Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Seven promised foods

We just purchased the last of the promised seven. What am I talking about?  I'm sure I'll get to it somewhere in my blog...probably the end, just so you will read it all.

We had almost 100 people over for the weekend.  Yes, you read that right 100.  Do you know how much food gets eaten with this many people?  Lots.  Most stayed in hotels but we did have a full house, with the bedrooms, library, family room and trailer filled with weekenders.  We also had 4 visiting dogs. 

I decided to treat this as a practice run for having to deal with lots of people.  I didn't use any of my preps, instead, since I knew I had to spend a bunch of money on this crowd I enhanced my preps!  For example, instead of buying strong paper plates for just a penny or two more per plate I got plastic plates.  Then instead of throwing them out we washed them and put them into storage.  Same with the plastic forks and knives.  I didn't spend much more but got a better quality.  I'm sure the guests thought we were a little strange in our "country" ways.  Three trash cans; one for food waste, one for plastic plates and silverware, and the last can for cans and bottles. 

The food waste was brought to the chickens.  They like cake! After the weekend was over I filled the can of plastic plates and silverware with some hot  soapy water.  I let it soak a while then dumped it out on the back lawn.  I sorted through everything and brought it inside for a real washing.  It's all now cleaned and stored in the garage. 

Even with a bunch of preps stored in the garage, nobody here had a clue about the home store (except immediate family).  We made sure we didn't open that door the entire weekend.  Instead we put food into the mud room cabinet, and everyone thought that was our home pantry.  I couldn't imaging 100 people knowing that we had a lot of food.  We certainly wouldn't if they all decided to descend upon us in times of trouble. 

Girl made a few speeches over the weekend.  The first one she was tongue-tied and barely said anything more than a whisper.  By the time the weekend was over she was able to get up in front of people and talk.  Even calling people in to eat is a big deal if you aren't a public speaker.  Even when those people are all friends and relatives.  It's easy for me to speak in front of people, but for some people it's terrifying.  When I was making Girl speak at one point, Army daughter came up to me and said I was abusing her and it should stop.  Absolutely not.  Sure it was difficult for Girl but what  better practice than in front of people you know.  As I said, by the end of the weekend Girl was pretty comfortable with getting up in front of people.  If I had stopped the torture, as Army daughter tried to insist, Girl would still be unable to speak to a crowd.  That wouldn't have done her any favors, and as a grandparent, I'm full of teaching moments!

We had a few complaints from people that our towels were not soft.  Sorry, they are line dried, not drier dried and we aren't using paper towels for all to wipe their hands.  Nobody but us uses a clothes line - out of 100 people! 

Our menu was pretty simple.  Much of it came from the garden or the chickens.  Breakfast was bagels that the kids and I made.  It's really easy to make them but it does take some extra time. You make the bread dough, then shape the dough, let it rise, boil in water, then bake.  Compared to a dollar a piece from a bagel store, or fifty cents from the grocery store, we saved a ton of money.  It cost under $5 to make them as compared to $100 to buy them.  We cooked up eggs from our chickens.  A friend brought us some fresh milk and we made soft cheese (sort of like cream cheese).  We also served fruit from the trees and melons from the garden.  Lunch was fish and a bunch of salads.  I'd like to say we raised the fish but we didn't.  If it had been our fish, serving 100 would have depleted our stock! Dinner was baked chicken (yes we are missing several chickens from the coup!) Add to that home made bread, home made baked beans, and lots of fruit and vegetable salads.  Lemonade, orange juice (both home grown), and water were the main drinks, although soda and beer were available.  And yes, after preparing for that many drinking a beer sure tasted GOOD!!!

I knew we were going to be having this gathering when I planted the garden this year so I was prepared by planting the types of vegetables I knew we'd be using.  I made a great dish by cooking up eggplant, onions, tomatoes, and garlic in a little olive oil.  Another dish was carrots and cucumbers cut into bite sized pieces.  Egg salad was easy to make!  I'd been saving eggs for the past month and not giving any away or selling any.  Needing 200 eggs meant the chickens had to be laying well! 

