What did you do to prep this week?

I finished my CERT training and got my certificate. Also filled out the request to join the county CERT organization. Assuming I pass my background check, I’ll get fingerprinted and get my “official” CERT card from the sheriff’s office. Once I have the card I’ll join one of the local CRT teams. Other than that, not too much. We’re finishing up a rental property (new tenants moving in in a week) and starting renovations on another rental my wife bought in August. I guess that counts as prepping since I “get” to be the handyman. Never thought I’d learn things like basic plumbing and carpentry, but here I am… We also bought a compressor this week, maybe that counts as a prep too? Oh, and I got my wife to go to church with the rest of the family today.

I have a few things planned for the coming week. Finishing my garlic beds is the most important thing. Next Saturday I’m going to a work bee on winter gardening techniques. Finally, since Friday is a holiday I hope to make homemade bread with my mom.

What did you do to prep this week?

Peace out,
porcupine

What did you do to prep this week?

garlic for my back yardThe past week was pretty busy for me. I have a final exam this Wed and my garlic order showed up. We started work on a new rental. I started my Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT) class. More on that coming soon. I started working towards a 2 week food supply for a family of 5. Besides all that, my wife decided she wanted to be in “high maintenance mode”, so I had to deal with that as well. So to flesh it out a little, here goes…

Garlic

Since my garlic order showed up, I figured I’d better (finally) get the planting beds ready. I pulled all the dead squash plants from 3 beds and dug out all the dirt. Went to the local nursery and bought 15 bags of Kick garden soil. Mixed it with the dirt from the beds, shoveled it back in, leveled and tamped with a rake. I’d say the mix in each bed is 20% dirt and 80% Kick. I’ll get the garlic planted in the next 2 weeks and hope for an awesome harvest next summer. I have too much garlic so I’ll give the extra to some people in my prepping group if they want to plant it. If not, I’ll just eat it. It is after all organic…

CERT

I took my first week of CERT classes. So far they’ve talked about emergency preparedness, CERT organization (BORing….), basic triage of disaster victims, and basic fire suppression and prevention. I’m really glad I took this class. I love the emphasis on community (the ‘C’ after all stands for Community) and the skills they teach are really useful IMO. Besides that the networking opportunities are great, and I even found a little intel opportunity.

Permaculture

I didn’t mention it in the intro, but I also went to my second Permaculture meetup. Got to meet a few new people which was awesome. One of the new people was hosting a work-bee on butchering rabbits this Saturday. I had to miss it because of my CERT class but he said I could call him any time and he’d help me get set up for raising rabbits and let my come over next time he’s processing some.

Misc…

My Prepper meetup was also last week, but I missed it because of the CERT class. The topic was situational awareness so I kind of wish I could have made it, but I really wanted needed to take the CERT class. That’s it for me this time. What did you do to prep this week?
Peace out,
porcupine

Random notes

Haven’t had time to update this lately, so here are some random notes…

Permaculture

Went to my second permaculture Meetup last night. They are having 2 work-bees this month, where members get together and help each other out and learn. Really a good idea for a Meetup group IMO. One is this weekend which I won’t be able to attend due to a previous commitment. Wish I could go though, because the topic is butchering and processing rabbits. I did talk to the guy running the work-bee and he said to contact him and he’ll help me get started with raising rabbits. The second work-bee will also be useful, helping one of the members put in some low-tunnel growing beds. That one is at the end of the month so I’ll be able to go.

Preppers

My monthly preppers Meetup is tonight, but I won’t be able to go because of a previous commitment. The topic is situational awareness so it should be interesting. I do have a couple of good books on the subject, notably Left of Bang.

CERT

The big deal for me for the next 2 weeks is CERT training. If you don’t know what CERT is, it means Community Emergency Response Team. The training is provided by county law enforcement under the guidance of FEMA. I figure it’s a good way to learn how FEMA operates, meet other like-minded people, and learn some helpful skills.

