Friday, November 21, 2008

Grain Mills and More

A couple of days ago I found our grain mill online. I thought for sure that we had bought it while on the farm in Delta, but couldn't remember where we got it. Looking through a Mother Earth News, I found a add from the Pleasant Hill Grain - Fine Kitchen Equipment. So if you can't find what you need in the way of grain mills, meat grinders, pressure cookers, dehydrators, slicers, dicers etc, then you are just pretty darn picky.

Also, here is a great site for bulk foods: . Among the treasures that I found there is chicken bullion in bulk. You can't beat these prices.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Production and Storage

We have heard a lot about food storage, but equally important is home production. You might never end up producing like the Dervaes ( ) family does, but their example shows us what is possible.

You might look at this as being as extreme as Walt Nelson, and if you think that our economy is going to be healed, you will think it is totally silly. I guess it is a lot about what you think the future will bring. If you want to see how the Great Depression affected people watch 'Sea Biscuit' and then back-to-back watch 'Cinderella Man'. Let me tell you that you will experience a 'Great Depression' right there. Yikes! Everyone didn't wakeup poor one morning, although some did. But it wore them down.

When you have an sick economy one of two things happen. Either you have a deflation, much like what is going on now, and people can't find jobs, many are out of work and while there might be food in the locality, people can't afford to buy it because they can't get the money. Roughly 2 billion people in the world live like this every day. They get by on less than $2.50/day. And this deflation is pushing them to starvation.

The other thing that happens is that you get an inflation, and the inflation rate gets pretty high. If you don't have a job, so much the worse for you, but if you do have a job the money that you get isn't worth anything.

Some of these problems can be blunted by home production. In an inflation or deflation there are less opportunities to actually create wealth. You can't work overtime, or might not even have a job. The only opportunities that you have are those that you create yourself. Home production might be the single easiest way to have that second job.

You can't do this overnight. You can't wait until the wolf is at the door to have a productive yard and garden. My goal is to bring more of my lawn under production each year. We planted five grape plants this year, and Annie found a bunch of great information on pruning and starting new plants. We planted two thornless black berries as well, and I have about 10 little plums and apricots ready to be transplanted. We built cast block raised beds in the sunniest part of the yard, and had a wonderful crop. After removing a shade tree, we actually got sweetcorn and had a great squash year. It doesn't happen at once. Start now. Spade, rototill or plow under some of the Kentucky Blue. You don't have to take the whole yard, or even change the looks of the yard. Just come out from the fence 4-8 feet, depending you the size of your yard. Put as many leaves, grass clippings and garden scraps as you can on the soil. Whether you can buy bulk manure or have to buy the bagged stuff from Walmart, put about 2-3" of manure on these new beds. It will take several years to build up the fertility, but your yard will surprise you with the produce that it will supply you with.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Great Garden Seed Source

Scott sent me this link to Mountain Valley Seeds, and I liked it so much that I ordered all of our seed for next spring. I think I have spent more at Ace Hardware in the past. These guys typically sell seeds in 1 oz. quantities, which is a lot more than you get in the packets. Take a look, you might like what you see. You can store the extras in your freezer until the next year.

They do sell hybrid seeds as well, but they are well marked. If you want to start saving seeds to see what works best in your soil and with your climate, this might be a good place to start.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Gomer Parable

Taken from the LDS Preparedness Handbook

These are the generations of Gomer, son of Homer, son of Omer. And in the days of Gomer, Noah,
the Prophet, went unto the people saying, "Prepare ye for the flood which is to come, yea, build yourselves
a boat, that ye may not perish."
Now, Gomer was a member of the Church, and taught Sunday School and played, yea, even on the
ward softball team. And Gomer's wife said unto him, "Come, let us build unto ourselves a boat as the
Prophet commandeth, that we may not perish in the flood." But behold, Gomer saith unto his wife,
"Worry not, dear wife, for if the flood comes the government will provide boats for us."
And Gomer did not build a boat. And Gomer's wife went unto Noah and she returned saying, "Behold,
Honey, the Prophet saith unto us, "Build a boat, that we may preserve ourselves, for the government
pays men not to grow trees, wherefore the government hath not the lumber to build for you a boat."
And Gomer answered saying, "Fear not, oh wife, for am I not the star pitcher on the ward softball team?
Wherefore, the Church will provide for us a boat, that we will perish not."
And Gomer's wife went again unto Noah, and she returned unto Gomer, saying, "Behold, mine husband,
the Prophet saith that the Church hath not enough lumber to build a boat for everyone, wherefore,
mine husband, build for us a boat that we might not perish in the flood." And Gomer answered her
saying, "Behold, if we build a boat, when the flood cometh, will not our neighbors overpower us and take
from us our boat; wherefore, what doth it profit a man to build a boat?"
And Gomer's wife went again unto Noah and she returned, saying, "Behold, the Prophet saith, build
unto yourselves a boat, and have faith, for if ye do the Lord's bidding, He will preserve your boat for
you." But Gomer answered his wife, saying, "Behold, with this inflation, the price of wood has gone sky
high, and if we wait awhile, perhaps the price will go down again. And then I will build for us a boat."
And Gomer's wife went again unto Noah, and she returned saying, "Thus saith the Prophet, build for
yourselves a boat RIGHT NOW, for the price of wood will not go down, but will continue to go up.
Wherefore, oh husband, build for ourselves a boat, that we may perish not." But Gomer answered his
wife, saying, "Behold, for 120 years Noah hath told us to build a boat, to preserve us from the flood,
but hath the flood come? Yea, I say, nay. Wherefore, perhaps the flood will not come for another
hundred and twenty years.
And Gomer's wife went again unto Noah and returned saying, "The Prophet saith, he knows it has
been 120 years, but nevertheless, the flood will come, wherefore, build unto yourselves a boat."
And Gomer answered her saying, "Wherewith shall we get the money to build ourselves a boat, for are
we not now making monthly payments on our snazzy new four horsepower chariot? Wherefore, when our
payments end, perhaps we shall build ourselves a boat."
And Gomer's wife went again unto Noah and returned saying, "Behold, the Prophet saith that we
should cut down on our recreation, and our vacations, and even give each other lumber for Christmas,
that we might thereby get enough lumber to build a boat."
But Gomer saith unto her, "What a drag! Are we to cease enjoying life, just because we must build a
Wherefore, Gomer built not a boat. But behold, one afternoon Gomer heard thunder in the sky, and he
feared exceedingly and he ran, yea, even to the lumber yard to buy lumber. But behold, the lumber store
was crowded with great multitudes, all seeking to buy lumber, and there was not enough lumber to be
found for the multitudes.
And on the same day were all the fountains of the deep opened, and the windows of heaven were
broken up, and the floods came -- and behold, Gomer had no boat. And as the water rose above
Gomer's waist, his wife saith unto him, "Behold, Honey, I told thee so!"
--- Author Unknown

That was fun, wasn't it?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Experiences from Hurricane Ike

Here are a few things that were shared on one of the boat building forums. I would imagine that a lot of these were experienced by M&J during the aftermath of Katrina.

"This is from a High School friend from Houston and way off topic.
I could lie and say She lives on a boat in a marina under a pine
tree. Could be applied to cruising.

Things we learned during our Hurricane Ike . . .
A new opening phrase when seeing someone: 'Got lights yet?'

1. Coffee and frozen pizzas can be made on a BBQ grill.

2. No matter how many times you flick the switch, lights don't work
without electricity.

3. My car gets 23.21675 miles per gallon, EXACTLY (you can ask the
people in line who helped me push it).

4. Kids can survive 4 days or longer without a video game controller
in their hand.

5. Cats are even more irritating without power.

6. He who has the biggest generator wins.

7. Women can actually survive without doing their hair- you just wish
they weren't around you.

8. A new method of non-lethal torture-showers without hot water.

9. There are a lot more stars in the sky than most people thought.

10. TV is an addiction and the withdrawal symptoms are painful.

11. A 7-lb bag of ice will chill 6-12 oz Cokes to a drinkable
temperature in 11 minutes, and still keep a 14-lb.turkey frozen for 8
more hours.

