Category: long-term food storage

Tues. Feb. 6, 2024 – well, if not hell, then heck?

Cool and clear. It never did rain on my house yesterday, but it did rain on my wife on her way to work so BOTH forecasts were correct! Hers and mine. Peace in the house, hooray. Today should be clear, and warming later in the day.

I didn’t get everything done, or even started, and what I did do took longer than I hoped. Sometimes it be that way. I got some stuff pulled out for ebay, some for my local auction. I sorted some stuff that has been sitting since October. My back was hurting so I’ll claim that as my excuse for not doing heavier work. Well, hurting more than normal…

Then I had to get the kids from school, and do some cooking. I was going to make some frozen fish, but I started breaking down some bulk meat and vac sealing it, so after doing beef brisket, pork shoulder, and a spiral sliced ham, I decided that I could just throw the ham in the skillet and make that. I was browning chunks of the pork shoulder to make carnitas in the slow cooker. Freeze some, cook some… so the ham was a natural choice. The vintage cast iron performed beautifully. I’ve got a good seasoning on it and with some bacon fat, even the sticky sugar from the ham scraped away with a smooth utensil. A quick rinse, then dry and re-oil with clean peanut oil, and back into the drawer for next time. Cooking with good cast iron is a joy.

The pre-browned chunks of pork will go into the slowcooker today. Some of the ham I packed in 1 pound bags, and I’ll take that to the BOL for when I’m up there alone. It’s a quick and tasty dinner. The rest is in 2 pound bags. The pork is in 3 pound bags, and the brisket is in 4 pounders. That is one bag per meal, with some leftovers. I mentioned before that I have increased the weight of my “per meal” packages. Freaking kids eat like crazy. Buying in bulk, cutting to meal size or portion size, and vac sealing before freezing is economical and convenient. Takes a bit of time, but not much more than putting the groceries away. The savings make it worth it.

Late in yesterday’s comments I linked to a couple videos of shootouts involving cops, and civilians. One is a guy who’s just had enough, the other is a young thug. There are lessons to be learned from watching other people experience violence, and violent situations. Note too the police response and tactics. In the second one, the neighbor threatening to kill people, note when the cop reminds the neighbors that he’s recording and asks if it’s alright. Remember that they didn’t do that while interviewing people on the Rust set, when Alec Baldwin shot and killed his Cinematographer. No Miranda warning, and the video is admissible. Something to keep in mind if you are in a bad situation, or even witness to one. Like I said, lessons to be learned.

Today I’ll be doing the same, over and over again. It’ll be fun! Well, it’s never boring.

Learn something new today. Practice a skill, or start on a new one. Stack experiences like you’re stacking food.

nick

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Thur. Feb. 1, 2024 – cookie day

Cold and clear, or maybe cold and overcast, but probably cold. Yesterday started cold, warmed significantly, and was very comfortable with the windows down driving in the late afternoon. It will be nice if today is the same.

I spent a lot of time yesterday doing chauffeur stuff and driving. Took back the broken solar panel. Took the kid where she needed to go. Went to the chiropractor. In total, spent almost 2 1/2 hours sitting in the truck waiting for kids or other people. Good thing I have kindle on the phone.

Today I’ll do some auction stuff in the morning, then maybe grocery shopping. Our eating habits have changed as the kids have grown so I’ve had to adjust what I buy and stack. MUCH less bread. No peanut butter. A lot more snacks and stuff for school. I don’t mind the ‘hangover’ with having more peanut butter than we need, it’s a great prepper food that keeps well. Push comes to shove, we can eat it again. We are eating a lot more meat, just because the kids eat more. I’ve been packing it in single meal quantities and now those older packages are a bit too small. Probably should have seen that one coming, but didn’t. Monitor and re-evaluate…

But certainly keep stacking.

nick

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Fri. Jan. 26, 2024 – stuff to do, people to see, dragons to slay…

Cool, warming later, and clear. Please let it be clear. It was really nice yesterday, I wore shorts and a t shirt. Damp, from all the water on the ground, but a nice breeze, and sunshine is helping with that.

