Monday, February 28, 2011

Dust, Dust Everywhere!

Yesterday we had high winds here.
High winds + desert sand = LOTS of dust!
Yes, windows and doors were kept shut, but that doesn't matter out here in the desert!
My screened in front porch has about 1/2 inch to 3/4 of an inch of dust coating everything.
Every surface in the house has dust on it. I know when I vacuum that the vacuum will be filled with dust after the first, second and third pass through the living room and den. It took 3 paper towels to get all the dust off the t.v. screen this morning.
There is even dust coating the glass shelves inside the china cabinet! (And the doors were firmly shut)
Just another hurdle in housekeeping in desert climes...
The temperature also dropped down yesterday as the winds howled. The goats and chickens hunkered down in their respective quarters for the duration of the storm.The hens, bless 'em, still managed to produce 5 eggs in spite of the adverse conditions. Mama Gabrielle goat also managed to produce milk, although she was none too happy about being milked during a wind storm!

The winds died down, though, and this morning the sun is shining, the hens are happily clucking away and the goats are trotting around the yard.
I have a lot of cleaning to do, and hopefully, I can get through it without sneezing my head off!
Yesterday, the Girl wanted to bake bread.
I gave her a simple recipe, which she followed--pretty much. The results were quite good. She was so proud of her accomplishment that this morning she wrapped up some of her bread to take to school to share!
She made two loaves of regular bread, and then I showed her how to roll out dough, spread butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and walnut pieces on it and roll it up to bake as a sweet bread for breakfast. When it came out of the over, I brushed butter on that loaf and dusted it with confectioners sugar.That's the bread she took to share.
Best part of the experience (for me) was when she stopped sampling her creation long enough to say "You know, bread you make yourself just tastes SO much better!"
Yes, yes it does!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Goat Rodeo, Oh My Aching Bones!

It is actually Sunday morning here, but I am still up as my arms hurt, my legs hurt and my fanny hurts! A couple of cups of spice tea and an aspirin or two and I should be right as rain.
How did I get into such a sorry state?
Well, Saturday morning, every single goat we have decided to stage some sort of coup.
Maybe current events in Egypt and Libya inspired them I don't know!
Started out normal enough....
0600, fed goats and took them from their pens out to the *outer pasture* (what we call the main part of the 1 acre yard that is fenced off from the back yard). Leave baby buck Geordi in pen (I will milk his mama in the afternoon)
0615, Geordi (the baby buck) has somehow gotten out of his pen. Put Geordi back in pen.
0625, Geordi is out again! Chase him around back yard and finally get him back in pen.
0645 to 0700, watch Geordi out window to see how the little goat Houdini is managing to escape. Gape in amazement as Geordi gets a running start and jumps up on the gate and then scales it and flings himself to the ground outside the pen.
0715, Get the Darlin' Man up, explain the problem. He helps get Geordi back in pen and then watches the escape maneuver himself.
0730-0800, Geordi is put back in pen and Darlin' Man and the Boy get some scrap lumber and add an extension to the top of the gate to thwart little Geordies escape plans.
0800, 0830, Breakfast, suddenly interrupted by the sound of goats bleating in the back yard. Now, Gabrielle (Geordi's mama) and Champagne have somehow found a way into the back yard...yet the gate is still closed and latched! How the heck......?
The next few hours were spent chasing goats, falling on my backside (Gabby goat zigged when I thought she was going to zag!) and trying to figure out how the blasted animals were getting on this side of the fence!
The adult goats were definitely a lot more crafty than little Geordi (who became a bleating cheering section for his mom!) and didn't make their move to sneak into the back yard until we returned to the house and things had calmed down considerably. Finally, we spotted Gabrielle digging UNDER the fence!
Goats dig?
Yes, yes, apparently goats can dig quite well. Gabrielle had figured out that our soil is sand and sand could be quite quickly and efficiently be dug out of underneath the bottom of the fence and then a quick *wriggle through* and she was on the other side.The sand would sorta flow back into the hole she dug, so we didn't see it!
The rest of the day was spent resolving the problem, which involved extra long tent stakes being used to hold down the bottom of the fence AND cinder blocks being lined up all the way down the fence line at the bottom.
So, pounding tent stakes, dragging around cinder blocks, etc, made for a tired me by the time dinner rolled around .Right after dinner, I had to milk Gabby and return her and the other goats to their pens. The attempted coup was over, apparently, as all the goats were now docile and cooperative.
Immediately after dinner and milking, I fell asleep on the couch while the kids and the fella cleaned up, bless 'em.

But, now, I am wide awake and feeling every ache and pain from the activities. I am waiting for the aspirin to take effect and sipping a favorite vanilla chai tea to relax.

I learned a few things today...wee little goats can jump and climb higher than I goats can be tunneling experts...I can't run as fast as I could 20 years ago...and falling on your fanny can hurt several hours later!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Good Things Abound!

Good morning all!
I am a bit more cheerful today as I spent the past week battling a kidney infection. I hate getting those, they are so sneaky! At first I thought it was my back and treated it as such...then  realized it was my kidneys, so I had to switch my approach. No, didn't go to the doctor, as the last time I did for a kidney infection, the idiot medical professionals gave me meds  it turned out I was allergic to and it darn near killed me!
So, herbal teas with honey were the order of the day here! (I made teas with ginger, raw honey, parsley and cinnamon) Also upped my water intake and this morning I am about 80% back to normal...or my usual abnormal normal!
Was doing a bit of browsing on the internet and found THIS SHIRT .
Pretty nifty idea! Wish I had thought of it!
Another nifty thing is the Knot Bandana .
Cool item to stuff in your bug out bag or to tie on your backpack on a camping trip.
Same folks also carry a First Aid Bandana
I like little, inexpensive *gee whiz* items like those!
For those of you in the SouthEastern US, I found this:
Wish I lived closer! Looks good! (He also shows that nifty shirt in the video)
If you have the chance, check out Sootch00's other videos, he has some good ones on food prep, home defense, etc.
My recipe for Italian Cabbage/Sausage soup turned out pretty good.
I thought I had all the ingredients, but a quick check after posting that yesterday proved me wrong.
No white wine and no can of white beans (and not enough time to cook up a batch of dried ones).
So, I used barley instead of beans and added a can of diced tomatoes to make up for the lack of wine.
Everyone loved it!
With a nice crusty loaf of home made bread, it was wonderful and warming!
Well, it's time for another cup of hot tea...
I am brewing some chai tea this morning,I'll add cinnamon, ginger slices and some cream. Yum!
That and a couple of slices of home made bread with butter and honey will be breakfast.
I found a juicer recently at Goodwill and have it cleaned, up and running, so for lunch I am planning on a bowl of soup leftover from last night and a  glass of carrot, celery and apple juice for lunch. All those are good for the kidneys, so I hope to keep the Good Things in my system to get back to 100%.
Hope you have lots of Good Things in your day!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Varying Menus and New Things

One problem I think all of us is the tendency to get into a *rut* cooking meals. We don't intend to, it is just that once we have our hands (and brains) full with the day to day dealings of jobs, family, farm, livestock or whatever, sometimes it's just easier to fix something that 1) We know everyone will eat 2) We have memorized the recipe to and, 3) We usually have the fixin's on hand.
It also makes grocery shopping much easier! When you have a menu that is regular, you can estimate your grocery bill better and breeze through the store tossing your stand-by items in the cart.
In talking to other home-makers, I find that most of us are on a two week rotation of recipes.
I am trying to shake that up a bit here, as I am as guilty of *recipe repeats* as anyone else!

