Day: July 27, 2017

Thursday, 27 July 2017

09:14 – It was 68.1F (20C) when I took Colin out at 0700, bright and sunny. Barbara left at 0830 to head for Winston. She’ll run errands today, stay with Frances and Al tonight, and then head back tomorrow, making a Costco run on the way home. For Colin and me, it’s wild women and parties, as usual. And PB&J sandwiches for dinner, as usual.

From toilet paper to bottle management. Like most American households, we buy a lot of things in disposable PET bottles. Unlike most households, we don’t discard them. (I count throwing them in a recycling bin as discarding.) The only PET bottles I ever discard are those that are hopelessly stained by spaghetti sauce, and I discard almost no glass bottles that come with reusable tops.

Many preppers save 1-, 2-, and 3-liter soft drink bottles. (Not the cheap, thin water bottles; soft drink bottles only.) In fact, many preppers have all their friends and neighbors save soft drink bottles for them.

They’re easy to wash/sanitize. Just dunk them in sudsy water and invert them to drain. You don’t even need to rinse them afterwards. In fact, doing that makes them dry much more slowly than if you just let the sudsy water drain completely. The leftover dish detergent in them totals something in the picograms per bottle. It’s immaterial.

The 1- and 2-liter bottles are useful for bulk LTS storage, hampered only by their narrow mouths, which make it difficult to transfer “fluffy” stuff like white flour to them. (The 3-liter bottles have a wider mouth, and can be filled easily by using the top half of a 2-liter bottle as a funnel.) We use the 1-liter bottles for things we store or use in smaller amounts–repackaged table salt, herbs and spices, baking powder, etc. The 3-liter versions are now much less common because they don’t fit on most refrigerator doors, but we have 50 or so of those that are 20 years old or more. We use and re-use them for flour and other bulk grains. If you find a source for 3-liter bottles, grab as many as you can.

Barbara drinks a lot of Tropicana orange juice, which we buy in the 1.75-liter screw-top bottles (rather than the snap-top pitcher bottles). Frances and Al also buy juice in those bottles, which they save for us. Full to the top, the 1.75-liter bottles hold right at half a gallon, which is a useful amount. In fact, I just filled two of them earlier this week with hulled sesame seeds. Each holds right at 1 kilo, or 2 pounds, 3.3 ounces of the sesame seeds. (Interestingly, the 5-pound bag of sesame seeds I ordered from Walmart had no best-by date anywhere on the packaging.)

Then there are the 1-gallon PET bottles that Costco sells its store-brand water in. Empty, these are excellent LTS food storage containers. They hold roughly 7 pounds of bulk foods like rice, flour, sugar, etc., so you need only 7 or 8 of them to repackage a 50-pound bag of staples. Their mouths are noticeably wider than a 2-liter bottle; a 2-liter bottle funnel is almost-but-not-quite-a-slip-fit, which still makes it a lot less messy to transfer bulk dry foods into them. And, to top it off, the Costco labels are easy to remove and leave no sticky residue.

We’ve been buying Costco bottled water for 10 or 15 years, originally in the 40-packs of 500-mL bottles, then starting a couple of years ago in 1-gallon bottles, once they started carrying them, and most recently in the little 8-ounce (237 mL) pocket-size bottles. Barbara drinks tap water most of the time, but bottled water sometimes. I’m going to encourage her to start refilling the smaller bottles from 1-gallon bottles rather than putting all those little bottles in the landfill. That’ll also give us an ongoing supply of the useful 1-gallon bottles.

Email from Sarah, whom I hadn’t heard from since late April. She and her husband, Peter, are in their late 20’s and were relocating from a big-city apartment to a house on ten acres in a rural area of SW Virginia, three hours or so west of us.

They closed on their new house on May 1st, and have spent the last three months getting settled in to the new house and their new jobs. They still have boxes stacked and awaiting unpacking, but otherwise they’re hitting on all cylinders.

One of the first things they did was drive to the LDS Home Storage Center in Knoxville and haul home 50 cases of #10 cans of bulk LTS food, as well as a bunch of supplemental stuff from Costco. They had so little spare time that they decided to pay the higher price at the LDS HSC rather than spend time they didn’t have repackaging bulk food themselves.

They got a late start on it, but they have a garden in that’s starting to produce. It’s mainly experimental, to see what works and what doesn’t in their new environment. In his copious spare time, Peter is building a chicken coop and rabbit hutch. They have ten acres, about evenly split between fields and a wood lot, so they’ve purchased a small, elderly used tractor to work it. They’ve also bought and installed a wood stove and a supply of firewood, which is sufficient for their basic cooking/baking and heating needs.

They opted not to buy a generator because it’s a temporary and unsustainable solution. Instead, they bought 800W of solar panels and the other components necessary to build a solar electricity setup adequate to provide their basic power needs, although that stuff remains stacked until they have time to get to it.

Sarah has also dipped her toe in the water with pressure-canning. She ordered a canner and other supplies and has started canning vegetables and meats that she buys on-sale locally. She’d never canned anything in her life, but their nearest neighbors are a middle-aged couple and the wife is showing Sarah the ropes.

Overall, they’re both happy with their progress to date, although much remains to be done. They’re delighted with their new home and their new community. Like most people who move from an urban area to a rural one, they’re impressed by how friendly and helpful everyone is.

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