Sunday, August 31, 2008

Something to Sing About...

The look on Charlie Gibson's face during his news tease Friday nite was priceless. Anger, confusion, bitterness, consternation, dismay, all were clearly visible in the ten second tease about Sarah Palin's selection as John McCain's VP running mate. I loved it! And to look at George Stephanopoulis' expressions was even more enjoyable.

It was clear these two 'stalwarts' of the ABC news team were as taken back by John McCain's announcement as any- probably even Mrs. Palin, our new and first woman VP Elect. (Of course, no one can tell who I'm voting for after reading this.)

Neither of these men seemed able to comprehend how their (the press') so carefully laid plans could so quickly be overturned. This momentous occasion gave Gibson, the press et-al, and especially Barack Hussein Obama, a true Master's Class in how to play Political Chess.

And to listen to Sarah Palin's acceptance address was to listen to a real American Lady, one unafraid to speak her views, let her position be known- especially to those we know will oppose her to the bitter end. To listen to her soaring rhetoric, her clear, unstammering speech, her praise of the military, her party and it's current star was joy to the ears. To hear her boldly announce her son would soon be in harm's way, to learn of her youngest child's syndrome, her family's achievements and activities, filled my heart with pride in knowing she will soon be representing me, and all Americans, in the White House. To know we will have an honest American in a position to actually help America created a flutter in my heart and the thought came to me: It's about time! (Now, I'm no on-camera reporter, and didn't get a 'tingle up my leg' or 'a chill down my spine' as I listened, but I did get a swelling in my heart to know that, perhaps- just maybe- my country hasn't forgotten what it's like to "be American".

Not once did she utter any phrase or word that stung of dis-enchantment with America, of not loving and being proud of her nation. Of course, an extremely bitter pill for Michelle Obama, who for certain was watching from her less than ostentatious home and wishing at every moment for some dastardly event to unfold, for some calamitous happening to befall Sarah Palin. I'm certain B. Hussein lit up half a pack of smokes when he saw a truly honest American Lady (wearing a skirt, of all things!) march boldly, confidently onto the stage as she was announced by Senator McCain.

Ladies and Gentlemen of America- we quite possibly do now have an opportunity to let our voices be heard in the hallowed corridors of the building we call the White House.

Let us pray this be in God's perfect Will for America- that we can at last get back onto an even keel. That finally special interest groups and minority voices will no longer make the rules and laws for this country. That the Supreme Court will now understand its position is to enforce, not legislate, from its exalted bench. That life will once again be sanctified, upheld and honored rather than destroyed. That our borders will be made safe, our homes be protected, their owners allowed to protect themselves and loved ones. Perhaps now God will smile benevolently upon this nation again and we can hold our heads high, not feeling the weight of accusation, the burden of self-loathing the environmentalist faction lays upon our heads daily.

Perhaps now the world will again see what truly great things America can accomplish.

Oh- and Charley Gibson? Well, it certainly didn't take him long to begin his barrage of negative comments. But then, what can we expect from communists?

'Nuff said for now.

God Bless America.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Seasonal Preps...

First, I want to give "Thank you's" to all who've been reading my not- always-so-humble Blog. I deeply appreciate your comments, am spurred on by them to do more and better. So, "Thank you, all you Loyal Readers." To you who are new here as well, Thank you.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas every where I go... well, if not Christmas, at least harvest time. Yesterday I took the pooch for a run and we spent some time checking the quality and ripeness of some rice in the local lakes. Not quite ready- another week or two, if we get some decently warm, sunny days. I was not the only one checking conditions, I discovered as we meandered around taking a few pix. Other locals were doing the same, so it's going to be a race of sorts to be the first in, get while the best is available and not have to struggle for the second harvest.
As you can see from the pic, there's a lot of green rice yet, and some that is ripening. By the time it's mostly brown and more firm, it'll be ready for harvest.
In the meantime, there is more to do to get myself ready for the season. The duckbill could use a new handle- so I may find a ten- or twelve-foot pine and whittle a new one. Also, a couple of beater sticks need making so I'd better get to that. I'm going to try using my brother's 12 foot canoe rather than my 17- a bit easier on the back, though it feels much better on these cools days. Until I begin shivering, anyway, then it's back to the pain pills. The tub I was using to parch kind of got used for other things, so a new one will have to be made as well.
Simple tools, to be sure, but definitely a labor-intensive job, yet so worth it: the license to harvest is $25 for the season, and in a couple of canoe loads a worthy winter supply can be had. On the open market, hundred of dollars worth. Too, the rice can be packaged and sold, easily going for $8 to $10 a pound. Too much work to sell, tough, considering what it is: excellent food, high fiber and protein but little carbs yet wonderful in soups, casseroles and mixed with ground meats, or by itself as a side dish. Too, it can be popped like corn for evening snacks, or any time. It's especially good in duck...but don't tell my better half about the duck...(wink).
One of my neighbor friends was over a few days ago and we talked about netting whitefish this year. He's not really 'into' the idea but he sure does like his smoked fish, and whitefish are some excellent fish for smoking. Brine them a few days in a salt mixture, run them through the smoker for 24 hours and you'll have a tasty, nutritious treat or meal.
He's in the bush a lot more than I and hasn't noticed much in the way of nuts this year- what we locally call filberts and some call hazelnuts. Not that I'm going after the nuts, but one of my aunt's loves them and will send her kids to pick them (be careful: they're covered with little spines and itch for days, so wear gloves) and she'll spend hours and hours toasting them in her oven. Of course, they always taste wonderful around Christmas time.
My last couple weeks have been spent mostly getting some work done on the house, insuring some winterizing is done before it gets cold, for a change. (It's great to have a shopful of tools and supply of wood so manufacturing needed items, like trim, is easily accomplished. Beats going to town and paying factory prices and always more fun making things myself, anyway.
Thus endeth today's sermon. More to follow on ricing as the season progresses. All these preps better get moving, though: there's color in the trees and the grasses are brown already. Winter ain't far behind.
Enjoy, keep your powder dry, your compass oriented-

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Preparing for Snow...

If there's a two-inch or more snowfall, you can bet I'll be out on the skis, having a blast scooting up and down hills, panting my lungs out from the exertion of the first winter workout.

As the season progresses, I'll be in better shape, and when there's enough snow, ready to take on the winter in more exciting ways.

Two of those are skis and snowshoes- each with distinct advantages and disadvantages for people interested in traveling over snow with the utmost ease. (We won't discuss snowmobiles here- tho my interest in them is pretty limited. I've owned several but always manage to end up on skis and 'shoes.)

Pictured are my snowshoes- nearly five feet long,and my all maple skis- the kind our esteemed Uncle used to issue his troops in Alaska and such places. (They're solid wood and need spacers to maintain the 'camber' over a hot, steamy summer, hence the blocks between them.) These skis are solid bottom, need tarring and waxing to get the most benefit from. I've used them for years- my first real introduction to cross country skiing came through these, but they are heavy and not very forgiving on moguls (bumps in the trail), but they are tough-tough.

Pictured here are my son's 'waxless' skis. Note the scale-y base. Made to not need waxes to perform properly, they're quick, light and agile. However, better performance can be had by putting an appropriate wax on them. (Left of the blue bases are a ski pole and the base of my maple ski- the black is caused by the tar application. Tape is wrapped around the bamboo pole to aid in preventing splits/cracks, several coats of varnish help as well.)

A word about waxes (for those uninitiated to skiing): wax is formulated for differing snow/air temperatures and conditions. (The purpose of wax is to give a somewhat better 'grip' on the snow- and it is very noticeable the first time the wrong wax is used.) Blue, a soft wax, is used for damp, soft snow conditions such as early winter/fall and spring conditions. For 'warm' cold snow/air temps- e.g. 10 degrees above to zero, a green or purple, sometimes red, can be used. For extremely cold- ten below and colder, I and many others, like to apply paraffin wax: it's really hard, grips those sharp cold crystals extremely well and is lots cheaper than 'ski' waxes.

