if you go in a straight line from your thumb down.  Note that spot.  Take your two hands and put them together again only this time have your other pointer finger touching that spot on your other arm.  Now that you know the two spots use your thumb (one at a time) and rub that spot.  As you are rubbing try to get in between the bone and ligaments to get a deep down massage.  Do this for one or two minutes.  Then switch and massage the other arm in the same spot. 

I found it refreshing that a medical doctor was suggesting Chinese acupressure.  No wonder I like that doctor! 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Safety. At what point do you stop and say this isn't right?

With the temperature at work the other day a whopping 14, we had a discussion about safe practices.  We told each other of horror stories about people using their GPS's and taking roads that weren't open during winter and then getting stuck.  We heard about close calls and also deaths.  At what point, while you are driving down a mountain road following someone elses tracks, when their tracks end do you keep going?  How long are you going to drive before you ask yourself, "should I turn around"?

Where is the little voice in your brain that says something isn't right.  Stop.  Think.  Retreat.

I am still in Los Angeles at a training for my new job.  I go home tomorrow.  At the training class today one of the topics was safety.  They were trying to pound in to our heads that nothing we do for work, or for play, should be done in such a manner that we are not safe.  Is it worth killing or harming yourself by your actions?  Wouldn't your family rather have you home in one piece rather than you do something unsafe and get hurt?  Again we had discussions about people doing stupid things. 

I read today about how some people in Russia were riding down a hill in a zorb and went off the track, rolled a mile futher than it was supposed to go and flew into a ravine.  One died, the other is badly injured.  I also read about someone riding a snowmobile pulling a sled wwith a bunch of people on it.  The snowmobile went over the side of a hill and six of the people on the sled being pulled were killed.  At what point should someone say stop.  This isn't going like I planned.  This is too dangerous.  I need to step back and think. 

I called home tonight to see how everything is going.  Girl has been following directions this week.  She's called right before she and Boy leave for school.  She calls and texts when they get home.  I missed her calls today because of the training, so right before dinner time I called home. 

They were eating dinner but she answered anyway.  Our house rule is we don't answer the phone during dinner, or if we do we say we are eating, is it an emergency?  If it's not an emergency we will return their call after we eat.  No over the phone conversation is worth missing out on at the table conversation.  I said that I was glad she and her brother were being good.  She asked if I wanted to talk to oldest grandson, the 18 year old who is watching them while I'm out of town.  "No, I don't need to talk to him.  It's dinner, go back to eating."  "But he wants to talk to you."

Oldest grandson got on the phone and said he needed to tell me something.  The story went like this:

I was trying to start a fire in the wood stove... I'm thinking he smoked up the house and the alarm company sent out the fire department.  No, wait, the alarm company didn't call me.  Back to his call...

I was trying to start a fire.  It wouldn't start.  So I got the lighter fluid out.  I was starting the fire and the lighter fluid blew up.  It caught the wood floor on fire... Is the house OK?  

It caught my fingers on fire... Are YOU OK?  

Sure, it's all fine.  I cleaned it all up....What about the kids?

They are fine.  They watched it happen....And you are OK?

Yes.  It's all cleaned up.  You wouldn't even know anything happened I think...

After the shock of what he did wore off I asked why he would ever think about starting a fire that way.  Have YOU ever seen ME start a fire that way?  No?  Then why would you think this was safe?  You saw your uncle do it that way before?  Well, my son is an idiot!  Why didn't you just turn on the heaters?  The house has two perfectly good propane heaters that are vented into every single room in that house.  Why didn't you just turn on the heater?...I don't know. 

I know.  He wanted to play with the fire and it shut down his sense of right and wrong.  There were so many different times in this situation that he could have, should have, said to himself what he was doing wasn't safe.  He is fortunate he didn't get hurt.  He won't ever do it again and hopefully Boy and Girl got frightened enough that they won't ever try that stupid stunt.    

When I get home tomorrow night we will be having our own household discussion on safety.  I'm sure Boy and Girl knew it wasn't a good idea but were too excited to watch the fire flame from the lighter fluid that they didn't tell their cousin that they didn't think it was safe.  We've had safety conversations before but obviously we need it again. 


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

More dead ducks and missing chickens

I like my new job with the exception of  the hours.  I actually work less hours than my old job, even with the 3 hour a day commute added in, but this job doesn't give me the flexibility to work at home.  This means that I leave before the sun comes up and I get home after the sun goes down.  Sure it's only four days a week but for those four days I really have no idea what is going on around the property.

