Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Prepping on a cup o' joe - week 4 PRODUCE

This weeks cup is Produce. Fruits and veggies. You should plan on at least 2 cups per person per day. The USRDA (for what it's worth) is 2.5 cups of veggies and 1.5 cups of fruit.
There are a number of ways you can achieve produce preps, be sure to include a wide variety as eating dried apples and rasins will get old quickly.

If you have a backyard garden or even a few potted veggies on a balcony you're ahead of most people. I posted last week about garden seeds here Seeds of survival. Though I stick with those recommendations, even cheap hybrid seeds are better than nothing. However I strongly recommend that you read that post and educate yourself before storing cheap seeds.

My first recommendation for new preppers is canned goods. They're simple to store, fairly inexpensive on a per can basis, and easy to inventory. One can provides 3-4 half cup servings so you should plan on one can of fruit and two cans of veggies per person per day. They are pest proof and will last a very long time as long as they are properly stored. If you are concerned about moisture, consider waxing cans before storing them. A can of cheap veggies runs 40-50 cents around here.

In addition you can store dried fruits and veggies which store longer, weigh less, and take up less space. Real fruit leathers, applesauce and raisins are good choices. If you decide to go with some fruit leathers don't buy the 'candy' ones that are made by the snack companies like Betty Crocker - these are mostly sugar and have little nutritional value. Instead check the health food section of your grocery store. My family enjoys Fruit A Boo brand leathers.

You can also store canned soups as part of your produce.

For this weeks 'cup' you should purchase some combination of the following (make sure you get some fruits AND some veggies)
  • 5 packages of quality, non-hybrid garden seeds
  • 10-20 cans of veggies
  • 5-10 cans of fruit
  • 5-10 REAL fruit leathers
  • 1 or 2 jars of applesauce
  • a couple pounds of rasins or other dried fruit
  • 10 cans of soup
Now you have a reasonable variety of food stored. You will need muchmore but next week we will look at medications & first aid.

Prepping on a cup o' joe - week 3 Protein

So we're going to spend one more week on foods just to get started then we're going to skip to another area. Let me say again that you need a well balanced diet to survive but since you can't buy everything at once this seems like the next logical choice.
This category would include things like meats, peanut butter, eggs, nuts, legumes, and hearty soups. A one month supply for one person might include:
10-15 # of meat &/or legumes
1 jar of peanut butter
3 dozen eggs
1 pound of nuts

Some easy, obvious choices for this week 'cup' are a combination of the following:
  • 1-2 jars of peanut butter
  • 1/2 lb nuts or seeds
  • a dozen eggs - or for longer shelf life try frozen egg substitute or dried egg powder
  • 6-10 cans of tuna fish, spam, vienna sausages, etc
  • 6-10# of dried beans
In review you should now have enough water, grains, and protein items to last ONE person 15-30 days or a family of 4 about a week.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Completely off topic post about Michael Jackson

OK - So... I wasn't planning on posting about this. I'm not an MJ fan, never really was; but I AM a child of the 80's and it's just struck me. Seems like this is the first 80's pop star that I can recall dying - and that's what's got my mind going tonight. As the movie says "Death comes to us all" - it's one of the few universals in this amazingly diverse trip - we all end up in the same places. I knew this day would come (when someone famous during my youth would die) but didn't expect it to be someone so young. Like some childish part of me just figured he'd always be around doing crazy stuff. Never occured to me that he'd die, and definitely not so young. Who will they paparazzi chase now? Brittney? Lindsay? At any rate - at least now the poor tortured soul is at rest. Hopefully he's found a peace in the next life that eluded him in this one. RIP MJ.

So there's my crazy schpeil. I promise - no more off topic pop world posts.

Penny Stove

Here's another fascinating freebie thing you can make yourself. I'd love to credit the person who originally posted the link that I followed but I have so many tabs open that I can't seem to track back to the OP!

