Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Day 9 and still counting

Well, yesterday's stock market dip has got our attention, yes? Things are going to be starting to get a little rough for some folks. While we were in the city, the local radio was saying that the homeless shelter has had a 121% increase in families seeking shelter in July & August.

As important as the economic current events are, I'm still focused on preparing for an event that will significantly impact us where we live. Thank you all for your suggestions for topics including: first aid, gardening, books, and security. My ideas have also included food foraging, games that teach, and old time skills.

With these things in mind, today's topic is First Aid.

Let me start by saying I have no particular expertise in first aid, I'm writing about my life experiences, what my family does to prepare and ideas I've picked up on the internet. I encourage anyone and everyone to take first aid classes and learn about herbal and back-woods alternatives. This is the stuff of volumes of books and can't be covered in a blog post.

I've found that quantity really counts for a lot in home storage of first aid. When you have a serious injury, you don't just need the contents of your first aid kid, you need boxes of stuff to see the process through. For instance DD17 was injured this summer and had 4 incisions that reached into the center of her bone. We were conservative in our use of bandages while keeping everything as clean as possible, we used 5 boxes of 3x3 gauze pads (125 pads), 2 bottles of hydrogen peroxide, and 4 ace type bandages (to keep the hand washing and line drying going). This is the amount used for one injury for one month. That's expensive and the need didn't coincide with our financial ability to buy those things. Of course we bought them anyway and scrimped elsewhere.

Mr. Greenjeans was put in charge of updating the first aid kit recently. He is the one who has been a back country guide and has had advanced first aid. He is not through packing the kit - just out of money. Notice that there are no band-aids in our kit. Building the kit on a budget he says those are just convenience items and we make our own. However last week after a day of picking, hauling, and slicing apples, I cut two fingers very deeply with a sharp knife. I wanted band-aids and didn't want to fiddle with making them. They are on the grocery list.

Mr. Greenjean's First Aid kit beginnings in a little tote box:

A basic first aid book,
waterless hand sanitizer
box of safe skin exam gloves,
bottle of spray hydrogen peroxide
bottle of spray benadryl
aloe vera jell
iodine packets
non-stick pads
gauze pads
roll bandage that sticks to itself
medical tape
Artificial tears
medicated tooth ache swabs
tooth repair kit
eye glasses repair kit
paint stir sticks (for supporting breaks or sprains)

He wants one of those portable defibrillators that are out now that anyone can buy.

What we will add to this kit:

spray sanitizer
Lysol wipes
tweezers of various lengths and shapes
instant chemical cold pack
"..." hot pack
dry electrolyte packets
pill benadryl
more alcohol or iodine prep pads
finger size splints
large size splints
clean rags
safety pins
neosporin lip ointment
aspirin, Advil, Motrin
hydrocortozone cream
butterfly closures
wound closure bandages
gauze eye patch
large trauma pad
roll gauze
sun screen
crack open bright stick
emergency blanket
dedicated fresh water jug
knuckle band aids
a Sawyer Extractor (venom removal)
suture kit
eye protection
draw string plastic bags
mouth and nose mask
plastic sheeting to set up quarantine area

Naturally there is a lot more that can be added (back boards?)

On my end of the family, I have been stocking up on aspirin and alternatives when I do food stores. Also, on occasion I've seen a Dr. and been given an Rx for antibiotics that I had no intention of taking because I (rightly) thought them unnecessary. I did fill the Rx and stored the full series. Likewise, we never use all the pain killers in an Rx so that we can save some for when we might need them when no Dr. is available. DD17's orthopedic surgeon thought that she was too nervous and flighty and wrote out an Rx for Valium without asking if we wanted it - yup it got filled and stored. I have some Rx strength salve that numbs the skin. I got this when I was in an office appointment and the rural Doctor (read only doctor in the area) was called out of the office on an emergency. On his way out, he told me the stuff was expensive, scooped some out of his big jug and put it into a little tube and sent me on my way. Medicines can get weird if stored too long or out of temperature range so they have to be managed. You have to be willing to throw them out when they get old. Note that these activities are not recommended by the experts.

I think as important as industrialized medicine is a knowledge of herbs and homeopathy. Years ago we didn't have medical insurance and I took classes in homeopathy from a local midwife. At that time I bought supplies and books and we still use the remedies. In fact DD17 has been left with nerve damage from the wound which we are home treating homeopathically.

I know very little about herbal medicine, but would love to learn. I find it hard to learn on the Internet as I'm such a hands on person, but it can be done. Edit I just noticed that Hen and Harvest has an article on growing medicinal plants. Please go there and read and I will do likewise.

I would also recommend that people learn what the indigenous remedies of the area were as well as food as medicine (limes used liberally over food help prevent food borne illness...)

Naturally, all this takes time to learn and master and there is always more to know. Books are important. I've learned some veterinary skills on the fly in a barn, at night with a lantern and a vet book and a ewe in trouble. I'm looking for first aid classes in my area as well as learning about herbal medicines.

Books on my next to order list are:
Wilderness Medicine, beyond first aid by William Forgey

Where there is no Doctor, by Jane Maxwell

Where there is no dentist
Where there is no veterinarian

OK, long post. Are you still there? What else can you think of for a first aid kit? Do you have a favorite first aid book? What's in your kit?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Day 10 home...

Well, we have been to 3 of 6 of the corners of our state, and went through two neighboring western states in the process. The trees are in full color - better than they've been in over a decade. That's probably not what you are here to read, but it's important in all times, and maybe especially in hard times to look up and notice the beauty of green trees blushing pink at their tips, or shudders of gold coursing through an aspen grove flanked by the stalwart evergreen of the pines. They smell good too.

Well yes, wow, that was a jaw dropper of a stock drop today. We were actually standing in a vehicle repair shop when we caught the news. We have an old truck and the shocks were spent and we were about to load a 450 lb stove and pipe and bags of stuff from costco and... well there aren't enough hours to do everything yourself. As we drove around getting estimates for repairs at brand name places, I was interested to find that every single tire/repair shop could work on our truck and had plenty of inventory with no waiting.

