More Odds and Ends

I’ve been a bit scatter-brained, of late–mostly I’m just tired, from working a full-time job, managing a growing herd of “junior” employees, working on home renovations, and trying (with varying degrees of success) to keep up with “farm things.”  As such, this will likely be another short, shotgun-aimed post.  Without further ado, let’s get started.

How many of you have heard of water glass?  Chemically, it’s a liquid sodium silicate solution.  Full-strength, it’s a concrete sealer.  But diluted down, it’s been used for over a century to preserve eggs.  You mix one part water glass with ten parts water, and put (washed, fresh) eggs into it, enough to cover the eggs to a depth of about 2 inches.  Kept in a cool place, the eggs will supposedly keep eight months or more.  (We’ve tested them out to five months; thus far, it’s worked a treat!)  The yolks might lose some of their firmness–you probably won’t get “sunny-side up” fried eggs out of them–but scrambled, or as an ingredient in something baked, they’re just fine.  (If you’re really worried about whether they’re good, crack the eggs into a separate bowl one-at-a-time for a sniff test, before you add them to whatever you’re cooking.)  Yes, the water glass is a bit pricey, but at the 10:1 dilution ratio, a little bit goes a pretty long way.

As a veteran, I will probably always stand for the national anthem. That reflex was drilled into me for twenty years. But I fully respect the right–and it is a right–of others not to stand. It’s not disrespecting me, or my service, or the military, or the flag, or the anthem, or the country. As others elsewhere have pointed out, our country was founded by people protesting unfair treatment; it seems more than a little hypocritical to get ticked off at our own citizens when they (peacefully, mind you) protest their own unfair treatment, or that of others.

I don’t know how it’s possible, but when a Great Pyrenees dog blows out his undercoat, he generates roughly twice his own body weight in fluff.  We should think about saving it up, and trying to spin it into yarn…

Speaking of such things, one of my family’s hobbies is medieval re-enactment (shameless plug for the Society for Creative Anachronism). For fun, when we can make it, we go camping (of sorts–“glamping” might be somewhat closer to the truth) for two weeks, going mostly medieval, doing things the “Old Ways,” and studying how things were done in the days before electricity, or even steam power, to say nothing of the Internet. If you really want to study how you might make things work in a “post-civilization society” (how’s that for an oxymoron?), you could do worse than studying the 12th century or so. Our ancestors certainly made it, after all… Throw in our modern understanding of germ theory and such, and you can get by with surprisingly little difficulty…  (Bonus: being “in” with your local re-enactment group gives you an “instant” network of “people who know how to do things.”)

Next time, I think I may take a moment to go over the last year’s progress, successes, and failures.  (There have been quite a few of both.)  How are your preps going, readers? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!


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Quick Thoughts

Just a few random mental meanderings this time around, dear readers.

So, the president is still at it.  He’s had a pretty rough week of it, though–he still can’t get the ACA repealed (yay, us!); he’s having a “Bush-Katrina” moment, dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico (boo!); he’s managing to divide the nation (again), diving into the controversy of kneeling vs. standing for the anthem (mixed, but mostly boo); he’s all but ensured it’ll be a toss-up as to whether North Korea splashes one of our aircraft, or they set off God’s Own Flashbulb over the Pacific (boo!); the candidate he backed in Alabama lost in the run-off (decidedly mixed); his administration has been caught using personal emails (lock them up!); and the Russia investigation just keeps chugging along (yay!).

Once more, I have to point to a disaster aftermath, and say “there!  That is what ‘collapse’ looks like!”  The folks in Puerto Rico have it rough; if you have the means, I encourage donations (of cash) to emergency organizations (the Red Cross and the like). Mostly due to their (relative) remoteness, they’re going through pretty much a full-bore collapse: no power, no water, no phones, little food, little fuel; disease should be rearing its ugly head imminently; I anticipate the rioting and looting to start about the same time.