Some people from work were part of the group.  We did make a few comments that we all may be out of jobs next week, so this may be everyone's best meal for a while.  Am I worried about not eating?  Not at all. We are well prepared both in the pantry and in the mind.

For the past 17 years I've been putting great effort into the garden.  This weekend San Diego sister stopped at a nursery for me to pick up the final trees I had on my list.  Do you have a list of things you want to plant?  I have had a list for 17 years.  I now have everything on my list.  Does that mean I'm not going to keep picking up fruit trees or bushes?  I don't think I could go through a spring and not plant some permanent food plant.  After all, I'm still landscaping the yard and most everything is edible.  But what was the final item on my list? 

Oh I can't answer that yet.  It brings me to something that the President said during the 2012 campaign.  Remember when he said, "you didn't build that"? Of course he was sort of taken out of context.  Isn't just about everything?  The jest of what he was saying was that although you may be super talented, smart, and rich, you didn't do it all on your own.  If it weren't for the government having a hand in everything...such as building roads and bridges to get people to your store, or the research for the internet to be able to now have such a wonderful tool, that it was government incentives and your hard work.  He was partially right but VERY wrong. 

Not one time in the President's speech did he give credit where credit was due.  This takes me back to my list and my effort to get my property set up for self sufficiency.  And Girl put it all together in her speech on some chapters in Deuteronomy.  She said I could quote her, so I'm going to include a little of it today...Remember she is eleven...

"Moses reminded the Israelites how God had cared for them when they were in the desert.  He gave them Manna and also water.  Their clothes always stayed clean and their shoes never wore out.  He really took care of everything.  There is this famous saying that I never heard  of before I read it (but grandparent said it was famous) Man does not live by bread alone, but by what God says and gives.  This means we are to remember that God is behind everything!  The land of Canaan will have wonderful crops of food - seven types.  Wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.  In order to honor God and to remember all he has done for us, we grow all 7 crops at our home, including the date palms that we just got this week!" "If you think you do it all yourself and forget that God is behind it all, certainly you will perish." 

Not a bad speech for an eleven year old.

All in all it was a good weekend.  After butchering enough to feed 100 people, we have about 40 chickens left, which should be plenty.  After all, normally there are only three of us at home not 100!  There is still food in the garden waiting to be canned and eaten.  We have peaches, pears, plums, apples, and figs still on the fruit trees.  I have two date palms to plant next weekend.  They will provide 100 pounds of dates from each tree in just a few more years.  Life is good.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

How would I react if I lost my job? Am I ready for my own personal SHTF?

 I had worked for the state for about 20 years.  Since I retired in January and I was old enough to collect my pension, that's just what I did.  Now the pension will keep the roof over our head and provide us with electricity and 1/2 of the cost of our monthly food bill.  That's it.  No gas, no new clothing, no visiting relatives in Southern California.  Home, electricity, enough food - no air conditioning...

I retired not because I was done working but because I was offered a job that paid considerably more.  Last December I started the new job. It's a great job.  It's much more challenging than the job I had so I'm using my brains more and my life isn't put into danger every few days.  All in all it was a great decision.  That is until last Thursday morning when it was announced that layoffs are coming. 

Will I be laid off?  I don't think so but since I'm not the company VP I really have no idea.  Neither does our Division Manager.  He does think that he and half the other managers will be canned.  Sure glad I went from supervising to just a worker bee! The time to prepare is now.  That's a stupid statement.  I've been preparing for a time when TSHTF for a long time.  I guess the question is how do I change what I am doing right now if my income suddenly gets cut by 2/3? What do I do for the next three months, since all layoffs are going to be announced between next week and October?

The way this company lays you off is an HR person comes into your office in the morning and hands you a box. Then they sit and watch you empty your stuff out of the drawers and shelves.  Someone will even follow you into the bathroom or wherever you go that day.  I'm not sure if they want to make sure you don't hurt yourself, hurt someone else, or try to steal from the company.  After a few hours you are packed, they collect your keys, and escort you out the door.  Then they send out an email to the entire Division announcing that you don't work there anymore and to make sure you don't enter any of the buildings. They are brutal! 

