Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Handicapped Prepper, on Home Canning

There are many excellent articles and videos available on the mechanics of home canning.  These details I leave to you to discover.   In this article I want to talk a bit about how to preserve produce if you have a handicap, and I am going to assume recipes and food processing how-to has already been acquired.

cranberry sauce

I speak from the point of view of someone living with MS recovering from a stroke; it’s up to individuals to use this article as a springboard ... to morph the information and apply it to his or her own circumstance.  Hopefully, it will give you some new ideas to adapt this universal pursuit of home canning to your own food preps.

blueberry-rhubarb jam
Preserving food isn’t always going to be easy, but like the Borg of Star Trek infamy, you will adapt! Here is what works in my kitchen. 

1.       Let’s start with gathering the produce; sometimes done by my caregiver, sometimes by my favourite vendor at the farmers market and sometimes by me.  If something is ready to harvest, but I’m not ready to proceed with preserving (having a low energy day or whatever), I simply freeze and process later.   Know what?  Blueberry jam is just as delicious made from frozen berries as fresh!

2. Preparing the produce.  A lot of things, like small berries, beans and cranberries, just need to be picked over, washed and measured.  Bigger items like cucumbers and cauliflower need chopping.  Let me just say that I love my knives!

One is a corregated knife with the handle mounted over the blade.  The centre of gravity is such that a downward push with one hand brings the whole thing down with even pressure along the blade.  Like a guillotine.  Chop!

rocker knife & bamboo cutting bowl

The other is a rocker knife -- also known as an ulu.  This knife is rocked back and forth to cut through food items.  Like a rocking chair on a cat’s tail.  Crunch! 

When cutting with one hand you cannot saw through as would anyone else.   The ulu rocks through what you’re cutting making the job doable singlehandedly. 

pelouze scale

3.  When measuring, I use an extra large measuring cup (for sugar for example) so I only have to fill and level once.  Smaller amounts of ingredients I measure on a scale.  I use calculators on-line to convert volume units of an ingredient to weight – tablespoons of pickling spice to grams for example – so that ingredients can be weighed instead of, say, trying to manipulate a measuring spoon.  Oh, so difficult!  
In case you were wondering, my scale is a digital by Pelouze, weighs down to 2 grams, and increases in 2 gram increments ... but not really accurately at very low weights so I may be off by a gram or so in very small amounts of ingredients, but we haven’t noticed in the final product yet. J 
rhubarb juice

4.  Whenever hot items are involved, I wear rubber gloves.  You may not be able to get fingers into the finger holes, but the glove still protects from splashes and gives grip.   Accidents happen and I avoid them like the plague!

vinyl linen

5. When manipulating jars, as in filling them with preserved goodness and putting on sealers and rings, I found that a piece of vinyl linen helps keep them from sliding around the counter.  I bought a whole meter of this at the local fabric store for a fraction of what I would have paid had I bought it already cut at a specialty supplier.  

    Just cut the size you need off the main piece and save the rest for another project.  The vinyl linen is reusable and washable so it lasts a long time.

6. Make sure rings are not bent or rusty – these 2 things make applying and tightening the ring harder and when your physical strength isn’t good, it’s frustrating.  I was incredibly frustrated until I figured this out.
7. If you need to process in a hot water bath ask for help with lowering and lifting the wire basket.  And have your caregiver write the date and content on the lid if writing isn’t an option for you.  Self-adhesive labels are available to buy and look really nice, just understand that using them means removing adhesive from your jars next year.  


I put down several recipes already this year, with help when I needed it, and it still feels unbelievably satisfying.  You will most likely find a way to home can if that is your desire.   Think outside the box and find ways to adapt to your conditions.   

Have fun listening to the canning lids pop!

lavender, rhubarb, bamboo

Monday, June 27, 2011

How Long, O Lord?

Late again.

So today let’s talk about disasters and duration. Most emergency measures organizations recommend that you have a 72 hour (3 day) supply of food, water, medicine and other necessities on hand. Recently, I’ve noticed that it is more and more common to see 96 hour (4 day) kit be recommended, and even one week kits. This is a good thing, in my opinion, as it shows that these organizations are looking at the reality of large scale disasters.