The reason we had time was that we had left early to get Nee back to school before noon (they are doing a simulation on totalitarian government and she had to show loyalty to the state - she took them home canned food and reported in on her whereabouts on our trip). That meant we had to leave before confirming that our stove had actually arrived for pick-up.

You see we are trying to do business with regular folk and not big business, when we can. So I gave my credit card over the phone to have the stove shipped and the person on the other end. The woman was obviously elderly and mentioned told me her husband had Alzheimer's - which explained a few things from dealing with him on the phone. She and I never arrived anywhere in a conversation in a linear manner (sort of like this post) and such as it was, I never actually got an address as to where I was to pick this stove up.

I called as we were nearing the city and they told me the stove wasn't in yet. Sorry to say, I went into a "deal or no deal - figure this out and make me happy" mode. They said they'd call back but after a few hours,I didn't heard back - nor did they answer the phone. Here they have my credit card number but I didn't have an address, they didn't list an address in the phone book, and after stopping by the public library, their web site really didn't list a physical address either.

Mr. Greenjeans and I began to have one of those moments that couples have when one is thinking the other one just got them ripped off and the one bearing that brunt thinking, "that it's easy to pick when you haven't been doing the research" ... well if you are married, you've been there...um, maybe.

The phone rang.... and our dealers said they'd been at a funeral - and no the stove wasn't in yet. I asked where they were and she instructed men to pick up our own stove pipe from one end of town at a wholesale place and then to come back to them. I asked in my deep and authoritative voice, for the address of their business to which I got a round about answer that the show room was in one place but the warehouse in at... yes I got a physical address.

We found the wholesalers but when we tried to find the business we drove in circles of seedy locations, incurring some looks from people we passed by several times. We went down a side road to a storage locker place - no, they didn't say they were in a storage locker - but they did give a gate code - ans so when I saw a gate and entered the gate code the doors opened (I'm now feeling like I'm living in a computer game). Next we traveled up and down isles until we found a semi-truck unloading stoves. There was our elderly couple with their "home" business out of a storage locker in dress-up funeral clothes. This couple had been in business 50 years - or he had been and she had to take over after he got Alzheimer's . Did I mentioned he had Alzheimer's? She had been running the entire business, except being the folk lifter operator.

Mr Greenjeans took one look at the stove in its crate, measured the crate with a tape and declared that it wasn't going to fit under the shell of the truck -- too tall. Our dealers thought they just needed to load the longer arms on the fork lift. So in the midst of our own marital discussion we find ourselves down in this maze of storage units with Mrs. Owner who ordering her husband, MR. Alsheimers to put on the long forks on the fork lift (yes, he's still the fork lift operator) and I'm lobbying hard to Mr. Greenjeans to not allow them to load the forks that would load our stove through the window of the cab... except that it wouldn't make it through the opening of the gate.

Mr. Greenjeans works a field job and is calmly telling Mrs. Owner to watch her toes as her husband drops the forks and we all watch our heads as Mr. Alzheimer's tools around in his machine with the forks raised. (He doesn't get the drive the car).

Meanwhile we have to figure out how to load stove too heavy to lift sans its crate. Eventually we take the crate apart and strip it down to the last supporting beam and work very closely with our tie-wearing twinkly eyed fork lift operator who gets bored with the operation. But in the end Mr. Alzheimer's picks up the stove and places it light as a feather on the tail gate - though he begins to become confused that the forks wouldn't drop. In the end, Mr. Greenjeans holds the stove in place, instructs us to back off and has the forklift operator back up. The forks clear the tailgate and drop dramatically. We all ask the operator to keep the machine in reverse and breathe a sigh of relief as he goes on his way.

The other people in the area are those who live in the storage units with their remaining material possessions - a car - a basketball hoop, a refrigerator... that brings us around to the broader day's events and our continuing challenge to which I will return to tomorrow but tonight I'm tired.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Days 12, 11, and 10

On these days I have to be out of town for work and I don't think I'll have internet connection. No, that's not true, on days 12 and 11 I'm working out of town but on day 10 I'm headed for a round trip to the city to pick up our woodstove (Alderlea T-5) and double wall pipes.

Please comment on what you find at yard sales, how your preperations are going and what you would like to see covered in the remaining days.

Think of this as a mid-challenge catch-up but the clock still ticks though we are busy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Day 13

Thank you all so much for contributing to the discussions - the contributions are really helpful. Sorry to have skipped a day. Doom will have to wait a day!

I'd like to discuss tools today. I'm covering the kinds of tools that live in the shop, not in the house. Of course tools are expensive and are things that people buy over a life time - not in 15 days and counting. Some are quite specialized and others are just good things that people have for a household. All that said, tools can often be picked up at moving sales and those old junk shops that buy up what folks are selling so if you are out scouring the yard sales of the uninformed, keep an eye out for useful tools.

There will be differing opinions, but I consider guns to be tools. I know how to handle, load, shoot, and clean a wide variety of guns. There is a world of debate about hand guns and assault rifles, and my simple opinion is that those things are for killing people and I'm simply not interested in going there. I think that if need be a person can defend home and property with a hunting rifle or shotgun. Guns as tools put meat on the table, and can put down livestock that is suffering with no vet available, and can be used to defend family and property when all other measures break down. There is a skunk roaming around the back of my chicken coop for the last couple of days and if I wasn't in the city, I wouldn't hesitate to shoot.....from a distance ;-)

As far as other tool go, over the years Mr. Greenjeans has saved us tremendous money, made money in tough times, and helped extended family and friends by having good tools, and the know-how to use them.

