Friday, August 30, 2013

Keeping the family fit

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hit the sale at CVS

I had to run into CVS today to pick up some things that Girl asked for.  Of course I can't just walk into a store.  I have to go up and down the center aisle, the one with the seasonal stuff.  Well today I hit the jackpot.  If you have a CVS they may have the same things on sale.  I don't know.  But it may be worth a try.  So what did I buy at 75% off?  Yes, you read that right 75% off...
Ant bait, 6 pack, normally $8.00 - on sale for $2.00
Raid ant and roach spray normally $6.00 - on sale for $1.50
Fly strips.  These are disgusting but they sure catch flies and around here we can sure breed flies. .54 for a pack of 4!
Moth traps for food - Pack of 2 for $1.50.
Mouse bait (I didn't buy it because I get it in bulk from the county) under .75 each
Citrus and Avocado food - $1.25
Plant food - $1.25
Sure I know that a lot of times their prices are a little high but there's nowhere else that I'd be able to buy these items cheaper.  They are good to keep in stock.

Most of the time I get the food put into the freezer so I don't have moth or bug problems with the food.  But when I buy dog food, it always comes with moths.  I just filled up the 30 gallon dog food can with about 80 pounds of food.  I opened up a moth trap and keep it on the lid of the trash can.  It's amazing how may moths get trapped just in the first few days.  I move it up on top of the cabinet after the first few days.  It gets full before the dog food gets used up.  It's disgusting to know that moths and other bugs come in on our food and the animal food.  That's why as much as possible goes into the freezer for a few days first.

Anyway, if you can hit a CVS store, perhaps you can get some good bargains for the house.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tourist killed because teens were bored and other rantings about crazy happenings

I know what this world is coming to.  We hear about how bad the conditions are in Syria and Egypt.  What about here, in America?  Our country?  I heard of two horror stories this week.  First were the teens in Oklahoma who were bored so they killed a perfect stranger.  Second was a woman who was lured into a house by another woman.  She was beat up, sliced with a knife, had caustic liquid poured on her face, and held prisoner for a week.  The day after she was captured a man was lured into the same house.  He ended up getting killed. 

I suppose today was a good day.  The terrorist, who was just having a bad day at work and just had a bout of workplace violence, was found guilty of 13 counts of premeditated murder as well as a lot of other counts for the harm to many others.  The Wikileaks slime got 35 years and now wants us to pay for a sex change for him.  He wants to blame his actions on gender identity issues. 

Best of all, at least here at home, was the endless paperwork for back to school.  How intrusive was this?  Free lunch paperwork.  You have to fill it in.  Every student has to be accounted for.  If the parent doesn't fill it in the school will fill it in for you.  First they want the name, birthday, age, gender, and social security number of each kid in your house that is in the school district.  Then they want the same - name, birthday, age, gender, and social security number for each adult in the house.  Oh yeah, also provide the income of each person.  And to top it off, the person signing has to provide their social security number.  What happens if you don't sign?  They will just look at the file the kid has in the office and fill it out to the best of their ability.  They will also interview the kid.  How many people in your house?  How many mommies and daddies do you have?  Butt out school.  But the kids put on the pressure.  Please get all the paperwork signed.  If the class gets their paperwork in quickly the entire class gets a pizza or ice cream party.  That's right.  If one kid's parents don't fill out the paperwork the entire class misses out on the party.  Good peer pressure.  Then I read the fine print on the back side.  It said that if you wanted you only had to put the names of the kids in that school and then check the box that you don't want to participate in their free lunch program.  You don't even have to give your social security number if you don't want. 

We went out to dessert tonight for a birthday celebration for one of my grandkids.  Two of my adult kids and their spouses and more grandkids were in attendance.  (Of course, I was buying!) One of the grandkids is being home schooled, the others weren't old enough for school.  I had this discussion with the four adults.  What did they think?  One set said it wasn't a big deal.  After all, the information is in your tax return so why not just give it to the school.  The other was livid and to quote him, "and one wonders why we home school?"

Only 182 more school days of indoctrination crap until the end of this year.  It makes me work harder and harder to get closer and closer to retiring so I can stay home and get Boy and Girl out of the real world.  It's just ugly out there.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Big storm and no weather information to be had

A very interesting thing happened this afternoon and evening.  We had a wind storm with winds sustained in the 20 mph range with gusts in the 30s and 40s.  How do I know this?  It wasn't from the local TV or even the federal weather station site.  No, the site in Hanford was off line.  I turned on the TV and they didn't even mention the winds blowing like crazy during their weather report.  They did mention that Hanford was off line so they were getting radar information from Monterey.  Some good that did.  Did they bother to look outside?