At least in North America, the start of recommendations to longer duration kits had a lot of it’s genesis in the aftermath of Katrina, when the scale of the disaster proved too large for immediate remediation with the resources available. Other disasters in the last decade, such as the Indonesian tsunami of 2004, the Haiti and Chilean earthquakes, and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan this year have given us further examples of how inadequate disaster preparations are when confronted with massive events.

It’s not that the governments aren’t trying to be prepared. The sad fact is that preparations sufficient to prepare for a truly large scale disaster are just too expensive to create and maintain. Disaster preparedness is more and more seen to be at least partially the responsibility of the individual, especially in the immediate to medium term before a government can marshal resources.

For the individual, it means making darn sure that you have that one weeks supply AT A MINIMUM. But give some thought to the longer term. In the aftermath of a large disaster, help might not arrive in sufficient amounts for weeks. Being prepared might simply be the difference between being hungry because only a trickle of food is getting through, or it might mean the difference between life and death.

Even in situations such as the flooding we’ve seen this spring, your supplies can make a big difference. For example, if you’re out of a job because water has flooded your workplace, life is a lot easier if you’re eating out of your larder and not trying to find money for food.

Give some thought to the long term. As the weeks and weeks of flooding have shown us this year, disasters can be of varying intensities and durations. As well, past experience has also shown us that help can be a long time coming. Plan for it not to arrive.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bang for the Buck

I’m a day late. Generally, I try to post every Sunday, but had a small emergency that delayed me. Anyways, here goes.

I’m a regular reader of many survival or preparedness related blogs. And on these blogs, you’ll often find equipment reviews. Heck, I do a few myself. What annoys me is that with all of these reviews, the reader is often being told that this knife, this rifle, that water filter or the newest bit of load bearing equipment is, if not touted as THE way to go, then at least ‘one of the very best’ out there. And that can lead to gear envy.

Yup, the dreaded gear envy. Sadly, no one is reviewing your old Puma-Tec knife and singing its praises. No reviewer is talking about your old Remington 870 Wingmaster and extolling it as the best thing since sliced bread. And so it goes, on and on in every category of gear you can imagine. The marketplace has or is going to come up with something better than what you have, and aren’t you a schmuck for not having it?.

If you’re smart, you’ll realize that your old 870 will do the job, and getting a 12 gauge with a military styled stock in black or camo will not make you a better shot. Having the latest in ‘combat’ knives will not make you a more deadly knife fighter. ( In fact, two things about that: 1. If there is somebody in arm’s reach trying to hurt you, you’ve already screwed up royally. 2. To quote a novel and recent TV program: “Stick them with the pointy end”. But I digress….)

In reality, newer fancier gear will not significantly improve your survivability. There is something called the 80/20 principle that runs something like this: 80% of your result is achieved with the first 20% of inputs. The remaining 80 % of input will increase your result an additional 20%. An interesting business principle, but how does that apply to us?

What it means is that a good, serviceable knife will do the job. The extra ‘oomf’ you get from a bigger fancier knife will cost you a lot of bucks for marginal improvement. The same goes for firearms, water filters, binoculars and almost every piece of equipment I can think of.

The only place I don’t see that being the case is with food and water. There, another week’s worth of supplies is just that. It a definite one to one, where the value received is exactly the same per unit of input regardless of the amount of input.

So think about it the next time you are trying to decide between more storage food and a new rifle, or more water and a shiny Rambo knife: Decide where the best value for your dollar is. Make sure you’re putting out 20% for an 80% result, and not the other way around.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Taking Time Off

Well folks, I find myself at a point where there is just too much going on for a while.  Between the big move to the country, a radio show to prepare for, two blogs other than this one to write for, as well as the forum and other sites to help moderate, things are just too much.  So I will be taking some time off from the blog for a week or two.  Ancient Dragon and Sue will still be posting from time to time, so you won't be left in the dark.

Also, you can keep active in the forum

Check into the APN blog

Or visit some of my other favorite sites...

Enjoy, and see you all soon

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Few Resources

Once again, I would like to remind you of a few of the great resources on the net...