Bindings on your skis is going to make a difference in your footwear. Pictured are the 75mm 'Nordic Norm' bindings that were once de-rigguer for cross country skis. Today, bindings can be found as narrow as 25mm for racing kick-skiing- what you'll see on the Olympic skiers and other racers. However, for our purposes- SHTF scenarios, we want to do away with those fragile little bindings, and, if possible, the ski boots as well.

What we're going to want for SHTF is a boot and binding that will serve multiple purposes and that excludes the sporty, colorful, narrow, low-topped ski boot racers and casual tourers use. In my estimation, the least acceptable is the 75mm Nordic Norm, anything less is a waste of our time, talent, money and possibly our lives. Ideally we would have the oldest bindings available: cable bindings. These are 'production versions of the oldest made- leather strings. A cable binding is just that: a cable with an adjustable clamp that will bond foot to ski yet 'break away' easily in emergencies- such as falls or tumbles and you want the ski to get off the foot fast to prevent broken bones, twisted ankles and ruined knees. (A fast word or two about technique: don't worry about yours. The more you do it, the better it gets. Think 'long loping stride' as you ski, pause on each foot as it goes forward before 'kicking' the back foot forward. Swing arms alternately as in walking, and really dig those poles in to get a burst of forward thrust as you kick. Ideally, you'll learn to ski without poles, then add them for increased power/speed/control as your ability increases. And don't be afraid to fall- even Olympians fall, nothing new there- we people have been falling for thousands of years. Usually on our noses, too.)

Back to bindings...I think the wine makes me digress...brb, getting another glass... oh, yes- bindings., rather. I can't find my cable bindings (put ugly crying face here) so I've got to tear the shop apart to get pix. Nor did I get shots of my (smelly) boots (more ugly crying face) so words will have to suffice. The boots we're looking at will be similar to six or eight-inch topped hiking boots. The next time you're shopping, look at the hiking boots you see: if they're 'genuine' mountain type of boots (read: real honest hiking boots) they'll have a groove cut around the heel about 1/4 inch wide and deep. Also the toe area will have slight slots or notches along both outside/inside edges. These are a throwback to the age when men and women actually did such things as adventures and used skis in winter. They're put there for cable bindings. And they work exceedingly well. More direct and use-specific are the real ski boots with both cable and pin (clamp) binding marks. I opt for these in my 'normal' skiing: boots about six inches high and a 'gaiter' on over them. (A 'gaiter' is a sleeve that fits over your calf area, is waterproof material, aids in keeping leg cramps away as well as snow off the leg and out of the boot, keeping the lower leg and feet dry. Therefore, gaiters are valuable life-saving devices.)

Ski poles make great walking sticks! It used to be the length of a person's pole was measured from the armpit to the ground. Times change, however- now the fad is to get as long as you can handle. My preference is armpit cuz I'm used to it. 'Nuff said. I also prefer bamboo- I've been using the same pair of poles thirty or more years and have yet to break one. My son uses aluminum and has broken several pair. Of course, it can be said he is a more 'enthusiastic' skier than I. Still, I've tumbled down hills, straddled trees (honestly- just like the cartoons) and used them in summer as walking sticks and they are still serviceable. However- I do have a back-up pair. Soon as I bought them, I wrapped five loops of electrical tape between each joint- very tightly- and put three coats of varnish on them. Note the poles across my 'shoes. They are great for balance and pushing brush aside or banging snow off branches before ducking under them.

Onward and ahead to snowshoes now. Notice in the first picture how long the 'shoes are. My skis are 6'11". Those are long snowshoes and thus for a reason: better travel on deep snow.

All things being equal, a ski will sink deeper into the same snow than a good 'shoe and thereby make travel more difficult. Unless you're wearing those small 'bear paw' or 'Sherpa' type 'shoes. Those are made most for hard-packed snow, emergencies and 'gentle recreational' snowshoeing. Oh, they have their purpose in extremely thick brush as well- but that's not much of an advantage over a larger, longer 'shoe. The biggest, and worst, disadvantage of snowshoes is the snow temperature. Early fall and late spring snows are a curse to snowshoeing because it is 'wet' or 'damp' snow. That kind of snow clings and builds under the 'shoe, adding tons and more tons of weight and will burn anyone out fast. (In this kind of snow, nothing beats a ski. Nothing.)

Between the Sherpa and my style is a mid-range known locally as a 'Michigan' or 'trapper' snowshoe. These are more wide than bear paw or my 'Alaskan' type and a bit more difficult to walk in due to needing a wider stance. Their weight holding ability is close to the Alaskan type and far above the bear paw.

The bindings on my 'shoes are nylon webbing, which replaced the green leather bindings after some mice discovered how wonderful that un-tanned leather tastes. I'm not really 'fond' of these bindings, but they do work. I've long been considering finding a truck inner tube and cutting my own bindings but haven't got the ambition yet. Friends of mine have such (rubber-tube) bindings on their 'shoes and swear by them when I'm usually swearing at mine. (I'll post pics in a future episode.)

In my experience, a snowshoe wearer can carry a heavier load than a skier- but not as quickly. Too, snowshoes take a bit of practice and muscle strengthening that will only come from using them, ditto with skis. As to pulling toboggans with loads and using skis or snowshoes- the choice is yours, though I'd opt for the 'shoes if the snow conditions were perfect for them.

In conclusion: let's think now, while we still have opportunity, about what/how we're going to use as traveling techniques in a grid-down, full SHTF situation. Most likely, 'shoes and skis can be had now at summer prices. After the first snow-fall? Sky's the limit, is my guess. Good snowshoes have always been expensive due to the labor intensive construction- and rightly so, IMO. Shy away from those nylon-webbed critters, or worse yet, those pseudo-leather stitched shoes: they'll fall apart first time out. Always go for a genuine leather stitched 'shoe. Bindings are a different matter: a 'shoe generally comes with a green colored un-tanned leather binding, and they work. They're traditional and time-tested, but sometimes there are better eggs in the basket. That decision I'll leave to the user.

One final word: yes, I know it's still August and first snow is hopefully a long way off. But we have to consider these things before we need them or we're very likely SOL.

Keep your powder dry, your compass in hand, and an MRE in your pants.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Ennui is atrocious

Ennui is a terrible thing I don't handle well...

So, to battle the effects of a rainy day in which I'd originally been finishing out a window on the shack, I grabbed the camera and had a little fun. Please pardon the errors in grammar and spelling- schoolin' never was much fun when I'd much rather'd been scoutin' around the woods after birds or trying to decide where the deer stand should go.

If your 'puter picture is the size of mine, you may need to left click the picture to read the words. Not sure anyone's going to be impressed, but I tried.
Plus, taking the shot got me thinking about the tools we are collecting, about how much we 'should' spend on them. (Not that I have any business tellin' people how to spend their money.) The cup, canteen and pack, the attachments to it and its contents are very indicative of the quality of the gear. When first purchased, money was tight, being fresh from the Army, but the head was pretty much screwed on tightly. (Then. Dunno about now.) The gear was bought from a reputable dealer- I'd known him and done business with him since my high school days. Still, it was expensive but I knew my life was going to depend on what I bought so I bought well. Nearly all the items bought those days are still in use, still serviceable and have many more miles remaining. Probably many more than my old body has, but that's good. Someone else, hopefully my son, will be able to derive as much joy and service from using the gear as I did.
And when TSHTF, as we know it's going to very soon, it will be invaluable since I've used it nearly forty years, know its quirks and shortcomings, and there are very few. Each piece of gear fits like a glove, is an Old Friend- and we know Old Friends are Best friends.
Anyway, my simple thought for the day. God bless, keep your powder dry and your chickens in a row.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Toss'n 'n turnin'

"Dear Bessie;" the letter begins, typed the old-fashioned way on a spooled-tape typewriter...

"...I do remember you, but you were not very big then. But I sure do remember Albert and Irene. They were the best neighbors we ever had.

"I remember one winter day when I was sick with the flu. We heard a noise outside and there was Albert with his team and sleigh, unloading wood outside the door. They were that kind of people.