Now I know the city has different weather than I have out in the country but could they not look at the sky?  I can tell what the weather is 10, 20, even 50 miles from my house.  How could they just say it's 108 and muggy?  Oh, and there is some heavy rain down near Bakersfield.

I have a Kestrel, not the bird.  It's a hand held weather machine.  Some people have permanent weather stations on their property.  I figure that holding up my machine, or even doing it the old fashioned way with a belt weather kit, I can figure out the humidity, wind speed, temperature, etc.  A match won't stay lit?  I bet it's windy.

Anyway, the wind was blowing like crazy.  You could see lightning about 10 miles away.  Not one drop of rain at my house.  But the tarp cover of the chucker pen tried to blow off.  I climbed into the chucker pen and caught the birds and put them into a birdcage in the house.  They were not pleased! 

I wanted to get a large aviary for them for the yard but the ones I liked cost about $2000.  I don't like the chuckers that much.  Instead I'm going to make a nice cage for them using the cattle panels.  Two years ago I showed a picture of my grape arbor that I made using a panel.  I'm thinking that I could put two of them together and also put a cut in half lengthwise panel across the front and back.  Then I could cover the whole thing with 1 inch chicken wire.  Total cost for the panels (which I already have) and four t-posts (which I also have) and chicken wire - need more of this would be under $150 if I had to buy it all new.  I just need chicken wire.  I think I'm going to put this new aviary in the garden.  I can plant climbing plants like cucumbers or beans on the outside, or even melons next season.   It will provide shade for the birds and food for me. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fix or buy new? Buy for the kids or make them buy for themselves? And back to school snacks.

This weekend I spent a lot of time fixing things.  It's either that or buy new.  My repairs will last longer than replacing the items so as long as I can keep the "I want to spend money" gremlin away then fixing things is the way to go. 

First on the list was the ice chest.  I already fixed one but now two more needing repair.  The hinge on these ice chests are made of plastic.  Well, bend plastic back and forth a bunch of times and it's going to break.  Last time when I fixed the ice chest I bought several packages of hinges.  They were about 3 inches in length, although for the smaller ice chests a 2 1/2 inch hinge would also work.  They cost about $1.50 for two.  I unscrewed the hinges that were on the ice chest and put the new ones on.  One set of holes lined up; this means two of the six screw holes lined up.  Not a problem.  The original hinges only had four holes, not six.  I'll just reuse the screws, so I'll only use the outside sets of holes.  I used the punch to punch in a little hole to start the screw.  I could have just started screwing through the plastic but starting it off with the little hole was just easier.  Total cost - $3.00.  Two new ice chests would have cost $50. 

We finally got the two date palm trees planted.  I had to really think hard about where I wanted to plant them.  That may seem odd since we have 5 acres, but I like the trees close enough that watering isn't a chore.  This type of palm has really sharp needles.  I can imagine a ball hitting the tree and popping instantly.  Or a kid running to catch a ball and ending up filled with really painful punctures.  In a couple of years they can provide for our sugar needs since each date palm can produce around 100 pounds of dates. Couple that with honey and we are set.  Now all I have to do is start making recipes with ground up dried dates rather than sugar.  It should work fine for everything except when the grand kids make their Koolaid.  (I don't want to hear about how horrible Koolaid is so don't waste your typing!)

For their back to school shopping I decided to do something different this year.  Since I'm trying not to use the credit cards (but I do love getting the cash back bonus) I went to the bank with the kids and took out $200 in 20s.  I had each kid get an envelope and put their name on it.  Then they each got $100.  Of course I kept their envelopes in my pocket!  I had some idea of what they needed and figured this should cover it.  Girl only needed shoes and socks and a few new dresses, skirts, and tops.  Boy needed shoes, socks, underwear, and t-shirts.  He hasn't grown much yet and most of his clothes still fit.  They both bought shoes and socks.  Then Girl said she was done shopping and wanted me to give her the rest of the money.  No!  It's not for you to spend on other things.  (She wanted to reactivate her phone since I shut it off.)  It's for clothes.  I will keep the money and maybe in a month or so you may want to buy something.  We did a little more shopping and got two clearance dresses from Kohl's for $4.00 each, down from $40 each.  We also picked out some material to make some skirts.  Boy found a fluorescent yellow t-shirt.  He's going to wear it on the first day of school.  After getting the shoes and all underclothes, he only had $13 left.  Now he has $3.  Girl still has about $25 left plus she has $28 of birthday money.

