Wed. Oct. 20, 2021 – so much to do

Another cool and not rainy day. I was going to write “dry” but it’s humid enough that the word ‘dry’ just doesn’t fit. Although with the cooler temps, the humidity is less of an issue. And it still got scalp-scorchingly hot in the mid afternoon when the sun came out.

I actually did a lot of stuff yesterday, but because it was bracketed by chauffeuring daughter 1 around, it felt like an unproductive day. Orthodontist, vet, client, pickup, drop off, school, home, cooking something new, relax, crash, wake…

After all the worrisome behaviour, by bed time puppy Zeus was back to his normal activity level. Still not as eager to eat as usual though, and will be getting extra observation.

Solved my client’s immediate maintenance issue, but further confirmed that we’re not ready for his ‘rip and replace’ upgrade. That is going to have to move up my priority list.

And I need to kick out some more work on my industrial ‘pallet’ auction. I can’t wait too long or I’ll be in the dip between Thanksgiving and February when sales dry up for everything not Christmas related. I missed my window and it sucks because now I’m trying to fit it along side everything else.

Time management skills, I’m lacking them this month.

But what else can you do but keep on plugging away? That’s the secret ingredient for success in most things- keep showing up, keep doing the work.

It’s true for disaster preparedness too. Steady consistent progress, or equally valid, periodic repeated surges of activity, either one will advance you toward your goals.

So keep stacking. Friends, skills, stuff. You’ll need all three and more when the revolution comes.

nick

Mon. Oct. 4, 2021 – nose to grindstone

Hot and humid. Rain later. Maybe. For some people. It got pretty hot yesterday despite being somewhat cloudy and overcast for part of the day. It was so humid I had sweat rolling down my back at 6pm in the shade, standing still and cleaning my shelves. Oh yeah it was humid.

Has some back issues in the morning so I took it easy. Then I decided to finish cutting the grass (battery died with about 10 x 10 ft left.) Did that. Wanted to get set up for craft time with daughter two and that triggered the rest of the day’s work.

Which I detailed yesterday in the comments. Mostly it was a cautionary tale about food storage and expired puffy cans. CHECK YOUR STACKS. Time and heat are the enemy. Stuff just isn’t lasting as long as it should. WELL past best by date, but still I expect more. I will probably do some more work on cleanup and replacing stuff on the shelves today, depending on weather.

The rest of the day I’m hoping to get to my storage unit to load some stuff up, and drop it off. And to get some stuff done on my daughter’s projects would be nice. Stuff is slipping.

I’ve got to fit in a Costco run too.

This week is short and busy, with the school theater pickup tomorrow, and going to WDW at the end of the week, and I’m hoping for the ransomware delayed auction pickups to actually happen too. Days are FULL.

And time is short. China is flexing on Taiwan. Bad things will happen to the US and world economy if China moves on them. Violence and division here at home are ramping up too. Keep your eyes open and your head on a swivel.

Check your preps. Fill your gaps. Fix what’s broken. And stack it high.

nick

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— Harold Combs — welfare check — haven’t heard from you since you talked about going walkabout….
Let us know how it’s going…..

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Sun. Oct. 3, 2021 – maybe today will be a busy day

Humid. Very humid. Slightly less hot than summer, but humid. I don’t think it got above 80F yesterday but it was so humid I was dripping sweat just standing in the garage.

I slept late. I actually got up early but my back hurt, and I’d been up way too late, so I thought I’d lie down for another hour. Two hours later, I got up again. Back pain is weird, it’s more spread out than normal, is closer to the skin in some way, and sharper. Usually it’s very much down in the bones, and the tissues close to them. Weird.

Fed the kids breakfast (hash browns fried in bacon fat) and spent the day doing things that needed doing, but not getting out or to my secondary to work there. I’ll try again today. The auction pickups that would normally get me out the door didn’t happen because the auction host company has been down for 2 days so far as victim of a ransomware attack. All of their auction customers nationwide are affected, and so are THEIR customers. Lots of disruption to what are usually small, local businesses.