CPN Forum -

APN Forum -

Prepper Podcast Radio Network -

Enjoy and feel free to comment with your favorite prepper sites & podcasts.

Vancouver On Fire

Let me get this right...your hockey team loses in the final game of the Stanley Cup Finals and people decide that a riot is in order?  Give me a break!  With all the legitimate injustices in the world around us you would think that there would be other issues to revolt against.  Cars were overturned and set on fire, including 2 police cars...stores were looted...and get this...Vancouver General Hospital officials said there were two major traumas, three stabbing victims and one head injury. Really?3 stabbings? C'mon folks,'s JUST A GAME!
I don't want to condemn all of Vancouver as I think it's a great city and I believe the vast majority of it's residents are level headed individuals who wouldn't think of ever acting this way, but those who partook in this riot should be ashamed.  Since when does a sporting event loss justify an attempt on human life?!?  The damage will likely be in the millions, but the actions of a few senseless individuals has given Vancouver a poor view that it doesn't deserve.
So now I ask...if you were in the general area during the riots, were you prepared?  Did you have a way of letting your loved ones know you were OK?  Did you have a route planned to get around the riot zone to get home?  Think about can hit the fan at any time in any place without warning.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Remember to Review Your Kits

So you have your BOB by the door and your GHB in the trunk.  But when was the last time you checked out the supplies?  Take time a couple times a year to check out your gear.  Clothing may need to be changed out to suit the season, batteries for flashlights & radios need to be checked, and food needs to be examined.  Here are just a few reminders of things to look over.

First aid kit - check all the packaging for tears or weak spots.  Check ointments & antisceptic wipes for expiration.  Bandages should checked as well as all other supplies to make sure they havent dried out or otherwise worn.
Food & water - Replace your water twice a year.  Check food stores for expiration, broken packaging or insect infestations. 
Clothing - As the seasons change, so does our clothing requirements.  Replace summer wear with winter or vice versa.  Don't forget to check to make sure it fits too.
Electronics - Flashlights, radios, gps et al should be tested and batteries replaced.
Other Gear - check for storage damage such as rust or tarnish on metals.  Clean and repackage everything.

Finally, before repacking your kit, go over your lists and make sure everything is there.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Gathering Info

So by now you have probably searched all corners of the information superhighway.  You have bookmarked favorite sites, saved PDF's of a multitude of e-books and feel comfortable knowing that there is all that knowledge at your fingertips.  So what happens when the power goes out?  Well your laptop will have a couple hours of power in it and maybe you have a way to recharge it a few times, but you likely won't be able to jiggle the mouse and look something up on a whim.

Take the time now to get that info on paper.  Start by getting some 3 ring binders from your favorite cheap store...dollar stores usually carry them.  Next, go to the stationary isle and load up on paper...the cheap stuff works great.  Next, a 3 hole punch will get you set to go.

For printing, you have two options...DIY or copy store. 

Copy stores will save you the hastle of buying paper and can print economically from CD or USB key.  Many of them will accept smaller files by email.  Save on paper by asking them to print both sides, and for cheaper copies, ask for black instead of color.  For an extra touch, and a charge of course, they can even bind them into spiral bound books.

For home printing, ink can get expensive, even if you print in black only.  With ink cartridges costing as much as $30.00 or more, you can save a few bucks by going to a refill center.  Personally, I fill my own tanks.  From time to time, I find a DIY refill kit at Walmart or Zellers for about $20.00 either 3 black bottles or 3 color bottles along with all the tools you will need.  Now let me make one thing clear...many printer manufacturers warn against this practice claiming that you can permanently damage your printer.  So, for this reason, I caution you to do this at your own risk, and if you do ruin your printer, remember, I warned you.  That being said, I have never had an issue refilling my own tanks.