Lately I have been buying only hand tools for a power down society(with the exception of a power drill for smaller hands). I know that the tools we have used the most over the last 20 years have been the kind of things in a well stocked tool box: hammers of various sized, various pliers, socket sets, wire cutters, saws as well as a big bag of nails and screws. Other useful tools a long handled ax for splitting logs, shovels (flat and sharp pointed ones), saw horses, a hoe, a 15 lb mallet for breaking up wood, different sizes of ladders, a tamping pole, a crow bar, a clamp, and a fencing tool (to string wire).
One needs specialized tools for livestock, woodworking, gardening, mechanic work... In a power down society, we're going to have to fix things to keep them going. It doesn't mean that everyone has to be an expert in everything, but rather that we ought to be looking to have a backup skill as well as team up with someone who has specialized tools and know-how in an area that isn't our specialty. I can hardly change the tire on my car but I'm quite good at animal husbandry. It is likely that we will all become better at knowing how to fix and maintain things...if you have tools

As a kid I was fascinated with those little hand drills. So fascinated that once while the adults were downstairs having a cocktail party, I was busy drilling holes in the hardwood flooring upstairs of the host's house with one of these hand drills. In spite of the guilt I feel every time I see one of these, I still love this tool. Later my parents said that explained why they'd never heard from that family again...but I digress.

Some of the most beautiful hand tools I've seen lately were in the hardware store in Japan Center of San Francisco. They too were specialized building tools. I do always like the tool options in Leman's catalog

In addition to the hard tools, I'd recommend having on hand lots and lots of tape and glue, paint brushes and scrapers, rope and string of various kinds. I've used Duct tape for as many things as you can imagine, including holding medicated packing into the bottom of a hoof of an extroverted gelding that was as much of a pest as any goat ever thought of being.... and it held. Don't forget a spool of wire, gloves and safety masks. And remember sooner or later everything becomes a hammer.

So, what are your favorite hand tools? What gets a workout and what's on the wish list?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Day 14

I love Gracie's comments (she has a new blog) in closing yesterday: "I'm sure we've forgotten a whole lot. But we'll get by, we always have." Really, that is the mentality that we must have. Today Gracie has posted about her Grandparents. I think the preparations may be as simple as looking toward how others have done it before us. We don't need the highest tech survival gear (OK, so maybe there is some good stuff out there) but going into a world of lower energy and fewer resources, we perhaps need to consider how our Grands and Great-Grands have done things. Talk to the oldest person you know about the ins and outs of the way things used to be, the frugality, the make do attitude, the ability to repurpose. In the 1970's you couldn't get my Grandparents to take an unnecessary trip in the car. When you went it was with a list and a (mental) map of everything that could be done along the way.

The topic of discussion today is sanitation. In some ways were are overly concerned with cleanliness in our society. Our anti-bacterial handsoaps don't help us out in the long run, and I've never really achieved the kind of focus you seen in ads where you should be able to to eat off the kitchen floor. However there are some things to know if services stop, or if due to hardship you lose your utilities.

Toileting: Mr. Greenjeans used to be a western river guide. In National Parks and permited back country areas one has to pack all human waste. That means making a toilet out of a bucket or an ammo can lined with a black plastic bag with a toilet seat on top. One only uses such a toilet for bowel movements. This must be dumped somewhere such as an RV dump or septic system and is a short term solution that has to be handled. Remember, urine is sterile and is full of plant nitrogen when diluted so that can go around your property. It is bowel movements that cause diseases such as cholera.

Growing up I lived with my Grandparents at a cabin high in the Rocky Mountains (over 10,000 altitude). edit: to clarify we stayed there in the summer but I lived with my parents. We had a wood cook stove like the one that Sharon described so beautifully yesterday. We also had an outhouse. The cabin and outhouse was situatied on top of a hill. The outhouse was a big hole in the ground with two 55 gal drum placed deeply inside and a two seater log outhouse built over the top (I never understood two seaters but that' beside the point). I always checked for spiders sitting down and certainly didn't linger. Grandma fiercly taught me never to walk too closely behind an outhouse incase the earth gave way over the pit. On cool nights they put a bucket with a toilet seat on the porch or even by the wood stove. Periodically they'd put lime or sawdust in the toilet and in theory they had it pumped but I was never there for that.

If one is investing in green technology and long term solutions, there are composting toilets which turns potentially harmful human waste into safe compost. These toilets can be purchased a variety of locations for a pretty good amount of money. However, I was surprised to find a very good article, including DIY composting toilets at Wikipedia. The most indepth discussion of human waste and safely converting it to something inocuous can be found in the book,The Humanure Handbook.

While we are on toilet talk, there is a blog challenge getting underway at Crunchy Chicken's for using cloth TP. The discussion is pretty detailed - I encourage you to go and learn. I switched to the Diva cup for menstration this summer and like it much better than any other product, commercial or otherwise. The girls arn't going there, but I may get a couple for them just incase purchasing power for disposables get severely curtailed. I'll be making cloth TP and setting up smaller buckets as part of my preparations. Really, for those who had had kids in cloth diapers, it's not so much of a stretch. I'm not pushing my family as they are ready to mutany over hitting the 3 month mark on the homemade laundry soap.

I bought the laundry soap suplies and used the recipe from the company, Soaps Gone Buy. I ordered bulk supplies and think I'm good for a year or more. We've made the powdered soap and the problem we are having is that the Fels Naptha was so hard to grate that we ended up using a cheese grater (one bought from a yard sale and dedicated to the purpose). The shreads are too large and don't disolve all the way but Chibi wasn't strong enough for the smaller grate. The family also thinks that things aren't getting clean enough and I've started adding oxyclean to the loads. Next we'll try making the liquid laundry soap and have saved our last bottle from Tide for putting the homemade stuff in. A good discussion on older to ancient soap making can be found here.

As far as garbage is concerned, if you are not buying many things and you are recycling, composting, and reusing things, your garbage is lessened. Paper and gets burned in the wood stove, cardboard composts or can be used in the garden, plastics get eliminated as purchacing goes down. I surely don't throw away my canning jars after opening the food!

I recently stocked up on toothbrushes. I didn't stock up on toothpaste as one can always make toothpowder from baking soda. Yes, toothbrushes can be invented too, but let's allow some time for that.

Remember that Grandparents used to take illness and injury more seriously. They lived in pre-antibiotic days where infection was a serious thing. If you don't want to seek medical care, take care of rashes and simple cuts, wash your hands and take care if you get sick.