Penny Stove

Edit: I found it(my original link)! Over at No Nanny State. Here's some additional info he posted.
My last thing to do is to make up 2 more Penny Stoves to give each bag a means for cooking food and sterilizing water. These things are amazingly light and efficient. I have found that the yellow bottles of Heet fuel line anti-freeze to be the best fuel and container. Heet is denatured alcohol, which is actually cheaper when purchased in bulk, but more difficult to carry. I just throw a couple of the Heet bottles in the bag, and that will provide fuel for at least a week.
One thing I really like about him; He's in the banking industry and saw all the financial trouble coming down the pike nearly 18 months ago. He does a great job explaining they 'physics' of finance in a way that's easy to understand. I've been going through all of his back posts since yesterday - it got interesting around the beginning of 2008 (because I have a bad memory not because his old posts were bad).

There are a bunch of great links at the bottom of the Penny Stove page like:
instructions on how to make your own penny stove
where you can buy premade ones
making your own fuel
and more!! Check it out!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Nearly free hand washing

Found this fascinating idea on everydayprepper.com. I always love finding ways to use things I already have to replace items I haven't been able to purchase yet. This uses a 5 gallon bucket and a plunger - archaic, labor intesive, but better than nothing!

Washing clothes the Manual Way

Monday, June 22, 2009

Storing bulk dry goods in PETE bottles w/oxygen absorbers

Storing Bulk Dry Foods in PETE Bottles using Oxygen Absorbers - More DIY How To Projects

Seeds of survival

Most preppers are familiar with the link I'm about to add but for anyone new to the concept of prepping these will be useful links.
survival seed vault -
Overview - Heirloom Organics/Survival Seed Vault. This company sells buckets of garden seeds for long term storage. Also included are planting instruction and 'seed resources'.
Cost comparison: I pay roughly $2.75 on average for a packet of non-hybrid, high quality garden seeds. The basic package sold by SSV is $99, has 22 varieties of vegetable seeds and a nice storage bucket. Some quick math says 22x2.75= 60.50 + $5 for the bucket= $65.50. This is operating on the assumption that you are only getting one packets worth of each sort of seed and that all the seeds cost roughly the same price per package. Additionally, SSV has done all the research for you and has collected the very best seeds (which could reasonable be valued at more than the going price for regular non-hybrid seed packets). They've also taken the time to properly package them for storage, and everyone deserves to be paid for their time. Overall I consider this to be a very reasonable price for what you are getting. because A. you are getting the best quality seeds B. someone else has done all the work for you and C. They are processed for long term storage whereas storebought seeds are not. The quote below is directly from their site:
Heirloom Organics Non-Hybrid Seed Packs are processed for long-term storage, increasing the shelf-life of our seeds by many years. We use the methods developed and approved by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) for processing and packaging seeds for long-term storage. Heirloom Organics is the only supplier of seeds that has studied and implemented these methods developed by the USDA. No other seeds available today incorporate these advanced methods for seed packaging and storage. Heirloom Organics Seed Packs are truly the food source of tomorrow, packaged with advanced storage methods today.

If you just can't afford $99 all at once you can create a similar survival seed collection yourself with a small food safe bucket and packets of seeds, after a little research. Your storage methods will probably not produce as good results as SSV's but it's better than not having any seeds stored.
  1. The most important point is that you want to ensure that you are storing foods that will grow in your area. This is of particular importance the farther North you go. Nearly everything that grows in New England will grow elsewhere in the country but many things that grow in Florida and other warmer climates will not grow here.
  2. Second in importance is that they be NON-Hybrid (or open pollinated) seeds. Most seeds sold in the US today are hybrids. This is a crucial point of importance because in tough times you will want to be able to save seeds from one season to use in the next. Hybrid seeds are notoriously unreliable because they are... well hybrids. Most hybrids will not produce viable seeds and, if the do, the plant you get from a saved hybrid seed will most likely be very different from the plant it came from. These are fine and acceptable for a single season of gardening (higher quality ones might be good for even two or three seasons) but for long term security you want to stick with something you can count on.
  3. The final attribute to consider is that you want high quality seeds. Most non-hybrids ARE high quality which is why I put this at the bottom of the list. Higher quality seeds have better germination rates so you need to use fewer seeds to get a good crop. Thus, a single packet of seeds will last much longer. They also store longer (because they have better germination rates). In my limited experience I've been able to get equally good germination the second year I used a package as I had the first year. I've never saved seed packets for three years.
Because I live in Vermont I have chosen High Mowing Seeds for most of my seed storage. They are local, sell mostly open pollinated seed, and are excellent quality so I have a high degree of confidence in them. I also have a couple years experience with their seeds and can attest that any I didn't use last year sprouted this year, which will be an important quality in any seed purchased for storage. They do sell organic hybrid seeds that don't use GMO technology.

