What did you do to prep this week?

This weeks preps – November 30, 2019

This week’s update will be a little different. I’ll be talking more about my thinking on preps instead of what I did over the past week. It’s not that I haven’t been prepping since Sept. 22, just that lately my preps haven’t fit into nice little weekly chunks. My 12 days away from home gave me some time to think and things to think about. I’ve also been doing a lot of reading. A couple of my friends have had serious health problems in the past month. I might have access to about an acre of land south of here, and hopefully we’re closing on a house (selling) in 2 days. I’m also changing the day of these to Saturday so I can properly observe the Sabbath. So with that…

This weeks’s preps

This week was pretty much spent on reading, research, and finalizing the closing on our house. Keeping my fingers crossed because if it really does close, the money opens up a lot of options.

My reading material was things I can do to make money if I quit my job next year. The Urban Farmer by Curtis Stone and The Essential Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter and Willow Rosenthal. I know gardening isn’t exactly “back woods,” but it does fit into self sufficiency and it’s outdoor work. Supposedly you can gross around $58K per year on 1/10 acre if you work your but off and have a good marketing plan. Right now in my life any outdoor job seems better than my current job (information technology).

Besides reading about gardening, I found and sorted all my seeds. I wish I would’ve thought more about what I was buying. Looking at some of them and it’s like “WTH was i thinking?” They’ll all get used next year though. One thing I’d like to try is micro greens. Supposedly they’re popular with trendy restaurants . They’re also supposedly really healthy. I’m interested because they have a very short growing cycle (2 weeks), don’t take up much space, and I can grow them inside under lights. That means I can start messing with them soon instead of waiting for next summer. Amazon has a really good deal on a 1200W LED panel right now, so… maybe. After looking at my seed supply, I don’t want to be making any more impulse buys. But I’ll probably get one to experiment with.

Rethinking my approach to prepping

Most of my prepper friends are gear junkies. You know, two is one and one is none and all that stuff. Gotta have a tool or gadget to handle anything that might happen. And, I kind of get their point… if you need a tool you need a tool.

I also know a couple of survivalists. They’re minimalists, to the point that they like to make fun of preppers for having too much stuff. Instead of two is one and all that, it’s the more you know the less you need. Heck, if you know enough, all you need is a knife and a loin cloth and you can survive being dropped into the high Sierras in the middle of winter. Right??? They have a point too. All the gear in the world won’t save you if you don’t know how to use it.

Preppers and survivalists both have some good points, but they also miss a few things. Two that jump out at me are sustainability and community. That 1 year food supply in my basement won’t do me any good if I have to bug out. All the trapping skill in the world isn’t going to feed me if there’s no game to be had.

Community, sustainability, and experience-based prepping

John Mosby writes a lot about community on the Mountain Guerrilla blog. He also pokes a lot of holes in mainstream prepper thinking. I agree with a lot of what he has to say. I’m going to start focusing less on gear and “survival skills and more on practical skills and community building. That community thing will be hard because my social skills suck, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Part of that will be working with what I have instead of working to get what’s perfect (or at least better). I was planning on moving north (better political climate), but I might have access to a 1 acre lot to the south. The political climate sucks, but I can have a big garden and raise meat animals. That’s a lot of practical experience to be had, plus I have friends in the area so that helps with the community building.

I guess that’s enough rambling for today, so until next time…

Peace out,

Get ’em while you can…

Well that was quick. Just after posting my thoughts on an affordable scope, I found out Nikon is getting out of the scope business. No more Nikon scopes will be made after this year. That kind of sucks because their Prostaff and Monarch lines at least were decent quality and affordable. And discontinuing it just when I’m ready to buy??? The good news is they’re still available. Ordered my Prostaff today for $327. Also ordered a Warne rail for my Remington 700. Decided not to go with the LaRue QD mount though. Not really sure what I’ll use yet.

I guess the take away is get things you like while you can. The market is very fluid and what’s there today could be gone and then you’re stuck with a lesser option (still kicking myself for not buying a Leupold Mk4 MR/T 2.5-10 when they were available).

The good news is they’re still easy to find for now. If you want one, get it while you can. Only question is how will the lifetime warranty work if Nikon is no longer making scopes? For me, taking that chance is worth it. Hope to have this mounted by Christmas, load some rounds, and do range testing over New Years.

