Friday, January 27, 2012

"Don't be Evil" Google will change its Terms of service

I'll be spending next month moving everything to wordpress blog. for last couple of years I've been getting more concerned with Google's business model. My privacy is exactly that MINE and belongs to me. If I chose to give someone data that is my choice not Googles.
The new site will be
and I'll be working to move everything over to wordpress and off of blogspot by Feb 29 2012.
I'm getting a few solicitations for sales on this blog. I don't mind making money but I'm still prepping on the cheap and I won't recommend something without testing it out personally. I hate wasting money my own or someone else's and trust is to valuable to lose to just money. I'll use my Country store spot for posting sales and items I have bought, used and recommend.
Don't worry I'm not leaving you and I think wordpress is going to give me a lot more options to make this information even better for the future! But I maybe doing some grinding to get everything moved over to the new site. Another reason I'm planning on taking all of Febuary to get it done. It probably won't take that long but I prefer to under promise and over deliver.
This might be something you folks on blogger may consider for your own blogs. I will give you my ups, downs and lessons learned so if you want to change over to wordpress.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How long do you have to prepare?

The rest of your life!
I know most everyone want to know if and when the big crunch comes but I have no clue how long we have to get ready. Some folks have already faced disasters that happen everyday and they are still plugging away.
It not all bad news and rising prices. Sure fuel and food are rising but if you are looking for the hardware of prepping the prices are down or at least stable. You can pick up a lot of great buys second hand from folks that need cash in a hurry or have overextended themselves. You have to be patient and don't get desperate that you need that "item" right now.
For example the wood stove I want to buy is going to cost around $1000.00 for everything that's the wood, stove pipe and safety items that have to be installed. I already have a kerosene heater ($5.00 yardsale) a Mr. Buddy heater($45.00 pawnshop) so I can take my time and shop carefully as I'm not in panic mode. This comes back to the Mental and spiritual aspects of preparing and survival. If you start get that panic or feeling of desperation STOP! Don't buy anything until you can identify why you feel that way.
I looked for a couple of years for my water barrels. I didn't want to pay $60.00 + shipping when I had already stored over 60 gallons of water for free in soda bottles. The barrels were a want to have not a need. It was a good buy for $35.00 as it freed up a lot of space that my soda bottles took up. After storing my water in soda bottles for a year the water was still good after adding a little oxygen passing the water between a couple of pitchers. I used green tinted bottles and stored them away from sunlight using City water. I didn't ignore my water needs until I had the perfect solution. I started storing water in the best cheap solution right away.
Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good! Start small, your first garden might be an herb garden in the window. If you look at the price of fresh herbs in the grocery store this is a great place to save money, fresh herbs really punch up the flavor of your cooking and many herbs have medicinal qualities. Many herbs will reseed themselves and are sustainable for a one time cost. Go to the dollar stores in the spring and you can get six or eight packages of seeds for a dollar. I have had most of those seeds I've planted reseed themselves two and three years running.
Don't get fearful and don't do anything in a panic. Stop take your time, start small and you will become not only prepared for a disaster but for the rest of your life!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I found a wood stove! and staying motivated

    As I was getting my water barrel at the farm store I found a little cast iron stove on sale for $280.00. After Mom's 10% discount it'll cost about $260.00. of course I'll still need to get the wall/floor protection ($150) and stove pipe($250) and a load of mill ends ($350). For under $1000.00 total  I'll have everything I'll need for  wood heat/cooking next winter!  I think I'll be able to barter for someone who can install  the fire place.
   I know it seems so overwhelming when you start out. You see so much that you need and it all seems to cost a lot of money. But you just got to keep plugging away at it. This is a marathon and not a sprint. You will be changing your whole way of life if you embrace prepping. That's very hard for most folks to do.
  If you are starting out and think you want to be a homesteader but you are still trapped in the city or suburbs start with the little things. Trust me living off the land and working with animals and farming and gardening is a lot of physical work. Start small and always think of adding a little at a time. You don't have start with a whole house solar setup fo $50,000.00. Get a few solar security lights or a couple of solar panels a good battery and charger controller for $300.00. You will save money right away if replace your security lights with solar lights. Sure it's only a few pennies or dollars but it's all yours. If you watch those nickels and dimes the dollars will take care of themselves.One of the biggest things that most folks forget is "It's not how much money you make, it's how much money you keep!"
    Instead of planting a huge garden to start,  plant some square foot gardens or use pots. Ease yourself into it and find out much time you can dedicate to growing your own food. If you have a full-time job or are working several partime jobs this will give you a better idea on how much time and effort you can put into your "Homestead". Seeds are cheap and if you can eat at least 1 pound of veggies each of those seeds you have planted from your garden you have paid for those seeds.
   I find that when I get bogged down with prepping and trying to stay focused on the goals. Something always comes up and gets me back on track. Of course most folks probably won't get excited of going 5 days without tap water so it's just me being odd. But I take a lot of pleasure in the small things I get done and there points during my adventure that I felt I never get it done and in a way that is true. There is always more to be done another challenge to be met and overcome. I will also tell you there are points along the way that will give you a feeling of accomplishment and will make the next goal easier to get done.
     My first AHA! momemnt is when I realised I had 6 months of food on hand. It got me out of panic mode thinking and trust me I was in a controlled panic. Most of buying was smart longterm items but it seemed I needed so much and had very little money to work with tht the task seemed nearly impossible. That six months of goods showed me I could do this prepping thing, and I didn't need to freak out. That food buffer got me started on buying equipment a little at a time and often on layaway but after buying my shotgun (cash) and my campstove (Layaway) I began to gain confidence that everything was do able, it would just take time.
    Now that I had some basics I could start my shopping lists on what I needed in the future and I could get on sale. That in turned freed up more cash for getting more things I wanted and found on sale like my smoker grill. Once out of that panic mode you can make lists for the future but you limit yourself to only buying on sale or second hand and just with the cash you have budgeted for prepping. Remember these items don't need to go into some black hole and you never use again. Most items are great for camping and using daily around the house. Hot summer or fall day, break out the campstove and cook outside! keeps the house cooler and you get familiar cooking with your little gas stove. While yu will use some propane you will also save on electricity.
     So find those little victories and celebrate them. Write them in a journal or like I do on my blog. Then go back and see how you have changed your attitude and tone. Stay positive and focus on what you do and get done, not how much you need to do.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Welcome to prepping you nut case!