"...Albert and I had been helping the county build roads and just got paid off. No work in sight for the winter, so we decided to buy our winter's groceries. I asked the biggest store in town, 'Do we get a discount on large orders, such as 740 pounds of flour, 200 pounds sugar, 120 pounds of lard?' and they said, 'Sure.'

So Albert got 500 pounds of flour and 100 pounds of sugar and the rest accordingly.

"We did cut cord wood that winter . But in the spring a friend of Albert's talked him into charging a couple truckloads of wood, and never paid for it.

"The next fall we were going to town in the pickup. No cab, no top, just a windshield, so we each had a big overcoat on and were huddled up to the windshield.

"Albert said, 'I think that's Gilbert's truck coming. Let's stop and done him for what he owes.' I said, 'Okay, let me do the talking. Just back me up.' We stopped and so did Gilbert, and I told him, 'We stopped to collect what you owe us,' and I took my overcoat off and tossed it into the pickup seat. Albert ripped his big coat off and just threw it at the pickup and said, 'You're @^$(&##^&) right we are going to collect it.' And Gilbert said, 'I've got it along today. Here it is,' and paid us.

"Albert was a good man to work with.... Sincerely, Cliff Miller"

(Taken from a letter written by an old-tyme game warden to my Aunt Bessie while she was researching the family history.)

There's been quite a bit of speculation as to what's coming down the pike for us these days- or those in the not-so-distant future. Back in the 70's when my mind first began formulating real live thoughts about surviving anything, I'd gladly have gone back to 1872 or '80. I was young and dumb then, fresh from a four year stint in the Army, cock-full of myself and more full of piss and vinegar than I had any right to.

That kind of thinking even followed me into the 80's and middle age. Then reality of family set in and the thinking had to change- or I had to grow up, whichever the case was.

Now I am more convinced than ever what will happen is more akin to what my Grandfather and his friends went through during the depression- which lasted well into the 1950's up here. Not that my memory is 100% correct, but I recall fairly extensive unemployment up here even into the early 60's. Several uncles, friend's fathers and uncles and older brothers, all getting government jobs to work in Greenland building airbases and such. "Commodities" (government procured-provided-disbursed food stuffs, fore-runner of what are called "food stamps" today) were common in everyone's homes, it seemed. Probably just those I went to, though- people whose families were in the same straights as mine, since we tend to befriend like minded people.

My more settled mind now conjures images of people from all walks doing whatever it is we can to provide for our families and friends. It's going to take a network of friends and family, for sure. Working together, we'll keep each other sane in the coming insane world. And, again IMNASHO, until we are truly in the "last days" and when nation has risen against nation, when our own children have risen up against us and give us up to death (Mark ch 13), we will be living in the age of wars and rumors of wars, of earthquakes and famines. It is during these early days when our hearts will be tried, our faith tested, our love/charity observed by the One Who Is In Control.

So keep the Faith, Kids. Don't be fooled into thinking it's going to be easy, either. If it was gonna be easy, where'd the fun be? Where the challenge? If it was going to be easy, we'd have been told that, but we weren't. So let's cowboy-up, gird our loins and tackle the beast together.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Talkin' about survival

When it comes to surviving, I think all of us could take a page from the lives of past survivors...

Okay- chuckling a bit here...not really talking about survival in "our" sense of the word. Just that I've kind'a changed the format of the blog a bit and have to go back a bit to the 'old' format and show a slice "of America as I see it" today.

Our annual "Back to the Sixties" nite was this weekend and I had to get out of the house with the camera, play a little and visit some old friends. Above, notice the emblem from the 1946 Lincoln. They don't make ;em like that any more. So some things sure don't survive. Also, the Indian is gone, though I've heard they're making a come-back.

Of course, we all know how well those old Ford pickups did in the Roaring Twenties- most excellent vehicles for hauling the moonshine around from dealer to buyer, even some customers. This particular one has a few bullet holes as reminders how hairy that kind of employment can get. Still- how many are going to be using their SHTF lifestyle to be making runs for...ahem...stop at my place first. The Memorial, a scene on the Post 411 Deer River, MN, VFW Harley. Let us never forget- God, guns and guts made us free and will continue to do so as long as we do our part.

And of course, what's a sweet ride without a sweet seat cover? Can't make her out too well- I was trying to be creative and only mildly succeeded- but the ride sez it all.
If anyone out here in reader land wants to help a sweet young lady please her 'old man'... can send her a few bucks to aide her in purchasing the newest toy she promised me for my birthday. Seat cover won't be included but wouldn't hurt since once she sees how expensive I am to board and feed, she's gonna divorce me for someone younger...much younger.


So there it is, folks- just a brief excursion into the world around us. The evening and day were fun, for sure, and I do get a lot of enjoyment getting into the thick of things to get the shot I want. Actually, I think it's kind of funny when I see all the cameras on the side lines, snapping away and coming back with the same shots they had from the last parade they attended, not thinking that in this kind of situation, they need to be bold, unafraid to get into the thick of things, get their feet wet- or run over- to get the shot they really want. (I was laying on the street to get this shot of "my" car. (Doggone sun was still too bright, though, and washed out my flash, even. Shucks.)
Enjoy, Everyone- keep the Faith.


Thursday, August 14, 2008


"...Seeking a 'survival' group or person in need of aging fisherman and hunter- no heavy work required...."

Egads, it seems like just plain old surviving is gonna be work for a young person, all we 'old farts' need not apply.

Regardless that probably 90% of surviving is between the ears, it still seems like a good nite for me to whine a little (especially since I feel like whining). Okay- have to admit I enjoy surviving, really love learning all the 'ins-and-outs of the game', thinking things through and even the 'doing' aspect. But today seems to have been one of those days when asking myself the ultimate question, "Why?", popped into my head about every fifteen minutes. And in all honesty, I really, absolutely have no real, honest, 100% true answer even after a whole, and I mean 'whole', lifetime practicing, learning, studying and practicing more.

"Back in the day" (whatever that means) my ideas were attuned to living in the wild, away from all things human. Not that I don't like people- I love them. It's just that a steady diet of people can be ...well, a drag. Also, I think deep in my psyche is a lone-wolf mentality wherein I really have a difficult time trusting people with things important to me. Like my hide. So my study/learning/training bent in that direction. How to survive with only a knife. Well, that's a good concept, but if you need a knife to begin with, you just may not survive. So lots of time was spent learning to do without. Many canoe trips were spent in hungry, cold, miserable camps and those trips were never enjoyed. All in the head. And my head, though in the game, wasn't all there, I guess. But I learned just the same. Especially learned I want and need a knife, at least, so the collection has grown considerably since those halcyon (or foolish) days. A minimum of two blades on my person every waking moment and not far away during sleep.

Of course, the inevitable happened.

I grew up. Or just got older. One or the other. Now I want the recliner and cold beer, even some company to while away the hours in doing nothing profitable.

So again my thoughts turn to the question, "Why?" and I have to say there is an honest answer here. "To make things more simple."

Having one, or more, persons to aid and abet is a lot easier o aching old bones and tired old muscles. Especially when I look at that ten-cord pile of wood and know I still have to cut it to length and split and stack it. "Gosh," I think, "I'm going to be a week at this!" Then realize, maybe even longer. This coming winter's supply is in, done and ready for the furnace. This will be for next year and some of the next. Still, it'd sure be great to have someone to stack while I cut and split. Or cut and split while I stack. Or cut while I split and stack. Or to split and stack while I cut.

You get the idea.

So here is the whining, got it of my chest and know that tonight I'm going to get a good night's sleep and tomorrow will be a brighter day. (Uh-huh...sleep, all that ever happens.) Still, tomorrow will be brighter and the work will get done. Cutting, splitting, stacking, digging, pruning, picking, canning, fishing...mmmmm...someone say 'fishing'?... the boat's ready (put BIG smile here).

Oh, just to be totally honest: today was a day to suffer the after-effects of having just a little too much wine last nite. A big little too much. Still, the work had to get done. And, damn, is it hard to do that when the body just has no desire.

Lesson learned? Ummm...don't get so much wood at one time.

Blessings- Shy III

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

OOPSIE- September's HERE!