Cut the grass, restocked the house, did some ebay and auction stuff. Poked at the computer and kibitzed about the changes here as our unsung hero Rick bangs on the machinery trying to bend it to his will. He’s had some successes. The goal is increased reliability, which is worth some disruption. Chasing the internal server 500 errors was getting to be a big frustration for him and all of the commentors alike. We will likely continue seeing tweaks and changes for a while. Be kind. Assume positive intent. Remember it’s an unpaid and unloved job that he’s doing, and it’s not one I’m competent to do, nor do I have any desire to do it. It would be nice to have some backup for Rick so if you have the skills or interest, leave a note.

It would be nice to have some backup for ME, so if you have a comment that is going to be long and self contained, consider emailing it to me for use as a guest post. No promises, guarantees, warranties, or predictions, at my sole discretion. If I don’t want to use it as a separate post, you can still post the comment… and if you have something to say or contribute but would rather not say it yourself, email me and I’ll use it like Bob did when one of the prepper couples would email him. I’d love an update from anyone Bob featured that way too. Email is my first name at aol dot com.

Comms, networks, information, all important, and all bear some additional thought. Might be that dial up BBSs come back in vogue. Takes more legally to mess with actual phone lines… but of course WROL that’s not much of a consideration. Might be worth looking at data over ham radio to mailing lists or BBSs… possibly some combination with the ip based linking and conference repeaters…hmm. Shortwave with a data stream embedded? Weather fax single sheets like the broadsheets of old? SSTV on ham freqs? Time, probably past time, to start thinking about long term and worst cases, at least as thought experiments. Alex Jones is certainly glad he has his show on shortwave radio, after being shut out of all other media. Just saying.

In the absence of orders, keep stacking.

nick

Fri. Sept. 10, 2021 – some days these write themselves, others? Not so much.

Probably hot and humid, although if we’re lucky we’ll get a little less of each. Yesterday started cool but ramped up to over 105F in the sun at my house… that is pretty hot. It was less in the shade, but still, pretty hot.

Did my pickups. Had to get D1 from school. She stayed after for some math tutoring and the bus situation for late buses isn’t great. That cut my day short. I did get stuff into appropriate bins and I have an appointment to drop off those bins at my auctioneer today. I have to load up a few at my storage unit too.

I did a small amount of additional cleanup of my patio pantry shelves. Another box of instant oatmeal, and two more big round cardboard canisters of regular oatmeal went in the trash. There will be some more spoilage when I get the shelves fully cleaned. I’m sure there is another ugly surprise in the garage shelves too, when I get to them.

There was some discussion of Best By dates and stored food longevity over at Borepatch’s blog. I made a comments about some of my successes and losses. This week we ate ham I froze a year and a half ago, Knorr pasta in a ‘sorta’ foil pouch from 6 years ago was fine, and 5 yo cake mix tastes great. IDK when the crumbled bacon is from, nor the butter. It lives in the freezer until needed, and I’ve got a lot of it to rotate through. I’ve let some stuff draw down a bit, and I’ll be fixing that in the next couple of weeks. I already am ahead of replenishment on several items once again. Still, balancing is needed.

Other stuff needs to be looked at and rotated or refreshed too. Gasoline is my biggest question mark and I need to spend the time to go through all the cans and check on their condition. I’m pretty sure I will need to siphon the gas off the top and leave the water behind in several cans. Getting the dual fuel kit for my Honda inverter gennie would take some of that pressure off, but it’s one more thing to do.

Oh and I’ll be doing plumbing today. Got the shower part too late in the day to do the repair last night. Hey, it did get here in one day, just too late in the day on that one day…

Gotta get a bunch of work done so I don’t feel bad about doing my normal monthly non-prepping hobby meeting tomorrow. My biggest observance for 9-11 is living my life NORMALLY for that day. And remembering the dead. But trying for normal.

Keep working on your stacks. Might want some extra buckets. There’s a plastic shortage headed our way. And buckets are crazy useful.

Stack all the things!

nick

Sun. Sept. 5, 2021 – did some stuff, more to do

Hot and humid, little chance of rain. And we got through yesterday without getting rain at home. It did get hot. Morning was cool, but by the time I was outside it went from 85F to 105F in the sun. Since I was in the sun, well, it was hot.

Got the front yard cut. Started on the back but ran out of battery. If I charge it, I can do front and back. If I leave it after doing the back,the next week I can only do the front, or the back again. It’s pretty consistent. Still liking the mower btw. I love that I don’t have to wear ear pro.

