Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Learning Valuable Skills

There are all sorts of folks who prepare in all sorts of ways and for all sorts of reasons. It seems everyone who does has their own reasons for doing so.  What ever the reasons, I am just happy that they do. When I first started prepping I was just trying to stay ahead of the price of groceries.  I'm still trying.  The problem is that now it is getting harder and harder to stay ahead. That is where having and using skills comes in handy.  

I think one of the most important things we can do is to learn everything we can.  The more we can do for ourselves the less we will have to depend on others to do them for us.  There might even come a time that the things you have learned may well help  keep you alive. Besides, learning new things can be alot of fun as well as being useful.

Is there something that you have always been interested in but don't know how to do?  Why not try your hand at it? Make a list of things that you would like to learn.  Things that you want to be able to do. Then just pick one and go for it.  Some might require that you take some classes but I guarantee that there are plenty that  don't.  These days with the internet right at your fingertips there really isn't much of a reason not to try your hand at learning something new.  There are great places to find out how to do a million things. Heck,  there are even places like YouTube that can show you step by step how to do tons of things.  There are forums on just about anything as well. Most of the forums  would be happy to answer any questions you might have.  I am living proof that even an old dog can learn many new tricks.   I look back now and am amazed at how just setting your mind to doing something can make a "want to"  into a "can do". 

I'll give you a couple of examples.  Since I first knew Mars, every year he's grown at least a couple of tomato and pepper plants. Of course these days that has expanded but... back then we would eat all the fresh stuff we could and the rest ended up being given away or it would just go to waste.  Now it just broke my heart seeing it go to waste and so I decided I wanted to learn how to put them up.  So I asked a few questions and did some research.  I even found a free online canning class. I started with the easier methods and gathered up the "tools" I needed to begin.  That year I taught myself how to do Water Bath Canning. I learned how to put up pickled peppers and tomato's that year. I was so excited that I had learned a new skill! Then  I decided I wanted to learn to put up other things. So I did some more research and I started saving my money and the next year I bought a pressure canner.   I learned how to put up lots of different kinds of vegetables.  

Since then I have learned lots of things that have helped me tremendously in my prepping.  I consider all  these skills valuable. I also truly enjoy doing them.  I still have a list and am still learning new things.  I guess what I am trying to say is why not take some time and learn a new skill? It may really come in handy some day.  And heck, even if it doesn't,  you will be all the wiser for having learned something new.

                              ~~~ Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ... ~~~

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Let's Try This Again

There are times in a persons life that require they sit back and reflect on their actions and the actions of others.  I pulled yesterdays post because I needed to think a bit more about my whole reaction.  I'll admit I was furious when I first found my "piece" had been lifted and no "nod" to the original author was given.  I don't CARE if you use my material as long as it is credited back here to me.  How hard is that?

 I didn't realize that there were so many of you who have had the same type thing happen to you.  Having your content stolen and taken and used as if it were the thief's own property is hard to swallow.  I've always felt that the least a person could do is to credit the source when and where you can.  Someone wanted to brush that under the rug yesterday and used the excuse that "those folks at that website" are senior citizens and might not "understand" that.  I call foul on that one.  Trust me, you know when you are stealing someones work.  Stealing is stealing.  Black and white.  No greys. You took it or you didn't.

After some thought and some conversation, both here and other places, I decided to pull yesterdays post.  There were multiple reasons I suppose.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that plagerizim is right.  And as I have said in the past- it  takes a certain kind of horrible to steal another persons words.  I think the quick actions on the part of the editors of the website was admirable.  It doesn't change the fact that I abhor a thief. Always have, always will.  But there were other things in play as well.  Sometimes it takes me just shutting up, calming down and listening to my "inner voice" (Hey Michelle, that's my inner voice, not my inside voice... hehehe) 

To quote a good friend of mine MMPaints  "Sci, it happens to us all and the whole liar/poser thing seems to be pretty rampant in the whole prepper movement thing.  It went from a good idea to all about money and fake prestige.  Those of us that walk the walk always seem to get passed by for the ones with big stories and huge claims of success.  We know what's true and what isn't so that's all that matters. "
Nothing could be more true.  I know that there are folks out there who don't think twice about their actions or the consequences of them.  This huge swell of folks leaning towards becoming more self-sufficient was bound to bring out the bad as well as the good.