It is getting popular to make and use green cleaning products with vinigar and lemon. Look at a few recipees and gather together the ingredients.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Day 15

Thank you all for your great comments. The ideas are all spot on and very helpful.

Today, is Shelter Day

The first question to ask is how safe are you? Do you live with someone who loses their temper and uses you as a punching bag when stressed? If so, make a plan that includes gathering passport, social security card, birth certificate for you and your dependents and going some place safe - including a shelter. Try and take some personal effects, clothes, blankets... Do not announce your departure, do it quietly. Do not plan on going back to pick up anything precious. Call someone for a ride if you don't have access to a car. This is true anytime.

Next, how safe and secure are your current housing arrangements? If things go bad sooner rather than later, are you going to stay put or go be with others? If you plan on leaving in event of an emergency you might want to be in communication with those to whom you would go. Be prepared to be a good guest. Don't show up empty handed: bring tools, food, bedding, money... Plan on working and being of use. In this case you are not really a house guest, so plan on showering last, smoke outside, clean, help with meals, help with children, and find a project (such as a garden or cold frame) you can work on.

If you are staying put, Sharon Astyk has really covered this with her adapting in place classes. If you haven't already read these posts, click on the link and go read her posts from this summer. Her site has a search button, too. If you have read it great, perhaps look again.....wait, take a pencil and paper with you and take notes about changes you want to make.

In addition to what we have already covered, think about getting: tarps and tie down rope, lots of extra blankets and pillows, extra buckets, warm sweaters, matches, plastic bags, an alternative heating source, alternative toileting, alternative clothes washing, alternative cooking, good walking shoes, and lighting.

One thing is guaranteed, heating prices are going up, and so if you are planning on insulating, pick it up the materials sooner rather than later. If, like us insulation isn't in the budget, plan on ways to be more comfortable and use less energy.

Something that I've read about recently is window quilts - that is curtains made just like quilts for those who can't afford to put up insulated window drapes. Remember old castles hung tapestries on the walls to help with heating, you can similarly hang quilts and tapestries on your walls that have the coldest exposure. It doesn't have to look bad, in fact I have my best quilt hanging as a display. I plan on putting up some antique quilts that I'd rather not use. Unless you have people in every room, plan on closing off part of your house.

In the event that you lose the ability to heat your house and it is very cold, DH and I have talked about shutting off water at the main and opening the faucets to drain into the tubs. This will keep the pipes from breaking, causing water damage later on. Better of course to have alternative heating.

Plan on Alternative Heating according to what's best for your area. I do not recommend grid tied alternatives such as electric space heaters. I have seen a pretty good kerosene heater that sits in the middle of a room - it's kind of smelly but affordable. There are propane heaters for those in low altitudes. Wood stoves are an option for those who can get wood. They of course require installation. Solar is a wonderful option for those who have the money but not something you can put together quickly. Whenever you are heating with an alternative method, be sure you pay attention to fire hazard, burn risk, and especially have adequate ventilation. People die very quickly and quietly from carbon monoxide poisoning.

I have been canning all summer on a camp chef stove. It runs on propane (and I just picked up an extra bottle) and is very sturdy. I use it on the covered porch. We are about half way through building our adobe oven according to these plans from Sunset magazine. Darn, I have misplaced my camara or I'd show a picture of the project.
Our trouble is that we have bought all the firebrick available in our town and the next one down the road. For solar cooking check out Hausfrau's blog as I consider her the queen of sun cooking.

The buckets are for alternative toileting and clothes washing. You may want to pick up a dedicated plunger for washing clothes in a bucket (I'd personally want to know the plunger hadn't last been down the toilet). Tarps are an all around useful thing to have for everything from roof repair to sun shade to covering something you don't want to look at, or have seen, or be rained on. Suffice to say if you need one it's great to have on hand.

There are solar charged lanterns you can buy and Leahman's has a great selection of fuel burning lanterns. A reader recommends www.SundanceSolar.com for solar lanterns, battery chargers... and www.ccrane.com. Great stuff on both sites! Ccrane has an AM FM radio and flashlight that runs on a charge from cranking,solar or USB and will charge a cell phone! They also have a good solar battery charger.

What are your ideas for securing your house? Have you made recent changes for preparedness? Can you think of other ideas? Hit any good yard sales lately?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Countdown: Day 16

Yesterday I stood in front of my congregation and in the context of a sermon suggested that folks cut back on excess expenditures and that they build home food stores. Yes I said it gently and it didn't hammer it, but I said it in an historic register, main street, main line church. In Utah, people tend to define themselves as not LDS (unless of course they are), and so this suggestion is a button pusher as food storage is seen as a Mormon thing (apologies for any offense to my LDS readers). I say this to emphasize that I'm taking a chance, I am risking censure and putting my neck on the line to encourage people to get their stuff together. I am taking a risk in being called a fool if all is OK and well in the world. But if things get really bad, I want to feel as if I have influenced as many people as I can reach to take care of their families. At the end of the day, everyone has to make their own choices.

The subject today is Food Storage. I think most of the readers here are familiar with food storage either through from Sharon Astyk's Challenge and Book or the Yahoo Groups on Adapting in Place and food storage. She has been encouraging level headed, balanced food storage. This includes buying what you eat and eating what you buy and buying extra each time you shop. For my 21 day challenge I am saying, step. it. up.

If you have not already done so, organize your pantry. I know people organize things differently but I put like things together. It helps me know at a glance what I have and what I have and what I need. Put the heaviest stuff down low and in waterproof containers, and label and DATE things. Around here is stays on the kitchen table until it gets a label. Right now I'm running out of space on the table and we're eating standing around.

I have used the following guides to help me gauge what I need for my family size. I favor this guide because it covers just the basics whereas others get complicated Again only put up what you will eat! I don't cook with soy beans or corn syrup and so I haven't stocked these items other than a bottle of corn syrup that has sat around for years from a pecan pie recipe and some edamine in the freezer. When I went to costco and picked up things to fill in the gaps I used this guide.

