Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Preparedness Happenings This Weekend

This Friday-Sunday is the local home and garden show. I'll be going on Friday to see if they have anything that I can use for prepping.  I assume they will have solar dealers, greenhouses, new garden tools, and who know what.  I haven't gone to a home and garden show in many years.  From what I remember last time I went there were hundreds of dealers trying to sell you a bunch of things you don't need for a very high price.  I do remember that I wanted to put in the iron gate and fence.  I guess I wasn't dressed well enough or didn't use the right terminology because I remember getting laughed at when I inquired about one at several gate and fencing exhibits.  I remember one dealer telling me that it would cost too much for me.  Really?  Did he have any idea what my budget was?  He never asked.  I also had asked for some estimates with other things, that I can't remember anymore.  Nobody ever responded.  So I'll get ideas and maybe nothing else. 

That will work for me because on Saturday I'm going to head up to Prather to go to GI Jim's First Annual Preparedness Symposium.  It looks good enough to stay all day.  Maybe I will.  Here's the flyer:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1Fa81d9QT50/USTWZ7o-KZI/AAAAAAAAAEA/mpvFw-aiywE/s1600/Preparedness+Flyer.png  The weather will be nice although Jim said that it would go on rain or shine.  I'm glad it will be shine and 70!

With these two items on my schedule it looks like Sunday will be the day to get things done around here.  I'm still going through things in the garage and trying to get rid of stuff that I know won't be needed in the future.  Having a 1250 square foot garage plus a barn that is bigger than that means lots of stuff gets dumped off here by my grown kids and also kept by me.  My cousins in New York hired someone to empty out their house.  They said it was overflowing and this person came in and charged lots of money and went through their things and emptied out much of the house.  The problem with that would be what I consider preps most other people would consider too much extra and get rid of it! 

Instead I'm getting rid of more kids clothes and baby items, toys (especially all those horrid electronic noise making baby toys), and a bunch of stuff that I won't use anymore.  How many jello molds does one need?  I know how many canning jars I need (as many as I can get my hands on!).  Of course I need 6 shovels and 3 hoes! Doesn't everyone?  Do we need the broken swing that may someday get repaired?  No.  If I'm not going to repair it I'm going to get rid of it.   My favorite thing that I'm getting rid of this weekend?  The broken vaccuum cleaner.  I have no carpet in my house.  One rug.  I have a great shop vac.  Why do I need a vaccum cleaner that hardly worked when it did work?  It's already in the back of the pickup!  With the good weather I'm actually looking forward to cleaning out the garage!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Kids and hunting

Today we had a family outing and Girl asked if she could bring a friend along.  Sure since the two of you are getting along at this moment in time.  Girls...one week they are best friends and the next week they aren't speaking to each other! 

I am fascinated by this little girl.  The stories she tells!  When I first met her I didn't pay much attention because it seemed like she was making this stuff up.  A pig hunt one weekend.  A bear hunt another.  Fishing the next and deer the next weekend.  Then I brought Girl over to this girl's house.  The walls of the house are lined with trophy mounts of just about every type of game and bird imaginable. 

Today she was telling us how she can't wait for June.  She will turn 12 and will legally be allowed to hunt.  She was explaining to Girl the different rifles she owns.  Then she brought up the ammunition shortage.  Wow, this is coming out of an 11 year old girl?  She said that she's lucky because an aunt of hers is a Walmart manager and her parents get told when they get in a shipment of ammo.  Nice. 

I asked her how big of a freezer they have.  She said they have two big freezers at her house plus most of their relatives have freezers too.  She said she helps make jerky, sausage, ham, and her parents and grandparents also can some of the meat. 

The friend was telling us about her last camping trip.  She brought another school classmate with her.  They went fishing and ate their catch for breakfast.  They threw the bones into the fire.  I want Girl to hang around this friend.  Perhaps they can go fishing this summer at the pond across the road from our house.  Girl doesn't mind catching fish but doesn't like cleaning them.  That's not acceptable.  I make her clean at least one of her fish when we going fishing!  Perhaps her friend can convince her to like it.