Mostly hung around the house. Stacked my plywood to dry. Put some holiday stuff back up in the garage attic. Found some needful things that will transfer to the BOL this trip. Went through one tray of sauces and seasonings in foil packets while getting the slow cooker dinner together. Several had failed, with little tiny holes in the envelope. Not sure if it’s some sort of corrosion, little bugs inside the packets, or bugs eating their way in, but it’s a common failure mode for the aluminized pouches and packets. I’ll do a tally later, but I lost mostly crockpot seasonings and gravy mixes. Maybe $20-40 worth, and they are several years past ‘best by’ date. Depending on the contents, they start to taste “old” at that point anyway.

Started going through some auction stuff. I’m sorting, cleaning, and testing some big items. And for some reason, I’ve been picking up sewing machines.

Everyone should have a good sewing machine and know how to use the basic functions. Having an embroidery machine, or one with a whole lot of specialized stitches is icing on the cake. I already have a good sewing/embroidery machine, and a serger, and my wife has her machine. I’ve got an old Japanese machine at the secondary location as backup. I would like to have another machine for the BOL, but I can’t decide which one to take there. The three new ones are a Husquavarna computerized modern and very nice machine, a Bernina Burnette (manual machine, solid ordinary, entry level), and a Bernina that takes a computerized embroidery accessory as well as being a computerized sewing machine.

My first impulse is to take the Burnette. It’s probably the most reliable and fixable of the bunch, and the others will bring more money on ebay. But. The Husky has a leather setting, can do bar tacks, and other very useful stitches. FWIW, web gear uses a lot of bar tacks. If I was really prepping in depth, I’d be picking up a treadle machine too. They usually go for more than I’m willing to pay (100-200 USD, much more for leather working machines) so I’ve held off so far. I’ve actually used a treadle machine, so I know I could use one successfully. My mom had one when I was a kid. It’s a statement about how far you think things are likely to degrade though, unless you’re religious.

In any case, a sewing machine is a tool, one that historically played an important role in the home economy, and one that is very useful still, even if you have no plans to make your own clothes.

Tools that let you repair and customize your gear are worth having. You need to practice with them, and have at least the rudimentary supplies to make good use of them. Think about what tools you already have, and what you might need.

Then start stacking.

nick

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Thur. Dec. 21, 2023 – not many secrets left on the Advent calendar…

Cool and clear, maybe. Forecast says – no rain. But it’s Houston. Yesterday started nice, warmed up, then got a bit overcast, with patchy clouds late in the day.

I was at home all morning, then picked up the kid. Did my pickups, mostly BOL stuff with a bit of Christmas mixed in. Came home, chauffeured D2 to an appointment, then worked on adding some decor to the yard display.

I got three cheap artificial trees, put them in the yard, and overloaded them with lights. There are colored and white on each tree. Adding the white really gives the trees shape at night, and stands in for snow, right? In any case, they look good and help fill out the yard.

I also got a couple of Star Wars inflatables at Goodwill, the droids and a Chewbacca, both about 5ft tall. I think they are pretty cool. Wife is less enamored. I have just a couple of things I will add, and then I’ll be happy. I’ll try to get to it today, so I can relax.

Today I’ve also got a pickup, or two. I could do them Friday but my wife wants to head to the BOL for a couple of days before Christmas. I’d like to too, but have auction stuff going on that I’d have to move. Since she waffled instead of planning, we’ll probably stay home. Getting the pickups out of the way today gives me options though, and I like options.

Last night while getting dinner ready I discovered that between taking stuff to the BOL, spoilage, use, and a lack of sales for replenishment, I’m almost out of pasta… Hard to believe, but the kids eat a lot of it, and it really hasn’t been on sale in a long time. I must have taken more to the BOL than I thought, as I should have a bucket or two… Maybe they’re at the secondary. Stuff is still scattered around as my ‘clean up and reorg’ project stalled, and hasn’t been completed. FAIL!

While opening buckets I also discovered one of white flour that has water intrusion. So that one is done. I think I’ll pop lids on several buckets and check on the contents. The red beans bucket has an odd smell. Not bad, or offensive, but not neutral like I expected. I’ll have to look at it in daylight.

Check your stacks people! Rotate your stock, and try to use it as part of your daily life. I budget for and accept that I’m going to have higher than average spoilage as my storage conditions are terrible. You should be able to do better than me.

And even if you can’t, more stacks will help compensate. Be like the Quakers, when you plant your garden, plant 10% extra for God’s creatures, and don’t sweat it when they eat.

nick

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Thur. Sept. 14, 2023 – more bins of stuff to the auction…

Hot and humid. Slightly less hot, but still. 80F to start the day is hot. An actual hot wind before the distant storm is hot. And I expect more of the same today. Maybe with the added joy of a thunderstorm. We did get a spatter of moisture from the sky late afternoon yesterday, but nothing that stuck. And we saw distant lightning with strong winds while watching the marching band last night, but it never got to us. I’d just as soon avoid rain for another day.