So, I have decided to start adding in a new recipe once a week. I have oodles of cookbooks and the whole internet at my fingertips, so new recipes are not hard to find!
Tonight, it'll be a new soup recipe found at Simply Recipes:
Click here for this recipe and many others!

Italian Sausage and Cabbage Stew Recipe

We use savoy cabbage for this recipe, but you could use regular cabbage, or even collard greens or dinosaur kale. If you want to make this stew vegetarian, leave out the sausage and double the beans.


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, bulk, or removed from casings
  • 1 large yellow onion, half sliced and half minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 15-ounce can of white beans (cannellini, Great Northern, or Navy), drained
  • 1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1 2-pound savoy cabbage, quartered, then sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup chopped parsley, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup to a cup of freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese for garnish


1 Heat the olive oil on medium-high heat in a large (8-quart), thick-bottomed pot. Add the sausage, breaking it up into pieces as you put it into the pot in a single layer. When the sausage has nicely browned, remove it with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2 Add the minced onion (save the sliced onion for later) and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Once the onions give up some of their water, use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
3 Add the white wine and the beans and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. If you want, for a thicker base, use an immersion blender to blend some (or all) of the beans and onions.
4 Add the water, stock, salt, cabbage, sliced onion half, bay leaves and browned sausage. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, then uncover and continue cooking until the cabbage is tender, about another 10-20 minutes.
To serve, sprinkle on chopped parsley and grated cheese.
Serves 8 to 10. 

I have everything, so I think it'll turn out okay. I plan on making a nice crusty loaf of bread to go with it and maybe tapioca for dessert.
So, that's the new recipe I plan on doing this time goes on, I hope to vary the menu more wildly.
I do have some limitations. Two people in the house are allergic to shellfish, one is allergic to all seafood (yes, that would be me) and the kids have a couple of foods each that they just won't eat. All kids are like that, I was, but I later grew out of it.
So, surprise the family tonight and slip in an unfamiliar recipe!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My "Can't Live Without" List

There are some things in life no one can live without...water, air, warmth and food.
But there are some things that you just don't want to live without. For some women, it might be shoes, for some guys it might be a shiny new car....Whatever, we all have those things in our lives that make it more enjoyable.
I was thinking about it today and wondering, if the SHTF, what items I currently have in my life that I would want to find a way to reproduce or somehow keep going.
My list and what I can do about it in a post-collapse world:
Ginger (the spice). I use ginger in a lot of cooking, in my spice tea, even put it in my bath in the winter to warm me up. Ginger grows in tropical areas, so my best bet is to get my hands on some ginger seed or fresh root stock and grow my own. Since we plan on moving to the North East US within a year, I guess I better plan on having a small hothouse for tropical type plants and such to feed my addiction to ginger!

I am going through all the spices I use and trying to figure out how I will grow them in the future. Cinnamon is a tough one, I don't think I could manage that. Pepper is another toughie, although I have heard of some folks in the US that have had limited success in hothouse growing small pepper trees/shrubs. Turmeric and other spices that go in curry is another area, also a tough endeavor.
I plan to keep investigating the ginger (and other spices) issue, there's gotta be a way!

Dr. Pepper. The only soda I haven't been able to banish from my life. The only soda I like. I don't suppose they'll give me the recipe, so I guess I will have to consider Dr Pepper as going the way of the dodo come the collapse! Now, I can make soda pop. Ginger beer, root beer, sarsaparilla, etc. have been home made for quite some time. I even have an old recipe for a lemon/barley beverage that bubbles like soda but is naturally fermented. It has a slight alcohol content (under 1%), but that won't be the main reason for making it. When chilled, it will be cold, tasty and refreshing.I suppose I will only make it for special occasions, though.

Citrus fruits...I guess we are back to the hothouse again. (That sucker is getting bigger all the time in my mind!) A couple of small lemon trees, a dwarf lime tree or three and definitely some dwarf orange and grapefruit trees.
I have been looking at charts to see what fruits and veggies will not grow outside in the shorter growing season in New England. Looks like we will need a hothouse AND a greenhouse!

I will miss computers and t.v. We plan to be off-grid and to generate our own electricity, but there won't be a lot to waste on entertainment! I mainly watch documentaries, I love them so! I watch a lot of History channel, to. Now, I can buy dvds of many of the programs I watch and then store them for later enjoyment.
I need to get instructional dvds in skills where we (as a family and as individuals) are lacking. I can go to youtube and find a lot of the instructional videos for free, too. I do have a program on my computer where I can download videos from youtube onto my computer and then burn them onto a dvd, so that's one way to get some instructional videos! (Well, if I can figure out that program!)

Most things that are on my *can't live without* list, I can make myself, I have found. I can sew and do leatherwork. I can bake and cook. I can do basket weaving and some woodwork.
I guess all that puts me ahead of the game in a post-collapse society, so that's a Good Thing!

Now...just gotta get my hands on the recipe for Dr Pepper.....

A Doggie Life

We have two dogs here.
One is the fella's dog who was here before I arrived.
Andy (AKA Hannibal)

The other is my dog, Siona (or when I am upset with her " Siona-MARIE!")

