Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day

Hope everyone had a good Independence Day.  Around here fireworks were lit last night, on July 3rd.  They are set over a lake and it’s supposed to be really beautiful.  Boy and Girl were really excited, that is until their friend’s mother came home and said that the parking is crazy at the lake and it was only 3 in the afternoon.  Then Boy and Girl didn’t want to go.  Today they wanted me to drive into the city to watch the fireworks.  No.  I’m not going to.  Yet, if we had gone the night before I’d have been more than willing to watch them twice.  Sometimes they forget that it’s the family experiencing things together that makes the memories.  And, there wouldn’t have been any traffic or parking or traffic issues because we would have parked and walked less than ½ mile, plus on our way out everyone else would be heading down the mountain and we would be heading up!  But instead I read a book and played cribbage.  

Today I read Boy and Girl the Declaration of Independence.  I do it every year.  Most people have no clue what that document is.  I think many confuse the Constitution with the Declaration.

Boy brought home a cribbage board from San Diego sister’s house although he didn’t know how to play.  I don’t know why I never taught them, so yesterday and today were their days to learn.  I have such fond memories of playing all kinds of games with my brothers and sisters and parents.  It was a great way to spend a rainy day.  Now I think that it would be a great way to spend time, if TSHTF or if it’s just a lousy day outside.  Boy had absolutely no interest.  Girl, on the other hand, gave it a try for a couple of games.  Then she wasn’t interested.  She was having fun but because she actually had to think when adding up the points, she decided that it wasn’t for her.  She would have had more fun if I just said you only get points for reaching 15, 31, or having the last card.  I wonder if Future Spouse likes to play cards?  Odd that I don’t know the answer to this.  I’ll find out soon enough!

Future Spouse had a surprise visit by one of our new neighbors.  Yes, blogging buddy Max came by the new house.  I wasn’t there.  I’m still in California but FS was there.  FS doesn’t quite understand how I met Max (I read his blog!) although I’ve tried to explain it.  We’ve communicated by email and blog for five years, and I’m a bit jealous that FS got to meet him in person first!  I was going to stop by last Christmas but the timing didn’t work out.  I have to wait, but not too much longer.  FS did get a picture of Max in front of my new house.  The house is looking good.  Max was too.

I have been experimenting with making my laundry detergent.  I had about 1 1/2 years worth of regular powered detergent but it’s now gone.  I have enough ingredients here to last me another year of making my own.  I’m mixing washing soda, borax, and either Fels-Naptha or Zote bar soap.  I’m also adding some new nice smelling blue pellets.  Those don’t do anything other than give it a nice smell.  The amount of smelly stuff that would normally be used in one load I’m adding to a month’s supply of homemade detergent.  The ingredients aren’t exact but it’s somewhere between 1 and 2 cups of washing soda, 1-2 cups of borax, and one bar of soap.  I have a stick blender that came with a blade/bowl attachment.  I cut the bar of soap up and then put it into the bowl.  The stick blender turns it into a fine powder.  I mix all the ingredients together and put it into a jar.  I could add this to boiling water and make gallons of liquid laundry detergent, but the powder is so fine that it dissolves just fine in cold or warm water.  I use about 1 or 2 tablespoons of powder, depending on how large of a load of clothes and how dirty they are.  But really, that’s all I’m using.  I’m not washing in a front loader, the machine here in our company housing is a 20 year old Maytag.

I’m getting excited about finally moving to Colorado.  I will know the first week of August whether I’m going to still be working or getting laid off.  The way the company lays people off is the week prior they set up a meeting with each individual in the group having the layoffs.  Even if they are keeping you, you still have your meeting.  If they are laying you off or transferring you to another location, your meeting is scheduled for about an hour but if they are keeping you, the meeting is 15 minutes.  So, one should be able to tell if they are laying you off or changing your work location if you look at the right calendar.  They want everyone to have their personal stuff out of the office the day before the meeting and all your work things brought to the office.  If they lay you off then you get walked out the door.  If you left anything at your desk (backpack, purse, lunch, it doesn’t matter) you don’t get to go back and get it.  You can call one of your coworkers and they can bring it out of the building.  It’s a brutal process if you aren’t expecting it.  But me, I hope they lay me off.  If they do, I’ll get some severance plus money for reeducation.  I’m looking forward to taking gardening and animal courses! I’d also like to get the move over with before school starts. 