All that being said, the rest of the country–the rest of the world–is still chugging along. “The apocalypse, when it comes, will mostly be local…” They can still get aid from elsewhere (we–the U.S.–just need to get off our collective butt and help them). The world hasn’t turned Mad Max.  There are lessons to be learned, to be sure–on the parts of pretty much everybody–but civilization overall hasn’t ended.

The situation with North Korea is, to put it mildly, a hot mess. They’ve all but promised, over the last several weeks, to: 1) drop a missile off the coast of Guam; 2) detonate a hydrogen warhead over the Pacific; and 3) shoot down one of our bombers, flying in international airspace, if it “gets too close for their comfort”.  Each time, it was in response to something Trump said or tweeted. Each time, various Trump underlings go scrambling to ease the tensions.  (Each time, the Press Secretary of the Week goes out to state that Trump said exactly the opposite of what actually came out of his mouth, or went out in the tweets…)  How long will this go on?  I can’t say; I really can’t see it ending particularly well, though.

I didn’t care much for Luther Strange, as a candidate. Beyond the obvious (“conservative”, Republican, and pretty much every platform he ran on), he somehow got the backing of Trump.  That said, I really don’t care for Roy Moore; the guy’s a certifiable nut-job, more or less along the lines of Sheriff Arpaio. The thought of either of them going to congress… It makes me sick to my stomach.  I’m mildly pleased that “Trump’s guy” didn’t make the run-off, but disturbed that he lost to Moore. The voters in the Alabama primary were given the choice of two evils, and they somehow picked the worse of them (in my opinion).  Part of me is amused that they basically thumbed their noses at Trump; but this was really a “cut off the nose to spite the face” sort of a choice.

In lighter news, if you’re interested in seeing how to survive a “complete collapse” scenario, the guy at the Primitive Technology Youtube channel has a pretty comprehensive set of instruction videos. As a buddy of mine said, “If he can make mortise-and-tenon joints that good, using sticks and rocks, I’ve really got to up my game…”  I’ve been enjoying watching his ingenuity, as well as making a list of skills and techniques to work on.

What’s been occupying your time lately? Any “prepping wins” (or “prepping failures”) you’ve come across?  Please share!  (And stick around for the next edition…)

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This time around, I’ll (finally!) get to a list that I found a while back, wandering about the Pinterest intertubes. It claims to be from a website called, but I haven’t verified that. Its contents are a “Master List of Items to Stockpile for the Apocalypse.”

They’ve got a nice little intro, right before the list, explaining that just having a stockpile isn’t enough, in the event of an apocalypse. You need to train. You need to practice. You need to use the tools, until you’re good with them.  “But…” (There’s always a ‘but.’)  This is a list that they suggest stockpiling, both for use, and for bartering, in the event you need them.

Here’s the list; I’ll add my commentary at the end:

  • water
  • food (canned, dehydrated)
  • spices and sweeteners
  • cooking oil
  • coffee and tea
  • alcohol (drinking)
  • cigarettes/tobacco/other addictions
  • vitamins
  • firestarters
  • firewood
  • heirloom seeds
  • first aid items and medicines
  • dental care items
  • paper items (tp, paper towels)
  • feminine hygiene supplies
  • soap/shampoo/detergents/bleach
  • hand sanitizer
  • sunscreen
  • insect repellent
  • containers for storing water and food
  • canning jars
  • can openers
  • common tools
  • duct tape
  • wd-40
  • building materials
  • chains and locks
  • sandbags
  • water filtration supplies
  • gardening tools and supplies
  • sewing supplies
  • fishing supplies
  • animal traps
  • fuels
  • synthetic oil
  • bio-chemical hazard gear
  • guns, ammo, gun cleaning supplies
  • knives
  • archery items
  • walkie-talkies
  • batteries
  • blankets
  • tarps
  • flashlights
  • candles
  • lightbulbs
  • glow sticks
  • warm clothing
  • hats/gloves
  • bandanas
  • entertainment