I'm not a hunter.  I shoot rabbits and squirrels in the yard.  That's about all I hunt.  I raise meat - lamb, goat, chicken, and when the kids were younger a steer.  I've butchered our animals.  I'd prefer someone else to butcher them but I will do it myself if I have to.  I don't mind cutting the carcass up into steaks, roasts, and other cuts. 

I have gone hunting before and am not adverse to it.  I do not insist on "fair" hunting; I think this new California rule about not using dogs when you hunt bears in just dangerous and wrong.  In fact, we are putting out a salt lick and also throwing out some grain near the bug-out place.  Sure I'd like to keep a good fence around fruit trees but how about having some of the trees accessible to the larger critters?  Keep the trash locked up?  Sure that will deter bears, but if TSHTF, I'd be encouraging the bears to come and rummage through the trash and also to eat the apples off the trees.  Let them come to me rather than me tracking them. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

More on where you can and can't carry in California

It snowed this morning on the way to work.  I was driving slow.  Never drive faster than the speed you want to crash at.  That doesn't make sense for normal everyday driving but on snow and ice on twisting mountain roads, it's something I take to heart.  Especially since I'm new to driving on ice and snow.  Every mile or so there's a marked turnout off the road for slowpokes like me to pull out of other people's way.  I usually end up pulling over three or four times each day.  Not a problem.  It takes an hour and fifteen minutes when I go fast and an hour and a half when I go slow.  Today I was going slow.  There was patchy fog to go along with the ice.  As I was driving up one stretch a truck was coming up from behind so I pulled over into the turnout lane.  The truck swerved a little just to make sure it missed me.  As it did so, it hit a patch of ice.  The driver tried to straighten the truck out.  I was impressed.  Unfortunately the driving tactics didn't work.  The truck went off the road and into a snowbank.  Fortunately it didn't hit any trees.  I pulled up a little, parked in front of the truck in a safe spot off the road and got out.  I walked up to the truck and realized it was someone from my office.  My first responder background kicked in.  Checked her out, and her two year old that was strapped into the car seat.  All was well.  She called for a tow.  A highway worker showed up and started to call it in.  I told him an ambulance wasn't needed just the tow.  I took the baby with me and headed to the office. No sense in having the baby out in 25 degree weather with just his pj's on.  The babysitter met me at the office so I didn't have the baby with me all day. 

At my new job they stated in our initial training that company policy does not allow weapons (guns, since I've seen tons of pocket knives).  I heard the story about one employee who brought a gun to work, had it in his vehicle, and then at lunch time brought it out for all to see.  He and a couple other guys were admiring it when the employee decided to shoot it.  Now they were in the middle of nowhere, against the side of a hill.  He did not act in a reckless manner in any way, at least legally.  He got fired after lunch.

My new employer had an incident a year or two ago where a fired employee walked into the office and shot and killed several people.  It wasn't my office, or anywhere near my office.  This is a very large, international company.  What's the security like in my office?  There isn't any.  Anyone can walk in or out.  Anyone can walk down the hall, up or down stairs.  Many of the buildings have national security interests.  And, other than some interior rooms with locked doors, just about anyone could enter and walk around.  It's amazing to me that they have such terrible security.  You are supposed to sign in on an unmanned log book.  There aren't cameras.  Now that's comforting.

So I carry.  Every day.  It's not against the law.  It's against the rules so I could get fired.  While researching exactly where you can and can't carry, one of the topics that was brought up at my old job was carrying on school grounds.  We have these gun-free zones here in California.  Read the law! (636.9(l))- (l)This section does not apply to a ... person holding a valid license to carry the firearm pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 12050) of Chapter 1 of Title 2 of Part 4.   Section 12050 was changed to 26150 in case you try to look up 12050.  If you have a concealed weapons permit you CAN carry in the school.  Did you know that?  Most don't realize that!  I always do carry when I go pick up the grand kids or meet with their teachers.  I know it isn't against the law. 