Drawbacks: The $99 special from SSV is almost all vegetable seeds (though I know it includes oats, wheat, and melons) and I know there are several varieties that my family doesn't eat. They also suggest that this is adequate for 2 people for one year. In theory this would mean that we would need to purchase three of these vaults for our family of 6 or buy the next higher size - the family pack which has more than twice as much seed but only costs 50% more at $149. I feel that the quantity of seeds in the basic vault would be a great starter pack even for a family as large as mine. They also offer fruit, legume, herb and grain seed packs if you want to add variety to your collection. These packets are reasonably affordable and range in price from $34-59. Concerning varieties you don't use - you can either trade the seeds or the veggies for things you DO need.
Though I have not had the opportunity to test the SSV myself I feel quite comfortable recommending it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Prepping on a cup o' joe - week 2 RICE/PASTA

This was a real toss up choice for me. After water supplies are established you need to move on to food stores. The problem here is that you need to establish a good balance and you can't buy everything at once. The whole concept to 'prepping on a cup o' joe' is to take a small amount of money and make the most impact.
Ultimately I decided on rice and pasta because just about everyone eats some sort of rice or pasta. Produce and nuts can be gleaned in the wild if needed but you're not going to find macaroni growing on a bush. Nutrition-wise I probably should have gone with dried beans but opted not to for two reasons:
1. The price per pound is much higher (rice and pasta run about 50-75 cents per pound - beans are running $1-1.50/lb)
2. Beans by themselves are not particularly versatile.
The reasons I did chose rice and pasta were - they're quick and easy to prepare, fills you up, and (as I said before) costs about half what beans do so you're getting more bang for your buck.
For a years supply you should estimate 60 pounds of pasta and 40 pounds of rice. Brown rice does not store as long as white but it's better for you. If you don't use it at all now consider buying a pound or two and experimenting with it. Otherwise you should stick with the white rice even though it's not as nutrient dense as brown. Don't be afraid of whole rice if you're used to 'quick' or 'minute' rice. The only difference is patience and a little practice. Bulk rice takes alot longer to cook and requires more water, it also won't store as long once it's been cooked. We've only been using it for less than a year and I've been able to perfect my method in the microwave but still haven't mastered stove-top cooking yet.

So here's this weeks 'cup' (remember I'm aiming for about $15-20/week; you may have slightly more or less depending on the habit you're taming)
  • 5 -10 pounds of bulk pasta - if you buy it in one pound packages it's going to cost you $1/lb unless you hit a really good sale. If you buy it in 3-5 lb packages you'll save 25-40%. Right now our local Hannaford's has 5# bags of macaroni, spaghetti, and tri-color rotini for $2.99 each.
  • 10-20# of bulk rice - again, smaller packages will cost more. If memory serves me correctly this is also running 50-75 cents per pound but check your local stores to be sure. Don't forget to check the international foods section as they generally have very large bags of rice at pretty reasonable prices.
So there's your weekly cup. I'm considering a daily cup if anyone's interested. Seems many people do their shopping day by day, particularly those who have no children at home. Feel free to let me know what you think of the series.