The two of them are my constant companions here.
Andy had a severe destructive streak when I arrived. He chewed EVERYTHING he could get his paws on! I would go to sleep with the house reasonably clean and wake up with sofa cushions shredded and flung about the room, the trash can upended and all the trash strewn around the kitchen and dining room, etc.  Siona tried to keep him in check, but eventually she even gave up.
A couple of weeks ago, his chewing on computer cords cost us around $80.00 to replace the cords...ACK! The fella seemed bent on doggie-cide, but we reached a compromise.
A muzzle.
Now, before the household turns off the last light, locks the doors and turns in for the night, one of us muzzles Andy...and we have started referring to him as *Hannible*, lol!
Andy fought the muzzle at first, but now he accepts it. He can breathe freely and drink, he just can bark or chew on anything.
First thing every morning, I get up, remove his muzzle and shoo him and Siona outside for their morning potty break.
By the time they get back in, I have dished up their food. I feed the dogs twice a day. I am NOT an advocate of *free feeding* where the dogs have 24 hour access to food! ESPECIALLY with dogs that are inside/outside dogs or even just inside dogs! The fella was *free feeding* Andy when I arrived. Andy was having constant potty accidents in the middle of the night, even during the day. I immediately put Andy on the feeding schedule Siona has had since she was a puppy....once in the morning and once in the evening, with trips outside right after eating. Andy stopped having *accidents* and has adapted well to the feeding schedule.
After eating, both dogs go outside for their "morning romp". They wrestle and run, check out the goats (through the fence) and the chickens (again, through the fence), wrestle some more and finally lay down in the sunshine and take a nap, stirring when the kids are going to the bus stop.They watch the bus leave and then demand entrance to the house and I let them in.
THEN they have their *inside romp*, wrestling each other and playing tug-of-war with a doggie toy.
Another nap.
I try to walk them in the afternoon. A brisk stroll around the neighborhood so they can check out what is happening and to stretch their legs...and mine!
I shoo them outside around lunch time when I vacuum and dust.
Their next big *excitement* is when the kids get home from school and then (Oh JOY!) when the fella gets home from work. They slobber all over him!
When we eat dinner, they also get their evening feeding, sometimes supplemented with a few scraps from dinner. Some folks freak out when they find out my dogs get *people food*, saying it's *bad* for them. I wonder if they know what dogs ate BEFORE commercial dog food was available? Each of the dogs gets at least one raw egg a week in their food and I have been known to mix in some bacon grease into their kibble, especially during cold weather. Both dogs have healthy shiny coats and have a glow of health about them.
Siona is especially fond of licking up any dribbles of milk on the milking stand for a treat.
Another trip into the big back yard for an evening romp and then another walk after dinner.

The evening ends with both dogs happily cuddling with the kids or the fella or me on the couch as we watch a movie or a t.v. program.
Then one last *potty break* before bed, and Andy gets his *Hannibal Lector* mask on.
They have each laid claim to a different piece of furniture at night, although they nap together during the day. Andy stretches out on the big couch, Siona curls into a ball on the loveseat. They would both prefer to sleep with us, their people, but the only time that happens is when the fella is out in the field...and then I let Siona curl up in bed with me (don't tell the Darlin' Man!) and Andy goes into the Boys room.
Not a bad life for a dog, all in all.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Garden Planning and My Seeds

The bulk of my seed order arrived in the mail.
Here's what I have from Bakers Creek:
Garden Pea (Lincoln)
Tomato (Ananas Noire)
Lettuce (May Queen)
Leek (Bulgarian Giant)
Carrot (Danvers 126 Half Long)
European Mesclun Salad Mix
Snow Pea (Golden Sweet)
Tomato (Amish Paste)
Tomato (Black Cherry)
Cucumber (Delikatesse)
Pepper (Emerald Giant)
Black Bean (Cherokee Trail of Tears)
Watermelon (Royal Golden)
Watermelon (Cream of Saskatchewan)
Seeds I ordered on ebay:
Basil (Italian Large Leaf)
Winter Squash (Buttercup)
Endive (Green Curled Ruffled)
I also have seeds saved from last year:
Michihli Cabbage (A type of Napa Cabbage)
Extra Dwarf Pak Choy (Bok Choy)
Kale (Blue Curled Scotch)
Daikon Radish (Chines White Winter)

I also have some squash seeds saved from a wonderful winter squash a neighbor grew and gave us...yummy to the extreme. I have no idea what the name of the squash is, I just know it is round, kinda squat, and is blue and grayish in coloring.

Because I am gardening in a desert region, my garden planning has to be pretty specific in terms of water, shade, etc.
I found out last year that the soil here is not very good for seed germination/growth/gardening.
So, I spent a good part of the last week calling around to find out how much places here charge for decent topsoil. Some were not too bad, others made my hair stand on end! And you don't even want to know what the delivery charges were like! Fortunately, a neighbor lets us borrow his pick-up for our *farm jobs* (and I am glad, because while transporting the goats in my Darlin' Mans classic Mercedes would have been funny, it wouldn't have done much for the upholstery!).
The wind here is dry. VERY dry. It sucks all the moisture out of the soil so fast it is surprising to me! So, wind breaks will be in order, as well as mulch to hold in moisture.
We will be doing raised bed gardening, it is the only thing that will work here.
But I will HAVE to have some type of *bottom* in my raised beds, as the under-soil will suck down every drop of water as fast as it can. I am thinking of using tarps under the beds, up behind the beds (they are beside a chain link fence), and then, I can also use the same tarps on frames to provide shade...bottom, wind-break and shade in one!
Also, I need to line the bottom with some sort of material that will *hold* moisture for the plants when their roots grow. I am thinking peat moss, combined with the compost/straw mix from the goat pens.
I will be growing some of the plants in containers...I have oodles of containers! Whoever lived here before us had loads of them, our neighbors that have moved gave us many, so I have 30 to 40 large (5 gallon size and up) containers! Many of them perfect for herbs, salad greens and such.
So, tonight I sketched out a basic garden plan that I will hone and tweak as my seeds sprout (I will be starting my seeds tomorrow).
Patches the goat has not given birth yet. I am beginning to think that perhaps (despite what the vet says) that she is merely a rotund, overweight goat, and not pregnant at all!
Gabrielle the goat is weaning Geordi, but is giving us about a quart and a half of sweet, creamy milk a day!
The hens are laying eggs like they do it for a living! Five to nine eggs a day now!(That's collectively, not individually!)
Red the rooster is his normal psychotic self. :-D He seems to be a bit happier since I ordered the waterer from Livestock Concepts on ebay a couple weeks ago.
Here's the one I got:
Chicken Water Fountain
They had a free shipping deal, plus the price was cheaper than I could buy it locally, so I figured I'd go for it.
It is working out real well, and now I don't have to tote water to the coop 3 times a day...less encounters with Red equals less stress on me (and the broom!). No, I don't get anything from the folks at Livestock Concepts (well, except for the catalog they sent with my order), just wanted anyone out there with chickens to know about a Good Thing.
The tabletop project is...progressing. Tiles and grout done...HOWEVER, the OMB the fella and I got is apparently not quite up to the task as it seems to be warping a bit. I need to reinforce the base somehow and am going to work on it tomorrow to see if I can come up with a solution.