So who can't carry at the school even though they may have the permit?  A teacher, employee, or student!  Why?  Because that's in the school rules.  The teacher, employee, or student with a valid CCW permit can carry.  They'll just get fired or suspended if caught.  So I guess it's up to that teacher or employee as to whether they want to get fired.  They won't go to jail.  It's not illegal. 

I work closely with about 10 people at this new job.  When you are thrown together you get to know people, or at least as much as they want to reveal.  When I went through the new employee orientation part of the training was to tattle on any employee who spent too much time focusing on bad things...like weapons.  So no joking about guns, and very little talk about guns.  This is very different than my state job since many people there were Post graduated.  Here, every once in a while in a one-on-one situation things come up.  There's one employee who owns a few weapons and has thought about carrying as he rides his motorcycle across country on his vacations.  In a private moment I told him to consider getting a concealed weapons permit from Arizona or Utah or both.  It's not too expensive.  You then can carry on most of your trip.  Just stay out of Illinois!!!  Only the criminals are allowed to have handguns there. 

I did tell him that I have taken training and he should think about doing so.  You can get a good instructor for several hours for $100.  That may seem like a lot of money to some but it's so well worth the money spent to get excellent training that focuses strictly on you.  I also told him about the process for a California permit.  If he used his brain he could probably assume that I have more than one permit.  But I will never admit to that.  I will never admit to carrying at the office.  That could get me fired and I would still like to work for a few more years. 

There's an interesting website called  http://www.handgunlaw.us/ . I clicked on California and was fascinated by some of their interpretation of the laws.  It made a lot of sense. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

So much work to do, so little time

I looked at the blog and realized I hadn't written in two weeks.  It's not that I don't have anything to say.  I always have a bunch to say.  I don't have the chance to get onto the Internet everyday but when I do get on I read what everyone else has written, sometimes even making a comment here and there, and then when it's time for me to write on my blog I realize it's bedtime.  This new job is kicking my rear! 

I like the job but the 5:30-19:00 hours, including the commute, from Monday through Thursday aren't the easiest.  Then comes Friday and I think I'll be able to get all my chores taken care of and then the grand kids and I will have fun for the entire weekend.  WRONG!  I've been on the job for two full months now and I have had zero Fridays where I've been able to stay home all day and not have anyone show up to interrupt.  But the stay home all day has only happened twice.  The rest of the Fridays I've had appointments of one type or another.  The only Friday appointment that I had that had anything to do with prepping was the day I went to the range to qualify for my CCW renewal. 

This past Friday I was spitting fire.  Last week, on Lincoln's birthday, the grand kids had off school but I had to work.  No problem.  Sent them up to the Bug-out property.  Boy spent the day helping by gathering firewood from the five acres and getting it stacked.  While he was out he got into the poison oak.  Not a problem, he's been in it before.  That evening he got a shower and went to bed, still at the Bug-out property.  Son and daughter-in-law said that they'd get the kids to school on Tuesday since they had to come into town in the morning anyway.  Tuesday night I got home, got dinner on the table, the kids ate and went to bed.  Boy wasn't swollen at all from the poison oak.  Wednesday morning he got up and was a little swollen on his face.  I gave him some Benadryl and sent him off to school.  He said that he was going to go to the nurse when he got to school.  No DON'T!  Let's keep this our secret.  Not that I want it a secret, it's obvious he has poison oak.  I don't want him wasting time going to the nurse when he should be in class.