Cut and paste: http://lds.about.com/library/bl/faq/blcalculator.htm

If you have not been building food stores and need to start with carbs and wholesome grains. I would suggest beans and rice and the means to cook them (I assume you have spices, yes?) From there flour, corn meal, some dried or canned milk, yeast and salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and cooking oil. Add other items you will eat such as cooked cereal and oats. Then add peanut butter, honey, jam, pasta, soup mix, canned fruit and vegies, and canned meat. Pick up powdered drink mix with electrolytes. Then add comfort foods. I have trouble stocking comfort foods as the family gets into them. After my next shopping, I may hide the comfort foods.

Please note: I by far favor a long thought out stocking up of things you will actually use and beginning to adjusting your diet to eating closer to whole foods. We eat beans and home ground grains and fruit from the tree every week, but if you eat a lot of fast food, you have to develop the ability to digest this stuff so start slowly. If you start all at once, you will feel ill. Food storage must be rotated and maintained.

What do plan on cooking in an emergency? OK, make it for dinner this week and see how well you digest it. Don't like it? Don't store it.

Last night Mrs. neighbor asked me if I wanted to go in on a half or whole beef that a friend is slaughtering and selling. I can't afford an entire half (and in the past haven't used a half beef in a year) and I don't have the freezer space so we are going to share a side of beef and they are going elk hunting anyway. They brought over all their year old meat (venison, beef, pork) for us to help them finish before the new comes in.

Fall is when animals are harvested so farmers don't have to winter feed them. This is the best time of year to put up meat.

Also, this is not a big wheat growing area, but someone local is advertising 50 lb. bags of winter, soft or red wheat for about $25, I think. If you have been wanting to buy wheat, look in your classified ads by the livestock and misc or take a drive in the country looking at the signs at the ends of the drives. I make a point to buy directly from the farmer whenever I can - everyone but the middle man does better this way.

Do you have additional suggestions? Did I miss something?
How good to you feel about your food stocks? What are your storing?

I'm off to preserve the harvest!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Day 17 and counting

Some have mentioned being exhausted by the schedule and wanted a Sunday break. Tough getting ready for a disaster and keeping up the life as it's always been, isn't it? I know I am overwhelmed by the bounty of the harvest. Please take what ever day that you normally rest from your labors and do so. One especially needs to trust in God during the hard times.

If you take Sabbath on Sunday, you might want to look at a couple of videos. The first is about 40 minutes long and is Naomi Wolf, author of "The End of America"
describing her study of the stages of the collapse of societies pay particular attention about 30 minutes into the video and then watch the footage
that I picked up over at the Zahn Zone

Yesterday I picked up another bottle of propane. Since I do my canning outside on the camp chef, the one bottle of propane is always only partially full. I also picked up zip ties in 4", 6", 8", 14", and 36" lengths, dust masks, septic system bio-digester, 100 lbs chicken feed, and a battery charger for AA and AAA and extra D cell batteries. (I looked for a solar charger on line but didn't come up with anything so I covered my bases with batteries.) Chibi and I picked 2 bushels of apples and about 1/3 bushel of pears free from the neighbor's 4 old, large, unsprayed trees.

I was reading in the "Root Cellaring" book about the conditions for storing apples and found that they want a high humidity, low temp. storage. Well, it's not cold enough for that so I've pulled out the nicest apples and put them in the vegetable drawer of the extra fridge. I also put a load of those going in the dehydrator, will juice some, make apple butter, and pie filling to be frozen.

Unfortunately, the 100 lbs of grain is a regular thing with my birds. It is time to start harvesting roosters, but that has to wait until the garden is done. They're OK for now - just eating me out of house and home. I had picked some weeds that had a grain like head and fed them to the chickens to extend the grain. Of course they always get things like downed fruit and vegie peelings, plate scrapings...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Day 18 countdown

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

OK, so all the markets are on the upswing and we can all go merrily along our way, right? No, I think not. Maybe I'm reading too much doom and gloom on the 'net, but it seems to me that in the last couple of months there have been so many fundamental changes to the market and financial systems in this country that it is no longer the same system. It seems to me that we are seeing ever widening swings of volatility in the markets and the last two days represents an upswing in the wild ride. The huge upswing is not a great thing when it represents ever increasing waves of a storm. However, I am the dead last person to talk financials so I'll leave it at that.

*****Water****** We've already covered the importance of water and I am very pleased that folks are getting water put by. The availability of water is definitely a regional thing. We've always been desert people. I think we have 130gallons put up here, not including rain barrels or hot water heater. Our rain barrels are full but we're not too far from freezing temperatures and then they'll have to get drained. I wouldn't drink the rain barrel water but I wouldn't hesitate to give it to livestock or animals either.

The least expensive, least favorable to the most expensive, best way to clean water:

If you run out of clean water, you can add 14 drops of unscented old fashioned Clorox to a gallon of the cleanest water (qickly moving water across rocks) you can find. This will not do anything for contamination by fertilizers, pesticides, heavy metals... it only kills the organic creatures that will set up havoc in your gut. If you have plenty of fuel or energy, you can boil water for 20 minutes, the higher the altitude, the longer the boil.

I think it is far better to filter your water. Instructions for a least expensive route to a water filtration is found here here. You can buy these filters here. I think it's worth printing the instruction sheet.

Were I to come into money or If there is enough time to prepare, I would like a Berkey Water Filtration system. The one in the picture is plastic but they do come in all stainless as well. These are the systems used by mission and red cross societies around the world and have independent ANSI/BSI laboratory testing. You can also buy them through the Leaman's catalog.

Maybe it is because when we lived in Moab, we would lear of several tourist deaths a year from of lack of water; or maybe it is because as a VERY Young adult, I drank directly from a quickly moving stream (as I had done successfully as a child) and ended up hospitalized and more miserably sick than I've ever been in my life; or maybe it is because 88% of deaths in the developing world are caused by water borne illness that I want to stress the importance of access to clean and available water.

