Monday, May 22, 2017

Another reason for keeping food storage

Just in case this ever becomes a trend among terrorists, having a few weeks of food on hand is a good idea. Purchase or put up beforehand.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bargain Alert

Sierra Trading Post currently has the Italian glass storage jars for really great prices. They are available in sizes from less than a liter to a gallon. These come with the rubber ring and seal hermetically.  They are especially good for storing the contents of #10 cans if you don't use it all for your first meal. Because they have a glass body and top, and seal tightly with a rubber gasket, they do not allow oxygen exchange like plastic does.

To find them fast, use the search feature for Bormioli

If you haven't already, sign up for the deal fliers. The most recent deal flyer I received is for 25% off most stuff and free postage.

Friday, May 5, 2017

An odd frugal tip for some folks

We live in a rural village far from the big city. There's a WalMart about half that distance in the opposite direction. When we need something, if we don't have it, it's a long way to start the hunt for whatever 'it' is.  The closer shopping venue is 4 gallons of gasoline away, round trip. The 'big city's around gallons round trip. That means one extra trip a month costs between $10 and $17. Amazon prime is $9.99 a month, shipping is free on most items and 'it' usually arrives on our doorstep within 48 hours.  We also use a Roku to take advantage of the Amazon Prime video offerings.  Both Dear Husband and I have Kindle readers installed on our tablets, so take advantage of the free books on Prime, all for the cost of one unplanned trip to town.

I've spoken with people here in town who think Prime is too expensive. Maybe they have a better crystal ball than we do. Until we better calibrate ours, I'll keep on with Prime.


A Case for Cats

DISCLAIMER: We don't own cats as we are both allergic. I'm so allergic that I take an antihistamine before I go to parties in case someone at the party owns cats. No crazy cat lady bias here.

If you live or aspire to live in a rural area in any US state except Alaska, this post applies to you. If you are or want to be in rural AZ or TX, this post could save your life. Why? Venomous snakes.  Yup,  there seems to be a relationship around here between the density of cats and incidence of rattlesnake bites, mostly bites of pets.  My evidence is primarily anecdotal, but derived from the basics of our friend, the food chain, and the recent rattlesnake bites in our little community.  We live in one of the states with a long list of poisonous snakes, so a concern for us 9 months out of the year.

First, there are people. The people have food for themselves and their animals. Some of that food, especially for horses, is attractive to mice and rats. These cute, furry purveyors of Hanna virus are also a favorite food of snakes. The more successful snakes, especially in the southern part of the US, are poisonous. If your pet comes near and threatens the food chain, pet gets bitten.

So enter the cats, especially barn cats. They do two positive things. First, they reduce the rodent population thus disrupting the food chain. Second, they will kill smaller snakes, thus interrupting the growth and reproduction dynamics of the snakes.

There is a caveat. The cats will also kill your beautiful song birds. For some reason, they prefer the beautiful birds to the exotic doves, house finches and sparrows. There is a bit of a solution for this. My wonderful neighbor does the opposite of most cat owners because she understands the food chain. Most rodents are nocturnal, so she keeps her cats inside the barn during the day and allows them out at night. Yup, only the smartest cats survive the owls and mountain lions, but the number of snake sightings in our area seems to be trending down.

In 20 years we have seen one snake on our property (knock on wood) and it was a garter snake. We are surrounded by cat owners. Coincidence? I think not!

Thursday, May 4, 2017


That's VERY IMPORTANT POST from K over at Planning and Foresight. If you are not a coffee-holic, it's not that important...


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Managing Uncertainty (part 2)

As promised yesterday, this post will discuss what I'm doing to manage my uncertainty level during these transitional times.

To start, I'm keeping up with the daily tasks around the house. It's easy to put off laundry, dishes, routine cleaning, etc. with the excuse of 'plenty of time to do that tomorrow, next week, or whenever. If change is sudden and unexpected, I don't want to start it with the liability of being behind in managing my household.

I ensure that fuels are topped off, including a car, propane tanks and extra fuel for tools.

Running errands more frequently may sound counterintuitive, but consider it. The very last thing I want to do if things are unraveling is drive 50 miles to town to grab XY or Z. By shopping more often, I will be short on fewer things than if I shop less often. This keeps me from stocking up on too many perishables yet keeps fresh foods on my shelves. For me, this translates from going to town twice a month to going three times, or even weekly. For some people that may seem like going less often, but weekly should be enough if you are otherwise prepared.