Opening doors to discuss preparedness

We had a preliminary conversation with my in-laws and youngest niece last night about preparedness. That can be a tricky door to open. We all want our loved ones to be prepared, but we don't want them to think that we're doing the job for them.
Our discussion started with a question about cabbage. Seems my mother has planted way too much this year and my MIL loves it. She happened to mention that it wouldn't store long and I saw an open door. I said - oh cabbage is a great vegetable to store - you don't even need to refrigerate it. I pulled out my copy of "Root Cellaring" by Mike and Nancy Bubel and read some of the info on cabbage for her. She said it was too bad we didn't have a root cellar, at which point my FIL and I both said that our basement had areas that were perfect for root cellars (dark, cool, damp). She then asked me about the difference between Organic produce and regular - which opened another door for discussion about Hybrid vs non-hybrid seeds.
The whole time we were having this discussion I was in shock. In the 16 years that I've known her I don't think I've ever seen her pick up a trowel to plant a flower, much less veggies. I don't expect that she's going to go out and start digging now but the 'seed' is there for further discussion.
Somehow we flowed rather naturally from the root cellar discussion to one about EMP. What it is, what it does, and how much of a threat it actually is (one of the most likely). We didn't get much further than that but again - the door is open.
What we didn't do -
We didn't jump up and down saying "You've got to get started. There isn't much time left"
We didn't dump a pile of articles and books in their laps and say "You need to read this"
We didn't invite them to tour our preps, nor did we mention what we may or may not have for preps (though they're familiar with the garden).
We didn't volunteer to have them come here if TSHTF
We are all responsible for our own well being and preparedness. Our responsibility to others is to inform them and equip them with the information to prepare themselves; not to bludgeon them or terrify them to the point that they stick their heads back in the sand.
This was a VERY preliminary discussion but one that I hope we can expand on in the days and weeks to come. You should each keep your eyes and ears open for similar opportunities. Even if you think your family is oblivious or hostile towards prepping. You might be surprised by the chances you find to start talking with them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First day of summer vacation

All the kids are on vacation and life has 'slowed down' for the summer. We're at that in between point where the garden is in and we're just waiting for stuff to harvest. Spending our time cleaning up the property, perfecting the chicken coop, cleaning the pantry, etc. We're keeping quite busy. I just love the 'feel' of summer vacation, the slowness of it all. No rush, no hurry up, just 'whatever'. We can lay around and read or play in the pool or tinker on a project to our hearts content. I'd nearly forgotten what those days felt like. It's so nice to get back to them.
The little ones are playing in the pool, my 14 YO is burning some brush we trimmed last weekend and my 15 YO is spending the morning with his girlfriend. DH will be home around 3:30 and then we will swing into work mode for the afternoon. But right now I'm just enjoying a lazy summer day.
That relaxed feeling is something we have worked hard to develop. We don't listen to the radio or watch tv most of the time. My teens have their MP3's if they get desperate but I'm trying to develop a taste for peace and quiet in my home. There's no TV blaring the latest grumblings of doom - we know what's going on out there but we have decided not to let it into our home anymore. The change is palpable - and peaceful.
For the first time I can recall I stepped out onto my porch this morning and felt safe and secluded, somewhat sheltered from the craziness going on everywhere around me. I'm not hiding from the world, I just chose to deal with it on my terms, which means keeping it off of our property. We will gladly face any trials set before us but we will not seek them out. Our home is finally the haven it is meant to be, a place of rest and rejuvenation. We are truly blessed!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Prepping on a cup o' joe - week 1 WATER

