how much is enough

first a little background

I was born at the end of the Truman era, before “I Like Ike”.   Grew up with duck and cover drills in school as the city where I lived was just on the other side of the NYC line.  Sometimes we filed into the hall and stood facing the wall, sometimes it was true duck under our desk.  Later, we were digging holes in our back yards to build bomb shelters – places to hide with our families with enough supplies for  maybe up to 3 months and then what?  And no air filters so we would be bringing in radioactivity anyway!

When I was still a young teen, first read Earth Abides and was awakened to the idea of Pandemic.  By that time the cold war was fading, nuclear limitation treaties were being talked about, and there was definitely a change in the cold war.  Soon after that we moved to Vietnam protests as I saw the older brothers of my school friends being sent off to die.  And then it became my peers who were dying.

and at this same time we began moving into the “environmental movement”;  awakening to the damage being done to the environment by industry.

the bottom line being, most of my “developmental” years were spent being made aware of the limitations of the human species – both naturally and through our own foolishness.

And I began learning basic skills. Sewing, canning, growing, making.

Lived in NYC at the time and wondered about surviving any one of all the possible things that could happen to mankind, as well as how I would survive simple things like unemployment.

Then I met the man with whom I’d be spending the next 33 years (as of this weekend) and moved to a more rural area where I began expanding on my skills with a real garden, preserving, learning, plus having more room to store some extra canned goods, water, etc.

And now we are living in a small city, with a bit of land, in the desert southwest. and have the room to do a bit more prepping.  Plus we are older, less able to do some things.

So, how do we prep?  As we get into serious prepping, we make lists – mental or written – based on reality.

Where we live, the terrain will not allow tornadoes to form.  We live far enough from the ocean that hurricanes are wind and rain; High winds and maybe a lot of rain, but just wind and rain.  We live on high ground.  The most snow I’ve seen here is about 18″ and the coldest we’ve experienced here is 17F.  The longest we’ve been without power was about 12 hours when the main electrical supply from the street box to the house shorted out.  We are on the edge of an earthquake zone, but so far they have been small and few.  There are extinct volcanos in the neighborhood, but its been MILLENIA since they’ve been active.

So what SHTF scenario am I prepping for?  Our one real threat is forest fire.  So yes, I have a bug out bag, some money, a little dehydrated food and camp equipment to grab and go.  And if we have a real fire, we will lose all other preps.

What are my next level possibilities?  Grid failure (of any type), civil unrest,  pandemic, economic collapse – not in an particular order.

and that’s where I stall.

Right now I have 3000 gallons of water storage, but if it doesn’t rain – as it hasn’t – those tanks stand empty.  We’ve had two rainstorms of any amount so far in 2018 and its nearing the end of May.

Have an electric Trike, small portable power pack, pump, and some empty containers so I can go to the creek and get water.

Composters

Garden beds, Ollas, drip irrigation systems.

Goal Zero Yeti’s – 1000 and 1250 – plus 2 x 100w solar panels.  So maybe one or more solar panels.

5 gallon water storage containers for about 30 gallons of water.

food.  Dried food, canned food, commercial dehydrated and home dehydrated.  Commercial canned and home canned.

First aid supplies – yes, they could be expanded.

books.

oil lamps, rocket stove, greenhouse, camping equipment.

So where do I go from here? What do I keep doing?  Pretty much, its still about food!

Any other suggestions???

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hard work

Did some work in the garden today – transplanting, feeding, watering, trimming, dealing with problems, etc.

Then set up the solar oven to cook chicken breasts for lunch.

with more than 2 hours spent all together, it occurred to me how much harder this would all be if I were going for full self-reliance; feeding us for a year from our land, rather than just supplementing what we are able to buy.  How hard it would be to bring in water if we couldn’t just turn on the taps and the water tanks were empty due to drought.

How the single boysenberry plant, the single blackberry plant, the two grape plants are not really enough for more than  a special treat once a year.  how many potatoes I’d have to plant to have enough for a year.  How already I’ve lost two plants to what I think is Verticillium wilt – was it from the manure/compost I added to the pot or were they contaminated seed potatoes?  At least, being an isolated grow bag, I can dump that. No isolating a section of my limited grow space for 7 years!  Meanwhile have planted a salvia in that bag, don’t know if it will succumb, but if it does, may help me better diagnose what has gone wrong!

Last year we put in a new raised (as in standing counter height) bed next to the kitchen, but I keep forgetting to water it.  Had set aside a small section of the main garden for beans, think I’ll put some pole beans in there and use the new bed for bush beans.  There is already a crop coming up in the greenhouse, along with some zucchini and tomatoes.  Matter of fact, we picked and ate a zucchini after a 34F cold night!