Regardless where you live in this country, there will be a point in time when you need some heat in the house.
And regardless what Nancy Pelosi, Barack Hussein Obama and the Sierra Club tell us, there won't be many homes heated with solar energy, geo-thermal or wind power- neither is feasible for the average John Q. If your income is hundreds of thousands a year and you're building new, yes, it's a good idea to include at least one of those sources into the plan. But in an older home, on an income under hundreds of thousands and a life-expectancy long enough to pay it off? Doubtful to say the least.
And that brings us to the current energy situation in this country.
Fuel prices are sky-rocketing, if I can believe what my siblings and friends are telling me, as well as my own wallet. For me, and for quite a few living in rural areas, the best alternative is wood heat.
Living in northern Minnesota, winters can get damn nasty at times, and last winter was mild, very few days of twenty below and high winds. But that was unusual. Still, it was a colder than average winter due to its time span. The winter before last, 2005, was cold for weeks on end at twenty below. In February 1998 we set a record of sixty below- this is our springtime. My point being, cold is something we deal with on an annual basis and are prepared for. But this preparation takes place all year long, especially for those who heat with wood.
In it's most simplest form, such as seventy years or more ago, heating with wood required few tools: a saw of some sort and an axe. Grampa used a bowsaw for a lot of his firewood cutting. (Well, we kids did- Grampa was the kind to teach by doing, not telling.) So we had arms developed during summer months by felling trees, making hay, splitting wood, making hay...unending in its rhythm. For relief, we got to go fishing or work in the garden. But, again, I digress from the topic.

There are basically two kinds of axes- single and double bit. Both have handles near the same length and weights that are comparable. So, intrinsically, there is little difference between them but one having a sharp blade in case of nicks/dulling. Quite often, especially in movies, we see people using an axe to split wood. If they do, that axe more than likely is not one used for chopping because the blade is purposely flattened. In splitting wood, the object is to follow the grain to split, not make a fresh cut. There are splitting mauls on the market that vary in weight from six to 18 pounds weight. These have rounded 'blades' that split rather than cut, and the weight is extremely useful in driving force necessary to split many kinds of wood. The biggest drawback to these 'monster mauls' is the manpower requirement. Boys and children need not apply cuz they just don't have the beef required, so the best bet is something between six and eight pounds. IMNASHO (InMyNotAlwaysSoHumbleOpinion) the six pound maul is the best bet for anyone under 16 years since their muscle development can handle that weight fairly easily and even better as muscle is gained. My son, now 17, likes the maul, but recently visited a friend who was using a double bit axe to split his wood, and now he has to use a double bit. (It's in the first picture. Oh- about the pictures: notice the tape wrapping: beneath that is wound three layers of tie-wire, sometimes called 'form wire', to act as a cushion for the handle. Unless you want to replace handles often. It works, but only so long before needing replacing. Too, on the single bit pictured, you can see where the head is splayed/flattened: it's been used as a wedge on large, stubborn pieces of wood and had a sledge hammer applied as encouragement.)
Best of all worlds, though, is the gas operated splitter. The new one, pictured, is a replacement for the home-made rig that served well many years but was constantly breaking down, needing new parts or just being temperamental. This is operated by a five horse Honda (I know- buy American...sorry, but it was the best design in splitters and came with the Honda) and has 20 ton splitting capacity, which means it barely revs no matter what kind of wood I put on it.
Speaking of wood: 'quality' firewood is based on the heat capacity put out. Oak is high in heat, as are ash, birch, maple, and tamarack (extremely hot burning). To a lesser degree, aspen/cottonwood/balm of Gilead are light-weight heat producers but adequate even up here though expect some chilly nights when the thermometer drops way below zero. Tamarack, AKA larch, is an extremely hot burner- use it only in stoves in excellent condition, then sleep with both eyes open. (Wood burners usually sleep with only one eye open, even if they do have fire alarms and extinguishers.)
For gathering your wood, lots of tools are not 'mandatory', but do make the job a lot more simple and easy, albeit not always quite so safe. Whenever you're dropping a tree, there is extreme danger of injury to anyone within shouting distance. (Ever hear a logger yell "TIMBER"? there's a reason for it.) Rule number one is never log alone. Well...ahem...don't be pointing fingers, OK? Oh, yes- tools. Sorry.
For myself and most people I know who roll their own, the tools are simple: 4WD truck to get there, load and haul back; a chainsaw (I have two, one old, one newer and a newer one yet coming), you can see the Husky in the picture (I like Huskvarnas cuz they have a 'mellow' sound compared to most, and Poulon for the same reason- and they have power, but Jensrud and Stihl are good brands as well...loggers tend to shy away from Macs and Home-alots, though). A length of chain somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 feet is usually adequate up here, but sometimes more is needed, so another 25 feet of 3/8 inch chain is carried as well, used for 'skidding' logs to a landing area for blocking and loading. For manhandling the wood both on the ground and in the truck, and at the yard/home area, a 'pickaroon' is a very handy tool. (It's the green handled bird-beak thing on the log with the saw.) It's used by chucking into the wood and dragging or lifting or rolling the piece- I really like using it to lift pieces off the ground to get chains under or to make a cut and keep the chain clear of the dirt/rocks/whatever underneath. Some people may opt for such tools as 'can't hooks', but for firewood they're rather extravagant- they're best used in building and big-timber jobs when a log needs rolling over. For firewood, a huge expensive tool little used. Too, a 'peavey' is a tool unnecessary in the woodyard, but some people just like tools, so go with your heart's content.
One word (sure, like I can stick to that!) about saws...if you are buying new, check for vibration dampening handles, some even come with hand-warmer handles (for a reason you'll see in a minute). For situations as we're thinking (SHTF), that saw will be getting lots of use and carpal tunnel is something no one needs, so go with dampening every time, and always wear gloves as well. Okay- safety gear: if you're smart, you'll wear Kevlar chaps or pants- mine are pants made by Husky- which will stop a saw chain right NOW if it hits your leg/thigh/calf area. I was teaching a class for loggers one year and the chaps saved a student's leg, though he immediately quit the course and took up a safer hobby like sky diving. Otherwise, that's the only time I've seen them used, but it was well worth $45 to the student. Not to mention the school. Feel sorry for the Dr's, though- they lost out. NOT! Additional safety gear, which I do not use but should, is a helmet with screen visor and earmuffs. You can find these made by Husky, Jonsred and others. Again, stick with name-brands: you get whatcha pay for. As mentioned, gloves are important for several reasons. Protection being first, then vibration, then cold.
Some old time loggers laughed when Husky came out with its hand-warmer handle. Then they used it. The 'normal' time of year for firewood gathering is winter- when the sap is down, the wood has less moisture content and dries faster; plus it's the cold season and there isn't a lot of farming going on. Also, wood splits soooo much more easily when it's frozen. Another benefit is snow on the ground keeps a lot of dirt out of the wood- dirt that will dull blades, end up in the stove and cause nothing but added work.
And one thing no one will need in the coming SHTF scenario is added work- so use the KISS principle: think the job through like a lazy person: do it the easiest and fastest way possible while preventing injuries. And always always always pay attention to where that axe or saw blade is- you're going to hurt yourself badly if your head isn't in the game but off somewhere wishing you was fishing or that it was 1998 again. Or in my case, 1898. Hmmm...I think if TSHTF, we'll all be in 1898...
Be safe, people- the life you endanger could be one you love.
Oh, yes- if anyone needs pictures of more equipment, leave a note, I'll post them.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Inflation Woes

AUGH! is all I can say, I reckon- and just bite the bullet, pay the bill and keep on living.

Sure am glad I'm living in the bush where I don't have to make a trip to town every day or I'd be worse than broke- I'd be outta money, too!

Okay, here's the scoop: had a lunch date with Mom cuz she hadn't seen me for nearly a week, so I made up a shopping list, hopped in the wagon and drove to her place, picked her up and we went to the Niece's for lunch. Good deal there. Had all I can eat, Mom filled up on her fries and gravy and chicken strip, a few cups of coffee and conversation later and I took her home, went about filling my shopping list.