Kifaru

I’m still pissed at Kifaru about the missing pulls on my Urban Zippy. TWICE now I’ve requested they be sent to me, twice now I was promised they’ve been sent, and twice I’ve gotten stiffed. And yes, I verified both times that they have my correct mailing address. I could just get some paracord and make my own, but I want the side pulls to match the other pulls. Hell, they wouldn’t even bother to tell me what brand and color they use so I can match it myself. Maybe it shouldn’t be that big a deal to me, but we’re talking about a day pack that cost over $300.

I’ve been saving for an AMR or Mountain Warrior, but after my experience I’m looking at Eberlestock and Mystery Ranch too. So far I don’t see anything I like as much as the big Kifaru packs, but I’m not very happy with Kifaru’s customer service right now. Hopefully I’ll be over it by the time I have the money saved up.

Garden

My garlic order showed up last week, so I got a bunch of really good planting soil and set up 3 raised beds for the garlic. Hope to get it planted next week. I have 2 more beds I’m going to plant with brussel sprouts, lettuce, and spinach. From what I learned last night, they’ll grow over the winter (even in freezing weather) as long as I keep them under a low tunnel cover.

Peace out,
porcupine

Giving up on Kifaru customer service…

urban zippyI usually buy inexpensive stuff, but in June I sold some crap I wasn’t using and had enough money to buy a pack I’ve wanted for awhile – Kifaru’s Urban Zippy. I placed my order and waited. It was better than expected. I have a some low end and medium range packs, but this was my first high end (high dollar) pack. I was happy. The quality and styling was better than my other packs by a long shot. Looking closer though, I saw a problem… the side zippers were missing the pulls. OK, no big deal, right? It’s just paracord, and any self respecting backwoodsman should have plenty of cordage on hand. I know I do. But then I got to thinking that a $300 pack ought to have matching pulls. So I sent an email to Kifaru customer service…

Dear Kifaru Customer Service…

Hello,

About a month ago I ordered an Urban Zippy in Ranger Green (order #nnnnn). I really like the pack, but the 4 zippers on the side panels are missing the paracord pulls. I have some paracord, but it would be nice if all the zipper pulls matched. I don’t want to return the bag to have the pulls installed, so I was wondering if you could send me enough matching paracord to put the 4 zipper pulls on the side panel zippers.

Thanks, …

The next day I got a reply apologizing for the missing zipper pulls and a request for my address. I replied and waited – for over a month. I know their shipping times so I thought I’d give them some time. After about 2 months from first contact I started to think maybe they forgot. I sent another polite email explaining the situation. Their response was they’d already sent them, didn’t know what had happened, but would send out more. That was over a week ago. I’m starting to think I’m not going to get them. I guess I’ll give them a couple more days and try one more time. I love the pack, but disappointed with their (so far) lack of customer service…

Would I buy another Kifaru?

Yes, absolutely. As I said, the quality of the bag is great, and I’m not going to not buy good quality stuff over something as stupid as a missing zipper pull. However, I am disappointed in their lack of customer service. I mean we’re talking about a $300 bag. How hard would it be to send me 4 short pieces of paracord that matched the other zipper pulls? Or at least tell me what brand and color they use so I could just buy some and take care of it myself?

Almost back to normal…

Well, finally. The bad part of getting old is having health problems. I guess the good part is waking up and realizing you need to start taking care of yourself. So that’s what I’m doing. I think I’m 95% over my gout attack. Hope I don’t have another one any time soon as they’re really not pleasant.

The down time did give me a lot of time to think though, which is a good thing. So lets see… we had 2 major hurricanes in the past month, a bunch of crybaby millionaires are protesting I don’t know what, and the fat little bitch running North Korea is threatening nuclear war. All are credible threats to our Republic. So what should we worry about?

In my opinion, nothing new. There are always credible threats so just stick to the basics. It doesn’t matter why SHTF so don’t worry about the why. Prepare for the what.