I'm in a "buy it yourself" mood when it comes to the grand kids.  When we were out shopping both of them kept asking for stuff.  When told they could have it but they'd have to spend their own money their tune changed about wanting it.  Since school starts next week, today I had them clean out their backpacks and notebooks from the end of the school year.  Yes, I know that should have been done 2 months ago but it's sort of family tradition.  Girl comes in to tell me that she doesn't have a backpack.  Sure you do.  In fact, you have two.  No, they are ripped.  Well, Girl, I guess we will go to the store on Wednesday evening and you can spend $50 of your $53 dollars buying yourself a new backpack.  Or you can put your ripped backpack on the chair in my room and I will sew it up.  Guess what?  She found her perfectly fine, not one rip or tear, backpack.  Amazing what happens when you have to pay for your own stuff!

We are trying to make some lunch snacks.  I've made crackers before but this weekend I had Girl and Boy make them.  We made Wheat Thins, or at least our version.  It's an easy recipe and one that uses home store food.  1 1/4 cups of whole wheat flour (we ground our own from our whole wheat), 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, a pinch of turmeric (to give it the color you are used to seeing)(or don't bother with the turmeric), 4 tablespoons cold butter (most say unsalted but I just use less salt and use salted butter), 1/4-1/2 teaspoon vanilla (although some recipes don't include this). Mix everything together until it looks cornmeal (like you are making pie dough).  Then add 1/4 cup cold water.  Mix well.  You can take it out of the bowl and knead it a couple of times.  Then roll it out really really really thin on a well floured surface.  Using a pastry wheel makes quick work of cutting the dough and also gives it a nice style.  If you cut the pieces about 1 1/2 inches square they will look like the real Wheat Thins.  You can also cut them out in circles, rectangles, or however you want.   You should prick each cracker with a fork to make it so it doesn't puff up. Put them onto the cookie sheet and bake 400 degrees for about 5 minutes.  The recipe is easy and tastes the same as the store bought crackers.  The whole recipe costs less than 50 cents to make or $2.00 for a box when it's on sale. 

If you have powdered butter in your storage program then this would be a quick easy recipe to make if TSHTF.  Baking them in the sun oven, where the temperature doesn't get to 400 would just mean baking a few minutes longer.  It would still work. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

And the friend's cupboard was bare

I am forcing myself to do a little more socializing at work and after work.  If I had my way I'd just stay home and never talk to anyone but that doesn't always make for a good working relationship.  But, I learned a lesson that I will socialize at THEIR homes way before I allow anyone else to come to mine.  Or at least before I let anyone else come inside my house. 

In the eight months of being at the new job (I guess it's not so new anymore) I have had two coworkers inside my home.  One came because she wanted to see my chickens and she ended up staying for lunch.  The other came because she brought her kids to Girl's birthday party.  Three others have been outside because one day we used my house as the carpool place when we had to all head down south. 

The one that came for lunch unfortunately knows about our home store.  Boy went in there to get something and he left the door open.  The coworker walked into that room and saw the shelf of canning jars, then peeked into the room and saw the shelves of food.  I just nonchalantly said that I don't have time to go to the grocery store so I shop in bulk and have a couple weeks of food on hand.  Now that coworker is a Mormon.  Once I asked her about her food storage and she said that they have been told that they don't have to store more than a couple weeks worth of food.  No more having to store for a year.  I made some comments about how I could never imagine storing that much food...

The other person who came over didn't even go inside since the party was in the backyard.  She didn't see the home store but it impressed the first coworker enough to make a comment one day at the office, asking if she had seen my pantry.  The other person said no.  She said it was really impressive.  I had to respond somehow so I said that I can food and she saw my canning jars.  I also said that I shop only every couple of weeks and I had just shopped.  No big deal, especially if you saw how much food was served at Girl's party.  It would be easy to imagine that my shelves had been full and in one swoop of a weekend it could easily get emptied out.  I just tried to downplay the food storage.

A while ago I wrote in the blog about how one of the coworkers said he and his wife shop once a week and by the end of the week the cupboard is pretty bare.  They do have a small garden and during the summer they grow quite a few vegetables, but still, the pantry is bare by the weekend.

