Monday, April 29, 2013

Setting up the irrigation

Last year I pulled up the irrigation to the garden and the back group of 21 fruit trees.  I had hoses going everywhere and we still had to drag them all around.  If we weren't careful the hoses would knock over plants.  So I decided to start over.  I'm looking at everything with a permanent or semi-permanent outlook.  I don't want to keep redoing things.  I can't tell you how many times I've redone and redone around here in 16 years. It's stupid as well as a waste of time and money. 

I put new drip irrigation out into the back and this time configured it right.  I used 500 feet of 5/8" hose and at each tree put in a sprayer on a foot high post that runs on 1/8" hose.  I turned it on yesterday and it worked great.  When I want to mow the orchard, which is about 4 times a year, it won't be hard to pick up each line of hose and hang it up on the fence.  I can mow then roll the hose back in place.

I haven't redone the water for the garden yet.  I'm not sure how to do it best so for now, I'm hand watering.  That certainly isn't best!  But I can water on Tuesday, Friday, and the weekend so it shouldn't suffer from not being on a drip.  Sure it uses more water this way but I don't really care about the water at this point in time.  That may change in the future!  I want irrigation hoses to each of the 12 garden beds but I don't want hoses running all over.  I suppose I can bury them under the paths but I'm still thinking about it.  As I said, I'm done investing the time and money only to change my mind later.  And the hand watering works.  It gets me to look at every single plant three times a week!

I also fixed the water in the front, although it's not completely done.   First, I had the front orchard and the raspberries all running off the same irrigation hose.  That was a bad idea because the raspberries need to be watered a lot more than the orchard.  So I'd have to walk that irrigation line and turn on and off the valves for each tree.  Stupid waste of time.  For $30 I used another 300 feet of 5/8" hose and put the raspberries on their own line.  Now when I turn on the water at the house I have lots of options.  I can switch on the raspberries, trees, roses and asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb, lawn, the stock tank, or a regular garden hose.  Just ten feet from the front door!  

What's left for the front?  I have two more trees that I have to move their irrigation lines. That's about 300 more feet of hose. I also have a planter that doesn't have any water going to it.  A friend of mine told me to run the irrigation hose over the grape arch.  Good idea, I just haven't done it yet.  I may get to some more today...Monday!  Yes, I'm home from work.  Boy got sick Friday night and is just getting better now.  I called work and asked if I could work from home, after all, Boy is sick, not me.  I brought some stuff home so I would have plenty to do.    The boss said no I can't work from home.  Also I can't take a sick day if Boy is sick, only if I'm sick.  I can take a vacation day or a day off without pay to care for him.  Well then, I'll take a day without pay.  My boss said that perhaps I should stay home as a sick day for me to make sure I don't get what he had.  After all, we don't want anything to spread around the office.  OK boss, I'm taking a sick day for me.  Whatever... I just don't think I'm going to get what he had.  Somehow, eating a bowl of fruit smelling play-dough just doesn't appeal to me! 

Friday, April 26, 2013

The new dog

A dog showed up at our house yesterday and is acting like he lives here.  He hasn't tried coming in the house, in fact when the kids tried to coax him in he refused.  He sits when you tell him to sit. He lays down when told.  He has a bit of a limp at times.  I think maybe he fell off someone's pickup as they were driving by.  He's the right breed for a good ranch dog.  He even gets along well with Big Dog and Yip-yip. 

I put the baby chickens cage onto the backyard lawn today.  I took the runt chick out and placed it on new dog.  The new dog didn't panic and didn't try to eat the chick.  So far so good.  I had also taken Girl's parakeet bird cage outside and put it onto the lawn.  New dog jumped on that cage a couple of times.  Death by heart attack for the parakeets?  No, they survived.  I wonder if new dog was interested in pouncing on them because they kept flying around.  Chicken was pretty calm.  Who knows.  I don't trust any dog with chickens for any length of time but if one gets out I don't want it killed. 

The kids want to keep new dog.  I said OK but first we have to try to find the owner.  "Why?" they complained.  Finders keepers.  No.  We are obligated to try to find the owner.  Otherwise we would be stealing.  This dog isn't a dumped dog.   If Big Dog lost her way I sure wouldn't want someone to just keep her without trying to track us down.  

