solar oven

Did not use this much during the winter, but we are now at that time of year.

Yesterday did a piece of pork for pulled pork; cooking it for about 7 hours at 200F, and then heating it up this morning for today’s lunch.

Now have seasoned ground beef strips in there for making jerky.  When I do jerky for the dog just use the air dehydrator for as long as it takes to get crispy dry.  Put the jerky strips in the electric dehydrator yesterday for 12 hours and now they are in the solar oven.  The instructions said oven for 1.5 hours at 200F per side.  So much fat is coming off them, I’m going let them cook in there until the fat is pretty much off the meat – as it is the fat that would go rancid and put the taste off.  its definitely tasty stuff!

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water

How much water is enough?

Unless you are right on a creek, lake, or marsh, there isn’t enough.

Right now, I have 3000 gallons of water storage – not full.  Accidently left one 350gallon tank open and thoroughly watered a couple of trees, but left nothing else for later.

We’ve had no rain for a few weeks and none of any quantity is expected until July.  That’s right, its April and I’m talking July before we get rain.  It is the beginning of a drought cycle, and if we see major rains once or twice through out the year, we’ll be lucky.

Saturday I prepared one 3.5′ x 15′ planting bed.  This bed is completely lined with pavers to hold moisture and keep the digging creatures out.  dug into the soil a lot of organic matter including some manure (store bought, no horses nearby that we know) as well as some fine coconut fibre.  Buried 4 ollas in the bed, each intended to water an area of 2 feet around the olla.  Then I planted some chard seedlings, some eggplants and some tomatoes, leaving plenty of room for more plants.  The ollas were filled, the ground watered thoroughly, the plants drenched.  That was Saturday.  Today, Monday, the Ollas were empty.  As the ground is really dry, it will take awhile for that to balance out and today filled the Ollas and drenched the ground again.  Plus did another bed with ollas, and squash, plus a planter with small ollas and pea seeds.

I use Ollas, mulch, and shade cloths.  and my 3000 gallons will water my entire garden, for 30 days with care.  That’s it.  Just 30 days, the garden only.  My food source.

This year am cutting back on the garden some due to personal time restraints.  But SHTF, I will need every calorie that garden can produce!

and that requires water whether or not it rains!

unexpected benefits

Prepping has had unexpected benefits of all kinds.  Am sure others have found the same, each of us depending on our lifestyles.

We work from home, so it would seem that I have plenty of time to do routine things. But that’s not always the case.  Of course, working from home means I’m trying to do inside things like housework, cooking, along with my office work, as well as give time to the garden, etc.  In other words, finding the balance any working woman struggles to achieve.  The big difference, I don’t lose travel time from my life – BUT – am expected to cook 3 meals a day!!!

And this is where prepping has exposed me to knew ideas.  Like cooking in advance (not new), and DEHYDRATING the results.  Butternut squash, brown rice, chilli,  even home made soups!

One of the prepper forums asked me why I would want to dehydrate cooked rice, after all, rice only takes 20 minutes, right?   But we want BROWN RICE and that’s 45 minutes minimum.  So a cooked portion just has to be thrown in water and rehydrated.  When the day is busy, and it’s suddenly 1/2 an hour before lunch, throw a steak on the grill, some rice in the water, heat up some veggies, and that long cooking lunch is ready in less time!

One day I’ll have enough cooked rice to set some aside for an experiment in rancidity.  Raw brown rice going rancid where white rice does not.   But what about cooked brown rice?

and bulk buying!!!!   Not everything, but we’ve discovered that freeze dried blueberries are a great snack food, as well as rehydrate nicely for making other things.  Husband loves dehydrated apples.  Powdered/dehydrated cheese.  You will never look at mac and cheese or cheese soups the same!  Bulk soup mixes and bullion.   I repack them into smaller quantities and vac seal them, but they do indeed get used up.  price is absolutely cheaper per/oz or serving than smaller supermarket packaging. sometimes the quality is better!

So the S may never HTF, but I’m glad I’ve been exposed to all these new things, new foods, new techniques.

dehydrated cooked rice

back when I was still with a prepper FB group, mentioned I was experimenting with dehydrating cooked BROWN rice.  We all know that BROWN rice has a limited storage life and I wanted to know if cooked and dehydrated BROWN rice would keep better.