12. There are a lot of trees around here.

13. Flood plane drawings on some mortgage documents were seriously

14. Siding, while aesthetically pleasing, is definitely not required.

15. Crickets can increase their volume to overcome the sound of 14

16. People will get into a line that has already formed without
having any idea what the line is for.

17. When required, a Lincoln Continental will float, doesn't steer
well but floats just the same.

18. Tele-marketers function no matter what the weather is doing.

19. Cell phones work when land lines are down, but only as long as
the battery remains charged.

20. 27 of your neighbors are fed from a different transformer than
you, and they are quick to point that out!

21. Dirty clothes hampers were not made to contain such a volume.

22. If I owned a store & sold only ice, chainsaws, gas and
generators.. . I'd be rich.

23. Price of a can of soup rises 200% in a storm.

24. Your water front property can quickly become someone else's
fishing hole.

25. Tree service companies are under appreciated.

26. I learned what happens when you make fun of another states'

27. MATH 101: 30 days in month, minus 6 days without power equals 30%
higher electric bill ?????

28. Drywall is a compound word, take away the 'dry' part and it's

29. I can walk a lot farther than I thought -- & from Alvin, TX

30. My dad was right, relatives & shrimp, in a freezer without
electricity, both stink after 3 days.






























RUN YOUR REFRIGERATOR (Amen Thank you Mr. Gutierrez).




Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Food Storage Calculator

Here is a link to a food storage calculator. Julie just sent a note and said she remembered seeing it, but couldn't find it, and I couldn't either.... so I thought I would post or repost it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Gardening When It Counts

Gardening when it counts.... pretty interesting videos. These guys are survivalists, but then if we lose the warm comforter of plentiful oil, we might all be. They seem a little out there, but they bring up a lot of good points on what you might need for your garden if it is ever going to be something that you really need.

One the way home from work, after this had been posted for the first time I was talking to a friend about these clips. I told him that these guys seem a little out there, but it is a matter of perspective. My Grandparents lived like this. They got through the Depression for the most part on their gardens. I imagine they saved their seed. They stored what they raised, and they ate what they stored. This is the way that countless generations of people lived before they had cheap transportation and mechanized agriculture.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Sunday, July 27, 2008

DIY Bicycle Trailers

Pixie commented on the last post about the Sports Utility Bicycle that she would like to do some of this, but it looked pricey. I think that it can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you want it to be. If you go and buy the best at the bike shop, you will undoubtedly have a nice looking and top of the line bike. But there are a lot of good bikes looking for a home at DI. They might need a little oil and the grease in the bearings to be changed, but mostly they will be fine. Old Christmas and birthday presents that have been outgrown and neglected when kids go on missions and on to college. Annie got her bike at a yard sale, and I got mine at a thrift shop... and, yes, we will probably upgrade someday, or at least get some new shifters for her bike.

Mostly they work fine, and we ride all over town and some into the country with them. but they aren't set up to haul much, and we don't really want a big basket or panniers on the sides of the wheels when we run to town.

I came across some designs for do-it-yourself bike trailers, being somewhat inspired by the kid carrier trailer that M&J have for carrying Greta.

See what you think of these. They can all be built for a few dollars and don't require welding, although I am sure welding might make some parts of the fabrication easier. They are all pretty robust, one being designed for up to 300 lbs and to carry "loads as diverse as wood, water, maize, fertilizer, portable generators and pregnant women." So, as Pixie likes to say: There you have it.

Trailer 1: The Coleman Cooler Trailer

Trailer 2: The Scrap Metal Trailer

Trailer 3: The IBF Trailer

Trailer 4: The Bamboo Trailer

When I get done building fences, raised bed grow boxes, cradles, quilting frames etc., I think I will build one of these.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Sport Utility Bicycle - SUB

This was an interesting article and clip. Especially the blender. That is kind of new.

When I was a Freshman and Sophomore at the University of Colorado I didn't have a car. Being single, young and not employed it was not all that hard. It gets harder when you are older, have strict times when you have to be at work etc.

Annie got her bike at a yard sale, and I got mine at a thrift store. Real high end machines, but they get us around. We are limited to what we can carry on them. A few light items in a bag isn't a problem, but when you pick up a gallon of milk, it makes it a little unstable. In the olden days, when I was at CU, I would toss everything into an old army green pack and just head home up the hill. It was surprising what I could get in the pack, but I don't really want to go back to the pack either. This guy has an extended length frame bike, and some heavy duty panniers.... which I am not sure is the answer either. Give it a look. It's kind of fun.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hard Red, Hard White, and Soft White

I told Kevin that I would take 500# of hard red, 500# of hard white, and 200# of soft white. The cost will be $15/50# bag, or $30/hundred. So I am hoping (Friends and Family) that you take some of this off my hands so I don't have to store it.

Also, I think the honey people are getting ready for some harvesting. The bees haven't all died here. I will let you know what I find out.

The hard white is supposed to make a bread that is very mild, and tastes much like bread from white, milled flour. We tried some soft white years ago and it didn't keep really well, but I am thinking that it would be just the ticket in pilaf.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wheat, Wheat, Wheat

If you are interested (family and friends) there might be some wheat available, double cleaned in bags in a week or two. Let me know if you are interested. But don't wait too long. He doesn't have anywhere to store it, and so will probably clean up what he harvests and sell it quickly.

If you don't have a grinder, or don't want to bake, here is a great recipe for wheat pilaf. Whole grain goodness and you don't have to worry about eating it too quickly.

Call me soon if you are interested in the wheat. I heard a price third hand, and talk to Kevin myself.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

For the Earth is full, and there is enough and to spare

In the midst of all the bad news that surrounds us, it is really important to remember that the 'earth IS full, and there IS enough, and to spare'. This a promise and a reassurance that had been given to us, possibly for times like these. If there is hunger or shortages, it isn't because the earth is failing us, but because we have the wrong system of farming or economics in place to realize the promise that we have.

I ran across a very encouraging web site that I hope you also like. The Dervaes family lives in Pasadena California. They harvest almost 6000 lbs. of produce off of 1/5 of an acre. They live off the grid and power their computers from solar panels. Here is a short trailer that shows a little about what they are doing. They believe they are 21st Century pioneers in the mold of Laura Ingalls Wilder from Little House on the Prairie

They have a website that has quite a bit of information on it. They also have a newsletter that you can sign up for. I just signed up today, so I can 't comment on the content.

It seems to be a common attitude when thinking about storage, to neglect home production. One friend said that he would just dig up his lawn and plant a garden, if conditions warranted it. I didn't know what to say. You can certainly dig up you lawn, and eventually have a good and productive garden, but not the first year. And probably not the second year either. It takes a while for the soil to become fertile, and it takes longer to learn how in the heck to get any kind of harvest.

Another attitude that I hear is that..... what can you do.... get some storage and wait for the Second Coming.... the problems are just too big. That would be great if the Second Coming was well scheduled, and we could count on it coming in the nick of time. More likely, we will ignore the coming storm, and then have to wonder how to feed our families. James Slessinger, former head of the Department of Energy also said that we (in the U.S.) have two speeds, complacency and panic. Complacency will just about guarantee panic somewhere down the road.

Anyway, I don't expect that we will ever get to where we were as self sufficient as Dervaes family, and I don't suppose that anyone that reads this will be either, but..... they have shown what can be done in small space in an urban environment. Granted, Pasadena has a much better growing season, and more natural rainfall than we do here in Utah, still, we can stand to make our yards and homes more productive, and while we have the chance we should make it a priority to do so.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hypermileing: Another Approach

One more idea: why drive to the gym... or on a lot of other short trips. I know we don't always have the time to walk or take a bike, but a lot of times it takes almost as long to drive as it does to bike.

