Month: October 2017

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

10:06 – It was 43.0F (6C) when I took Colin out at 0655. This was the first time since early this month that I’ve slept in until 0630. Until now, I’ve been waking at anything from 0300 to 0430 and then just lying awake in bed pretending to sleep. I hope the time change this weekend doesn’t mess me up again.

Barbara is volunteering at the Friends of the Library Bookstore this afternoon. She’ll pick up take-out on her way home. I’m going to putter around here. We’ve been watching Season 1 of the Canadian series Republic of Doyle. That, and lots of homesteading/prepping videos on YouTube. Barbara actually likes some of those, including Jaime and Jeremy at Guildbrook Farms and Patara at Appalachia’s Homestead.

They’re still working on Grace’s house. Yesterday, Barbara talked to Justin, who laid our master bath floor. He told her that the granite counters for Grace’s house had been back-ordered until now.

When Ricky and Kim bought the house they told us that they weren’t going to treat it like a typical rental house–slap a coat of paint on and call it done. But this isn’t an ordinary rental. They’re renting it to Grace, true, but she’s their niece. She just started as a teacher in the local school system, and my guess is she’ll live there until she gets married, if not longer. And it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re thinking about this place as their future retirement home, once their current home and farm get to be too much to handle.

As Barbara said, they’ve probably spent more on renovations than they paid for the house itself. They’ve basically gutted the place, replacing windows, walls, floors, HVAC, plumbing, etc. and installed a full-size deck.

Grace was really, really hoping to move in by the end of September, so I’m sure she can’t wait.

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Monday, 30 October 2017

09:32 – It was 26.5F (-3C) when I took Colin out at 0630, our first hard freeze of the season. We didn’t get the snow flurries, though. Barbara is off to the gym and then the supermarket to replace the milk that aged out while she was away. I offered to make her up some Nestle Nido dry whole milk, but she prefers the fresh stuff.

Thursday afternoon, I ordered six cases of quart Ball jars from Walmart. I was surprised to see FedEx pull up Saturday to deliver three of those cases. I thought it was generally understood that “free 2-day shipping” doesn’t include Saturday delivery other than for items shipped via USPS. The other three cases are to show up tomorrow.

October 2017 revenues are running about 15% behind October 2016, but that doesn’t really matter since 2017 August and September revenues combined ran about 135% of combined 2016 August/September revenues. Being down 15% in the slower October period is barely a blip overall. The next three or four weeks will also be slow. November revenues are generally very small until Thanksgiving, when Christmas sales start to ramp up.

It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, happens starting Saturday the 4th. My guess is not much, but my crystal ball isn’t any clearer than anyone else’s.

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Sunday, 29 October 2017

10:20 – It was 41.1F (5C) when I took Colin out at 0730, heavily overcast and with a stiff breeze. We’d had 2.4 inches (6.1 cm) of rain since yesterday. I’d have to check my records to be sure, but I think we’re around 10 inches (25 cm) for the month to date. Overnight and tomorrow, we’re to have our first hard freeze of the season and our first snow accumulation.

Barbara called yesterday afternoon to say she’d changed her mind about staying in Winston last night and heading home this morning. Instead, she just stopped long enough in Winston to transfer her personal stuff and things she’d bought in New York to her own car, after which she drove back here to Sparta, arriving at about 19:10.

Colin and I were both delighted. Barbara thought I looked so bad that she wanted to haul me over to the emergency room. I convinced her that wasn’t necessary. She agreed but only if I started doing what she told me. Right now, that’s mainly drinking lots of fluids (even though the doctor said I wasn’t at all dehydrated) and breathing deeply to draw in lots of air (even though my pulse ox this morning was 98, two points better than Barbara’s). I think the problem is that I’m still gradually recovering from pneumonia and still have some congestion in my lower lungs. And I will admit that I’m not drinking anywhere my normal 3 to 4 liters per day. For the last couple of weeks, it’s been more like one liter per day, and sometimes less.

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Saturday, 28 October 2017

11:28 – Barbara gets home tomorrow.

It was 42.7F (6C) when I took Colin out at 0625, heavily overcast. I fed him breakfast. His usual, dog food with canned pumpkin on it. He ate the pumpkin, but wouldn’t touch the dog food. This is the third or fourth time he’s refused to eat his dog food since Barbara has been gone. He always eats it, eventually, but I think he’s showing his displeasure.

