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!



Sun. May 10, 2020 – Mother’s Day

Cooler. Overcast opening to nice later.

There- that almost guarantees that we’ll get rain.

Yesterday was overcast, cool, and windy most of the day. Not unpleasant. Just unusual.

Ventured over to my secondary location to move some things, and collect a couple of small items for projects here at the house. Sold a piece or two to a friend while I was at it. Then hit two other friends just to touch base. Meatspace. Still important.

Today, here, we’re having a special meal to celebrate Mother’s Day. I’ve got half that elk roast defrosting, and I’ll figure out how to cook it. I guess the sides will be similar to either lamb or beef, but I’ll know better after reviewing a couple of books. Paper books, just as an exercise.

Dinner last night was grilled over a small fire in the back yard. We used the firepit/grill I’ve mentioned before and it worked great again. Nice bed of hardwood coals from backyard tree waste. Kids had hotdogs, my wife and I had homemade sausage, half deer, half wild pig, that the neighbor gave us at our Neighbors’ Night Out a year and a half ago. It’s been vac sealed and in the freezer. I also made sliced red potatoes with butter and seasoning in foil tucked in the ashes and coals. A bed of saute’d onions went under our sausages. S’mores for dessert, natch.

WRT the coming unpleasantness, my gun store buddy told me to ‘make a list’ of anything I might want. “Lots of guys in the oil patch” are starting to consign their guns for sale. So it’s already starting. Fancy guns and hunting guns, musical instruments, “man” toys- stuff with motors, boats, etc should be first. RV’s, trucks, and tools will probably be last. You can live in an RV, you need a truck for work, and tools (especially if you use them to make your living) are always useful.

Garden is… continuing. Potato towers are going gangbusters. The bag o dirt is about 2ft high now, and I’m running out of dirt. That might be as high as I go this year. The other stuff I planted as seed is coming up, wherever the squirrels didn’t eat the seeds, and where I have metal mesh to keep it safe… I don’t have enough metal mesh, that’s clear. Either that or the seeds just didn’t germinate. My ‘window boxes’ are a big disappointment. No sprouts, and the onion starts have been disappearing at the rate of one a day. Did I mention I need more mesh?

Blueberry ‘bushes’ have fruit ripening. I planted different varieties for pollenization, and because with different maturities, we should be getting berries for a longer season. So far, 4 berries have been harvested and eaten. They are very tasty, if not exactly going to fill buckets…

Last year’s pepper plants continue to provide a bounty. Delicious sweet peppers, without a hint of heat. Cabbages look sturdy, but are all leaf and no head at this point. Broccoli is a bit spindly, but the other dark green leafy (either brusselsprouts or collards, can’t remember) are starting to grow. They stayed the same size while something eats holes in the leaves for the last couple of weeks but are finally getting bigger. The grape vine looks caterpillar free at the moment, so I think I got that in time this year. The other grape vine is staying short, having died back to within a foot of the ground. I’m not hopeful for that vine coming back. It’s just not and never was, as vigorous.

Citrus is doing well, where the tree rats leave it alone. Something stole the oranges off my potted orange tree, and can’t even eat them as they are only golf ball sized. Damn spoilers. The lime does still have one or two fruits developing. The Meyer Lemon is set to produce well, but then they do very well here in Houston. And the other orange still has at least one fruit on it, and the grapefruit tree has a bunch. Still hopeful for that one. No flowers on the peach tree, but it’s fully leafed in. Not a garden that would feed the family, that’s for sure, but it will hopefully provide at least a bit of variety and tasty nutrition.

We are in this for the long haul, here at Casa de Nick. I hope you are too.

Keep stacking, keep building skills and knowledge, and do what you can to maintain your meatspace relationships. Call your mom if you can…


Sun. Mar. 29, 2020 – almost done with March

Cooler and wet.

Never really got rain yesterday but it stayed wet all afternoon and evening. Kids and wife ‘camped’ in a tent in the back yard. I hurt too much to do that if I don’t sleep in my bed.

I got some work done in the garden despite the heavy mist. Cleaned up an area next to a raised bed, transplanted 3 tomato plants, planted one trash bag potato tower.

My cabbage is currently thriving, but my broccoli has ‘bolted’. I cut it back and am hoping for a second growth.

Meyer Lemon tree has flowers already. We just picked the lemons a week or so ago.

Blueberry bushes flowered and look to be setting berries. I worked on the bamboo to support the bird netting. The bushes aren’t exactly thriving, but it’s neat to have some berries in season. The bird net means I’ll get them and not the thieving wildlife.