Picking up good deals. My weakness is sale items at I'm in pretty good shape on my long-term storage, but some deals are not to be ignored. When high protein items like freeze-dried cheese or meat are on sale in the price range around $25 per #10 can, I'll buy. I don't 'stock up' heavily, but I may buy up to 4 cans to supplement my stores or practice food preparation from storage.

Tend my garden. I usually am on this anyway, but this winter I practiced a winter garden. It was a good experiment, gave us some nutritious salad materials and could be scaled up for a food shortage. Some of the plants are now growing roots to bring me early beets and rutabagas. We've also gotten the berry beds cleaned up and are tending fruit trees for the summer crops.

Vacation at the BOL. We're retired and the BOL isn't far away, so I spend more time here. I realize this is a luxury, but if you or your spouse and kids can do this, you could consider it. If you are working and you have a stay at home spouse, this could be a great compromise so you don't find yourself worrying about your family.

There are other thing you can do, to include target practice, to help manage the anxiety that certain times may bring. You don't need to buy the latest expensive gadget or barricade yourselves into a mountain cave. Knowing that you are ready for and have the flexibility to manage through uncertain times will allow you some extra peace of mind and better sleep!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Managing Uncertainty (part 1)

The world is realigning after almost a decade of 'new normal.'  It feels very tumultuous to me, but it probably is neither as chaotic nor as business-as-usual as our variety of news media portrays. So I thought I'd share some of my methods to gain perspective and manage my level of uncertainty.  I've used many of the same methods for years so that I can remain functional yet feeling peacefully prepared while trying to live a normal life' -- whatever that is.

The first part of all of this is to check my own thinking to manage both the normalcy bias and the worst-case thinking that I'm capable of letting rule my mind.  Most people are US-centric in their thinking, so don't believe any one or group could actually want to create a world of chaos. That leads to groups of people supporting stupid ideas, like supporting causes that are bent on the destruction of our society. Believing that there are magic words that will cause the bad guys to stop their long-game process is denial of the highest order. On the flip side, believing that a young man who was raised on bravado and testosterone won't use a nuclear weapon in the short-game is also folly. So how do live a normal life without being paralyzed between these two possibilities during a time of extended economic and social uncertainty?

I do this on four levels. The first is physical. I am slowly collecting the stuff needed to maintain a somewhat productive life if a worst-case scenario unfolds. For this I do what I can afford and store, so primarily some long-term food storage, alternative but minimal solar power and small appliances and forms of home security and defense. Lots of websites cover these things ad nauseum, so I won't belabor this level of preparedness.

The next is social. I'm fortunate to live in a small community. We are not like-minded, with community members covering the spectrum from ultra-conservative survivalists to ultra-liberal.  Oddly, across this political and philosophical spectrum many of the people, not just conservatives, are long-term preppers. Taking the local temperature and sharing sources and methods with carefully vetted others is helpful. Regardless the politics, many of us have reached the same conclusion -- that the political system and our government don't care about anything beyond the eastern seaboard, so we're on our own.

Third is informational. Cultivating sources of local, national and international information, and knowing what the biases of each are is important. This process helps avoid over-reacting to hype and under-reacting to real threats. One will cost you money -- possibly selling you stuff is the point of the hype OR getting you injured or killed while trying to minimize chaos for the masses. I watch several indicators that to me often reflect psychological respopnse to what's happening. These include:

- the VIX volatility index, which gets my attention when it increases quickly or goes above 15
- the price of gold. When it goes up it is a signal of international uncertainty
- a variety of websites of reputable news organizations and individuals
- local networks

The fourth is spiritual. I network with those of my own denomination for prayer and support. I spend time in prayer and solitude for guidance, perspective and peace of mind.

So how does this translate into now?  What am I doing differently? The little things, mostly. Many of these are habits, but I am reviewing and renewing these. Most of these cost little or nothing above normal expenses. Here are some of the examples:  Going for fresh groceries weekly rather than every couple of weeks.  Keeping the gas tank in my car topped-off. Keeping up with the laundry. Keeping up with home repairs. Paying more attention to my garden and doing little things (like weeding more often) to improve production.

I'm having trouble with the Blogger, so will add a part 2 to this later today or tomorrow.