This week a coworker threw a birthday party for another coworker.  The birthday "boy" is over 4 score, and still works part-time.  It was a pot luck.  I brought bread.  Of course I made it myself.  I threw the dough together the night before a put it into the fridge.  I took it out in the morning but put it into the fridge at work.  At the end of the day I took it out.  Once to the party I pulled the dough into individual roll pieces, kneaded each piece a bit, then put them into the baking pan.  The dough was still cold so I put the pan into a plastic bag and put it on top of the kid's slide to warm up a bit.  After about 15 minutes it was ready to throw into the oven.  I sprinkled the rolls with garlic, rosemary, lemon seasoning.  Why?  Because we were having tri-tip and that combination just sounded good. 

I went into the kitchen to put the pan into the oven.  The pantry door was open.  There wasn't even enough food to last two days.  I opened the fridge to take out some cold water and there was even less food in there.  And this was a Monday night!  I didn't see enough food in that house to make it through the week. 

A coworkers wife asked about the rolls.  You really made them?  A strange look came over my face.  I just couldn't imagine buying rolls at the store.  What did I put in them?  Flour, salt, yeast, water, vinegar to sour it, but then I made it too sour so I added some sugar, and some garlic/rosemary/lemon seasoning.  You mean you just put the ingredients in you didn't measure?  I guess another stupid look overcame me.  Why would I measure the ingredients for bread?  You just throw whatever you want into the bowl and you taste the dough to see if you like it.  It's not hard to make bread or rolls.

While the coworkers are all really nice people to hang around with, I can see that not one of them is a prepper or has even thought about it.  Of these five people I've mentioned only one hunts and another one gardens.  One has camped.  I've only brought up the idea of preparedness with the one who said they don't have to store food anymore.  I will bring the topic up with some of the others but for now, I'm still just observing. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Few Less Animals

I decided to sell some of the sheep.  First I had to get them up to the barn in order for them to be easy to catch when the buyers come.  That's not always an easy task.  I went to the feed store and purchased a bale of alfalfa.  It cost $16! The hay was absolutely beautiful but very expensive.   I put some into the barn and a little in the run leading to the barn.  Girl gathered them up from the very back and got them to the closest pasture to the barn.  They saw me with some alfalfa and were intrigued but weren't going to come up on their own.  Boy hopped the fence and between Girl and Boy they got the sheep running away from them and toward the fenced run that goes into the barn.  Success!  Then we were able to separate the big ram from the rest of the sheep.  He got put into a different pen from the rest. 

My first buyer showed up yesterday evening.  He took the four young rams.  This is only leaving me with my main ram and he is getting old.  He is healthy enough for this upcoming season and if something happens to him I have friends who have sheep and they are always trying to get rid of some.  I have seven ewes.  I am going to sell some of them as well.  The second buyer didn't get back to me after his initial inquiry.  Perhaps he is not in the market for ewes. 

Even if I don't sell them that will be OK.  Between now having four less sheep and money in my pocket, I made enough money to buy hay for the rest of them for the winter.  If I keep the seven ewes, next spring I will have about 10-12 lambs.  If it's a wet winter and spring then I can raise them, otherwise they will go into the freezer.  I'd rather sell three or four of the ewes.  We'll see.  But four of the eleven sheep are gone.  I've got money in my pocket to support the rest.  Self sustaining venture and the ability to put food in the freezer.  I like it!

If you ever think about getting some sheep different breeds have different values.  I don't want to shear sheep.  Maybe someday I'll change my mind but for the busy life I have now, that would be a burden.  There are several breeds that don't need shearing.  Their wool is more like the coat of a dog.  It does get thick during the winter and then sheds off during the spring and summer. 

Because I don't have an irrigated pasture my sheep don't get worms so I don't have to deworm them.  That is an expense that I'm saving as well as having healthier animals.  I also don't buy animals from the auction.  Everyone around here who has bought animals from the auction says that while they look good in the ring, a week or two after they get mixed with the rest of their flocks the rest get sick with runny eyes and noses, or worse.  So if I wanted to buy more animals I'd search on the internet, or better yet, drive around and find someone in the neighborhood who also raises animals. 