Old pepper plants continue to fruit. New peppers need transplanting. Maybe today.

No sign of sprouting for my radishes or turnips yet, nor the mixed herbs.

I need to get my onion sets in the ground and get some other veg in too. Maybe today.

If the weather clears I’ll be working in the driveway moving stuff around too.

Breakfast today is hillbilly donuts. Tube biscuits, cut with a shot glass to donuts and holes, fried up in peanut oil in my cast iron. Then shake in a bag of powdered sugar, cinnamon, or chocolate powder. Or do all three. Special treat for the family. Makes a mess with the oil, but I filter and save the oil just for donuts. It lasts a long time.

Dinner last night was spiral slice ham, baked potatoes, cabbage saute’d with onion, and mango cobbler for dessert. All but the cabbage and cobbler mix was from Costco.

I better get to it.

Stay in, stay safe. Get your garden started!


Sun. Mar. 1, 2020 – time marches on

Cool, chance of rain in the national forecast.

Beautiful day yesterday. Just awesome. Clear, relatively cool, and fairly dry.

I got some stuff done in the driveway before losing the light.

Before that, I was out foraging and getting stuff from my secondary location with my 10 yo. It gave us a lot of time to talk about preps. She’s anxious, and I hoped that by showing her the depth of prepping I’ve done, she’d be reassured. It’s the first time I’ve shared the extent of some of my preps with anyone. My wife doesn’t go anywhere near my secondary location. It made the whole thing very real to be showing someone stuff I hadn’t before, and making her aware of stuff that even my wife doesn’t completely know about.

And while I feel better about our ability to live through a ‘shelter in place’ or lockdown, the vast majority of people will be in real trouble pretty quickly. Unlike a hurricane, there isn’t anyone coming from outside the zone. It’s really a question of shifting from a mindset and expectation of abundance to one of resource constraints. If it all goes to hell, we’re just not getting more stuff for a while.

I know that US citizens and illegals will not calmly undergo the kind of restrictions Chinese are suffering from. The FSA will be out in force by the third day with empty stores. The fires will start soon after that, and it won’t be irregular .gov squads burning plague houses. No one here will be welding shut apartment building doors. We’ve got guns.

My daughter is really struggling with the idea that we probably won’t be helping anyone and that her friends likely aren’t prepping. I keep emphasizing that they’ve had the same opportunities we had, and made different choices. And that every thing we give away decreases our ability to survive. We’ve also talked about when and how we COULD help people and that I have put up stuff specifically for that. She gets it that we can’t help everyone, and that all of our stuff will vanish in minutes if we tried, and then we’d have none and most of the people would STILL not have anything. But she’s really worried about her friends. I am too, but for different reasons. I know she’s mentioned our prepping before. I’m worried they’ll remember. She is under orders not to talk about it anymore, and I think she understands how dire it could get.

It’s a lot for a 10yo to deal with but I need her to both cooperate, and understand why she can’t talk about it.


There’s always more to do.
-make sure all the propane tanks are full
-get the adapter to refill 1 pound tanks from BBQ tanks– ordered
-barring that, get more 1 pound tanks
-many of my coleman fuel cans were empty when I checked on them. I need to add more cans.
-potting soil for the garden and lime for a slit trench
-all the gennies need attention
-stored gasoline needs to be increased
–which means more sta-bil additive too
-I’ve used the concrete blocks I had for a rocket stove to hold up my rain water barrels, so they need to be replaced.
-I pulled the trigger on an outdoor propane tankless water heater. $109 on amazon. Also another morakniv

Daughter was concerned about hot water if utilities fail. I’ve been looking at the heater for a year, and if everything is normal, it will be welcome at swim team practices in a month or two. Bought.

Think through your day under quarantine and consider your preps. So far in China utilities seem to have stayed up. We should be able to do the same, but if we can’t, it’s better to have a plan.

Keep stacking. We have community transmission in more than one place in the US. Everywhere in the world that they start testing they find cases. Even very casual contact seems to spread this (vis. google employee in Zurich.) If it gets into a group it can spread like wildfire (vis. Korean church group) Our ‘leaders’ seem to be intent on bringing this to all of us. All that combined, and we’re in for a world of hurt.


Sun. Feb. 23, 2020 – maybe vehicle maintenance today

Cool and damp.

Yesterday actually got to be very nice by the end of the day. Shirtsleeves weather.

Roofer came by and we’re going to pursue the new roof. Insurance call on Monday. Big deductible, but if we don’t do it now, if we were to sell in the future, we’d have to do it all on our dime. Preps, sometimes the best prep is money in the bank.