It avoided us yesterday and I was able to get several more bins to the auctioneer. A flip top bin full of lego weighs quite a lot, enough that it’s hard to lift chest high anyway… and I’ve still got at least one more to go. So far no really valuable lego, but you never know. Auctioneer takes a look through before listing, and sometimes sorts some of the mini-figs out for their own lot. C3PO is worth finding if you might have him. There are several versions but they are all expensive for lego.

Today I’ve got a Dr appointment in the morning, then more auction stuff in the afternoon. I’ll be doing a couple of pickups on Saturday. I won a metal cabinet and a 100 gallon rainwater storage barrel, both about an hour north of me. I was hoping to get them on the way to the BOL, but we’ll see how that shakes out. Meanwhile, I’ve got an item or two here in town, and a few more bins ready to drop off. Prices are still low, and it’s beginning to look like a real slowdown. Dang. Nothing like waiting too long… although realistically, it’s happening when it’s happening, and I wasn’t able to bring loads to my local guy before now. One seller thinks it just might be people are over-extended from back to school spending and it will recover soon. I hope she’s right.

BTW, metal cabinet will stay here for my pantry. The cans in dispenser racks, and some other stuff was out on shelves and I’ve decided it needs to be enclosed. The stuff in plastic bins and tubs on the shelves has been fine, protected from the elements and the rats, but I want to do what I’ve been doing at the BOL and put the rest in metal cabinets. It still won’t be “cool”, but it will be “dark” and protected from more stuff, including prying eyes. At my secondary location, I’ve hung bedsheets with magnets to cover the metal shelves and contents. The more obscured the preps are from casual observation, the better I’m feeling.

Keep it secret. Keep it safe. And keep stacking it!

nick

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Thur. Aug. 31, 2023 – thirty days have September, April, June, and November…

Hot and humid. No rain in the forecast. Slightly cooler at night and in the morning but still brain roasting sun in the afternoon. It’s still Summer, no matter that school has started.

Took care of some business yesterday. Mostly ran around on little errands. Had to run a uniform to school for D1, then pick her up after school for an appointment. I sat in the truck for an hour listening to Fool Moon, the second Harry Dresden book. Did some returns to Lowes, got gas at Costco, picked up my auto repair parts at Home Depot. That was a weird bit of modern life, order the parts online from some sort of fulfillment portal, and have them delivered to a locker at HD for pickup. Worked though, and saved a bunch on shipping. Just had to wait a week for them to arrive.

The whole business has a lot going on- from the search engine, opening up pricing and stocking status to the search and ecommerce portal, then the warehousing and “last mile” solution, including the construction of the lockers and contracting to partner with HD. The lockers themselves have a degree of complexity that is a marvel of the age. Touch panel screen, automated locks, QR code scanner, and all the online back end to make it possible. The old system of stocking stores, or mail order, or even dealer networks and fulfillment houses seems so simple in comparison. All for a little plastic part that could have been a metal clip and never would have needed replacement.

I crammed a couple other errands and trips in there too.

Today should be similar, start at home, do some stuff, get out and do a bunch more… with hopefully a lot less interruption from das kinder. As I am wont to say, “we’ll see.”

Dinner yesterday included a rice and beans box meal from HEB that was 11 years past “best by”. It tasted ok, not great, not too bad. Some additional seasoning helped. Wife said she liked it, kids don’t normally eat that kind of thing anyway. And I could have eaten it without complaint. The critical thing was storing it indoors, in the dark, and that it was dry ingredients without fats. The directions included adding 2 tablespoons of oil. It’s pretty clear that if the pasta/rice doesn’t absorb weird flavors from the environment, the most common failure of boxed or prepared foods is the fats going old. Something to keep in mind when stocking for the long term.

One other observation, I pulled some pasta out of a bucket. I leave the stuff in the store packaging to isolate it in case of a failure or spoilage. A rat opening one package leaves the others ok to eat, a rat in a bucket of rice, not so much. I had a package of spaghetti noodles that had some kind of black bug in it, and some sort of residue on the pasta. Smelled bad too. The other pasta in the bucket was fine, as it was still sealed in 1 pound plastic packaging. The pasta had a ‘best by’ of Jan-2023 so it was barely out of range. Must have been contaminated at the factory or store and it failed long before I’d have expected.