Hoping everyone out there will go to sleep dreaming of carrots and lettuce, peppers and tomatoes, beans and squash...just like I will! May all our gardens be bountiful this year!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Suspicious of Spring Weather Here...and other things

It has been SO warm here! It reached 80 degrees the other day, a record even for our desert clime in February.
But I am kinda suspicious...
I have been in this situaton before; lovely Spring-like weather, my gardeners heart starts going pitty-pat and I set out plants and/or seedlings and then:
The area gets hit with a cold front that drops the temperatures into the single digits for 3 days straight and I lose everything...
No, no. I am not going to be lulled into a false sense of Spring by these warm temperatures! Oh, yeah, I am wearing shorts already, but I can always switch back to my jeans, but I cannot *switch back* after putting out fragile little seedlings!
But it is sooo tempting right now!
In other news, Patches the goat remains stubbornly pregnant.
The vet is of the opinion that we miscalculated her breeding date, thus throwing off her due date.
All I know is that the little thing looks like a furry barrel with legs and if she doesn't give birth soon, she'll probably explode!
Speaking of goats...I got rather amused the other day when a friend came by to visit, and Geordi, our buck kid, decided to test his climbing skills on her car.She scolded him and told him "Down, get DOWN!", then turned to me and said "Does he understand English or should I tell him in Spanish?"
As I told her..."He understand *goat* and *feed-bucket*!" I picked up a feed bucket and went to the pen and Geordi ran in happily. I gave him one handful of feed and left him there, separate from the adult goats, who don't climb on cars!
The chickens have fallen into a rhythm of laying 6 or 7 eggs a day (collectively).This makes me VERY happy!
Margarite is still in her *blue* period, so we have such a nice variety of different colors of eggs.
Red the rooster still hates all humans. Especially me.
Good news this morning as I was typing this post...One of my sons called and announced that he and his girl friend are now engaged! This will be the first one of my sons to get married! My son said the wedding will be in October, I am kinda hoping for the birthday!
Hope you are all having a good morning!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One Thing Leads To Another...

So, having finally semi-completed my new kitchen table top last night, I wandered over to ebay to look at fabric to cover the kitchen chairs with.
Big mistake when I actually have some money in my paypal account!
I realized while looking at upholstery fabric that I needed some plain muslin for another, I found some...on shipping. Okay, ordered that. While I am at it, I really could use a new pair of scissors..  Found a pair I had eyed at the local fabric store, half the price the store was charging! And free shipping...
Hmmm...I wonder if anyone has a pattern for a wrap around apron like my grandmother had?
H-e-e-e-e-y-y-y-y-y...that one is sooooo cute! And free shipping! *click*
Hmmm...the lady with the pattern also sells heirloom seeds...*browse, browse, browse*
Oh, baby, you had me at "free shipping"!
*click, click, clickety-click*
Check paypal to see how much money I have left....
OooooooOOoohhhh...I still have some money left!
Fabric again, still haven't found the *perfect* fabric for the kitchen chairs.
*browse, browse, browse*
Well, look at that fabric, it would be perfect for a quilt I am planning...put on watch list. Hah! Resisted the urge to buy it! Besides..they didn't have free shipping...
Oh yea...maybe I should look at some more seeds...still trying to find those *black* Russian tomatoes that Bakers Seeds sold out of...
*browse, browse, browse*
THERE they anyone selling them with free shipping? No? Okay...what's the cheapest packet cost....not bad, 25 seeds, 1 dollar, 69 cents shipping...I'll go for that. *click*

I finished the night with 6.29 left in my paypal account.
I checked my ebay and saw all I bought.
Many  ahem...Several packets of seeds, 3 patterns, a pair of scissors, plain muslin and....yeah, quilt fabric (*blush*).
I feel like I have an ebay hangover.
And I still didn't find the fabric for the chairs...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Best Laid Plans...

So, today was going to be the day I made a new tabletop for the kitchen table. I had it ALL planned out. I had read the instructions on the tile adhesive, the grout, planned out where each tile would be placed and so on.
I was going to start the project at 8 a.m., right after the kids left for school.
7:15 a.m. I wake up the kids...Girl dives into the shower and Boy...groans.Huh?
A closer inspection shows Boy to be wheezy, red eyed and running a fever and complaining that his chest felt like it was burning inside.Then wheeze, cough, cough.
I yell at Girl to get out of the shower asap. She runs to her room in her bathrobe to get dressed for school and I shove Boy in the bathroom and turn the shower on high and HOT, steaming up the bathroom. Boy is ordered to sit in there until I come to retrieve him.
Girl leaves for the school bus with a breakfast burrito I quickly made in her hand.
I retrieve Boy from shower. He says he feels a little better, but has a bad headache and feels, in fact, achy all over. I give him some non-aspirin fever reducer/pain reliever (which I hate to use, but I am kinda paranoid about Reyes) and a hot cup of herbal tea and start breakfast for him.
At this point I hear a ruckus in the yard.
The dogs are out for their morning romp around the yard. I look, and one of the chickens is also out in the the heck did THAT happen?...and the fellas dog is merrily chasing the chicken around the yard while my dog sits on the patio and barks encouragement.
I dive into the fray and finally grab one very flustered and panicked chicken (it was Chloe, one of the Rock Island girls) and open the chicken coop to shove her in. I didn't have my broom with me.
This fact registers immediately with Red (the psychotic rooster) and he launches himself at me as I get the coop door open. I fling Chloe in, hoping that will distract Red, but no such luck! Red continues his attack and makes it out of the coop.
Just a bit of an observation here...if you are running from a deranged rooster, it is best to be dressed appropriately.
A nightgown and fuzzy hot pink slippers are NOT appropriate.
But I digress...
I retreated from Red's attack and take off for the patio to get the broom. Red, sensing he had the upper hand, chases me with all the fury his chicken legs can muster. The fella's dog, Andy, decides to chase Red. The rooster seeing a new opponent, is momentarily distracted...but only momentarily, as when he turns to face Andy, he manages to swat Andy across the face with a wing. The dog, startled, yelps and high tails it for the back door...right in my path to the broom!
I managed to NOT trip over the darn dog (for a change) and make it to the patio.
I grabbed the broom and turned to face the rabid he had launched himself in the air at me, talons out. I swing...and miss.
However, that swing was enough for Red to flutter to the ground and rethink his strategy. He looks back to the chicken coop (assessing his audience?), but there's no help for him there. Miss Chloe is in a corner of the coop with the other hens gathered around her, clucking in sympathy. Red looks at me again and turns and begins a leisurely strut across the yard, back to the coop.
I finally get Red back in the coop.
I get back in the house and find the bacon a bit charred around the edges. I crumble up the best of it and put it, along with some scrambled eggs, in a tortilla for the Boy.
Breakfast delivered, I sit down and catch my breath.
I finally got to the table, but didn't have a camera as my friend with the camera is visiting friends out of town today.I am waiting for the adhesive to *cure*, and then I can get to the grout.
Patches the goat is still pregnant.
I need to vacuum.
More than that, I need a nap....
And I have to go out in about an hour and gather eggs and feed the chickens...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Heading for the Woods?