I’ve got a fan speed resister pack to put into my Expy, and a windshield washer fluid pump to change out in the Ranger. Both are just annoying issues, but are also simple fixes, so only lack of time has prevented me doing it.

The rest of the day will be filled with all the normal things.

I will be buying some additions that I wouldn’t normally buy. Feminine hygiene stocks are low here, as are some of the kid’s things like toothpaste. I looked a bit farther afield, and I’m going to order two more cams for my system. They are JIT from China thru a US distributor and repackager. Chances are good that the supply chain isn’t going to be there for long and existing stocks will run out. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of months, and decided to pull the trigger. If you want something that is normally made in China, you should look really hard at getting it now.

The virus has now showed up in the strangest places. “Worse, infected travelers from Iran already have been discovered in Lebanon and Canada. “ And it’s killing folks. Coverage is getting weird too. Try this line on for size–

“A cluster of cases isn’t inherently worrying – in fact, it’s expected as an infection that’s easy to spread is carried around the world by travelers. “

–nothing to see here folks, everything is proceeding as expected….

Remember the big differences between this and ebola- the chinese can afford air travel, and this one seems to kill fewer people, at least in some places.

Take the time we have and take your preps to the next level. I know I’m sounding like a broken record on this but just look at the numbers…

Keep stacking,


Sun. Feb. 16, 2020 – got a few things done, SO MUCH more to do

Cool and slightly drier than most days.

Nice day yesterday, although it did get cloudy and overcast in the afternoon. Wife got some yard work done. I got some yard work done. I did a little ebay and storage reorganizing, and packed an item for shipment. I met with a buyer for a hand delivery on some speakers. Saved me the effort of packing them well. He was on time too, which was nice.

I’ve got ONE thin little stalk of asparagus poking up. The broccoli I planted ran directly to flower. The limes are heavy with flower buds. Peach still hasn’t quite budded. I’m still getting some peppers from the two year old plants but will get some new ones in the ground soon. I cleaned out (well, started) some of my fence “window boxes” and will get some root veg in there ASAP. Turnips, radishes, and beets are all on the calendar this week and next as a good time to plant.

I spent some time cleaning leaves out of the area around the garage and fence, and the driveway. I’ve been working on it for a week or more. It should help get rid of some of the damp, and maybe help with the critters too.

I bought a couple of rat trap poison feeders, and put one in the driveway, and one in the attic. I re-baited another. Something has been eating the bait in the attic, mice probably, and the dead rat on the lawn says that there are still rats here somewhere. Even if they’re not eating my preps, I don’t want them around.

Rats, garbage, and sanitation issues are problems in quarantined china. Pics show people throwing trash and worse out their windows into shared courtyards. If you haven’t already learned from my saga, get some traps and poison so you’ll have it on hand when needed.

The virus is spreading and turning up in new places. The chinese continue to crack down harder- as that’s what oppressive governments do. Gotta stop the trucks from moving, even if it means dumping food on the ground while people go hungry. Gotta keep people from gathering, even if it means wrestling with them hand to hand.

Prepare for the virus to get loose here, and celebrate when it doesn’t. Prepare for the economy to tank due to the loss of China and chinese goods. Maybe we’ll dodge the effects, but I don’t think so.

I know what I’m doing. I hope you guys do too.


Mon. Feb. 10, 2010 – and just like that, I’d forgotten to worry about a civil war…

Warmish and damp. [71F and wet]

Yesterday I got a couple of things done before the rain, and then again after it stopped.

I re-potted some trees. Did a little pruning. Picked up the yard.

Lime trees are budding out flowers. Apple trees are leafing or have the sap rising. Peach is getting leaf buds. Meyer lemon is past harvest time. I’ll have to get to that soon. Wife and kids were going to do it but well….

I rotated some small amount of food from the secondary to home, and took 40 pounds of rice and some canned chicken there for deep storage. I really need to get that organized and inventoried. The urgency increases with every new report out of China.

I moved a couple of things in the driveway, and started scrapping out a pallet. Global scrap prices will collapse, if they haven’t already, with Chinese industry on the rocks. If I’m going to do it, I need to do it now. I did enough yesterday to know if it is going to be worth it, considering all the other things I could be doing that all pay more money. I have to do a little prep before I can dump them as ‘shred’ for 4c/pound in any case. But, they’re mostly aluminum and stainless, which both pay about 35c/pound so it might be worth separating them. I’ve got to weigh up the parts and do the math today.