You never know what a stored item will do until you open it. Have extra on hand.

And stack it up.

nick

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Sun. Aug. 20, 2023 – I’ve let some stacks run down a bit…

Hot, blah blah blah. Yeah, still 100s in the afternoon, and sweatier than a hoor in church… gonna be a while yet before that changes.

I did one of my pickups yesterday, missed the other but he said he’d hold my one small item until the next pickup time. Along with some stuff for the house and the kids, I got two five gallon gas cans. I had sworn off buying used gas cans, because the seam cracks open at the handle eventually, but they were very cheap, and I’ve just retired 2 that had cracks or leaks. I still need to go through my remaining stored gas and see what is ok, and what is not. I usually refresh it all when the hurricane season starts, but I didn’t last year or this year. Slack. That’s me.

It’s not the only thing. I’ve been eating from the stacks too. Meat’s been so high lately and the sales have been less frequent, so I’ve been buying less. Several trips in a row I didn’t buy any meat. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that I’ve got less in the freezer than I’d like. Partly that’s from moving some to the BOL, but it’s also from eating it.

The fact is, I’ve been coasting here at the house while focusing on the BOL. That might be understandable, but it’s also not great. Staying current is hard enough with one location. Keeping two stocked and with some semblance of “eating what you store” takes more effort and intentional effort at that. I need to do some ‘re-balancing’ and refocusing, as well as catching up on some other chores.

There is always something that needs doing. The trick is doing it.

So do it. Fix. Improve. Stack.

n

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Mon. Aug. 7, 2023 – so, it’s kinda hot lately…

Hot AND humid! We got both kinds of misery. And I had to spend the day in it. Well it went very slowly. But it’s Houston, it’s summer, and OH MY GOD THE WORLD IS GONNA BURN!!11!!!1!! Or maybe not just yet. Gonna be hot for a while yet too. I was busy working in it so I didn’t get a high temp yesterday, but I haven’t got much doubt it was in the low 100s in the sun. On the roof, it was certainly that.

Spent the day working at the rent house. It’s looking good, and is just about ready to rent. Needed paint, some maintenance, and a few style upgrades. LOTS of cleaning. There are a few things left to do, some inside and some out. The fence still needs repair. The parking pad needs some work, and there is a trench drain for the driveway that has been sitting around for a year or more… waiting for someone to dig a trench. I’m trying really hard to not be that someone. We put off some upgrades because they would be disruptive to the tenants, so now is the time. The main thing is to get the inside done so the pix can be taken and the listing put together.

I don’t want to drag out the other stuff though. I’ve got plenty of open projects at the BOL and here as well. Time to be done, and back to earning money on the place. And back to work on the other places.

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Given all the stuff I’ve got on my plate, I guess I can be forgiven for not paying any attention to the hurricane season. We’ve had a couple of ‘invest’ systems identified, but nothing has really developed, and I’m glad for that. While we could use the rain, I’ve already got a full dance card. Very different this year though, without me mentioning anything for a month. Bigger fish to fry I guess.

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Plenty of small fish to fry too. One thing that is starting to worry me wrt stacking- it’s been a while since meat was on sale enough for me to buy any. I’ve been working out of the freezers, and we’ve got plenty, but plenty is reduced by one with every meal. Sometimes, if we have an extra child, plenty gets reduced by two…

Time to add some protein to the freezers. Tri-tip and brisket are still reasonably priced, I think I need to try my hand at cooking some. And put whatever IS cheap in the stacks.

After all, rice doubled with one announcement from India. That can happen with other foods too. A mad cow outbreak would send beef sky high, as would bird flu for chicken. Piggies get sick too. There is chatter about deflationary trends in some items, but I’m not seeing it in food.

So stack it while you can,

nick

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Fri. July 28, 2023 – ‘this indecision’s buggin’ me…’

Ho ho ho, it’s hotter than Hades, and sweatier than a linebacker’s jock. And it was the same yesterday too. Even sprinkled a bit of rain, but it ‘didn’t stick’. Just enough to have me scrambling to get stuff in the back of the truck covered.

Other than that scramble, I hid indoors and did cleaning and paperwork. Found a partial tub with stuff from the ‘bins’ so I sorted that too. Doesn’t feel like I got much done.