Please, feel good about the steps you are taking to protect your family. None of us will do it all right, but by spending this time investing in thinking and preparing we will be as well prepared as is possible!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Day 19 of the countdown challenge

Did you identify your Achilles heal? Have you completed your home evaluation in the nine areas?

I made a list of the things that people have mentioned that they needed to help shore up their preparedness - given a short and definite time frame. I hope this will help jog ideas where maybe you too can strengthen your readiness - I know reading your comments has helped me remember things.

Keep in mind, you may need to acquire some of the parts, but you don't have to fix it all now. For instance if you by the stove pipe, or the makings for window covering and are suddenly without work, or all travel is cut short, you can work on the projects... as long as you have bought the necessary parts. If there is no crisis, you can work on projects as time allows this winter.

Water: containers, or pre-packaged water, filter, or filtration system

Food: Meats, vegies, flour, beans, brown rice, corn meal, potatoes, dry soup mix, honey, evaporated milk, comfort foods, salt, oil, honey, spices
Livestock and pet food.

Alternative cooking: fire brick and adobe, solar oven, or camp propane oven

Sanitation: dental floss, tooth brushes, soap, first aid, unscented Clorox, iodine, vinegar, moist towelettes, septic system waste break down stuff.

Fuel or energy: stored gasoline, wood, propane, solar charger, batteries,

Shelter: stove, stove pipe, base for wood stove, window coverings, bubble insulation, blankets, larger clothes for growing children,

Tools: chainsaw and sharpener, ammo, belt for treadle machine, non-electric radio, lantern, flashlight, duct tape, plastic zip ties, dust masks,

Evacuation Evacuation backpacks for everyone in the household.


Let me say a few words about some of the items. Vinegar is an acid, a cleaner, food preservative and can be used to treat sunburn. It's a good thing to have in a pinch. The same goes for baking soda - there are lots of uses.

Also, while I don't use moist towelettes, but they're on the list because if you are budgeting one gallon of water per day per person, you're not leaving much for sanitation. The towelettes can be put aside as an alternative to washing.

I'm thinking for the next few days I'll go through one topic each day but break sanitation into a couple of categories.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Challenge Day 20

Yesterday, Russian markets stopped trading for a second day after emergency funding measures by the government failed to halt the biggest stock rout since the country’s debt default and currency devaluation a decade ago. They are opened today but not for stocks.

This image is taken from MSNBC from the US Stock Exchange yesterday.

This day 20 of a 21 day count down to basic disaster preparedness. We are looking at how to prepare for an event lasting at least 6 months with a finite time to prepare. (Figure most disasters don't give 21 days advance notice). I have no particular expertise but together I bet we have a lot of creative ideas.

We're starting with water because it is a non-negotiable. I took my LE biology credits in a course called 'survival biology' where the instructor said that no food for 30 days was an involuntary fast(there are plenty of exceptions) but you don't survive 3 days without water (or even one day exerting yourself in a hot, dry climate). So, fill containers, and in a pinch remember the hot water heater contains potable water as does the tank on the toilet. Right now, you have time to mail order barrels suited for water storage of tap water and rain barrels. We'll come back to water after the household evaluation.

I'm assuming anyone reading has been doing some preparations all along. So now take the time to evaluate your household according to categories. Look at what you have so far. In doing so, put on an analytical mind and check emotions at the door. This is no time to get overwhelmed or depressed. Be an evaluator with a check sheet and a critical (does not mean judgmental) eye. You are looking not so much to inventory (time issue) but to see what you need to do next. Write down where the basics that need covering.

Evaluate your Household:

Water - Do you have stored water, the means to access more water, the means to purify water that has been wild caught. As crucial as water is, water born illness will take you out fast.

Food - I'm assuming that readers here have been working on food storage. Mostly we work on storing what you eat and eating what you store. We aim for balance. But right now, focus not so much on perfection but on six months supply to fill your bellies with energy giving food. Think of things like beans, rice, the means to make bread, cooking oil and salt. Put up what you and livestock can't live without. If you have that, then begin to evaluate your nutritional balance, comfort foods, pet food, protein, fruits and veggies. Begin to fill in the holes. Store water specifically for preparation of dry foods - it takes a lot. Remember dogs evolved with humans because of similar nutritional needs and commercial dog food is an institution of the 20th century. They need more fat and calcium for an optimal diet.

Shelter Again, most who are reading this have a place to live and are in the U.S. Do you have winter blankets, an alternative heat source such as wood stove and wood, electric heat and solar power, kerosene heater and kerosene, room to take in others, extra towels and linens, window covers? Coats and boots and clothes for those who are still growing? What practical tools do you need? What can you share with those nearby?

Fuel This is alternative means of cooking, propane, kerosene,solar (if you can afford it), lighting for the darkest days of the year, extra gas for emergency transportation or for generator.

Sanitation A friend who worked as an ER nurse in the Appalachian region told me one time that most of what they saw could have been prevented by good hygiene. Have enough water that you can wash cuts and take sponge baths. Take care of little cuts, don't let your skin crack, take care of your teeth. Have the means to remove toilet waste, to wash clothes, to brush your teeth, stock up on soap homemade versions. If the worst comes, don't get complacent.

First Aid and Medication Stock the first aid, learn alternative remedies, get your medication filled and squirrel away what you can. Some Drs. are very sympathetic to third world travel (and we're traveling there).

Cash and barter goods Be frugal starting this instant - stash cash in small bills, don't run the bank but begin easing some cash out. However if money were to be too devaluated, turn your money into goods and consider in bad times what others may crave may have high value to them. Figure ways to find money, now.

Diversions and celebratory There is no point in being fed and secure if you lose your mind. All societies celebrate, so don't forget to. Have books, puzzles, games, cards, the means to listen to or to create music (solar ipod charger or crank Victrola), sewing and handiwork. I bought baking supplies because if the holidays are bleak in America, home made treats will be very welcomed.