    If you are prepping,  I'll bet most of you get very little positive support from family or friends. You are going outside of the box and leaving the status quo behind and you will be punished, mocked and condescended too. Heck look at how the MSM is portraying preppers as always just a little on the fringe. I think prepping is a rational response to 2011  in the USA. I googled USA disasters 2011  About 211,000,000 results and 14 different  Billion dollar + natural disaster in 2011 a new record!   Yet we preppers are the crazy people!
   You are getting independent of the PTBs and they don't like you breaking free of slavery. Sure the chains are light and don't hinder you all that much daily. The Masters are nice and tell you how much they care for you and they will give you free stuff.... food, shelter, fuel and security as long as you play the game! You are dumb, ignorant and your betters have your best interest at heart. The PTBs will force you into a health insurance program and now they have the right to tell you what to put in your body because "they" are paying the costs. Of course it is only for your own good or for the children.
    I started prepping because my illness almost 9 months of no money coming in 3 months in an extended care unit at the VA an most money was on me being carried out not walking out. I got lucky as my VA care covered my medical bills. In today's world of Obamacare I would have been refused aggressive treatment.
     For myself I love feeling of confidence and competence I get from being prepared. This 5 day water test has me excited not fearful. I've added challenge  by assuming no sewer system and not using the hot water tank has got me thinking on how I'll handle just basic stuff and trying it out!  I got my second barrel today and I'm filling it up slowly and I have to tell you she looks great sitting on the pallet and I know I have more than enough water stored. I will use my camp jugs first and that way I can test how much water I'll want to use daily and have a solid measurement without rationing water. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I don't need to prepare because....

 I'd really like to know why all you out there think preppers are wrong for preparing for disasters of all sorts. So all the folks that think I'm wrong please post why preparing is a waste of time and money and whatever else you think I'm wasting.

You now have five years to get ready what do you do?

   This is another scenario that is no more and no less likely than the 2 day scenario. The system will collapse is a mathematical certainty, how fast or slow it happens is just a guess. I'm sure we will get no "Grand Announcement" that the economic collapse has begun as the PTBs don't want a panic or bank runs.
   Anyhoo, you have 5 years to get ready and you can do whatever your bank account will allow. It could be buying PM's and moving to Hong Kong,  buy an island or even a missile silo! Remember the longer it takes to happen usually means a longer recovery as well so plan accordingly. Start thinking long term and don't think you will have cheap power to much of anything with, transportation will take a huge hit and unless you have a natural gas well and all of the stuff that goes with production. Muscle power will be king. Small solar,wind,steam and hydro power will be your energy sources at best.
    I have been doing all my planning 1 year at a time and then I break that down into need to have and want to have lists. This system has worked great for me as I've managed to get almost all of both lists filled last year. By waiting to get those want to have items I was able to keep checking prices and found several of them at half the cost I had anticipated. For example I wanted a reloding kit and I figured it would cost about $150.00. Then Lee had a sale on a reloading kit for $81.00 so I jumped on that sale. Most solar ovens I found cost over $300.00 and though I put in my order a few days ago I found one for $168.00 including shipping. As you can see having those two different list put me in mindset of being able to save almost $200.00 on my original projected cost and made getting some wants do able.
     So on to the Five year plan and what you want and need in five years. You have to know exactly what you have today and keep going on the smaller goals, and incoperate it into your long range plan. Most importantly how you will budget your limited resources between short and long term goals. I'm doing more tweaking the items I have already on hand and taking items that are shor term and extending them out for the long term.

MY Five year goals
  1. Produce at least enough solar energy to run my Shop (Freezer, extra fridge and lights)
  2. Insulate the shop
  3. Replace my roof with metal roofing
  4. Install storm shutters on the windows.
Think about your five year plans. You may not accomplish them but you are moving towards the goal and as you budget for them you will have those assets on hand for emergencies! 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Just puttering today

   Froze about 7 pounds of cheddar and Mont. jack cheese for my Mac & Cheese. I like it better with a mix of cheese and the jack seems to keep the cheddar from breaking and getting oily. Three dozen eggs I got via barter have been oiled and stored. One thing about being in the Army and going to the field to train you find out what you miss after a few days and I always missed having real eggs and butter for breakfast. So having butter eggs is a big thing for me.
    I  watched a great series on youtube last night. All together ist's long but it breaks it down in small batches.  Stop by and check it out!
Last but not least I'll be bottling the Amber Lager and trying a new recipe for my wheat beer. The beer lady is also ordering hops rhizomes you can plant. I'm looking at 3 varieties I'd like to grow and this is a perfect area for growing hops.

Feeling powerless? You must do something to get some control

    I've changed a lot in the last few years and this disease has been a blessing in disguise. I'm not noble or special. I've whined about it and I would have preferred to learn in slightly less dramatic fashion without me getting smashed down to bedrock, but I doubt I would have learned. I've never been much for asking why me? The answer always seems to be. Why not you?  Remember the only actions you can control are your own.
   I did a post on the IPad shopping list that's for folks that have some money but seem to think that you have to go all freeze-dried, MRE and special survival food to prepare an you don't need to spend a lot of money to get started. You local store is full of survival food all you need to do is learn how to cook it!  Almost any processed food you can buy should get at least 2 years of shelf life.
  1. White rice 1 pound equals just over 8 servings
  2. Beans 1 pound equals about 12 servings
Both of those items can be bought nearly every where. Even if you have to pay $1.00-$2.00 per pound for a bag. 5 pounds of each will give you over 40 servings and costs  $20.00 at most. That's your start for 2 meals a day.
  1. Pasta 1 pound equals 4-6 servings
  2. Pasta sauce I like the Hunt's sauces and 1 big can equals 4-6 servings
Same rule as above but now you are starting to add a little variety. As you can see if you get 5 of each you have just add another 30 servings.
  1. Eggs: Did you know eggs can last 6-9 months if coated in Mineral oil and stored in a cool dark area? I've tested up to 6 months and the eggs were great though the yolk broke easily. Buy up an extra dozen eggs when they are on sale. 16 oz. of mineral oil can be had at a pharmacy or Walgreen's and it is a great multi-tasker as well.
  2. Oatmeal or grits 1 pound equals 6 servings 
   These are example foods and all items I like to eat. This can be a start on your Bug out Bag. Add some coffee filters and a small bottle of bleach you can have safe drinking water. If you going to a fast food joint grab some extra packets of salt, pepper, sugar, creamer, ketchup, mustard or hot sauce and those to your BOB. As you can see this is a more expensive route to go. But if you have to walk and carry your food you get a few extra items at a time and it won't be to difficult to handle and this will give you stuff for breakfast lunch and dinner and depending on how many family members you have you got a great start on your 3-14 day food list.  You never know what will make the difference in an emergency! I do know if you give up before you even try you will fail. The first thing you must do is tell yourself you will survive! Everything you do after that is just getting tools to make that statement happen