Last year we had our old beater bikes fitted out with solid foam innertubes. It wasn't all that cheap, but we have no flat tires now. Just get on the bike and go. Yes, they are a little harder on your behind. But for the short trips that we make, it is just so great.

Just a thought.

More Hypermileing

This seems to be catching on. One guy got 133 mpg on a long trip. That seems a little bit much.... but shows there is a lot of potential to save gas.

We have now racked up almost 3000 miles on the Grand Am, and have an average mileage of over 37 mpg. I haven't had much luck with the truck. I think that it will never be too good with full time four wheel drive and such a boxy outline. But you do what you can.

A friend has gotten 42 out of a Geo Prizim, but has recently bought a 3 cylinder Metro (which he insists will be worth 10 grand in a year or two) and will be shooting for over 50 mpg.

Funny what a little motivation will do. In the 70's everyone hated the 55 mph speedlimit, and tried every way they could to drive faster. Now, we won't be worried so much about a ticket, because as gas prices rise, we git a 'ticket' every time we try to break the laws (of physics)...

Have fun

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Warm House on a Cold Spring Day

It has been a cool spring, and something in our furnace is on the blink. And we haven't been home enough to call a repairman. Mostly it has been a little on the cool side, but not too bad until we have three or four days of cold, and then it gets pretty brisk.

We have Jotul Woodstove Insert that has seen some duty in the last few weeks. It seems funny to put a fire in the stove this late in the year, but it really does warm up the house. I would like to build some solar collectors especially for these cool but bright days, but until I get that done, we will haul in an armload of wood and make things cozy.

This particular stove is cleverly engineered in that it burns the smoke and has a clear stack. It brings secondary air in and preheats it, and then it sort of injects it through holes in the top of the firebox. When the temperature and draft are right, you can see little jets of flame shooting back into the stove. When you go outside and look at the top of the chimney, all that you see is a mirage-type wavering in the air, indicating heat, but no smoke. We like it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

TEOWAWKI and the List of Lists

A friend of mine sent me this link. I had thought that we were fairly prepared, but I guess that there is no end to the depth of preparedness that you can go to. Still, it is not a bad idea to read through things and jog your memory, or make a note about something that you think is a good idea.

James Herriot, the British veterinarian and author wrote that 'an enthusiast is appealing, but a fanatic is irresistible." He was writing a story about one of the farmers that he knew that made dozens and dozens of different home-made wines. Still, the concept is the same. These guys that made this list are pretty far out on the edge. But when you are looking for information, go to the people who think about stuff day and night for years. They will have thought of just about everything.

A long time ago when the kids were little we lived for a week or so on our food storage. We cooked outside but Annie still used the washer and clothsline for the diapers, and we still showered inside. But we learned a lot about what conditions might be like in the event of a natural disaster. We didn't have dutch ovens, we didn't have a Coleman stove or lantern, and we learned that we really, really didn't like TVP, of which we had several big buckets.

The Survivalblog guys call this a TEOWAWKI weekend - The End Of The World As We Know It. Try it, you might not like it, but you will learn a lot. And it is a lot better to learn that you don't like TVP (example) under controlled conditions, then when you are trying to get your family to eat strange food in a stressful situation. ( TVP does make good pig food however).

Several years later, we ended up eating out of our food storage for about three weeks while we were in the middle of a labor union strike. We were fairly ready. We had just moved, and we hadn't bottled any fruit that year, but we had a bucket of brown sugar and the kids ate a lot of whole wheat pancakes and a lot of whole wheat bread. We had dried milk. We had beans and rice. We had a wheat grinder, and a lot of wheat. Annie is a whiz at bread baking, and with the wheat, some garden veggies that a neighbor gave to us, and some help from the union, we got by pretty well. We were glad that it was over, but we never really wondered what we were going to eat.

Even though you might think it is a good idea to try this, there is a huge reluctance to actually not use the electricity, etc. I am not sure why our minds work the way they do, but on one level we can say, "yes, it is good to be prepared, it is rational and reasonable", but on another level, trying out preparedness food and equipment means that someday we might have to use them. And that is something we don't even want to acknowledge in the slightest way - it makes us feel sort of paranoid and possibly insane.

Here is a copy and paste if you don't want to follow the link:

"From the SurvivalBlog Archives: Start With a "List of Lists"

"Start your retreat stocking effort by first composing a List of Lists, then draft prioritized lists for each subject, on separate sheets of paper. (Or in a spreadsheet if you are a techno-nerd like me. Just be sure to print out a hard copy for use when the power grid goes down!) It is important to tailor your lists to suit your particular geography, climate, and population density as well as your peculiar needs and likes/dislikes. Someone setting up a retreat in a coastal area is likely to have a far different list than someone living in the Rockies.

As I often mention in my lectures and radio interviews, a great way to create truly commonsense preparedness lists is to take a three-day weekend TEOTWAWKI Weekend Experiment” with your family. When you come home from work on Friday evening, turn off your main circuit breaker, turn off your gas main (or propane tank), and shut your main water valve (or turn off your well pump.) Spend that weekend in primitive conditions. Practice using only your storage food, preparing it on a wood stove (or camping stove.)

A “TEOTWAWKI Weekend Experiment” will surprise you. Things that you take for granted will suddenly become labor intensive. False assumptions will be shattered. Your family will grow closer and more confident. Most importantly, some of the most thorough lists that you will ever make will be those written by candlelight.

Your List of Lists should include: (Sorry that this post is in outline form, but it would take a full length book to discus all of the following in great detail)

Water List
Food Storage List
Food Preparation List
Personal List
First Aid /Minor Surgery List
Nuke Defense List
Biological Warfare Defense List
Gardening List
Hygiene List/Sanitation List
Hunting/Fishing/Trapping List
Power/Lighting/Batteries List
Fuels List
Firefighting List
Tactical Living List
Communications/Monitoring List
Tools List
Sundries List
Survival Bookshelf List
Barter and Charity List

JWR’s Specific Recommendations For Developing Your Lists:

Water List
House downspout conversion sheet metal work and barrels. (BTW, this is another good reason to upgrade your retreat to a fireproof metal roof.)
Drawing water from open sources. Buy extra containers. Don’t buy big barrels, since five gallon food grade buckets are the largest size that most people can handle without back strain.
For transporting water if and when gas is too precious to waste, buy a couple of heavy duty two wheel garden carts--convert the wheels to foam filled "no flats" tires. (BTW, you will find lots of other uses for those carts around your retreat, such as hauling hay, firewood, manure, fertilizer, et cetera.)
Treating water. Buy plain Clorox hypochlorite bleach. A little goes a long way. Buy some extra half-gallon bottles for barter and charity. If you can afford it, buy a “Big Berky” British Berkefeld ceramic water filter. (Available from Ready Made Resources and several other Internet vendors. Even if you have pure spring water at your retreat, you never know where you may end up, and a good filter could be a lifesaver.)

Food Storage List
See my post tomorrow which will be devoted to food storage. Also see the recent letter from David in Israel on this subject.

Food Preparation List

Having more people under your roof will necessitate having an oversize skillet and a huge stew pot. BTW, you will want to buy several huge kettles, because odds are you will have to heat water on your wood stove for bathing, dish washing, and clothes washing. You will also need even more kettles, barrels, and 5 or 6 gallon PVC buckets--for water hauling, rendering, soap making, and dying. They will also make great barter or charity items. (To quote my mentor Dr. Gary North: “Nails: buy a barrel of them. Barrels: Buy a barrel of them!”)
Don’t overlook skinning knives, gut-buckets, gambrels, and meat saws.