Evacuation If things are bad all over, generally folks will be safest staying put. However if a disaster is happening where you live, have a bug out bag, the camping supplies in one spot, and know what food to grab.

So, how did it go? Did you look in the closets and the garage and the cupboard? Do you know what you have? Were there any surprises? What have you remedied since yesterday?

We bought gas cans and gas, filled a 50 gal water barrel, bought all the fire bricks in two towns and need 28 more for our adobe oven, and then canned peaches. Canning is time intensive but picking up a case of peaches at the store doesn't take much time at all.

Mr. Greenjeans noted that there were no red gas cans in town. He had to get a kerosene can and write on it.

The 21 Day Challenge Starts Now!

There were great comments yesterday.
Beginning today I am hosting a 21 day challenge. Frau has dubbed the idea behind it as "the ticking time bomb" scenario.

The idea is this: You have received an insider's tip that there is 21 days until TSHTF and all will be in turmoil for 6 months. Now you do not know the exact nature of the urgency but assume the source of the tip has a history of accurate predictions and isn't a total crackpot. As to the nature of the event to prepare for, assume that it is a combination of financial collapse, weather, and military (or science gone wrong).

If you are in, you want to plan for a convergence of worst case scenarios. Remember, it may be several things coming together and your goal is to be ready to take it as it comes. Plan on a disruption of transportation, communication and infrastructure and the resulting chaos (including large amounts of dead).

Please note: only God knows the future, no human can say what will happen. Therefore you do not be concerned with whether this is real or an exercise in preparadness. If something were to happen you would be better prepared, if the only thing that happens in three weeks is that the leaves change color in VT, then you will be on target for an emergency another time. I assume anyone reading this blog is a preparer anyway. Sorry, no cute little banner - there's no time for that!

Remember, we are all operating in an imperfect world - I planned on taking time off work to preserve the harvest and order my house. But by Monday evening I learned of a large funeral I had to do on Friday, my assistant is in the hospital, and and my cat came home injured and needing a vet this morning. We all have to go to work, add financial constraints and family issues and you have the real world. But that doesn't change the deadline. Tick Tock

If you are still with me, inventory your preparations and begin to prioritize what is the most critical. To get you started, I would say that the most critical element is water - you should have some stored no matter where you live - more if you don't have access to a natural source and a filter. Think it through: If you have a well, does it require electricity and do you have a back-up? You can get 'gerry' cans at any camping supply store and larger tanks at feed stores or industrial supply stores.

Since the comments yesterday, what are your priorities? Are you equally prepared along all fronts or are there gaps in your preparations?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Is this a joke or what?

There is a joke where various ministers of different denominations get asked what passage they'd preach on if they knew it was the last time they'd preach. The joke predates the Last Lecture.

What is happening in the economy and the world is no joke. I'm no fortune teller, but there are those who have a pretty good knack for looking ahead and they see much worse times to come - this fall. Personally, I'm looking around at my homestead and trying to evaluate what I can do RIGHT NOW to shore things up. My biggest worry is heating as there are no wood stoves for sale and it get seriously cold without relief for months straight.

Yesterday I took Nee back to school. Her ride back flaked on us and so we got up at 4:00 a.m. and tried (unsuccessfully) to make the first bell. I went on to a quilt store (hey, it's nippy out there) and splurged on enough flannel for a quilt top and then went on to costco. I had looked at my pantry the evening before and tried to pick up missing items. I couldn't bring myself to buy their bread flour, so I'll have to run around and find some good white flour at the store. I buy white flour to give the homeground grain a little lightness. I bought only basics, loaded the cart, checked out, loaded the car, and went back for dog and cat fod and TP.

Today or tomorrow I'm buying gas cans and enough gas to get me to the city and get Nee if TSHTF.

So the question is this: if you had only a month (or less) to get your household as secure as possible, what would you do? What's keeping you from doing it? What can you do to get over that hurtle?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Independence Days #16

Independence Days - the overwhelmed edition.

1. Plant - no

2. Harvest: Corn, Green beans, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, basil, Tomatoes, Chilies.

3. Preserved: I dried however many dozen ears of cut sweet corn to fill a 1/2 gal jar. This was after the canned corn experiment. Froze. 8 quart baggies of fresh blanched corr.
Froze 5 packages of 5 cups each of sliced peaches for pies or other winter treats.
Canned a couple more Qts. of slowly ripening pears.
Froze 3 Qt. baggies with mixed peppers roasted on the grill
Canned 5 Quts. of Tomato sauce
Canned 2 Qts of "Adobe Souse" (grilled tomatoes, grilled peppers, grilled onions with fresh tomatoes, a few apricots) It is muddy colored and made with what seemed right at the time - and boy is it good!

4. Prepped - I don't this so the week is a blur.
5. Managed Reserves - Mr. Greenjeans took apart our industrial and computerized water heater at the parish house only to find some joker had turned off the gas at the main. Grrr.

We're having the year's big fundraising event at the church - the annual Oktoberfest with beer, brats, sauerkraut, life music, and raffles. There is a real nip in the air.

The good news is NEE IS HOME. The bad news: Nee is home by way of the ER (3 in 3 months). She was stung by a very aggressive bee at school, had an allergic reaction (we didn't know she was allergic to bees but this may have been a different kind). I ran into the city - a 3 1/2 hour drive each way - gathered her, filled her RX for prednasone, and drove home in the dark encountering a spot of 4" of snow on the road and cars off the road in the canyons.

This week I've fallnd down on management because we aren't getting these given away, managed quite fast enough and the chickens are eating things people should eat.

6. Cook something new - the dehydrating was new to me. I also combined the left overs of the green beans and ham, with the corn that didn't all fit into a package with the left over tomato sauce, cooked some rice and put it together and it was like magic! Ummmm good.

7. I haven't really worked on local food systems - just the Oktoberfest for tomorrow. And helped with community by being there for the neighbor to watch the toddler in the night as they went to the hospital.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A lawn mower as tselem* for community

When we went to graduate school, we closed down a small farm and sold most things off and fit our family of four + dogs and cats into a one way self-move. We traveled over a thousand miles to where we would live on a University campus for three years. (Note part of my decision to go to school where I did was that there were no pet restrictions - and I was fortunate to get into such a good school. Now that's what I call a good fit.)