I'm looking for some goats.  I really haven't seen any around; all I've noticed is sheep.  But I'm sure there are people around raising goats.  I need to start paying attention for them now, even if I don't plan on buying them until next year.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Almost no pasture food left for the animals

In the area I live we get about 11 inches of rain per year.  My friend in Oklahoma can get that much at their place in a couple of days! This year we got 5 1/2 inches.  Half of normal and normal isn't much.  On a normal year my pasture can grow waist high. I have the back sectioned off into four (sort of five) separate pastures.  Plus there's the front pasture.  On a good year the animals can get rotated through each pasture and I don't have to supplement with any food. 

Now that doesn't mean I don't buy hay for the animals.  I usually buy 5-10 bales a year and give them a flake or two per day during the winter.  I just feel bad for them because they have to get wet and stand in the cold.  I know they are animals but it's nice to spoil them!  This year I will probably have to buy two bales per week for the entire winter.  If winter lasts for three months then that would mean about 25 bales.  Right now bales are about $15 for a little over 100 pound bales.  That's about $375 for the winter.  Perhaps I'd be better off feeding less and butchering more?  Or selling off a few more?

I just opened up the third pasture.  The fourth looks just like the third.  They should be waist high of delicious grasses.  They aren't.  I'm lucky if the pasture averages 6 inches.  No, probably closer to four.  The two pastures will be completely eaten down to nothing by the end of September.  We normally don't get rain until November.  Then everything will grow for a month before it all dies from the cold. 

When the flowering mulberry trees drop there leaves we will have enough food to probably last a month.  It's amazing how much food those trees produce.  That's why they were initially grown out west.  Not only to provide shade but to feed the cattle.  Once the trees get established they don't need to be watered as they will be supported by the high water table we have here.  The fruiting mulberries also produce a lot of leaves for the animals but even when full grown they'll only produce about half the amount of food.

Using up all the mulberry leaves and still running out of pasture before winter means it may cost me $500 for hay.  That's too much and I'll soon be making the decision to butcher or sell.  Only three or four sheep will fit into the freezer.  I can do some canning of the meat and also drying.  Still, if I have 11 sheep and I only want to keep four or five through the winter I will either be doing lots of canning and drying or lots of selling.  I think I will put an ad out to get some sheep sold.  Since I know I need to there's no sense in feeding them my dwindling pasture for the rest of the summer! 

This fall, when the pastures are done I'm going to have someone come in and rip the pastures.  That will help renew them.  My neighbor did that with theirs and they got grasses over a foot high.  Still not great but much better than mine! 

Let's look at this from a prepping viewpoint.  In bad times I won't be able to run out and buy hay.  Perhaps it can be bartered, but nobody around here has old fashioned large equipment.  Or animals to pull the equipment for that matter.  I'm running too many animals because during drought I can't support them. 

Also, they are the wrong type of animals.  I need some sheep because they eat the thistle that other animals don't.  I should probably cut back on sheep and instead get a few goats.  The goats are better dairy providers.  Sure the sheep will provide dairy but not my sheep.  They are about impossible to get near, even bottle fed sheep forget who you are.  Goats are like dogs.  They want to be your friend!  So perhaps if I get rid of most of the sheep and then during the winter when people don't want to buy hay (mine will already be in the barn) I can pick up some inexpensive goats. 

I actually like goat meat better than sheep meat so why am I running so many sheep?  It looks like half are about to go away.

Setting Girl's friend straight

Last night I got woken up at 11:00 by my phone.  It seems I received a text message.  It was from Girl's friend.  U UP  That's just what I needed.  I didn't respond and it took me a while to fall back to sleep.  4:45 comes early when your sleep is interrupted.  But 4:45 came and up I got. I decided that it was the perfect time to respond to the friend. 

No, Girl was not awake.  She is not allowed to be up in the middle of the night to talk on the phone.  Are you? At my house we do not sneak around and getting on the phone in the middle of the night is sneaking around.  Do your parents let you? Perhaps I should ask them?  This is not Girl's phone. Her's was suspended from service because she broke house rules.  Please don't text Girl in the middle of the night again on my phone.  Thank you, Girl's Grandparent. 

I wonder if this girl minded getting the text at 4:45.  She probably was very excited when she saw it was from Girl.  At least until she read it. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A good rating by the boss and making hot sauce

I've been at this new job for 8 months now.  I'm really liking it; at least everything but the 75 minute commute.  I was joking today that there is so much traffic on this 50 mile jaunt.  There may be 20 cars heading in the same direction during the commute, all trying to get to work at the same time.  Almost every day I pull over to let someone pass.  20 cars over 50 miles.  Such traffic! 