Now, start printing.  Then continue printing.  Finally, keep printing.  Get out your 3 hole punch and organize your binders into different categories.  Fill your binders and voila...a prepper library.
So now when the SHTF and the power is out, you can look up how much bleach you need to purify that rain water, or your favorite bread recipe for the solar oven.  Remember, knowledge is power.
Before you know it, you will be filling binder after binder with priceless knowledge. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Repost From APN - Sunburn Tips

Sunburn Tips

These are some basic, common sense tips and welcome any/all suggestions, precautions and alternative options. Included links to a few other heat-related threads too. itsa

Now that summer is here and we’re all getting some natural Vitamin D outdoors, keep in mind those rays can cause some nasty sunburns. And since a sunburn slows the body’s ability to cool itself it could be extremely dangerous.

Did you know... usually burn within the first 10 minutes outdoors so apply sunscreen about 20 minutes BEFORE going outdoors so it can absorb into skin layers... esp your little ones!!!

...the most powerful sun (when you’ll burn the quickest) is between 10a and 3p?

...the skin burns twice as fast at 6,000 feet elevation than at sea level?

...some prescription drugs (like tetracycline, certain oral contraceptives, antihistamines and tranquilizers) have photosensitizing agents that can increase sunburning?

...more than one million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year — more than all other cancers combined? And Arizona has higher skin cancer rates than any other state in the country.

Again ... sunblocks and lotions should be applied at least 20 minutes BEFORE going in the sun, especially on kids! Use one with SPF 30 or higher and 3 or 4 star UVA protection. If you are in the wilderness without screen or block, maybe try some charcoal or wood ashes. And always reapply lotions after swimming.

Remember... dark colors absorb heat so best to wear light or white colors to reflect sunlight. And you can get sunburned on cloudy days just as easily as sunny days - if you can see a shadow, you’re still catching some rays. Obviously fair skinned people are at higher risk of burns but people of color can burn just as easily.

Things to watch out for...
-- Blisters or bubbles on the skin
-- Swelling or pain

What to do...
-- Cool the burn by using cool cloths or pure aloe vera gel.
-- Get out of sun or cover up to avoid further damage.
-- Take care of blisters by loosely covering them and don’t pick at them!

To help relieve the pain from a sunburn if NO blisters exist:

Aloe vera - Break open a fresh leaf or use 96-100% pure aloe gel.

Baking soda - Add 1/2 cup baking soda to a warm bath and soak for half an hour.

Vinegar - Put some regular or cider vinegar on a cloth and apply to sunburned area.

Whole milk - Apply a cool compress soaked in whole milk to the area

Above extracted from IT'S A DISASTER! book ~ proceeds benefit APN

Also check out a few other “heat”ed discussions about Heat-related illnesses at viewtopic.php?f=95&t=2828& .. and .. Extreme heat: Dealing with heat (peeps + critters) at viewtopic.php?f=634&t=2827&

Additional resources on skin cancer:

National Cancer Institute: Melanoma

American Cancer Society: Learn about skin cancer - melanoma ... tearea=CRI

Skin Cancer Foundation Melanoma

U of A’s Arizona Cancer Center

American Academy of Dermatology, Skincancernet ... hatis.html

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Heard the News?

A few moments ago, I ran a couple of ‘home pages’ for news. The first thing that came up was a feature about Lady Gaga’s sister…not the pop star, just her sister, making a red carpet debut. The second was about Kate Middleton wowing people in a $6,000 dress. On the TV, the big news is about some U.S. congressman sending risqué photos to people via his phone, and which team will win a largely meaningless trophy after a hockey game.

As seeming afterthoughts there are stories about Libya and some flooding in Manitoba. There was little of what I’d call important news, and certainly nothing in depth. This worries me, because despite the increasingly connected world we live in, obtaining ‘hard’ news is getting to be much more difficult. The noise to signal ratio, to use an old radio term, is just too high. That makes it a little more dangerous for preppers.

In many scenarios, the ability to recognize the onset of a crisis is crucial to your ability to deal with that crisis. Is there a food crisis? Possibly, but to find out what the outlook is for the world’s food supply will require a lot of hard work and digging. Is a financial crisis immanent? Maybe, but trying to sort out some good solid advice in the masses of information and disinformation out there is a Herculean task.

Part of the problem is that much news coverage is geared to keeping the attention of the MTV generation. If you can’t get it into a 60 second sound bite you’re going to lose the audience. It leaves little time for digging into the heart of the matter, if anyone still cared to do so.