Peace out,

NOLS Wilderness First Responder course

NOLS Wilderness First ResponderEarlier this month I took a 2 week vacation so I could take a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) class put on by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). My wife, of course, thought taking a first aid course was a dumb idea. (“Gee, if something ever happens we can just call 911.”) Whatever. We talked it over and agreed that I wouldn’t get any grief from her about spending money to take the class. I’ll say right off the class wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t learn what I thought I would, but I learned a lot of stuff I didn’t expect. Basically it cleared up a lot of misconceptions I had. I’d definitely recommend this course to anyone who spends time in the woods or anywhere off the beaten path. In other words, it’s a great class for a backwoodsman or backyardsman.

Day One – NOLS Wilderness First Responder

The class started on a Tuesday. That was nice because I had all day Monday to get reacquainted with my home town (I drove down on Sunday). The first day was kind of intimidating. First order of business was introductions.  Most people taking the class were younger, in better shape, and working in outdoors or wilderness related jobs. There were 3 police officers, but I was the only old, fat IT worker in the bunch. Thankfully that turned out to not be a problem. Everyone was friendly and I didn’t feel out of place.

Urban vs Wilderness First Aid

The first thing talked about was the differences between wilderness and urban first aid. Basically it boils down to this: In an urban setting, you call 911, try to stabilize the patient, then wait for the pros to show up in 5 or 10 minutes. Once the pros show up (EMT or Paramedic) they’ll be taking over patient care.

In a wilderness setting, the pros might not show up for 2 or 3 days. That means you might have to treat the patient yourself. For example, say you’re out hiking and your buddy takes a bad fall and ends up with a compound fracture. If you’re looking at 2 or 3 days for a medical team to show up, guess what? You’re going to have to do something about it. If you wait 2 or 3 days for the pros to show up, that open wound is probably going to get infected. If you know what to do though, you can help your buddy to not get an infection, maybe even saving the limb.

Besides spending more time with a patient, there are other differences between urban and wilderness first aid. Because of the time, you might have to think about the patient’s condition changing. You’ll probably need to think about the environment – hot, cold, windy, raining or snowing? You might need to improvise treatment methods or an evacuation plan. You’ll need to make decisions regarding patient treatment sometimes with no help from a medical professional. All of these issues were well covered in the class.

Lots of hands on practice

The best part of the course was all the hands on practice we got. I’ve had first aid classes before where you get to do one little practice exercise and then you’re supposedly “good to go.” That doesn’t really work well foe me. i need to practiced things a few times before I feel confident doing them. In the NOLS WFR class we had 4 or 5 outdoor scenarios every day, including the first day. Groups were 2 rescuers working on 1 patient. The first day, the instructors just watched and pointed out obvious mistakes. On the second day, they nitpicked more and also had the patients critique the rescuers. By the third day, everyone was picking it up pretty good so we switched to 1 patient to 1 rescuer.

On the fifth day, we did a simulated river rescue that took up most of the afternoon. It involved multiple patients, then packaging one f the patients in a litter and carrying him by hand back to the school, about 1 mile. Lots of fun. Oh, and the simulated rescue was on an actual (real) river. The night before final, we did a simulated bouldering accident rescue in a real boulder field. For me, the hands on scenarios were the best part of the course, especially the simulated rescues.

Things I didn’t learn…

Well, I didn’t learn to be a combat medic. OK, I wasn’t expecting to anyway. I was kind of hoping they’d talk about suturing, and they did, just not in they way I’d hoped. I wanted to learn how to do it. According to NOLS, suturing in a first aid context is a definite no-no. They did explain why in a way that makes total sense, and they trained a really good method of wound closure, so I’ll call this a cleared up misconception.

Things I did learn…

I did learn a lot of things that probably aren’t taught in standard first aid classes. How to recognize and treat frostbite and hypothermia. What to do about a compound fracture. Dealing with a head or spine injury. Recognizing and treating shock. Treating heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Different types of altitude sickness and how to treat them.

When to stop CPR even if the patient hasn’t been revived. Yep, that’s a decision you might have to make in a wilderness first aid situation. It’s also a decision I hope I never have to make…

Some of the best things I learned were prevention. A lot of injuries and illnesses in the back woods can be prevented if you take just a little care. I think all of this is useful to a backwoodsman or backyardsman.