At first we had asked for the smallest 3 bedroom place available but later realized that we had limits on how small a place we could live in very close proxmity to neighbors (under 900 sq ft). So after a few months we got a small cottage on campus where we would have our own yard. The university of course expected us to mow the lawns of the yard - as they did other families.

Very few people had fit a mower in with the self-move to university housing and none of us had money to go and buy one but after a while we learned about the community mower. This mower was housed with one family in one place and returned there when done. There was an informal word of mouth system to accessing it which included Jr. professors and such. As our first year ended, we were asked to house the mower becaue we had a shed with no doors. We found someone to take it when we left. The thing was an old beater and anyone who used it was also expected to work on it, as able.

I had always had an interest in community and I have thought of this mower while reading Sharon's Adapting in Place posts. This mower came to represent for me the way of life that is possible in intentional community. When you have community in this way the gross comsumption of everyone owning one of everything is short circuted.

Forming community is always intentional. If you are doing this with carpooling with co-workers or setting limits on the inlaw on the couch (a Sharon thing) you deliberately are working things out. Do you have things you share with other people? How far are people willing to take this concept?

*tselem is Hebrew for likeness or image where one thing comes to represent another.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

"It's Time"

I got a phone call last night at 12:30 from Mrs. Neighbor who said, "It's time". Me sound asleep said, "time for what?" She: "The baby's coming." THAT got me fully awake. Remind me next time I'm on baby watch to wear cute PJs and not some old T-shirt that I'd have to scoot home in in the daylight.

The drill was this: if it were daytime, I would drive her to the hospital and take toddlergirl with me. At night I was to go and sleep on their couch and be there when toddlergirl woke up. I have toddlergirl at the house right now. We've eaten pancakes and watching some "Incredibles". 45 minutes ago I heard from Mr. Neighbor that they were breaking Mrs's water. I'm thinking she may be delivering right about now.

Welcome to earth Babyneighbor.

Edit - I posted this first at 9:51 and Babyneighbor's birth time was 9:57.

bb, nbt5gv huy;;k,mn m njm ffvrdvrv5v tnyhjhhhvvb (toddlergir'l first blog post)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Independence Days #15

I think this will be an abreviated Independence Days update because of all the produce that is coming in at the same time. My hands and arms are sore for all the picking, processing and canning and the house is a disaster area due to all free time devoted to produce.

The garden is giving its all in watermellons, squash, tomatoes, peppers, corn, cucumbers,dill, basil, cantelope, brocholli, celary, and the everyready green bean (I swear I can pick a row and when I get to the bottom the top has grown out again).

I havn't planted a fall garden. I'm so overwhelmed with the current garden. Besides,the weeds would have to be taken care of to plant - ugg.

We are harvesting as fast as we can get it preserved.

Preserving this week includes: Canning 6 more Qts of those pears that ripen on their own sweet time. They drive me nuts because out of an entire bussel I can't get enough to fill a canner load at a time.

Mrs. Neighbor and I canned 32 1/2 pints and pints of hot pepper jelly. It is a beautiful translucent green with flecks of red habinero suspended in it. We got going on making jam with a little of this recipe and a little of that and ran out of jars. Mr. Greenjeans made a late night jar run for us but the town was sold out of 1/2 pints (he went to the only 3 stores open) and he came home with 3doz. pints - gotta love that man. Mrs. Neighbor sent me some apricot jam...er syrup made with less sugar.

Mrs. Nieghbor also wanted pickled peppers by the quart. So, we canned 12 Quarts of pickled peppers - I kept two, and sent the others along with the pregnant lady.

Canned 7 pints of creamed corn - what a dissapointing thing that is: take beautiful corn fresh from the garden (that color of yellow is the most beautiful color in the world) shuck, cut, scrape and parboil it. Put it into little jars and pressure can it silly, take it out and it looks and smells like its been sitting in a cafeteria line since morning. Yuck!

We picked the last of Mr & Mrs. Garden's peach tree. They just took a few pieces of fruit to eat fresh. Chibi made 5 peach pies, one for the Mrs. neighbor's family, one for the Garden's, one for us, one for the church pot luck, and one for a family who is out of work due to disabilitiy and illness. I made peach jam with the left over peaches, canned some peaches and took 4 jars to the Garden's with some jars of dilly beans. They sent me home with current jelly...er syrup from bushes they picked "up on the mount'en".

Likely I did something with beans - pressure canned? I've lost track. Edit I made ham hocks and beans into a doz. quart jars in the freezer.

We picked some of everything in the garden to go to that family who is out of work and laid up. Some of everything turned into a giant box of fresh produce (Mr. Greenjeans had to carry it). They insisted we take their first and only squash their garden had produced. I know that it is just as important to recieve what others have to offer and took that precious fruit to my heart.

The only organized clean spot in my house is the pantry. I keep rearranging the shelves shifting things to and fro. Actually swept the floor where I'd spilled rice and where the dog hair didn't need to be stored.

Well, it doesn't sound like much but I'm off to do more of it. I'm also keeping the car filled on fuel as I am the ride of choice to the delivery room when Mr. Neighbor is at work.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Frost Advisory

The last two nights have been in the low 40's - it's hard to imagine since it came on so fast, directly following such hot days. I hear it's supposed to warm back up again - just a little warning that winter is not far off. Yesterday at lunch I came home and put on a vest for warmth.

I haven't been so sorry to see summer go since I was a child. I get a little weary of the every night canning sessions after a day in the office, but this taste of a winter to come has renewed my resolve to keep canning because one day it will all freeze.

Last winter was my first here - and the coldest winter of my life. It froze the pumpkins to the ground on Halloween and the daily highs stayed below freezing everyday until sometime in April and even then it wasn't exactly balmy. So, in the afternoons I soak in the day's rays, missing them before they are even gone.