What Happens When the Unexpected Happens?

As we prepare and plan for the future, we always remember to live for today.  We enjoy our time together and with our family as much as possible.  For us, it just so happens we enjoy camping, hunting and fishing.  We don’t mind being away from the amenities of city life.  Redfish likes to spend time with the birds and enjoys watching their antics.  We both enjoy the garden and picking fresh things to eat.  Yesterday we pulled fresh carrots and cut some nice broccoli.

But, for us the unexpected happened, which is why there has been a decreasing amount of activity on this site.  For many years Redfish has had unexplained health issues.  Most doctors told her it was depression or arthritis.  None took her seriously.  When she told them about this symptom or that, they either said it was imaginary or ignored it as something not worth note.  Then after some years, things would get better and she would be her old self again.  This cycle has gone on for about 35 years.

Last fall she entered another one of these cycles, which we both thought was another bout of depression.  That’s what we’ve been told so many times before, even though we didn’t believe it.  She got shingles, then cervical cancer, and skin cancer in a three month period of time.  None of these were fatal nor even cause for great alarm because they could be taken care of, removed, or would go away.  But they did get her to thinking about her mortality.

But, even when things were supposed to be getting better, they were not.  In fact, they were getting worse.  Swelling, fatigue from hell, and pain everywhere.  Asthma was flaring more than usual. Headaches a near constant companion.  Finally, eight doctors and 35 years later, someone knew what was wrong.  Lupus.  It was a devastating diagnosis.

How could that many doctors miss this for so long?  What now?  What are the damages of being untreated for 35 years?  What is the life expectancy after diagnosis?  All of these questions and more came bubbling up through the whole family.

Mostly, Redfish was relieved.  She cried tears of relief because she finally knows why she gets tired, sore and achy.  There are answers for the myriad of other symptoms that came and went over the years.  Finally someone took her serious and investigated her symptoms.  She no longer feels guilty for needing a nap or wanting to take pain meds for her headaches and joint pain.  She understands why sometimes she can’t remember what day it is for more than 30 minutes.

Now what?  We have to choose what to do next and re-evaluate our priorities.  She’s going to keep her garden and birds, for now.  We will still be prepared for any emergency that may arise, but we are also working on ways to reduce stress in her life to slow the progress of Lupus as much as possible.  This web site will have to take a back seat.   Posts will be less often, but they will be meaningful.  

 

In a Post WCE, Where to get the Best Quality Seeds?

The simple answer is “from yourself”.  The only way this can happen is if you are already practicing the skills you need to secure the best possible seeds for next year’s crops.  Sure, many gardeners will tell you to choose the best plants to get the best seeds, but what they don’t tell you is how to consistently improve, over time, your ability to harvest the best produce possible.  As a matter of fact, you could produce a new variety of seeds through your efforts.

Start with the best quality seed you can get.  Seeds are expensive, so do your research.  Just because you have bought this or that brand for year after year does not mean you are in fact buying the best.

One of the most important things you can do is to keep a proper journal about your garden exploits.  Write down everything, every year.  Date every page.  Did it rain today?  How much?  Was it hotter or colder than normal today than last year on this day? Note it and log it.  What did you plant today?  Remember to log the germination rate each day.  There is no detail too small to consider adding to the journal about your garden or fields.  Why?  Because you will need that information after a WCE.  Then it will be too late to start gathering useful information for your region.  It takes years to gather what you need.  Some of it you can get from local garden experts, but your own experiences are more valuable than anyone else’s.

Test the germination rate for the seeds you plant every year.  You will know the rates for each company from which you buy seeds.  In this way you will better choose products that meet your needs best.  It is with these seeds that you will start your seed saving practices as well as your venture into creating a better and stronger variety of your favorite produce.

Since accuracy is important, keeping a separate journal for various produce so as not to get grape writings mixed up with apple writings might be a good idea.  Now for the good stuff.

When your plants are growing in the garden, continually watch them to see which are the best and worst.  When it comes time to harvest seed, choose only to harvest from the single best plant that has the best qualities you desire.  For the next planting season complete the steps over again.  Be sure to plant these seeds away from the possibility of pollination by any other source.