What will we do differently here at home during the next three months?  I'll be saving more money.  The pantry is full but I will still be replacing what we use.  I haven't lost the job yet.  I have a trip planned to LA in September for a wedding but I can make it round trip in one day rather than spending the night in a hotel.  The Prius means the gas expense won't be crazy.  We don't need to purchase stuff just for the sake of having new things.  We also don't need anything.  I still have my list of wants and if I lose my job some of those wants may get moved up on the list as possible needs. 

School is coming up and both kids have grown a lot over the summer.  This means new shoes and clothes.  But new to them doesn't have to mean new.  Also, Girl is happy with home made clothes and dresses and skirts are really easy to make.  I'm just glad she isn't into all the horrible fads that kids are into these days.  Even if she was, she wouldn't be allowed to wear most of it due to her dressing religiously.  My sisters give me their old clothes and I tear them apart and remake them into new things for her.  I wonder if I could do the same for Boy?  Boy's clothes are much cheaper so buying him clothes isn't as big of a deal.  For him it's shoes.  Can he go through shoes!

Am I worried?  Not really.  But last night I did apply for a federal job that I found while browsing online.  It's in Texas, so if I got that job we'd have to move.  I don't want to move and will deal with that if I get offered that job.  I know with the last federal job I had applied for over 300 people applied.  I made it to the top 10 and then the funding was cut so they didn't fill the position.  With this job I have now about 100 people applied.  With the federal job they will probably get another 300 at least.  I have a good chance other than I've never been a federal employee.  Not that it would take me a long time to figure out how to fill out a time sheet and all their acronyms.

Several of my friends own companies in my line of work.  I could work for them if I needed to.  Unfortunately for me, my line of work in private industry usually entails more travel than I had to do when I worked for the government.  That doesn't go over well with raising grandkids.

I guess the real question to ask myself is would I want another full time job?  Would we as a family be better off if I only worked part time or not at all?  Would we be better off if I focused on the property and became more self sufficient, rather than the way it is now, which is being prepared to become self sufficient if the situation ever required it?  Tough questions that I really don't know how to answer.  All I do know is even if TSHTF today, not just in regards to my job but for the country, we would be just fine.

I think I'll pour myself a glass of sun tea and sit on the patio to watch the clouds float by, if there are any.  After all, 100 degrees plus outside for over two weeks means we don't do a lot at this time of day. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Going for a Walk

Over the 4th of July weekend we were down in my hometown in Southern California.  I spent the time helping my mother while the grandkids got to spend the time playing.  They swam, they went to the park, they went to my elementary school to play in the playground.  They did many of the same things that kids in town do all the time...well not modern kids but when I was a kid many years ago. 
When they went to the park there weren't any other children their ages who were there without adult supervision.  In fact, they were the only two kids at the park that they saw who weren't being supervised by an adult. 
There weren't any kids at the school playground either of the two times they went.  When they got back to great grandmothers they said they thought they would get in trouble for playing on the playground during the summer since no one else was there. 
Isn't it amazing how things have changed?  I sent them on an errand.  They had to walk 1/2 mile to the grocery store to pick up a jar of mustard.  They have never walked to the store by themselves other than to the gas station 1 1/2 miles from our house. 
I suppose these types of activities are unusual and exciting for kids that live in the country.  The nearest school is 5 miles away, the nearest real shopping is about 10 miles, and I have no idea where the nearest park is, perhaps 10 miles as well. 
Boy got bored.  He asked if he could go for a walk.  Sure but take great grandmother's dog.  The dog used to walk 1/2 mile a day with great grandmother before she broke her leg so the dog would be excited to get to go on a walk.  The two of them departed.  After about an hour, when they hadn't returned, I figured that Boy took the dog to the park.  He loves going to the park.  I was wrong.  Another hour later the two of them arrived home.  The dog drank a full bowl of water and laid on the floor panting.  It took her a couple of hours before she stopped panting.  Boy?  He got a drink of water and then sat down to tell us about his walk. 
He left great grandmothers, walked down the block, turned right, walked more, turned left, walked more turned right, walked more, turned again, etc.  He proceeded to list the names of the streets and tell me the direction he turned.  He took about 20 different streets, went on a dirt path, got to the back of the park, and walked back to the house.  All in all he walked about 5 miles.  He walked on streets he'd never even been driven on.  He took a couple of visual landmarks and just headed out.
I was amazed.  I was also pleased.  He had no fear, no panic of not knowing where he was going, he could have completely backtracked his way home if needed.  But he didn't need to.  He was so aware of his surroundings that he just had a fantastic time. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It's all in your attitude