Afterwards, even though he hadn’t eaten, he whined insistently until I finally gave up at about 0830 and took him out. He promptly disappeared and was missing for 20 minutes. I called him repeatedly and activated his shock collar, but with no result. I was just about to go driving around looking for him. As I walked up the front porch stairs, I heard a jingling. It was his collar making the noise as he trotted across the yard toward me.

The raccoons showed up again last night. It was about 2000, and full dark. Colin was lying at the front door, looking out through the glass storm door, when he let out a yelp that turned into a howl and then maniacal barking. I ran over to the front door and flipped on some of the outside lights, which revealed two raccoons trying to vacuum all the sunflower seeds out of the feeder. They just stared at me. I didn’t have my pistol in hand, and the angles weren’t right for safe discharge anyway, so I bellowed at the raccoons. They took off running down toward the south tree line.

I turned around and went back in the house to get my .45 and big flashlight. Colin was obviously raring to go, so I let him out. He charged down toward the tree line and paused just short of it to sniff. Apparently the two of them had split up there, or perhaps made a jump for refuge in one of the huge pines. I shined my light up around in the trees looking for eyes, but didn’t spot any. (Not that I’d have fired at that angle even if I had seen a target.)

A clarification. When I mentioned that our stock of new, unused quart wide-mouth canning jars is now 144, sufficient to can roughly 288 pounds of meat, at least one reader thought I intended to rush out and buy 288 pounds of dark-meat chicken and sausage.

Not at all. Those jars are in reserve. At any given time, our big vertical freezer out in the garage may have anything from maybe 50 to 150+ pounds of meat and fish in it, not to mention anything from 50 to 100+ pounds of butter, and other relatively high value frozen foods.

We have very, very few power failures here, and the ones we do have tend to last only a few minutes. If we have a power failure that looks like it may last a few days or so, we can fire up the generator as needed to keep the stuff frozen. But if we have a power failure that looks to be long-term, we’d start pulling out meat and canning it.

With Barbara gone, I’ve been spending some time in the evening watching Youtube videos. There are a boatload of prepping and homesteading channels, and I’ve been sampling many of them. They’re pretty much on a bell curve, with a few that are excellent, a few more that are truly terrible, and the vast majority in the middle.

One of those in the middle is run by a guy who calls himself preppernurse1. He’s in the Rochester, NY area and lives off-grid. He posts videos very frequently, sometimes more than one a day.

He seems obsessed with his PV solar installation. He started two years ago with six 250W (or 280W?) panels and added three or four more last year. He often reports how many kW-hrs he collected the previous day, and the biggest number I remember him reporting was about 2.8 kW-hrs. That’s about what his array should produce gross with just a little over one hour of full sunlight. I don’t know what the average sunny hours per day are in his locale, but surely that figure must be at least 2.5 to 3 hours per day. Sure, there are losses in transmission, inversion, and so on, but his net figure is pathetic.

I see two big problems with his setup:

1. His original six panels are simply leaning against a crude wooden framework, I’d guess at about a 75-degree angle. Almost vertical, in other words. The panels he added later are similarly held in a crude framework, but those are oriented almost horizontally. Neither is at anything close to an optimum compromise angle.

2. His PV panel array appears to be a long way from the charge controllers and battery bank. I mean, a LONG way. And from the one quick glimpse of the cables he’s using to link the panels to the charge controllers, they’re not very thick. If my panel outputs were even 10 feet (3 meters) from my charge controller inputs, I’d want to be using #00 if not #000 copper to link them. At a guess, he may have a 50-foot separation spanned by maybe #12 cables. Voltage drop on a low-voltage DC line is pretty hideous, so just this one factor may be losing him a large percentage of the power his panels produce.

I thought about emailing him, but he has thousands of subscribers, so surely at least one of them has already done so?

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Friday, 27 October 2017

10:38 – It was 41.1F (5C) when I took Colin out at 0730, clear and calm. We got a later start than usual this morning. That was down to me, not Colin.

Only two more days until Barbara returns home. It seems like she’s been gone a month, literally. I found Colin yesterday sitting at my computer, trying to get me signed up at a singles site. He thinks Barbara is gone forever.