Each careful harvest gains seeds that are best suited to your environment and most resistant to the pests and diseases of your region.  In this manner you will create your own variety of plants and seeds.  Those, and your reputation for seed production will be valuable after a WCE.

Three Years After WCE, Will Your Garden Seeds Fail?

You did everything right.  You saved money, coins, what ever you needed to be able to trade.  You saved seeds for the Victory Garden and used them.  The world changing event happened, a WCE.  During the first three years you relied on the stash you had in the freezer, but you noticed each year the germination rate was down.  Every year you saved seeds from your garden, but still your garden got smaller and less productive each year.  Sometimes your garden produced weird plants because of cross pollination.  Some seeds failed to germinate producing no plant at all, or produced plants that produced no fruit.  If you don’t watch out, not only will you have nothing to trade, but you might not have any produce for your own needs.

Now you need to find a way to replenish your stash with good seeds.  You know some people trade them.  But in this new era seeds are highly prized and traders likely are not reliable to offer quality products.  They aren’t always “just seeds” any more.  They are the difference between life and death for many people.

In the future, after a WCE, you can expect the same things to happen as did during the 1800s.  Traders were less than honest.  They would knowingly sell seeds with a large amount of weed seed mixed into the lot.  How could they do it?  Simple.  They just bet on purchasers not being able to tell the difference between seeds that look very similar.

Lobelia Seeds
Click to view product details.

 

Since dodder weed seed looks remarkably like clover seed, the buyer could be fooled.  Cheat looks like oat seed.  There are other weed seeds that can be passed to the untrained eye as crop seeds.  As reported in the 1860’s, some sellers knowingly sold impurities as much as 30% weed seeds.  This means that the farmer purchased 738,000 seeds per pound which he thought was for crops.  Instead, he planted 288,000 weeds.  Consider how much time, garden space, and money were wasted in this manner.  If one third of the seeds you purchase are no good, and worse, they grow weeds it will be a waste and possibly the difference between life or death for your family.  You will have at least one third less harvest under the best of circumstances.

Another way people would trick farmers is by bleaching old discolored seeds so they would not look old.  Then they mixed some good seeds in with them. Buyers would end up with old seed that couldn’t germinate.  They might get two or three crop plants for every 100 seeds planted.  The weed crop is doing fine.  The farmer might think it was something he was doing wrong.

Yet another way bad seed is sold is when they are not stored well, or are left to freeze before they are dry and are ruined.  The purchaser can’t always tell just by looking if the seeds have been improperly stored.  But the seller knows what he did if he grew them.  It will pay to know the seller very well.  It will be better if the seller is fully dependent on you for something he needs badly.

This could be why so many people gave up gardening between 1900 and 1950.  The amount of work involved far out weighed the benefit of the produce.  Farmers had to use more land to have a yield big enough to bring to market.  It was not until the U.S.D.A. stepped in and regulated production and sales that seeds and sellers were cleaned up.

Now, seed labels must specify the year for planting, and the expiration date.  Most states require the germination rate to be printed on the labels as well.  If it is not specified, it would be reasonable to assume not more than 70% germination rate.  So, if you need 100 plants, purchase enough seeds to cover the 30% reduction in germination.  You might be happy if it is a better rate, but will be sadly disappointed if the rate is less.

Which brings us to the last way seed sellers might sell old and improperly stored seeds.  Their packaging may be worn and tattered.  If so, don’t buy them, or only offer a small amount of trade for them.  Seeds exposed to light and heat are always less vital than well stored seeds.  Most seeds only store for three to five years under normal conditions, not frozen, and the germination rate is reduced by about 15% to 30% or more per year.

Click to view product details.

After a WCE, how are you going to protect yourself from ruthless traders who would bring you bad seeds when you most need good ones?  Well, unless you have a microscope, pre-labeled seed slides, and some books to smarten you up, you can’t.

Click to view product details.

 


Some seeds are so small you wouldn’t be able to see what you need to know with the naked eye. The slides need to be made by you so you know exactly what you are looking at, and you need to inspect the slides often to see how the seeds have degraded over time so you can gauge the age of the seeds being sold.  The books give you the valuable information that you can use for the rest of your life.  With repeated study you can learn to protect your seed supply both now and in the event of a WCE.