Since cooler weather is coming and my last trip I'd bought a pair of canvas pants for $20 from the local dealer, I figured I'd buy some sox and a couple sets of long-jons and hankies, some T-shirts and top it off with a box of ammo and go home.

To whit, the shopping list:

Sock, two pack acrylic/marino...2 @ 9.99 = 19.98

T-shirt, two pack blk w/pkt...1@ 6.29 = 6.29

Discpolypropylene bottom blk 1@ 1.00 = 1.00

DiscUndrshrt Super Jon 1@ 2.00 = 2.00

bandanalghtass't 4ea @ 1.09 = 4.36

bandanared 22" 1 @ 1.09 = 1.09

bandanablue 22" 1@ 1.09 = 1.09

Socwhtetube 7pk 1@ 10.99 = 10.99

Socwhteqtr 7pk 1@ 10.99 = 10.99

Moccasinflcemen 1@ 16.99 = 16.99

STnoTx 75.87

Ammunition30-06Fed20rd 1@ 15.99 = 15.99tx

. 17

total 92.03

I almost flipped my wig and blew out my teeth as I choked on that cost. A hundred dollar bill for 12 items that didn't fill the shopping bag they were loaded into. It's a good thing I wasn't buying any Canadian Club today or I'd have had to return the sox, or maybe the long-jons, since I have several pair of those already.

I am beginning to wonder anew how people are going to survive the coming costs of preparations if they have not already begun or are just in the midst of it. Ammo has risen two bucks a box in the last few weeks except the Feds I use for the 30-06. Even the lowly little ole .22 has risen almost half its original prices. Something scary is happening on the market level, I'm afraid. Cost of doing business has risen dramatically for sure. The local nickel-dime stores have shelves going empty and aisles that are devoid of mortals acting as customers. Food costs seem to have stabilized in the last couple weeks. Or, rather, coffee hasn't jumped another dollar a can, but the size has gone from 39 ounces to 32 ounces per can- same size can, tho.

So those folks on the lower end of the pay spectrum are really going to be hurting by fall if they aren't into dire straits already. Talking with my sisters, who manage Mom's accounts, and they told me her gas was fixed at $2.89 a gallon cuz she's on a pre-pay plan. But theirs had risen drastically compared to last year. At this time they were afraid the price was going to be more than $4 a gallon for Liquid Propane (LP), and their husbands were expecting even more. My brother, who heats with oil, sat at the table and cried about how he wasn't going to be eating this winter if he wanted to heat his house. Of course, on the money he's getting from his mine pension I can believe it. Still, he's getting more than my retirement's giving me. The big difference is that I'm a country bumpkin and use wood most of the winter and my cutting permit costs $25 from the state. If I'm gone from the house a few days, LP kicks in, but that doesn't happen often.

Well, if push comes to shove and he needs a place to stay, he can visit one of his kids, I imagine. Not that anyone else is better off than another.

I remember well the late 50's when going to someones house for dinner and having potatoes was a real treat when we'd been eating macaroni for a month. Or getting an actual piece of meat rather than ground venison left-overs. It's a good thing that back in those days all the men hunted and a few trapped, and we all fished. Once we got old enough, we kids learned and did the hunting as well. And Grandma was never afraid to send one of us kids out to collect dandelion greens while another went to gather blue berries or June berries or raspberries while another'd be in the garden digging out some spuds, maybe even getting to shuck a few ears of corn.

The times, they are a-changing, all right. Coming full circle in all honesty. From the earth we first survived, from the earth we will continue to survive. Some, anyway- many won't make it. And there will be those who rob and steal, kill and destroy just to have a meal, and many who'll die trying to do their nasty deeds.

The United States of America is the absolute most giving, generous country on the planet. We Americans give more to charities and impoverished areas, disaster-destroyed nations than the whole world gives combined. We have done it time and again, regardless how much the UN (damn! get us OUT of there!) says we are to give, we give more. And we volunteer to give, not because we have to. Those days are coming to an end, I think. There is coming a time when what we give will be to those right at our doorstep, not halfway around the globe. Sad to say, but one day soon the rest of the world is going to have to starve or grow on its own merits, not American assets, and I don't care what Barack Hussein Obama tells me: I am my brother's keeper, I will help him willingly and gladly. But I do not have to help someone who wants to destroy my country or family or me. The enemy of my country is my enemy, I will not succor him in any way, shape or form. Goodnite , Obama.

Thus endeth this sermon.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

'When lawmakers break the law...'

This tome is dedicated to those who know that when law makers break the law, there is no law.

Not really illegal in MN, bow fishing is an art that has been around centuries, if not more. Actually easy to do, it does require a lot of practice at shooting the bow, a bit of terminal tackle such as bow reel and line, and a fishing arrow. Up here it's usually carp and suckers that are bow-fished, either by standing on shore and waiting to see one swim near enough to hit, by paddling the canoe along a stream with an archer in front, or by wading- usually the coldest and wettest method of all. Not to mention the streams up here have a lot of deep mud for bottoms, so it's the least popular method.
Spearing is also a popular method of fishing during certain seasons in MN. Winter through the ice in a dark house is most common and northern pike are the prey. It's illegal to take other game fish species through spearing, but again- we're trying to survive. Also, sucker spearing in streams is quite common, and will become so again, especially with younger people, boys especially.
Similar to bow fishing, some are fond of taking their .22 rifle or pistol to the shoreline and blasting holes in the water at fish. It does work, and surprisingly well. However, now we've come to the illegal aspect, for MN anyway. Either way, remember that water diffracts (or refracts?) light upon the target, so aim lower than you think you need to or you'll overshoot your target.
A very popular method of illegal fishing up here is the 'trot line' method, whereby a hook is attached to a short line, that tied to a large bobber, and dropped overboard in a likely looking spot and left unattended, very often while fishing another area legally. Usually, three or four, or more, are set out. Before leaving the lake/stream, the 'trot line' is recovered and the catch added to the stringer. Again, these are methods utilized for survival situations- and even then frowned upon by the powers that be. Dang, they're gonna getcha one way or another. Maybe any person who gets lost should just break the law, then the wardens can come drag them to civilization? Sheesh, these un-thinking lawmakers. Morons. But I digress.
Years ago, when people made a living by surviving, the fish trap was a very popular and efficient way to capture a meal. Once made from wood and wire mesh, I'll describe a more easy to build contraption.(Disclaimer: I am not advocating anyone break the law. But survival is survival, use your own common sense and discretion. This is simply a method once used by our ancestors to maintain life.)
Of course, everyone has about a six foot long by three or four foot wide piece of 1/4 inch meshed galvanized steel sheeting laying around the house, so we'll begin to build our trap. (A picture will be provided eventually for everything discussed, just be patient.)
What we want to build is a rectangular box about three feet long by 16 inches square (each side) and completely enclose one end with mesh. The downstream end will require some fancy layout: make a cone shaped piece by cutting a trapezoid shape on your mesh, then rolling this into a cone with the small/narrow end being five or six inches wide. What we want is the cone facing the inside of the wire box with a hole large enough to allow fish to enter, and small enough that they cannot 'find' it when backing out.
In use, a slice of bread for bait is put inside the box, the box is sunk into a stream with the opening facing downstream, weighted with stones or anchored in place with whatever ingenious method the imagination can discover, as well as being tied to a nearby limb or deadhead for easy recovery. Left overnight or for longer periods, the trap will not kill the fish and they can be released if not of adequate size or kind- whichever the survivor seeks. These traps can be made any size- larger streams will accommodate larger traps, but lifting from the water can become a job in itself.
Sometimes known as a DuPont Spinner, a stick of dynamite is not a very good technique for catching edible fish, regardless what you see in movies with Australian heroes. It's only funny, not accurate. Tests have shown that when concussion occurs in fish, only the lighter fish float upward. Larger fish tend to sink to the bottom, or in the case of rivers, get swept away. So we won't include DuPont in our illegal category, just the stupid one.
But we will include nets.
In commercial fishing, there would be no fish if not for nets. Nets are very good at catching fish. They're also very good at killing fish and capturing the wrong kind. However, we're talking survival and the 'wrong kind' of fish here is 'no fish'. During certain stages of the year netting fish is legal in MN: spring runs of smelt and autumn runs of whitefish come to mind. Otherwise, you're on your own.
In a 'grid down' situation, how you catch your meal will be immaterial. However- wise use of the resource will be mandatory. Never ever take more than you need. Conservation of resources will be even more important as time progresses and food supplies dwindle, so don't waste, don't take more than you need and use all you take. Period.
Remember all that salt you're supposed to buy? Get a lot of canning and pickling salts as well because you're going to need them. Pickled fish, if you have the vinegar and spices, is delicious. Smoked fish, if you have the salt to brine them, is delicious. Both will store for long periods of time, come in very handy for snacks and meals. When brining fish, do not use metal containers, especially galvanized kinds. The same goes for your smoker: do not use galvanized steel anywhere. Galvanizing contains zinc and it's deadly, period. Some say the galvanizing can be burned off, but I have my doubts, and when in doubt...don't.
Reminder also: these are illegal tactics in MN, where I live. What your state laws read may be different: just be sure to check them. Any time you break a law, you are liable to prosecution. In MN, sentences for game violations are more harsh than for drug dealers, so be sure to let your conscience be your guide.
God bless, good luck and happy fishing.
Up next: what happens when the water's what you're walking on?
Shy III I dun it...