I just learned about some seeds which can grow into a tree, a bush, or as a small plants that you can trim every month.  The plant is called Moringa.  It grows outdoors, and becomes a tree or bush, in areas that don't get as cold as where we are moving.  It's too bad I didn't know about this plant when we were in the Great Central Valley.  I would have grown it.  You can buy the seeds on-line with prices varying from $25 for one ounce of seed down to $10 for several ounces.  If it grows into a tree or bush then the seed pods have about 2.5 g of protein for every 3 1/2 ounces of pods.  You can cook the pods or eat them raw.  I can probably grow the bush in the greenhouse but you can also grow it like a bed of lettuce and cut the leaves and stems each month.  You can eat that raw or cook it.  That also contains protein, iron, calcium, and minerals.  It's considered a miracle food in some parts of the world.  

Best news is my wedding is coming up this Sunday afternoon.  I don’t mind planning and cooking but since we moved from our farm in the Great Central Valley I don’t really have a good place to hold the event close by that’s convenient for people.  I could have held it here in the company town in the mountains but most people are afraid of winding mountain roads and towns without shopping, hotels, or gas stations.  For some reason that’s preferred by most of FS and my relatives over blue skies, open views, trees, lakes and rivers.  So the wedding will take place in Southern California, with one of my sister’s hosting at her home.  She is also doing a lot of the planning and decorating, which she is good at.  The weather is supposed to top out at 79 that day.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Big move is over but we are still in California...for now

The main move is over! The house sold and closed without any problems.  My stuff got loaded into the moving van and unloaded into the shipping container at the new house a few days later.  The moving van had to put the delivery off for a day because of snow but I didn’t get charged for it so it didn’t matter to me.  When I was packing a taped fluorescent green ribbon on the boxes that needed to be put into the shipping container last.  These items included my tool chest, small tools, hardware, the table saw, and other items that would be necessary for helping with the house building. 

Mostly the moving of items went smoothly.  One issue I had was that Salvation Army was scheduled to come pick up stuff and it happened to be on the same day as the moving van showed up.  So I put the SA pile in one corner of the garage and flagged it off so the movers wouldn’t accidently put it into the van.  In the house the SA was going to take the piano and the queen bed.  When they got here they changed their mind on the piano.  I wasn’t going to bring it with me so what was I supposed to do with it?  The new people didn’t want it, as I’d already offered it to them.  They already had a piano and didn’t want two!  I had a little fire pit that cost about $100.  I wasn’t going to take it with me and SA didn’t want it either.  One of the movers asked if he could have the fire pit and I said sure.  Enjoy!

I used Mayflower, yes I am purposefully advertising for them.  They were really good.  They gave me an estimate, which was a couple thousand dollars less than other name brand movers.  But they said that they would guarantee the price, which nobody else seemed to want to do.  Because I packed my own boxes, the other movers figured that I was hiding heavy stuff in boxes that was marked as stuffed animals or whatever.  I guess they couldn’t read the boxes that said “extra heavy” or maybe they thought those were really light.   But when I had Mayflower go over my stuff I told them the piano wasn’t going.  Neither was about 100 pieces of particle board shelving that went with the metal shelves in the garage and house.  I had figured that if I couldn’t stuff them all into my sister’s trailer then I’d just buy new pieces once I got there.  Particle board is really heavy so it would cost as much to get new as it would to ship the old. 

As I was trying to get SA to take the piano, I think they were too lazy to move it because there was about 10 feet of rocked driveway that they had to maneuver through.  Anyway, the Mayflower lead person said that they would take the piano for me.  They also said that there would be plenty of space in the moving van for the 50 or so pieces of particle board that didn’t fit into the trailer.  No extra charge.  I don’t know what they did with the piano.  I don’t care.  All I know is they added the shelving to the load and it didn’t cost me any extra even though it wasn’t on the original shipping list.  And, as far as I could tell, everything made it to Colorado in one piece!  Go Mayflower!