He got home and was a little more swollen.  I sent an email to his teacher saying that he has poison oak but isn't having itching problems so I'm sending him to school.  He is not contagious.  He just looks funny.  Thursday morning I left for work.  He went to school.  His teacher didn't have a problem with his swollen face.  His classmates asked him what happened (he looked like he'd been in a brawl without the bruising).  Another teacher sent him to the nurse.  The nurse tried to call me, although she didn't try very hard.  She called my office, which only gets through if I'm sitting at my desk.  I wasn't.  She didn't bother calling my personal cell phone, which is the main number I have on every single contact list they have at the school.  Instead she sent boy home at the end of the day with a note that she is very concerned about his "condition".  She recommends that he see a doctor and he can't return to school until I speak with her.  What she didn't put in the letter, but boy told me, was that she rubbed a white lotion all over his face (hydrocortizone) and then took pictures of his swelling.  (Do I detect her building a case for child protective services?)

Friday morning I called the school.  She wasn't in so I left a message.  If he gets worse I will take him to the doctor but he is not sick.  This is not affecting his breathing because if it was I'd have him at the hospital.  No, he just looks funny.  I didn't know kids got kicked out of school for looking funny.  As an RN you should know that he isn't contagious.  This is five days after he was in the poison oak.  She never returned my call.  This means he's not supposed to show up to school tomorrow.  He's going anyway. 

I did bring him to the doctor to get a prescription for prednizone (did you know there is a prednizone shortage in the US?) just in case it was needed, although I knew it wouldn't be.  You see, I've had the same type of reaction to poison oak before.  The biggest concern is making sure it doesn't affect the breathing.  Then it's making sure your eyes don't swell shut.  I know that it takes a while for the swelling to come on and then it takes a few more days for it to go away.  Towards the end your skin feels like rough leather.  Then it itches.  That's where he is now, so it's doubling up on the Benadryl.  The doctor agreed with me on my treatment for him. No kidding...

Army daughter tried to take the nurse's side.  Maybe she didn't know it was poison oak.  Maybe she was concerned that his breathing was going to be affected.  Maybe she was frightened because he was so swollen.  Sorry, I'm not buying any of it.  She's an RN.  She should know what poison oak looks like.  The RN at the doctor's office saw boy and said "nice case of poison oak, where'd you get that?" There was no panic.  Does the school nurse think that all parents are stupid or neglectful?  Anyway, boy is going to school tomorrow and the principal is going to get an earful from me.

We've had such nice weather lately that I have been able to get a lot of the yard work done.  I mowed the front and back lawns (weeds) and the kids gave that grass to the chickens.  They had a great time eating it all.  I went into the coop today and there wasn't any grass left.  They devoured it all! 

We have a new lamb, so that's three lambs so far.  I only expect another two or three more.  That's good because we've had so little rain (only four inches so far this winter) that the pasture is less than 6 inches tall.  I have the sheep in one section only to try to get the rest to grow.  It's supposed to rain tomorrow and Wednesday so hopefully there will be more growth.  I don't want to have to buy any hay.  Maybe when the neighbors mow I'll ask if we can have the clippings. 

The pasture may not be growing but the weeds in the garden sure are!  I pulled bunches of weeds for the sheep and chickens but knew that I wasn't going to be able to get to them all.  The weeds in the garden beds were pulled the weeds in the paths were Round-Up'd.  I sprayed out 12 gallons, although I could have sprayed 5 more if my arm didn't get tired of pumping the backpack sprayer!  If I was home everyday I'd be able to get them pulled by hand, but not being home during the day Monday through Thursday puts me at a disadvantage.  Normally I spend between 30 minutes and an hour hanging out in the garden after work.  I can't do that now. 

The other day I did sit down to write and decided that I had nothing to say.  Imagine that!  I was wrongly thinking that I'm almost done preparing.  You know that feeling of how much is enough...  But then I snapped out of it.  I'm not nearly done.  My goal, if I really finished prepping would be that I wouldn't ever have to shop (or barter) again.  Everything would be here, stored away in our home store or mini-Walmart of a garage.  I decided I'd better inventory the home store.  I haven't done that in a while.  It's looking better than I thought.  I don't mark the sheet every time I take something out so I know it needs to be replaced later.  I used to do that.  Now I'm in such a routine when I shop that I just buy what I know is needed.  