Spent a bunch of time cleaning one section of my food storage shelves. The rat was moving around on them, and on the stores, so it needed to be cleaned. I started with the easiest of the three shelves. I am very happy with my idea of putting everything in low bins with lids. The food in that section was all protected from spoilage. The stuff that wasn’t in plastic? It didn’t fare as well. I lost a box of instant oatmeal in envelopes to bugs. I lost several of the big cardboard oatmeal containers to ‘moisture’. And I had some bulging cans. 4 cans of evaporated milk were bulging a bit. They were best by 2015 and have been poorly stored so I’m not put out. I expect spoilage and losses because my storage conditions are so bad. My Kraft Mac n cheese is one year past best by, and it tastes a bit “old”. Two cases. Dang. Funny how your eating patterns can change.

One of the things we’ve learned with this whole “lockdown” thing is that our eating habits changed a lot. Over the last year we pretty much stopped eating breakfast cereal. We were steady eaters of Cheerios since the kids were babies. Mac n cheese consumption is way down, and I’m more likely to make the cheese sauce from FD cheese powder and milk, with normal pasta, than from a box. I don’t know how much is just the kids getting older, or if there was some appetite fatigue, but it’s something to consider in your long term food plan.

What to do about it? Variety and versatility. I store stuff like the Kraft Mac n cheese because it’s easy and quick. The kids can grab it for themselves. But, it’s not as versatile as bare pasta and cheese powder. We still eat a lot of pasta, but much less orange cheese. To combat any potential appetite fatigue, I stock lots of weirder things that we don’t normally eat but might make an interesting change of pace. Lima beans. Butter beans. Canned asparagus spears. Artichoke hearts. Weird imported fruits. You name it, if I saw it on a shelf, I’ve probably picked up a can or two. I occasionally bust out the weird and add it to a meal just to see if it might be great (and to acclimate the family to the idea of eating unusual stuff.)

As I read around the web, I’m becoming increasingly nervous about food. Having some spoilage from the rats and heat is contributing to my concerns. If things get bad, you probably don’t have enough food. You may not have enough boots, socks, and underwear. How’s the elastic on your shorts? I just replaced a bunch of pairs that were a bit crunchy from the dryer being hot (and they are years old.) But back to food… Unlike Bob, I’m not counting calories and just filling buckets with salt, sugar, flour, rice, and beans. You can do that, and there is plenty of guidance here (look at the keywords on the right), but I think in terms of “meals.” It also keeps me from worrying about nutrition too much. Normal meals are going to be normally nutritious. If you’re not starving now, you won’t be later.

I do have lots of buckets filled with those things (except beans, I keep those in cans.) I think of the buckets as meal extenders. Bread/tortillas/pasta added to a canned meal, or rice combined with other food will extend the length of time that my canned meal plan will last. Whatever your preference, and plan, consider adding to your stack. After all, if things don’t get bad, you can donate excess to food banks or your neighbors. And consider variety and novelty when stacking. More is better. More choice is better too.

Keep stacking.

nick

Tues. Aug. 17, 2021 – the decline is accelerating

Hot and humid, although the storm brought lower temps overnight. 74F when I went to bed last night. I’m thinking today will be pretty much like yesterday. We’ll have a dry morning, wet afternoon, and moist night.

Had a weird morning yesterday. Got dizzy for no apparent reason, had to lie down for a bit. Pulse ox and heartrate were fine. Weird. Gonna have to find a doctor now.

Spent a little time doing auction stuff, then called my latest auctioneer. He’s agreed to start taking stuff in on Wednesday. HOOORAAYYY. Stuff can finally start leaving here.

Spent the rest of the afternoon picking up and spending time with daughter 2. We ended up assembling a book shelf unit for her room. Mom and d1 got home early so that ended that. Next step is paint or vinyl to change the look, but that will be next time.

Made a special dinner for d1 in honor of her Girl Scout mariner certificate. It’s one of my ‘specialty of the house’ dishes. Grilled lamb rib chops. I dug deep in the freezer and got a package from 2016 and one from 2019. From $10/lb to $14/lb in only 3 years. I didn’t look yet at a current one to see how much more it’s come up. Both packages were in the original heavy Costco vac seal and both were delicious (although the older one was slightly more ‘lamb’ smelling before rinsing). Nothing wrong with leaving stuff in the freezer if it’s vac sealed and consistently frozen. I keep the chest freezer at -2F.

