Saturday, September 26, 2015

Cart before the Goat?

I'm getting ahead of myself.  I had originally intended to learn small skills and work my way up to the bigger stuff.  But the heart wants what the heart wants and apparently the heart wanted goats!  Part of the push to get goats started because for the last two years I've observed a certain pattern on craigslist.  Come the fall, people start to sell off their extra livestock for cheap.  I have no proof of my theory, but I'm figuring that as people start to evaluate their winter feed needs, they start to liquidate their surplus animals.  I wanted to get in on this trend this year instead of next.  I had made arrangements to rent pasture in the prairie about 20 minutes away by bike/3 minutes by car.  I'm starting out with a 112' x 70' spot.  For the time being, the temporary pen is 25' x 8'.  I'm pretty proud of myself on the construction of the goat house.  Most of the materials used were free for the taking.  The base is free pallets from my husband's work, then 5 bales of straw ($3.50 each) form the lower walls and the top half is an old metal truck canopy.  There are windows and a flip up door.  The whole thing is waterproofed with free billboard tarps.

I've started with 3 goats.  I got the cute little mini togg(Nigerian/Toggenburg) doeling above for $60, $75 each for two sister doelings that are half Nigerian, and a quarter each Lamancha and Oberhasli.   For the time being, I'm just going to learn the skill of keeping livestock alive over the winter.  Once I have mastered that skill, on to breeding, kidding and milking!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

You only get to pick two

I used to make costumes for a living, kinda.  Let's say, I made costumes to make sure I could survive, because my job wasn't enough.  More specifically, I made what I call replica movie costumes.  Oh, you want to be Princess Leia for Halloween?  I can do that.  In the replica costume/cosplay world, you can have a costume that is accurate, cheap or fast, but you can't have all three.  If your costume is made quickly and accurately, you are going to spend a ton of money hiring someone to make it for you.  If you really want cheap and accurate, you are going to spend a great deal of time finding materials in your budget and then you are most likely going to spend tons of time machine and hand sewing, depending on the costume.  I once made an Arwen Mourning gown from Lord of the Rings for a client and I was behind on my timeline.  I stayed awake for 20 hours doing nothing but hand embroidery!  Lastly, if you don't care about down-to-the-last-detail accuracy, your costume can most likely be made cheaply and quickly.

In my prepping plans, I have tried to employ a similar dynamic.  I've observed that preps can be obtained cheaply, quickly and easily, but never all three, sometimes you only get one.  If you are rich, you can stockpile an impressive stash quickly and easily, but it will cost a pretty penny.  Good compost for gardening can be relatively effortless and low cost, but it takes time for the compost to work.  You can raise small livestock cheaply with fodder or expired food stuff from the stores, but you have to make the effort of picking it up or growing it everyday.  Growing food cheaply takes some time, but the canning and preserving take a great deal of effort.

Since I'm not affluent, the option for me is to focus on the preps that require more time and effort to obtain.  I watch craigslist quite frequently, especially the "free" section.  Great things can be for the time and effort of picking it up, and many things that people just want to get rid of can be used in an unconventional way to give it new purpose.  Take an old pickup truck canopy/shell.  I've found several photos online of people re-purposing them as chicken coops and goat houses.  Eureka!  I head to craigslist and there are 4 in the free section, begging to be picked up.  Free chicken coop, right there.  I took the time to figure out the closest and cheapest suppliers of bulk beans and grains.  Even just a little time and effort can bring down the bottom line.

So, time to develop the "skill" of saving money on preps, goodness knows I need to!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

After action report

Two weekend garage sales with a toddler was exhausting!  I'm not sure I was thinking straight, but we survived.  Overall, I learned some very useful information for the next planned garage sale in late September.  First, start early.  The first weekend, I only opened up at noon and went into the evening.  Apparently, this is not when folks are out looking.  Second, opening on Thursday, great idea.  The die hard shoppers are actively looking for sales.  The second weekend, I opened at noon on Thursday and did $85 in an hour, then nothing.  For the next garage sale I have, I'll open at 8 am on Thursday for sure.