 As it has grown, the prepper movement has become more "mainstream" and more folks are getting into it. Some of these folks aren't in it for the prepping aspect, but because they saw how to make a quick dollar on the backs of those who have come before them and laid the foundation.  It seems we have now moved from the shadows into the sunlight.  Unfortunately the bottom feeders have found new territory to explore.  If you had told me that I'd be hearing ads on the radio for "storeable foods" five years ago I would have laughed in your face.  The world is changing and folks are getting nervous about what the future might hold.  I suppose it's the natural reaction of buzzards to circle around and pick off what they can.  For the wolves to stalk the sheep.

 In the past five or six years I've watched this movement grow. I've seen all kinds of things and met all kinds of people.   I watched it start as a smallish bunch of folks who's real motivation behind sharing their "prepping info" was to help others along the way. It was small enough for  online communities to form good relationships. I was lucky to have found some. Many of those folks held my hand and guided me through all sorts of learning experiences. I consider them my friends to this day.  Those are the type relationships to strive for. 

When I first started this online journey of learning to be more self-sufficient I really only wanted to journal what I was doing with the hope that maybe along the way, I could help others too.  That's it.  My only motive.  So what's changed?  My "motives" are still the same. What has changed is the shear number of people who are moving toward a more self-reliant lifestyle.  I suppose with the good comes the bad.

 I had real hope that somehow as a Prepper Community we would be a better model.  That we were somehow better than this. That we, as a community, should be held to a higher standard.  Truth is people are people and aren't always what they seem.  Some will lie, cheat and steal and never think twice about it.  It's the one's that hold true to their beliefs that I want to be around once SHTF. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday Already

 It looks like it is going to be a gorgeous weekend here in Okie Land.  Great weather for working outside. I hope where ever you are you are able to at least catch a bit  of sunshine.  Spring is almost here and I am so danged excited! I'm tired of winter and I'm ready to get on with it.  I know all the kids are out of school this week for Spring Break  and they are tired of winter too.
 We've been working on the lower garden spot this week and I'm happy to say that every row that was ready is planted!  The drip water irrigation tape is laid and the water hooked up.  The weeds are pulled one last time before planting and the rows are raked out.  Seeds in.....  lets GROW!  We've got onions, spinach, turnips, three types of lettuce and Swiss Chard planted. 
Drip line Irrigation set up

 My broccoli seed didn't come up and so if we want to grow some we'll have to pick up some plants along with the tomato and pepper plants.  I just got too late a start this year to do them. Next year I'll be in the greenhouse a couple of months before planting season and try to eliminate this expense.

Onions Going in
 I still haven't decided if I want to try and plant potato's this year.  I might still pick up some seed potato's when I go to the feed store on the first.  I've been thinking about trying to grow them in some of the heavy duty feed sacks we have and use hay to grow them in. ( note to self- put straw on the list)

  I want to get some carrots started soon but I've got to get a spot ready for them first.  We filled up the lower garden pretty quickly.  It's not the place to be growing carrots though as the soils just not right for them down there.   Speaking of getting a spot ready, we have been, and will be continuing to get everything ready to plant.  All the rows need to be cultivated and raked and weeded and the water tape laid this month.  Our frost free date is April 15th. 

I'll use anything to plant in!

 I don't want to jump the gun and start tender plants too soon.  Last year we did really well with the plantings.   We had an unusually early spring and Mars took total advantage of it.  This is a risky way to plant though.  You just never know when things just might freeze that one last time.  Perfect example is last October when it froze for two nights running (almost a month early).  We lost most of what we had planted in the fall garden and what was left of everything else.  I'm not sure we'll do that this year.  I've always been a fan of at least waiting till after Easter. 