I was moving the pallet to get to my pallet of forced air breathing respirators. I need to dig them out and see what condition they’re in, and what they need to work. I have only 2 batteries and I’m not certain they are correct. It’s been a very low priority, but is moving up dramatically. If I can sell off the rest for good money that will help too.

I am seeing a nice increase in my ebay sales. I’ve got some nice stuff listed recently and it’s moving decently. I need it to continue and increase though. If the WuFlu continues, at some point nobody will be buying anything.

Speaking of WuFlu, Kung Flu, Sweet and sour sicken, or any of the other ‘whistling past the graveyard’ names… even ordinary people are starting to notice. No one believes the chinese numbers, and for all the reasons given here before. Have you ever known the chinese to play up a disaster? I’ve posted links to twitter feeds and ‘citizen journalists’ because I think that’s a great window into the situation on the ground. Yes, they are unknown and unvetted. Aesop in particular objects to one off videos from randos… they are filming the body bags SOMEWHERE. They are filming guys in tyvek welding doors shut SOMEWHERE. Ditto for grabbing people out of their homes and off the street. I’ve seen enough body bags to think that the dead count is off by one or two orders of magnitude. NO ONE ANYWHERE walks past someone who seizes and collapses on the ground, unless things are SERIOUSLY wrong. No one leaves dead people laying in the street like that. No city in China is ever that quiet and empty as the drone footage. Lastly, you aren’t thinking the people in the building will survive if you are LOCKING THEM INSIDE. That should terrify everyone who thinks about it.

We can’t trust their numbers, but we can judge them by their actions.

Also, I’m cynical enough to think that if China looks like they’re the only ones who will burn from this, they will try actively to infect the west, so they don’t burn alone.

Keep stacking.


Fri. Jan. 24, 2020 – another week gone bye bye bye

Cool and damp. [39F and 99%RH] Of course.

It stayed a bit coolish and dampish all day yesterday, although the rain mostly stayed away. I’m hoping for no rain today. Temps were 44F when I went to bed.

Busy week for me, and it didn’t leave much time for preps. I am feeling caught off guard by the sudden change in the china virus status. Fortunately the extreme case has the same preps as our old friend ebola, without the blood. Unfortunately, I think people won’t be as freaked out without the whole ‘sh!tting yourself to death while your eyes bleed’ aspects and won’t isolate themselves appropriately.

I don’t have anywhere near enough PPEs to interact with people in a mostly normal way if that is what’s needed. I intended to severely limit any contact at all, not don a mask and go shopping….

I guess we’ll see how things progress, but we should have at least a couple of days before any panic starts here. Think hard about stocking up on some stuff, like any masks, tyvek, bleach, wipes and hand sanitizer, and snivel gear for dealing with flu symptoms. I haven’t seen much about actually treatment/care for patients, but you can be sure that it won’t take long if there is an outbreak to saturate available care facilities. I don’t even know if we ever got restocked on IV fluids after the shortage. Puerto Rico has had their own issues and that’s where most of it came from.

I know our Habitat ReStore has shelves full of 3M surgical style face masks and they are cheap. I’ve already bought what I thought was a good amount, but now I want more. I don’t think there will be a run on them at the ReStore. (or anywhere in the US, yet). That said, I’m headed there today and I am going to stock up if they’re still on the shelf.

I’m going to treat this as if there was a hurricane headed straight toward us. I REALLY don’t like the way the numbers are quickly ratcheting up, or the revelations about the spread. I’m aiming for ‘better safe than sorry.’

I know, it’s always something, and the sky doesn’t usually fall, but this feels weirder than normal.

Lots of driving around today, so I’ll be out of the loop on news, and updates. Keep an eye on it….


Fri. June 21, 2019 – already Friday again, jeez

82F and 90%RH. Never got a drop of rain yesterday, hope today goes the same. Openweathermap (henceforth OWM) has our high at 97 or 98F. It’ll be much hotter than that here in my driveway.

The march to war continues–

This looks like classic Trump to me, promise some outrageous thing, let everyone freak about it, then offer the compromise. We’ll see. I’d prefer not to have a nuclear Iran, and the weaker they are, the better for stability in the middle east.

Lots of kid activities this week so not as many preps as I’d like, and I’m getting ready to head back to Chicago to help my mom with selling her house. I’ll probably be there a week.

The little tiny caterpillars were back with a vengeance and ate all the leaves off one grape vine and most off the other vine. It did reveal on bunch of grapes, which I split with littlest child. They were tasty with thick skins. I sprayed them with the thuricide and I hope the vines recover for next year. Grapes are a huge PITA.

We have one little apple growing on the tree, and one orange is still clinging to its tree too.