Friday, January 20, 2012

Getting ready for the "Five day Stored Water only" test Part II

    I'm been a little concerned about how I'm going to have warm water for washing hands and to bathing. Back in my field days in the Army I had a thermos that I would fill with hot water at night . Using a Coleman 1 burner propane stove, I was able to warm up the tent before going to bed and I'd have nice warm water for washing up in the morning. Now with my CIDP I'm very sensitve to cold water and getting cramps in my hands is something I want to avoid so I tested my Thermos 1 gallon water jug.
    This is one of those jugs that most folks put ice water and cold drinks for camping and  picnicing.  I wondered how well it do with hot water.  I primed the jug with  boiling water and let it sit for 30 minutes. Pour out water (I used it for dishes) then refilled with boiling water again and let it sit overnight. I then measured the temprature the next day and after 16 hours it measured 102 degrees F.  I was amazed on how long it retained heat.
   This is perfect for washing hands and taking a spit bath and the water is ready first thing in the morning with no waiting to heat up water. I can fill this jug once or twice a day depending on how much water I have stored, and have warm water all day long.
    So now I'm looking for 1 of those big 3-5 gallon jugs you see at construction sites for my modified hot water tank. This will work great along with the solar oven because I can have energy  free hot water and it will give me practice on how I will handle hot water during the EMP test.

What would you go shopping for if you had 2 days notice of SHTF?

    Assume you have a deep mole or spy and they told you all hell is going to break loose. What would you get with the cash on hand you have today? You have 2 days before the rest of the public finds out that bad things are coming. What do you buy and do you have cash on hand to buy it? You have one day to get your purchases. It's not payday and you have no cash on hand for gas, food or water. Well it sucks to be you. If you are not ready you and your family will suffer and probably die.
     I'm not trying to be flippant I'm trying to show you your choices. Yes you can buy an IPAD or an XBox for $300-$400.00 + and play games. They are kind of cool toys but unless you are a CEO not really needed. You don't need Sat. TV or cable. Nice to have but you won't die without it. Now let's say I'm spending your money and you can afford a couple of  Iphones or Ipads an Xbox or Sony playstation and a couple of movies and games. Let me see... I won't buy most of those items I will save at least $100.00- $500.00 for each item. That's not counting the monthly costs of the dataplan. Please tell me again you can't save money.
The Ipad Budget for preparing  $500.00

  1.  Flour 50 pounds $ 18.00
  2. Sugar 25 Pounds $25.00
  3. Saf yeast 2 pounds $7.00
  4. Salt 4 pounds $4.00
  5. Beans 50 pounds $70.00
  6. Rice 50 pounds $20.00
  7. Oils 2 gallon $20.00
  8. Canned veggies 2 cases $40.00
  9. Canned fruit 2 casses $40.00
  10. Water 55 gallons $60.00 That's a barrel filled with tap water or bottled water
  11. Powdered milk 2 big boxes $36.00
  12. Pasta 10 pounds $10.00
  13. Pasta sauce in a can 24 cans  $24.00
  14. Coffee 3, 34 oz cans $25.00
  15. Dry drink mixes i.e Tang, Koolaid 4 jars $22.00 
  16. Canned meats tuna, salmon chicken or spam $30.00
  17. $50.00 leftover for the stuff you like be it crackers, or meats or peanut butter, Spices, herbs, garden seeds or popcorn. 
This is a some what limited diet but it can be done a little bit at a time and it will keep you alive and healthy.
You have already missed the the cheapest food by a year. But it's never to late to get started the most important thing is to have a plan, a budget and get started.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Doing things the hard way, or stuff that kept me out of "Good Schools"!

      I was thinking today about how I'm doing this water test the hard way in my house rather than simply using my RV.  I will be using the RV for my Bugout test so what's the difference?
  1. I know I can live in my RV for at least a week easy. I've done it camping and I'm finally getting it comfortable and having it work for me.
  2. While it's only a five day test I'm having to think about how I will handle waste and replenishing water for the long term. The RV waste tanks last about a week. Then what?......
  3. I drain the RV for the winter so the water lines don't freeze. So for about 4 months the RV is empty and can't be counted on for running water. I don't even want to think about a waste tank freezing then cracking.
The RV is my backup to whatever I can cobble together at home. If I assume that the water problem is local I can use the RV to transport waste to a location where the RV Dump works! If it a Solar EMP and I can't move the RV I'll need a different solution but, the RV gives me a little time to experiment.
     That dogone girl Kellene is not giving an inch on a real/true EMP test. I tried to fudge a bit saying my 1976 RV is electronically safe from an EMP or my generators ares safely stashed in faraday cages. I  do have radios and batteries stashed in a farady cage an I'll give myself that but nothing else.
If I'm right I have additional resource to use for a real world scenario. If  Kellene is right I may not have resources I was counting on. Always best to count on equipment to fail! That way if you are wrong all the surprises are happy ones.