No matter what, you need food, water, shelter, and the means to defend those. I can’t control why or when SHTF and probably neither can you. I can control how I react to SHTF and what I have to help me deal with it. I’m guessing you can too. Today one of my prepper coworkers was crowing about his faraday bags and how he was right about the coming EMP. You know, the one that’s going to wipe out 90% of our population?

Will it happen? Maybe. I can’t control it. If it does I plan on being in the 10% that doesn’t get killed off. Basics. Food. Water. Shelter. The means to defend.

What about gout treatment?

what about gout treatmentFor the past few years I’ve had occasional gout attacks. Usually only a couple times a year, but in the past 2 months I’ve had 3 gout attacks. If you’ve never had the “pleasure” of a gout attack, let me just say it’s impossible to do just about anything except sit on your butt during the gout attack. Obviously not a good place to be during a situation where you need to me moving and moving fast. So what about gout treatment? I’m not a doctor and there is lots of good information online. I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert telling you how to treat gout. Instead I just want to talk about my experiences with gout. What causes it, symptom relief, and where to get more information on it.

So what the hell is gout?

Well, gout is hell. At least it feels like hell when you have it. It’s joint inflammation caused by urate crystals building up in the joint. The crystals build up because of high uric acid in your blood. The uric acid is the result of your body breaking down purines. That’s about as far as I want to go, for a more detailed explanation click here. What’s important is the result. The joint hurts like hell, you can’t bend it, and if it’s a foot joint (most likely your big toe or ankle) you’ll have trouble walking. Wait though, sometimes it gets even worse…

If you have gout in one foot, you’re going to favor the opposite foot and leg (especially the knee) when walking. This puts lots of extra stress on the other leg, so guess what happens? The extra stress on the joints in the opposite foot can cause a gout flare up in that foot. Or, if you have a bad knee, that can go out too. If that happens, you can’t bend your knee so no driving to the store for simple things. Like pain medicine. Which is OK, because pain medicine doesn’t do much to relieve the pain from gout. So can gout be prevented or treated?

Related link: What causes gout?

Can you prevent gout?

In my opinion, no. Of course, some experts disagree with my opinion and they’re probably correct. Supposedly avoiding certain foods that are high in purines (meat, seafood) and alcohol (especially beer) can help prevent gout. Great… my 2 favorite food groups are the cause of grout. In my experience, that’s not necessarily true.

Yes, I’ve had gout attacks while eating meat. But I eat meat (and seafood) all the time. If that caused gout, I think I’d have attacks more often. The same with drinking. I’ve had gout attacks during periods where I was drinking pretty heavily, but I’ve also had them during times I wasn’t drinking at all. Sometimes when I have a gout attack I stop drinking, other times I don’t. It doesn’t seem to make any difference in how long the attack lasts.

Some doctors recommend taking medicine that lowers your uric acid levels, but from my reading, and talking to people who’ve taken them, I’m not going to. They can cause long term health problems that are worse than gout.

In my opinion, once you have gout, you have it and there is no “cure.” That doesn’t mean you’re in constant, every day, 24/7 excrutiating pain, but the potential for an attack is with you for the rest of your life. Making lifestyle changes can probably decrease the frequency of gout attacks though.

What about gout treatment?

Even though you can’t treat gout, there are things you can do to help with a gout attack. Try Googling ‘what about treating gout’ and you’ll get lots of hits with lots of different opinions. This is what works for me:

Anti-pain cream: I’ve tried lots of different anti-pain cream to try and treat my gout. In my experience, none of them work – AT ALL. Well, there is one exception. A product called Austrailian Dreams seems to provide some relief. Not a lot, but when you’re talking about gout pain, every little bit helps. Australian Dreams is available at most drug stores (well, at least CVS and Walmart pharmacies), but it’s expensive – about $30 for a 4 oz. jar.

OTC pain pills: I’ve tried several ibuprofin and acetaminophen. Neither do much good. I even had some prescription 800 mg. ibuprofin pills that didn’t make a dent in the pain.

