Monday, 9 January 2017

10:00 – It was warmer this morning, 14F (-10C). Colin is not a fan of cold weather. He spends as little time as possible outside. Part of that is no doubt due to the fact that he’s now a middle-aged dog, six next month, and has the aches and pains that begin in middle age. Just like a person, cold weather makes things worse.

Yesterday we got another 40 pounds of macaroni repackaged in 2-liter bottles. We have another 100 pounds or so left to repackage, some of which we’ll get done today. The limiting factor is clean, dry 2-liter bottles. We have several yard-waste bags full of empty 2-liter bottles, but they still need to be washed out and dried. The best way I’ve found to do that is to run a sink full of sudsy water, rinse the bottles thoroughly in it, and then, without rinsing out the sudsy water, put them mouth-down in a plastic bin to drain and dry. The amount of dishwashing detergent that remains in them after draining is trivial, probably a milligram or less. Doing it this way, the bottles generally dry overnight. If instead one rinses them with non-sudsy water before draining, they take days or even weeks to dry completely.

One common meme on prepping sites is that skills are as important as stuff, if not more so. That’s completely bogus. Stuff is the critical thing. Skills one can learn if, as, and when they’re needed, if only from books or by figuring it out on-the-fly. You can, for example, be an expert at cooking with long term storage, but if you don’t have the LTS food stored, or if you don’t have water stored, or if you don’t have an alternative means of off-grid cooking stored, you’re SOL. Planning ahead and stocking up on the items you need is the important part, even if you just buy them and stick them on the shelf in anticipation of needing them.

So, for example, one of the very first things we did when we moved into our new (all-electric) house in December of 2015 was buy a Buck wood stove and have it delivered and installed, soon followed by building a firewood rack under the back deck and having a load of firewood delivered. For more than a year, that stove sat unused. Yesterday, we fired it up for the first time. I hadn’t built a fire in a stove for probably 40 years, and Barbara had never done so. Oh, noes! We lacked a critical skill. But as it turned out, of course, building a fire in the stove was pretty much a no-brainer: open the damper at the top rear of the stove, open the flue damper, twist up a couple sheets of newspaper and put them on the bottom of the stove, put some kindling on top of that, light the newspaper, wait until the kindling caught, add a couple small logs on top of the burning kindling, and voila! We had a fire, which burned for 90 minutes or so until we let it burn down. No point to using firewood when we don’t need to.

It was much easier to get the fire going without skills or experience than it would have been if we had lots of experience but didn’t have the wood stove or any firewood. And the same is true of just about every aspect of prepping. Even the best physician can’t do much without equipment, drugs, and supplies. Much better to have those things even if they’ll be used by a person without medical qualifications.

Those of you who have been following Franklin Horton’s Borrowed World series don’t have much longer to wait until Book Four is available. I’m part of Franklin’s “kitchen cabinet” of a dozen or so sanity-check readers, and he sent me the draft of Book Four last night. I got through the first 10% or so of the book last night, and it looks extremely clean. I’m in copy-editor mode, so I’m not focusing on the story, but on individual words and sentences. Once I’ve done an editing pass, I’ll have to go back into reader mode and re-read it for the story itself. From what Franklin said, I expect the book to hit Amazon later this month.