Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Step AWAY from the computer!

I appreciate the fact that you find this blog interesting enough to check out every now and then. I also appreciate the email I get commenting or asking questions about what I write – it motivates me somewhat and lets me know I’m not just typing into space.

I bet most of you surf a good bit on the Internet. Some of you may even be “brave” enough to post on some of the myriad of boards, chat rooms and what not. That’s good, this is the 21st century after all and this is one way of socializing. One way.

I hang out fairly regularly on a number of preparedness-oriented boards on the ‘net and I even moderate a couple. I’ve been doing so for almost 10 years and in that time I have made some observations and come to some conclusions about those who haunt the various preparedness/survivalist sites:

More people merely read (“lurk”) than contribute
For most, it’s more of a social environment than a learning one
Most people do very little other than type
A good number download reams of information and store it in their “libraries”
Those who actually take significant steps towards preparedness are in the minority
Of the actual “preppers” – most never get out and socialize in person with other preppers

I am not being judgmental (yet) about folks. As my buddy, Bud says, “it is what it is”. If surfing preparedness sites and blogs like this one blows your skirt up; if your “preparedness ‘net activity” is just a substitute for (and, I admit – a better alternative to) watching millionaire talk show hosts or soap operas – fine. It’s all good.

But if the small, quiet, yet persistent voice in the back of your head keeps telling you to get ready for what is coming down the pike – then I have some suggestions for you. In fact, I have two and both involve (gasp!) stepping away from your computer. They are:

1. Start doing stuff
2. Socialize with other (real) people

Start doing stuff

You’ve heard the phrase, “if you want to learn something – teach it”. That’s because you (assuming you are normal) will not really “know” something until you try it, think about any mistakes you made, do it again and again until you get right, and then eventually know it well enough to teach it. If you decide to teach something you have a strong motivator (usually ego – fear of embarrassment) to really learn it as opposed to just sitting back and passively taking it in.

I chuckle (and at times want to cry) when I see folks include first aid books in their BOBs (bug out bags). Now, having a BOB means one has thought through the various reasons why having one is a good idea and has actually taken some steps to mitigate potential future problems. If they can envision those, they ought to be able to realize that when they or their loved one is bleeding, choking, or otherwise injured it is time for action – not research.

Should you own a book on first aid? Absolutely – you should own more than one. And you should periodically pull them off the shelf and review. And then (here is the crux) you should practice the techniques you read about. Practice so that when you actually have to do first aid – in the dark, in the rain, under serious time pressure – you have confidence in your abilities. As long as I am going on about first aid – sign up for a Red Cross course in your area – they are cheap to free.

That’s just one example. There are a bazillion others. Because when it is time for action, there is very little time for research. You will have to KNOW some things. You will have to OWN some skills. The time to learn, to do, to know- is now.

Practice starting fires – in the rain, in the dark, in the snow. I don’t care where you live – even if you live in an apartment you can do it in a grill on the back deck, go to a local park and use the grill on a stand – whatever. Starting fires is easy – when you know how. I am very good at starting fires – I can do it in all kinds of conditions – and sometimes I have difficulty.

How about some real basic “to dos”: Start a food storage program. Store some water. Practice a fire drill. Teach your entire household basic first aid. Change your own oil. Heck, go change your tire.

Cook. Cook from scratch. Grind flour. Plant a garden. Can your veggies. Zero your rifle. Shoot a squirrel. Repair your jeans. Sew a dress.

The list is endless – just go DO something. Something other than type, read, print, store. You’ll be glad you did.

Socialize with other people

I said most folks just read as opposed to doing anything. That is true. But of those who actually do stuff – most of them do it alone or only with their immediate family / household. There are a bunch of reasons people give but they boil down to one: fear.

Fear of ridicule is a big one though most won’t admit it. With neighbors and community members they fear ridicule from those who see no need to prepare and being labeled as a nut. They also fear getting together with others of like mind - because they fear ridicule for what they don’t know. Some also talk a big game on the internet and then are embarrassed to show their real self to those they misled. Get over it.

They also fear “people knowing about my preparations” – they are paranoid. I would just say to these folks – there is a big difference between discussing preparedness with folks and inviting them into your arms room, food pantry, or whatever. Use a little discretion.

When you get together with others you will learn things. Valuable things. One may be how to get along with others. Someone always knows more about something than you do – learn from him or her. The way to do that is to get together.

Here is reality folks: people need other people. Humans are social creatures. We are at our best when we work as cohesive groups. You will learn more and better if you do so with others. You will do much better during any kind of catastrophe if you are assisted by like-minded people. That group will do much better if it is formed prior to any emergency. Groups go through what is known as “Forming, Storming, Norming and then Performing”. You can Google it if you are interested but basically, it takes time and effort to form a cohesive group – a team. Just like the best time to learn how to stop an arterial bleed is before the accident occurs – the best time to get together with others is before a crisis.

If you cannot work well with others now, when life is pretty darn good – what makes you think it will all work out after some emergency? It won’t.

Get out and DO stuff.
Get out and do stuff with other people.
Step away from the computer and immerse yourself in life.
See ya out there.

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them. If they really interest me, I may even post them. You can reach me at vikingservices@hotmail.com

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Monday, February 19, 2007

Goat - it's what's for supper!

We raise milk and meat goats. I say that like I know what I’m talking about. We started raising goats not even a year ago and we initially purchased two pregnant Alpine does. These are milk goats. They had three kids between them – two males and a female. We sold the males and bought a Boer (meat goat) kid with the money. His name was Lightning. That's him up there.