Here it is midnite and I'm waitin' for the water to turn to coffee, so here I goes again...

I think I had one three many wisky sours tonite. (Yes, I know it's misspelt, but I'm pretendin' to be drunk. Or am I? Hmmm..) But I got to thinking about eating and came up with, "Self- you told 'em how to stack their store bought stuff and that's kinda dumb- you should'a told them how to fish and that way they can feed themselves."

Actually, I think that's a good idea. I will give you some ideas of hunting, as well- some city/urban (or is it urbane?) readers may need some tips. Not that I'm an "expert" hunter-no magazine has ever published any of my hunting stories- but I do manage to get deer, ducks, pheasant, partridge, squirrels and an occasional fox and lotsa fish for the freezer. (We won't talk about the neighborhood feral cats that go to the crows, or the crows, in fact, though they do have a certain 'chicken' flavor.)

Oopsie- sorry: fish is on tonight's menu. Let's get to eating.

Now, I'm a freshwater fisherman, unlike Mayberry who lives on the Gulf Coast- so he can explain how to catch sea bass and mackerel an 'cudas an sharks (when in season). I've only fished the Gulf once and the ten pound sea bass I caught gave my northern fishing gear a run for its money, so I'll shy away from salt water. However...

...Salt water gear will catch land-locked fish as well, and there's nothing wrong with using fresh-water fishing tackle in the ocean. Just expect to lose more fish unless you are really good at "playing" the fish. But I think there will be more people inland fishing than salt water fishing (golly-dang-gee, I wish I'd bought that sailboat a few years ago, I'd be livin on the Gulf...) when it comes time for push-come-to-shove sometime late this year. Many of the techniques used in either kind of fishing will work both areas, as will the hooks and style- with some modifications.

Let's begin with the basis of your equipage, the rod and reel.

For downright mean and low-down-dirty-sneakin-gonna-last-forever rods, I think there is none better than the Shakespeare "Ugly Stick". Toughest rod made ever, and the best rod to buy- in duplicate- for our situation, which is 'legal' fishing. By 'legal' I mean by the rules set forth by natural resources for any area. We'll get to the 'not legal in some areas' stuff in a minute. Ugly Sticks will come in any flavor desired, but for our general purposes, let's go with a 'medium weight' rod, and get two of them as a minimum, or one medium and one heavy-weight. Rods are defined by weight/action, and a medium will handle 99% of any freshwater fishing. (I have no idea what the other 1% is, so don't ask.) With a medium weight rod you'll be able to fish anything that swims in north America, from small Sunnies to monster Musky and even the mighty Steelhead. You will need a medium weight reel as well: a reel that will handle line weights up to fifty pounds, though each reel will have differing line weights on them. One will have from 20+ pounds, the other less than ten pounds. But I'm getting ahead of myself, kind of.

Once we have the rods, we must decide what kind of reel we need.

For 60+ years, the Zebco 303 has been the most reliable spin-casting reel made. Still is, though now made in China, I think, and with many 'plastic' or graphite parts. A simple 'push button' to use, easy to learn reel, it will handle most any fish that will bite your hook. Next is the 'open face' spin cast variety. These have a much better casting ability and will handle lighter lures, I believe, than the Zebco or any reel but a fly-rod (more on them in a minute). This kind of reel has a 'bail' that must be opened in order to cast the line, has the line visible, and is next in line for ease of use but with a slightly higher learning curve than the Zebco or comparable reels. Next in difficulty to master, and my personal favorite, is the 'bait casting' variety. This is the reel Grandpa fished with if he could afford a reel and wasn't a 'purist' fisherman but wanted to feed his family. Bait casting reels have line wound around a spool similar to a thread spool, some sort of level-winding mechanism, and a crank to spin the spool. Tough, reliable, hard to beat due to simplicity of parts, bait casters have been around for generations. There is one in my collection made in 1927, by Shakespseare, that still works fine. These reels are difficult to master but well worth the effort learning them. Also, as a 'trolling' reel, these can't be beat. Last on our list is the fly fishing reel (and rod). Only a string tied to a stick is more simple than a fly rod reel. All mystique aside, using a fly rod is an easy to learn proposition, if you have the time and inclination and want to spend time learning to cast rather than fishing. Honestly- anyone with a bit of patience can learn to fly cast, but for our purposes, fly fishing is not 'where it's at'. Also, IMNASHO (InMyNotAlwaysSoHumbleOpinion), I think most people looking forward to surviving may not be 'dyed in the wool avid' fishermen and be more in need of down and dirty techniques to feed themselves. So we'll forego the complicated and, in Mayberry's words, Keep It Simple, Survivor. Not to mention, as cheap as we can honestly go, though I feel going cheap isn't the best idea in a survival situation. So don't: we're looking for gear that will last years and years. When your gear wears out, you'll be going to string-on-a-stick, then to spear and/or arrow. (We'll get there, eventually.) Get a reel that matches your rod, whichever style suits your fancy: spin, open-face, bait or fly.

Terminal tackle is going to consist of hooks, sinkers and bobbers. Hooks first.

In fresh water fishing there is only one style of hook to use if you want to eat, though other styles have worked well for generations and generations. Technically (and copyrighted by) known as "Tru-Turn" these hooks will seldom 'miss a strike' but set every time. Remember now: we're talking surviving, not sport, and there is a difference. That being said, I have to admit not all my hooks are Tru-Turn. I use a lot of 'heavy metal' for fishing, always have and always will, seldom get 'skunked' on a trip and have lots of fun catching fish. The problem with heavy metal is that hooks easily get lost, snagged or ripped from the line. What we are looking for is hooks that range in size from #2 to #10. Anything smaller than #10 is going to be fly-weight. Number two will hook even monster cats and bring them to the net- but if you're worried about bringing in a forty or more pound cat, get an Ought size and tie it to a rope attached to a bleach bottle. (more on that in a minute.) Get a variety of sizes, dependant upon the area being fished- the smaller the fish, the smaller the hook is a good start. Usually, smaller fish are found closer to shore, though some species of large predator love nearby shoreline for grocery markets. Again, go with your instincts.

Attached to the hook and then the reel, your line is the 'fighting' edge of your tackle. Modern 'super braids' have replaced 'old fashioned' cloth braids in many arenas of fishing. Super braids are even making inroads into the areas once dominated by monofilament lines. I've tried a couple- Spider Wire most recently- and find them to be very very strong. I much prefer them to monofilament lines in my bait caster. However, I do wonder very often about their longevity. To answer this question, I've been using the same Spider Wire since it came out lo those many years ago, on the same reel. I need to have an answer to this, and experience is the best teacher. Still, I also maintain a supply of braided nylon/dacron/cotton blend for all my reels. My line weights are from ten to 25 pound weights, which will handle anything I've caught to date, and some of those northerns and musky are pretty big. Not to say you should not go lighter and heavier- that is the idea: get one of each and take tackle to match the situation. Whichever, the last choice I would have is monofilament lines, good as they are, they don't seem to have to lifespan we are looking for.