I've been having a wonderful time playing in the greenhouse.  Things are finally just starting to come up and its a cool thing to see all the little sprouts pushing out toward the light.  I've got several different types of flower seed started as well.  It feels a little strange to me to be trying to grow flowers.  I've been on the  "Eat what you grow"  kicks for a few years now.  Now that we are here on our little slice of Heaven I've got room to grow some flowers.  I've been trying to focus on perennials and flowers that attract bees and hummingbirds. I really want a few butterfly bushes someday, but that's going to have to wait.   We've got a spot all picked out for a sort of "wildflower" area.  This is where we planted potato's and squash last year and realized that it was so close to the old burned out house that we would be picking old pieces of glass and assorted junk from the soil for years to come.  So I'm going to try and turn it into a little spot that is colorful and doesn't need to be mowed often.  I'm pretty danged excited about that.

See where I need to put another shelf?

I've been really quiet about the rabbits for awhile.  I've got to be the most inept rabbit breeder around.  How can you have rabbits for well over a year and a half and have had no living baby rabbits to show for it?  I wish I had an answer.  Mars has been eying the bucks lately and there's a real good possibility that one may be invited to dinner soon.  I don't know what the deal is.  The new doe seems OK.  The bucks just don't seem interested.   I've tried everything I know to do.  I think it may be karmic.  ;o).   I finally stopped by to see Sandy over at Oz Ranch.  This is where I got my new doe a few months ago so I thought I'd hit up an expert for some advice.  They raise New Zealand's for public sale and for pelts.  Don't freak out ok?  They also sell pretty much any sort of poultry you might be looking for. From standard breed chickens to peacocks and turkeys.   The other thing they are doing there is raising Nubian and Boer Goats.  So it's a really cool place.  I like going out there and Sandy is always happy to take a break and talk to me as we stroll around her place.


Anyway.... I promise... this is leading somewhere.... eventually....    After talking with Sandy about the rabbit situation here at the homestead, she made a couple of suggestions.  Here's the game plan.  First I'm going to take Gladys ( the doe) over to Oz Ranch and get her bred.  If she has babies (like she should) I'll take a male back to Sandy and trade for another with a different bloodline.  If she doesn't get preggo then Sandy has offered to replace her.  I like the way she does business and will probably buy my meat chickens from her because of it.  I still want goats as well but I've finally decided that I want to go with a Nubian Dwarf or a Pigmy.  I'd be willing to bet she might be able to hook me up with a breeder.  I'm just real happy to have met the folks out at Oz Ranch.  One day when I'm out there I'll have to take some pictures.  It's quite a set up.

All this talk of rabbits has me thinking that it's time to get them moved out of the barn.  Winter is over (I think) and the days are warmer and warmer.  Their spot out under the old shady oak tree is ready.  Well... almost ready.  The leaves aren't quite on the trees yet.  I really like having them in the barn since it just makes feeding and watering so much easier, but they can't stay in there all year long. And speaking of things in the barn,  I've been looking longingly at my empty dehydrators.  They've been sitting idle most of the winter and are now covered in dust.  So I need to clean up all 20 trays, the screens and the fruit leather trays.  Once I get that done I think I'll find a sheet or something to cover them when they aren't being used.  I don't have the room in the trailer to run dryers so I dry in the  barn.  Maybe I'll get that done this weekend.  We'll see.   

So what are you doing this weekend?  Any plans for Spring Break?  Will you be doing any gardening this year?  I know some of you are still too far North to do much more than want to reach out and smack me for even asking yet.  Sorry.... lol... hang on folks... Spring is right around the corner!

Friday, March 15, 2013


Spring is on the way!!
I had a post all written.  The computer ate it. I'm just a bit ticked off but  I'll work on it again and get back to you.  Till then check out some of the fine folks on my blog rolls.  Lots and lots of good folks, I promise!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Daylight Saving Time

Every year it's the same thing. They roll the time forward just about the time I think I could manage to roll out of bed a bit earlier. 
You know, because the sun's coming up earlier and all? 
And every year I get blindsided by how horrible it is to get up an entire hour earlier and realize all you did was get out of bed on time. 
 <face palm>

Sunday, March 10, 2013

20 Grocery Savings Tips and Tricks

 I'm working on another article to expand on trying to cut your overall budget but with so many good ideas for saving money and living more cheap errr... frugally I thought I would share a few things that I have learned over the years about grocery shopping first.  I am sure that many of these you have heard before.  There is a reason for that though.  They work!  With food prices skyrocketing it has become even more important to make you dollar stretch.  And for those of us who are working on our food storage it means that the more we can save in one area, the more we can prep in another!