I love watching PTBs heads explode! SOPA and PIPA

    How dare we folks on the internet defy our betters with all these stunts, blackouts and withholding information for the public! I know I do my best to support artists that do stuff I like from PC game designers to singers. I usually buy the complete Album CD of singers I like rather than just a song for download. Sure I demo games, but if I like it I buy the game so they keep producing games I like to play. You want a good distro model look at Steam and how they free folks to mod and adapt games. An new form of entertainment called machinima has grown up around folks making movies and Mods to games. It's in my self interest to support the artists I like! It's not in my interest to support the dreck that comes out of Hollywood so I don't. I don't download movies unless they are advertised as free or have a donate button. I buy movies and TV shows I like on DVD and via my collection I figure I've spent at least $5 grand since the introduction of VHS. So don't tell me I don't support the artists. What I don't support is the moguls who want to go back to buggy whips and try to censor me because they don't want to move with the times.
    So if I have a movie night and invite friends over to watch a DVD or have a BBQ with music playing I will be sending you a portion of the proceeds. As I don't charge folks to listen to my radio nor watch a movie on my TV. So your proceeds of $ 0.00 total costs, comes to $0. Since I'm not hip, artistic or edgy.  I'm guessing my selections will be something endured by my friends and never be popular. Nor a money making proposition for you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Odds and ends

    The Snow storm hit a little early and lasted a bit longer than we were told! I was ready with Icemelt and abot 100 pounds of sand for traction. Of course since I was ready I didn't really need the sand but the Ice melt sure makes keeping the sidewalk clear a lot easier. I didn't go driving as the first good storm is always the worst as folks try to remember how to drive on snow! So I'll do my little bit of shopping Thursday by then folks will remember to slow down and leave more space.
     Got the LAN or local area network set up with the Neighbor. Moved the router higher and put a little tinfoil behind the antena and they are now getting good bars on the wireless connection. I'll be looking into a an LAN based Instant message system so even if the Internet goes down we can communicate somewhat securely. I have some older machines and parts so I think I may setup a Linux server and see how that works out.
    Ordered the Solar oven today! Huzzah I can't wait for it to get here and to try it out at least for heating water during the winter months. If the oven gets to 250-300 degrees I'll do a roast and bake some bread and see how it does. This solar oven is going to play a huge part in my water and EMP challenge I want to do this year.
   Looks like one of my beer bucket lids won't seal anymore. My bakery bucket lids fit and seal on those 6 gallon bucket so I'll I need is a couple of rubber stoppers and 1 more airlock and I'll be able to do 3 different batches at the same time. I just finished the conditioning of a dark ale and I have a Amber Lager fermenting. Lagers need more time and cooler temps compared to ales. I tried using my hydrometer but I think I'm doing something wrong as the hydrometer just sank and I wasn't sure if I am reading it correctly. When I pick up the airlocks I'll ask the beer lady how to use the hydrometer.
   Tried out my canned bacon. I wrap mine in parchament paper, raw pack and while I was able to fry it up and eat it with breakfast it seemed to be somewhat flavorless. It's been a few days since I ate it and I've had no stomach upsets so I'm convinced it is a safe method and better than no bacon at all. But I think I'll go back to freezing and learning how to make my own bacon. 

Idaho Food Stamp recipeints affect the supply chain

     Here in Idaho things have not been great in the economy. We got smacked around but not as much as other states. But now our food stamp recipients are affecting the supply chain by shopping on the first of the month. Now the State wants to stagger the food stamp payments through out the month.
     This is not good news,  it shows how fragile the supply chain is in an ag state. We have 235,000 people on foodstamps in a state with  barely 1.5 million people. Idaho is a low wage/low cost state to live. Heck even I make to much to qualify for Food stamps in Idaho! I'm guessing most folks are SSI recipients (automatic food stamps) , Multi-family member homes and the income is SSD/I or SS. Last but not least the working poor and Mother and or Father in service jobs and have a child or two. That's figuring and  $8.00 an hour job with taxes. It's doable if you are frugal. But rents are up food and fuel are up and the working poor are getting smashed.  If they are in debt via cars, credit cards or student loans they are hosed. Financially speaking  they have no Home economics, they can't grow any food either from ignorance or no land. They most likely can't cook, bake or can to preserve foods from scratch.   Most can't see a way to make it without going into debt. Those credit cards are so inviting and the banks say such nice things about you. It's a trap!
    The PTBs keep telling folks that there is a recovery, things are getting better. So they probably think I'll just do this for a week or a month, just to get by. But a it's not getting better. Things you need  to live cost more each month and that interest keeps clicking over.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Practice SHTF getting ready for March 5th -10th stored water only!

    I'm already learning about some holes in my preparations. It has been an eye opener for me going from a general scenario to planning for very specific event that has a start and stop time. The first challenge I selected was the "Stored water only" for 5 days starting March 5th- March 10th. I'm including the potty and bath/showers as part of the plan. I'll use my RV as the recepticle and then take it to the local RV waste dump. But it will give me an idea on how much waste I generate and how long my porta-potties will last. Using the Grey water in the yard for watering and safe disposal. It also means I can't use the hot water heater so I'll need alternatives for heating water for dishes and bathes. I have a couple of ideas for that but I'll need 2 more of the 18 gallon party buckets as my storage for grey water leave it out overnight to cool and let any oils and grease congeal on top so I can skim it off and place in the trash or recycle. It might be a good idea to add a spigot at the bottom just to make it easier to drain.
     Since March is a big rain month I'm thinking of ways to augment my water supply using buckets and tarps to have a safe source of water to use as backup to my backup. I know it's not real emergency but it will be interesting to see just how much water I can collect via rain. I saw a rain gauge at a local store so I can guestimate how much rain it takes to fill a bucket via tarps.
   I'm actually starting to look forward to this test and getting everything together to make it as easy as possible. But I know there is going to be physical labor involved compared to using the city water system. Who knows this may have some carry over benefits if the city has to ration water during a drought or if city water costs keep going up