How much do you pay for your daily... whatever? Whether it's latte, coffee, soda, a newspaper; it costs money. My personal weakness is soda which costs at least $1 per day. I've heard that coffees can cost up to $5 per day. Now multiply that out over a week. For me that's at least $10 just for myself (not counting DH's habit). A quick calculation tells me that we spend about $20-30/ week on just our drinking habits. If you spend $5/day on yours then that's $25-30/week. If you could cut your consumption in half that would give you $10-$15/week to put towards preps.
In this series I hope to show you how you can build your preps weekly by spending a small amount to make a big dent in your preps.
Since water is one of your major preps and can be completed fairly quickly and inexpensively we will start there. It's next to impossible to store a years worth of water but 2 weeks is an attainable goal (that's 14 gallons per person). For those who are mathematically challenged; a case of bottled water is equal to 3 gallons.
This week spend your saved money on one or more of the following:
  • gallons of bleach - for generic they run about $1.50 around here but we'll figure $2 - that will get you at least 5 gallons. Bleach can be used to treat water for storage and is inexpensive. I've been told it has a rather short shelf life though I've not tested that.
  • 5 gallon water container - can be purchased at walmart for just over $10, fill it yourself at home. A gallon per day per person/ quart per day per pet.
  • Empty foodsafe 55 gallon barrel - can be purchased from your local soda bottling plant VERY cheap. I'm told they're under $5 each when purchased direct but check your yellow pages for your local plant.
  • prepackaged water - gallons are running about $1, cases of 16 oz bottles are about $3 on sale around here.
If you start using this plan I'd love to hear how you're progressing. Consider lettimg me know the number of people you're prepping for and what your weekly 'cup' (i.e. prepping budget) is.

Basic bread dough

This is my everyday recipe for bread dough. It will make 2 loaves or 2 dozen dinner rolls. You'll note that this can be prepared from just storage foods. If you prefer you can substitute 2 cups of regular milk for the 2C water and powdered milk.

2 Cups water
1/2 cup powdered milk
2 Tablespoons white sugar or honey
2 Teaspoons Salt
1 Tablespoon lard
1 Tablespoon or 1 packet active dry yeast
1Teaspoon sugar or honey
1/2 Cup warm water
6-7 cups flour

Add milk powder, sugar/honey, salt and lard to water, scald (heat til bubbles form on the side of the pan). Allow to cool to lukewarm (this generally takes 20-30 minutes)
Add sugar/honey to warm water then add yeast; stir to dissolve. You'll want to wait til your milk is cool enough to use or it will kill the yeast.
Gradually add the flour 1/2 cup at a time til the dough leaves the side of the bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes on a lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8-10 minutes). Set aside in a lightly greased, covered bowl. Let rise until doubled. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2-3 hours depending on the weather and your yeast. Punch down and let rise til doubled again. This time will vary from 25 minutes to a couple hours again. Yeast is unpredictable, you just have to be patient with it - most of the time it will rise. I've had to leave bread overnight before but it does rise up eventually. Just keep it covered and keep checking it.
Once the second rise is completed turn the dough out onto your floured board. Shape into two loaves and place in greased pan. Allow it to rise til double again, usually about an hour.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes or until browned. Turn out on a cooling rack. Once cooled seal in zipper bags.

Testing your preps

We decided to cut our grocery budget by 75% for a couple weeks. It was quite an eye opener. My pantry is starting to look a bit depleted and I'm realizing that I didn't have so much down there as I thought.

It's a good idea to do a trial run once in a while to make sure your preps are adequate. All the calculations in the world won't help you once the store shelves are empty. What you 'normally eat' and what you eat in stressful situations are two different things. You're under stress which makes you crave comfort foods. At the same time you also know you have to make adjustments so you're consuming more storage items (i.e. dry milk VS regular)

One thing I've noticed is that stress gives my family the munchies. I thought we had more than adequate 'comfort food' preps but I'm finding that they go through them pretty quickly when they're stressed. We had stacks of candy and chips and have gone through a good deal of them in the past month. I had actually STOPPED buying snacks because I thought we had too many. I had also rationalized that I would make more from scratch. What I'm finding is this: I am making more from scratch but it's basics like bread and meals. I don't have as much leisure time for baking cookies or brownies. I could, if we were desperately craving something, but I'd have to make the time. If I can prepare now by having a few of these items on hand it will make life easier then.

Additionally, many of these items were purchased 6 or more months ago - you should regularly sample stored foods to make sure the taste and consistency haven't changed. We had a box of fig newtons that had been in the pantry since before Christmas. I was worried that they'd be hard or stale - they weren't. So now I know we can store these for at least 6 months if purchased fresh. I left one unopened package in the pantry and we'll test that again at the end of the summer to see if they're still holding up. I've found that Goetz Caramel creams hold up well for 6 months but skittles, starbursts, and twizzlers don't - they start to get hard after about 3 months. A bag of fall themed Reese cups was as good last week as it would be a couple weeks after purchase. Oddly enough, either spaghettios change rapidly or my tastes have changed. They're not inedible but the pasta just seems 'different'.