More to come…

I really can’t recommend the NOLS Wilderness First Responder course enough. Anyone with even a remote interest in wilderness first aid would benefit from taking this course. IMO that should include anyone who likes to spend time in the outdoors. As for me, I enjoyed it enough that I’m going to try and take the NOLS Wilderness EMT course next year. I’ve also decided to retire from my current job much sooner than I’d been planning to (more to come on that later). Until next time…

Peace out,

Related Links:

NOLS WFR Course Outline
NOLS WFR Course Dates (2019 – 2020)

Mule Scope

In drag racing, a test mule is a car used for testing engines. It lets racers do engine development and testing without sidelining their main race car. It’s a great concept, and I’m thinking of using it for testing rifles. I like trying new rifles. Good, meh, or junk rifles, they’re all fun to mess around with. For accuracy testing you need a scope, and scopes can get expensive. So I’m thinking about getting a “test mule” scope and using it for accuracy testing. Instead of buying a dedicated scope every time I get a new rifle, just get one scope and move it from rifle to rifle…

What makes a good test mule scope?

I’m looking for a few things in a testing scope. First, it needs to be a decent quality scope. Maybe not Leupold or Night Force quality, but also not a cheap piece of junk. It needs to be able to hold zero and withstand lots of use, sometimes with hard recoiling magnums. Second, it needs to have a good reticle. I’m testing for accuracy, shooting at a fixed (measured) range. A bullet drop compensating (BDC) reticle is great for a hunting rifle, but not so much for accuracy work. A plain reticle is just OK in my opinion. I kind of like reticles with hash marks, like the Nikon MK1-MOA reticle (other scope makers offer similar).

Third, I want decent magnification. I’m shooting between 100 and 600 yards, so 4-16x is OK, 5-20x or 6-24x would be better. Finally, the scope needs to be affordable. I know that’s open to interpretation. To me, affordable is $500 or less – hopefully less.

What I don’t need are frills. I’m shooting in a controlled environment during daylight hours. No need for an illuminated reticle. I also don’t care whether the reticle is first focal plane (FFP) or second focal plane (SFP). For my use, it doesn’t matter.

Nikon Prostaff P5 4-16x42SF Matte MK1-MOA

My first thought was the Nikon Monarch M5 5-20x50SF. Really nice scope, but about $120 more than I can afford right now. Even the 4-16x model is $90 over budget. After doing more looking, I’m leaning towards the Prostaff P5 4-16x42SF Matte MK1-MOA. It’s probably not quite as nice as the Monarch, but I think it will meet my needs. Besides, it’s about $240 cheaper than the Monarch – money I can use for ammo or reloading stuff.

For a dedicated scope, I’d just go with rings. For a test mule scope, I’m going with a picatinny scope base on the rifles and a LaRue QD Cantilever mount on the scope. The picatinny base is almost as cheap as traditional rings (depending on brand) and make swapping scopes really easy. The LaRue mount is kind of pricey, but I only need one and the convenience is worth the cost – at least to me.

I hope to get everything ordered by the end of this month and test between Christmas and New Years. I’m reworking some 7mm Mag loads that a friend gave me and I’m really looking forward to trying them out. If you test multiple guns, i hope you consider  putting together a test mule scope setup. In the long run, it can save a lot of money and a ton of hassle. Until next time…

Peace out,

Solitude and eye surgery

solitudeI’d forgotten how quiet it down here. Especially at night but pretty much all the time. I’m five days into a nine day Wilderness First Responder course and I’m loving it. The classes end between 5:00 and 5:30 so the sun is already behind the mountains when we get out for the day. Friday night we had an evening session so we didn’t get out until 9:00, so they gave us a dinner break from 5:00 to 6:15. Instead of driving into town to eat, I took dinner with me and walked out into the desert to eat and gaze at the stars.

Solitude at last…

I thought I’d found solitude close to home a few months ago, but I was wrong. Compared to here, that solitude at home was like comparing an original painting to a cereal box. Or something like that. It’s not just the desert at night that’s quiet. My motel is on the main highway through town. There is less traffic on that highway in the morning – a LOT less – than the little connecting road that runs through the neighborhood where I live.

Even neighborhood traffic is less. I live on a cul de sac with 15 houses on it. Seems like every 5 minutes there’s a car going in or out. All day, every day. In Bishop, my mom owns a property on a street with 40 homes. I spent a couple hours there today doing some cleanup work (we at a day off from class). ONE car the entire two hours. Amazing.

Eye surgery?