Personal List
(Make a separate personal list for each family member and individual expected to arrive at your retreat.)
Spare glasses.
Prescription and nonprescription medications.
Birth control.
Keep dentistry up to date.
Any elective surgery that you've been postponing
Work off that gut.
Stay in shape.
Back strength and health—particularly important, given the heavy manual tasks required for self-sufficiency.
Educate yourself on survival topics, and practice them. For example, even if you don’t presently live at your retreat, you should plant a vegetable garden every year. It is better to learn through experience and make mistakes now, when the loss of crop is an annoyance rather than a crucial event.
“Comfort” items to help get through high stress times. (Books, games, CDs, chocolates, etc.)

First Aid /Minor Surgery List
When tailoring this list, consider your neighborhood going for many months without power, extensive use of open flames, and sentries standing picket shifts exposed in the elements. Then consider axes, chainsaws and tractors being wielded by newbies, and a greater likelihood of gunshot wounds. With all of this, add the possibility of no access to doctors or high tech medical diagnostic equipment. Put a strong emphasis on burn treatment first aid supplies. Don’t overlook do-it-yourself dentistry! (Oil of cloves, temporary filling kit, extraction tools, et cetera.) Buy a full minor surgery outfit (inexpensive Pakistani stainless steel instruments), even if you don’t know how to use them all yet. You may have to learn, or you will have the opportunity to put them in the hands of someone experienced who needs them.) This is going to be a big list!

Chem/Nuke Defense List
Dosimeter and rate meter, and charger, radiac meter (hand held Geiger counter), rolls of sheet plastic (for isolating airflow to air filter inlets and for covering window frames in the event that windows are broken due to blast effects), duct tape, HEPA filters (ands spares) for your shelter. Potassium iodate (KI) tablets to prevent thyroid damage.(See my recent post on that subject.) Outdoor shower rig for just outside your shelter entrance.

Biological Warfare Defense List
Hand Sanitizer
Sneeze masks
Colloidal silver generator and spare supplies (distilled water and .999 fine silver rod.)
Natural antibiotics (Echinacea, Tea Tree oil, …)

Gardening List
One important item for your gardening list is the construction of a very tall deer-proof and rabbit-proof fence. Under current circumstances, a raid by deer on your garden is probably just an inconvenience. After the balloon goes up, it could mean the difference between eating well, and starvation.
Top Soil/Amendments/Fertilizers.
Tools+ spares for barter/charity
Long-term storage non hybrid (open pollinated) seed. (Non-hybrid “heirloom” seed assortments tailors to different climate zones are available from The Ark Institute
Herbs: Get started with medicinal herbs such as aloe vera (for burns), echinacea (purple cone flower), valerian, et cetera.

Hygiene/Sanitation List
Sacks of powdered lime for the outhouse. Buy plenty!
TP in quantity (Stores well if kept dry and away from vermin and it is lightweight, but it is very bulky. This is a good item to store in the attic. See my novel about stocking up on used phone books for use as TP.
Soap in quantity (hand soap, dish soap, laundry soap, cleansers, etc.)
Bottled lye for soap making.
Ladies’ supplies.
Toothpaste (or powder).
Fluoride rinse. (Unless you have health objections to the use of fluoride.)
Livestock List:
Hoof rasp, hoof nippers, hoof pick, horse brushes, hand sheep shears, styptic, carding combs, goat milking stand, teat dip, udder wash, Bag Balm, elastrator and bands, SWOT fly repellent, nail clippers (various sizes), Copper-tox, leads, leashes, collars, halters, hay hooks, hay fork, manure shovel, feed buckets, bulk grain and C-O-B sweet feed (store in galvanized trash cans with tight fitting lids to keep the mice out), various tack and saddles, tack repair tools, et cetera. If your region has selenium deficient soil (ask your local Agricultural extension office) then be sure to get selenium-fortified salt blocks rather than plain white salt blocks--at least for those that you are going to set aside strictly for your livestock.

Hunting/Fishing/Trapping List
“Buckshot” Bruce Hemming has produced an excellent series of videos on trapping and making improvised traps. (He also sells traps and scents at very reasonable prices.)
Night vision gear, spares, maintenance, and battery charging
Salt. Post-TEOTWAWKI, don’t “go hunting.” That would be a waste of effort. Have the game come to you. Buy 20 or more salt blocks. They will also make very valuable barter items.
Sell your fly fishing gear (all but perhaps a few flies) and buy practical spin casting equipment.
Extra tackle may be useful for barter, but probably only in a very long term Crunch.
Buy some frog gigs if you have bullfrogs in your area. Buy some crawfish traps if you have crawfish in your area.
Learn how to rig trot lines and make fish traps for non-labor intensive fishing WTSHTF.

Power/Lighting/Batteries List
One proviso: In the event of a “grid down” situation, if you are the only family in the area with power, it could turn your house into a “come loot me” beacon at night. At the same time, your house lighting will ruin the night vision of your LP/OP pickets. Make plans and buy materials in advance for making blackout screens or fully opaque curtains for your windows.
When possible, buy nickel metal hydride batteries. (Unlike the older nickel cadmium technology, these have no adverse charge level “memory” effect.)
If your home has propane appliances, get a “tri-fuel” generator--with a carburetor that is selectable between gasoline, propane, and natural gas. If you heat your home with home heating oil, then get a diesel-burning generator. (And plan on getting at least one diesel burning pickup and/or tractor). In a pinch, you can run your diesel generator and diesel vehicles on home heating oil.
Kerosene lamps; plenty of extra wicks, mantles, and chimneys. (These will also make great barter items.)
Greater detail on do-it-yourself power will be included in my forthcoming blog posts.

Fuels List
Buy the biggest propane, home heating oil, gas, or diesel tanks that your local ordinances permit and that you can afford. Always keep them at least two-thirds full. For privacy concerns, ballistic impact concerns, and fire concerns, underground tanks are best if you local water table allows it. In any case, do not buy an aboveground fuel tank that would visible from any public road or navigable waterway. Buy plenty of extra fuel for barter. Don’t overlook buying plenty of kerosene. (For barter, you will want some in one or two gallon cans.) Stock up on firewood or coal. (See my previous blog posts.) Get the best quality chainsaw you can afford. I prefer Stihls and Husqavarnas. If you can afford it, buy two of the same model. Buy extra chains, critical spare parts, and plenty of two-cycle oil. (Two-cycle oil will be great for barter!) Get a pair of Kevlar chainsaw safety chaps. They are expensive but they might save yourself a trip to the emergency room. Always wear gloves, goggles, and ear-muffs. Wear a logger’s helmet when felling. Have someone who is well experienced teach you how to re-sharpen chains. BTW, don’t cut up your wood into rounds near any rocks or you will destroy a chain in a hurry.

Firefighting List
Now that you have all of those flammables on hand (see the previous list) and the prospect of looters shooting tracer ammo or throwing Molotov cocktails at your house, think in terms of fire fighting from start to finish without the aid of a fire department. Even without looters to consider, you should be ready for uncontrolled brush or residential fires, as well as the greater fire risk associated with greenhorns who have just arrived at your retreat working with wood stoves and kerosene lamps!
Upgrade your retreat with a fireproof metal roof.
2” water line from your gravity-fed storage tank (to provide large water volume for firefighting)
Fire fighting rig with an adjustable stream/mist head.
Smoke and CO detectors.