Friday, January 13, 2012

My power experiment for electricity and some different lighting

    I started using a couple of small electric heaters instead of the big furnace in the basement full-time this winter and it's a been a small success. I was able to drop my costs even though we had a rate hike this month and much lower than average use compared to most homes comparable to my house. January tends to be my highest cost month so I'm feeling I'm doing well over all. I got a couple of ideas that might drop the cost a bit more such as installing solar security lights and getting rid of all the electric outdoor lighting and moving a few plugs around so I can take advantage of turning off vampire loads via a power strip or at the breaker box.
    A big advantage I gained by turning off the big furnace is my basement is almost 10 degrees cooler than last winter which helps prolong my food storage. The basement is maintaining about 52-55 degrees F. instead of 62-65 degrees F. and the cooler you can maintain your storage area without freezing can add months to long-term storage foods.  I think that may have screwed up my calculations for beer making as my basement was much cooler than I was expecting. Now I have a variety of temperature zones for different types of beer. I'll have to check and see if the summertime temp. of the basement varies as much.
   Adding some some quick lighting arraignments at the old house. As you know power outages are a pain and you may hurt yourself stumbling in the dark getting to your candles, oil lamps or flashlights. So I'm adding in some push button, battery powered LED under counter lights around the house. I picked up bunch of small twist LEDs from Radio Shack 3 years back and they still light up. What I'm planning on doing is placing these push button lights in a few doorways, just above the bed so I'll always be close to an easy to find light source, just enough so I can find my back up lighting. Of course that means extra batteries so I picked up a 12 pack of  "Circuit" batteries I'll be testing out in AA and "Sunbeam" in AAA which are quite good, much better than I expected for 8 batteries for a dollar.
   Lastly I'll be testing a little multi-knife from the dollar store. I'm not expecting a lot but if it will open bottles and cans and I can sharpen the blade it should be a good addition to the "Country store" for backup and bartering. For your own multi-tool I recommend a Heavy duty "Letherman".  I have 2 and used them daily in the Army from opening packages to cutting wire and they will stand up to years of use. I think in all my 13 years I broke 1 Philips head screwdriver tool. So don't go cheap!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Parents Abandoning their children in Greece

Charities in Athens are reporting a big rise in the number of youngsters dumped by parents unable to make ends meet following the Euro crisis.
In one case a four-year-old was found by a teacher in the capital with a letter reading: “I will not be coming to pick up Anna today because I cannot afford to look after her. Please take good care of her. Sorry.”
An Athens youth centre, the Ark of the World, has revealed that it has had four children left on its doorstep in recent months – including a newborn baby.

Read more:

Greece is also reporting massive shortages of many common medications such as aspirin and many life saving drugs can't be had for any price because of price fixing by the government and supply chain break downs. 

We are in the SHTF momement though it does seem to be a slower decline than I thought would happen. A war or natural disaster did not cause this but an "Economic Disaster" brought on themselves.  Greece is just the first to fall Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and possibly Hungary and Austria are on the same path of destruction.
Don't think it can't happen her in the USA as we have the same problems as those countries the only difference is the FED can print money and we are the reserve currency of the world for now!

   Please get ready and prepare I would hate for anyone to have to make a choice of giving up their children. Don't let your self be put in that position!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Strategic Shopping Advice for Jan. 2012

Some ideas for shopping  courtesy of Gayle at
    After Christmas Sales
    National Oatmeal Month
    National Beef Month
    National Meat Month
    National Tea Month
    National Soup Month
    Super Bowl
    Chinese New Year
   I stop by the local Cash and Carry and the have Long Grain and Parboil rice on sale. You can also find some great buys on Woks and rice cookers. If you have been looking to add some rice or learning Chinese cooking you may find this is a great time to try out some recipes. Some good points are that Chinese cooking tends to make frugal use of fuel, and traditional cooking tends to cook foods completely through because of less sanitation and refrigeration is available. I say this with admiration and want to learn from them.
    I've found a couple of good buys on hamburger and my beloved 16 bean soup mix that is locally grown which is an extra bonus. Paul's Market has been around since 1955 and has outlasted quite a few "Supermarkets". It uses a lot of locally grown foods even to the point of saying what farm they get fresh veggies and fruit. If you have a local market try and support it. Remember they maybe able to get in local stuff when the big "Mega-mart" supply chain breaks down.
    Last but not least get those seed orders in, before you know it we will need to get those starts going indoors. Potatoes and all of those early plants ready however  you decide to grow them. I'm going to do a modified method for my potatoes. One set in one of my 18 gal. party buckets and some in burlap bags.

Monday, January 9, 2012

#OWS part 3, the refugee camp

    Today the Washington Post had a story about the explosion in rat infestation in a couple of the #OWS campsites. I'm not trying to pick on the folks at #OWS I'm sure if you went to any of the tent cities/Obamavilles you will find many of the same problems they just don't get the press that #OWS got. Crowded conditions and a population dependent on the "system" that keeps us healthy and free of pests and vermin.
    You can't just pour kitchen waste onto the ground. Fat's and oils are calorie dense and critters seek out meals rich in fat. You can use fats and oils for a variety of things from making lamp fuel to soap and that's how folks used to make use of them as just an example. But we no longer use those skills so we toss it away. Yes, you can make an simple grease trap for your backyard. It's in the Army Field Sanitation Guide.Use some thing as simple as wire mesh and you can filter food stuff and add it to your compost pile as long as it's no a meat product.
    Standing/stagnant water is to be avoided at all costs. You can use a small pump to circulate the water or use a bit of veggie oil to spread over the surface to keep the mosquitoes from breeding. Or if you have a small pond fish love those little bugs, but you will most likely need a pump to keep the water oxygenated so the fish can breath.
    Mental and spiritual strength is critical for survival. I've read a lot of military history and believe it or not some folks in concentration camps could keep themselves some what clean lasted the longest. Everything I've read and done in the Army there is a big difference in survival in  how well you treat yourself. It will take a lot of strength to clean yourself up when you are exhausted, cold and hungry. You must force yourself to do what you can and not simply curl up in a ball and go to sleep. You have to make the effort to stay clean, to eat whatever is safe and available and go one day at a time. Do not depend on the the idea of a finish line and someone or something will make it better, you must make the best of everyday no matter what you are given.
    As an example when I was in the Army and being lead in PT(Physical Training) some mad NCO would start an exercise be it jumping jacks or pushups or flutter kicks and just keep counting away.  In the back of my mind I'd think when is this idiot going to stop? Okay Sarge your tougher than me and proved it now just stop!! The thing is I didn't see the goal, I had no finish line. It's very easy to say and think I'll last as long as.... But that person may have strengths you don't know about. I became one of those crazed NCO's that made life a nightmare for troops and I found since I set the goal and I could stop at any time it was amazing how much more I could do and how much harder I'd push myself. There is a big difference if you expect to do 25 or 50 jumping jacks and some idiot expects you to do 100 but does not tell you before you start that it's his goal not yours!
   Prepping is like that its a race with no finish line. We all want to know how much to store, how long SHTF and when SHTF starts. We want a start line and finish line, I know I want one as well. But today or tomorrow, everyday  is a survival situation. You could be in a car crash, you may have a tire go flat or wind up in a ditch. Are you prepared for that to happen? Have you taken steps to handle it? It might be breakfast and you have a grease fire. Can you put out a grease fire? Do you have a fire extinguisher, Baking soda or salt to put out the fire? Do you know yourself?  Do you tend to freak out first then calm or the opposite stay calm then freak out? I tend to be the second type. Fine if everything happens step by step and crises happen one at a time. I'm not sure how I'd react in a tornado, I'm certain I'd do okay on the first problem, after that not so much certainty. I do know I'm good for awhile at taking positive action but after the first bit is done I would turn into a puddle of goo. That's my nature, some folks can just keep going along forever or as long as it takes. They aren't flashy they just keep moving forward. Life just is and they deal with it and take it as it comes. Then the hysterics are out there as well. I'm guessing most preppers are not this type. Denial and or panic seem to be the reaction to everything and that's how they fit in my little box of people you have to deal with daily.
    Always watch what people do daily not what they say and not how they look. The person that makes a small garden in the back yard  is better than someone who talks about buying 10 acres in the country and growing organic someday...
    I suppose I should tie all of this back into #OWS  and what I see of these folks is they want a utopia but the can't even keep rats and vermin out of their little tents. The want to live naturally and don't realize the work and effort that simply growing food and critters entails. They have been taught contempt of the folks in flyover country. You know all those bitter clingers that grow the food, make the fuel, and butcher the animals that they eat daily.  Wishing and saying this is how it should be... never works. Look at history we don't remember the great intellects because they were popular.