I ask the grand kids to check on things but they don't do the greatest of jobs.  I know they are young so I can't rely on them to do a whole lot on those four days.  After all, they still have to get their homework done and even play a little.  I am out of town for the next few days and they are being watched by the 18 year old grandson.  He's not really reliable in doing farm chores.  Today I did give the kids a task.

After they finished their homework I wanted them to give the chickens and ducks in the front pasture some grain in the small pen area.  I wanted them to catch all the chickens and ducks and put them all into the chicken coop.  That will not go over well with the chickens in the chicken coop but at this point in time it's our last resort. 

This morning I didn't have to leave before dark since I had to go to Los Angeles.  I saw a dead duck in the front pasture and a bunch of feathers in the front lawn and also in the pasture.  I counted the live ducks.  Three.  We started off the fall with 11.  How about the chickens?  There were 11 of them too.  Now there are six.  So into the coop they go. 

My experiment of putting the fowl in the front pasture to save on feed costs is a failure.  I asked a biologist friend if  the falcons that nested on my front porch last year would come back and nest again, and if they would kill the fowl and leave it on the ground.  His response was yes, they would kill them but not leave them, unless they were too heavy to carry off.  They'd expect to come back and pull the meat off. But I was getting to the carcass first on the chickens and ducks that they left.  So the fowl has to get locked up.  No more free range for them.  It's going to cost more in feed so I'm going to have to be more serious about the number of chickens and ducks I keep.  

My new supervisor offered to lend me a new Reconyx camera to try to capture the falcons on camera.  I'm going to take him up on the offer.  This means I'll leave a couple of the fowl out front to lure the birds back.  I'll let you know how it turns out.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fencing and pastures

Girl and I worked on the fencing until we ran out of t-posts.  We put in about 400 feet of fencing.  It's amazing how many t-posts I can use at a time!  With a t-post every 8 feet that would be 50 posts.  Some of them were already in, but Girl had to pound in about 25 posts.  She does a great job getting them in a straight line and standing them up straight.  She does a better job at this than I, and I make sure to tell her so!  We got everything fenced as I had pictured in my mind.  There are seven separate pastures our back - two are 175x175, three are 150x160, one is about 50x50 and the long driveway pen is about 600x15.    I would like to split the first pasture that's 175x175 in half but I don't have anymore panels or posts.  Posts are easy to get.  They will fit into the back of the pickup.  It's easy to drop $100 on 20 posts (always get USA not China) and throw them into the back of the pickup.  The panels are a different story.  My little hauling trailer is only 8 feet.  I can't put the panels in them.  I borrow a friends 12 trailer and the 16 foot panels will fit in that with them hanging over the back.  It works but it's a hassle.  Maybe I should be looking for a used 12 or 16 foot trailer.  They aren't really that expensive and I wouldn't be relying on someone else who live 20 miles away.

The animals can be locked in or out of any of the pastures.  I have a pasture grass driveway going down the fence line.  Each pasture area has a gate that can be opened and closed onto the driveway area but also a get connecting each pasture.  The animals can eat down one pasture and the rest can be left to grow.  Once they eat that one down they can be moved into the next pasture.  I should be able to rotate them well enough that I'll never have to buy any hay. 

I don't really buy any hay now, except for when I feel sorry for them and want to give them treats.  With the mild winter we've had so far the pastures haven't gone completely dormant.  All of them have at least two inches of greens and some as much as four inches.  Once the warm spring comes the pastures will grow to two or three feet high.  Sometimes even taller. 

In one of the pastures I planted oat a few years ago.  It got more oat growing in it that then other pastures but not enough to sustain us.  In the next few weekends, after it dries out a little (we got rain last night) I will be able to disk the pasture.  Then planing the oat seed will work better.  I'd like to plant one of the pastures in oat, one in wheat, and one in barley.  Two I'd like to put in better pasture mix. 

One of our neighbors planted oat in his 200 acres.  He hires someone to disk the land each year and in exchange that person also mows the oats and bales them.  He keeps it all in exchange for disking the land.  Well, I don't want to hire the person to disk and then mow and bale and keep it all for himself.  I want to be able to disk my pasture (I have a small disk for my small tractor) then plant the oats and not mow or bale.  I figure if I leave them in the pasture and collect the seed, then I let the animals in to  eat the forage, it will be a good situation for all of us.  I can use some of the seed to replant and some of the seed can be made into oat flour or cut oats for oatmeal. 