Let me start by saying I fully agree with the majority of their introductory statement: The best way to make sure you can use your gear is to practice using your gear. Break it out regularly, and familiarize yourself with it. Some of it–I’m looking particularly at firearms and archery supplies–you’ll absolutely not be able to use well without large amounts of reasonably intense practice. (This is why, during the middle ages, the British mandated archery practice after church services on Sundays for all able-bodied men…)

I’m not so certain about a couple of points, though. First off, lots of those items take up tons of space, and they don’t compress. (Fuels, oils, firewood…) Many of them are perishable, to one extent or another. (Fuels again; food, seeds, medicines…) And that’s to say nothing of ways they could simplify the list. (Lump hats/gloves and bandanas in with ‘warm clothing’; put flashlights/candles/lightbulbs/glow sticks together as ‘light sources’… And for the love of all that’s holy, WD-40 and duct tape naturally go together.)

Some of their items are ridiculously generic. (“Entertainment?”  “Archery items.” “Building materials.”)  I’d rather they went over-specific with some of them…

Then you have my biggest beef with the entire thing. In my opinion, the odds that there will be the sort of “apocalypse” that would justify this list are vanishingly small. There would have to be enough “apocalypse” to take out society, while leaving enough people and civilization that you’d be reasonably able to barter… Kind of self-contradictory, if you ask me.  The more likely “apocalyptic scenario” is something like what we’ve seen play out over the last few weeks: hurricanes, or wildfires, or something else relatively localized.  Storms and fires both call for evacuation–in which case, your stockpile is a) next to useless to you, and b) likely to be destroyed. Oh, sure, you can stick it out, and “bug-in”–but then the major risk is to you, never mind your supplies.

None of which is to say that “stockpiling”–albeit, with a different purpose–is necessarily a bad idea. Having enough non-perishable food for your family (pets and all) for at least 72 hours is a really good idea; having more than that will help cover you, if you’ve got guests when things go downhill. (This has happened to us, when we ‘acquired’ houseguests for a blizzard.) Likewise some of the list items: spare warm clothing. Tools and the like. Entertainment (books, boardgames, cards).

As with everything, I urge you to think about your likely emergencies. What are you likely to experience? What will you need, to help you get through it? Go there.

Which reminds me of a photo I saw in a newspaper, looking at a family in a shelter, waiting out Hurricane Irma.  There was a husband, wife, two kids, and a dog… The dog was curled up on a dog-bed, sleeping calmly. The four humans–each of them–had their eyes glued to an electronic device of some sort. I didn’t see a charging cable anywhere in the photo–nor were there outlets available, if they’d had them. I have to question the use of “electronic entertainment” after an emergency–power is likely to be at a premium, and there’s no guarantee of internet or cell phone availability. (Do I have an e-reader? Yes. I keep it loaded with books. And in my go-bag, I have a solar charger, which can handle two devices at a time. I’ve also got a deck of cards, and a cribbage board…)

What do you think of this list, readers?  Things to add?  Things to remove?  Let us know in the comments!

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Into Every Life…

My plan for this week was to go through a list found in my extensive browsing of the internet.  The list topic? “Master List of Items to Stockpile for the Apocalypse.” I’ll get to the list (maybe next time), but first I have to address this week’s elephant-in-the-room ™: Harvey.

As I speak, hurricane Harvey has dumped in excess of 54 inches of rain onto parts of Texas and Louisiana. (I’ve seen reports of a “mere” 36-42 inches from areas like Port Arthur, etc.)  This would be a record-setting amount of rain for anywhere in North America, not just Texas.  Thousands are flooded out.  Thankfully, only a relative handful (thus far) have perished.  But they’re certainly not out of the woods yet.