Where to begin?  After not writing for a month and my last post stating that I was traveling to tornado alley, I'm wondering if some may have thought we were some of the 5 who perished during the storms.  We didn't.  So I'll start my new post with a telling of the past month.

We got on our plane just fine.  Oldest daughter did everything she could to make the kid nervous before her first flight.  Fortunately I was able to dispel some of the anxiety.  We took pictures of her standing under the sign with our flight information.  Then she got to touch the outside of the plane while boarding.  She had a window seat, which I had assigned to her on purpose.  I wanted her to see what was happening.  We were near the wing so she could watch the movement of the wing when the plane would make an assent or descent.  I told her about the noise the landing gear makes when it goes back into the plane.  I pointed out where her house was when we took off.  She was a little nervous but excited!

Of course I had to tell her the story of Great Grandpa and the plane that broke into 3 pieces when landing.  I also explained turbulence.  And all with a smile and an air of excitement.  When we hit turbulence we decided to put our hands up in the air like we were on a rollercoaster.  We had fun, although I'm not sure the rest of the passengers appreciated the turbulence!

Right after we landed a huge thunderstorm hit.  Lightning cracked pretty close by.  Where we live thunderstorms only happen at night.  This meant that even the rainstorm was a new experience.  We got the rental car and headed to my OK friend's ranch.  We made it right at dusk which was good.  I hadn't been there in 3 1/2 years and didn't want to try to find my way in the dark. 

Once we got to the friends she was off helping feed the pigs and milk the goats.  In the morning we headed to Ft. Sill.  It was family day!  Grandson was very happy to see us.  We got a tour of the fort, including where he climbed the ropes and walls, the gas house, the grenade throwing area, and much more.  Then we headed back to the ranch.  There was a large storm that followed us from Ft. Sill back to the ranch.  Two hours of staying five minutes ahead of the storm.  It was good luck for us because the creeks were flooding and many roads got closed.  I didn't know my way around well enough to have to make a lot of detours.  On the other hand, I would have figured it out since I brought my GPS...just in case.

Friday, the second day it was back to Ft. Sill for graduation.  In the afternoon the soldiers were supposed to get leave.  They didn't have to return 48 hours.  Unfortunately for us our plane was leaving in 48 hours.  We said that we'd change our plans and not hit the Bush Library in Dallas on Saturday in order to stay there for Friday night into Saturday.  But we'd have to leave Saturday night since the plane was leaving at O dark 30!  No, that won't work according to the Drill Sergeant. He said if grandson couldn't be gone until Sunday then he couldn't have any leave at all.  We didn't know this until after we got the hotel room for Friday night right by Ft. Sill. 

Granddaughter and I toured some museums.  Then we went back to the hotel for some swimming in the indoor pool.  In the middle of the swimming the sky turned black and the rain and thunder hit.  We got out and went back to our room.  (Yes, prior to checking into the hotel I made sure it had a shelter in case of tornadoes.)  We turned on the TV to watch the news.

I learned a lot about tornadoes.  We learned how they formed and for the most part people had notice they would be hit.  "In 2 hours the weather will hit"  "In one hour" "In 30 minutes".  It was amazing the amount of notice people had.  Of course it's not always like that.  Sometimes its a surprise.  In this case it wasn't.  What did people do?  Instead of getting into shelter thousands of people decided they were going to leave the area.  They jammed into their cars right at rush hour and jammed up the freeway.  They weren't going anywhere.  Granddaughter and I watched in amazement how stupid those people were!  We also were doing a bunch of praying that storm that was tracking directly over Interstate 35 would not produce a tornado right there.  If it did, they'd all be dead.  Fortunately the F5 bounced around enough that they were spared.  5 people did die.  They were all either sucked out of their vehicles or when the vehicles were thrown 200 feet down the road got smashed inside. 