Peppers are still producing but tomatoes aren’t showing any fruit. Cukes and zukes haven’t died yet. The stems usually spit open at the ground level and get eaten by ants. I’ve been hitting them with different things hoping to find something that will get them thru the summer. Seems to be working so far. The plants in the one raised bed are still slowly bleaching to white and dying. No time to investigate that further. It MUST be an issues with the soil.

I did add another bucket of rice and some more cans to the stack. I can tell the hand warmers I’m using as O2 absorbers are working because the buckets ‘dent’ in.

I’ve mentioned it before but I think prepping to make tortillas/pita/naan/ or some other flat bread makes more sense than risen breads. They take less time, effort, and fuel. The staples of poor rural people and indigenous people the world over are refined by long history to be efficient in all those areas. (that root you have to smash for hours being an exception necessitated by a lack of alternatives.)

Someone mentioned that my SWAG at a couple of months food for my family was missing some things… yup. It was. There were LOTS of things missing from the list, but it was intended to show that it doesn’t have to be hard, or rocket science to stack a good amount of food. Also it’s what MY family (and by extension, most families I know) will eat. (If I was hispanic or german, the list would be different (and have more pickled stuff on it if german))

There are actually canned beans in the list (red, black, refried,bbq, drunken (borracho), and several others are on my shelves.) For preps, I prefer canned beans to dried. The water is already in the can. The cans are safe from rats and other vermin. The liquid in the can can be used as ‘sauce’ over rice. Of course, they are more expensive than dried beans, but they can be eaten cold from the can, only need to be warmed up to make them tasty, have flavor already added, and are generally easier, quicker, and thrifty with fuel.

If your family already eats chick peas, or dried beans, by all means store them in your preps! I wouldn’t want the list to be seen as EX-clusive. You should always feel free to go beyond or tweak for personal preference. For example, someone else mentioned canned potatoes. I have canned potatoes from a couple different makers with different styles of potato in them. I really like one particular can of sliced new potatoes. I’ve served them as a side dish lots of times. We don’t eat many potatoes though, and most canned versions don’t taste that good to me. I did list pouches of instant potato though. The name brand is really good, especially the varieties with added cheese and other flavors. If we had a real ‘no shit, hit the store for one last run’ event, besides all the overlooked cans, I’d grab bags of potatoes and onions. They store well (up to a year in good conditions) are cheap and versatile. But we personally don’t eat them often, so I usually only keep a couple of pounds of heritage baby potatoes in the pantry, and 10 pounds of onion… we do eat a lot of onion.

And I have to get the wife and kids out the door so I need to continue this later….

what did you do to prep this week?


Fri. July 20, 2018 – busy week

Another hot one, 80F at 6am. Forecast for record heat.

Whether we’re swirling around the edge of the toilet bowl, or at the dawn of a new age, it’s pretty clear that big changes are happening in the world. The march to war might be delayed a bit, or we might be getting played while our enemies align themselves and get ready. We might be headed toward civil war, as people on both sides seem almost to yearn for it. Who knows?

Or we might be headed into a general collapse. I think it’s well underway and we just don’t see the signs. Today is pretty much like yesterday, and so it’s been throughout history. Certainly our star is not ascending.

We have MASSIVE homelessness. We have a stunning number of people on welfare and other forms of .gov aid. We have lost control of our borders to the point that somewhere around 10% of the population is currently foreign invaders. They have spread throughout the nation, and are suddenly visible, like when a geometric progression doubles to the point you see it, then doubles again… just consider the number of machete attacks.

If people defecating in the streets, gangs pulling people out of buildings and hacking them to death, and record low workforce participation rates aren’t enough, consider the rise of socialism in our political realm. This is an idea that is opposite to our national character, but the long march has been so effective that openly socialist candidates can win party primaries. Our elites get wealthier, while our ‘normals’ get poorer, and civic institutions degrade. [consider than when I was young, it was entirely normal that a man in a skilled trade, as the sole breadwinner, would be able to afford a cabin on a lake, a pontoon boat, snowmobiles, a camper, etc. Contrast that to today.]

The very things we establish government to provide are no longer working. Clean water. Education. Safety and rule of law. Public works infrastructure.

Consider just thirty years ago. What was the relationship of the public to cops? Bottled water? Aid organizations? Refugees? What did inner cities look like? Gangs? Public infrastructure? What was public morality like? What was cultural sexuality like? Cultural violence?

Consider 40 years. 50.

I think we don’t see it because we are too close to the problem. Convince me otherwise. Or what have you done to prep this week??