The kids schooling change went pretty smooth.  Boy wasn’t actually able to stay at his old school so he transferred to the local mountain school.  It’s a K-8 with less than 60 kids total.  Not bad for a California public school.  He was able to make a bunch of new friends and now that it’s summer vacation he has kids to hang out with during the day when I’m working.  Girl’s new school was also much smaller.  She went from a high school of 3,000 to about 400.  She wasn’t so lost in this new school. In fact, for her last 5 weeks of school I never got called once and she never got suspended or had detention. She made some friends, although none of them live in our new little town.  That school has kids that are so spread out, one of the friends Girl made lives 1 ½ hours away!  Girl decided that the 6 or 7 kids in our town that also went on the bus with her to the high school are all stupid and not worth her time.  This translates to those kids are all nice and respectful. Oh well.  She has been hiking and started running a little again. She has also played with some of the younger kids, so she’s keeping herself busy enough to not be getting into trouble.

Most of the kitchen things got moved.  This was my plan as we are half-way living off our stored food and using paper plates and cups and all non-electric appliances (other than the refrigerator and oven).  Unfortunately it doesn’t do me a lot of good to have several hundred pounds of wheat with me when the wheat grinder is in Colorado.  The Sun Oven is also in the shipping container.  But the garage is full of food as is the closet in my room.  The fishing gear all got shipped but I’ve rigged up a line and Boy has gone fishing a couple of times.  He can dig up a bug or worm to hook but hasn’t caught anything.  He is learning patience – sort of.

Our new home is coming along.  The bunkhouse is much more complete than the main house/barn structure.  But the main house is partially built.  The barn space is a big dried in area.  The greenhouse hasn’t been started yet but it should go up quickly once it gets started.  All three buildings are going to be heated by a large wood burning boiler with a propane backup. 

I have learned something about future spouse.  He wants everything to look really nice from the outside as well as the inside.  I’m more of a plain, non-showy person, on the outside.  I remember reading one of the Survivor’s series books and one of the characters has a trashy looking car (at least from the outside).  The inside is spotless and modern but it doesn’t give the impression that someone who has money is driving the car.  Our new home is truly massive and impressive.  Because the barn and house are one building it’s over 9,000 square feet (4,500 on each level).  It’s not good if you don’t want to stand out.  It’s going to have to have a real good defense system because it’s so visible.  The entire property has been fenced with barbed wire but that’s all we have so far. 

I am looking forward to our final move from California to Colorado.  It will either happen at the end of this summer or by the end of the year, depending on whether I keep my job or get laid off in August.  I’m hoping they lay me off.  It will be a little harder financially but I’d get a year’s head start on some of my projects that I’ve planned.  If I keep the job we’ll stay in California until the main house is done.  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

