Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holidays, Unwell Grandma, and the Leader of the Free World

It’s that busy time of year again. I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving. As we get into the full swing of Christmas season and all that it entails, I will probably be posting even less frequently than normal. 

I took a last-minute 7-hour drive this past weekend to help out my grandparents. My grandma had a seizure or stroke—they don’t know which—and as a result her left leg and foot are not working like they should and she can’t get around much. I just hung out for the weekend and did some cleaning and cooking. Their oldest son lives a little closer to them and he’s around to help out a lot as well. Hopefully my grandma will be up and around again before too long. 

We talked a lot about prepping while I was there. My Papa was the first person to tell me I should start stocking up on stuff. I checked out their pantry and they’ve got a lot of food stored: lots of store-bought cans and lots of stuff my grandma canned up as well. They just had their beans and rice in plastic containers and such, so I told my Papa about mylar bags. He hadn’t heard of them before (they don’t have internet). So I guess I know one thing I’ll be getting him for Christmas. They’ve got a deep well and a pond full of catfish, with a large lake within walking distance. There’s lots of deer and turkey as well as bears where they live. They have a fat dog that my Papa “jokes” would make a good meal if it came to that. 

Looks like we might be hosting my brother for Christmas. My mom wants him to come, but we have a spare bedroom and she doesn’t, so he’ll stay with us. I’m looking forward to seeing him but it’s always stressful to have someone come in and break up our routine. Add to that, that we might be hosting the Christmas get-together for both sides of the hubster’s family, and you won’t begrudge me when I say I’ll be glad when the holidays are done. 

Thirty-five days until the first presidential primary in Iowa on January 3rd. Currently it looks like Romney and Gingrich are the front-runners for the Republican nomination. After what the press has done to Cain, I don’t see him recovering. I’m not defending Cain, but I think that of all the possible candidates, before all the sexual allegations surfaced, Cain had the most likely chance of beating Obama at the polls. Romney might be able to pull it off, but I doubt Gingrich can: his abrupt style rubs too many people the wrong way. If the GOP puts up Gingrich for its nominee, then what that says to me is that they don’t want to have a Republican president in office when the S hits the F. And if Obama is re-elected, he’s got nothing left to lose: he can’t be elected for a third term, so he’ll start pushing his real agenda more heavily without worrying about what it does to his voter appeal. Scary stuff. 

In my office, people generally give out a small present to everyone before Christmas, like a nice piece of candy, or a coffee mug, etc. I am trying to think of some inexpensive, prepping-related thing I could give out to about 23 people, that wouldn’t give away the fact that we’re stocking up. I thought of a pre-1965 dime, but I’m not sure I like that idea. Anything come to mind?

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Winning Day in the HLF Household

Count today as one of the best Mondays in recent history for yours truly. Jill over at The Prairie Homestead recently celebrated her one-year blogoversary with a week of giveaways, and I found out this morning that I won two dozen Tattler Reusable Canning Lids. This is perfect for me since I'm just getting into canning, so I'm excited to try them out.

A few weeks ago I entered a contest to come up with a slogan for the new Magnum Work Pro Ultra WPi CT composite safety toe boots and I won! You can see my winning slogan here. I won a pair of the boots, which I will put to good use with my job.

This is just another example of how cool the blogosphere is. My blog is centered on emergency preparedness as well as (or you could say, particularly) gardening, but I subscribe to a number of blogs about other topics that interest me, such as photography. It was TexWisGirl at The Run*A*Round Ranch Report who blogged about the contest, which turned me on to Brian's photography at HeyBJK Outdoors. I'm so thankful for the opportunity I have to get to know and learn from others with similar interests that the blogosphere provides.

I've won two preparedness-related books, a Sport Berkey water bottle, and now this giveaway and contest. All the things I've won are items I either couldn't or wouldn't have bought for myself. Soon I will have to host a giveaway myself to pay it forward.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Target Practice

The hubster and I (along with my mom, brother-in-law and sister-in-law) were invited to do some shooting on the private property of a friend of a friend this past Saturday. A few other people who I didn't know were invited as well, so there was about ten of us altogether.

We had been to this property once before for some target practice. The man whose property it is, is a gun instructor. He teaches concealed carry as well as some other classes. He has about 20 acres, which he says backs up to someone else's 1200 acres, none of which is developed. He has set up the target area in a cleared back corner of his property. A few yards into the woods behind the clearing is a small cliff, which is convenient for stopping any bullets that make it that far.

He went over a few basic safety instructions with us, and then we got to shooting. There were a lot of different guns. I shot about five of them. One that was new to me was a 20-gauge, double barrel shotgun. I have shot a 20-gauge single barrel a few years ago, but it was my first time shooting a double-barrel shotgun. It was fun, I guess. I only knicked one clay pigeon, and I still have a bruise from the gun's kick. 

I also shot our .357. I like that gun, though I seem to be in the minority for it. Most of the men I've talked to prefer a gun that can hold more rounds. My mom and my SIL both don't like it, I guess because it's so loud and it has a big kick. The noise is a good thing in my opinion--it'll scare any criminals when I fire it, whether I actually hit them or not. And like I said in a previous post, I like that it's ready to shoot--no cocking and no checking to make sure the safety is off. Just aim and fire.   

After the .357 I shot a Glock 22 (.40 calibur). This one is the hubster's favorite. I liked it okay, but I feel more comfortable with the .357. 

My target (large middle) after firing the .357 and the Glock, at about 25 feet.
I also shot a .22 Browning Buckmark that belongs to our friend. I shot this gun the last time we came for target practice at this property. It's easy to shoot and doesn't have any kick to speak of. It's fun. I was probably most accurate with this gun. Unfortunately I wouldn't want this gun for home protection because it might not be powerful enough to stop a zombie's approach.