So the hook goes on the very end of the line. There are some simple to learn knots for tieing hooks to line- not just your ordinary every-day overhand will do, so spend some time googling for 'fishing knots' and learn them. Above the hook for bait fishing will be the sinker. Once upon a time these were made of lead and simple to find and use. Nowadays (thank you Sierra Club ilk) they are made of nearly any damn thing, and still simple to use but more costly. If you're stuck fishing from shore or close to it and using a worm or some kind of bug attractant, the sinker will be placed somewhere about 12 inches above the hook. Go as light weight as you can get by with to just keep your bait from floating. You're looking to use the weight to get the hook 'out there' and sink it to the fish yet have it be light weight enough to allow the fish to take the bait with minimal note of the hook, line and sinker-bobber combination. For the majority of your fishing, simple to use 'split shot' sinkers will be perfect. If you feel the need for more weight, then 'rubber core' is the next step. Being larger and cigar shaped, these sinkers have a rubber insert around which the line is wound to keep it on the line. My least favorite sinker cuz they tend to fly off, they do the job required for the most part. Going up in style, there are the 'bell' style sinkers with eyelets through which the line is run. These are great little sinkers that come from small to monster size for monster size bait and fish. They work well but aren't as seemingly 'simple' as rubber core. Most simple to use of sinkers is the cigar shaped lead with a hole through its middle for running the line through. They don't get lost by flying off the line or require any fancy knots. Their biggest drawback is how to keep them above the bait and from sliding down the line to the bait.

Hmm...bait. That word gets bandied about a lot these days. or cut bait...however it's spelled, bait is probably the absolute best way to catch fish. It looks like food, tastes like food, feels like food, must be food. Fish are no different than people. Worms are in every fisherman's vocabulary. (Oops, sorry, Ladies: just realized I'm showing a bit of chauvinism here. Well, it can't be helped sometimes. It isn't that I'm a chauvinist pig- I absolutely love women.) I've caught fish on worms, minnows, leeches, corn, chicken guts/livers/skin, flour and oil mixtures, and fish roe (eggs), so bait can be almost anything. Corn is a favorite in this area for trout and steelhead. Worms work wonders for those with empty stomachs and a need for catching dinner. Probably more worms are drowned each year going after fish than an other bait available, so don't be afraid to use them. Also, don't be averse to using those creepy-crawly things you find after turning over a log or pile of leaves in the yard. As kids, when Grandpa told us to head for the garden, we always knew at the end of the gardening was a fishing trip, so we always collected the worms we found. Nite crawlers are just big worms and best caught after a rain, or by sprinkling the yard and hammering on a board and watching them crawl out of the grass, or at night with a flashlight when the ground is dew-covered.

And me-oh-my...this is getting long-winded, so perhaps we'll close tonight and get to the 'illegal' fishing methods tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then on the next page...good luck, happy fishing.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Chucklin' Over Breakfast

Three strips of thick sliced bacon, two eggs basted, two slices of whole wheat toast heavily buttered and a couple gallons of coffee. MMMMM, good food.

Food, good or bad, is going to be uppermost in many minds in the coming months- not that it isn't now with the high gas prices. The biggest difference between now and then will be hiking or biking to get our food instead of driving. That and getting it home. We may even find ourselves eating more than normally because we'll be working harder at staying alive, probably doing more manual labor than we're used to. Nothing wrong with a hearty appetite when you're working, so dig in. But don't forget to share.

My pantry's about 12 feet by 12 feet- plus or minus inches- and walled with shelves 18 inches deep. Just wide enough to hold the plastic containers I store my grub in. 30 gallon plastic with lockable tops work fine and are cheap at mall big boys. One row of shelving is beans- I love bean soup and 15 bean soups with ham- just delish. Another shelf is for peas. Same reason: I love split pea soup. (Love any soup, really.) Also, one shelf has boxes of lentils, barleys and lots of grits. (Don't ask why I like grits, I just do- it's an Army thing.)

Each bag is individually wrapped in another ziploc baggie as well, dated, the boxes sealed when full- which takes about three trips to the store when buying on the 'sly' to not arouse suspicions. I also use differing stores/supermarkets on the same days since they seem to have much the same specials going on everywhere. With today's costs, specials are a deal at yesterday's prices.

Across the room are shelves of spaghetti's/macaroni type foods, again kept in the original boxes/wrappings and sealed in zipper bags. A trick I use to get the air out is a straw poked in the top, zip the pack closed til it hits the straw, then suck like mad until the bag is air-free as possible, then zip closed and pull the straw out the same time. Someone suggested using a vacuum cleaner to replace the mouth, but I like doing things myself, soooo- no vac. Also, a survival friend convinced me I needed a bunch of Ramen noodles. Damn, those things taste worse than some cardboard boxes I've munched on. Still, there are several plastic wrapped case boxes of those dang things. (He may be intending to visit and have those for his lunch, I dunno. Anyway, they're here.) There are bags and boxes of elbow macaroni, one-pound size, and boxes of spaghetti, mostly two-pound boxes, lots of my favorite "oyster shell" macaroni in one and two pound bags, a few boxes, and those little skinny angel hair pasta, and five pound bags of rotini, another favorite. With the macaroni products are all the dry/powder sauce mixes I think I'll need for each pound of noodles- which usually comes to be four packets per pound with my sauce making. Kept in separate bags from the macaroni sauces are lots of chili, sloppy joe, dehydrated soup mixes and sundry spice items.

Canned goods get two walls of shelving: beans- french cut,cut and whole; peas; corn- whole kernel and creamed; spinach; mixed veggies; asparagus; pork and beans; cauliflower; Chinese veggies (actually ChunKing two-packs); tomatoes-whole, diced, sliced, pureed, chopped and sauced; beets- whole, sliced, chunked; sauerkraut (MMMM, mouth watering!); chili beans; peaches in cling syrup(tongue smackin'); and a whole lot of Irish Maid hot chocolate mixes, iced tea and other berry drink mixes- dry and individually wrapped and zipped packs.

The thing about storing foods long term is you gotta worry about moisture with anything that is supposed to have none. So wrap and wrap again if you're the worrying kind. Also, especially with canned goods, be certain to rotate stock, resupplying as you go. All foods are dated for expiration these days but for my personal opinion, I take these with a grain of salt for dried foods, especially such as beans and peas. Still, use and rotate. The family and I did show some concern for Y2K and began our preps about none months before - like March or April- and managed to easily get enough food stored for a season: one winter and summer while waiting for crops to grow on our three acres of independence. Some of those foods still haven't been used, though the rotation method is used.

Some foods, such as sugar, will be 'barter' foods for me- I use very little and make maple syrup on my own, anyway- not to mention berry wines (tongue dripping now...mmm...) Brown sugar, dregs from the cane, are probably more stable than white sugars- Mom and Grammy used to store them forever and use without fear, sometimes even having to hammer out the lumps with a rolling pin. Flours are bought in 20/25 pound bags and kept in 'pickle' containers with rubber sealed lids. (I have yet to go through 25 pounds of flour, however. Pancakes and biscuits are about the only use I have for flour until TSHTF, then I'll be baking breads, I imagine. Hopefully my flour products will still be usable. Also, I've yet to find a bad batch with meal bugs in it or their hulls, which attests to the efficiency of our modern milling methods.)

I know I'm forgetting something here- spices...there is one 30 gallon container with spices: crushed red, garlic powder, pepper, lemon pepper, basil, turmeric, etc: I use lots of spice in cooking so they'll be gone thru.

Storing foods is labor intensive, to say the least. The best thing would be a walk-in room with sliding shelves of individual containers so stock is easily rotated but we can't always have the best of all worlds. Make do with what you have.