Click to view product details.


Armed with these three things, a seed seller who is not trading fairly will not want to subject his product to your tests of quality.  Who knows, your ability to discern good from bad seeds might enable you to trade your skills and knowledge for seeds and other items you need.

Don’t Count on Shellfish as Part of Your Emergency Food Supply

The Japan nuclear melt down is to threaten most of the Pacific Ocean’s sea life.  There is controversy about how much contamination is “safe”.  Predictions about how fast the sea life will be decreased or depleted range from a few months to a few years.  Some species of sea life or plants might not be directly effected by the contamination, but humans may find it not fit for consumption.

Either way, it’s not good.  What species do survive might not be what we want to eat.  Not to mention the upset in the ecological balance of the oceans for the next 100 or so years.  Even if the predictions of U. S. waters and fishes being contaminated don’t come true, it gives one pause to think about what would happen in a world changing event.

Even without the contamination possibilities in the back of our minds, we already have plenty to think about in terms of the current state of the coastal waters and the food supply some people might have in their emergency plans.

Oyster bed on the Cape Fear River, Wilmington, North Carolina

The United States’ east coast Atlantic ocean is already polluted and many fish and shellfish are not edible or are going extinct from the waters.  The loss of oyster beds along both the east and west coasts leaves the only good oyster beds left in the Gulf of Mexico.  Now, most oysters and shellfish consumed in the U.S. and around the world are from Asia.

There are efforts in all areas of coastal waters to increase oyster beds and make better conditions for other coastal shellfish.  If the prepared are planning on those resources it needs to happen quickly.

 

Social Media and Preppers

Some people can’t stand to be disconnected from their social media for even a few minutes.  They carry to their laptops and tablets in handy bags. Cell phones are nearly glued to their heads or hands.  Most of their socializing is done online and on phones.

Admittedly, many adults from 40 to 60 are also doing a large portion of their socializing in the same manner.  Why?  Inclusion.  A recent report said the fastest growing population on FaceBook is adults ages 40 to 60, it makes it possible for parents and grandparents to keep up with their children and grandchildren as well as their friends.  They get to see more pictures and and see their posts.

But what about if you are alone or in very small groups with little or no interaction outside the group?  Not so difficult for those of us who grew up before the phone went out the door with you.  We learned skills that are not taught to our young people these days.

We learned how to talk, hold conversations, even start conversations about any number of things.  We learned the difference between the different types of conversation groups such as young adults, married, and seniors.  We also learned about same gender verses mixed company conversations.  Then, just when we thought we had the art of conversation down pat, our elders taught us about “polite company” and “forbidden topics”.  We learned to mind our Ps and Qs.

Certainly, in a bug-in situation it will be a big plus if everyone involved had those skills.  They would know what to say and when to shut their mouths.  To paraphrase Joyce Meyer, they would know not to voice an opinion where they have no responsibility.

Sure, over time they would learn these skills after great pain and suffering for all parties involved.  Wouldn’t it be better if they started learning now?

Just to drive the point home, consider the youth of the world.  Most of us have seen this video, but just in case you haven’t, take a look below.  How would these same young people handle a situation in which they could no longer contact their social media buddies?

Security Cameras Help Public Employees Do a Better Job

With all the available security cameras on businesses one knows he is being watched as he walks down the street from store to store.  Apparently, most people don’t realize they are also being watched as they pass by homes.  Some homes have cameras in all directions while others just have cameras facing the street.  This is my little rant.

One thing is certain.  Public employees will no longer be able to cheat and lie about how they perform their duties away from the office.  For instance, for ten years the local postal employees would leave notices in the mailbox at the curb.  The standard notices say they tried to deliver the package or letter, but no one answered the door.  They fill in the date and time they made the attempt and leave it for me to find a time when the post office is both open and you are off work to make a trip all the way in to town to get it.  Every time I would get one of these notices, I thought about if I was home at that time and why didn’t I hear them knocking at the door.  Some times I was positive I was home but knowing it’s their word against mine and no proof, what can a person do?  Not much.