My target after firing the .22 Browning, 25 feet.
The last gun I shot was a .22 rifle. This was my first time shooting this gun and only the second time I've ever shot a gun with a scope. I shot it while sitting on the ground and leaning on a small table. The target kept dancing around. I always hear people say stuff about timing your breathing, but I haven't learned how to do that yet. I tried just holding my breath but that didn't make the target stop dancing. 

My target after firing the .22 rifle with scope, at about 50 yards.
All in all it was a good experience. Each time I handle our guns, I get a little more comfortable with them and I remember the nuances a little better. There was mention of another target practice in February or March, maybe with a car for shooting up. Hopefully we will be invited.

On Sunday the hubster and I spent a few hours cleaning guns. I would have taken pictures but I was too busy learning. Maybe next time. 

And now for your viewing pleasure...

One of the guys had an AR-15 that he bought a bump stock for. If you don't know what that is, don't ask me to explain it because I didn't pay that much attention to how it works. What I think I understand is that after you pull the trigger the first time, the momentum causes you to keep passively pulling the trigger (until you remove your finger), thereby skirting the "only one shot per trigger pull" legality and essentially rapid-firing like an automatic weapon. What surprised everyone about it was how smoothly it worked. This is the property owner, firing it for the first time.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The End of the Garden, Oklahoma Earthquakes, Muslims, the GOP Candidate Debate, Surviving the Balkan Wars, and Veterans Day

Well I haven't posted much lately because I haven't had much to say. Even though I like to blog and enjoy having a place to talk about what's on my mind, I'm actually not the most chatty of persons. Not to mention, even though I've been busy, it's just been the normal day-to-day stuff. Ho-hum.

We had our first freeze of the season last week, and most of my garden is now finished. I have a few lettuce plants, some chard, strawberries, and broccoli/cauliflower/cabbage (not sure what they are--they probably won't amount to much) still hanging on. I picked up a square bale of straw and will mulch the beds over before winter sets in in earnest.

This year was probably not the ideal year to teach myself how to maintain a real garden. Because it was so abnormally hot all summer, I didn't get to see how the plants will normally react. I planted several varieties of tomatoes this year, so I could pick the ones I liked best, but I only got ripe tomatoes off of a few of them.

I did learn a lot, though. I know way more about garden pests than I did a few short months ago, and I even have an idea how to control some of them. I've decided for the last time (something I say every year I plant veggies) that I will not plant any more squash; the plants are too big and I rarely have good production, or else they get diseases. I've kept a notebook of things I think I did well and things to not do again, like don't plant peas and green beans next to cucumbers, because the cucumber leaves will crowd out and shade out the pea and bean plants--not to mention hog the fence. And DO plant sunflowers: they're like huge yellow beacons to the pollinators.

If you haven't heard already, Oklahoma had some large (for us) earthquakes this weekend. I think the largest was a 5.6 on the Richter scale, which breaks the Oklahoma record.  I slept through the first one on Friday night (really early Saturday morning), but was awake for the ones on Saturday and Sunday night--my first earthquakes! The house rattled a little and a lampshade shook. The cat got a little spooked but the dog didn't seem to notice. And that was it. Those three were the only ones that were felt where I live (about an hour's drive from the epicenters), but they say we’ve had 30 more earthquakes that registered a 3.0 or higher in just the last few days. There is much talk in the MSM about fracking being the cause of the earthquakes, but I'm not jumping on that bandwagon yet. There are arguments for and against it. Personally, I haven’t made up my mind.

I was going to write about how disgusted I am about the new All-American Muslim television show that’s starting soon on TLC, but Duke beat me to it. Could they be any more blatant about trying to brainwash us? How unpatriotic. TLC should be ashamed of themselves. 

The hubster and I watched the Republican presidential candidates’ debate last night. The election is only a year away so we figured we’d better start looking at our options. I ruled out a few and made a mental note to keep a closer eye on several more. At this point, I’m not without hope for a new president worth his salt. 

I read this post on Tactical Intelligence yesterday and consequently bookmarked Selco’s blog. If you’re a fan of FerFAL’s, you might check it out. Selco is from Bosnia and weathered the Balkan wars in a town surrounded by the enemy, without water, electricity, fuel or commerce for a year. I’m expecting lots of sage advice from his blog. Interestingly, he differs from FerFAL in that he says living with a small group of close friends or relatives away from the city is better than living in an urban setting. FerFAL was more of the opinion that living in an urban setting is safer than living out in the sticks where no one would be around to help you if trouble came calling, and also better than trying to live in one house or small commune with only a few other people, because you’d never agree on how to run things, you’d get on each other’s nerves, and chaos would ensue. Their situations are a little different from each other, but there’s plenty to learn from both of them. 

Tomorrow is VeteransDay. My heartfelt thank you to all who have served and are serving. Thank you for your sacrifices.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Question for Gardeners

We have had two frosts so far this year and are having a third frost tonight. So far I have covered my plants and they've been fine. That is the plan for tonight as well (for most plants: I went ahead and harvested most of the greens).

But tomorrow night they are forecasting our first freeze. I have plants covered with green tomatoes, poblanos and jalapenos. Will they stand up to a freeze if I just cover them with sheets? Or should I go ahead and harvest everything? I would rather wait if the tomatoes have a chance of ripening, but then again, I'd rather have green tomatoes than no tomatoes. I could make a green tomato relish or some chow chow, which the hubster is fond of.

What are your thoughts?