But this means I have to prepare for another dog.  Yip-yip isn't ours but I still included her in our food storage plans.  After all, she hardly eats anything compared to Big Dog.  But this dog.  I think he will have a good appetite.  That means I'm going to have to store a couple hundred more pounds of food.  So about a hundred dollars will need to be spent on dog food plus a can to store it in. 

I'm hoping I can get up to GI Jim's next week to pick up some 55 gallon drums.  He had them for a good price two months ago.  I just haven't been able to get up there since while driving my truck, and 55 gallon cans won't fit into the Prius!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Baby Chukars

The other day my coworker asked if I wanted some baby chukars.  I said yes.  The next day he said that the original person they were giving them to said they did want them after all.  So no chukars.  Then today he sent me an email telling me that four more hatched between yesterday and today.  Did I want them?  Sure.

After work I picked them up.  They eat baby chicken food.  He feeds his adult chukars a combination of chicken food and wild bird seed.  There were 10 eggs laying in the nest.  He asked if I wanted those too.  I know nothing about chukars but I'll take them.

When I got home I looked at the MurrayMcMurray site.  Chukars cost about $4.00 each.  Mine were free.  They can be let loose to have game birds running around or kept caged.  You can just look at them, harvest the eggs, or eat them.  They are supposed to be good, tasting like pheasant.  Delicious. 

The babies are much smaller than day old chicks.  They look more like the little baby birds that fall out of nests.  I have them in a cardboard box with a wire screen on top.  I put a heat lamp on top of the screen.  They aren't chirping complaints so I guess they are warm enough.  My coworker had the food thrown on the bottom of the box rather than in a feeder.  I think they are too small for the chicken feeder so on the bottom of the box it is.  He had water in a little plastic container in the corner.  There wasn't any water in it and two of the babies had shoved themselves into the container, I suppose they were thinking it was a nest.  I took that out.  I put in a regular baby chicken water container.  It's narrow enough that they will not be able to put their bodies into it but they will be able to drink just fine.

We have chicken eggs in the incubator.  They are in an automatic turner, which is too large for these eggs.  I'm going to take out the automatic turner and just put the eggs on the wire at the bottom.  I can turn the eggs every day.  Both the chickens and the chukars are supposed to be at 99.5 degrees.  The chukars shouldn't be hatching for three more weeks and the chickens should start hatching anytime next week.  I just have to figure out where I'm going to put the birds. 

I was told if they grow up with the chicks they will get along fine but if they don't grow up together the adult hens will pick on the chukars.  Chukars are about the same size as banty chickens.  I only have one banty.  My coop has two sides to it so it will be easy to turn one into a chukar cage and the other into the coop.  This is going to be a fun new project.  Who knows, if I can raise enough we can let some loose for wild game.  Can't wait!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Making everyone more safe

You know what is scary?  People are hailing the cameras in Boston as heroes.  Sure I will too.  They helped solve the case.  And since we live in a kind and caring society with a benevolent government we don't have to worry about all those cameras.  After all, as long as you aren't breaking the law what have you got to worry about? 

I'm sure all of you reading this know that I'm being sarcastic.  After all, this is a site about us, a family who preps for whatever may come.  There's a lot to worry about having all the public cameras.  Sure, right now the government isn't coming after you.  That's what people thought just before WWII when millions got rounded up and hauled off to die just because they were the wrong...religion, color, mental condition... Remember?  Of course not.  That generation is coming into the twilight of their lives.  Most people don't remember and have a hard time believing that a government will round you up for no reason other than they don't trust you.  Our country did it to the Japanese.  We were at war with Japan so people of Japanese descent got uprooted and sent to live in camps.  Never mind that many were American citizens including some that had fought for our country in WWI! 

They aren't just government cameras.  They are in stores, schools, you name it, it's probably there.  How many people that you don't know can look at a camera and track your every move?  Between that and cell phones, new car technology, credit card tracking, ATM tracking, and you think you are living a private life?  Who is listening to your phone conversations, your email is being read, maybe even this blog? 