So far as meats are concerned: living in the bush as I do, hunting is a common pastime in its season, as is fishing year round. Having a venison steak is more to my liking than a beef steak so I won't be awfully concerned about having to buy meat. (Until I married, I never bought any meat but bacon. The wife got tired of making venison, rabbit, duck, squirrel, partridge- a game bird, fish and turtle. Too bad- wild game is low in the wrong kind of cholesterol and high in the good stuff.) Also, I love my banty hens: great brown egg layers (but you gotta hunt for them sometimes, or take them from the setting hens!). Tough to chew fried but good enough for soups when cooked long enough. Great bait for foxes, wolves, cats, hawks and neighborhood dogs, so you gotta watch them close, insure they're cooping up at night. Then make sure weasels can't get in or they'll kill the entire coop just for fun. Had a horde of rabbits once, too. Not worth the bother, IMO, since they're more labor intensive than chickens, eat your garden with gleeful abandon, dig holes to make a gopher jealous and not worth much so far as food value is concerned: you'll starve to death eating rabbits due to low fat content. Stick to meats that have energy-producing fats cuz in the situations we're talking, you'll need it. Probably the best thing about rabbits is how fast they reproduce and may be good for barter. So, again, make up your own mind, do some research and make a decision.

You'll notice I haven't mentioned any MRE's yet. That's because to me an MRE is what I come home to and either make myself or that made by someone else. I think MRE's have their place in emergency supplies especially long-term storage type. But how long do you want to eat freeze dried food? Do you intend making it your sole source of energy? Don't you even intend planting a garden? doing any hunting or fishing? Any food stuffs you store will be used within two or three years if you plant a garden. Unless you have a continual resupply. So, in my thinking, a two year supply of foods I normally eat will be more than sufficient, taste better and be more readily consumed by mine and me.

Oh- yes, forgot to mention the dog. I have only one now since the Kid has grown and decided to fend for himself and took his two hounds along. (Whew! but I miss those girls, pain in butt tho they were.) My hound will go through a 17.2 pound bag of Kibbles in two weeks. In summer they last even longer since he's not producing heat. The Kibbles have their own shelf along with treats and some cases of canned foods he likes. (Think meaty.) In a pinch- such as him going to that great pound in the sky- the food will serve other mutts in need of a home cooked meal. Also, there have been news articles about 'poorer people' eating cat and dog food for its protein content. (Ever smell a can of human consumption beef stew? Smells just like Alpo Beef chunks. Plus, I'm told animal food is more stringently controlled than even human food- good old USDA!) And you will want a dog or two, but not the noisy kind that bark at every falling leaf. You want one that will let you know when someone is nearby- like two city blocks away- and won't try eating that person's ankles. (Point of interest: my Golden mutt can hear deer walking in the woods from more than a hundred feet, so don't underestimate their hearing. Also, I've watched him run full-tilt and smell a peanut butter sandwich on the ground from fifty feet with the wind blowing from him to the sandwich, and bee-line for that delight. But he's a bird dog and used to using his snoze.)

I know I'm forgetting something here- there's a lot to cover in foods alone when it comes to long-term surviving. In the pre-family days I'd always considered bush-whacking to the hunting shack and living the hermit life as much as possible. With family members, that's near impossible, so my thinking has had to be revised. Of course, with family members- and friends nearby as well- many aspects of surviving are greatly enhanced, the individual lives made easier by 'community'. So, in closing for now, enhance your life by developing your food stores and community of like-minded individuals.

God bless in your preps- keep the Faith and know Who actually holds the future, regardless who gets elected this fall. (Thank you, Lord, for that gentle reminder that I need not worry about this election cuz we'll get who You want us to have, who we deserve.)


Friday, August 1, 2008

Storm On Horizon

Something is definitely happening in the heavens.

I'm no prophet, trust me, but when this neighborhood gets two shootings and a knifing within a week span, there's trouble on the stoop. That kind of incident happens up here maybe once every four or five years- during my lifetime, anyway. What can I say about it? What kind of powers in the Heavens are at work here?

A reading of Scripture will tell us: "We war not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities in Heavenly places." Those powers and principalities are working overtime because they know their "time" is near.

How can we be certain of this, know from our own observations? Look around at the societies around us and weigh what you see with Scripture. Simple to do and it won't take a prophet to see we are very near a catastrophic time in our lives. All of us.
Every man, woman and child on this planet.

Here in the United States, compare Scripture with what is happening in the financial markets. "A loaf of bread will buy a bag of gold." At the moment, it's taking half an hour's work to buy a loaf of bread, so it's getting close. "The final war will be fought for heat." Really. Look it up: Old Testament verse. Not only is the price of gas for our vehicles climbing, so are heating fuels for our homes. In a few years I have no doubt we'll be fighting with Iran and other Mid-East countries, especially if Pelosi and her ilk continue to get their way. It doesn't take a prophet to see that, just someone with their eyes open to the world around them.

"A man's enemies will be his own family." Consider what is happening to the very foundation of America: the family. Fathers neglecting their own children; forsaking the vows they made their wives for a romp in the hay with someone else's wife; the very education the children are receiving in the schools they attend; the odorous methods being used to accelerate illicit homosexual/lesbian and other "alternative" lifestyles - especially how Hollywierd is promulgating the trend on national television; think about what is happening to children daily in their own homes- rapes, murders, the drugs and slovenly habit of video games and computer 'freedoms' and television heroes(ines); consider also the way they are fed a diet of unhealthy food, Mickey D's and the ilk that makes our lives "so much easier".

What is happening to the very homes we so value in this society, that give us "the American dream"? People- many who did not deserve the loan(s) they got for the home(s) they didn't earn- are losing these home(s), living now in vehicles or on the street or with family/friends. And what is happening to alleviate that problem? Our government is giving our money to the companies that made the faulty loans and to the people who did nothing to earn either the money or the home(s). Whatever happened to companies rising or falling by their own merits/greed rather than being rescued by government?

Consider the implications of the upcoming Presidential elections. What do you see happening that should certainly alarm your sense of "Get the hell out of Dodge"?

So many around me feel we will be electing a young know-nothing, prejudiced, ignorant and foolish man with an equally prejudiced, foolish wife. A fool who will readily give away the country he claims to be a citizen of just so he can look sleek and cool, an esquire among peons. (Not that the alternative is a whole lot better.)

Which brings me to the point of this post: IMnotalwayssoHO, we'd better be getting our shit together, because someone is going to try taking it and giving it to a foreign country or others who certainly have not earned what we have.

This society is turning a corner to a rapidly devalued dollar, worthless on all markets, to unprecedented crime- murder, rape, robbery, theft- on the streets of our cities, in our countryside. There will soon be two wars happening "on the home front": a class war- those who have the power and those who have taken it- and a race war, because regardless how the election goes, the colors will not mix well and will more violently attack those they perceive as being the oppressor- combined among them will be the religious elements and the political. A revolution is coming and it won't be pretty.

So, folks: get your bullets, bandages and beans lined up. Start with the bullets cuz we're going to need them. Bandages because we're going to need them. Beans because no one else is going to have any and will need them.

No, IMO, there will not be a "total system breakdown" (but I lay no claim to 'expert' in this area) but it's going to get ugly: depression, rebellion, riots, hunger and crime, more hunger and crime, homelessness and starvation. Those who have not will get it from those who have and are not willing to protect it.

So if you value what you have- your family- then be prepared to protect and help them. Set your mind to this task, be not afraid to defend what is yours to keep or give away, but let it not be taken from you. Most, be humble before your God and know He is with those who are "not afraid to protect their home" (check the Scriptures); love your family and be willing to die for your family and brother, to protect all and to help all. For it is this very reason He has set you free: to be free to share your love and His, to care for the widow (who are widowed indeed) and orphan, thereby showing what great love He has for you, His child.

Not to protect and coddle the criminal and murderer, but your family. Don't be mistaken: "the times, they are a-changin'" (to paraphrase a local hero), be ready to change with them.

All who know they were born in the wrong century will soon discover themselves within that century.

Coming next: what I've done and am doing to prepare for the shit flying.