Tactical Living List
Adjust your wardrobe buying toward sturdy earth-tone clothing. (Frequent your local thrift store and buy extras for retreat newcomers, charity, and barter.)
Dyes. Stock up on some boxes of green and brown cloth dye. Buy some extra for barter. With dye, you can turn most light colored clothes into semi-tactical clothing on short notice.
Two-inch wide burlap strip material in green and brown. This burlap is available in large spools from Gun Parts Corp. Even if you don’t have time now, stock up so that you can make camouflage ghillie suits post-TEOTWAWKI.
Save those wine corks! (Burned cork makes quick and cheap face camouflage.)
Cold weather and foul weather gear—buy plenty, since you will be doing more outdoor chores, hunting, and standing guard duty.
Don’t overlook ponchos and gaiters.
Mosquito repellent.
Synthetic double-bag (modular) sleeping bags for each person at the retreat, plus a couple of spares. The Wiggy’s brand Flexible Temperature Range Sleep System (FTRSS) made by Wiggy's of Grand Junction, Colorado is highly recommended.
Night vision gear + IR floodlights for your retreat house
Subdued flashlights and penlights.
Noise, light, and litter discipline. (More on this in future posts--or perhaps a reader would like to send a brief article on this subject)
Security-General: Locks, intrusion detection/alarm systems, exterior obstacles (fences, gates, 5/8” diameter (or larger) locking road cables, rosebush plantings, “decorative” ponds (moats), ballistic protection (personal and residential), anti-vehicular ditches/berms, anti-vehicular concrete “planter boxes”, razor wire, etc.)
Starlight electronic light amplification scopes are critical tools for retreat security.
A Starlight scope (or goggles, or a monocular) literally amplifies low ambient light by up to 100,000 times, turning nighttime darkness into daylight--albeit a green and fuzzy view. Starlight light amplification technology was first developed during the Vietnam War. Late issue Third Generation (also called or “Third Gen” or “Gen 3”) starlight scopes can cost up to $3,500 each. Rebuilt first gen (early 1970s technology scopes can often be had for as little as $500. Russian-made monoculars (with lousy optics) can be had for under $100. One Russian model that uses a piezoelectric generator instead of batteries is the best of this low-cost breed. These are best used as backups (in case your expensive American made scopes fail. They should not be purchased for use as your primary night vision devices unless you are on a very restrictive budget. (They are better than nothing.) Buy the best starlight scopes, goggles, and monoculars you can afford. They may be life-savers! If you can afford to buy only one, make it a weapon sight such as an AN/PVS-4, with a Gen 2 (or better) tube. Make sure to specify that that the tube is new or “low hours”, has a high “line pair” count, and minimal scintillation. It is important to buy your Starlight gear from a reputable dealer. The market is crowded with rip-off artists and scammers. One dealer that I trust, is Al Glanze (spoken “Glan-zee”) who runs STANO Components, Inc. in Silver City, Nevada. Note: In a subsequent blog posts I will discuss the relationship and implications to IR illuminators and tritium sights.
Range cards and sector sketches.
If you live in the boonies, piece together nine of the USGS 15-minute maps, with your retreat property on the center map. Mount that map on an oversize map board. Draw in the property lines and owner names of all of your surrounding neighbor’s parcels (in pencil) in at least a five mile radius. (Get boundary line and current owner name info from your County Recorder’s office.) Study and memorize both the terrain and the neighbors’ names. Make a phone number/e-mail list that corresponds to all of the names marked on the map, plus city and county office contact numbers for quick reference and tack it up right next to the map board. Cover the whole map sheet with a sheet of heavy-duty acetate, so you can mark it up just like a military commander’s map board. (This may sound a bit “over the top”, but remember, you are planning for the worst case. It will also help you get to know your neighbors: When you are introduced by name to one of them when in town, you will be able to say, “Oh, don’t you live about two miles up the road between the Jones place and the Smith’s ranch?” They will be impressed, and you will seem like an instant “old timer.”

Security-Firearms List
Guns, ammunition, web gear, eye and ear protection, cleaning equipment, carrying cases, scopes, magazines, spare parts, gunsmithing tools, targets and target frames, et cetera. Each rifle and pistol should have at least six top quality (original military contract or original manufacturer) full capacity spare magazines. Note: Considerable detail on firearms and optics selection, training, use, and logistic support are covered in the SurvivalBlog archives and FAQs.

Communications/Monitoring List
When selecting radios buy only models that will run on 12 volt DC power or rechargeable nickel metal hydride battery packs (that can be recharged from your retreat’s 12 VDC power system without having to use an inverter.)
As a secondary purchasing goal, buy spare radios of each type if you can afford them. Keep your spares in sealed metal boxes to protect them from EMP.
If you live in a far inland region, I recommend buying two or more 12 VDC marine band radios. These frequencies will probably not be monitored in your region, leaving you an essentially private band to use. (But never assume that any two-way radio communications are secure!)
Note: More detail on survival communications gear selection, training, use, security/cryptography measures, antennas, EMP protection, and logistical support will be covered in forthcoming blog posts.

Tools List
Gardening tools.
Auto mechanics tools.
Bolt cutters--the indispensable “universal key.”
Woodworking tools.
Gunsmithing tools.
Emphasis on hand powered tools.
Hand or treadle powered grinding wheel.
Don’t forget to buy plenty of extra work gloves (in earth tone colors).
Sundries List:
Systematically list the things that you use on a regular basis, or that you might need if the local hardware store were to ever disappear: wire of various gauges, duct tape, reinforced strapping tape, chain, nails, nuts and bolts, weather stripping, abrasives, twine, white glue, cyanoacrylate glue, et cetera.

Book/Reference List

You should probably have nearly every book on my Bookshelf page. For some, you will want to have two or three copies, such as Carla Emery’s "Encyclopedia of Country Living". This is because these books are so valuable and indispensable that you won’t want to risk lending out your only copy.

Barter and Charity List
For your barter list, acquire primarily items that are durable, non-perishable, and either in small packages or that are easily divisible. Concentrate on the items that other people are likely to overlook or have in short supply. Some of my favorites are ammunition. [The late] Jeff Cooper referred to it as “ballistic wampum.” WTSHTF, ammo will be worth nearly its weight in silver. Store all of your ammo in military surplus ammo cans (with seals that are still soft) and it will store for decades. Stick to common calibers, get plenty of .22 LR (most high velocity hollow points) plus at least ten boxes of the local favorite deer hunting cartridge, even if you don’t own a rifle chambered for this cartridge. (Ask your local sporting goods shop about their top selling chamberings). Also buy at least ten boxes of the local police department’s standard pistol cartridge, again even if you don’t own a pistol chambered for this cartridge.
Ladies supplies.
Salt (Buy lots of cattle blocks and 1 pound canisters of iodized table salt.)
(Stores indefinitely if kept dry.)
Two cycle engine oil (for chain saw gas mixing. Gas may still be available after a collapse, but two-cycle oil will probably be like liquid gold!)
Gas stabilizer.
Diesel antibacterial additive.
50-pound sacks of lime (for outhouses).
1 oz. bottles of military rifle bore cleaner and Break Free (or similar) lubricant.
Waterproof dufflebags in earth tone colors (whitewater rafting "dry bags").
Thermal socks.
Semi-waterproof matches (from military rations.)
Military web gear (lots of folks will suddenly need pistol belts, holsters, magazine pouches, et cetera.)
Pre-1965 silver dimes.
1-gallon cans of kerosene.
Rolls of olive drab parachute cord.
Rolls of olive-drab duct tape.
Spools of monofilament fishing line.
Rolls of 10 mil "Visqueen", sheet plastic (for replacing windows, isolating airspaces for nuke scenarios, etc.)
I also respect the opinion of one gentleman with whom I've corresponded, who recommended the following:
Strike anywhere matches. (Dip the heads in paraffin to make them waterproof.)
Playing cards.
Cooking spices. (Do a web search for reasonably priced bulk spices.)
Rope & string.
Sewing supplies.
Candle wax and wicking.
Lastly, any supplies necessary for operating a home-based business. Some that you might consider are: leather crafting, small appliance repair, gun repair, locksmithing, et cetera. Every family should have at least one home-based business (preferably two!) that they can depend on in the event of an economic collapse.
Stock up on additional items to dispense to refugees as charity.
Note: See the Barter Faire chapter in my novel "Patriots" for lengthy lists of potential bart"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hyper-mileage Driving Revisited

We have been driving back and forth to work - cold car, some intown driving. I thought we would see a drop off as opposed to the straight trips to SLC via back of the lake.