I haven’t seen any more of the raccoons, but I haven’t seen Animal Control at all. They were supposed to come out and set traps. I guess they figured it’d be easier just to let me shoot them.

I mentioned in comments last night that the free ride at Walmart is over. They still offer “free” two-day shipping, but they charge a lot more for the same item if you have it shipped versus picking it up at a store.

Here’s a good example. A gallon of their store-brand vegetable oil, which will cost you $3.68 if you pick it up in the store. They’ll instead ship it to you “for free”, but then the item costs you literally twice what it does in the store.

I looked at prices on literally dozens of items I’ve ordered from Walmart. Some they apparently hadn’t gotten around to changing yet, but most had the shipped price padded, in some cases by more than double.

One of the things they hadn’t gotten around to was changing prices on items in the Saved for Later portion of my shopping cart. This time of year, canning jars are always hard to find and expensive, particularly the name-brand ones. (Avoid store-brand canning jars like the plague; they’re mostly made in China instead of the US and are very inferior quality.) I had a bundle of two dozen quart wide-mouth Ball jars with lids and bands in my saved cart, so I went ahead and moved it to my main cart, expecting it to jump in price. It didn’t, and it said they had only three left in stock, so I crossed my fingers, updated the amount to 3, and clicked on Order. Once those arrive, they’ll boost our stock of new, unused quart wide-mouth canning jars from 72 to 144. That’s sufficient to can roughly 288 pounds of meat.

A couple weeks ago, while we were watching a Guildbrook Farms canning video, Barbara mentioned that she’d just as soon stay stocked up on Keystone canned meats rather than canning our own. I agree, except that I want to can some types of meat that aren’t available or are very difficult to find commercially canned. Things like dark-meat chicken, the sausage Barbara buys from Costco and Jimmy Dean, and so on.

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Thursday, 26 October 2017

09:06 – It was 33.6F (1C) when I took Colin out at 0625. I don’t think it ever got out of the 40’s yesterday. Barbara told me when she called yesterday that Sparta was forecast to have snow flurries yesterday or today. I haven’t seen any snow at all yet, but the weather is definitely getting more winter-like.

When I opened the front door to take Colin out after dinner last night, there were not one but two raccoons at the hanging feeder. I kept him inside and stepped out onto the porch, shining the beam from my 3-C cell flashlight on them. They ignored me standing 8 or 10 feet away. I spoke sternly to them and they still ignored me.

So I stepped back inside, picked up my Colt 1911, verified that it was cocked-and-locked, and went back outside, planning to shoot them if they didn’t back down. This time, as I came out the door they ambled away, over towards the garden.

I walked down the length of the porch because if I decided to shoot I wanted to do so from an elevated position so that I’d have the yard itself as a safe backstop. By the time I got to the end of the porch, they’d already transited the garden and were in the grass behind it. So I came back in, got Colin, and gave him his after-dinner out.

He spent a good half hour sniffing and marking our entire property, while I followed with my flashlight and .45. I may start wearing a headlamp. One hand for the flashlight and one for the pistol didn’t leave me a hand for my cane. I wonder if anyone makes a decent 1,000-lumen LED headlamp for a reasonable price.

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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

09:56 – It was 37.4F (3C) when I took Colin out at 0645, but the damp breeze made it feel colder. When I took Colin again around 0900, the temperature had gone up to only 40.8F (5C).

I’d noticed the first time I had Colin out that Barbara’s hanging wire-mesh bird feeder was completely empty. That was odd, since at dinnertime yesterday it had still been half-full. But I think I know what happened.

About 2100 last night, I was finishing watching a Youtube video and was planning to give Colin a last time out. He was lying at the front storm door, calmly surveying his domain. He suddenly went into Cujo mode, barking and snarling viciously. At first I thought it was the two little dogs that have recently been showing up to visit him. When Colin momentarily moved aside, I could see that it wasn’t one of the dogs. It looked like a C-A-T, so I went over toward the door and it ambled away as I did so. By the time I got out the front door, being careful not to let Colin get past me, it was just disappearing over the far end of the porch. I could see its striped tail. A raccoon, then.

I have nothing against raccoons generally, but their place is not up near my house. They’re vicious and carry rabies. I’m sure that Colin could rip up any raccoon who ever lived, but he might get bitten while doing so. So I grabbed my big flashlight and some .45 ACP raccoon repellent, and headed out into the yard to look for it. It apparently saw me coming and got the hell out. But I think it came back later and vacuumed out all the seed that had been in the feeder.