Another item I'm going through quickly is powdered milk. Now that we're using it for everything but drinking we're going through a 28 qt box every couple weeks. It's quite an eye opener. Imagine that you can't buy the bare necessity perishables (dairy, eggs, fresh produce) and realize how quickly your stores would be depleted. I've found that I can substitute honey for sugar in baked goods with very little appreciable difference. My family won't eat it raw but they love it cooked. It also has a nearly indefinite shelf life - even though it crystalizes quickly.

You know the mantra "store what you eat, eat what you store' but this is taking it a step further - we stopped buying most food for a couple of weeks. As I looked at my pantry yesterday I saw GAPING holes where we had consumed nearly all of certain foods over the course of 2-3 weeks. These were items I thought we had a 3 month supply of. Granted - the family will tire of them and move on to something else - but it's a shock to the system to see a well calcualted, thought out plan vaporize before your eyes. Don't take your stores for granted or they may not be there for you when you need them

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Awesome APN giveaways!

Check out the following links for some great giveaways c/o American Preppers Network and Codename Bullseye!!

Survival Seed Vault Sampler Giveaway

Gun Case Giveaway

Garden update

Somehow I missed posting this before. We got the garden in last weekend! Everything is planted!! I'm glad I did it when I did because this week has turned out hectic with everything going on. I haven't had a chance to weed since I finished it Sunday.
We have planted:
Potatoes (white and red)
Onions (white and red)
Beans (yellow and green)
2 Pumpkin plants
Tomatoes (4 kinds)
Lettuce (2 kinds)
Cucumbers (pickling and slicing)

To our landscaping/perennial edibles we've added this spring -
3 blueberry bushes
2 Pear Trees
1 Cherry Tree
6 raspberry canes (which all seem to have died).

I'm sure I've been overly ambitious. This is only the 3rd or 4th garden we've put in. Every previous year we've lost the battle with the weeds and didn't get great crops as a result. This year we've divided the garden into 3 sections. Hopefully by breaking it up into smaller sections we can tackle a section every day or so rather than trying to week the whole thing at once.

Just for reference sake we also have the following -
4 (pre-existing) raspberry canes
a couple dozen strawberry plants
an apple tree
a beech tree
4 maple trees
well established oregano, and chives
a languishing creeping-thyme
assorted herbs and medicinal plants
ever present dandelion and burdock plants - couldn't get rid of em' if I wanted to! (Lord knows I've tried!)

Lifes little emergencies - do you need an "ER Kit"

Rachel (5YO) closed Noah's (2YO) wrist in the van door this morning as we were leaving the school. So I've spent the whole day at the hospital just to make sure nothing was broken.
I've been meaning to make up another 'kit' called an "ER Bag" - useless to most adults, anyone with kids will appreciate the idea. We keep an emergency kit in the car but it only has... you know... *emergency* stuff in it. I also keep a random book in the car at all times - puzzle book, magazine, something in case I'm stuck in the car waiting. The ER Kit would complement your car kit without taking up as much space as a BOB - which would be overkill in this situation.

The idea of the ER bag is to have a small bag or shoebox size tote near the front door or even in the car if there's room. That box would contain a few snacks, small toys, coloring books, crayons, etc. The thought behind it is that the emergency kit in the car doesn't need to be cluttered with toys but I want to have *something* so I don't need to run around the house collecting things to entertain the other children; and I don't want to dump money into the vending machines at the hospital when someone gets hungry after sitting in the ER for 2 hours. I already keep diapers, water, change, first aid, etc. in the car kit; so this would just be something small to hold the remaining items. If you car kit has the room you could feasibly just add these items to that container.