After installing security cameras, the same postal event happened on a Monday.  Using the post office web site to reschedule delivery of the letter should have brought it the next day.  By four o’clock the carrier should have already been there.  At first I thought there would be no mail at all since there was no knock on the door, instead I went down to the box and there was another notice just like the first.  Frustrated, checking the time the carrier wrote, I wondered how that could have happened.  Surely I didn’t spend all day waiting for the carrier and then manage to miss her.

Back to the post office web site and reschedule for yet another day.  This time with the special instructions to knock loudly.  And then a look at the security video gave proof that the carrier was too lazy to drive her vehicle all the way up the drive way and get out of the truck.  She was too lazy to do her job two days in a row, never mind the previous ten years.

On the third day I watched as the letter carrier drove to my mailbox, she was stopped there quite a while.  Knowing she had a delivery and would coming to ask for my signature, I waited.  On this rural property, it’s quite a long distance from the house to the road.  Once again, the carrier drove away without delivering the letter, instead leaving a notice saying she had tried to deliver the letter.  I went to the post office and got the letter.

This infuriated me.  I wrote a letter to the postmaster explaining that for the previous ten years this had caused packages to be returned to sender because the post office is not open after I get off work.  The letter went on to explain the situation had changed since we have security cameras which show the truth of how postal employees were doing their jobs.  I left the letter on the desk, with no intentions of mailing it.  None.  I just wanted to get it off my chest.  I forgot about it.

Three days later there is a loud knock on the door.  The dogs went wild barking in excitement.  There stood a the postmaster.  He was there to apologize for the lousy service for the previous ten years.  He promised it would not be happening again.  In shock, I asked why he came to my house.  He said because there was no phone number listed on the letter.

Uh oh.  How did he get that letter?  I didn’t send it.  It turns out my better half saw the letter and was just as fed up as I, and so were our friends because it happens to them too.  For the last two years all of our mail has been delivered properly.

As it turns out, the cameras come in handy when dealing with city employees too.  We got a whopper of a water bill.  Okay, if we owe it we pay it.  Not a problem.  But, I wanted to be sure I actually owed the money.  I called the public works department to verify the bill.

Now, just so happened that the public works employee claimed he came to our house to make notice of a water leak issue, but failed to find us home.  He made such a note on our account records.  The fact is that I saw his truck in the street that day, I watched him as he did something in his truck, and then drove on down the street.

Now as it was, the city was inclined to believe the employee, not me the customer.  The city employee on the phone said the meter reader couldn’t call me because my phone number was not on record.  That wasn’t true.  The same offices previously called me to ask permission to install some sewer lines on my property. So, knowing that a second employee had just lied to me, I mentioned that I watched the meter reader remain in his truck, stopped in the road for a few minutes and then drive away.  I also asked them how I could be sitting on the sofa, looking out the window at his truck and not see or hear him drive up my extra long driveway, knock on the door without the yappy dogs barking, and without being captured on the security video.

Silence on the other end of the phone.  Then she said she would have the manager call me about it.  Six hours later I called them back to see what they planned on doing.  The same female said the manager had tried to call me and left a voice mail.  When I said that my phone was with me the entire time as I was waiting for the call and it did not wring, no missed calls and no message, she was shocked.  She took the number again, said it was the same number as before, and said the manager would call me tomorrow.

Additionally, the meter reader’s decision not do his job will have resulted in 25 more days of hundreds of gallons of water going to waste.  Consider that leaving the hoses on full for twenty four hours will fill the 18′ round swimming pool over 5′ deep.  I was trying not to think about the fact that the pool costs about $200.00 to fill while I’m waiting for her to call.  Could it be 25 more swimming pools?  If so, the next month’s bill will be higher than the previous.  

The call came, and the manager said she would send someone out to correct the situation and denied everything the employee said the previous day.  She was willing to cover up the fact that a city employee lied and was willing to let a citizen take losses that could amount to thousands of dollars.  Not one word about how that matter will be addressed.  Sounds like a polished politician.  We’ll see.