Practice SHTF scenarios
    If you haven't been to Kellene's Blog you are missing out on a lot of great info from someone that has been living and teaching prepping for years. Anyway she has several practice ideas for you to try in the future. A few you may have already done, but I'm going to 3 different ideas that will be somewhat difficult for me. I'll be commenting at her site as this is her idea, but I can already see somethings I 'd like to have ready for the  No water for 5 days, the 7 min. bug out and the EMP challenge.
I think I can do all of them but if I fail I'll see how long it goes and what trips me up. Remember the point is to learn  and gain confidence from this practice.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Never assume or me learning the same lesson all over again!

I got the water barrel down in the basement and while I was doing that I thought it was high time to get a few areas set up in the basement just in case I had to live there for awhile. I think of the basement as my little bunker. It's warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer if I had to get by without heat or air conditioning. I store my food and water and let my beer work away in that cool spot. So I need about 4 areas with specific functions.
  1. Food/water storage: I do have a small southern facing window that lets in a remarkable amount of light for it's size. I 'm moving all the food away from that window but I put my food prep/cooking station right under the window. I got one of those Camp Chef 2 burner and oven propane stoves and set it up. I thought it came with a hose adapter for 20 pound propane tanks. NOPE! I'll need to buy one , but I should be able to use it with my Mr. Buddy heater. Not a huge problem and the cost of that hose is about $25.00 but I ASSUMED it was there and It could have created problems using the stove and the heater. Very bad when one mistake creates 2 failure points. 
  2. Sanitation: should be as far as possible from food/prep areas and living areas. It's a small basement and some areas will have to be close. Having a couple of small tubs/wash basins for cleaning dishes and yourself  I think is mandatory.  I set up the porta-potty and it's good for a day or 2 and let's say I dump the waste in the RV holding tank for a week. But the sewage treatment plant won't be up and running for a month? I think I found a fix via a modified out house idea but I don't know where the pipes run on my property but I'm sure there is at least a sewage line and possibly a gas line. Call the utility and or city and have them mark the utility lines on your property. Tell them you are installing a sprinkler system or landscaping and say you are calling before you dig!
  3. True Value Hardware is having a sale on  battery powered Carbon Monoxide detectors $15.00 and a rebate that takes the overall cost to $10.00. If you have an RV or heat with alternate fuels this is a great item to have on hand. Place it low as carbon monoxide is heavy and you want as early a warning as possible. Never sleep and have a kerosene stove running. Yes, you may wake to a cold room if it's turned off,  but that's a lot better than never waking up!
  4. Stop living paycheck to paycheck and find ways to save money: I know it's tough the cost of living is going up and you are doing your best just to hold on to what you got. If you can place all electrical items on a power strip and turn it off at the strip. I live in a cheap electricity state and that saved me almost $5.00 per month. Using LED and CFL's can save a couple of dollars a month and then there is time shifting your useage to off times if you have a smart meter. Do your heavy electrical loads after 9 PM or before6 AM like drying clothes or baking if you have an electric oven.My dishwasher has a timer I can set it to run late at night or early morning. I know it's kind of a pain but it can save you some money and you don't give up much to do it.. If you can save $5.00 a week that's $260.00 per year. That's giving up a meal at McDonalds or a latte grande at Starbucks. 
Yes, these things take a little planning and you maybe inconvienced, but they will save money, get you thinking and in the long term they will help. If you keep doing the same things you will keep getting the same results. 

Installing the water barrel , taking a door off it's hinges and reorganizing

    The water barrel is in basement  I got a  pallet for the barrel as I have a concrete floor in my basement and I have plenty of room for the next barrel when I can afford it. Before you fill it with water make sure you like where you have placed it as it will not be easy to move. I kept a few of the 3 liter soda bottles for ease of use and  six camp jugs so I can have a light weight option to move easily. As someone that has stored via soda bottles and the barrel, I recommend getting the barrel for bugging in. Yep, I had to take the door out to get the barrel through that inch or so width of the door was not counted in my measurements. OOPS! I just unscrewed the hinges from the door frame so it was a quick fix.
    Put in a temp. shelf and moving things around to work a little better for organization. Moving the canned goods and all food items to a corner away from my little window. Dark, dry and cool is the best for the longest shelf life. I'll be moving the non-perishables over to the shelves next to the window.  This will take some time this week and me using my energy in a smart manner. I'll get the inventory done for food and the "country store" as I move stuff  from here to there.
    I have to work on sanitation and how to dispose of poo in a safe manor.  I have 2 porti-potties (1 is for my sister) The RV has a nice bath set up and a holding tank that is go for at least a week. My parents offered their septic tank and gave me a portable waste tank and that is fine for the short term 6 months or less or as long as I can transport the waste. Long term I'll be hurting but I think I have a work around and I have to see if it is possible and workable, something along the Humanure/composting idea. This is one of my biggests concern because of the disease potential. In a suburb or city,  a lot of folks don't know what to do to get rid of waste if trash trucks don't run or the sewage treatment stops. I did buy up mouse traps and DE will work on keeping most insects under control.
I think that's about it for this week to do list.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Energy Alternatives or dealing with brown outs and black outs