It is a situation that you as a prepper need to remedy for yourself. Turn off Family Guy, and try to find some in depth news in that 200 channel cable package. Subscribe to some magazines that don’t just report on Justin Bieber’s new tattoos. Buy a newspaper that doesn’t have a page 3 girl and does have a international news section. If you’re on the net, look for a discussion board about the world at large, not just a specific hobby or interest.

Importantly, find some news sources that do not fit in with your particular viewpoint. It makes an neccessary check and balance on your own worldview to have to consider and weigh the merits of opinions contrary to your own.

Will this keep you safe? Of course not. At least not until newspapers start carrying predictions of earthquakes and tsunamis (and getting them right!). However, if you are well informed, you might know what your local government can and cannot do in the event of a natural disaster, and allow you to plan accordingly.

It’s not easy to sort the wheat from the chaff in the information world, but it is a task you need to start doing. Find those sources you consider reliable and stay informed. Knowledge is power, and the more you have, the better prepared you’ll be.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Black Eye For Preppers

This one really get my Irish up...
A prominent figure in the American prepper world has been arrested on kidnapping and gun charges.  Although, reportedly, the charges are being dropped, authorties had reason enough to detain this person for more than two weeks.  Was it a misunderstanding, mistake, or other explainable issue?  Maybe, but I find that gun charges usually stem from breaking gun laws...period.

So what does this mean for us law abiding preppers?  Well more of those strange looks and comments about being rednecks holed up in the woods with more canned beans and bullets than brains.  Preppers may once again have to hide their actions from the public as well as family & friends.  Those of us who try to bring more people into the prepping community will likely now have to scale down their teaching for fear of being labeled as dangerous.  Even if this arrest was later withdrawn, the damage is done.  Preppers all over the world have now been set back decades in their struggle for acceptance & understanding.

Whatever really happened with this arrest, one fact remains...police  had reason to detain this person.  Weather guilty or not, this person did SOMETHING to make police act.  This is unacceptable behavior.  If you own guns, and as a prepper, I believe you should, make sure you own them, store them, transport them, and use them legally.  If there is a shadow of doubt that you are not within the law, stop, inform yourself, and correct your actions as required.

The prepper community CAN NOT AFFORD another gun toting anti government activist running around giving us a bad name.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How Much Water?

So go ahead and check for yourself...  Google how much water to store or visit your favorite prepping website and look it up for yourself.  Undoubtedly you will find the same answer everywhere you look, two quarts per person per day for drinking plus two quarts per person per day for cooking and washing.  At the time of writing this post the temperature is 30°with a humidex of 36°.  My 2 quarts of drinking water is long gone.  Given extreme weater conditions, or your regional climate, the suggested amount of drinking water just won't cut it.  In summertime, you sweat more and therefor need more water.  On theother hand in winter, our food preferences will turn more to soups and stews than sanwiches and salads.  Either way, think of how much water you are likely to consume.  4 quarts may be a more realistic target for drinking purposes rather than a daily total for everything.  That means that a 55 gallon barrel of water would last a familly of four a mere 12 days and not the expected 24. so for a familly of four, a 30 day supply of drinking water would equate to 480 quarts or just over 2 55 gallon drums.  Sound like a lot to store up in a closet?  Well it is.not to mention a rotation schedule to keep it fresh and the weight of that volume of water.  Don't be fooled by what the "experts" are recomending.  Many of these recomendations are only minimums required to sustain life.  On a day like today, going about your daily business, a minimum is not going to be enough.  You could quickly find yourself dehydrated and in a life threatening situation.  Think then of the extra activities performed during a crisis situation.  Instead of driving or taking a bus, you may have to commute on foot or by bicycle.  Without the modern conveniences that we now enjoy, your calorie intake goes up and with it, your need for hydration.  Be smart and find a way to collect water as you go along as well as storing a supply.  Here in Canada, we enjoy a liberal amount of free water for much of the year as snow.  Even the west coast gets an abundance of rainfall during the cooler months.  A rain barrel should be a big priority for you as well as a way to purify the water you collect.  The amount of bacteria in rain water collected from your roof may surprise you.  Have a means of boiling the water AND some regular chlorine bleach put aside for purification.  2 drops per quart is enough to kill what might make you sick and will not too adversly affect the taste.  A good idea would be to have some drink mix such as iced tea crystals on hand to help mask any odor or flavor you might notice.  Don't get me as much water as you can, especially in a container size you can easily bug out with.  Rotate it regularly to keep it fresh and keep it handy in case you have to get out of Dodge, but plan to gather water to keep a supply going when things get rough.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Health & Fitness - Repost Fron the APN