When I went through the home store I was happily able to note that the inventory of most of our items have doubled or tripled in the past year.  There were a few things I had less of now than the last time I inventoried.  I only had four boxes of gallon size freezer Ziploc bags.  I'd prefer a dozen boxes.  I also was down to my last 90 33-gallon trash bags.  That may seem like a lot but last time I inventoried that there were 200.  I only had one gallon of ketchup left!  That may sound like a lot but it isn't around here.  I know it's something that can be made with the ingredients grown in the garden but it's so inexpensive to buy when bought by the #10 can that I'd rather buy it.  We also only had 1/2 gallon of syrup left.  I do have lots of sugar and imitation maple flavoring so I could make plenty of syrup, but again, this is something that isn't expensive and lasts forever so it's worth buying. 

Not bad on the inventory.  It did show that I am able to just shop and improve on what we have.  I am in no way done with our food store, but my home store is bursting at the seam.  So is our trailer.  I'm going to start stocking up on things at the Bug-out place but I have to make it not only mouse proof but also son and daughter-in-law proof! 

I found some 275 gallon square plastic water containers.  They are the kind that are enclosed with metal (aluminum?) as a support.  I would like to get several of those to keep at each end of the barn and other outbuildings to catch the water from the rainfall - if we ever get any rain.  While I've got a hand pump for the well, I'd like to set these up to automatically water the sheep and chickens during the summer. 

I am also trying to order security screen doors for the house.  Only the front door and the back sliding door have screens.  There are three other doors that go outside, one goes into the garage, and two go from the garage to the outside.  My first goal is to get the security doors on the three doors from the house to the outside.  The doors I want are made of metal and have a metal screen on them.  They have two holes for the regular lock and the deadbolt.  These three doors are 30 and 32 inches, which is not the normal 36" size.  This is making it harder to find what I want.  I found some at Home Depot.  Lowe's didn't carry what I wanted in the color and size I need.  Any other suggestions on where to buy these here in the Great Central Valley?  

During nice weather it would be good to be able to leave the doors open but be able to lock the screen doors.  Both the front door screen and the sliding door screen are vinyl and can be broken though with just your foot walking through.  There's no security there at all.  In the olden days (prior to becoming enlightened about serious prepping) I would just leave the front door and back door open all night to let the air flow through the house.  Not very safe, even in my safe neighborhood. 

Hopefully I'll be on the computer sooner rather than later.  It's past bedtime and 4:45 comes very early! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Gardening amid the critters that want your garden more than you do

This past week we spent quite a bit of time trying to kill critters.  The biggest offenders were moles.  They started in the front lawn (weed patch) and tunnelled out into the front pasture.  If I didn't kill them soon they'd kill my trees.  Normally Big Dog digs them out and kills them but with her sore leg she hasn't been in the mood.  We've tried stomping on their holes, pouring hot water on them, nothing worked well.  I went to County Ag and they had some smoke bombs that were some sort of critter killer.  I bought some and tried them out. 

At the beginning of the week I took my hoe and was able to open up one of the piles of dirt to find the tunnel.  I stuck the fuse into the smoke bomb, lit it, and put it into the hole.  Then we covered the hole with dirt.  For several days we didn't have any more movement of moles.  No more new holes.  No more racing out to the end of the pasture.  That lasted for five days.  Then the holes started up again.  They didn't go at such a lightning speed as before but still the destruction was happening right before our eyes.  Out came another smoke bomb.  Into the hole it went.  Yesterday I didn't see any more digging.  Today I left before it got light and got home after it got dark.  I have no clue what happened. 