But don't you feel safe that your credit card company will call you or stop your card if they see a charge that isn't something that you normally use your card for?  Makes you feel safe and secure, doesn't it?  Or when you go to the grocery store?  It's great that you can buy in bulk at Costco or Sam's Club.  And they keep track of every single purchase you make.  Don't we care about privacy anymore?  In an age of twitter and facebook and even blogging where we let everyone know what we ate for breakfast and what color socks we are wearing today and why, do we just expect that our lives are a completely open book?  Are we just doing this to ourselves?

Most stores cameras don't keep the images for a long time.  Usually anywhere from a couple of days to a month, the video loops over itself and it's usually only checked when something goes wrong.  As far as you know... 

Do you now need to give your thumbprint when you cash checks at the bank if they don't know you?  Do you need to give your thumbprint when you get your drivers license?  The schools have the kids social security numbers, photos, and every bit of information about them.  Our local airport has retina recognition cameras.  With facial recognition, retina recognition, and all the computerized databases, we are all being processed into the computer system.  Every one of us. 

So what can we do about it?  Not much unless you don't go anywhere or you are always in some sort of disguise.  I'm not suggesting wigs, fake moles, scars, tattoos, or stuffing your cheeks with cotton - or am I?  Remember the old ScoobyDo cartoons where the bad guy was always wearing a mask and they'd capture him and pull his face off to show the reason person, and sometimes pull a second mask off too?  No I'm not suggesting that.  I'm just tired of being watched.  I don't want someone watching me pull my wedgie out when I think no one is watching.  Or scratch myself or whatever I think I'm doing in private. 

I stay away from most cities most of the time.  I'm still around cameras but not as many.  I'm still easily tracked.  After all, I have a car, a cell phone, a computer, and kids.  How can I stay private?

A couple of weeks ago I decided I was going to finally splurge and buy the security screen doors for some of the doors at the house.  It's not the best security doors they make, those run about $1000 each for the bottom of the best.  Mine were a couple hundred each.  They aren't the cheap screen doors but have a metal mesh with thick bars made into a nice design.  Will they stop the bad guys?  No, but if someone is thinking about breaking into my house or either neighbor on each side their houses look much easier to break into.  There's a deadbolt on the security door and a deadbolt on the house door.  Since most of the house doors have windows on the doors this will bring me a little more peace of mind.  If I keep the house doors open in good weather but the security doors locked it will still provide plenty of protection.  You can see people coming up to the door but they can't see in during the day until they are about 2" away from the door. 

Daughter and Son-in-law came over to help install the doors.  We got two of the three up today.  They got tired and went home.  I don't know if I'll get the last one up tomorrow or if it will have to wait until next weekend.  Do I feel more safe and secure here at home?  Yes.  As long as I don't leave the property.  Oh by the way, you come to my property, you too will be on camera.  More than one.  Smile!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Silver shortages

I had it planned for a while to get to the city today to buy silver.  I was pleased that the prices had fallen so I would be able to get a few more coins for my dollars.  Instead, I ended up feeling like a hoarder...although I am not.  What happened? 

The shop opened at 9:00 and my plan was to be there right when it opened.  I had somewhere to go today for work that was an hour out of the city.  So I couldn't leave town too late.  Well, it was such a nice morning I was pulling weeds and lost track of time.  I didn't leave the house until after 9:00 and didn't get there until almost 9:30.  So much for being there right when the store opened. 

I went up to the counter and asked for 90% silver coins in an amount that would be right over the $1500 level, which means no sales tax.  The seller went to talk with someone and came back apologetic and said they only had about $200 worth.  Do I have to pay tax if I buy 1 oz. silver coins?  No, as long as it hits the $1500 mark.  So that's what I did.  I bought 60 one-ounce pure silver coins.  I'd rather have bought the 90% silver coins but I wanted to purchase some silver.  It's something that I have recently vowed to do each year.  Their box of one-ounce silver coins on display contained exactly 60 coins.  This meant that the box was empty when they removed my purchase. 

While I was waiting at their counter to pay (they look like individual bank teller counters, without the bullet proof glass!) three other people entered the shop.  Each of them asked to purchase junk silver.  Each was told there wasn't any.  Then each asked to purchase one-ounce coins.  Each was told there wasn't any.  One lady complained that she had called just 30 minutes earlier and was told they had them in stock.  She was not happy. 

