Monday, August 30, 2010

"Iron Rations"

One of the ideas I really liked from the "Alas, Babylon" book was the main character's idea of putting aside what he called iron rations. He had warning a day ahead of the nuclear attack and thought to tuck away some items that would make a special treat in an emergency: tea, boullion cubes, instant coffee, hard candies. Then, in the panic of the following months, he forgot about it until a time when they really needed it and everything in their normal supplies was long gone.

Book Reviews

After reading "One Second After" my interest in survival/end of the world type books was lit.

My brother's partner lent me his copy of "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. It's a quick read (and I really need to pop it into the post and get it sent back to him!); very dark, yet compelling. I don't recommend it to those who are easily depressed or daunted by a grim view of a possible future.

Next on my list is "Alas, Babylon" by Pat Frank. Published in 1959, the author's viewpoint is firmly entrenched in the cold war but still offers up a gripping story that is well-written and difficult to set down. Read it.

"Lucifer's Hammer" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle is a slow starter; in fact, they spend so much time setting the scene and introducing all the characters, that a reader could skip the first two hundred pages and not miss much. The next 440 pages move along at a good clip and are worth your time. The book does a good job illustrating why expecting plans, even well-thought out plans, to go as expected is a mistake.

When I saw "Fall of Angels" by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. on a recommended list I had to smile; I have ALL of Modesitt's books. My favorites are the Ecolitan series, but the Recluse books are also very good. Regarding this particular book, yes, it follows a high-tech group forced to adapt to a hostile life in low-tech conditions, but probably isn't all that helpful for an actual survival situation. Recommended for it's entertainment value.

Friday, August 27, 2010

College bound!

In the morning I'll be moving my son up to campus and into his dorm room. It feels like I'm forgetting so much that he will need, but it helps to remember that he will only be 40 miles away. I was fine until this afternoon at work when it started to sink in that he was really moving out. Eep!

Normal posting will resume shortly...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fab time of year

This is one of the things I did on my birthday over the weekend. It's not a great quantity but there is something deeply satisfying about canning food grown myself.

I finally started making the 10 day crisp pickles. Ten medium cucumbers covered in boiling water. For the next four days I'll drain the pot and fill with more boiling water each evening.

I took today off work to take advantage of the lovely weather. My dad came over and we finally got the floor of the coop in place. The wall studs are also cut and the brackets attached. I'm adding a recycled window to the south side of the coop. It's not in the plans but shouldn't be too difficult to incorporate. This will provide natural light and I can open it in the warm months to let in fresh air.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The next generation

Difficult to get shots of all of them, but there are 7 healthy chicks running around this morning. Not all the eggs have hatched so maybe there will be more. It was a mixed batch of eggs including Blue Laced Red Wyandotte, Blue Jersey Giant, and Blue/Red Cochin.

This week in events

Events in my little world, that is.

I received the hand-operated grinder bought off ebay. It's a Corona, nothing fancy and not expensive. Also, my order from Honeyville arrived: 25 pounds of garbanzo beans and a package of oxygen obsorbers.

I've been working on cleaning/reorganizing the basement. Not only will it be much more comfortable in the event we have to shelter down there, but I can get a more accurate idea of what I already have that is useful.

I helped my mom can tomatoes yesterday and will do mine today. At least it's an easy process although spending these hot days in the kitchen isn't terribly fun!

The chicks have begun hatching! 3 weeks and 1 day after I put the eggs under the broody hens. One surrogate mum had to be evicted because she kept pecking at the chicks (strange reaction since these were the most mild-mannered hens I've ever seen). My parents will be picking up a bag of chick starter feed today; we can't let them out to forage because there are simply too many potential predators around.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Getting pickled

It's been a busy evening, but sometimes that's the only way to get things done here. I rang up my hay man and arranged to pick up 5 bales to feed the guinea pigs for the next year. Since I don't mind taking the bales with loose strings he threw in a bale of straw for free. That will be for my hens when I get the coop up.

Then, I made my first batch of bread and butter pickles. I have no idea what they will taste like, but all nine pints have sealed nicely and it's good to have something made from the cucumbers and onions out of my very own garden. There is another pickle recipe I'm's a good thing I don't go out much, it takes 10 days to make!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


We just got home from my niece's wedding. It was beautiful, simple and quirky. A very special day.

My brother and his partner stayed the night with us...and made it a weekend event for us. About one hundred times better than it would have been without them. And if I feel knackered, how will they feel after driving home four hours???? I don't envy them.

Someday my son will get married. I have that to look forward to. :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Three tomatoes from the polytunnel have ripened! As long as there aren't any shock frosts I should be seeing a nice harvest this year.

One failure to note: I tried putting some plants into pots so I could bring them inside at the end of the season but the pots are too small and the plants aren't doing well. Some dry out too quickly and cause moisture fluctuations (blossom end rot) and others just don't provide enough root space. I may try again next year but will use much larger containers.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Review - Food Storage Analyzer

While I can calculate how long my stash of toilet paper will last (18 months) I've never been able to even guess at how long my food stores would feed us. Thus, when I came across this analyzer while shopping for long-term storage items at Emergency Essentials I bookmarked it so I could return and try it out.

It's surprisingly user-friendly and easy to fill in, you don't even have to do it in one sitting because the items you enter can be saved. Filling in the items purchased from the site was quickly done and a few trips down to the basement shelves to count my supplies filled in the rest. My favorite part is the nutrition analysis and suggestions on items that would fill in the gaps.

Give it a try and learn how well prepared you are and where to focus your attention next.

Gift Card Giveaway

Turkey tales

I learned something new about turkeys this weekend. When I went to shut the barn Friday night, Emerson hadn't gone inside. Even though Amelia, his turkey hen, was already in and roosting for the night he kept walking around calling out.

Finally, I spotted the problem, a chicken hen wouldn't go in and he was trying to get her to safety. I had to chase her inside and all was well. Very interesting to learn that a turkey would be protective of chickens!

These rather blurry pictures show the morning exodus out of the barn. It moves fast!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Water woes

While there has been an overabundance of rain this year, we haven't had flooding issues around home. However, where I work is a different story; part of the sewer system has been overwhelmed, causing the city to dump raw sewage into the river and the threat of sewage backing up into thousands of homes. One of my coworkers lives in the danger area and was told not to shower and avoid flushing. Yesterday she was complaining about missing the shower and I told her to go ahead, just to keep the drain closed so the water didn't go down into the system. From the look on her face I might as well have suggested she wash off in the garden with a hose in front of all the neighbors! I didn't tell her that we've been conserving shower water this way for over a year now. :)

But why not? It saves precious water, saves money and eases the strain on the town's sewage treatment plant.

I've been using the stored water from my 55 gallon barrel to top off the fish tank. I had planned on using it to water the garden before refilling it with fresh, but the garden doesn't need watering! When I got the barrel it felt like an abundance because before I had no emergency supplies; now, it feels like barely enough.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Gasping weather

Our very wet spring turned into a wet summer but now someone has turned the heat up! Over 90% humidity with the sun blasting down makes it difficult to do anything outside (although the neighbor girls are having a great time running through the sprinkler).

Yesterday my dad came over and we got the base of the 7' x 8' shed I'm building in place. The heat was too much for me and I spent the evening feeling like I'd been seriously ill. I've learned my lesson and today will only be outside to hang out laundry.

It's not a wasted day though; I made butter this morning and will be canning corn this afternoon.