The immediate response to that was why are you doing that. Rice keeps forever if you keep it dry and seal it, etc., etc., etc.  And we all know BROWN rice goes rancid.

and that is part of why I am no longer with that FB group . . .

The answer to the question is not going to be found because today, needing some cooked rice in a hurry for a fast lunch as I was late, used that dehydrated BROWN rice.  It was only 3 months old and it was GOOD!!

So guess I’ll make another batch and set some aside and see how it tastes in a year or two.

short story as prepping tool

Have always wanted to be writer.  Specifically, wanted to be THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVELIST.

But as Mike Rowe points out, following your passion doesn’t work if you aren’t good at it, and I’m not.

Which doesn’t stop me from trying to write. At least I get out what ever frustration is rising to the surface and I write until its gone and that’s been good enough for the last 50 years.

My latest is attempt is a post apocalyptic novel.

Write what you know the experts say, so my characters are drawn from real life, the story takes place in my hometown.  This is a land of pollyannas; Reiki practitioners, Yoga instructors, Massage therapists, crystal healers.  Ex-hippies who did well in their in between lives have now retired, showing up at the Whole Foods store in town in their tie dye, birkenstocks,  and long grey hair. They buy organic foods, organic wine in great quantities and they belong to groups that seek to bring rainbow leaping unicorns into reality.

On the other hand, we have young idealists who live in campers, drive cars that say Save Mother Earth while belching out black oily smoke, and beg on the street corners or set up shop selling hemp macramé jewelry.

We also have a lot of homes that belong to rather wealthy people who are intent on saving the Earth and therefore are solar powered with giant arrays, and driving their Prius and Teslas if they really have boatloads of $$$$.  Town code prohibits Earth Ships like you see outside of Taos, sadly.

We even have a couple of Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes.

Average age of the population is 54. Lots of older retired folks in their 70s, 80s, and 90s.  Not actually the folks who are going to survive a great SHTF event.  Need to much medical care and on going prescription refills.

So it is within this setting that I’ve written about a woman and the loss of the national power grid on her 70th birthday.  and this is written looking back from her 75th birthday.

Amazingly, it has allowed me to go through a scenario with how well prepared am I?

There is a certain amount of Pollyanna in my story as I expect the capable in town, the solar power installers particularly, to come together to keep the water pumps going. That the local ranchers will work out a way to bring meat to the table. That the local farmers will also help supply food.  But distribution of the same is part of the story. Those who feel they deserve to have it because they are starving, but have no skills and no wish to even be a laboring body in exchange.  And those who are older and do not have the physical means to help. How do we cut out our neighbors?

But it does all fall back on what WE do at home.  We don’t live right in town, so some of the angst and chaos isn’t happening here.  We have to figure out how to heat our home (it takes place in January), how to get the garden up and running earlier,  how to cook, how to dispose of our waste – human and just plain old garbage, how to hunt and fish.  And how to do collect and bring home enough wood for all the above when it is our SOLE heating and cooking supply and we’re 70 years old!!

It turned out to be quite the eye opener and think I will do this again using different SHTF scenerios . . but first, am cooking up some beans and ham to can and dehydrate . . .

age and the prepping dream

Almost everyone has a dream for when they no longer have to work, or for when they have enough money, or , or, or.  They’re dreams right? for the future.

A lot of people step forward and begin living their dreams when they retire.  For those who have managed well, they get to retire in their 50’s.  Most don’t retire until their 60’s, mid to late.

For preppers, the dreams are things like bunkers full of food, a source of water, good soil for gardening, lots of ammo, etc.

Know someone who has just purchased his dream acreage in the high desert.  The only development to the land has been putting in a well, and electric to run the well.  The lots around him are so far undeveloped.  and he is 62.

Know he has plans for solar, greenhouse, chicken, some other livestock, barn, house of some sort, etc.

and I admit to some envy  -mostly because of his isolation.  People are really rubbing me wrong lately.

But began thinking of his plans.  How long will it take to get all this set up for full homesteading?  he’s 62.  If we works fast and throws a lot of money at it, less than 5 years to get a garden in, barns, chickens, livestock, manure piles, compost, root cellar, cisterns,  solar panels, batteries, wiring, some sort of grey water and composting toilet set up.  Then he’ll be 67.  He’s single right now, and while know he is looking for a partner on the land, he’s unlikely to find a hard working 40 year old  – unless its someone thinking the old man will croak and they’ll have this fine homestead . . . . . the preppers version of a sugar daddy . . . .

anyway, at 67, presuming he threw out a lot of money to get it done, how hard can he work this acreage? managing that livestock, turning those manure piles, moving the compost into his garden beds, harvesting, preserving, managing, etc.  And if he’s doing this mostly by his own sweat, rather than with beacoup $$$, really how hard can he keep going?