The final numbers, $291 the first weekend (Thurs-Sat) and second weekend $340 so far.  I say so far because I added lots of fabric the second week and a friend had me set aside some fabric that she will pay for on her next paycheck.  What is really sad is that it hardly made a dent!  GAH!  I'll never be rid of it all!

So the plan is to rest up and go at it again in late September.  I might do it for two more weekends and then just donate what is left. In the meantime, I'll be listing all the fabric on "destashing" facebook groups and craiglist.

Friday, July 17, 2015

One Year, Per Person

This isn't skills related, but I will be posting my progress on my LTS food storage goals.  I have 3 months of food in the house right now for the three of us to live comfortably for 3 months.  In my mind, one needs at least a year supply of food.  My reason for this is that if the disaster that brings our country to its knees interrupts the food supply or inflation drives food out of your price range, you need to be able to survive and eat through at least one winter and growing cycle before you have produced enough food for the next year.  I don't have facts to throw at you to support this position, just my person philosophy.

As it stands, I have 10 adults(including me and hubby) and 5 children under 7 that I would feel obligated to save, should the worst happen.  These are all family.  I haven't mentioned that I'm planning on storing food for them because I don't need to be the crazy aunt right now.  So I've been doing what I do best, researching how much food you need for about 12 adults(5 children can equal 2 adults, yes?).  I'm focusing on grains, beans, sugar, salt, oil and spices.  With exception of oils, these are all easily stored in mylar bags.

I found an infographic on pintrest for 1 year supply of food for one person at 2200 calories a day. The good thing about that is if you ration the food to 50-75% of 2200, you can add more good eatin' time to the counter down clock and still survive.  Here's how I added it up:

12 Adults/1 Year

1100 lbs Beans (Lima, Pinto, Navy, Garbanzo, Lentils, Split Peas)

4800 lbs Grains (Popcorn/Cornmeal, Rice, Soft White Wheat, Hard White Wheat, Hard Red Wheat, Rolled Oats)

700 lbs Sugar (a lot for canning)
1.5 Gallons Molasses for making Brown Sugar

TBD  Salt
TBD Spices

I have the amounts, now where do I get them cheap and how much will it cost?!?  As for the where, I have found a couple of sources on the internet for local-ish grain and bean growers.  I purchased 50 lbs of split peas and lentils at Winco recently, packaged by the Columbia Bean and Produce, Inc.  There isn't much on the website, but I'm going to call them up and see what their walk-in prices are.  I will be cutting the Winco middle man out, especially if I buy in bulk.  The grains requirement might be fulfilled by Palouse Grain Growers, Inc.  Both of these suppliers are not super close to me, but are between me and my BOL.   If I save my money and take fewer trips, I can stock up quickly.

Sooooooo much stuff...

First day of my garage sale!!!  I was so excited!  My mom came up to hang for a couple of days, so I was able to open the sale a day early on Thursday.  We put our sandwich boards(made by my awesome FIL) out and within minutes had people stopping by.  I then put up a craigslist ad and had people coming 30 miles just to my sale!  All said and done, subtracting the $40 I took out in change, I cleared $200 in one day.  It didn't make a dent in what I have for sale.  How did I get so much crap..I mean salable items?!?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Financing Skills

I've gotten a little bit ahead of myself.  You see, I have no money *sadface*

Now, there are some skills that can be learned for no money.  There are some skills I already have. When I said my best skills were research and buying stuff, I ignored my ability to sew, which can be a valuable skill after the SHTF.  Also, I'm learning to cook more from scratch, which does take money for food, but it is in the grocery budget, so I don't count it.  That is a valuable skill that I'm working on, because I hate to cook.  There will, more than likely, be no drive thru meals post collapse.  Most skills, unfortunately for me, require some money to acquire.

So, I must finance my endeavor.  I have a fledgling replica movie prop business in its startup phase, but it is more of a money suck than a money maker right now.  I'm also a SAHM of a toddler, so working outside of the home isn't going to work either.  My only option, sell stuff!