How to Digitally Recover from a Natural Disaster

by Robyn Johnston


Hurricane
Typhoons, blizzards, wildfires, and now, devastating tornadoes have the U.S. focusing on the Midwest. It seems all too often that we hear about a natural disaster occurring one after the other. There are hundreds of resources available for preparing for these types of things: packing lists, emergency evacuation plans, food conservation and more. But today, our dependence on technology and all things digital is almost as vital as food and water (sadly).

So, how do you get yourself back on the grid after a catastrophe? Follow these tips and help yourself digitally recover from any disaster:

Solar Powered Chargers
Without electricity, personal electronics like cell phones have limited air time. Purchase a solar powered cell phone charger just in case. Even if cell towers go down, at least you’ll be charged and ready to go when service is restored.

Online Password Manager
Once you’ve restored an Internet connection, the last thing you want to do is play the password guessing game on all of your important accounts. Sign-up for a password manager subscription so you can access all of your records in a pinch. Store passwords for the accounts you would need in a disaster situation like: home insurance, auto insurance, bank accounts, investments, etc.

Utilize Cloud Storage
A natural disaster could wipe out your home, that means your computer too. Backup pictures, documents and files on a cloud storage service. That way, you can access your information from anywhere even without your hardware.

Satellite Communication
Telephone and Internet are imperative to communicating with friends, family, and emergency services. Internet that runs on an underground network, like cable or fiber-optic, has the potential to be damaged during some disasters like earthquakes or tornadoes. Secure a satellite internet or satellite phone connection and you’ve got a better chance of recovering communication quickly.


Handheld GPS
Debris or danger can block roadways. You may need to find an alternate route on the fly. Invest in a handheld GPS and keep it fully charged in case of an emergency. If you can, save important destinations like hospitals, highways, and fire stations.

It seems like getting wired back in might be the last thing you would worry about in the event of a natural disaster. Safety and health are obviously the most important concerns. But without personal technology – you’ll be more stranded than you might think. Think ahead, prepare your electronics and do some digital legwork beforehand to make for a speedy recovery.

Reference:
How Technology Can Help in a Disaster
Satellite Internet
Is your most valuable information at risk in an emergency?
Share passwords securely with family in an emergency

 

 

Are You Keeping the Zombie Apocalypse in Mind when Remodeling Your Home?

by Scott Crompton

For most people, home security is a secondary thought after you already have the home. That’s because chances are you are buying a home and you don’t plan to ever make changes to it, so you are just adding on security after. However, it also is a secondary thought when it comes to remodeling that home. You might not realize it, but keeping that home secure can actually be incorporated into changes you make to foundations, or even just design. And all you have to do to remember this is to think of how effective your home will be as a safe house in a zombie apocalypse.

You might have heard of this before, since the CDC has been launching a campaign around it for a few years. But most of their emergency preparation methods focus specifically on creating a plan and supplying yourself. It hasn’t covered the area of how your home would hold up to terrorist attacks, tornadoes, hurricanes, pandemics, and more. But it is true; these are a lot of things to keep on mind when preparing your family and home. So even in the case of remodeling your home for the best security, keep the zombie apocalypse in mind because the things that will make your home safe against zombie attacks, will do the same for most other disasters, or even just something as simple, and terrifying as a burglary.

Your Access Points

Windows and Doors in your house are the first lines of defense, whether for zombies, a storm, or a burglar. Walls can be just as important, but you are less likely to be handling people specifically that will use a wall before using a window or door.

Visibility: If you end up remodeling areas that handle your windows or doors, consider obtaining different glass than you would normally expect. Tinted window glass or film and one-way mirror film is a great option that can completely cut off people being able to see in during the day time, but it will usually make you visible at night with lights on in the house. That isn’t a bad thing though, since lights on are likely to deter burglars (though there is no guarantee with zombies).

Enforcement: A staggering amount of homes get forced into through doors, especially the front ones. But it takes a bit more than just adding on another lock to the door, the weakest area of your door is where the door connects with the wall, at the hinges and the doorjamb. In most cases, reinforcing, adding, or replacing the deadbolt is more likely to solve most of your concerns. A good rule of thumb is that your deadbolt should extend far more than 1 inch out from the door and you shouldn’t be able to jiggle it. If either of those are the case, replace it with a longer and sturdier one, and it is something you can learn to do yourself too.