I also tested one packet of a case of commercially packaged coffee I got at auction. 72 “4 cup” packs of Seattles Best decaf in commercial food service packs (think hotel room coffee setup.) It was $5 for the case, and it is past its ‘best by’ but smelled and tasted just fine. I don’t drink a lot of decaf but I’ll put it on the shelf (or in the freezer if there is room). If it actually ages out, I’m only out $5.

The burn on my forearm is dark red, smooth, and sore but itchy. I broke out the silvadene cream and have been putting that on it, and covering it with a big bandaid. What’s the point of having the stuff if you don’t use it when needed? I will be adding to the stocks to replace the open tube with unopened. Re-stocking is important-

Because I’m watching the humiliation of the US on the world wide stage. Every ally has to be re-thinking their assessment of our strength. Every enemy is going to be doing the same. Afghanistan is an invader breaker, and has been forever. And now it broke us. Oh, we’re not shuffling out into the snow, but the complete miscalculation, the refusal to understand that aliens are alien, the absolutely shameful way we abandoned YET ANOTHER set of local players, is a serious blow to our power and strength worldwide. It will surely give potential allies pause, and our enemies encouragement.

Those are not good things for me and you. I expect even more disruption to our economy and to our financial system. Confidence and optimism will be battered. When that happens, markets get roiled and prices fall. I’m as out as I can be, and my feelings on the casino for suckers should be pretty clear by now, so I won’t beat a dead horse, but if you’re in the markets, why? How much higher do you expect it to go? When it drops it will drop in a big hurry. I’m not giving financial advice but I’m going to be VERY conservative at this point. Tangibles you have control over. Just saying.

Other people are starting to notice the slide. There will be a point where it’ll be too late for a lot of things, at least for a while. Prepping will help you get through that time.

When I’m feeling pessimistic, I’m really pessimistic. Seeds. Antibiotics. Lots of reference books. Water treatment and power generation. Stealth. Really low key living. And when I’m worst casing, alternate ID. 30 million illegals are getting it somewhere. The mayor of Kabul probably wishes she had some. Just saying.

Keep stacking. I think we’re already in it. When everyone else figures that out, it will get ugly quick.

nick

Fri. April 9, 2021 – and now we’re one step closer to CWII, thanks Joe!

Warm and sunny, with a small chance of rain, or hot and sunny, I’m reasonably sure it will be one or the other. It was sunny and warm yesterday, but so humid that puddles in the driveway wouldn’t dry. I was soaked with sweat pretty quickly after going outside. Sunny and beautiful, but not pleasant.

Spent a couple of hours napping. I just felt really wrung out, and was falling asleep in my office chair. Since that hurts my neck, I just went back to bed. I’ve done that more in the last couple of months than in the last couple of years. That is not necessarily a good thing.

The rest of the day was eaten up with small tasks. I got a mounting arm for my last camera cobbled together. I put the mount for the mount in place on the chimney. And I got the camera configured, along with the NVR software. Even though the cam is sitting in my office, I am looking at image from it on my NVR. Since getting that camera in place and working moved to pretty near the top of my list, it felt like a good day.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was devoted to cooking our belated Easter dinner. I was able to use mint and rosemary from the garden to season the lamb. I also used some instant potato packets from 2014. They were a bit orange, as the butter flavor coloring changed with time, but after adding some cream, butter, and bacon crumbles, the mashed potatoes were perfectly fine as an accompaniment to the lamb. I had one box of envelopes that tasted “old” and then this box that is well within acceptable range for taste. Same age, but one got more heat than the other. Heat is the killer of stored food.

I have decided to increase my stored bulk rice and flour beyond where it is now. It’s relatively cheap, and things aren’t looking better world wide, in fact our pResident seems to be actively working to make them worse. (And of course I don’t believe it’s him at all, but whoever is pulling the strings. It’s convenient to blame him, after all he’s sitting in the big chair, and that way I don’t need to type all this every time.) I think when I did the math, if we were eating it every day, one bucket of rice would last one month, and 50 pounds fits in a bucket. I’ll double check later today and update. So, 10-12 buckets of rice at $25-$40/bucket for the year. I haven’t priced bulk rice in a year, and it varies by grade, producer, and availability. If someone here is using rice every day (roughly) please add your usage observations.