For the first time in my life, I'm putting on a garage sale.  I'm kind of excited about it!  And it really, really needs to be done.  The photo of the 13 gallon totes is all the stuff I have to sell, and I'm not done going through everything yet.  I'm selling about 1 out of every 3 totes of stuff.  I'm a packrat, like my grandmother before me, but an organized one.  Everything is in a tote and the contents are cataloged for easy location.  I didn't want to write what was on each tote on the outside.  No need to advertise what you have when you open the garage door.  I started out with totes A-Z, then some totes have two letters, then started numbering.  I'm at 40+ with the numbers, so I estimate 70 some totes of stuff just in the garage.

Why have I never had a garage sale?  Having just moved from an apartment to a condo, I now have an attached garage for the first time.  Yay!  Most of what I have is brand new stuff I purchased working at a fabric store or clearance at Walmart.  We were married for 7 years before my son was born, so to feed the baby crazy urge, I bought toys and boy and girl clothes from newborn to 5T.  Like I said, I'm good at buying stuff.  I also only let myself buy clothes that were $1 or less.  I spent a lot of dollars.  We don't have a girl, so all of that brand new little girl stuff gets sold.  That and the totes upon totes of fabric and holiday decor from my retail days.  Sigh.  So much stuff I have been lugging from move to move, now to be sold finally.  Being a pack rat feels like a disease, but I'm getting better!


Here is where I will begin.  I have read a large portion of all these books, now to try and put what I have learned to practice!  Included are books for general preparedness, raising livestock, building structures and addressing medical needs, with a couple fiction novels to keep me on high alert.  Books are a thorough resource on a subject, but I also find lots of things I want to try on blogs and websites.  My favorites are, and  I have learned so much from these awesome folks and I've had the pleasure of meeting Patrice and Enola Gay in person!  Great ladies!

Here we go...

Welcome!  I see you found my little corner of the must be really bored.  I know, it has happened to me alot.  You start out searching for something, then another idea pops into your head, you open another tab and start another rabbit trail.  Before you know it you have 20 tabs open ranging from cloth diapers to nigerian goats to aquaponics, not to mention Faraday cages and 101 uses for vinegar.

That's how prepping started for me.  I don't remember the exact circumstances, maybe it was too much talk radio, maybe I had a packrat Grandma who would tell me stories about the Great Depression, maybe I just love a good zombie movie scenario, but like "Inception", the idea that a something bad was on the horizon planted itself in my little brain.  Then it grew.

At the time, I was a stay at home wifey with way too much time on my hands.  I was into cosplay and sewing costumes, my husband and I went to sci-fi conventions and played MMO games online.  Then the gas prices hit $4.00+ and food started to get more expensive.  I started to think that things in the good old USA weren't guaranteed to stay rosy forever.  I began to do research on the economics of the last 100 years, pouring over the causes of the Great Depression, stories of how people lived.  It occurred to me that there was nothing in human existence that proved you could break the mold of boom and bust.  You can blow the bubbles, but they will eventually burst.  The government/financial sector/whoever has done a lot to manipulate when the bubble will burst, but they can't stop it.

So I started to think, what happens to my family when it crashes?  Oh, my, I'd done it now!  All the questions, the research, the history, as fast as my little fingers could type, I was running all over the internet, gathering blogs, websites, buying books on Amazon.  I was a research machine.  I was going so fast, I had to save web addresses for later because I didn't have to time to digest all the information on a page before I had another question pop up and send me down another search path.

Fast forward to today, I have started my LTS food stores, but I've really only been gathering information and buying stuff.  Research and purchasing are my best "skills", but post collapse, they won't save me.  I've been dancing around it for a while now, but I realize I don't really have any skills that will benefit me post collapse and food storage will only get you so far.  All my research has pointed me to sustainability as the key to surviving whatever is coming.  It is a common theme among preparedness topics, but it was hard for me to get away from the "just store food/gear/books and hide in a hole" mentality.  If you want to eat, sure, store food, but unless you can replenish it, you are doomed.

So, we finally come to the purpose of this blog!  I can buy seeds, but I have a black thumb.  I can milk a goat, but can I make sure it doesn't die?  They say chickens are easy to raise, but I haven't done it yet?  Can I grow enough to feed livestock if the feed store is closed?  If I had a firearm, would I know how to use it?  Time to get to work!  Here I shall post my fledgling efforts.  The time for research is over, time to DO.