Sheltered Area

Not everyone can afford to add in a whole extra room that is solely devoted to being a panic room, or a bomb shelter. But you can make some improvements to current rooms in your house that will add more protection, and possibly in some cases turn a living room or office into a temporary panic room. It won’t ever be as great as a room devoted to a panic shelter, but it gives your family a place to go to be safer if needed.

  • Eliminate windows in that room. It doesn’t matter how sturdy your windows are, if you have some they are an easier entry point. Offices or libraries can be a great room choice for this since they mostly rely on artificial lighting anyway.
  • Reinforce the walls and floor that makes up the room. You can’t always get steel in place, since it’s expensive and probably not something you can install, but sturdy wood is still a great option, as most houses will only have wood studs that leave a large section in between studs made of easily damaged material.
  • Obtain a reinforced door for the entry door to the room. It doesn’t matter how bulky or frustrating the door might be, since you don’t have to have it closed except when using it as a sheltered area, so getting multiple locks with a door that’s not going to be easily kicked off hinges will go a long way.

Remember there are a number of other things you can work on to protect yourself. These are just a few improvements that can be made. You should still always keep your security in mind when improving your home. And there is more to protecting your home and preparing for disasters than just improvements to your home. Alarms, lights, animals, supplies and most of all a plan for when something goes wrong will keep you that much more in control of any situation, especially the dangerous or bad ones like a zombie apocalypse.

References:

Home Security – http://www.topconsumerreviews.com/home-security/

CDC Campaign – http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2011/05/preparedness-101-zombie-apocalypse/

Mirror Films – http://solarfilmco.com/mirror-window-film-html

Mapping the Water Supply

Securing a safe water supply is important to every entity in the world.  With changing weather patterns bringing droughts to regions normally the best farmlands, it is getting more frustrating for cities and states as they try to find water sources and negotiate prices and methods to transport water.

Coastal states have the ability to build desalinization plants, but landlocked states must rely on rivers, lakes and aquifers.  To this end there have been many man-made lakes and rivers dammed up for both water and electricity. 

Even after some rains, aquifers remain at levels below 50% or less in some areas of the United States, and around the world.  It takes many days of rain to replenish the water supply both above and below ground.

Because of this, it is important to know where water can be accessed and to keep up with the status of those locations on a weekly basis.  Aquifers serve not just one well but instead wells for entire cities, your wells may have water this week, but not have water next week under severe drought conditions.

One thing you can do is pay attention to EPA, state, and local water authority reports which list where contaminated ground water is already found.  Knowing water is already contaminated and what the contaminants are is a step in the right direction when choosing which places to eliminate as possible sources of fresh water in the future.

Mapping safe and unsafe water is an important part of being prepared.  Keep your map Map of the states of Mississippi, Louisiana, and the Arkansas Territory.up to date since water wells that are clean today may be contaminated next week; and contaminated wells today may be safe next year.  Similarly, it is important to realize that if your well is contaminated, it is possible that those adjacent to yours is contaminated too.  Generally, water wells within cities are likely contaminated with any number of lawn and garden, industrial or other chemicals and not fit for human or animal consumption.

Another thing important is to recognize what a water well looks like.  They are not all like the picturesque open top well, nor are they marked with rustic hand-pump wells.  Some have signs on them that read “city of $%^ pumping station” or “city of $%^ well”.  Some wells, particularly those in colder regions use submersible pumps and therefore may not have a cap visible from a distance.  Instead they are  capped with a slab of concrete or some other structure to keep people from falling inside.  In warmer climates, often there is a tank visible next to the well.  Many people decorate these with cute fake wells. Taking note of where these wells are could be important.  

One easy way to keep your map up to date is to laminate a map and use dry erase markers to make notations and changes.  Label the wells with the notations about the type of of contamination and what is required to make the water potable.  When the time comes that you need to take your water map with you, simply snap a picture of it with your tablet or cell phone, then when time permits, can use your photo to transfer it to a permanent map.  

Here are two links to get you started:

http://watersgeo.epa.gov/mwm/

http://www.epa.gov/region6/water/npdes/