Flour is much harder to judge because I do almost nothing with bulk flour. I’m going to guess at 10-12 buckets per year for that too, because it’s cheap, so why not.

I’ll need to add a few gallons of vitamin E stabilized peanut cooking oil too. That will actually be the most expensive part.

Those three things, and some salt, comprise most of the traditional ‘poor people’ food the world over, time without end. Some type of powdered flour, some rice, some cooking oil, some water and salt, and you have basic calories that can be added to with whatever is available. RBT called them “iron rations” and it never seemed very appealing to me. I plan to have lots to add to them, but they are the base load. It’s time to build up the canned storage too.

We’re currently eating canned corn, beans, peas, and a few other things that I panic bought during ebola-14, and the vast majority is as good as when I bought it. There are exceptions. High acid foods don’t survive as long in cans. Pineapple, tomato products, some other fruit, they have swelled up and/or popped. Dry mixes with a high fat content also tend to taste “old” once past their best by date. In our climate, dried food in boxes picks up an “old” taste too soon too– Kraft mac n cheese I’m looking at you.

The way I’m looking at it, maybe we WON’T need enough stuff to stay home for 6 months to a year because of a pandemic…. and maybe we won’t need to supplement our shopping with stored food for a year or two, while the economy and security situation stabilize. But what if we do? Food security is cheap insurance.

So stack it high.

nick

Thur. Jan. 21, 2021 – 012121 – yep, easily amused

Cool and damp, may be even damper later in the day.

Yesterday was pretty nice for mid-winter high with 60s and low 70s.  Overcast all day, but shorts and t-shirt weather for me.  I got a couple of things around the house cleaned up.  Finally got the last of the Christmas decor down and most of it put away.

Because I was at home in the afternoon, I cooked a lamb roast.   It’s a great example of saving money with a freezer, vac sealer, and buying in bulk.  I like lamb.  If you haven’t had it since you were a child, it’s different than it was.  Most of the ‘lamb’ taste, the mutton/gamey flavor is gone because of the farmers growing a different breed.   We enjoy it rare to medium rare.   Anyway, I buy the bigger roast and cut it in half.  Vac seal and freeze the resulting 2-3 pound roasts, and you’ve got a roast that is perfectly sized for two adults with leftovers, or a family like mine.  It doesn’t take forever to roast at that size either.    You can get a much better grade of meat in lamb roast for the same money, than you typically can for a beef roast.  Better living for less….

I buy hamburger in a bulk pack and repack it as 1 1/3 pound slabs.  I press it into a shallow square plastic food saver package then vac seal that shape so it will stack better in the freezer.  I used to do 1 pound packs but the kids are growing.

I buy pork roasts in the 10 pound tube, and slice into center cut pork chops any thickness I like.  I also cut a couple of 2-3 pound roasts out of the whole.  All get vac sealed and frozen.   The 10 pound pack is cheaper than smaller roasts, or pre-cut chops.  I usually season the chops in the vac bag with garlic salt and chinese oyster sauce.  The family LOVES the sweet brown sauce on pork and I don’t have to make a mess at cooking time, or worry about marinading it ahead of time.  Another win!

Beef ribeye roasts get the same treatment as the pork roast, some steaks, some of the best beef roast ever.  I season the steaks before vac bagging with Adkins seasoning.  It’s a nice mix of garlic, citrus-y something, and black pepper.   It’s a lot like Penzey’s Chicago Steak seasoning, without all the hate for conservatives.

Bacon in the bulk pack is 24c/lb.  It’s double that in smaller packaging.  I re-pack it in 3/4 lb blocks which is just a bit more than we need for breakfast.    It rarely lasts until lunch.  Vac seal and freeze into one meal portions…

I should note that I’m not Rockefeller.   The vac seal and freeze routine means the meat lasts as long as it’s frozen, so I only buy the stuff on sale.  I buy a BUNCH when the price is right and store it for later.  There are significant savings to be had if you shop this way.   There are shopping trips where I might not even buy any meat if it’s not on sale, because I have some at home in the freezer.

Another thing I do is freeze the leftovers from holiday meals.   I do the same “shape them into a flat block” trick of pressing them into a plastic storage container before freezing.   It’s easy to gauge the number of portions when it’s time to eat, just look at the bag.