An interesting topic that is often overlooked...maintaining your health & fitness now will give you a headstart when SHTF.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Don't Forget to Prep For Everyday Life

Warning - if you never had kids this may be gross....If you have had kids, this might get funny.

Just the other morning, I was about to leave for work.  As usual, I picked up my son and gave him a hug goodbye. Then it was my daughter's turn...that adorable little 1 year old came crawling up to me with open arms for her morning goodbye hug.  When I picked her up, I noticed that familiar odor that indicates a diaper change is needed, something this modern day father could take care of without a thought.  I took her to the change table and got her undressed.  As I opened the diaper, it became clear that this was more than a quick wipe job, you know, the kind that the diaper just couldn't quite hold back.  As taking care of this properly would have made me late for work (that's my story and I'm sticking to it) I asked my wife to take over and finish things up.

So blissfully into the car and off to work I go, along with a lingering odor in my nose.  Without thinking, I opened the console, took out a bottle of cheap cologne I keep there for just such a problem, and sprayed a little into the air vent...problem I thought!

When I arrived at the office parking lot, I turned off the car, picked up my travel mug of joe and got out of the car.  That's when I noticed the big brown streak across my shirt!  Well, nothing else could be done.  I called into the office on the cell phone and informed them that I was running a little late and drove back home, swearing and spraying cheap cologne all the way, for a quick change, my wife busting her guts as I walked in the door!

So what did I learn?  Keep a set of clothes in the can easily spill coffee, or have any other number of things happen on the way to work,or anywhere else for that matter.  Luckily, there were no serious issues waiting for me at the office and my return trip caused no harm, other than an hour or so of lost wages.  What if there was a meeting that morning with an important client or the boss needed me right away?  The issue could have had consequences.  So if you work in an office, construction site, or whatever, carry a change of appropriate clothing with you.  A comb and a pack of gum couldn't hurt either.  Sometimes you need to be prepared even if the world isn't coming to an end.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Beyond Basics

There is a lot of interest in survival and preparedness these days. The airwaves seem to be full of series and specials teaching you how to survive, and there are others that have come and gone that are available for download and even whole Youtube channels with hours of information and how-tos. It’s a good thing, isn’t?

I wonder about that. Let’s start with the internet experts posting their ‘expertise’ on the internet. Brilliant thinkers that are packing a full sized can of WD-40 in their bug out bags to keep their folding knife lubricated, or astoundingly bright lads that think there is nothing wrong with packing two pounds of spaghetti sauce in a glass jar in their backpack. If it’s not that it’s some nut telling you how to carry a fancy EDC bag that weighs 15 pounds. You can’t make this stuff up. Because of the surge of interest in preparedness and survival, instant experts abound, and much of the information out there is at best of little value, at worst dangerous.

Not that there isn’t good info out there. There is tons of it. Dual Survival, Out of the Wild, Man, Vs. Wild, Man, Woman, Wild…the list goes on and on. Sometimes I wonder if there is still enough wilderness for all of them to survive in. Unfortunately, while they are (usually) competent and delivering solid info, they are covering the same ground over and over again. How many times do you need to be shown how to make a fire drill, or to build a shelter, or any of the other basics you see?

We need to teach beyond the basics. Basic skills are great, but that is all they are. Basic first aid? Good, but EMT training is better. Basic firearms knowledge? Good but gun smithing is better. The list goes on. I know in the past that I’ve said that becoming a master at all skills is a hopeless pursuit, and I still believe that. Spending money on books, tools, and supplies you aren’t skilled enough to use is crazy. But sitting with the same BASIC skills and thinking that they are enough to see you through is just as crazy.