It's Really Hard to Move When You are Well Prepared

I haven't posted in a very long time.  So much has been going on these past few months but tonight, I have found a few moments and post I shall! 
As I've been writing about our move for the past year, I can say that moving is not something that I ever want to do again.  Our farm has been sold, it actually sold in less than a month for almost the amount I wanted.  Our new house is not ready.  We've had a really hard time finding a builder.  It's either too difficult of a project for those who just put up square tract homes or it's not expensive enough for those who build custom homes.  We even had one builder tell us that he only builds multimillion dollar homes and ours isn't worth his time.  So what are we to do since our house is closing escrow at the beginning of May?  We have to go somewhere.  I was hoping to find a house to rent along the school bus route for Boy and Girl.  I want to keep them in their schools for the last 1 1/2 months of school.  I found one house and it was going to cost $3400 per month.  Not in my budget! 
Next week we are moving up into the mountains to be closer to my work but our stuff is going to Colorado.  Boy's school has said that if I bring him a day or two each week then he can home study the rest of the time.  Girl is going to change schools.  I'm sure the high school she goes to now will be happy to see her leave!  Things should be fine at the new school because she will be the new girl and instantly popular. 
With the house not ready, Future Spouse has ordered a 40' shipping container that had better get to the property before the moving van does!  San Diego sister lent me her 20' trailer, in which the tractor, gardening tools, t-posts, animal water troughs, and wood shelving has filled it to the brim.  But I haven't had the time off work to drive it the 17-20 hours each way out to the new property.  I'm hoping to maybe go over Memorial Day weekend, but that would pull the kids out of school so probably as soon as school gets out would be better.  She would like her trailer back soon as they use it a lot. The moving van is going to pick up most of our things next week.  The rest I will bring up to our new little house in the mountains by my work.  We aren't bringing much up there, just beds, the kitchen table, kitchen supplies, plus lots of food, cleaning supplies, everything that I'm not putting on the moving van, plus the dog and cats.  After the moving van goes I'll have two days to clear everything else off the property.  The weather is forecast to be good.
I'm sure I won't have to shop much once I'm there in our new temporary small house in the mountains by my work, which is good because the closest grocery store is 50 minutes away.  It's about the size of the store in our new Colorado town, which means it's good for picking up items here and there but not for full blown shopping.  To get to a chain grocery store is a drive of almost an hour and a half.
I brought most of my goats to the auction and got a good price for them.  I still have my buck and two does.  I may sell the buck and just keep the does.  I don't know.  I haven't figured out what I am doing with them yet.  A relative of one of my coworkers had said that I could house my goats at their house since they built a small shed.  This person just last week said that they wouldn't be able to house my goats because their shed is too small for their animals plus mine.  A friend of Future Spouse said that I could put my animals on his cattle ranch three hours away.  I'd need to spend time fencing that up, and I just don't have the time.  A coworker just bought some fencing from me and I promised a great deal on fencing panels in exchange for watching my goats.  I think we have a deal. 
I told the new owners of our farm that I was taking a lot of my 16' fence panels.  I would still keep most fencing here and if I hadn't pointed it out they may not have really noticed.  But you aren't supposed to take that stuff unless you disclose it first.  The coworker is going to get what he needs and then I'm going to store extra fence panels at his place.  Then I'll be able to bring those with me to Colorado when I bring the animals. 
I have so much stuff!  You pick a category of items and I have it.  In trying to figure out what to bring and what to sell or give away, I'm going strictly by replacement costs.   The moving van charges about fifty cents a pound.  Obviously my 40 pounds of salt (a lifetime's worth) isn't being put into the moving van.  On the other hand, my egg incubators weigh a couple pounds but cost $50 to replace.  They are packed.  Some things, like my 40 year old wooden boxed electric wheat grinder with a backup crank handle weighs a lot but it can't really be replaced with anything other than cheap plastic. It's packed.  So is the Sun Oven, and 200+ other boxes! 
Most of the food is not going onto the moving van.  Driving round trip in my truck will cost about $500.  I can put a lot of low value items into the truck and trailer (after this first trip carrying the tractor, garden, and animal supplies).  But added up, it's not low value!  Having a full house, garage, and barn, which held everything I need takes up a lot of space.  It's going to be interesting being up at the small house in the mountains by work.  I am already stressing because I won't have most of my preps with me.  But I will have more stuff than anyone else there (at least whose homes I've been in).  This week I've filled the garage shelves with food: canned meats, noodles, vegetables, and condiments of several gallons of vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, and mustard.  I still have to bring up the buckets of flour, wheat, the "emergency food" buckets, and the cases of water.  Those will wait until I get the ok to put thing into the house rather than just filling the garage.  This small house is a short walk from a creek so water will not be in short supply.  Still, the cases of water bottles are coming with us.  I brought up 24 rolls of paper towels and 36 rolls of toilet paper.  Amazing that we still have 36 rolls of tp left!  I haven't bought any in several years.  Because of the big move, I've been trying to find that perfect balance between using up my preps and not feeling insecure because I've used my preps!

So how long are we going to be in the small town in the mountains by my work?  While FS and I are getting married in July, the grandkids and I are probably going to end up staying here in California until the fall.  They will probably start the next school year still here.  We are hoping the new house is ready by November so that's when we will make the final move.  Until then I will keep working and socking money away to help pay for our new home. 

After this big move next week I will be spending much more evening time on my computer reading what is going on in other people's lives and also learning more prepping skills.  I am really looking forward to that.  Boy is looking forward to getting to go fishing every day if he feels like it.  Girl is looking forward to not having farm chores to do. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Underground Shooting Range

People make the comment all the time that gun regulations are only there for the law abiding citizens.  The criminals don't worry about the laws.  What's concerning are the gang members.  They are getting much more sophisticated in their training.  If you go to a local gym and look around you will see that gangs are there working out.  They know that you have to be physically fit to be able to outrun or just outlast your opponent.  Most "regular" people, including myself are not fit enough.  I use the excuse that I don't have enough time in the day.  That's true, but I can make more time.  Five or ten minute spurts can be done at anytime, even at work.  If the gangs are getting into better shape, we had better as well.