Same with the wheat.  If I planted this 1/2 acre in wheat it would provide enough wheat on a permanent basis for us to eat, plus enough to replant each year, and some to throw to the chickens.  Not that I would harvest the wheat now, I would wait until either I've retired from work or the SHTF, whichever comes first (or they both may happen at the same time). 

I've also been told that you can pasture the animals on the oats or wheat for a few weeks in the spring and that won't hurt anything on the growing cycle of the grain.  If you think about it, you mow the lawn and it keeps coming back.  If you put the animals on to mow it down, as long as you give it enough time to come back and set the seed head you'll be OK.  The pastures should also reseed themselves so unless TSHTF and I need to intensify the wheat, oats, and barley pastures, this new technique of rotating pastures should be self sufficient and self sustaining.  Just the way I like it!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Things Are Getting Paid Off

I just finished my third week on the new job.  I didn't leave the old job until Wednesday of this week.  That means for over two weeks I worked 80 hour weeks.  I didn't have much time to think but every time I thought about it being a little overwhelming I just reminded myself that I'm getting two paychecks for those two weeks.  But now the first job is done.  I no longer work for the state.  When the next disaster hits the state I wonder if I'll wish I was there in the thick of things.  Only time will tell.

The state had to pay me for my unused vacation time and holidays.  It left me with a little chunk of money.  Enough, in fact, to pay off the bug-out place.  It's all mine!  Of course, son and daughter-in-law and cute little grand kids are living in the house, but now, it's about time I start working on the cabin.  I'm going to wait to do the majority of the work come spring or summer but for now, I can start dreaming and planning and saving up some money. 

The cabin has two rooms, two exterior doors, five windows and electricity.  There is water at the faucet right outside the door.  The cabin is also raised off the ground a foot or two so the interior can be plumbed.  I never even took exact measurements of the place; it's probably around 15 x 30.  I will next time I go out there so I can draw it out and then cut out cabinets, furniture, etc. on some construction paper to try to figure out how it will be set up. 

Today was a red letter day for oldest daughter.  Four years ago she and her husband picked out a very good, somewhat expensive used van.  They had no money and less credit.  We made a deal.  I'd buy the van, put hers and my name on the title, but the loan was only in my name.  Most everyone said I was taking a risk.  And it would be true if it was son and daughter-in-law who never pay anything that they owe.  But I had faith in oldest daughter and son-in-law.  True to their word, every single month they paid the loan, the insurance, and got the thing smogged and titled on time.  December was their last payment.  The title came in the mail today so daughter and I headed out to AAA (faster than the DMV) to give her clear title.  Get me off! 

She never had auto insurance before.  Years ago she drove without insurance.  When the state required it they ended up not registering their vehicles just so they wouldn't have to pay anything.  I put an end to that since they were driving a vehicle that I was liable for.  Because she had no clue about insurance I called up USAA and got everything squared away, not only for the van but also renters insurance on the house.  It's my house they live in but I kept telling her that if the place burns down the insurance will pay for the house but not cover any of their stuff.  After the guy at USAA and I talked we got oldest daughter on the phone and sealed the deal.  She now owns her own van, free and clear, and has insurance in her name for the house and van. 

The only thing I owe any money on is the main house.  No credit card balances, no car loans, nothing. This is a good way to start the new year. 

Tomorrow we are going to finish up the fencing in the back yard, or at least finish up with the materials I have on hand.  Girl is good at pounding in t-posts.  She gets them in straight and with little effort.  I didn't get to it the other day.  I decided to do nothing outdoors, although I did have big plans on accomplishing so much that day.  Instead, I cleaned the inside of the house.  Sort of a spring cleaning of the cabinets during the middle of winter.  But the weather is supposed to be good tomorrow and then rain on Sunday, so tomorrow is the day for the yard. 

Getting back to storing food, Winco has powdered hummus in their bulk foods for a not too expensive price.  I know you can cook the garbanzo beans and then add garlic and other spices to make hummus but this is easy and can be stored in a smaller space.  You add equal amounts of powdered hummus and water.  Let it sit a few minutes.  Add a little olive oil (about a tablespoon for every cup of mixed hummus) to give it a smoother consistency and taste.  They also have powdered falaffel mix, which is also made of garbanzo beans.  This is not ground as fine and also has different seasonings added.  With the falaffel mix you just add water, let sit for a few minutes, then fry in a little oil.  That's delicious when eaten on homemade flatbread.  I've bought several pounds of each.  I put them in the freezer to kill any moths or other bugs.  Then I pack them into small Mylar bags, suck the air out and seal, and I put some into pint canning jars and keep that on hand for use now.