So, think back to the last time you had to 'grab and go' with your kids. What were you wishing you had brought with you? Here's my list:
  • drinks - juice boxes, kool aid koolers, water bottles... ANYTHING that doesn't cost $1.50 per bottle!
  • Snacks - Those little snack packs they sell in the vending machine for $1 or more can be had 9 for $3-5 at the grocery store. Even if they go unused for 6-12 months they can be used as a 'safety reward' if the kids can go 6-12 months without a trip to the ER (Well worth the investment!!)
  • activities - coloring books/crayons, travel games, matchbox cars, little people, deck of cards
A few other suggestions/ideas - an MP3 player or other portable player, a lightweight blanket (certain areas of the hospital are cold), maybe a travel pillow, a book

None of these things are necessary, but they will all make a difficult trip a bit more comfortable and less frustrating. I wish I had one in my car this morning. It was also a good reminder to give my preps a semi-annual complete overhaul

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lessons from Lice

My eldest child is 15 and this is the first time I've ever had to deal with head lice in my home. I've learned some interesting lessons.

#1 - Being prepared means being prepared for ANYTHING - including ignorant neighbors who allow infested kids to wander the neighborhood!
Fortunately I happened to have tea tree oil and a lice comb. Funny thing was - when I bought the comb I thought "I'm not going to need this, but it's only 49 cents - and you never know"
#2 - Go with your gut. When the kid turned up here an hour before school got out the other day my gut said 'send her home, if she's out of school she doesn't belong here'. Shoulda' listened to my gut. Instead I decided to play nice... dumb idea.
#3 Good neighbors vs bad neighbors. We caught them quickly thanks to our other neighbor who thought we should know since they knew our daughter played with her.
#4 schools suck/privacy rights trump common sense even in a small town- they checked my 14YO but didn't feel compelled to let me know so I could check my 5YO even though they know the kid lives right next door and plays with my daughter.
#5 vigilance and persistence pay off - we caught it quickly, checked the whole family, and followed up every few hours. DD was the only one infected in a house of 6. I've found a few migrants on myself but I think they just escaped while I was cleaning DD. So far so good, but we'll follow up with a few daily washings for her and I using OTC lice shampoo. I'm a firm believer in natural remedies and this one seems to work exceptionally well, but I'm also not a gambler when it comes to infestations. They're too hard to get rid of once they're entrenched and I don't want to have to bomb the whole house (though I may still have to).

Suggestions for anyone interested -

Keep the following in your preps for lice treatment whether you think you're going to have to deal with it or not. Like the flu, when you need it - the store will be sold out because everyone is looking for it at once.
Olive oil (should have this anyway)
Tea Tree oil (also does quite a job on bug bites)
lice combs (plural - they're not very sturdy and we have thick hair, one day of use and the one we have is already getting weak teeth.) They're cheap so keep a few around. You can also use flea combs from the pet store, anything with close-set teeth will work but they need to be very close.
shower caps - so you can allow the hair to soak without having to sit in the tub to keep it contained. Again, they're cheap so have a few around. I didn't before this but you can be sure I will after! Poor kid has spent hours in the tub since yesterday!
OTC lice shampoo - can't find it around here today, everyone's out of stock. I'm going to call and see if I can get a prescription from the pediatrician. I doubt they'll ask to see her.
butterfly hair clips like they use at the hairdressers - dd has long hair and it's a PITA trying to be thorough when I can't pin up what I've already checked. This is something else I don't have in my preps but will be adding.[/list]

Monday, June 8, 2009

Building a preparedness/survival binder

This is far simpler than it might seem at first. The keys are consistency and organization. Basically whenever I find information that would be useful in an off-grid emergency I print it out and add it to my binder. There is tons of information on the web and I've saved many things to my computer and memory stick - but if the power fails I'll be out of luck without hard copies.

This is different from the information you should keep in your 72 hour kit. That would be personal information key to you and your family only. A preparedness binder would contain more general information and could be seen as a "Recipe book for survival". Right now mine consists of basic yet somewhat complex things like:
  • how to make lye
  • how to dry food without electricity
  • oral rehydration solution recipe
  • recipes for basic condiments and sauces
  • recipes for household cleaners
  • a list of local wild edibles with pictures
  • vinegar making instructions
Other things that should be added will be printed and filed in the correct tabbed areas as I find them. I'm just starting this binder and much more will be added over time I'm sure. Ultimately the recipes will have a binder of their own as I tend to collect lots of them but for now those basic ones will stay in the prepping binder. I have books that cover many preparedness topics but it's handy to have all the basic info at my fingertips, in one convenient place.