Gang members are also joining the military.  They are being taught fighting tactics as well as being given expert weapons training.  Gang members have been found on police forces and as prison guards.  Nothing like them building community!  While I live a half an hour outside a big city, the gang presence is pushing its way further into the countryside.

Just this week there was an interesting find here in the Great Central Valley, in a town about 45 minutes from here known for more gang members than not, an underground shooting range.  It made the news for about ten seconds. Someone dug a large hole (or a small tunnel) in their backyard, in the city.  The hole wasn't noticed by anyone. They covered the entrance with old mattresses to deaden the noise.  People thought that kids were playing with airsoft guns because the noise wasn't loud. There were no arrests for the shooting range.  No arrests for any felons in possession of guns.  Only one arrest for possession of drugs. This is the same little community where a man in his late 50s and his mother were out walking at 2 a.m. and he was shot and killed and she was injured.   Was the tip about the shooting range in retaliation for the shooting?  Who knows.  All I know is the gangs hold no value or respect for human life and they are spreading throughout the country.  Don't think they aren't!  Gang violence is a great indicator of what may become normal life for all, not just in those little pockets of larger cities. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Fixing the eye infection and visiting/researching the new town

I did get to go to the property during Christmas break.  Unfortunately for me I ended up with an eye infection.   I wasn't sure if I had pink-eye, as I was near someone the previous day who had pink-eye, or if it was an irritation because I got a piece of sawdust in my eye.  Either way, my eyes were all gunked up and I was well blinded for a day. My vision was like I was looking though waxed paper.  Is this what glaucoma is like? Future Spouse has NO medications at home believing things can be healed naturally or you need a trip to the emergency room - there's no middle ground.  (This will change once I move in!) There was no Neosporin, no Benadryl, nothing, and it was Christmas and we were in the middle of nowhere, meaning no stores were open.  The next day we were back in the city.  I went to the local CVS and bought Benadryl, Claritin, and Neosporin.  Yes, you can put Neosporin into your eyes if you don't have the kind for eyes.  In two days my eyes cleared up.  Now if this was pink-eye and I didn't have any medication to put into my eyes, it would still clear up on it's on after a few weeks.  But having antihistamines and Neosporin made me much less miserable!

The property is in a beautiful location.  It's on the slope rather than in the valley.  It's higher elevation so we will have more snow that will stay on the ground longer than down in the valley.  The property overlooks the entire valley as well as the mountain range on the far side of the valley.  It has a great view, but that means that others have a great view of us.  In fact, coming over the pass to reach our valley provides a direct view of our slope.  Not private at all, but it can be fortified. 

I stopped at the local grocery store and was impressed with their selection of fruits and vegetables. I will shop there to help the local economy but absolutely never rely on that store to keep us supplied.  I could imagine the place running out of everything within a couple hours if everyone in town came in on the same day to buy a weeks worth of food.   I expect to do monthly shopping in the city an hour or so away.  I will immediately build up the food supply once we get there - number one priority even before all the boxes are unpacked.  (I'm figuring I'll be bringing 6 months worth with me.)      

I have been reading the local weekly paper for our new community.  In a county of under 5,000 people, the local paper is a good way to learn about people before you actually meet them.  Reading the letters to the editor one can figure out who is for self protection and who is for waiting for the authorities.  You can also figure out who wants to be self supporting and who wants the government to provide all their services.  They also have a section on police activity for the week: how many people were arrested, including their names and offenses, who got tickets and for what, where domestic disturbances are, burglaries, fights, everything gets listed. I am keeping the papers and will start mapping the locations soon.   

Fortunately for me Max in Colorado is vetting a lot of people to see if they would fit into his group.  I hope our family fits in with his, although if we don't, it will still be good to know that there is another group close by.  But he will know who not to include.  To me, that's as important as knowing who to include. 

I met one of our next door neighbors.  They are a nice younger retired couple but they certainly don't seem to be preppers.  They never spoke about putting in a garden come spring.  They gave me a tour of their home and they showed me the pantry.  It held a dozen cans of soup and about two dozen bottles of wine.  Not quite enough to sustain them.  This is their first winter on the property and it will be interesting to hear after winter is over about how often they had to leave during stormy weather to go get groceries.