And there I was, at the counter with my purchase; my coins were packaged in three plastic coin tubes and put into a nice zipper pouch.  I bought them out.  I was feeling like a hoarder, rushing in to clean them out.  Of course, that's not what happened.  I didn't rush in, I was late.  I had the specific amount in mind to purchase, and I bought that specific amount.  I had no idea what they had in stock. 

On my drive to my business appointment I was kicking myself for not coming in last week.  I could have squeezed in the drive - maybe.  It wasn't that the price had fallen so that's why I rushed in, although it was a good time to make the purchase!  I was fortunate to pick up my silver.  But it's just silver.  What if the rush was food?  What if the rush was ammunition (oh wait, that shortage is still happening)? What if the rush was fuel?  I'm not feeling very sure of the state of the country right now.  I'm glad I bought the silver today.  My next shopping trip where I plunk down $1500 needs to be for more food or other essential supplies.  Hopefully I won't be wiping the shelves clean like I did this morning.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bury your head in the sand and the best water saving idea in years!

How about we all just bury our heads in the sand and not see what is happening around us in these united states? Then we would think all is well around us.  After all, we wouldn't know about the attack in Boston.  We wouldn't know about the abortion doctor on trial for murder of women and infants.  We wouldn't know about gold and silver falling at record levels.  We wouldn't know that taxes aren't making us all slaves to the government.  We wouldn't know a lot. 

We would be happy.  We would be content.  We would be unaware.  It reminds me of a time several years ago, in fact, it was the day that President Reagan died.  I was at his ranch that day.  They had already sold it but it was still an awesome feeling to be there on that day.  Anyway, back to my story.  I was at work, and the morning briefing was in the park at the beach.  After the briefing, I was on a conference call and was telling everyone that I was sitting there watching the dolphins swim by.  It was a beautiful sight.  There were several dozen.  I described how they were gracefully jumping out of the water.  Then one of my coworkers who was in Sacramento said turn around.  Look at the mountains.  They are on fire!  Sure I had to head back up into the smoke and thick of things but for a few minutes I had forgotten all about the disaster and was in awe of the splendor.  Every once in a while it's good to stop surrounding yourself with disaster.  But only for a short time.  You must always be aware of the fire on the hill!

There are so many people who ignore the disaster.  Are they happier?  I'm not sure.  Being aware of your surroundings doesn't mean that you can't be happy and joyful.  Maybe I'm happy and joyful because I am aware but prepared?

Work has a no weapons policy.  You can instantly be fired if they find you have a weapon on you - guns only since everyone it seems has a pocket knife.  When I first started working there I told them I had a concealed weapons permit.  I even photocopied the permit for them to send up to security.  It's never been brought up since.  They don't ask, but even if they did, I won't tell.  Last week they sent around an email letting us know that a certain person isn't allowed on the compound anymore.  That person must have gotten fired and had a bad reaction to it.  Supposedly the person was going to retire later this year.  I don't know what the difference is in his retirement pay between getting fired and getting laid off.  If there's a big difference his anger level can be extremely elevated.  My issue with the email?  They are worried that he may show up.  Of the 150+ people that work here I only know about 30 by name.  I probably have only seen or met half of the 150.  I wouldn't know this guy if he sat down right next to me in the lunch room.  They are concerned.  I see no added protection.  There are four doors into my office building.  There are several buildings in our complex.  Most of the company is off limits to the public - yet you can just walk in any door.  Many of the buildings and structures have become national security issues over the years - yet you can just walk in any door.  And this guy is not allowed in our little 1200 square mile area and I don't know who he is.  And he can just walk in any door - and I'm not supposed to be armed?  Right. 

Tomorrow is my lucky day.  Instead of leaving for work before the sun rises I don't have to leave for a few hours after.  I'm going to stop by the gold and silver store and buy some silver.  If you spend $1500 you don't have to pay the almost 10% taxes.  I've been saving my money for a while and am going to go buy some more silver coins.  The prices have fallen drastically.  About 25%.  If they fall further I will scrounge up some money and buy more.  I'm more comfortable holding a bunch of silver coins than I am dollar bills. 