Yesterday we filled in gas. we had traveled 588.4 miles. It took 12.54 gallons to top it off. That works out to 46.92 mpg. Not to bad for a car with all stock components. Even if you knocked off 15% of that to speedometer inaccuracies my mileage would still be 39.9 mpg.

I will be doing a little checking on the odometer to see just how close we are. But there is no doubt in my mind that you can improve your mileage with no cost to you just by changing your driving habits. The next project is to see what kind of mileage I can get out of my 2001 Ford Ranger with 4WD, and a 4.0 liter V6 and automatic transmission. Three big handycaps. I am shooting for 30 mpg.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hypermilage Driving

I ran across an article the other day where these fanatic people were getting over 100 mpg using cars that had no special equipment or alterations. I thought - wow, this is just what I need! It so happened that Annie had a practice and a concert in SLC on consecutive days, and so we put some miles on the old Grand Am, and I got a chance to practice some hypermileage techniques.

In case you are wondering how mileage is calculated by the EPA, you can go here. If you follow that page on down quite a ways you will get to the section where the driving techniques are outlines. Note: Not all of these techniques are safe or even legal, not all of them will save you money over all. You might get better mileage if you turn off your car when you wait at a stop light, but the wear and tear on the starter motor, battery and alternator might not make it worth it.

Section II - Basic FE saving techniques
Now that we have a good feel for what others perceive as a problem without knowing what they themselves are achieving, let us begin to consider the ways to match if not beat the EPA estimates.
  • Do not use quick accelerations or brake heavily: This reduces fuel economy by as much as 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent around town. EPA tests do not account for this kind of vigorous driving.

  • Do not idle excessively: Decreases average FE. The EPA city test includes idling, but drivers that experience more idling experience lower MPG.

  • Do not drive at higher speeds: This increases aerodynamic drag (wind resistance) and mechanical friction which reduces fuel economy. The EPA test accounts for aerodynamic drag up to highway speeds of 60 mph, but drivers often exceed this speed.

  • Cold weather and frequent short trips reduce fuel economy, since your engine doesn't operate efficiently until it is warmed up. In colder weather, it takes longer for your engine to warm, and on short trips, your vehicle operates a smaller percentage of time at the desired temperature. Note: Letting your car idle to warm-up doesn't help your fuel economy, it actually uses more fuel and creates more pollution. Drive to your furthest destination first and then as you are heading home, stop at the closer destinations in order from furthest to closest as the car is warmed up for longer portions of your drive.

  • Remove Cargo or cargo racks: Cargo and/or racks on top of your vehicle (e.g., cargo boxes, canoes, etc.) increase aerodynamic drag and lower FE. Vehicles are not tested with additional cargo on the exterior.

  • Do not tow unless absolutely necessary: Towing a trailer or carrying excessive weight does decrease fuel economy. Vehicles are assumed to carry three hundred pounds of passengers and cargo in the EPA test cycles.

  • Minimize running mechanical and electrical accessories: Running mechanical and electrical accessories (e.g., air conditioner) decreases fuel economy. Operating the air conditioner on "Max" can reduce MPG by roughly 5-25% compared to not using it.

  • Avoid driving on hilly or mountainous terrain if possible: Driving hilly or mountainous terrain or on unpaved roads reduces fuel economy most of the time. The EPA test assumes vehicles operate over flat ground.

  • Do not use 4-wheel drive if it is not needed. 4-Wheel drive reduces fuel economy. Four-wheel drive vehicles are tested in 2-wheel drive. Engaging all four wheels makes the engine work harder and increases crankcase losses.
Maintain your Automobile: A poorly tuned engine burns more fuel, so fuel economy will suffer if it is not in tune. Improperly aligned or under inflated tires can lower fuel economy, as can a dirty air filter or brake drag.

Try to purchase high BTU content gasoline if available: Fuels Vary in Energy Content and some fuels contain less energy than others. Using oxygenated fuels or reformulated gasoline (RFG), can cause a small decrease (1-3%) in fuel economy. In addition, the energy content of gasoline varies from season to season. Typical summer conventional gasoline contains about 1.7% more energy than typical winter conventional gasoline.

Inherent Variations in Vehicles: Small variations in the way vehicles are manufactured and assembled can cause MPG variations among vehicles of the same make and model. Usually, differences are small, but a few drivers will see a marked deviation from the EPA estimates.

Engine Break-In: New vehicles will not obtain their optimal fuel economy until the engine has broken in. This may take 3-5 thousand miles.

The things that will get you the most good are pretty easy:

Don't drive at high speeds. In airplanes I have been told that drag increases as the square of the speed, and power needed (and fuel burned) as the cube of the speed. I'm not going to get all mathematical, suffice it to say that your mileage will be noticeably lower at 65 rather than 55. I know that traffic won't always let you drive slower, but if you can take a few extra minutes it will save you money. The many large trucking firms are setting their speed limits in their trucks to 62. FYI.

Coast to a stop as often as possible.... within reason. Pushing on the gas until you are close to the stop, then slamming on the brakes costs in gas, brakes, and tires.

Gently accelerate. Imagine you have a raw egg between your foot and the gas pedal.

Generally coasting down hills isn't encouraged... I don't think it is illegal if your engine is running, (don't take my word for it either.... I am no legal expert) but this will help you a lot if you have a long hill. Turning off the engine can be done, but if you aren't careful you might turn the key to far and lock up your steering. And you lose your power steering and power brakes. So this is probably taking things too far. I am pretty sure that turning off the engine is not legal... or smart.

Anyway, driving a 1995 Grand Am with 90,000 miles on a rebuilt engine, fairly well maintained, correctly inflated tires (some of the hyper milers over inflate their tires, which helps with the mileage, but hurts handling, stopping and tire life), with a 5 speed manual transmission and two people in it... we left Maverik in Riverton and drove home. We traveled 104.3 miles, and it took 2.72 gallons of gas to re-fill the tank. Doing the math give 38.35 mpg for this trip. The next day we made the trip back to SLC, and had to drive some on I15 at high speed, with normal traffic acceleration and then back to Maverik. We dropped down to 32.39 mpg for that leg of the trip.

So, I am a fan. I have been driving my Ranger a lot more gently, and found that even with a 4 wheel drive, boxy truck that I can noticeably improve my mileage. If anybody tries some of these techniques, I would be interested to hear from you with a comment.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Casabon's Book - Food Storage 101 Resource

This is a nice site. There is a lot of information here. Here is a link for storage with emphasis on pregnancy, lactation, and young children.

Here is a page on storing medicines.

Here is a perspective on the hard times that have been here before - the difference between being poor in a rich world, and mass collective poverty of a deflation or inflation.

Finally, what not to do in the way of food storage. We probably all have some stories that could go here.

I hope you enjoy these. There is a lot good stuff here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Peak Oil Video - Krassimir Petrov Ph.D

This is kind of long (60 minutes!), but it should answer any questions that you might have. He covers supply, demand, and economics. I don't really expect that anyone will actually spend a hour watching this. But I thought it is a good summation, and if you want to learn something this guy is pretty good. Because you won't see this on 60 Minutes doesn't mean it isn't happening.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Letter From Afton

This was forwarded to me. I thought you might be interested. She is from Oak City.