    The EPA has installed the MACT act for power plants. This is going to hurt folks in the mid-west and back east that use Coal fired electricity. Out west we use a lot of hydro power but a small coal fired plant in Oregon will be shutting down because it's not cost effective to upgrade the plant. So what are you going to do for energy?
    A gasoline generator is okay for the short term a couple of days or maybe a couple of weeks if you are careful with running it and have little fueled stored. which is kind of dangerous as gasoline is volatile. A diesel generator is efficient but diesel costs are about a dollar higher per gallon than gas where I'm at in Idaho. Propane is better for storing but you are still tied to the cost of a barrel of oil.
I think for the average home Solar is the way to go. You will have to downsize your energy use but you can keep some electricity flowing. It might be a light or two or you have wired your RV/boat to keep the fridge and an inverter powered  for electronics. Solar is very quiet compared to any generator and it can move with you if you start small. A solar oven will cook food and boil water with no energy cost! 
     I don't think charcoal get's the respect it deserves as a good cooking source plus it can help in smoking meats. It's not very stealthy as you always can smell a BBQ happening. But if you get a volcano stove and a couple hundred pounds of charcoal you can cook a meal a day for over a year. I buy lump charcoal and that's a space about 3 ft. long 18 inches wide and about 4 feet high and will cost about $100.00. That's a dense energy footprint compared to even wood.
   Just few ideas to try out before the zombies come. LOL I'm a big into having several ideas for everything and when one stops working go to the next idea. If nothing bad happens and the world is saved by the PTB's you have saved some money, learned something and had a bit of fun as well.

Everyday Carry Gear or EDC

    Last week the news reported a mini-van crashing and it flipeed into a creek. An off duty cop saw it happen and jumped in to try and rescue of the kids. He used a gun to shoot out the glass and had a knife ready and cut the kids out of the booster chairs/child safety seats. I think shooting out the glass is a last resort type of thing but if that's all that is left as options you might as well go for it.  The thing is there is a tool that's small for breaking auto glass and you can keep it in your car at all times and much safer than having to shoot out windows as fun as that is to do. It can be kept in your jockey box or your vehicle kit.
    I think where I grew up in Idaho having a good pocket knife was standard gear even for kids about 8 years old and older. From cleaning fish to cutting willow branches for hot dogs and marshmallow roasts most kids had a pocket knife. Heck I learned to sharpen knives by 10 years old and now that seems to a lost art. Yes I did cut myself and so did the other kids just like the smashed thumbs and fingers that happened when learning to hammer. Most cuts were minor, wash it good and put on a band-aid and you are good to go.
  Back to everyday carry gear or EDC what do you carry? Do you have a pocket knife? How about a couple of band aids, painkiller, matches or a lighter? I have a little wind up LED flashlight and Pepper spray on a quick clip on the belt of my fanny pack along with a Leatherman Multi-tool. I added a couple of alcohol and betadine swabs to my first aid little package. This is not a full blown kit it's just what you can carry everyday and not even think about as it's light weight and small.
     In my car I carry a kit that fit's in a shoe box and has a little sterno stove. A couple of candles, a metal cup I can boil water in and make some cocoa, tea or soup. A flashlight with extra batteries, A bigger first aid kit, 2 emergency ponchos and blankets. Gloves, hat and a snuggie for staying warm, lighter as well as matches. I added a solar charger for charging the car batteries in case I run out of gas I can keep the car battery charged and the radio will work. It doesn't have to be a big kit for everyday driving, something that fit's under the seat or takes up a little space in your trunk for everyday. If you do long distance traveling you may need a bigger kit just in case it takes a day or two before you are rescued.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

As a prepper I've noticed what matters to me has changed radically.

     Perhaps I prioritize a lot differently than when I was playing the game of consumerism and debt. Yes,  I guess I did buy into all that yuppie crap a bit and thought that little piece of plastic somehow made me worthy and a good person. The bank was so nice and praised me for being such a responsible person and actually paid my bills mostly on time and I congratulated myself on my discipline that I "only" had $7000.00 in credit card debt unlike all those average losers that had $15,000.00 or more.
   Needless to say those banks were not quite as tolerant or thought I was such a great person when I hadn't made a payment in 3 months. Actually they were darn nasty about it all. I had nothing not even food in my home and  a few items got repoed. I couldn't pay anything as I had no money. I didn't duck them, I explained the situation and after all nice things they had said they did not believe me! I did have 2 outfits that believed me One was my credit unions and one was USAA bank. They were both forthright in how they dealt with my situation and did not threaten me though they had rules they had to follow. They gave me a bottom line on the credit and asked if I could make good and I couldn't promise I could on the time line they were on. We ate up all of my investments, my parents covered my basics of food and made sure I'd have a home when I got out of the ECU (Extended care unit) of the VA.
   Afterwards both the Credit Unions and USAA Bank helped me rebuild my credit. Nothing fancy but I was able to refi my home under VA before the market tanked completely. I paid off my car and after a year or two I was able to take out a small 2 year loan (paid off 5 months early) for a mini-van that worked better for my handicap than my PT cruiser. Timing helped but if keep working with some folks will help you. If your bank or credit union get nasty for money and you are trying and keep them inform go to another. If they will give you a bottom line and still work with you the are the ones you want on hand in bad times.
    If you are digging yourself out of debt and you are having a hard time making payments talk to them. Give them what you can and if they get nasty go to the next creditor and see if they will work with you. Keep them informed and in the loop. It's not forever and if you work at it 3 years you can  make a good impression with some financial folks.
Use the 70% of income to live on. If you are working you got to eat and have all the other basics. It might be rice and beans but you are eating.
10%  "Emergency fund" Just cause you got poor doesn't mean things won't break. It always seems when it rains it pours.
10% for you, Pay yourself for working and save it. Or you can blow it on candy or video games. This is your money of the budget.
10% for charity Trust me this makes a big difference in your attitude and no matter what you believe. You are not poor if you give to charity.
These are goals to shoot for but you must do them every month. Perhaps you need 85% of your present income to live on so go 5% on the other items until you pay down a little debt. But you must have an emergency fund, give to yourself and give to charity.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Good shopping day today