Today the boss had to do the mid-year review.  I suppose he is impressed.  Under integrity he wrote: X does not make mistakes, but if X did, I am confident that X would acknowledge and learn from them.  X always delivers on commitments and promises and handles issues directly and openly.  

The new head boss (directly under the VP and my bosses boss) is starting next week.  The company got a new VP and instantly all the upper managers retired.  That's a lot of knowledge leaving the company at one time.  It doesn't affect me too much.  After all, I'm so new to the company that I'm not involved in any of the political on goings.  I'd just like to keep the job for the next few years.  But if I don't that's OK too.  We are prepared.

We had Mrs. Bug-out renter stay for the week.  She went back home today much to my relief.  Monday evening Girl hadn't done some of her tasks.  I told her that she had to do them on Tuesday, and I expected her to do them, not pawn them off on someone else (like Mrs. Bug-out renter).  I came home from work on Tuesday afternoon and Girl hadn't done her chores. Mrs. Bug-out renter said she didn't have to.  I told you that you did and it doesn't matter what anyone else tells you.  She hurried and got most of her things done.  She was once again going to put off doing her laundry.  I was so displeased that I made her get them washed and she was outside after dark hanging them on the clothesline.  If your clothes aren't taken care of by Wednesday when I get home from work you won't own them anymore.  After all, if I can quote you dear Granddaughter, you said that when we don't take care of our things we are showing God that we aren't grateful for the abundance of things we are given.  And God is the provider of all.  Remember you said that Girl? 

Before bed last night I told both kids they could not watch videos or play on Mrs. Bug-out renters computer today.  When they finished their chores they could go next door and swim or they could play board games or just play outside.  No videos or computer games.  So I get home and all seems to be good.  Girl got her stuff done.  The house was decent.  Then Boy tells me about this video that Mrs. Bug-out renter showed them.  Can you see the fumes coming out from under my collar?

I read what my boss had written.  Mrs. Bug-out renter popped up with how I'm perfect.  No.  But I do work very hard at doing the right thing.  I am paid to work so why should I not work hard?  Just like with the kids.  It's really easier to do what you are supposed to do and do it right then to have to spend the time doing something two or three or four times because you don't feel like doing it right.  What is respectful about that?  And where is the honor and integrity when you do something that you know is not right.  Or trying to convince someone (whether you are successful or not) that they should do the wrong thing?

We brought Mrs. Bug-out renter home.  Blood pressure automatically lowered... Then Girl asked if she could have full computer privileges again.  I said no.  Look at what you did today.  I said you can't and you did.  Boy said that they only watched one video.  My response was what difference does it make if it is one or 100?  Your integrity and my respect got shot down with the first video. You knew you weren't supposed to but you did.  Girl asked if she was good for a week if I'd give her the privileges again.  Probably not because you won't be tested in the next week.  You see, if you are given the choice to do right or wrong you must choose right. 

We get into shooting rubber bands at each other at work.  It's a stress reliever but I'm not sure the boss would see it that way!  But if that's the worst of my choosing wrong then all is well...until we hit someone in the eye and poke an eye out (now I sound like my mother!).

Now that I've gone on and on, how does prepping and doing what's right go hand in hand?  You can answer that question.  Doing what is right is everything, but the rules may change if the SHTF.  It can be easy to slip down the wrong path if you don't have a good foundation. 

On to something else.  Girl loves hot sauce.  Tabasco is one of her favorites.  She can go through an 8 ounce bottle pretty quickly.  So what is a grandparent to do?  Do you know how easy it is to make hot sauce?  Have you looked at the ingredients in Tabasco?  Peppers, vinegar, salt.  The label says aged for 6 months.  This doesn't sound hard. Take your favorite peppers and put them into a jar.  Slice them if you want.  Keep them whole if you want.  I usually use a quart or half gallon jar, but we go through lots of hot sauce.  Pints or 1/2 pints will work if you don't use a lot or if you are giving them as gifts.  Put the peppers into the jar.  Pour vinegar over them.  Put a lid on to keep the bugs out.  Stick it in a cabinet or shelf somewhere.  Leave it alone for a month to a year.  When you are ready to use it you can either just use the flavored vinegar, or do as we do, grind it all up in the blender and then put it into a bottle.  You can use green peppers, red peppers, purple peppers.  Whatever color and type you want.  If you mix them all together you will get a brownish red color sauce.  If you keep the colors of peppers separate then the sauces will have better color.  It doesn't matter to us, it's more if you want to use them as gifts.  We can also add some of the sauce when we are making salsa.  Normally I make salsa on the more mild side.  Just put in some hot sauce and it's more spicy. 