A coworker today asked if I wanted some Chukars.  I had just said that we are hatching chicks because I plan on putting them into the freezer.  I thought he'd gone hunting and had extras in the freezer or something.  I said sure.  He asked how many I wanted.  I said as many as you want to give me.  He then told me the size and that they are not ready to give away yet.  They are still young.  Live birds.  I'm getting live birds.  He said they can go in with the chickens if they stay separated at first.  I have two coops so we will see about putting the chukars in one and the chickens in the other.  Or, when I get the chukars I can put our six chicks in with the chukars.  Anyone raise chukars?  I know they would rather run than fly but they will fly.  If I put them into my front pasture with the brush fence will they stay there or will they fly somewhere else?  Or should I keep them in the coop?

Happy Tax Day.  When I retire, even if I never choose to spend any money again, I would still need $500 a month minimum forever and ever to pay the taxes on my house and my truck and car.  I would prefer to remember this day as Patriots Day, commemorating the first battles of the revolutionary war.  Oh wait, that was April 19th but it's been changed to make it a three day weekend.  I'd rather remember the day as the day the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) Titanic sank.  My father's father was supposed to be on the ship.  My great-grandmother decided to wait for the next ship so she could make the trip with her sister.  I'm glad she waited.

Best for last today.  I created a new invention.  It's printed here for the taking.  Maybe we'll see it on an "As Seen on TV" commercial in the near future.  It won't be sold by me, but you read it here first.  It's my idea.  Go ahead and make one for yourself...

One thing I don't like about my house is that it is built on a slab.  Why don't I like that?  It's not just because I don't have a basement.  It's because I watch the water go down the drain and there's not much I can do about it.  In the morning when I get up I first turn on the shower water.  Then I use the toilet, make my bed, and do some other things.  Finally the water gets warm and I can get in without freezing.  But what about all that water?  It bugged me.  Sure, it just gets sucked up from the well and then goes through the septic and back into the ground about 150 feet away.  But can't it be collected?  Why yes it can!

I put a bucket in the shower and tried to capture the water as it came out of the shower head.  I got some.  Not much.  Then a brilliant idea came to me.  Did you know that you don't need a plastic shower curtain?  A cloth one will still catch the water.  It will get heavy but water won't splash all over the bathroom.  I decided to use that concept in my shower.  I got a piece of elastic and measured it to go over the shower head when it was stretched.  Then I took the worlds most ugly material and cut a piece about a foot wide and 6 feet long.  I stretched the piece of elastic as I sewed the top of the material to it.  Then I sewed down the six foot seam.  It ended up being a skinny little tube.  I slipped the elastic end over the shower head and the open end at the bottom into a bucket.  I turned the water on this morning and all the water from the shower head poured right into the bucket.  None was splashed around the shower.  Four gallons of water was in the bucket before it got hot enough to use. 

That's four gallons of water that I can water my plants with.  Every day!  If I have the grand kids collect their water we can get 12 gallons of water per day from wasted shower water.  Sure I'd like to collect the water that goes down the drain while I'm actually showering but at least I'm saving a good amount.  I bet that will be almost all the water I'll need to keep the vegetables watered all summer.  Great idea, huh?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Speaking in sign language

I got half the garden in so far this weekend.  I was hoping to do more tomorrow but that's not going to happen.  I think that's good anyway because my muscles are sure stiff! 

Girl has decided she wants to run hurdles at school.  Since I wasn't happy that she was trying to hurdle over the garden beds, and missing, I decided that we will make hurdles.  Although I had most of the items needed at home, I didn't want to use what I had.  Instead we headed off to Lowe's to pick up 1" PVC pipe, side-outlet elbows, regular elbows, and end-caps.  Tomorrow she is going to make her hurdles.  We figured the cost to be about $14 each.  We looked at them on line and the cheapest I could find them, made the same way was about $50 each.  Even if she doesn't go to the Olympics, which is her goal (she runs a 5:40 mile and she's in 6th grade!), keeping Boy and her in shape is really important. 

The grand kids decided they are going to learn sign language.  I've had the alphabet chart on the wall for years and they just realized that they can have lots of fun learning to speak without talking.  It brings back memories of 10th grade spelling tests where instead of learning the entire list of spelling words we all learned some.  Then during class we signed the words to each other.  The teacher never caught us cheating.  Or if she did, was so impressed that we all learned to sign that she didn't care.  Not that I would condone cheating.