Let’s start teaching and demanding more in-depth material for our prepping. We won’t become masters of all subjects, but perhaps we can become competent journeymen in a few, or at least promising apprentices instead of novices.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Repost From APN - When is an Emergency Big Enough to use Supplies?

Sorry for the lag in posting, I am currently packing my entire home to move to the country house...
Things will get back to normal soon.  In the meantime, enjoy this repost from APN.
I just experienced one of those things that leaves you in total awe of how some people think. Now I do not know about you but hate people that can not think for themselves and parrot a company policy as their reason for not thinking. Even though most people do not think so even the military wants its enlisted folks to think and operate with independence when it is needed. Not so the managers of such stores as Big Lot’s. Let me set this up for you.

The wife wanted to run down to the store for some stuff she forgot to pick up shopping. I wanted to stop at Big Lot’s for a couple of items they carry that are close to two bucks cheaper than anywhere else so I rode along with her. We got our items and were standing at the check out when someone came in the store stating that a car was on fire in the parking lot. The car on fire was parked up by the front of the building, maybe eight feet away at most.

Some facts where quickly established, i.e. the people in the car were out and safe and 9-11 had been called. The cashier looked out the window and came back and grabbed the microphone and announced that a red car next to the one on fire should be moved. A couple minutes later an older woman came running up and looked to see if it was her red car. It was. She started screaming at the cashier for not making the announcement right away. Well lady, the cashier made it as soon as she discovered the problem. Older Woman ran out and jumped in her car and moved it, right in front of the door to the store. Mind you she could have moved it out away from the danger zone but she decided that she needed to park right by the door for her quick escape later? Older Woman then came running back in the store bitching like crazy she had left her purse in the store and it was probably stolen. I told her we had been watching it for her and it was safe.

While Older Woman was moving her car someone asked the store manager for a fire extinguisher. Store mangers response was, “It is against store policy to use fire extinguishers.”

WTF! I couldn’t believe my ears. A guy stepped up and said he was a fireman and if they would give him one he would put out the fire. Again the policy was stated.

Like I said, I hate that kind of mentality. I stated out loud to no one in particular but really for the manager, “It cost less than $20 to fill an extinguisher and hundreds of dollars to repair smoke and fire damage.”

Some young kid walked up and handed the fireman an extinguisher. The manager started to say no but stopped and the fireman walked out with it. Just as he reached the door a loud boom was heard from the car and the flames leaped higher.

By this time my wife and I had managed to get everything checked out and paid for so we got out of there. By this time most people in the store had run up to the front and when they heard the explosion they bolted for the parking lot and were leaving. The Fire Department was arriving as the wife and I left.

Had quick action been taken more than likely the car fire would have been minimal and surely no explosion would have occurred. The explosion was not large in terms of throwing fire and debris around, but enough to make the fireman stop approaching and using the extinguisher.

Several years ago my oldest son was driving his brother’s truck and it caught on fire after some road debris was picked up when he drove over it and caused something to spark under the hood. He whipped the truck into a parking lot, sprinted into the building and grabbed an extinguisher and went out and put out the fire. He did not ask if it was policy or not, he acted and saved the truck. I stopped the next day to pay them for the use of it and they waved us off stating they were glad it was there and it helped. That is how someone should react to an emergency. They did not worry about policy but rather results. They were genuinely pleased that my son and the truck were safe.

Part of my job at work is to check the fire extinguishers monthly and hold the safety drills. Maybe because of that I am closer to the value of having those items handy. In my life I have used fire extinguishers several times to put out a small fire that was soon to be a big out of control fire. Those things save lives and property.

As an aside I hope that your preps include a good quality fire extinguisher and not one of those Kidde ones that has plastic values. I bought good metal reconditioned ones from the company that does ours at work. Like I said earlier, a $20 refill is a lot cheaper than building a new home. To steal the tag line from Riverwalker, “Got fire extinguishers?”

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Violent Lightening Storm Hits NS

The tail end of a storm hit Nova Scotia last night leaving 50,000 homes in the province without power this morning.  The storm was more wide spread than expected leaving homes powerless from one end of the province to the other.