Five more years, how strong is he now?  how hard can he work?

and notice I’m not considering any health issues, presuming that fresh air, good food, and hard work will keep him healthy!

So my envy of his fulfilling his dream is countered by my being 68.  I’ve got arthritis and am losing strength in my hands.  Eye sight is going, cataracts are common for those living in the desert.  Husband is a year younger but he has stenosis of the spine, and his eyesight is also going.  hopefully, he’ll get his cataracts operated on this year.   both of us have noticed a loss of hearing (too much rock n roll!!)   We do not have beacoup $$ to spend on land and its development, even if we sold off what we do have now.  Even if we decided to go that way, I’d be at least 70 before we closed and moved on (it took mr. 62 about 2 years to sell his old property and then time to find the perfect new place).  70 years old to be starting to learn how to homestead, deal with livestock, plant and harvest and preserve.  Kill and skin and preserve.

What kind of strength will have? what kind of skills would be able to develop to counter our lack of strength and knowledge?  How long and far could we push our soft citified bodies?

So the dream is changed, reality sets limitations, and we move on in a different direction.   And lets be honest, with what’s going on in the world now, prepping does seem like it was a really good idea!

Think its time to check the inventory and see what holes I have in my stores . . .

and?

With the change in administration, it seems that a lot of people have stepped back from their preps.  At the same time, hear that a lot of those people who identify as liberal have started theirs!

Do people really think that a change in administration is going to stop the train?

honestly don’t know what YOUR reason for prepping is, mine cannot be defined.  My hope is that all this is just stuff I’ll be using as an old lady so I don’t have to use my social security (if there is any) $$ on buying groceries!

Still, do not see an end to air and water pollution, see an increase in the instability of the world’s economy, a heightening of the tensions between the big players on the world state (as I write this, NATO -led by the US is moving troops into Poland, something that is basically a direct confrontation with the Russians).  China is feeling a deep economic and environmental pinch as they are dealing with environmental issues that they ignored for decades in their push to become an economic super power as well as the overall decline in the world’s economy as we seem to have about reached our limit as consumers.  North Korea is more threatening, Iran is getting uranium which they have PROMISED not to make into weapons though they do have the facilities to enrich it for that purpose. Meanwhile, they are harassing our big ships in the ocean; pushing, provoking.  Terrorism is spreading.  The split between so called liberal and conservatism is growing.

Yesterday was checking out my storage room, which has unfortunately become a storage catch all, and its pretty full!  too much of it though is storage; Christmas decorations, office files,  and the camping equipment takes up WAAY too much space when you consider we don’t camp anymore!!  Yes, consider the need to “bug out”, but we have decided to “bug in” except under very specific conditions.   While the little camper is currently not running, we do have a pick up and if gasoline is an issue, we aren’t going anywhere to camp anyway!

So with the room full of stuff, its becoming harder to find a place for the food and water supplies and there is no doubt we need more of that as I don’t think I have a month’s worth of food, and certainly not more than a week’s worth of water!  There is a piece of property nearby for sale with “creek access”.  Am familiar with the property and know the creek is a good 200 feet DOWN from the main part of the  property.  Quit a narrow steep path to haul water, but it would be OUR access, not having to fight others for it. haven’t asked about the price, and doubt that I could afford it anyway, so will keep up my saving for an electric tricycle so I can haul and transport water a little more easily.

But back to my assessment of what to get next, what to get next?  Other than continuing with food preps and the electric trike, what do I really need? How do we know just what we will need so we can be prepared?  There has become a bit of doubling up with certain things to keep in the camper; smaller, more compact duplicates of things for the home.  Rocket stove, dried food, solar shower, etc.

Just feel like I’m missing something . . and probably am.  But will keep on putting by food, from canned goods to dehydrated meals.

and, Oh Yeah, am not having a good time with the Tattler reuseable lids.  Not consistent enough and do not feel that they are really secure enough for long term storage. Anyone have any experience?