Staying off it: This actually works pretty good. I’ve found that if I try to hobble around my gout attacks last as much as twice as long. If I can stay home (and avoid walking to the mail box, garage, refrigerator, up and down the stairs, etc.) the pain is less intense and goes away faster. Also less risk of blowing out my knee or having a secondary attack in the opposite foot.

Natural remedies: I’m not a big believer in natural remedies. I’m not opposed to them, I just don’t believe they work. Well, maybe except with gout. My wife said that goji berries are helpful. A friend at work (who has gout) says sour cherries can provide some relief. Other things I’ve read about that can help are raw organic honey, skim milk, yogurt (???), and tumeric. So for may latest gout attack I started drinking smoothies.

I use 60 dried gogi berries and boil them in about a cup of water until they’re soft. I throw them in my Vitamix with a handful of frozen sour cherries, half a cup of skim milk, a couple tablespoons of yogurt, and honey to taste. After blending it, I use it to wash down a tumeric tablet. I do this twice a day, plus take an extra tumeric tablet during the day and another just before I sleep. And you know what? It seems like it worked. My attack only lasted 3 days and the pain was less intense than earlier attack.  How about that natural gout treatment?

More to come…

This is getting longer than I usually like to go. I wanted to get into gout and how it could affect the backwoodsman (or backyardsman), but I think I’ll continue that in another post.

Peace out,
porcupine

Pigweed, purslane, and other easy crops

redroot pigweedI’ve realized that I can’t hunt, raise, or grow enough food to feed my family. Our garden did pretty well this year, but we just don’t have the room to grow enough veggies for a family of 5. Hunting of course is illegal in suburbia, and I have room to raise maybe 6 to 8 rabbits and 3 chickens. I can’t do anything about the meat situation, but I can do something about the veggies: “growing” weeds. No kidding. Redroot pigweed, purslane, and dandelions all grow (like weeds) in my yard with no input of effort from me. All 3 are very nutritious. All 3 look like weeds (because they are) instead of some kind of prepper food source. Best of all I have hundreds of acres available to grow them on.

Pigweed, purslane, dandelions, cattails, etc…

Redroot pigweed, purslane, and dandelions all grow in my yard. I didn’t plant them, they just showed up one day. I don’t water or fertilize them. They just grow, and grow very well. Besides those 3, there is a large low area near my house that’s full of cattails (and ducks, frogs, rabbits, etc. – but that’s another post). Besides that, there is lots of vacant land where I can scatter seeds and have even more pigwwed and purslane. I’m pretty sure no one will pick my crop, and I won’t even have to tend my crop.

I’ve been thinking about stealth gardening or guerilla gardening for awhile, and edible weeds are the perfect crop for it. Actually they grow so easily it’s hard to even consider it as gardening. The only downside would be if the city decides to eradicate the “weeds.” There is so much land I can put these where no one will notice, though, that I’m not to worried about that. Now about those crops:

Redroot Pigweed

Redwood pigweed grows great in my arid environment. Most people eat it like spinach, either boiled or raw. The seeds are tiny but edible and very nutritious.  If you pick it from heavily fertilized soil, it might be unsafe to eat due to high nitrate content. More info on pigweed…

Purslane

Purslane is another weed vegetable that grows really well in my area. I haven’t actually tried this one yet because I just found out about it. I have lots of it in the little dirt strip between the sidewalk and curb in front of my house. More info on purslane…

Dandelions

Yet another weed that’s actually more nutritious than some vegetables sold in stores. You can eat the leaves, flowers, and even use the roots as a coffee substitute. In me experience these need more water than pigweed and purslane, but they taste better. Like anything, don’t pick them from areas that have been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. More info on dandelions…

Cattails

Just about every part of a cattail plant can be eaten from root to seed pod. Cattails are big, invasive, and require a very wet growing area. Probably not the best choice for growing in a small yard in the desert. If you live near where they grow though, they’re a great addition to your prepper “gardening” activities. More info on cattails…

So there you have it. Four plants that are easy to grow. So easy in fact you don’t even really have to “grow” them. Just find them, eat, and enjoy.