How many times on *prepper* or *survivalist* type forums have you seen the comment "If SHTF, I plan on heading for the woods/wilderness and living off the land!" ?
Lots of  times, right?
Most of the time the prospective wilderness survivor's vast experience in *living off the land* is limited to camp outs in their back yard when they made a brief foray into the Cub Scouts when they were 6 and reading "Hatchet" when they were 12.
You just knew that within 48 hours of arriving in a wilderness situation, the poster would be dead, severely injured, or just curled up in a fetal position under a covering of dry leaves whimpering.
No *real* books gave a lot of information on escaping into the wilderness in a crisis situation. A lot of fictional books do, but the heroes in those books  are either very young and lucky, or very well-equipped and prepared.
I recently received a non-fiction book that addresses this very subject.
Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It's Too Late by Scott B. Williams
The guy that wrote it is (apparently) an experienced hiker, sea kayak-er, wilderness camper, bicyclist, etc. Wonderful!
He has visited and extensively hiked state parks, National Parks, National Forests and National Wilderness areas throughout the lower 48. He leaves Alaska and Hawaii out of the mix as he feels the folks that live in those states know their areas and have specific needs for wilderness survival that couldn't be specifically addressed in this book.
Mr. Williams is very expert on many on the topics he addresses in the book, but there are some major holes.
He addresses vehicles for bugging out, but fails to mention diesel fueled vehicles as transportation. If civil unrest occurs to the level he is assuming, diesel fueled vehicles could be a good choice for escape from an urban area. They can be fueled with alternative fuels better than gas powered cars/trucks/SUVs. An older model without all the computer chips and *brain boxes* in today's models would also be EMP resistant.
He gives a good overview of what to have in a bug out vehicle--regardless of type. Packing a sea kayak, a backpack, a bicycle, etc are covered.
He also covers escape and evasion from an urban area and what routes to take that may be over looked by the majority of the populace.
A lot of his book focuses on stealth and avoiding attracting attention to yourself, whether during your actual escape from an urban area or when camping in a wilderness area.
When he gets into actual regions of the lower 48, Mr Williams gives a rough over view of appropriate areas and the dangerous animals/insects/etc. that can be found in each region.
He identifies and gives over views of National Parks, Wilderness areas, etc for each state.
The book was...okay.
IF you are in prime physical shape and can withstand the rigors of hiking 20 to 30 miles into the back country of Yellowstone.
IF you have a sea kayak and the idea of paddling all day and camping at night appeals to you.
IF you have no spouse or children that you will have to take with you.

The book does seemed geared to the single man 17 to 35 years old with absolutely no health issues, no disabilities, and is in prime physical shape.
For the average reader in reasonable physical shape with a wife and kids....maybe not such a good reference.
Your mileage may vary, as they say.

There are a LOT of books out there on camping/hiking/woodcraft skills.
If you want a good book to begin with, I strongly suggest Woodcraft and Camping by George W. Sears Nessmuk. This book was written in 1884 (!!!) and is still in print due to it's usefulness and good, solid basic information. No fancy magnesium fire-starters, no propane stoves or gee-whiz hand held GPS units, just basic woodman's-ship that everyone should know or learn before foraying into the wilderness.
Nessmuk had the *less is more* philosophy. He carried about 26 pounds worth of gear with him when camping.65 years old, about 105 pounds and (probably) afflicted with TB, he went on solo camping/canoeing trips into the Andirondack Lakes.This is not the muscular prime healthy specimen we usually think of when we are thinking of outdoorsmen! Yet this man not only survived, he thrived in his environments.
I like to give this book to 8 to 12 year old boys for their birthday,especially those that are interested in hiking and camping.A good companion book to Hatchet or My Side of the Mountain.
The language in Woodcraft and Camping is a bit old fashioned and some of the equipment described is dated, but the philosophy and basics are as appropriate today as they were in 1884.

New Project---Kitchen Table Top!

Sometimes a project comes my way through accident. I hadn't planned on doing said project, but necessity compels me to.
Which brings me to my kitchen table....
When I arrived here in September, the Darlin' Man already had the house set up and furnished. He had furniture and dishes from his last 20 odd years of service life and bouncing around the world. Much of it had been in storage for the past 5 years or so, as he had been on assignment to Korea and deployed to Iraq.

The worst piece of furniture he owned was an early 1980s kitchen set. A smoked glass topped table. Remember those?
I didn't own one in the 1980s, but here I was, stuck with one of those hideous tables.
I'm a *wood girl*. I like kitchen tables that are made of wood...that have character and warmth.
Smoked glass top? Yuck.
Anyway...about a week ago, I was setting the table for dinner and set a baking dish with a casserole in it on the, mind you, I had been doing this since September. I had a small hot pad on the table, but part of the casserole dish came into contact with the glass.
A huge section of the table cracked and then just fell on the floor, scaring the bejeebers out of me and the fella's dog (said dog sitting under the table!).
Well, yesterday, the Darlin' Man and I made it down to the home improvement store and bought the supplies necessary to contruct a new table top.
A 4 x 8 piece of OMB (a pressed wood type of plywood) which the nice guy named Danny at the local Lowes cut for us!
A box of inexpensive floor tile of the stone type.
Tile adhesive.
A small can of polyurethane..
We already have grout and we also had some leftover tile from other projects in the past in case the small box of tile was not enough.
So, this afternoon, I took the tile and figured out how to place them so they will cover the table properly. There is a small gap on either side of the center tile, but I figured out how to do a mosaic of broken pottery to fill in there.
Actually looks quite pretty!

Tomorrow, I will apply the adhesive, place the tile and let it set. On Tuesday I will put the grout on and let it set. On Wednesday, first coat of poly. Let it set for 24 hours, then 2nd coat.
Thursday, I attach the table top to the table frame, using supplies I already have.

Except for my time, the total cost is under $40.00 for my brand new table top.
Not too bad! Yes, I had looked at thrift stores and in ads and on Craigslist and couldn't find any this cheap.
While it may seem a lot of trouble to some folks, I am enjoying the experience. I get to express some creativity, use my rather rusty tile laying skills and save some money, too, by doing it myself! The new table top has inspired me so much that I am thinking of covering the cushioned chair seats, as the fabric is rather ugly (faux tapestry--black with yellow and orange and red flowers...ICK!)

I hope to get some pictures of the finished project--at least--hopefully I can get some *in progress* pics as well! I have to borrow a camera from a friend, so we will see!

For those, Patches the goat has NOT given birth yet. She had a bit of a discharge this evening, but no signs of labor....sigh. I swear that goat is giving me (more) gray hair!

Friday, February 11, 2011


Remember the old Carly Simon song?

Well, that's what my life seems to be about right now...
I think that anyone that farms or gardens or raises livestock knows the feeling!
I went out to feed the goats this morning...hoping...anticipating that Patches had given birth to her kid overnight.
Nope. Her tail has dropped a bit, so I am hoping the event happens today.
When I start my seeds, I will peer at the little pots every day, sometimes several times a day, looking for that first sprout, anticipating that first wee bit of green to push out of the soil.
Then after my seedlings are in their beds outside, I will hum around the garden like an oversized bee, looking for blossoms and the first signs of fruiting.