This was a great wake-up call.

One of my husband's co-workers was terribly unprepared.  His truck was almost empty - enough gas to get to the gas station, but the pumps aren't working.  He had no cash on hand, and the debit machines are down.  It's easy to think, 'Rookie!'  But, how many in your area are really ready for something small like this to happen let alone something major?

It just goes to show how a little blip in the electrical delivery system can catch the unprepared with their pants down.

I was very thankful, and maybe feeling just a teensy bit smug this morning, when I reached into our cash box and handed my husband his lunch money. 

Continue with emergency preparations, even if a little at a time. 

"From little acorns grow mighty oaks."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Handicapped Prepper on Container Gardening

As a handicapped prepper I am on the lookout for ways to adapt prepping to my situation – take gardening for example.  Part of a self reliant life style, gardening is both practical and fulfilling.   
Where large scale gardening is out of the question for some, gardening in a container can be very doable ... if the container is made accessible by raising it to a comfortable working height. 
Following are photos of the herb garden that I made this spring on the top landing of the wheelchair ramp by the back door.  It’s totally accessible from the bottom of the ramp without compromising personal safety, something about which one with special needs has to be vigilant.
The garden was made in a recycled washer tub.  It’s about 52cm (20.5 inches) wide and 32cm (12.5 inches) deep. 
I’ve been fascinated by a new-ish gardening method introduced by an Austrian named Sepp Holzer called hugelkultur (hill garden) where the topsoil is built up on top of a felled tree trunk.  Here is a short video that describes some of the features.  And here is a more in depth article on the subject.  
Hugelkultur gardens are up to six feet high their first year.  By thinking ‘adaptation’ I decided to try the method on a much smaller scale just to see how it would work.  You will see what I mean in just a minute. 

There was an empty washer tub on the property when we bought it 5 years ago.  So, it went into the tinkering pile for safe keeping ........ until now.
Cleaning up the tub.
I got some doudy wood from my father-in-law.  The first rule of handicapped prepping - don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.  Actually, that goes for any prepper.  Connections are man is an island...etc.
Rotten wood goes on the bottom of garden.
The wood is supposed to act as a sponge to help hold water, and an aerator to give the roots spaces to grow around and air.  It goes in first.  Oh!  There are drain holes in the bottom of the tub, and fiberglass screen to cover them.

I got some potting soil.  You can mix your own, but it's less expensive when gardening small scale to buy it already done.  Pour it over the wood.  (It took 60 liters to fill this container.) As far as I know potting soil is best for containers because it has fertilizer in it.  In containers plants don't have the option of pulling nutrients from around them like they do in a regular garden so they need a helping hand.

Organic Potting Soil

I got some gifted plants from my sister-in-law.  (There's that no man's an island thing again.) 

Gifted Herbs

I got some mulch.  Being on the Eastern coast of Canada I'm using sea grass.  Any organic mulch is good as long as it's put on thick enough to keep the moisture in the soil.  Container soils are susceptible to wind and evaporation so they do dry out very quickly and usually need to be watered often.  Like once or twice day.  But, with mulch not as often.  Put the mulch on top after the plants and seeds are in.

Sea Grass

I made some labels.  Not necessary, but cute.  I can't help it, I'm a girl!

Polished, Stamped River Rock 

What you don't see yet is the parsley and cascading nasturtium seeds in there, but they'll germinate.

Dime in the middle for size perception.

Baby Chives
I thought it was interesting that a spider set up housekeeping on the container right away.  I would like it to stay to help protect the plants from harmful insects.

Pollen Covered Spider's Web
To recap you need:
A container at comfortable working height - with drainage holes and something to cover them to keep soil in
Wood (or something that will act like a sponge to hold water)
Organic potting soil
Plants and seeds suitable for container gardening
Friend to help if/when needed
Spider optional

This project may take days, or even weeks, to accomplish depending on how much mobility one has, and how many people need to be coordinated for drives and tasks that the handicapped person needs to delegate. 

Good luck!

Mini Hugelkultur Herb Garden