practice makes perfect

While the DH just bought an electric powered Traeger pellet smoker, I’m still working with my “alternatives”.  And just ordered a 400w Goal Zero so I have a portable unit for keeping my Trike charged on the road, and for other portable needs.

Earlier this year we had to change the bib on our 1100 gallon water tank as it was leaking badly.  The bib on the 1000 gallon tank is leaking as is the bib on the 350 gallon tank.  Now, we see one leg on the 650 gallon horizontal leg tank is buckling and cracking as the earth has shifted under it.  So this morning we are emptying it with deep garden watering and the rest will be pumped into one of the other tanks.

and that leads back to the Yeti 400.  Right now, we have no rain.  Have only had two rains this year so far; the first one filled the tanks, the second one added about 100 gallons to them, but they were already 1/2 empty by then.  So what would we do if we had to refill the tanks?  Ride down to the creek, fill up bottles and bring them home and transfer them.  the yeti 400 will allow me to use a pump leaving the bottles in the back of the Trike (or car if we have fuel) and transfer that water into the tanks rather than having to lift and haul.  Still a lot of trips to fill 3000 gallons of tank!!

Of course, SHasn’tHTF, and we can just turn on the house hose bib.

PLUS, the Trike has an electrical problem and I’m discovering that I can barely peddle myself up a hill, much less the Trike with a load!!

While out on the Trike yesterday (practicing going up hill on human power alone), stopped at a garage sale and picked up a new Coleman two burner stove, with 2 medium (about quart sized) gas cans for $20.  We already have a couple of older ones, this will go into my Westy – if we ever get it back on the road.  That is going to be set up as a bug out vehicle. With forest fires raging around us, am constantly reminded how necessary that may be one day and not every place will take the dog . . .nor does she want to be just any place; she is a barker!

but before I put it away, want to make sure I know how to use it. Its been years since I’ve done so.

cause practice makes perfect.

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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!

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 consequences

Yesterday fell off my Trike.  and it hurt!

Bought my Trike for several reasons, but one of them was because we live a little more than a mile UPHILL from a year round creek, which would be our only water source when the storage tanks run out, SHTF.  and our 3000 gallons of water storage would only last about a month of garden watering alone if there’s no rain.  Humping gallons of water from the tank would not be fun, but hauling a few gallons at a time with a vehicle would make it all so much easier.

Hence, the Trike.

So yesterday went over that way to see how steep that hill really is and can I get up it with a loaded Trike!

and the short answer is NO

As mentioned in another post gained 25 lbs last year and that puts me close to the max weight allowance for the Trike.  and I don’t have the leg power to assist the motor.  Ended up running backwards, one wheel went off the pavement, swung the bike across the slope and there was no place to go but tip over!

And when I hit the ground, my gun, which is in a belly band off to the side for cross draw, slammed into my arm with all my body weight.  It took me awhile to realize why my arm hurt so much as I don’t think about the gun in that way.

Being 68, am really lucky that I was able to pick the trike up, put the chain back on it, and pedal home, instead of ending up in the hospital with broken bones.  Seem to have just sprained my forearm.  Although last night was wondering if I didn’t need the ER!

So besides having to lose weight, have to get stronger leg muscles, and keep doing those exercises that keep my bones strong!

Which is why prepping is about our health and strength as much as it is about canned goods, dried rice, and water!!

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 . . .

keeping in shape

Having reached the milestone of 68 years, am continuing to try to find balance with my preps and my age.

Today, realized how out of condition I’ve become over the last year as I struggled to add 4 x 5 gal water containers to my inventory.

there is a certain amount of the aging process we can’t stop, but if we work hard enough, can hold it at bay for a while . . .

home prepping

when I began the prepping journey – which was as much as anything, about saving money and being sure of where our food came from – bought an American Canner.  They are great, heavy duty, no gasket, canners, machined out of solid aluminum.  BUT to be able to do more than 8 or 9 pints at a time, you have to do multiple rounds.

Was able to pick up a hardly used Presto canner at the thrift not long after that.  Besides being much lighter, when it comes to pints and 1/2 pints, its tall enough to stack the jars!  not only does that save time, but also energy as adding 1/2 an hour to the canning time is a lot less energy than doing 2 x 70 minute batches!

My husband has enjoyed the results of having home made soups and chili and such available, although he’s looked at my preps as more of a humoring me thing, not with any real long term seriousness.

Until recently.

Be that as it may, am working up pints of soup this summer instead of quarts as I’ve had the big DUH moment that I’m not always wanting what he wants and why do I have to open a quart for us both instead of a pint each of what we want?  Just, am making bigger batches so some goes into long term preps, while some goes into the pantry.

Made 11 pints of lentil soup a couple of weeks ago.  Yesterday made chicken soup.  Last night Husband had chicken with wild rice (his favorite), and canned two quarts of chicken with rice for him to take on a camping trip with his nephew this weekend.  Filled the rest of the canner with quarts of water; a good way to keep good water on hand, keep the jars useful instead of storing empty, and keep the canner full for a good canning experience.

Today, have 15 pints going: 4 plain soup with brown rice, 3 plain soup, added tomatoes to the rest in the pot with more veg and did more pints with rice, and 4 without.

While they’re gone will do some pea soup and some mixed bean soup.  Since I’m gluten free can’t add any pastas; the gf pastas tend to completely dissolve in liquid over time.  But will make sure there is enough liquid that I can add a handful when I heat up the soup.