Yesterday, I showed a lot of progress health-wise. My breathing is now pretty much back to normal, I’m back up near my normal daily fluid intake level, and I’m convinced I could sleep through the night if Colin would stop walking around whimpering every few minutes.

There was an interesting article with videos over on this morning about LBGTQABCXYZ activists arming themselves and training for what they expect to be another civil war. Oddly, articles in almost all conservative/libertarian publications seem to be against this. I’m all in favor of it.

That’s because I’m a Constitutional absolutist, and in particular a 2nd Amendment absolutist. The People have the absolute right to Keep and Bear Arms. That doesn’t mean just People I approve of. That means convicted violent felons, Antifa, BLM, muslim jihadists, child molesters, etc. etc. In other words, the scum of the earth. Why? Because if we give the government any ability whatsoever to limit the 2nd Amendment, we essentially give it the ability to destroy the 2nd Amendment.

11:23 – Email from a regular reader raising the subject of powdered eggs. She was baking last night and needed three eggs. She thought she had a full carton, but it turned out there was only one egg left. She didn’t feel like getting dressed and running to the supermarket, so she decided to open one of her precious cans of Augason Powdered Whole Eggs. She made up the two eggs she needed per the instructions, and the cake turned out fine.

This morning, she decided that since the can was already open and the clock was ticking on its shelf life, she might as well try making powdered egg omelets for breakfast. She was kind of expecting the powdered eggs to taste noticeably different. She said the yellow color of the mixed eggs was not quite the same as with fresh eggs, but the omelet tasted normal to her and that neither her husband nor their son noticed anything different. Useful data point.

I did suggest that she could greatly extend the shelf-life of the remaining egg powder by transferring it to canning jars with oxygen absorbers. Just put the lid in place and screw down the band tightly. After a day or so, remove the band and check to make sure the lid sealed. If you don’t have oxygen absorbers, the lid won’t seal, but that’s okay. Just keep the band on there, screwed down tight. The remaining eggs should remain good for months if not longer.

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot to mention…

For situations where you’re using eggs structurally, like most baking, you don’t really need to use eggs at all. One excellent substitute is ordinary gelatin powder. You can buy that in bulk for $6 or $8 per pound, and it keeps for a long, long time. When you get to the point in the recipe where you’re to add a fresh egg, simply mix one tablespoon of gelatin powder with one tablespoon of room temperature water, whisk until mixed, and then add two tablespoons of very hot water and whisk until mixed. That’s the equivalent of one whole egg. From experience, I know it works fine for recipes that call for only one or a few eggs. I’m not sure how it’d work with recipes that call for many eggs. But in the former case, the gelatin proteins are doing exactly what the egg proteins do: serving as a glue to hold the rest of the components together.

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Tuesday, 24 October 2017

09:59 – It was 44.5F (7C) when I took Colin out at 0645, breezy and damp. We ended up getting 4.3″ (10.9 cm) of rain. Barbara called about 1730 yesterday to tell me that Alleghany County was under a tornado warning (not watch). That’s extraordinarily unusual up here. The county gets probably one F1 tornado every 20 or 30 years.

I had a follow-up doctor appointment yesterday afternoon. Dr. Ambler listened to my chest as I took deep breaths and said I sounded much better than I had. All my vitals were fine: BP 130/70, pulse-ox 97, and so on. I told him I was concerned not just about the insomnia but because I just wasn’t able to eat or drink normally. I was worried that I was getting dehydrated, so he did a skin pinch test and said I wasn’t even slightly dehydrated.

Colin has been driving me nuts, just walking around whining. But usually he’ll settle at bedtime. Not last night. I took him out for the last time around 2200, and went back to bed. For the next four hours, he wandered around the house, whining. I finally got up at about 0200 and took him outside, where I stood on the porch until he finally did a 5-second pee. When we got back inside, he settled for 10 or 15 minutes, and then started whining again. At about 0300, I finally gave up, got dressed, and took him outside again. We were out there for 15 minutes, while he did two complete circuits of the property line, sniffing all the way. He was out of my sight long enough that he may actually have done what he was supposedly out there to do. He finally came trotting up toward the front porch and we went into the house. He didn’t whine the rest of the night, or if he did I was too unconscious to hear him.