If you want to vac seal something wet or squishy, put it in the plastic container and freeze it first, then take it out of the container and vac seal the block of soup, or chili, or whatever.

You can vac seal and freeze partially prepare foods too.   I like to sear the meat before using the slow cooker to make stew or pot roast or carnitas.  I don’t like the smell in the house (and I didn’t have a working exhaust fan) so if I’m going to get out the cast iron and make the mess, I like to do at least 2 or 3 meals worth.   After searing,  I put the meat and juices into vac sealed bags and freeze them.  The next time I want stew or pot roast, or pork carnitas, I defrost the meat and put it right into the cooker, no muss, no fuss.

I’m sure there are plenty of other people out there that have written or ‘tubed about the vac sealer more eloquently and more completely than I have, but these ideas should get you started if you are holding out.  I consider the vac sealer to be essential, so I have my daily driver, then another spare of a similar type, then two more  spares of the ‘seal a meal’ manual type.  I just picked up another one from goodwill this week to have on the shelf.  You’ll find uses for it, if you have one.

So that’s some ideas for stacking, get to it.

 

nick

Tues. Sept. 22, 2020 – some people are getting flooded

Cooler, rainy.

Looked at the pictures from the Gulf Coast yesterday.  Lot’s of places I’ve been were under water from Beta’s storm surge.  Not much in the news though.  Twitter and FB for the on scene pix.  Trad media is dead.

We got a steady rain most of the day.  Kept me inside.

I did a bit of work on the possible lake house.  Some research in public records, and some time in Sketchup addressing my wife’s main concerns about the house.  Virtual remodel is a lot cheaper than actual…  The lot is great.  The house is a big weird mess.

Gave a buddy some supplies for his security cam install.  He’s got a neighbor problem.  Also gave him some stuff for his kids to play with – some “take aparts” (old mech and electronics), and some learning toys (soda can robot, potato clock, solar crawler, etc)

I’ve got stuff to do today, since I spent yesterday on other things.  Auction pickup, maybe stop by my buddy’s store, who knows?  Maybe something crazy like drive thru food.

Or not.  Cooler weather means more work in the attic and bathroom.  There’s always something to do.

And that’s all in addition to stacking it higher…

 

n

Sat. Aug. 15, 2020 – hurray for the weekend, just 2 more days to work…

Yup, hot.  Real hot.  Sunny and humid too.

Friday was a bit of a bust.  I got done the stuff outside the house that I needed to do.  Did some organization at my secondary space.  Picked up some stuff.

Today I need to do some catching up here at the house.  I’ve been slack.

I don’t think I mentioned it on Wednesday, but I broke down and vac sealed a bunch of meat for the freezer.  9 pounds of pig roast, into 3 smaller roasts and 4 chops, 6 pounds of hamburger into 1 1/3 pound blocks, 6 pounds of bacon into 1 pound bags, and we ate the steaks I’d bought in the last order.  It’s great having <s>some</s> lots of freezer space.  I also vac sealed a couple pounds of coffee that I got from my auction guy, $1 / pound.  I’d have bought more if he had more in roasts that I like.  You get what you see, when you see it if you want it.  The vac seal and freezer let you keep it a long time.

Speaking of which, I can’t really imagine prepping without a vac sealer.  It lets you keep stuff fresh for a LOT longer than any other packaging technique I know of for the freezer.  I’m still using the same one I bought on sale at Costco 5 or six years ago (or maybe 10 years ago).  I do have a backup that I picked up at a yard sale (same model), and a couple of backups to that that are simpler and more in the original Seal-a-meal style.  I like backups.  They were all super cheap at yard sales or thrift stores.  Even new in the store, the vac sealer will earn it’s cost back when you can buy cheap bulk food and break it down or when you can buy lots of food when it’s on sale and keep it in good condition for years.

Of course, with a freezer full of food, you’ll want a gennie, or solar setup.  Or battery backup and inverters, or hamsters on a wheel…. but that’s prepping too, it’s fractal.   And some people have opted for pallets of freeze dried food, or shelves full of canning to avoid worrying about the freezer.  If you do that, you need canning supplies, ways to clean them, heat source, storage, etc, and if you go for freeze drieds, you’ll need deep pockets 🙂

Whichever way you go, get busy.  You will feel better with food in the pantry.  So keep stacking!

 

nick