Some things we don't anticipate.
I have 8 chickens and 1 psychotic rooster.
I know all of my flock by name...Priscilla--Queen of the coop, that lays huge milk chocolate colored eggs. Gertrude--the fuss-budget that busily pecks around all day and fusses at the other hens incessantly, Chloe and Zoe, the two Rock Island hens that are so lovely, Daisy and Margarite--the wall-flowers that keep to themselves, Matilda and Beatrice--steady layers of pale tan eggs and who always stay on the top of the roost.
Of course, Red...the psychotic rooster who protects his girls fiercely, even from us strange two-legged giants that bring food and water! (I have received emails and messages and even inquiries from neighbors asking me why Red hasn't become the star at a Sunday dinner here.Well, I LIKE Red. He is doing his job as nature intended. He defends and protects his ladies as a good rooster should! Besides, a neighbors dog got n the yard one day and tried to attack the chickens that were ranging around the yard. Red got to the dog before I did...and won! That dog is now terrified of chickens!)
What I did NOT anticipate yesterday afternoon was going out to collect eggs and finding shy little Margarite  laying a BLUE egg!
She has laid eggs before...this new color was a total surprise! We get all shades of brown and tan, white once in a while...but blue?
The kids joked about the recent frigid temperatures in our area and suggested that perhaps THAT was why the egg was blue!
Sometimes you can anticipate what is going to happen, other times...not so much!

Maybe that's why I enjoy gardening and raising livestock so much. Surprises like this crop up all the time!
I had an elderly mare when I was a teen-ager that was well past her prime...after many, many years of riders and pulling carts, her back sagged, she had a pot belly and her mane and tail were not the most attractive. I kept her , because I loved her. Her soft nickers when I brought her treats and rubbed her neck. The way she *rode herd on the herd* of other horses we had at the time. I didn't ride her anymore because of her age and because she just couldn't handle it, really.But Lucy was a good horse and I was determined she would live out her days being loved and cared for.
One morning I went up to feed and there stood Lucy, proudly nuzzling a few hours old foal by her side!
We (my dad and I) didn't even know she was pregnant! A call for a vet visit and Lucy and the new foal were checked out...and the vet was just as puzzled as we were! HE had thought Lucy was beyond her foaling years.Even more puzzling was who the dad was, as all our horses were mares! We made a few hurried calls to neighbors and found that one neighbor had boarded a palomino stallion for about a month during the time frame when Lucy got pregnant. The neighbor told us that the stallion had gotten out of his pasture on 2 or 3 occasions and wandered into our back pasture, but he had retrieved the wandering Lothario as quickly as he could.
Well, that explained why my black mare had a lively palomino filly! Lucy was the only one of our mares that got that *special attention* from the stallion visitor, apparently, as she was the only one that foaled.

Sometimes you can anticipate...other times you just have to enjoy the surprises!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Desert Living

I have only been here since September, but from the start I noticed things about the desert that impacted my day-to-day life that I didn't expect. have to drink A LOT of fluids. I am drinking way more water, herbal tea, etc than I ever have in my life! Even in winter. Even the animals chug down loads of water. You HAVE to have water accessible to people and animals 24/7 here!
My hair and skin...I have to moisturize morning and night. Skin and hair, other wise you don't just see the results of this arid desert air, you feel it! Hair gets crinkly dry, skin feels parched and scratchy. I also have pale skin and burn easily, so SPF sunscreen lotions are an important part of my daily life now...even in winter, the sun can burn you here.
Sore Throats...I got a lot of them at first. Because of the dryness of the air, your throat can dry out at night, along with your nasal passages. Humidifiers and vaporizers can help A LOT, especially in winter when running a heater can make the air even drier. I have gotten in the habit of sucking on a throat lozenge to help combat this before I go to bed. Something herbal and soothing, like a slippery elm lozenge or a Riccola *cue guy with big horn*

Local wildlife....I expected snakes, scorpions, spiders and coyotes. What I DIDN'T expect was BIRDS. Lots and lots of birds! Mourning doves, hawks, hummingbirds (spring/summer visitors), sparrows, little owls, you name it, we have seen it here! Now, while the birds are a bonus, they also impact on gardening, raising chickens, etc.
We also have loads of rabbits...uhmmm..actually, I have been told those are *technically* hares. Which-ever, the little buggers are all over the yard in the mornings.While fun to watch, they ALSO impact gardening efforts and can carry disease to livestock.

The coyotes wander the streets at night here. They are not just carnivores, they are omnivores. They will tear through a garden in no time flat! Tomatoes, corn, beans...they will eat it all.

So, you have to plan ahead of the myriad animals here in the desert, too!

Desert living does have it's bonuses...the sunsets and sunrises here are INCREDIBLE! The stars are so much brighter out here, too! We are in the *high desert*, so I guess the clearer air up here (and because we are not *in town*) means less *light pollution*.

 My hair, which is curly, had a tendency to frizz like crazy when I lived in the high humidity climes of the gulf coast. Here, no frizz! YAY!
A lot of the insects that plague gardeners across the country never make it into the desert.
The low humidity also means that heat doesn't feel as nasty as it does in a high humidity climate (I may have a different opinion come July!). All I know is that when I flew here in September, the temperature was about the same as it was in the gulf coast area...but it didn't feel over-bearing dear-lord-I need-a-cold-shower HOT like it did in Beaumont! The cold doesn't feel as *cold* here, either!
All in all, I like it here. I do miss the green palette of the landscape of the gulf coast, but here, green is a delightful *pop* that surprises you. I find myself looking forward to Spring more here, too, knowing that the hummingbirds will be back and the brown landscapes will soon have the first shadings and pops of green sprouting up.
I have always heard "Bloom where you are planted"
This year, I am blooming in the desert!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Morning Moments...

Right now are my favorite moments of the morning....
The goats and chickens have been fed, and the goats have been put out in the big yard (the darlin' man calls it the "outer pasture") and the dogs are blissfully crunching on their between wrestling bouts on the living room floor!
The sun is coming up and the neighborhood is quiet. The kids are still asleep and the dogs and I have the house to ourselves.
In an hour, peace will flee with the morning chaos of the kids rushing around to find this book or that sock, the t.v. giving us the morning news and weather report and the neighborhood waking up.
But right now....peace.
Remember Patches?
Visual reminder:
Patches is the rather rotund black and white goat in the picture.
Well, she is currently 4 days over-due for having her kid by our calculations.
She looks like a furry barrel with legs this morning!
I am hoping she delivers soon! This is her first kid and I am a little bit worried.
Her tail hasn't dropped and she is not pawing the ground or showing any pre-labor behaviors as of yet.
*Nail biting time*

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Armchair Preppers and Random Thoughts

Because of the rise of the internet, we all run into the *wanna-be's* out there.