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Monday, 23 October 2017

10:22 – It was 57.2F (14C) when I took Colin out at 0645, with strong gusty winds and rain pouring down.

I took the last of the antibiotics 12 hours ago. No bouce-back so far, so they may have eliminated the infection. I’m still not eating much and, more worrisome, still not drinking much. Yesterday, I drank a total of about one liter. Normally, I drink three or four liters without even thinking about it. So today I’m forcing it. I’ve drunk half a liter of hot tea so far, and have a second half-liter sitting on my desk now. I’m going to try to drink at least two liters today, and three would be better.

Interesting email overnight from a long-time reader who’s a serious prepper. He and his wife are about the same stage Barbara and I are: steady-state prepping. Adding stuff to replace consumption, and perhaps a bit more to extend the amount of time they’re good for and to have extra stuff for friends and neighbors.

They made a big Costco run Saturday, and spent yesterday repackaging stuff in foil-laminate Mylar bags. They added 400 pounds of bulk staples, 24 liters of oil, a dozen or so cases of canned meats and vegetables, and various miscellany. Call it another full person-year of food.

As they sat there filling bags with oats or whatever, he found himself actually hoping that the shit WOULD hit the fan sometime soon, that the big cities would burn to the ground, incinerating the piles of bodies of progs and SJW’s and BLM’ers. And politicians.

Of course, he realized that those piles of bodies wouldn’t be made up exclusively of miserable excuses for human beings. There’d be a lot of collateral damage, including plenty of Normals and other innocents who just want to lead their lives.

He doesn’t want to see friends and allies die, or even neutrals. Just the scumbag lefties. But, as I pointed out, the only way to that end is for Normals to engage in retail destruction before TSHTF. Wholesale destruction isn’t selective.

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Sunday, 22 October 2017

10:42 – It was 50.2F (10C) when I took Colin out at 0645.

I’d been nodding off all day yesterday. When I finally headed back to bed around 2115, I was suddenly wide-awake, even though I was completely beat. I lay there for 90 minutes or so, trying to pretend I was asleep. Finally, I figured the hell with it. I got up, went out to the kitchen, and pulled out a bottle of diphenhydramine (Benedryl) tabs. I took two 25-mg tabs and went back to bed. I woke up about 0615 this morning, to Colin’s whining. But that was the first decent night’s sleep I’ve had in what seems like weeks. Tonight, I’ll just take two of the 25-mg diphenhydramine tabs before I hit the sack.

I’ve mentioned Patriot Nurse before. I’ve mentioned some of my reservations about her, including the fact that she’s an anti-vaxxer and proponent of various other woo-woo medical practices. I’ve known a fair number of nurses, but never one that was remotely like her.

One of the things I didn’t mention is that there was a firestorm five or six years ago, with people claiming fraud and saying that she was not actually a nurse. According to them, her real name is Rachel Greene, and she has never been licensed as an RN in Tennessee. There is/was a Rachel Greene whom Tennessee licensed as a pharmacy techician, but even that license expired.

I didn’t think too much about this at the time, because there was one obvious logical flaw in the claim: nowhere did her accusers show how they linked the name Rachel Greene to Patriot Nurse. And without that link, the rest of their accusations were completely unsupported.

Then last night I was watching one of Patara’s videos. She mentioned Patriot Nurse as a personal friend, and casually dropped her first name as Rachel. Not definitive, obviously, but it does make me wonder.

Having watched many of the Patriot Nurse videos, my impression is that she’s a very bright young woman. Too bright to commit multiple felonies across state lines by claiming qualifications to which she is not entitled and then charging people significant amounts of money to attend the classes she teaches.

One possible explanation is that she is mentally ill. A couple of weeks ago, I sat down with Barbara and ran several of the PN videos for her. In them, PN ranged from smiling and bubbly and friendly to sullen and angry. The extremes were stunning. After the videos finished, I told Barbara that I wondered if Patriot Nurse was manic-depressive and off her meds. Barbara’s mom was manic-depressive, and Barbara had decades of experience with her mom’s mood changes. She agreed that it was quite possible that PN was in the same situation. Obviously, we don’t know for sure, but it would explain a lot.

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