But our ancestors had to use other methods to extend their seasons and they had to work long and hard, day in and day out.  No putting the watering lines of a timer while they went on vacation.  and this doesn’t even begin to take into consideration the long time consuming process of house cleaning!

No wonder as the years went by they were ready to embrace the time freeing miracle appliances of refrigerators, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners!

and demonstrates to me, once again, while I need alternate power around here, because at my age, and I’m not getting younger!, I will want to be able to keep that vacuum, that refrigerator, those lightbulbs, going no matter what happens in the future!

concerned

was never a conspiracy theorist until 9/11/2001.  And to this day, find it inconceivable that our supposed excellent intelligence system missed that event!  and either that’s true, in which case, our country is far from being as safe as we all hope we are.  OR  they allowed it to happen so “they” could begin to clamp down on civil liberties.

and with what has been happening since, the latter is looking more and more like the reality.

Having been a stupid, know it all, liberal anti-war protestor in the 60’s, I have room in my thinking to give the kids protesting today some slack.  Like us, they find themselves in a situation that they have no control of, and which no one seems to give a damn.

What I don’t understand, is the total support of media with unfactual information.  Am not going to say Fake News, but will say highly edited presentation of stories.  Like, Columbine will be brought up as an example of an AR being used in a school shooting – but not the fact that it happened during a ban on the guns!  Nor will instances of an armed person stopping a shooting from becoming a massacre.  Or the lack of reporting on a shooting involving a basic 10-22 rifle, used by a young man to kill his mother and friend because he wanted to see what it was like to kill someone!  The NRA is criticized, even condemned, but no one deems it necessary to point out that the NRA is the one that lobbied FOR the current background check system. but that the military and local municipalities are the ones failing to report people into it!

and so I’m left with the feeling, that once again, things are being manipulated to give the government more power over us, and the people less civil rights.  In this case, to truly try to disarm the populace.

I certainly do not NEED to own a gun.  I’m not using it in my work.  I’m not using it as part of my livelihood.  I don’t live in a crime ridden area.  Its not how I put food on the table.

But I lock my doors, have a smoke detector, an alarm system, a fire extinguisher, insurance, carry a spare tire.  Not because I intend to use them, but JUST IN CASE I ever need them.  My neighborhood would be considered upper middle class with a few homes being only part time residents.  We’re private.  and we’ve had break ins.  More than a couple.  We have coyotes, bobcats, and rabies in our wild animal population.  We’ve had mountain lions move through regularly on their way to water, and we’ve had bears foraging in the back yard.  We have homeless people camping in the forest regularly.  And the police, unless we are very lucky, are at least 20 minutes away and we no longer have an animal control officer.

So, while I don’t need a gun, I carry one, JUST IN CASE.  And I don’t think its appropriate for someone who lives in the urban environment, who has never been robbed, attacked, or otherwise threatened (over my almost 70 years have been more than once), tell me what I need to be safe.  And until they can answer the question as to how my giving up my right to security and safety is going to keep someone else from breaking the law, in such a way as to demonstrate its necessity, I’m going to argue against this direction of society.

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.

New Magazine

For those of you who know Jim Cobb, he has taken on the role of editor for a new survival magazine, Prepper Survival Guide.  Issue one is out and he has probably written at least 1/2 if not more of the articles.  So far so good.  Dealing with real life possibilities – not what would happen on a cruise around the world.  Who knows where it will go, but, so far so good.  There really is only a limited amount of stuff one can cover, the rest IS personal experience and situations.

But in case you want to check it out . . . Magazine has a facebook page as does Jim Cobb.

getting better all the time

It has taken awhile, but am almost healed from my great Tricycle Fall.  The left arm was sprained from wrist through the elbow and the muscle badly bruised.  It is still sore, especially today as it got worked out.

While I’m not going to make this a health and fitness or diet blog, as age has become such a factor in life, its importance in being able to do all the things we may or might need to do is paramount.  Even riding the Trike, if I had been lighter and/or stronger, that accident probably wouldn’t have happened.  Being able to move large containers of soil, mulch or manure is easier.  Being able to work for extended periods of time doing manual / heavy work is easier.

So I’ve begun weight watchers new program, which really isn’t bad.

Can already conceal my revolver better, always a plus!

And am looking forward to being able to use my Trike as I had originally intended; running errands, shopping, as well as pure enjoyment.

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 . . .