Folks, this is what “Disaster” looks like.  A 500-year weather event (of which the country has seen several over the last decade).  The system we call “society,” world-wide, is pretty resilient; tilting us over into TEOTWAWKI is probably significantly harder than most people–most “normal” preppers–imagine.  But a localized collapse–you, and 50,000-plus of your neighbors all being quite literally rained out of your homes–that’s much more likely.  (Pick your disaster, depending on your location.  Fire?  Earthquake?  Flood?  Hurricane?  Tornado?)

I saw a news report of two people seen walking through waist-deep water, towing behind them an inflatable mattress with their dogs…  Why were they out on the streets?  They were running out of food in their apartment. And “going stir-crazy”. This–thisis what you should be prepping for.  These folks were out of food, less than 24 hours after the hurricane came through. And while they had shelter, they left it because, apparently, they were getting bored.

Setting aside the potential “excitement” to be had in venturing forth in floodwaters, which almost certainly contain any number of things you’d rather not be in contact with, to say nothing of the myriad of “merely” physical dangers…

Seriously, people.  72 hours worth of food, minimum–for you, and every member of your household (animals included).  A way to purify water for drinking.  A change of clothes.  Something to make warmth.  Something to make light.  A way to signal others, and (ideally) a way to listen for others signalling you.  And a deck of cards, or a book, or something.  That’s what I’d call a bare-bones survival kit, for just such occasions.  And it’s these sorts of occasions you should be getting prepped for, first and foremost.  Ready for the apocalypse?  Have things to barter afterwards?  That’s great, and all…  But it should be pretty far down the list.

That’s all I’ve got for you, this time around.  The homestead is finishing out its mad dash towards autumn, and there are things that need doing.  If you’re in one of the inundated areas, I hope you’re doing well, keeping dry, and are safe.  (I wish that much, at least, on all of my readers.)  I hope you’ll stick around for next time.

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Shocked. Shocked, I am…

No, really.  Did I call the current administration a “raging dumpster fire” last time around?  It seems, over the last week, to have gotten even worse.  Incredibly, horribly, worse.  Unbelievably so.  Apparently, “rock bottom” has a basement.

So the administration is, in essence, okay with Nazis–real, literal Nazis–and the Klan, now?  And–in some ways even worse–the conservative media is backing him on it?

I’ve…  I’ve got no words.  To be sure, there are plenty of others who seem to have them.  But I’m at a loss.

This week, I’m tired, and sick–sick to my stomach, sick to my heart, sick to my soul.  How to really explain this to my kids?  How do I explain that my father and my mother-in-law are Trump apologists?  How do I explain it to myself, even?

I’ve got nothing.  I’m going to take the interim to refocus, and I’ll be back for the next post.  I hope to be preserving foods (it’s getting towards that time of year), doing my fall planting, and working with my beehives to prep for winter.  I hope you’ll stick around.

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Raging Dumpster Fire

I took a bit of a risk, last time, in assuming that there would be something “political” to write about, this time.  It was a calculated risk, and I considered it a safe bet, given that the President can’t seem to go 48 hours without tweeting something truly repugnant. (Note: not “offensive to liberals,” but something repulsive to any thinking person.)

I mean, the surprise of this administration so far, in my opinion, at least, isn’t that it’s a train wreck. I expected it would be. No, the surprise has been just how big a train wreck it’s been–and we’re only six months through it, may the gods help us. The last two weeks have provided material to talk about for years; certainly more than I could have predicted. The firing of Priebus? Spicer quitting? The hiring-then-firing of Scaramucci?  (Really, do you want someone in your administration with the nickname “the Mooch”?)  Kelly moved from DHS to COS? Trumpcare collapsing in the Senate? Trump’s tweet about transgender troops? That he dictated his son’s press release–you know, the one that was almost immediately proven to be false?  Any of the number of things I’m missing?

On that front, we’re certainly not short of topics.