Exhaustive list of area for prepping

(Disclaimer - making lists in no way implies that the author has the preps listed or advocates such thorough prepping. It's nearly impossible to be prepared for every occasion but it never hurts to think about it) Wink
So being the OC/listmaking type I came up with this:
Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked

Grains - flours, oats, tortilla/taco shells
Sweeteners - sugars, honey, molasses, karo
Adjuncts/misc - (cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, salt, unflavored gelatin)
Pasta & Rice
Dairy & eggs
Legumes & Nuts
Meats & Fish
Fruits & Veggies
soups, broths/boullion
Spices & Flavors
Water & Beverages (Includes coffee & tea, water treatment supplies)
Beer & Liquor
comfort foods (chips, cookies, candy, convenience foods)
Garden plants, seeds, trees
Fishing supplies
Guns & Ammo

Medications, First Aid & Essential Oils
Vitamins & Supplements
Baby needs
Cleaners & Soaps
Hygiene & Personal
Paper goods
Pest control
Lights & Flames (flashlights, lamps, candles, lighters, matches, etc)
Office supplies (paper, pens, etc)

Fabric, yarn
Sewing/Knitting supplies
Shelter (tents, tarps, etc)
Bedding & Towels

Hand tools (hammers, saws, screwdrivers, etc)
Yard/Garden tools (Shovels, hoes, etc)
Kitchen tools
Communication/Time/Direction (radios, clocks, compass, maps, etc)
Ropes, Bungees, & Fasteners (nails, screws, etc)
Adhesives (tape, glue, caulk, etc)
Canning supplies
Gardening equipment
Candlemaking equipment
soapmaking equipment
Buckets, Dishpans, Washboards
Blades (Knives, Axes, etc)

Auto supplies & Parts
Transport (non-auto) Bikes, wagons, etc

"Survival" Binder - wish I could take credit for this idea but read about it elsewhere. I've been doing this general thing for a while. Oh well - another post later...
Books - prepping books, cookbooks, how-to books, etc
Educational (if you have children)

ENTERTAINMENT - books, games, music.



DEBT SERVICE - not that it's my last priority but it does cost money and is imperative to being prepared.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Coping with New England weather and busy schedules

I've been waiting nearly a month for that perfect combination of clear weather without a frost warning and an afternoon where DH is home and not working on other 'priority' projects. I think we may finally have reached that magic date though it's looking overcast I don't think it's going to rain.
One of the hard points to living in VT is not going stir crazy in May and planting too soon. I've talked to/ read posts from sooo many people who planted too soon this year and lost everything to a late frost. Gardening here is a precise dance of patience and perseverance.
The garden's been tilled for weeks and I've been working on weeding the perennials between wet spells. We've got all our new trees and bushes in the ground and the apple tree has had it's first treatment of Captan for the scab that has plagues it since we bought the house. It's always been an annoyance but we never bothered to try to harvest the fruit before so we just left it. This year we're hoping to get some fruit from it so we'll need to treat it weekly for a while to see how it does.
Michael got most of the yard mowed and weedwhacked last night while I weeded around the raspberries. Today we're hoping to get to the interior of the garden. I've spent alot of time these past few weeks pouring over gardening catalogs and "Carrots Love Tomatoes" to figure out the best planting plan. I was pleased with last years plan but, as I understand it, we're supposed to change the layout each year to keep pests from getting established. I'm thinking I may just flip the plan so everything that was in the first row is in the last and vice versa, which will work fine til I get to the middle of the garden.
I think the first of the rhubarb is about ready to be harvested and yesterday I noticed tiny berries forming on my strawberry plants. I've had fresh chives and oregano for weeks now.