Sister Afton Dutson writes:
Hi, everybody! I am by some miracle back on my e-mail! It has
been worthless for the last month, but the last 2 weeks, it has been so
sporadic, I haven't been able to do a thing. If by some chance, I could
open it, I would click to read a message and it would abort! And that
was that. Anyway, I made a trip down to the office of Netconnect,
(usually I just call then on the phone to complain about the service,
but this time I really wanted to get to the bottom of it) and they told
me that lightning had struck the tower. And they were out for so long.
They were re-routing everything to Harare, and it wasn't handling it
all. And then, they were working on the line and so we didn't have any
service again for a few days.
And I am not surprised that lightning struck it, because it hit and
killed 3 people. In different locations! It was a wild night! I
thought that it was for sure the end of the world again. (We have been
through 3 or 4 of those end of the world storms, and it is scary!!!)
...When we came out of there, we were so glad to breath fresh air and
come back to our flat, and we were exhausted and depressed. There are
so many sick and dying. And because of the death rate, and all of the
AIDS (1 out of every 3 in Zimbabwe), there are funerals all the time. I
am hoping we won't have to have one for Edward. He has 3 little
children, and his wife died about the time we came here. And last week,
there were 3 funerals in our wards. One was one of the guys killed by
lightning, (he was just riding his bike when he was struck!) and 2 of
them were suicides. One was 14 and the other 17. That happens here
alot, too. Life is not fun for kids like at home. Times are hard and
some of them have a terrible home life and parents that are not much
good, and they just give up. So sad.
A few days ago, our stake president, President Makasi was driving
up to Zambia on CES business, and got in a terrible rain storm, and I
guess the roads were slick, and he hit a spot and skidded and then over
corrected and rolled his little Isuzu (spelling?) truck (with a canopy
on the back). Because of the roll bar on it, and the fact that he was
wearing his seat belt, and the Lord was protecting him, he was not
hurt! But he was up near Kariba Lake, and where there is no network for
his cell phone, he couldn't call anyone. But there was a little traffic
and several people stopped to help him, and he asked them to send a
wrecker to take his car back to Harare. But of course, he couldn't
leave his car, because it would be totally stripped within a few hours
if left alone. So he sat there in it. And it was about 5 in the
evening and he sat there all night, and all the next day until around 6
in the evening and here came our mission president's wife along, with
the two assistants. And they took him to Harare, as soon as the truck
got headed there, too. But I can tell you that he spent a fearful
night. That area is full of animals. And the windows were broken out.
Any lion could reach in and pull him out so easily. And the hyenas run
in packs and are vicioius and all other kinds of wild animals. He said
he was scared. So now, we are also being transport for him part of the
time. And what will he do when we go home? This van that we drive will
be driven up to Harare by us and then left there, as there is not a
couple coming to replace us here. So they don't need the car here. But
he will need something. It takes months here to get anything done like
fixing a car.
Now, for anything we buy, we have to peel out rolls of 10 million
dollar bills to pay for _anything_! A million won't buy anything at
all. It is almost worthless now. We had to get some veggies the other
day, and I asked Elder Dutson how much money he had, would we have
enough to pay for the stuff? And he counted that he had 7 billion 500
million dollars on hand. And we spent it all. They said the other day
that inflation here has now reached 100,000 % An all-time world
record. And still climbing faster than you can believe!Speaking of
cars, Elder Dutson had to get an oil change done on our van, and he went
in to check on the price one day and we went to the bank and got money,
and the next day he went to get it done and the price had jumped in just
that one day from 125,314, 492 dollars, to 1,016,344,482 dollars. 891
thousand dollars more than it was the day before!
And speaking of the animals, we heard the report a few weeks ago
about them arresting 2 poachers who had killed 15 elephants! Taken the
tusks and left the animals there for the vultures and other animals.
How very sad, and how wasteful. This country is rich in scenic places,
and all the wild animals and tourists have always loved to come here and
enjoy that, and now the animals are getting more scarce all the time
with those things going on. And they say that the poachers will spend
something like 20-30 years in jail and pay fines that are astronomical!
It is a serious crime here and still they do it. People are so desperate.
The church deposits in the bank 8 billion dollars in each of three
accounts, every week. It sure costs the church a sum to operate this
mission here in Zimbabwe, wouldn't you say? And the problem is, the
church doesn't get the same exchange rate that we get. They get the
bank rate and it is quite a bit less than the black market that we do.
And speaking of crime, we have a very good friend here who helps
Elder Dutson repair the bikes. He has a business of fixing bikes and
gets parts and that and they spend alot of time working on them. And
one Sunday morning, we got a phone call from Mike and he sounded just
terrible. He had been on his way home the night before, (walking, of
course), and was robbed and beaten horribly! They hit him over and over
with big iron bars, and left him there in the road. Somehow, with some
help from some people who had witnessed it all (but didn't make one move
to help him when it was going on). He said if it had been only 2 guys,
he could have handled it and fought them off, but there were 5 or 6.
That is the way they do it. Get several together and go for one
person. Mike is a big, big guy, and it was sad that he couldn't fight
them off, although he tried. Then he screamed and screamed but no one
will get involved, because they know they would be killed too. He
called his old employers, and they wouldn't do anything about him. So
he called us here, and we went straightaway and picked him up and took
him to a chemist shop and gave him some money for some medications for
the pain he was having, and then left him at his mother's. It was
terrible and his face was swollen up so bad, and I think he had a
concussion, and his head ached terribly for days! But they cannot go to
a hospital or doctor. No money. It is so sad....

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Mostly Cloudy, and It Looks Like Rain

"But let's not be too gloomy here.

Other than overleverage, bad debts, sinking home prices, no jobs, shrinking wages, cash strapped US consumers, rising oil prices, a sinking US dollar, $500 trillion in derivatives not marked to market, rampant overcapacity, underfunded pension plans, looming boomer retirements, no funding for Medicaid, no funding for Medicare, and no Social Security trust fund, everything is just fine.

And even though the Fed, central bankers in general, and governments combined to create this problem, the irony is nearly everyone is begging for them to fix the problem by encouraging still more speculation in housing, commercial real estate, and the markets.

Sorry folks, it's the end of the line and payback time for the world's most reckless financial experiment in history. The deflation genie can't be put back in the bottle until leverage everywhere is unwound."

Mike "Mish' Shedlock
paints a dreary picture here. But if you are reading the financial press, you know that this stuff well known. For heavens sake, if you have money in stocks or mutual funds think about getting out of it and put it in SHV (basically 3 month Treasury bills) or a nice money market. The value of each of your dollars will be going down through devaluation. But at least you will have the dollars. You won't be missing a rally for some time.

Say you started out in the fall of 2005 with a really great mutual fund like CWGIX. Say you had 25,000 dollars worth to start, by the time November of 2007 rolled around, the value would be up to about 37,000 or so. CWGIX peaked at $50.49 and has since fallen back to $40.73 as of last Friday. That drops the value to just a little over $30K. Thats a drop of about $7K in a little over three months. I don't know what the future will bring, but I think the odds are heavily to downside losses, rather than upside rallies.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Starting a New Garden

After years of both enjoying and bemoaning our shady yard we decided to put in some raised beds. We are hoping that we will get the same production that we get out of the bigger shady part of the yard.

Where the garden is now, we will be planting a small orchard, and some bramble rows. Also, we will use clover for a ground cover. We will be updating this.... so stay tuned.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Weekly Preparedness Goals

This list was sent around in our ward bulletin this week. I thought I would share it. The original was in table format and had a goal for every week of the year. I think you might want to read through these goals and prioritize them for your particular situation. Diapers should probably be pretty high on the list if you have little ones. Still, there are some good things to remember. Most of this is geared for 72 hour, it is a good thing to have for your regular storage as well.