Lightning was destined for supper the day we bought him. I like to teach classes so I invited the crew over for festivities this weekend. Yesterday, after church, we killed, cleaned, skinned and hung Lightning up to cool. I saved his hide and will try to tan it and then make something useful. Today we cooked goat in a variety of ways. Funny, we didn’t have many folks yesterday when we slaughtered the goat, but today we had 14 people over for supper!

We marinated most of the meat a variety of ways and we cooked a rear haunch on a spit over a fire, we made stew in a Dutch oven, my wife made curry and we also made shish-kebabs from the tenderloins. For the stew, we used corn meal from feed corn purchased at the local feed store that we ground in our Corona grain mill. It is made in South America just for grinding corn, it’s built like a tank, it cost less than thirty bucks and it works like a champ.

We sliced up the roast haunch and served it in pita bread with shredded lettuce and a yoghurt cucumber sauce my aspiring chef daughter whipped up. It was awesome.

Here is the truth – we didn’t know if we would like goat. So we figured we would cook it a bunch of different ways and invite a bunch of people over to share it with so there would be no leftovers.

The shish-kebabs were over done but other than that – it was all delicious! We have a little curry and stew left over but that’s it. We will eat that up for lunch tomorrow.

All in all it was a great time – good food and good friends – and the weather even cooperated.

Goat will be on the menu again in the future.

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them. If they really interest me, I may even post them. You can reach me at vikingservices@hotmail.com

Monday, February 12, 2007

More on water

Viridari suggested using a large container at the church and I get it - I have several at home. I'm just approaching this with "baby steps" at the moment - the left over pop bottles are less threatening or different/strange. And, quite frankly, they are easier to use. Once we get to the point where we have a lot of bottles I think the switch will be painless. We will still have portable water though. Portable potable water.

As a general rule, clean water, placed into clean containers and kept out of sunlight never goes "bad". Even if it did grow algae or something, you would still have water and would then only have to concern yourself with purifying it. I probably change the water in my vehicles out about every 3 to 6 months (I'm not on a schedule or anything). I always taste it if I haven't already used it like on a campout, and it has always been fine. I also have bottles at home under the stairs and in closets - I have not changed them for a couple years and they are still fine.

Water is important - check out my "Rule of Threes" post below. We should all have access to water all the time. Heck, we make sure our pets have water - we should care for ourselves as well. Just a little bit of dehydration really changes your ability to function.

One of those water bladder companies has a saying, "Hydrate or Die!".
Yeah, it's like that.

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them. If they really interest me, I may even post them. You can reach me at vikingservices@hotmail.com

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Friday, February 09, 2007

Water - got some?

I apologize to the readers for not posting for a while – life intrudes, I’m sure you understand.

I am a member of a small country church and we recently went through some major cleaning up and slight renovations. We have a refrigerator in which we store mostly soda/coke/pop (it’s called different things in different parts of the country). We used to buy it in 2-liter bottles and every time we’d empty one, I’d rinse it out, fill it with tap water and stash it in a closet, or under the sink, or – wherever. While doing so I would comment that everyone should do this at home, explain that we did this in another church I attended years ago and so on.

The reason we went through the big clean up was because we actually appointed a “Kitchen/food Committee” and the ladies wanted to make a good first impression. One of the things they did was throw out all of the water bottles I had stashed. To their credit, they asked if I wanted to take them home but I have enough at home and my protestations to keep them in the church fell on deaf ears. Next, they switched from 2-liter bottles of pop to cans. And they added a couple gallon jugs of apple juice.

A bit later, someone mentioned that if we kept our freezer full, it would run more efficiently (bear with me – we are almost there) so, as we emptied bottles of apple juice, the ladies would fill them up (no rinsing) and stash them in the freezer. They froze solid and I’m sure the freezer then ran more efficiently.

Last Saturday we had a men’s prayer breakfast. It was real cold outside. I got there early to find another man waiting with his son. In we went to get everything set up. Of course the most important thing was what? COFFEE! So I grab the carafe and move to the sink, turn the spigot and ....nothing. Ughh. I am a Coffee Person. I live on it. I require it to get started in the morning. (Yes, it is a part of our personal food storage program) This particular morning however, I had rolled out of bed, thrown on some duds and moved out smartly – coffee and donuts awaited me, right?

We have a lamp that we keep lit under our slightly exposed water pipe and when I checked on it, I noticed it was not under the pipe so I moved it back but this did not solve my problem. I needed water. Think Joe, think! I have 2-liter bottles of water in my vehicle – solid ice. I also have a half full metal canteen in there and the means to build fire to melt it – a lot of work for not a whole lot of gain. Then, BINGO! - it hit me. I removed the frozen apple juice container (full of water, remember?) and popped it in the microwave. Soon we had apple flavored water. Not perfect for true coffee connoisseurs, but at this point Joe just wanted a cup of Joe. About the time I filled the carafe with apfelwasser the light bulb had done its trick and the spigot started pouring out good water. Our coffee turned out okay afterall.

So, we once again are building up a small water supply in the closet at church. One of my goals is to store a decent amount of water there – perhaps a gallon per member. Not a lot – but more than most churches have I reckon. And a lot more than we currently have. Baby steps.

What’s the point of this little story? Preparations aren’t just for the end of the world or regional disasters. They are for everyday life.

Do you have water stored at home? Yes, you can drain your hotwater tank for useable water in an emergency. You can also use the water in the back tank of your toilet assuming you don’t put that blue stuff in there. Wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier to just have few (a bunch) of 2-liter bottles stashed in out of the way places? Sure it would.

Just rinse them out (no need for soap), fill them with tap water, and store in a dark place. It really is that simple.

Water – got some?

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them. If they really interest me, I may even post them. You can reach me at vikingservices@hotmail.com

Prepared Americans for a Strong America