Which brings me to… eye surgery. I had Lasik about 17 years ago. It was great at first but about 5 years ago my vision started getting worse. I’m at the point now where I can’t see the sights on a handgun without my reading glasses. That makes it kind of hard to see the target. Besides needing reading glasses out to 5 or 6 feet, my distance vision also wasn’t as clear as it had been.

Went to the eye doctor and he explained that’s normal. I guess you’re eyes are changing throughout your life even if they’re healthy. Silly me, I always thought they stopped changing when you’re around 40, which is about when I got the Lasik. So… he tested my eyes for a glasses prescription. With the prescription my distance vision is once again 20/20 (actually a little better). Even better, I can see my thumb clearly at arm’s length with the “distance” lenses. No reading glasses for shooting – yipee.

So, the bad news is I need glasses again. The good news is I’ve got cataracts just barely starting, but that I’d probably be better off with glasses for now. BUT, and it’s a biggie, he told me if I wanted he’d refer me to an eye surgeon for a second opinion. At first I decided to just go with glasses and skip the second opinion. I’m only 56, and my eyes might keep changing so I could end up needing glasses in the future even with the lens replacement surgery. I’d rather wear the glasses now and finish my life not needing them, than have a reprieve now and have to wear them when I’m old.

“So what” you ask…

Well, the “so what” is the solitude down here. I’m still young enough to camp and go on treks. It’s a total pain in the a$$ to worry about glasses when you’re camping or traipsing through the wilderness. I want to learn how to swim and glasses are a pain in the a$$ for swimming, too. So now I’m thinking I’d rather have good vision without glasses while I’m still young enough to enjoy the outdoors. When I get old and have to settle down, glasses won’t be as much of a hassle because I won’t be doing as much. Well gotta go now. Almost 9:00 and I want to get up at 4:30 am to study. Until next time…

Peace out,

Home but not home…

Some people say you can never go home. In a way that’s true. When I go back to my home town, in some ways I can hardly recognize it. It’s definitely not the same place I grew up. OTOH there’s still a lot about it to love. I still have friends there. There’s still lots of open land to explore, even if these days a lot of that is overrun by asshole tourists. I still know some good fishing holes that are private. I have access to an acre lot. So day after tomorrow I’m going home for a couple weeks. I can really use the break.

Home but not home…

My mom still owns a house there, but it’s rented, so I’m staying in a motel. I’m cool with that, the motel is just a block away from the fairgrounds where I used to show (and sell) pigs every year when I was in 4-H, and right across the street from the fast food joint I worked at for my first real job. I won’t have much time for visiting, but I will see a couple old friends. It’s getting dark early, so I won’t be spending much time outdoors. Still, I’m glad to be going…

Two week sabbatical

My 2 weeks will really be a sabbatical. I need a break from all the crap happening where I live now. Not getting along with my wife, trying to get my kid to do his school work like he’s supposed to, and major issues with some of our rentals. Yep, I really need this break…

I’m taking a 10 day wilderness first aid course that starts on Tuesday. I’m driving down on Sunday so I have all day Monday for whatever I want. One of my friends works for a tribal food sovereignty project and I want to check that out. Also want to spend some time at that one acre lot and planning for next summer. The class meets Monday thru Saturday, then we have Sunday off so I’ll get to go to my home church. Thankfully it’s still there, some of my best memories growing up involved that little congregation. It’s where I was confirmed and took my first Communion. After Sunday, 4 more days of class then back to the daily grind…

Living simple…

Since I’m staying at a motel, I’m gonna live simple. I won’t have a place to cook, so I’m taking most of my food with me. Well, at least as much as I can fit in my pack along with 10 pair of wool socks. The motel has free breakfast, so that will be scrambled eggs, maybe a sausage patty, and black coffee. Lunch will be a pack of roasted nuts, a handful of trail mix, a Kind bar, and some homemade beef jerky. Dinner will be something from Burger Barn. Hopefully I’ll lose some weight 🙂

I’m only taking a couple books. Obviously the text for my class, also Forging the Hero by John Mosby, Enter the Kettlebell by Pavel Tsatsouline, and my NIV study Bible. Also my kettlebell since I can’t fit my other exercise stuff in the truck. Actually, even if I could I wouldn’t want to mess with it…

Looking forward to two weeks of simple living. Nothing except taking a class, reading, exercise, thinking, and eating healthy. Also seeing some friends, reminiscing, and eating light. No beer and no distractions. Then, back to the grind…

Until next time, peace out…