Tomorrow morning I don't have to go to the office.  Yeah, I get to sleep in until 6!  That may not seem late but with my new schedule of leaving the house at 5:30, sleeping until six is really sleeping in.  I will have the morning at home and will be able to get a good look at the front pasture.  Those suckers are MINE!  It's kind of like connect four and so many other games, where your entire strategy is to make it so the other player can't get from one place to the other.  Those moles will not make it to the end of the pasture.  They will be dead before then.  I guarantee it!

I have to go out of town tomorrow and will be gone for several days.  Prior to leaving I have to head back to County Ag to pick up more things to kill critters.  Poison for mice, rats, squirrels, rabbits, and moles.  There's poisoned bait and also the smoke bombs.  If you don't keep the critters under control you will have a hard time gardening.  They will get under your trees and munch on the roots.  Dead trees! 

I have friends who have raised beds.  Each bed has small mesh wire under the bed, the beds are almost 2 feet tall, and the plants do reasonably well.  They also have wire going up the sides of the beds to keep the bottom feeding critters out.  I have another friend who has a fenced in area about 10X10.  This is fenced on the bottom, sides, and top.  This will keep all critters out, except it's not a big enough garden to take care of her needs if she really had to support herself. 

Shooting squirrels and rabbits and eating them is always an option.  I wonder how moles taste?  If TSHTF and I was really hungry, then I guess moles would taste as good as mice and rats.  Until then, it will be a battle of wits and smoke bombs.  I wonder if road flares would work as well? 

Friday, February 1, 2013

CCW Renewal

Today I spent four hours at the range to get my CCW permit renewed.  This instructor offers classes several times per week.  Some of the classes are for beginners and others are for very advanced shooters.  I'm definitely on the beginners end.  While I like to shoot, I've never had formal training...until today. 

I sent the instructor an email asking if he had any class space open either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.  He arranged for this morning.  I met him at the range at 8:30.  We were both early as class didn't start until 9:00.  He said we may as well start since I was the only student.  Outside of his formal classes he signs people up as requested and if he can book more than one student at a time he does.  But today it was just me. 

I got 3 1/2 hours of shooting instruction and feedback.  I was standing a little too far back, then a little too far forward.  Then I wasn't gripping well. Then he had me see just how slow I could pull the trigger.  Feel it.  By the end I was getting every shot in the X or the 9s.  You can qualify on up to four weapons.  I qualified on two.  I went through a lot of ammo.  It was well worth it. 

I still had to go through the lecture part and take the exam.  After thinking about what Steve from Exeter said about his class not having enough regulations and the main emphasis on shooting I took this opportunity to ask a bunch of questions.  I'm glad I did.  For example, it's OK to go into the State Fish and Wildlife office with a concealed weapon on you but it's illegal to go into the Forest Service building with a weapon.  Private building OK, State OK, Federal not OK.  You can't be on any school grounds, whether private or public with the weapon on you.  It can be locked in the car.  It can be loaded and placed anywhere in your car as long as it's not visible to the public.  Put it in the glove box if you want.  It's illegal to keep one there if you don't have a permit but if you do, that's fine.  Put in on the front passenger seat and cover it with a jacket.  Again, fine with the permit, illegal without it.  What about Starbucks?  Any private place can tell you that no weapons are allowed.  That doesn't mean  you have to comply.  If you don't have to walk through a metal detector they won't know.   

If your workplace says you can't carry weapons, it's not against the law if you do.  You could get fired if they find out about it but it's supposed to be concealed.  If you don't have to walk through a metal detector when you come in the door you won't get caught. They won't find out unless you open your mouth or you pull it out of its holster.  Not too long before I got my new job they had a workplace shooting which killed several people.  It was in another part of the state but still the same company.  We went through new employee training and part of the safety training taught about what to do if there is an active shooter.  Thinking to myself, but not saying it out loud, "if I had to, I'd shoot".  Sure I may lose my job for carrying a weapon at work but I'd be alive.