I have a book at home with beginning vocabulary for American Sign Language.  Not only do you learn to spell out each letter but there are hand motions for words or phrases.  Each day the kids come up to me and have me test them.  They are much better than I am with the hand motions although I can still beat them with spelling out words. 

Babies can also learn to sign.  One of the frustrating things for infants and young children is they have little or no vocabulary, other than crying or pointing.  My sister-in-law is teaching her baby to sign.  The baby is 10 months old.  He's just starting to say a word or two...the usual...daddy, momma, dog.  But he can communicate!  He can sign milk, wet, cookie, and many other words.  He doesn't cry unless his diaper is wet and they aren't paying attention to his sign. 

I think we are going to play a game of hide the treasure.  I've done it with compass work before.  This time we will do it with sign language.  When it's with a compass I set the course up when the kids aren't around.  Then we start at point 1.  From there we will find a piece of paper that says the distance and direction to travel.  If it's done right we arrive at point 2.  Again at point 2 will be a paper with distance and direction.  After about 10 points there's a prize at the end.  Sometimes it's a fruit roll-up.  Sometimes it's a dollar.  They never know what will be the prize. 

I can set the course up with sign language.  It will be harder to draw out the pictures of distance and direction or even saying something like "go to the second fig tree".  Any skill they can learn that most others don't know will be a benefit.  Being able to communicate when in sight of another but without speaking on a radio is a huge benefit.  Get a chart and post it on the wall.  Start with your ABC's.  It will be fun. I guarantee it.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Almost free wood and non prepared coworkers

Each year the Forest Service sells wood collecting permits.  It's around $10 per cord of wood that you cut yourself.  They don't want you cutting down trees, but I think you can cut dead ones.  I'm not sure about that though.  You can cut up all the downed branches you find.  Around here the pickings are even easier.  I drove down a FS road today and they had logs stacked up.  All you had to do is come in with your truck and trailer and chainsaw and cut away.  These just needed to be bucked up into lengths.  Leave the splitting for home.  There are lots of places along the roads where downed trees were even bucked up.  All you have to do is put that wood into your vehicle. 

I was driving around with a coworker today who was lamenting that he loved cutting up wood and no longer has a fireplace or woodstove.  He said if I brought the my truck up he help cut wood.  Deal.  Only it's not going to be this weekend.  I'll have to wait for the next.  The super easy pickings will probably be gone but having someone who wants to help is much better than having Boy and Girl who don't want to help but will because I make them. 

While I have what I call an unlimited supply at the Bug-out place, it's not really unlimited.  There is lots of wood on my property that can be cleaned up and burned.  My property is only 500 feet off the Forest Service boundary so it's easy enough to go searching from there.  It's an easier drive to just go straight up into the mountains to get the almost free wood. 

I've sort of broached the subject of preparing with some of my coworkers.  It's a very strange bunch of folks.  I really like them, in fact, I like them more than at my old job.  But they live in a very different world.  It's such a small town (less than 300) and they are so isolated that they don't really even know what's going on in the rest of the world.  They all drive into the city each weekend to go to the movies, shopping, or to see a concert or something of that sort.  They do their weekly grocery shopping.  During the winter they may shop for two weeks just because they may be snowed in.  The closest grocery store larger than a 7-11 is an hour away from work.  The city is 1 1/2 hours away.  It's very safe if you are very prepared.  From what they've told me, they are not.

One of my coworkers and his wife live on 20 acres.  It's mostly timber land.  They have a couple of fruit trees.  They don't really garden.  He said that they shop once a week and at the end of the week the cabinet is pretty bare.  He said that they could probably scrape by for a few days before they'd run out of food. 

Another coworker lives with a sister.  The sister loves to cook and has a garden for growing a few plants.  She is hoping to expand her garden.  They live on 40 acres.  They don't have any animals or chickens.  They have some apple trees that mostly provide apples for the bears.  They do get some.  They don't do any canning or preserving of any kind. 

Two people have told me they shoot, but I haven't heard anyone talk about hunting. One of the shooters today said he's never caught a fish during our conversation about the wonderful fishing lakes around here and how I'd like to take my pole and go fishing during my lunch break.

I have a lot of educating to do but in a subtle way so as to not give away the fact that I am prepared.