People that *talk* a good game, but when push comes to shove, they have no idea how to prep, survive, etc.
I have been fooled by a few, I am sure most of us have...
The guy that talks about all his *tacticool* equipment...but actually only has airsoft guns and a back-pack left over from high school.
The woman that talks about prepping and sounds good, but actually lives in a condo and has less than a weeks worth of food on hand--all her money goes for cruises, vacations and *shiny things* that her husband buys her.
The guy that discusses in depth his expertise at survival, yet would actually get lost in his suburban back yard.
My personal favorite was the "prepper" I visited a few years back that had a few forums enthralled with her talk of gardening, canning, training her dogs and her constant sewing projects. Turned out she had NO garden, all the food she had on hand was pre-packaged and canned and boxed straight from the grocery store, her dogs pooped and peed all over the house (including her bed!) and her *sewing room* was a collection of dry rotted fabrics that the dogs had befouled.
The guy that has a first aid kit that would equip a small medical clinic, but no idea how to use anything in it.

Why do they do this? What motivates them?
My best guess is a need for *crowd approval* and wanting to "hear their own head roar" as an old musician friend of mine used to say about people like this.
I figure they must be very lonely in their day-to-day lives. Maybe they are detached from their families, maybe they have burned way too many bridges with family and friends.
Some of them have more money than sense, some of them have little or no money and want to conceal that.
Whatever the reason, they are sad examples of *preppers*, *survivalists*, etc.
I have met around 10 people in real life through forums and chat rooms.I have probably talked on the phone with about 30 people I met in forums and chat rooms.
Of the 10 people I met in person, only 3 were of the *arm chair* type. So, I figure 70% of the folks out there are being up-front about their skills and prepping.
That's encouraging!
As for the 30% out there that are just talking to "hear their head roar"...I just dismiss them as sad and lonely people with nothing better to do with their lives.

The blogs I link to are, as best as I can determine "The Real Deal". Because of their tone, attitude, pictures, etc, there is a *ring of authenticity* to them. I learn a lot from them!
My own skills are, as best as I can tell, minimal in a lot of areas...I know a wee bit about a whole lot of stuff, but not a lot about any one subject! Almost everything I learned, was learned the hard way...out of necessity or desperation!
I write this blog in the hope that it may motivate at least one or two people out there to prepare. Each person that *preps*, is one less person *preppers* will have to worry about if times get as rough as some of us think they will. I enjoy writing it, because it gives me a chance to sit and think, really think about my own preparations and the direction I should be heading in.
I read other blogs to learn, to be entertained (c'mon, you funny folk know who you are!) and to get motivated to do more.
My thanks to all the *for real* folks out there!

Someone tried to poison my dog a couple of days ago.
My dog is fine, due to my Darlin' Man having the immediate reaction of grinding up some charcoal so we could shove it down her throat to absorb her stomach contents (I freaked a bit and panicked and forgot that little first aid tip). The vet called a prescription in for her to *move things along* and to negate the effects of what she ingested.
We found out who the culprit was and steps were taken to insure it would not happen again. The neighbor is moving in the next 9 days.

People that would poison a dog should be horse-whipped!
Siona is feeling fine today and running around being her old self, but it was quite a scare!

The snow is mostly melted and (I think) my landlord has repaired all of the neighbors pipes. Poor guy was run ragged for several days. I had an ice rink in the back yard and another in the front yard from my neighbors pipes bursting!
You should have seen me skating across the back yard to feed the bedroom slippers! Not one fall, but some major Olympic quality twists and turns so I didn't fall. Try that Michelle Kwan!!!

I ended up a little short in the budget dept. and was unable to order my seeds for this years garden last month. However, I will be ordering them next week.
I have picked out the majority of them from Bakers Creek, all heirloom, open pollinated, non-hybrid, non-gmo seeds.
I have some extra wiggle room in my budget to buy about ten dollars more worth of seeds.
Got any suggestions?
They have to be non-hybrid and non-gmo.
I live in a desert climate and am as frugal with water as possible. I do have some shady spots.
I have very long fence lines, so if it is somethng that needs to grow up a trellis, the fence will have to do.
I mainly use raised beds, but I have a couple of places that have good soil and no raised bed.
Let me know what would be some good choices!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tools of the Trade For Prepping

Prepping can lead you into expensive investments in tools that will help you prep. Not all of them are absolute necessities, you can make do with what you have now. What you have now may be less efficient or be more work, but it can work.
You can dehydrate in your oven overnight, or you can buy a dehydrator.
You can buy a spice grinder or use a mortar and pestle.
Grinding wheat into flour can be done in a gee-whiz electric grinder, an old fashioned manual grinder, or heck---you can just grab a couple of rocks and grind it down like like they used to many years ago---or still do in some undeveloped countries.
I am posting some good basic tools of the trade today, some I own, some I have owned in the past, and some I have friends that own them and are very pleased with their performance.
We'll do the electrical division first...
Spice grinders:
A coffee grinder can work as a spice grinder. Regardless, I use mine to grind dehydrated odds and ends into powders.  (read this post for info on that)
This coffee grinder works well as a spice grinder and is fairly inexpensive. It is good for small amounts and occasionally you have lumps or you have to re-grind, but all in all, a fairly good deal. The last one I had lasted me about a year...gotta replace it! I seriously used it A LOT.
My dream spice grinder is considerably more, but I really, really hope to save the bucks to get this one!

There's this fairly inexpensive dehydrator from Nesco that does the job and makes jerky fairly inexpensively. It is what we have now.
Dehydrator of my dreams is the Excalibur. Drooooool.

Flour Mill
Reasonable priced electric flour mill  that a lot of folks out there have and that I have used myself. It works well, is a bit noisy, but does get the job done.
The creme-de-la-creme of electric flour mills  and the one I desperately hope to get some day! A friend has this and I always ask her if I can grind some wheat for her when I visit, lol! You can also grind many other grains in it, adjust for fineness of grind, etc. Me want!

Now, onto the manual division...where the tools require much more effort, but the reward is just as satisfying!
 Manual Spice Grinders:
Okay, no foolin'... this coffee/spice grinder is probably the best of the batch. Yes, there are cheaper ones, but most will not give you the fine grinds you want for spices and powders. I do not drink coffee, but those that do and have this model are very happy with it.
There will be no second place awarded in this category!

Okay, look at this picture. Look at that price. Laugh. Realize you could make the same thing, more or less for about 5 to 20 bucks.
I have made my own dehydrators as easily as putting the food to be dehydrated on window screens (cleaned very well) and then covering the food with cheesecloth to keep fly's off. It works and works well.