On Saturday granddaughter and I headed to Dallas where we went to the new Bush Library.  It was really interesting to bring a kid who wasn't even born and really knows very little about 9/11 into the museum.  She learned a lot.  After a night in Dallas we headed home on an uneventful flight.  She wants to know when I'm going to take her on another trip. 

We got back and all was well at home.  It hadn't been too hot so nothing died.  I went back to work and at the end of the week my mother fell and broke her leg.  Actually, her leg broke then she fell.  She found out she had a stress fracture and was scheduled for surgery.  Three days before surgery the stress fracture fractured.  She spent a week in the hospital and the rest of the time in a rehab hospital.  This meant every weekend Girl, Boy, and I spent my three days off hanging out in the hospital.  Mom is home as of today.  But we are going down to spend my 4 days off hanging out to make sure she's getting along well enough at home that she doesn't need any in-home care. 

Then to top it off, son-in-law's mother ended up in the hospital due to diabetes complications.  She had a couple of toes amputated.  They all headed upstate for that and I had double duty of taking care of my garden and animals and running to her house in town to take care of her garden and animals.  I didn't get much sleep at all this past week. They are now home but we are heading out in the morning!  I'm sleeping in tomorrow...maybe until 7!

All of this got me to thinking about preparedness and this blog.  I started it as a way to document what I am doing at home and with the property to prepare for future uncertainties.  Do I have anything more to say?  Of course I do.  I don't think I'll ever not have anything to say!  That led me to think about what I could share about my last month.  There were so many preparedness issues that I covered.  I taught a non-traveler how to travel.  This included making many last minute changes to the schedule.  It also meant dealing with weather conditions you aren't used to.  We also got to see part of the country that she's never been to.  OK, she's never left the state except to go about 10 miles into Arizona.  We discussed choosing where you live when you grow up.  Yes you can choose, you aren't glued to the place you are raised but if you don't experience other places you won't be able to choose wisely.

Even once I got home Girl and Boy then got thrown into the same hectic schedule I experienced.  Complete changes of plans at the last minute.  All with a good attitude.  Why not?  It isn't worth getting angry or worked up about the change.  I pointed out it wasn't about them, it was about their great grandmother.  But they are kids, so I threw in an extra cookie or ice cream and all was fine.

If things get bad, what do you do with someone who has broken their leg?  As long as you don't have to be mobile it could heal without surgery, although it would have taken a long time and may have made walking very painful.  Do I know a surgeon for my group?  No.  Fortunately we live in times where she was able to have surgery in a hospital.  The doctor said that he doesn't expect her other leg to break just because this one did.  She injured this leg even though she can't remember how she initially caused the stress fracture.  Her rehab is something that we could have handled at home if needed. 

What about daughter's mother-in-law?  That woman has a disease because she eats poorly, she doesn't exercise, and she is a chain smoker.  On top of that she has a horrible attitude.  She would not be welcome at my home to recover.  She's not really welcome at my home at all. 

My garden is growing just fine.  My next door neighbors turn the water on when I'm not here.  Their grandson is visiting and he comes over and takes care of all the animals...even when we are here.  (I walked into the chicken coop today and could tell he had been in, collected the eggs, and thrown scratch all over.) 

I haven't bought anything from the store, except two gallons of milk, since I returned from Oklahoma at the end of May.  I ordered more mylar bags which should come in the mail soon.  I also bought an extra rubber gasket for my pressure cooker.  I'm thinking about buying the type of pressure cooker that just clamps and doesn't use gaskets.  Less parts = more reliability.  I want to put up more rice and beans.  With everything going on with our Federal government, between court decisions and spying on not only our citizens but also our allies, I'm just in the mood to put up more food.  I have dried much of the fruit from the trees and really only lost the fruit off two plum trees due to my not being around enough. 

So with everything that is going on, our attitudes are good.  The stress test tried to get us.  We won.