Today will be more active, one way or another. I’ve got a couple of pickups, then I’m headed to Lowes to get what I need for the BOL. Don’t know if I’ll head up today, but that is the plan. The other thing I’m waiting for is my irrigation supplies from amazon. I’d really like to take those with me too.

Can’t decide at the moment what to do. Guess I’ll play it by ear, and hope the stars align.

I’d like to keep moving forward with improvements at the BOL. If I can’t, I’ll keep working on stuff here. I have decided to rearrange my stored food to get it into the garage, and off the shelves on the patio. I still want it near to hand, but I want it in cabinets, not just on the shelves. So I’ll be bringing two metal cabinets back from the BOL when I come back. I’ll have some rearranging to do in the garage first, but I think this will work out better. I don’t need all the food to be accessible at the same time and I need a better way to protect it from rats and rust. I’ll have to move some drawer units and some shelves on the wall, and relocate some tools and supplies, but it makes sense to have the food closer to the kitchen, and the rarely used supplies deeper in the garage. It was not on my radar at all, or my list of things to do, but since I’ve packed it all in milk crates and cleared the shelves, this would be a good time to do it. It will make my wife happier to have the stuff off the patio. And that’s important too.

Take a look at your stacks. Do they still serve you? or would a change make more sense. Is the stuff you are stacking the right stuff for your current situation? Have your tastes or needs changed? Don’t be afraid to correct or revise. It’s not wasted effort if it results in being better prepared.

Make a plan, then stack it up.

nick

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Wed. July 26, 2023 – wow stuff got expensive…

Hot and humid and more of each. Highest I saw yesterday was 94F in the shade, but it was hotter in the sun. Since it happened away from my thermometer, I’m ignoring it. Hah. Just like the rain. I only personally saw a very light spatter of rain. I know it rained heavily in some parts of town, because I saw the puddles and I asked people. But I’m ignoring that too. I can definitively state, from my own lived experience, that yesterday was hot at 94F but cooler than it has been, and that it only rained a tiny amount. That this is wrong is of no concern. Please fully fund my climate change study grant. I’m your kind of people.

Spent most of the day filling the back of my pickup with auction items. Then I dumped most of them at my secondary location. Took the rest home. Did a bit of troubleshooting on some items that didn’t immediately work, and got some results.

Cooked a couple of several-years-old steaks for dinner. Couldn’t tell them apart, despite being frozen for 2 and 4 years respectively. And they were delicious. Served them with canned corn from 2014, frozen naan bread, and pasta from a couple years ago. Those were all normal looking and delicious too.

Spent the evening looking at prices online to find cheap decking material for my temporary deck at the BOL. That led to the post title. There isn’t anything “cheap”. Sheets of OSB, plywood, and rigid foam are all 1-1/2 to 2 times more than they were. Prices have come down from their highs of a year ago, but they are still high. Even furring strips are expensive. More redneck engineering is going to be needed…

Today I’ve got a couple more pickups, and more domestic bliss. So I’ll be busy, and yet not feel like I’m getting stuff done. And compared to some, I’m a piker. Talked to someone in my circle of acquaintances that is slowly revealing more of their preps. Their family group is about 35 people, and they’ve got a shared ranch as a BOL. With a full surgical suite set up. That was the bit he shared yesterday. His pockets are deep, and his group is committed. He has access to a wide range of stuff.

He urged me to stack salt. We talked about the novel Alas Babylon, where the little town is coping well with their end of the world situation, except for the lack of dietary salt. THAT is killing people. I took that message to heart when I read it, and stacked salt some time ago. Not sure what I have in total, but I’ve got 5 gallons (30-40 pounds) of pink himilayan salt, and at least one other bucket of normal salt, as well as boxes of canning and pickling salt. I’ve got a smaller amount of iodized salt for the table too. Salt can be used for cleaning, and for preserving food as well as for eating. We also talked briefly about my “bread kit” buckets – one bucket with flour, salt, yeast packets, and a bottle or two of oil, and storing and using fat to “pot” or preserve meat.

The discussion was a nice validation of my own preps, with a good reminder of a basic prep item for long term survival, and some more exotic thinking about things getting worse than most people might consider. There are others out there doing what we do. They are planning, and executing. You are not alone, and there are serious people who are taking it farther than you…

So stack a few things. Consider your gaps, and fill them. Know that others are too.

nick

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