Manual Flour Mills:
I have one of these. It is heavy, clunky and hard to use.You can make cracked wheat or cracked corn with it. Flour or corn meal? KEEP CRANKING! You have to grind and re-grind several times to get acceptable flour---remember to sift! It is a *back-up to my back-up* Good to have in case of emergency. And hope that emergency never happens!
A MUCH better one   has a MUCH higher price, but can be used daily without making you feel you just pulled the plow on the lower forty! No need to grind and then re-grind...repeatedly--like the first one!

For those looking for these tools, I hope this helps!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Did YOU Prepare For Winter Storms?

The whole country is in the grip of Ol' Man Winter and I see news story after news story about folks getting stranded in their cars, leaving freezing homes to shelter at centers set up by their city, etc.

 Pictures of grocery store cleaned out by people desperately trying to buy supplies at the last minute are all over the 'Net.

What did your local grocery store look like?

I didn't go to the store...had plenty of food and water here and had plenty of things to do before the storm hit.
I am in El Paso and we have had black-outs, water mains bursting and natural gas shortages here, along with pipes freezing, fires, etc. to keep the city busy.
None of the above has affected my household yet and I am holding onto hope that we won't be affected.
BUT...before the storm hit, I prepared.
First and foremost, actually listen to your local weather report or look it up online. Forewarned is fore-armed for whatever comes your way!
Two days before the cold front hit, I washed and dried all the extra blankets we had in storage and placed them in the various bedrooms for easy access.
I put a flashlight beside everyones bed on the night stands.
I placed candles around the house in locations I thought would be appropriate.I put a pack of matches in each location as well!
I put extra straw in the goat pens and chicken coop so the livestock could stay warm.
I did buy a couple of extra bags of charcoal for the grill and positioned the grill on the back patio just in case we ended up having to cook on it.
Although we have plenty of stored water, I bottled up more---just in case.
In case the power went out, I put a cooler on the back patio near the door so I could put frozen foods or refrigerated food in it if need be.
Baked some bread and cookies in case we lost our gas.
Made sure all household members had ample sweaters, sweatshirts and long sleeved shirts clean and ready. Ditto for gloves and hats and socks.

By the time the snow started to fall here, I felt that I had done everything I could with my resources to prepare. We have stayed warm and well fed, as has our livestock.

Look at the word PREPARE.
PRE means "in advance of"....
We should all PREpare for situations we are forewarned about.
The economy is bad, so we should all PREpare for the possibility of losing employment by paying off debt and saving a *safety cushion* of funds "just in case".
A storm is coming so we should all PREpare for the possibility that we may lose electricity, gas and water.
If you have minimal resources, prepare as best you can...even some preparation is better than none!
Stay warm!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

And People Wonder Why We Prepare...


Normally, snow in El Paso and the surrounding desert region is a *dusting*. Pretty to look at, but nothing to get excited about as it vanishes within a few hours.

The picture above was the last snow storm we had. It stayed on the mountains for almost a day and a half before all traces vanished. As you can see, it had already retreated from the desert valley.

Yesterday evening, real snow started. Fat wet flakes that looked determined to set up housekeeping and stay for a much longer time! It snowed for most of the late evening and night as we got hit with the same storm system that is roaring across the rest of the US right now.

So last night, it looked a bit different outside...

And then this morning....

I know, I know...doesn't look like much to you folks in the Midwest or back East....especially the North East, but this is a HUGE snowfall for El Paso!
Schools are closed. Gov't offices---closed. A lot of businesses---closed.

My goats are horribly confused by all this white stuff sticking around, as are the chickens. I added extra straw to the goat pens and the chicken coop last night so all the critters could snuggle down and stay warm.
I gave all the animals an extra ration of feed this morning and added some fat to it...gotta fuel the internal furnace!
I did all the common sense moves last night...left faucets on a trickle so the pipes wouldn't freeze....but I bottled up extra water---just in case. Got extra blankets out in case the power went out on us. Positioned a picnic cooler near the back door. If the power abandons us, I can fill it halfway with snow, put in refrigerated items and keep them from going bad.

Since the schools are closed, Boy and Girl are home today. They greeted the news of the school closed with the expected squeals and shouts of joy, then promptly went back to bed, lol!
I am sure I can find things for them to do to keep them busy once the get up.
Hope the rest of you are making it through this storm okay!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Online Forums, Part 2...Finding a Forum That Fits!

Okay, yesterday I told you why I leave forums.Today I will write about how I pick a forum!

I like participating in forums...really, I do! They are a fun way to learn, share, discuss, make friends,and network with others that have similar mindsets and goals.
First things first:
How To Find a Forum

Google is your friend. In the search bar, lets put in a topic that interests you....say you are real big on camping, primitive living and wilderness survival.
In the search bar, put Wilderness Survival Forums. I just did that and got 348,000 results! Many are duplicates, but there are many that I could check out if that was what I was looking for.
Check with friends...if they have a forum they enjoy, maybe you will enjoy it as well!
Invitations...there are some forums that are "by invitation only". I have been invited to a few and some were fine, others were not.

Assessing a Forum
Okay, you found a few forums that look interesting.What you need to do now is read, read, READ. Do not join just yet. Read recent posts, read older ones. You especially want to pay attention to posts from forum moderators and administrators. Do they swing the "ban hammer" too enthusiastically? Or do they allow insults, threats, excess profanity and flagrant violations of their own rules?
Look at the very bottom of the forum home page. They usually post the number of forum members and active members, i.e., those members that post on a regular basis...or at least within the last 6 months or year. I have seen forums with over 8,000 members BUT only 600 active members.That gives you a real clue right there.A forum with, say, 450 members and 350 active members is probably a better bet.
You really want to consider the size of the forum as well. The bigger the forum, the less likely that you will find any *friends* there, also there will probably not be much real information. Under 100 members and there won't be a lot, either.(Under 50 members...why don't ya just meet in a chat room?)
As you read, look for *cliques*. Frequently the *old timers* (long term members) of a forum band together and this can be frustrating for the new member. You may ask a question and be told "We talked about that last year, N00B! Search for it!" Or there may be opposing cliques that battle on threads and derail the topic.
Watch out for "Queen Bees" and "War Lords" on forums.
Like I said, read, read, READ!

Joining a Forum
Okay, you found a forum you like.
Follow the procedures to register and join. Some forums have a short waiting period and require you to respond to an email to complete registering.
Try to pick a forum name that shows a little personality. "Dave123" says nothing about you. "SwampDave" or " BeagleGuy" says a lot more!
Fill out your profile BEFORE you make your first post. You do not have to reveal everything about yourself...keep it simple! You may want to list your interests so that other members can find and connect with you. If you have valuable experience in areas that concern the forum, you may want to list those.
If the forum has an introductions thread POST your FIRST time there to introduce yourself. It's the polite thing to do, okay?

You can take it from there!

So, have fun and find an *internet home*!