 Obtain a suitable 72 Hour kit container (backpack, duffel bag, garbage can w/lid etc.)
 Check the batteries in your smoke detector
 Add 1-1/2 gallons of water per person to 72 hr. kit
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr. kit.
 Add a can opener to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 2 cans of tuna fish or canned meat to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1 blanket to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1 large roll of paper towels to 72 hr. kit.
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1 bar of soap to 72 hr. kit.
 Add stress relief factors to 72 hr. kit (books, magazines, coloring books, games etc.)
 Add pocket or utility knife to72 hr. kit.
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1 container of baby wipes to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1-2 changes of clothes to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 48 oz. non-carbonated canned juice to 72 hr. kit. (date for rotation)
 Add 1 can of fruit, 1 can of vegetables to 72 hr. kit. (date for rotation)
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1 box matches to 72 hr. kit.
 Add hard candy to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1 ½ lb peanut butter can to 72 hr. kit.
 Add Ziplock bags (in a variety of sizes) to 72 hr. kit.
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr. kit.
 Check the batteries in your smoke detector and practice escape routes
 Add 1 box of crackers to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1 bag of plastic utensils to 72 hour kit.
 Add 1 large candle to 72 hr kit.
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr. kit.
 Add 1 lb. Graham crackers to 72 hr kit.
 Add flashlight to 72 hr kit. Check batteries
 Add disinfectant (betadine, bleach, sterile wipes, hand sanitizer ) to 72 hr kit.
 Add paper cups to 72 hr kit.
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr kit.
 Add 1 lb. dried fruit to 72 hr kit.
 Add ½ lb non-fat dried milk to 72 hr. kit.
 Add battery powered radio to 72 hr kit.
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr kit.
 Add items related to individual medical needs to 72 hr kit.
 Add diapers, feminine hygiene supplies to 72 hr kit.
 Add toothbrush and 1 tube toothpaste to 72 hr kit
 Add hand shovel to 72 hr kit.
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr kit.
 Verify each family member's tetanus immunization is up to date.
 Add 1 large roll heavy duty aluminum foil to 72 hr kit.
 Add 1 axe to 72 hr kit.
 Add paper plates to 72 hr kit.
 Add $10 cash to 72 hr kit.
 Add 1-2 boxes of pre-sweetened cereal to 72 hr kit.
 Add photocopies of personal documents to 72 hr kit (wills, insurance policies, birth certificates). Send 1 copy to family member or friend in separate location

Friday, February 29, 2008

Diebold Leaks Election Results

This has a good 'gottcha' factor to it. Have fun with it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Care and Keeping of Dutch Ovens

Of all the handy inventions that has been given to mankind, I have to rate dutch ovens above the computer, the internet, the cell phone, and even, dare I say it, the ipod. We didn't come to learn about dutch ovens until we had moved out to the edge of nowhere. Avalanche, Rockslide and I went out with the scouts one fine spring day. There were a lot of scouts, and they all wanted to have their own campfires. We didn't have a Coleman stove, and had kind of chickened out and brought a few sandwiches, some chips, apples, cookies etc. The Scouts were making pizza, popcorn, and the campfire dinner with hamburger, carrots, and potatoes wrapped in tinfoil and put on the campfire. These last could probably be fairly edible if the hamburger was extra lean, the potatoes and carrots were cut into little pieces and the whole thing was seasoned and cooked well - something that is only theory to me. I have never seen one done well. So we ate our dinner, and were still a little peckish. The Scoutmaster asked us if we wanted to have some of his dutch oven dinners. We had no idea what a treat we would have. Dutch oven chicken, cheezey potatoes, cherry cobler.... mmmmm.... Much better than the greasey hamburger, - rare in the inside and cooked to a burnt crisp on the fireside, crunch and burnt potatoes and carrots that the traditional dinner gave us. Our sandwiches had been good, but we really liked this new style of cooking.

Fade back about 15 years. We were on the farm and inflation was roaring along at about 15 percent and we had a lot of exhortation to get our food storage in church and had been making some progress in that area and decided to test it out for a week. It taught us that we didn't have a good way to cook things, and that we didn't like textured vegetable protein at all.... and probably some other lessons as well.

So let's concentrate on food today. Water is probably more important to have if you can't get it, but lets start with food. We didn't have dutch ovens! Yikes, looking back, how strange is that? If you don't have a dutch oven, get one. Save for one, let Santa know it's on your list, use some of the stimulus package money this spring to buy one or more.

I like the ones without the legs. The camp ovens are really better if you are going to use them outside a lot, but you can use the classic ones all the time in the oven, and get your recipes dialed in and then take them outside and use them with briquettes. You will need to have a few small rocks or something else to act as legs, or the oven with smother the briquettes, and you will have very pink, tough and juicy chicken. :)

Dottie asked me to send her some information on dutch oven cooking so that she can put it into the cookbook she is putting together. (Mostly Grandma's recipes, but also other family favorites that anyone has and wants to share).

I got this chart and placement instructions from

So maybe this will be helpful. I don't use recipes or charts much, so I am not much help. But maybe I should.

Don't use the briquettes that are supposed to give things a mesquite or other wood flavor. They are made from wood rather than coal, and have a LOT less heat in them... you can use them, but not on a 1 to 1 basis with the chart below. They have less heat, and they burn out quicker, so you might need 1.5:1 or 2:1

If your meat is still a little frozen - more time, more briquettes.

If is is really cold out side - same as above. If the wind is blowing, shelter the ovens, or you don't have a prayer.

You can use them on a regular campfire just fine too. Bring a fireplace ash shovel so that you can heap the coals on top. Also, buy a lid lifter, or have a pair of vise grip pliers handy.

There are lots of little gadgets that can be handy to have, but are not totally necessary. I like the smooth bottom ovens designed for using in the kitchen oven. They nest inside each other, and take less room. But you need to have something to set them on so that the coals or briquettes aren't crushed and can still get some air. Railroad spikes work well for this. So does several little rocks....

You need to have some kind of pliers or forcips or something to move the coals around. Good to have a whisk broom too, to sweep off the top before you serve. I hope this is helpful.

This chart will show you how many briquettes you need to use to achieve a certain temperature in your Dutch oven. The numbers across the top refer to the cooking temperature you wish to achieve. The number down the side refers to your Dutch oven's diameter. So if you have a 12 inch Dutch oven and want to cook something at 350 degrees, for example, you would need 25 briquettes.



































Briquette Position

Now you know how many briquettes to use to get a certain temperature. The next question is how many briquettes go on the top, and how many go on the bottom? Use this guide:

To Roast
Put ½ of the briquettes on the bottom, ½ on the lid.

To Bake
Put 1/3 on the bottom, 2/3 on the lid.

To Simmer
Put 2/3 on the bottom, 1/3 on the lid.

Also, realize that a briquette has a heat curve - at the start they put out very little, then the heat rises in sort of a bell shaped curve, reaches a peak and starts to fall of as the fuel in consumed and the actual hot part gets to be as big as a marble, surrounded by a lot of fluffy ash. Don't be fooled...

The more you use your dutch oven, the better it will cook, in that all the little pores in the metal will become filled with carbon, and it will have a slick finish that is very durable.

When you are first seasoning an oven the process is to coat it with oil and bake it at 450 deg F for an hour or so. This will kind of make a slick surface, but it is just a start. For the first dozen or more times, I would just use it to make meat dishes, or bake bread in. If you have a lot of liquid, and especially if there are acids (fruit based desserts), that will dissolve the seasoning coating, and you will have to add more oil and bake it again. Bread is good, put a lot of pan spray in and bake without a lid. Or with one, except for the last few minutes to brown the loaf. And, yes, it won't be shaped like bread you buy in the store.

One more nice thing about DO cooking. It is easy to store a bag of match light briquettes in a closet. They can be used on a propane or coleman gase stove as well, but if push comes to shove, you can gather up some sticks and dry branches from a nearby tree and have a warm meal.

Well, that should get you started. And that is kind of the whole point of this blog. Once you start using a dutch oven in your cooking, I think you will be hooked. And it won't seem so weird either. After the first time you have a power outage that last for a few hours, you will be glad of the water, warm clothes and blankets, and food that you have in you home.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Addendum to the last post

Just to clarify, they buying of companies and stock is a desperate measure, but might actually stimulate stock prices in the short run. But it will kill the dollar, and so while you might have more dollars, their value will fall. Sophie's choice I suppose.