I like to keep a running list of the things I use.  Mine is on my fridge. A friend of mine keeps her's inside her pantry door with a pen attached to it so she can jot it down as she takes it out of the cupboard.   When you remove something from your pantry write it down so you will remember to replace it.  And always remember to rotate your groceries.  This makes sure you don't end up with wasted food. There is nothing worse than having to toss out something that you could have used if you had just rotated it in your pantry!

*** Check out the weekly ads in your area BEFORE you go shopping and use it to help with making your list.  Once you get your pantry stocked up you can use this "tip" to help you prep and save money while you are doing it.  The idea is to try and NEVER buy anything that isn't on sale or doesn't have the best bang for the buck so to speak.

*** Always shop with a list

*** If you have to veer off the list... make sure it is because you have found a REAL bargain.  Try and give yourself a little "leeway" just in case you find one of those Unadvertised Specials.  Don't make a habit of it but always try to be aware of these specials and jump on them if you find yourself a good bargain!

*** Use coupons. You CAN save alot of money using coupons.  There are tons of websites dedicated to couponing.  Check them out and do a little homework. Check out stores that offer double and triple coupons.  Don't buy things that you will not use or that you don't need.  Remember:  Eat what you Store and Store what you Eat.

*** Never shop when you are hungry.  There is no better way for me to load up on "crap" than when I go to the store with the munchies.  All the sudden everything looks good!

*** Try to shop alone.  Think about it.  When you take the kids or even the significant other how often do you find yourself buying things you had NO intention of getting when you walked in the store?

*** Check out the store brands.  Not always, but more often than not, the store brands are just as good and usually less expensive.  If you try the product and don't like it, most stores will refund you your money. They want your business and want you to come back.   I have actually taken back the label of an empty can of soup once that I thought was disgusting.   They gave me my $ back!  OK I know this one isn't a tip for the faint of heart but hey ....if you are cheap....er frugal...

*** Compare unit prices.  I have found this to be really really helpful.  Most all stores show the price per ounce. Lot's of times what you "thought" was a good deal really isn't at all. Compare the per ounce costs of each item.  You would be surprised at how many times "bigger is not always better".

*** Buying in bulk can save money.  Be careful with this one though.  I have found lately that some smaller sizes are actually less expensive than buying in bulk.  This is where watching your "unit" prices comes in handy.

*** When you are checking out ALWAYS watch the scanner.  I've caught mistakes over and over again because items didn't ring up correctly at the checkout.  Why spend all that time trying to save money just to have them not ring it up correctly?  Don't be shy about letting them know.

*** Watch for marked down items.  You can save huge money.  I try to go earlier in the day to catch marked down items. Always check what I like to call "the bargain buggy" This is where you can pick up some great deals on "dented" and discontinued items. When a package is torn or squashed they will mark the item down as well. 

*** I also find some excellent deals in the meat department like this.  Since I either use what I have bought the same day or freeze it that same day this works well for me.  I once found sliced cheese (24 oz package) marked down to $0.75 each. And yes it was "real" cheese. I bought all 15 packages and put them up in the freezer.

*** When you find something that you use regularly on sale - Stock up and buy as much as you can afford to. You know you will be using it later on and prices are rising fast these days.  Store what you eat and eat what you store.

*** If the store is out of your "sale" item always ask for a raincheck.  They usually ask how many you want at that price.  I ALWAYS tell them I want the maximum number allowed if it has a limit.  When you redeem the coupon you don't have to buy that amount but if you can afford it and want to you still have that option.  While you are waiting for them to restock that item you can also start looking for coupons for it.  That way when it does come in, you can save even more.