But I’d like to shift focus a little.  One refrain I’ve heard over and over from Trump supporters is “how much he’s accomplished in such a short time,” and how all of these accomplishments are being ignored by the media, and we should just give him a chance.

This seems like–well, like utter idiocy to me, not to put too fine a point on it. I’ve looked for lists of “Trump accomplishments,” and come up pretty short. Yeah, he’s issued Executive Orders to rescind a lot of Obama-era policies… But those policies were enacted to benefit the people cheering their cancellation, for the most part–and they won’t start to feel the bite of the new “policies” for a little while. (It took Silent Spring to really bring our attention to environmental pollution, last time; what will it take, next time?)  Okay, he got Gorsuch on the Supreme Court…  but I’ve a suspicion that anyone he nominated, so long as they had a pulse and couldn’t overly offend Senate Republicans, would have ultimately been approved; I don’t count it as an achievement, never mind a positive one.

No, the main accomplishments I’ve seen include: ticking off, or scaring the ever-loving hell out of, our allies; legitimizing a number of regimes that really we’d rather not see legitimized; made a laughing-stock of the White House and the Presidency; undermined the military, the intelligence community, and many other Executive Branch departments…

Not positive descriptors, by any means. And none of that is even bringing up “the Russia thing”–which I won’t do, except to mention it here… This one truly staggers the imagination.

Yeah, were I to describe the administration so far, I’d call it a raging dumpster fire–in a dumpster filled with soiled diapers and old tires.

Next time, let’s get back to something comprehensible, and talk prepping some more. I hope you’ll stick around!

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Don’t Forget, Part 3

I sincerely apologize, readers–I’ve been completely overtaken by events at work and at home over the last couple of weeks.  Nothing bad, but more than enough to keep me busy. I had wanted to talk politics, after finishing out this list of 50 Survival Items You Forgot To Buy, but I simply don’t have time.  So, I’ll finish out the list, and we can talk current events next time–God only knows what the administration will be up to in two more weeks…  Here we go:

36. A Saw.  As with a number of things on this list so far, I consider a saw to be a basic part of any toolbox–ideally a number of them, but minimally a crosscut saw and a hacksaw.  “Axes are good for firewood, but you’ll need a saw for everything else.”

37. Sewing kit.  Again, part of a normal “prep list.”  I even have a small one in my BoB.  A basic sewing kit will keep buttons on shirts, and repair small holes; with more advanced equipment (my wife is an accomplished seamstress, so I’ve got access to quite a bit), you can even make full suits “from scratch”.

38. Shoe laces. Dozens of uses, beyond just replacing the ones in your shoes.  Think of them as small bits of cord.

39. Gas shut-off wrench.  Vital, if your home is served by a gas line.

40. Slingshots.  A good, simple, small-game hunting tool.

41. Snowshoes.  Not a bad idea, if you’re in a place prone to blizzards.

42. Songbooks.  Along with the previously-mentioned acoustic instruments, these will help with morale-boosting.  Or at least settle arguments about the lyrics.

43. Survival Books. Reference materials.

44. Tampons.  The women in your group will thank you.

45. Tarps.  Tarps are good for improvised shelter, for keeping things dry, for collecting water, and dozens of other uses.

46. Umbrellas.  One for everybody in the family, ideally.  I’m not certain these are “survival items,” but they’re certainly handy.

47. Whistles.  Great signaling tools.  Again, I’ve got one in my BoB.

48. Wind-up Clocks.  No batteries, no power needed in a grid-down situation.  We’ve got a couple of pendulum/Grandfather clocks, as well as wind-up watches and even a couple of pocket watches.

49. Yard bags.  Heavy-duty cleanup bags.  We’re renovating parts of the house, and these are great for demolition debris.  If possible, get heavier ones, like these 6-mil bags.  Thinner ones seem to fall apart when least convenient.

50. Ziploc bags.  Wonderful for keeping things dry–and a standard part of my kit.

There you have it!  Anything we missed?

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