Thursday, July 14, 2011

Work, Blog reading, gardening and prepping--in a word, life!

Well time has flown, even though I haven't really been having any fun. Work got pretty busy for a couple weeks there, including a few days that started at 4 a.m. and involved a lot of standing around outdoors in the heat on a highway construction site. I have been diligently working on catching up my blog reading for the last two days, which brings me to the first topic of this post.

I read too many blogs. There's just so much good information out there, and I don't want to miss anything. I'm really worried that it won't be long until the S hits the F, so I'm trying to gain as much knowledge as I possibly can, as quickly as I can. It's like a need, in a way; I feel like I'm shirking my responsibilities if I don't keep up with all the information I can manage.

But lately, I'm not able to manage as much as I've obligated myself to. There just aren't enough hours in the day to read and process it all, along with carrying a full time job and all of life's other responsibilities. So I'm just going to have to take another look at my blog roll and slim it down some. It may be that I just have to stop reading multiple blogs that cover the same topics, and choose the ones that suit me best.

The garden is still alive, despite the drought and the now mandatory water rationing that I predicted. I identified that beetle in my previous post, with the help of the Square Foot Gardening Forums. It's a type of blister beetle, so called because they can in fact cause blisters to form on your skin by way of a chemical they secrete. Apparently it's rare for this to happen with an adult beetle, unless you squeeze the heck out of it. Someone suggested I catch them and throw them in a pail of soapy water, so that's probably how I'll try to handle the infestation.

Maybe I shouldn't say this out loud, but I think I am gaining the upper hand in the Grasshopper War. I haven't seen nearly as many around lately. I have learned a few things about grasshoppers through this process, though:
  • They deserve the rap they get in The Grasshopper and the Ants. They're lazy. I thought I would get up early one morning and go out to catch a few before it got too hot, but they apparently weren't up yet, because I didn't find a single one until later, during the hottest part of the day, when they could be seen in abundance. 
  • The larger ones are easier to catch. The small ones are quicker, and more aware of me, I think. They don't wait for my hand to get so close to them before they try to hop away. 
  • They don't like water. I found that if I spray the plants in the front yard flowerbeds with a hose, grasshoppers come flying out of them by the handfuls. They're a little disoriented from the sudden shower, and I can scoop them up more easily. 
  • They're not really afraid of me. It's a good thing they don't get any bigger than they do, because then it would probably hurt when they bite me.
  • They can't jump very well in tall, thick grass. They get tangled.
  • They don't live very long inside a plastic coffee jar, in 108-degree temps :\
Too bad I can't catch them and export them to China, or wherever it is that chocolate-covered grasshoppers are a delicacy.  

On the preparedness front, I have a couple of ongoing projects. I'm slowly amassing a "survival notebook." A lot of this goes back to all that good information I mentioned that you can find in blogs. If I see something that I think would be useful in a SHTF situation, I print it out, put it in a sheet protector sleeve, and add it to my notebook. I have the notebook divided into categories. which so far include food preservation. gardening, food miscellaneous (things like fighting food fatigue, food storage shelf life, homemade recipes for things like baking powder, etc), medical/first aid, gear, and pets. I'll continue to add more categories as I go.

I'm just beginning to collect recipes specifically geared toward food storage items. I have one cookbook dedicated to this. I also got a recipe book on CD with my sun oven. The website has a lot of good recipes as well.

Another thing I'm doing more of lately is encouraging others to prepare. It's tricky to do this without letting on that we are stocking up ourselves. I want as many of my friends and family as I'm able to convince, to start preparing, but I know there will be more that don't prepare than that do. I hope there never comes a day that we have to turn someone away who is asking for help because there's just not enough to go around. We got started late on the preparedness scene ourselves, and will be lucky if we have time to stock ourselves up enough, much less have enough to support others or even to barter with.

It seems like the preparedness "to do" list gets longer instead of shorter. Here are some things on my list that I haven't gotten to yet:
  • Create a book with emergency information for all members of our extended but local family. I'm picturing a photo of each person, accompanied by vital information such as age, blood type, allergies, previous pertinent surgeries or diseases that medical personnel would need to know about, etc. Then distribute a copy to each household. 
  • Learn how to can. This is something the hubster and I disagree on. He thinks it isn't economically sound, especially considering that we would have to buy the pressure canner and water bath canner, and would rather stock up on canned goods. I think it would be a good skill to have, because grocery stores may not always be around. His response is, if grocery stores aren't around, then canning supplies probably won't be available either. I point out that there are reusable lids, and of course the jars are reusable. And round and round we go. The good news for me is that my birthday is coming up :)
  • Get more comfortable with the guns we have. I have shot them all, but it's been a while and I'm sure I don't remember every nuance about each gun. I want to get to a point where I can pick up any of the guns we have and handle it confidently, from loading/unloading, to shooting, to maintenance. 
  • Get better acquainted with the sun oven. I haven't been cooking with it as much as I had hoped to. It's difficult when I work full time days during the week, and typically have errands or other obligations to handle on the weekends. I'm envious of my sister-in-law, who works from home most days and can cook with her sun oven more often. Maybe she will have to become the sun oven expert for our family!
  • Get to know our neighbors. We live in a small, new neighborhood with (currently) less than 50 homes. We are on the outer edge of the metro area, on the edge of country area that is quickly being developed. I have wondered whether we will band together in a SHTF situation. At this moment, until they develop it further, our neighborhood is surrounded by a few acres of flat land that could be turned into a community garden and/or pasture for a few small livestock animals. It is also bordered on one side by a sod farm that we could acquire in a real TEOTWAWKI situation. On the other side is a creek, but it's small and doesn't always have much water in it, and there is another neighborhood on the other side of the creek, and plenty of other people live along the creek upstream from us, so I'm not really counting on there being much usable water there. But back to the neighbors. We take walks frequently and have met some of our neighbors that way, slowly learning names and getting a feel for people. But there's only one other couple we've really made friends with. We've broached the prepping/SHTF topic with them, and they seem to be on the same page. But their plan, if things go south, is to scurry out to her parents' place in the country. They told us we could come along, but I don't know if they really had permission to tell us that, or if they were really serious. But our plan is to bug in for as long as we can anyway, and we couldn't just leave all our family behind.
  • Store some herbs and spices. I have seen them online, prepacked in mylar or cans with oxygen absorbers, but they're expensive. I can purchase herbs and spices at discount stores (also I'm growing a few) and properly pack them in mylar myself for much cheaper.
  • Plant a medicinal herb garden. I have been saving Nurse Amy's posts about herbs and plan to purchase some seeds soon. I'm afraid to wait for the next growing season because it might be too late. I can purchase the seeds now and freeze them until time to plant. 
There's more, of course, but if I typed it all out I'd probably just succeed in overwhelming myself.


  1. We live in very uncertain times, and anxiety is natural. It's hard to deal with but dispassionately, if it drives you on to further efforts directed at bettering your situation, then it has a positive aspect. The feeling that you can't possibly do everything in the time you have is another commonly manifested phenomenon associated with getting ready for disaster. I don't know anyone who is serious about preparedness that doesn't have both of these issues to deal with. Just the breadth of your plans in your post makes it plain you've got a good grasp of the situation and what needs to be done. Try reading blogs every third day or so. I can hardly ever read everyone I want to daily, but I can keep up with them pretty well by checking in every third day or so.

    Don't despair. The stakes are too high to give in.

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  3. Thanks for the comment for Laura. We males get too wrapped up in defending the castle against all comers and forget that what she really wants are practical, actionable suggestions.