*** Sign up for the "Store Card"  This can save you money that you didn't even know about.  If you are reluctant to give up your information to them do what I do.  Make up some BS information.  They NEVER check the information anyway. And if they do, so what? What are they going to do?  Call the grocery cops on you? 

*** Remember that a sale is not always necessarily a sale. Many times a store will try to push something that has been overstocked and will just put it on an end-cap to get your attention.

*** Stay away from convenience foods.  You can make most of the same things at home for half the price. (I should  do a whole post on this one!)

*** Avoid last minute  impulse items.  They put all that stuff next to the check-out counter to try and get you to make unnecessary purchases.  Keep your hands to yourself in the check-out lane!

These are just a few suggestions.  I am sure there are MANY more.  But following just a few basic guidelines can help you save lots of money and help your food storage to grow and grow.
                                           ~~Hey... I'm Just Sayin...~~

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Week Already?

 The daffodils are starting to bloom. A sure sign that spring is right around the corner. I want to get started out in the garden, though the weather just keeps teasing and teasing me. I'm really starting to get impatient.  It's finally just about dry enough to get out there and get the rows prepared.  Of course it is supposed to rain again tomorrow so it's either try to get some things in today or have to wait yet again for it to dry out enough to work the soil.  It's time to be putting in things like Swiss Chard, carrots, lettuce, spinach, turnips, green peas and kolrabi.  Not to mention the onions and potato's.  I had 0% luck with my broccoli and cabbage seed germinating.  I think part of it was because of the temperature fluctuation when we first started working in the greenhouse.  I've just about got that figured out now though.  Hmmm.... Maybe it's still not too late to plant some more broccoli seed?  A bit late for a start but what the heck, right?  I'm absolutely loving puttering around in the greenhouse.  As a matter of fact I've got some more seed I want to start today.  I picked up several kinds of flower seeds the other day.  Most are perennial's that I want to plant around the place.  I've never been much of a flower seed kind of person before.  In the past if I wanted flowers I'd go buy the plants and bring them home.  I'm going to see how I do at sprouting flowers this year though.  So far so good.  I've got a flat of various kinds of seed started now and things are starting to push up out of the soil.  The hope is to attract bees and butterflies. The more the merrier!   

The tomato plants I've got started aren't going to be anywhere near big enough for the garden come April 15th. (Our last frost date) Nor are there nearly enough. Next year I'll be able to start them 6-8 weeks earlier so they should be pretty nice size by the time I put them out.  This year though, it looks like I'm going to be purchasing them.

We've spent this week working on trimming the underbrush and dead limbs off the trees in the front of the property.  It's starting to look pretty good now.  We've still got a bit to go but then, everything around here seems to be a work in progress.  The old trash pile that's been covered in weeds and semi-covered with dirt for years and years is now just a memory.  This was the pile the folks that used to live here must have put all their old glass bottles, aerosol cans and things that wouldn't burn.  It took a couple of shovels and a couple of days to get all that stuff cleaned up.  Now we can actually drive all the way around the perimeter of the property!  Which comes in handy more often than you would think.

Mars has started another project.  He's figured out another way to use the old cinder block from the burned out house foundation.  There's a lot of it but since it was in the fire the blocks are real "fragile".  They break and crumble pretty easily.  So he's using them to make a driveway up to the house.  Where the main driveway is located is a little bit of a walk to the front door, especially if you are carrying in groceries or something.  He's already made a walkway out of some of the cinder blocks so we aren't walking in the mud up to the house.  It looks and works great. This is one of those jobs that gets done when there aren't other projects he can putter with.  Me, I'm trying to finish the afghan I've been working on.  It's close to being done, which is good because before long it's going to be too hot to be sitting with a dang afghan in my lap!  It should have been finished already but finding the time to just sit and crochet isn't always as easy as it sounds.

Anyway.... that's just about all I've got for now.  I hope everyone has a wonderful day.  And don't forget to set your clocks back this weekend!  Spring is springing!!!!