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Figs and United 93

In July 2012 I commented that I thought United 93 was a good movie and was trying to figure out just when the grandkids could watch it.  The older teen boys saw it when they spent the night a few months ago.  Boy wanted to stay up and watch it with them.  I said no.  Tonight the kids wanted to watch a movie and since they were actually good all day I said OK.  They had to agree on a movie.  Boy likes the Love Comes Softly series and westerns and Girl likes Disney princesses.  Sometimes they like action movies.  Boy came in with United 93.  Can we watch this?  Did you both agree?  I figured that Girl would want her usual princess movie. 

Boy said they agreed, and he was standing there waiting for me to say no.  Instead I said yes.  They could watch the movie.  I would watch it with them.  Normally I will provide commentary when they watch movies but in this movie I told them they just had to watch.  I wasn't going to tell them about it or really clarify much of anything.  It was interesting that even at 10 and 12 they still were confused as to whether the actors all died.  Nobody died in the movie but they all portrayed real people who did die. 

Less than 30 minutes from here is Todd Beamer park.  They'd heard of him.  They didn't really understand the story until the end.  But when it was over it clicked for Boy.  So that's why we are at war in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Yes, this is what started it.  Then they wanted to know if all Muslims were bad or just the terrorists. 

This was a tricky question.  Not all Muslims are terrorists.  In fact, very few are terrorists but very few Muslims have the nerve to stand up and condemn what the Muslim terrorists are doing.  And because of that, they too are bad.  Does this mean his Muslim friend from school is bad?  Is that what I was saying?  Well, Boy, when school starts in a couple of weeks you can ask your friend what he thinks.  Of course, he too is 10 and probably doesn't know much about what happened prior to his birth.  But ask him anyway.  If he says bad is bad no matter the religion then he's good for a friend.  If he is going to defend them because they have the same religion, then that is not the friend for you.

Today we picked figs.  We have about a dozen fig trees growing on our property.  The neighbor has more.  We grow two varieties and the variety I like best is a young tree with few figs.  So we picked from the neighbor's tree.  Fig trees were initially brought to America and grown in Virginia.  From there they spread south then west.  They are a huge commercial crop in California.  They are easy to grow and if you live where they will grow you should plant some figs.  You can space them as close as 10X10 although further apart is better.

A fig tree can produce 150 pounds of fruit per year.  From one tree!  And you can dry the fruit easily as well as can it and freeze it.  Some people don't like figs.  I'm not one of them.  But even if you don't like eating figs the trees and the fruit are useful for many things.  Up until now I just thought figs were great for eating fresh and dried. 

First off, the leaves of the tree makes good food for your animals. A fig tree is related to a mulberry tree.  Mulberry trees were initially planted to provide feed for cattle.  The fig tree will do the same.  Not only can you get 150 pounds of food for you but you can probably get that many pounds of food for your animals, whether it's cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits, or chickens.  They will all eat fig leaves and figs. 

The milky latex liquid that oozes from the stem of the fig can irritate your skin.  They used to use this liquid as a dish washing soap but the ladies hands were affected so that practice stopped.  Still, if you need a good cleaner and you have something to protect your hands, it's worth using.  If you don't need it for washing dishes and pots and pans, instead the liquid can be used to treat skin diseases and irritations.  The liquid is applied on warts, skin ulcers and other sores.  Once I was weed-whacking some figs and got lots of the juice splattered on my leg.  The leg ended up blistering.  To this day I have a sensitivity to things touching my leg right in that spot. 

The fruits can be boiled and the liquid gargled to relieve a sore throat.  The liquid can be used as a meat tenderizer.  You can also put figs between your gum and cheek, like chewing tobacco, if you have a sore on your gum.  Drying the leaf and powdering it and sprinkling the powder over your food is known to help with insulin problems for diabetics.  It's also good getting rid of kidney stones.  Figs, when you eat more than one or two, are good as a laxative. 

One thing that I just learned about figs, but haven't yet tried (although I will!), is that the milky latex liquid and be collected, dried, and turned into a powder.  This powder can then be used in coagulating milk to make cheese!  You don't need to use a piece of animal intestine.  In coming times, I will be able to make cheese from our goat or sheep milk using figs rather than rennet.  That I have to try!