Peace out,
porcupine

About my bugout bag…

my bugout bagWhen I got into prepping, one of the first things I noticed was just about everyone writing or talking about prepping was going on about how important it is to have a bugout bag. Naturally, the first thing I needed to do was put together my own bugout bag. You know, so when SHTF I can grab my bugout bag. It will keep me and my family alive while the unwashed masses perish. I’m a gear junkie, so the idea of researching the ultimate bugout bag and buying all the cool s*** to fill it with was very appealing to me. Right? Well, maybe not so fast…

What is a bugout bag anyway?

According to almost everything I’ve read, a bugout bag is designed to keep you alive for 72 hours after you “bug out,” i.e. leave your home in the face of disaster or whatever. Sometimes they are even called “72 hour bags” instead of bugout bags. Whatever you call them, the premise is they’ll keep you alive until you get to wherever you’re bugging out to. Almost every prepper web site has their own idea of the ultimate bugout bag. Most of them even have long lists of convenient amazon product links so you don’t even need to do any research. Just click on the affiliate links and you’re almost guaranteed to make it through any crisis…

The problem with bugging out…

The problem with bugging out is the way most people (including “experts”) present it. It works like this: in the face of impending disaster, you grab your bugout bag and bugout to… where? Head to the hills? A predetermined bugout location? Neither option is viable for most people, and most bloggers writing about bugging out don’t talk about getting back home once you’ve bugged out. In other words, follow their advice and you’re voluntarily making yourself a refugee. NOT a good idea, at least in my humble opinion.

If you think bugging out is viable, consider this. My preferred bugout location is only 200 miles south – an easy half day drive. If I pick the time and day right, I can make it in about 3-1/2 hours. On the other hand, if I have to leave at the wrong time, it takes an hour to get just from the north to the south end of my city – and there are 2 other cities after that, that have even worse traffic. And this is during normal times when people are just driving to work. Figure 10 times as much traffic during some kind of panic, and, well, I hope you get the idea…

Do words matter?

So I have a bag. Does it matter whether I call it my bugout bag or something else? I think it does. If I call it my bugout bag, the mindset it reinforces is that I’m bugging out – leaving my home with (maybe) no plans on returning. That is not my mind set. If I’m forced out of my home, my intention is to return as soon as possible. I don’t call my bag my bugout bag, I call it my get home bag. Some might say they’re the same thing. Maybe, so I pick a name that helps me remember what the purpose of the bag is – NOT to help me get away from home, but to sustain me and my family if we’re forced out, and to help us return home when whatever threat has passed.

Peace out,
porcupine

2026 to 63 – miner’s cabin in my back yard

miner's cabinI’ve been doing two things a lot lately. First, reading about what it would take to live a simpler life. Second, thinking about a project that will help me learn a little about backwoods skills and backwoods living. Since I’m a backyardsman, naturally it has to fit in my backyard. So I’ve decided to build a miner’s cabin in my backyard. I don’t want to just build it though, I want to live in it. Among other things, that means I’ll have to figure out how to deal with things like cooking, poop disposal, etc. Using the house facilities would be cheating after all…

Planning my miner’s cabin…

My miner’s cabin will offer 63 square feet of living space, 7 x 9. The dimensions are derived from my city’s building code. The largest structure I’m “allowed” to build without a building permit is 96 square feet. I figure 99 is close enough, so my roof outline will be 9 x 11 feet. Take off 6 inches for roof overhang and 6 inches for walls and I’m left with 7 x 9 feet. So there it is…

Living in 63 square feet?

I’m going from 2026 square feet to only 63. Is this even possible? At first I didn’t think so. But I found this

“The men cut trees or logs, laid them up four feet in height, mounted the tent on top for a roof, making me a comfortable 7 x 9 house.”