   I got my first 55 gallon barrel for water. I'm giving it a good rinse and soak with lemon juice for the plastic odor/taste before I fill it with water. I have a siphon and plenty of hose already on hand so getting the water out when needed is done. This going to free up a lot of floor space where I store my water. A big bottle of generic Advil and 10bars of  Ivory soap for the general store I think I'm okay on soap for awhile and have some for barter as well sharing with family.
   Found a another canvas drop cloth at Big Lots. I love using the first one camping  providing shade for my dogs and if you wet it down and a breeze is going it's a great at cooling. It gives me some additional heavy cloth if I need to make anything, patches or for sewing. Try buying canvas at a sewing store I'll bet you will spend more than $10.00 for 5 yards worth of the stuff!
   A little furniture cart for my portable generator. It will help me move it around easily without so much lifting and it's the perfect size for the rails of the generator. I've been looking for one of these carts for almost a year!
As you can see  while I do have a few rigid goals. I also keep my wish list on hand and a little "Mad" money to take advantage of stuff when everything finally comes together . I like to start a wish list at the first of the year of items I'd like to have and how much I'm willing to pay for each item. This works great for me when I go to second hand stores or to yard sales. It is to easy for me to go a little nuts buying stuff at a yard sale simply because it's a good price or I would like to have it. The list helps me stay disciplined and if I didn't need it at the first of the year why do I need it now just because I saw it today. Heck it took me almost 2 years to find a certain type of pepper grinder. I wanted one that had a crank handle in the top rather than a twist type or battery powered one. I finally found one and it cost me $5.00, but with my disability it is so much easier for me to use. Sure, I could have special order one or paid a lot more money but my waiting was rewarded!  

Monday, January 2, 2012

What I got done in 2011

     I know it's kind of backwards posting going for my goals for 2012 then back to what I have accomplished in 2011 but my blog so I get to make the rules. I got a lot more done that I thought I would back in January of 2011, my goals were flexible about have to get done and want to get done. I'm a very goal oriented person but things are changing so fast I've found having flexibility built in helps me feel I'm reaching my goals and I don't set back and say "Well you can stop now as your todo list is done, or that I'm a failure if I miss a goal or two."
  1. I got my pressure canner and bottled butter and canned bacon. Bought up a good quantity of jars and lids of all sizes. My big 5 gallon pots should work fine as a hot bath canner once I get a jar holder to put in it. 
  2. I learned to make beer and have the supplies so I can learn all grain brewing. 
  3. Took the RV out camping again and while I do have a couple of things to do to make it more comfy I learned a lot. I have the items already on hand to do my little bit of work that is needed.
  4. Picked up the solar panels for my solar set up. 
  5. Got my reloading kit.
  6. Picked up tools that are hand or battery powered so I'm not so dependent on gasoline or electricity from the grid. 
  7. I got my adult trike for shopping and travel.
  8. Doubled my garden space and started the "lasagna" garden. 
  9. Using my BBQ as a backup oven, learned to control and maintain the temp. Got a charcoal chimney starter so I'm no longer dependent on lighter fluid.
One of my goals was to get a solar oven and I missed that one but I think I've worked out how to afford one in the next couple of months. I've been keeping a little extra cash on hand and working on my one month's worth of bills and hate drawing down my reserves to far even for a solar oven.
All in all I accomplished a lot of things that were more wishes than proper goals and missed on one item. Not to bad overall for the year.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

How much is enough? Or my new year's to do list.

These are my guesstimates for my overall plan. I'm think in months and years not how many pounds per person of any one item. You can get that easily from the LDS food planners or on the internet at other sites. This will be about how I picked my goals for how much stuff I needed as a minimum and a maximum for me and why I chose those goals. 
  1. Water: I use 1 gallon a day for planing purposes and worked toward 3 months or 90 gallons for 1 person. I don't count my water heater as part of my stored water. I started with 2-3 liter bottles and 5 gallon camp jugs added two 55 gallon rain barrels not for drinking water but for the garden and flushing the toilet it is just fine and could be treated to add to the drinking water. My goal for the new year is to add two more rain barrels and replace my soda bottles with a couple of  55 gallon water barrels. I have bleach and additional water filters for treating water from rivers, creeks or lake if needed.
  2. Food: Six months worth was my first goal. That should be long enough to carry you into the next growing season no matter when or how long things are bad. Buying seeds and practicing your gardening skills is critical. Assume your garden will fail and treat it as a bonus if it succeeds and learn to preserve your food and have the tools on hand in order to preserve. My goal for the new year is to get reusable canning lids.
  3. Cash on hand: One month worth for bills in your home and five months worth in a Credit Union or local Bank. Don't get anything that has a contract of two years and or a cancellation fee. If you need to drop your cost of living those fees will crush you.My goal for the new year to keep working on this as cash is a commodity you will need for trade. 
  4. Precious metals: I buy silver some folks buy gold, as to how much you need it is open. But according to history it takes about 30 oz. of silver or 1 oz of gold per month to trade for goods to live. No one may want to trade with you in a complete collapse but if we can keep chugging along both gold and silver are some of the easiest items to turn into cash quickly.  My goal for the new year to keep working on this, PM's are commodity you might use for trade.
  5. Sundries and other items: This is your toothpaste, laundry soap, toilet paper and clothes.Most of these items don't spoil and while they can be replaced you will be under a lot of stress so having the items on hand will help your morale and give you time to transition to the new normal.
  6. Alternatives to power, cars and tools: When power cost go up and they will do you have a way to have heat, transportation, lights and hand tools that you will need to keep some items going. A bike as a replacement for a car, Solar or wind for keeping a little electricity going or charging batteries. Fans in place of an air-conditioner. My goal for the new year is to have a small solar generator set up and a solar oven.
  7. Security: This covers a lot of ground and there are plenty of lists of what is best. My goal for the new year is to get more solar powered and motion sensitive yard lights and 3 solar desk lamps for in the house. I want to have the option of always having a little light on hand plus folks get used to seeing the lights now.
  8. Practice: Using all of the items I have managed to get like the sewing machine, doing some reloading, adding new plants, and beds to the garden and stretching the growing season. Doing a better job using my harvest. 
 I do have a lot of plans and some will work and some won't all you can do is just the best you can come what may. I think it's going to be a bumpy ride so buckle up and keep preparing.