If you read a little more, she wasn’t living in the tiny house herself, she also had a baby. So yes, living in a 7 x 9 miner’s cabin is possible. Maybe even practical.

What do I need to live?

A better question might be what DON’T I need to live? Living in a 7 x 9 cabin means I’m going to have to cut a lot of crap of of my life. Heck, in the house just my bedroom is over twice as big as the cabin will be. So, what don’t I need? Maybe… I don’t need a bed. Beds take up a lot of room. They’re comfortable for sleeping but not for sitting. Sometimes I need to sit and I don’t have room for both a bed and a chair. So the bed goes…

I do need a way to keep warm. I need a place to keep a few books. I need food storage and a place to put my hunting gear (currently an air rifle, a rabbit stick, and some traps). A bookshelf would probably be a good idea since I love to read. A way to wash and crap without offending the neighbors might be a good idea. I can cook outside.

Building my miner’s cabin

I haven’t decided how to build my cabin yet. I’ve read a few really good articles in Backwoodsman Magazine on building with pallets, and I just ordered Building With Junk and Other Good Stuff: A Guide to Home Building and Remodeling Using Recycled Materials. It’s out of print but still easy to find. The only think I know for sure is I won’t be getting my building materials from a big box store. I want to do this the backwoodsman… err… backyardsman way. Wish me luck…

Peace out,
porcupine

How to be a Prepper

how to be a prepperIf you stumbled across this page you’re probably thinking “just what the world needs, another series on How to be a Prepper – NOT. Especially one written by a prepping newbie? You’ve GOT to be kidding…” A few months ago I’d have thought the same thing. I mean, there are already probably at least a billion or so prepping sites, most run by certified prepping experts. What could a newbie prepper possibly have to add to the conversation? Well, after spending way too much time reading a lot of these “expert” prepper sites, in my not so humble opinion I do indeed have something to add to the conversation. So here is my introduction on how to be a prepper from a newbies’ perspective.

About those expert preppers…

First of all, what makes someone an expert prepper? How long they’ve been prepping? I don’t think that means as much as you’d think. Here’s an analogy: My wife has been driving for almost 20 years. She is most definitely NOT an expert driver. Does writing about prepping make one an expert? No. Knowing a lot about something doesn’t make one an expert. One of my English teachers in college proudly displayed a sign in her office that stated “A Good Teacher Can Teach Anything.” That theory fell apart when I asked if she could help me with my calculus homework.

So, what makes someone an expert prepper? Experience is important, but demonstrable skill is more important. Knowledge is important but when you yourself are just starting out, how can you tell good info from BS? Does the expert actually know what he’s writing about or is he blowing smoke out of his a**? Follow this series and you’ll learn how to spot the fakes and tell who has actual good advice. Hint: if the expert insists that his scenario is the only scenario worth prepping for and not following his advice will lead to your death, it’s probably a good idea to look elsewhere. Same thing if their writings are packed with “convenient” links to Amazon so you can purchase all the gear they’ve “tested” and recommend.

How to be a prepper

If you’re just getting into prepping, it might seem overwhelming. Especially if you visit some of the more “gloom and doom” oriented prepper sites. Prepping can also get expensive. In fact if your preps are realistic, it will be expensive over the long run. Don’t worry, you don’t have to buy everything today. Keep in mind that prepping makes the most sense if it makes your life better whether or not things go bad.

This post (and hopefully more to follow) is my reaction to some of what I see as idiocy in the prepping community. That includes things I’ve read on prepper blogs (even ones written by “experts”) and stuff I’ve read in prepping books I’ve bought. I won’t even get into the idiocy that goes on in Facebook prepper groups and internet forums…

Soon to come on “How to Be a Prepper”:

That’s it for this time. If you have any questions or comments about how to be a prepper, please chime in with your ideas.

Peace out,
porcupine