Self-Sufficiency Series

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Seeking input from readers

Dear readers, I would love to pick your brains to answer some questions.

I just received an email from a woman, the gist of which is copied below:

The reason I am writing is because I realize there is an economic tidal wave coming. Here is my problem. I have very little money and I am 60 years old. I don't have relatives so I don't know what to do to try and survive through the coming economic conditions. I am thinking that I need to get into a rural area and grow my own food. But land prices are high, in my opinion. I don't know that I can buy anything. I also don't know that I can find any work at my age.

Living rurally as you do, do you know of people who do my kind of work being able to work in your area or other rural areas? My CNA has expired but I am trained and I have spent the last 5 years doing in home, live-in health aide care. I spent 2 years being a CNA.


I have some ideas I could give, but would love to have your input as well. Many heads are better than one. I will coalesce all your suggestions into the return email to give this woman the benefit of all your collective wisdom (and naturally I will credit where credit is due).

Besides helping her individually, this is a good topic to address in general. Thank you to all!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our next Entry in the Safecastle Freedom Awards

Husband of the Boss communique'

Here is our next entry in the "Safecastle LLC Freedom Awards Self-sufficiency Essay and/or Video Contest" and as such in our "Rural Revolution Essay Contest"

Just a reminder:

While the prizes are certainly better over at SafeCastle LLC., we're only allowed to pass on one finalist in the essay and video catagories at the end of the year for judging.

But...

In the Rural Revolution sub-contest, we have 10 prizes to give out to those of you who submit your original essay or video on self-suffieceny, survivalism, and prepping, specifically the coveted Rural Revolutionary Tankard.


So here's our next entry from The Orange Jeep Dad!


How I Earned Extra Income To Help With Prepping


One of the major hurdles to creating a survival cache or long term food supply is the lack of money to buy it. I'm going to outline some ways to earn extra cash above and beyond the traditional paycheck that might be easier than you think. Next, I'll outline how we established a year supply of food for our family of eight.


It is real easy to find yourself living paycheck to paycheck. Cars breaking down and unexpected bills seem to always creep up on us right when we think there will be a little extra cash left over from payday. The best way I've found to make a purchase that seems out of reach is to first: figure out how much money is going to be needed to make the purchase and then second: determine how to earn that specific amount of money.


Determining the amount of food supply can be as easy as looking it up on the internet. I think we determined how much we needed using calculations found on SurvivalBlog and the LDS website. Both are terrific sites for learning about types of food storage, maximizing calories, and creating lists of what is needed. Figure out how much food and drink is necessary then add some comfort items. We added fruit drink mix, hot chocolate powder and spices to the common list of wheat, beans, rice, dehydrated milk etc.


So, WHAT we needed/wanted was the easy part. Then we had to figure out how to raise the money to purchase it. There are SEVERAL ways to add income to the house and I will only list the ways I actually used. I work in a hospital setting and some tips may not be suitable for your type of job but it may give you ideas nevertheless.


First, I cashed in my PTO time. We're given two weeks of vacation time per year and I turned it into an extra paycheck. Not all companies will let you do this but mine did. I had done it at a previous job years ago and at that time, that particular hospital allowed vacation time to be redeemed at around 65% face value (to discourage employees from burning the vacation for cash, I suppose).


Second, since we're ALWAYS short staffed in my department, I started staying late when feasible. 15-60 minutes or more will add up quicker than you think. If you can get over 40 hours, it should be paid at "time and a half" or overtime pay. Again, your results may vary.


Third, I would work through a lunch now and again during our busy season. This nets another 30 minutes of work time on the clock (unless you get an hour for lunch). Its pretty easy to munch on protein bars during work rather than take a full 30 minutes off the clock to eat.


Fourth, I stopped my 401k deductions. This may not be for everyone but I think if we look back now at all the retirements that were crushed by wallstreet we'll see that 401k's aren't for everybody.


Fifth, I increased my tax deductions so that LESS was taken out of my paycheck for taxes. This may be nothing more than a shift of the tax burden to another day but it puts more in your pocket immediately if that is your goal.


Sixth, I would pick up "on call" hours at my hospital on my days off. "On call" means that if someone who is covering the department needs help, they call in the "call tech" for help. It is typically only for two or three hours but can also mean covering an entire shift if someone calls out sick. Being "on call" also means getting paid a minimum of $2-3 per hour just to carry the pager and be on call. So even if you don't get called in to work, you still make a few extra dollars.


Lastly, pick up an extra shift. Sometimes I would work an extra shift at my hospital, sometimes for another hospital. Either way, its extra cash. My hospital would be paying me overtime pay (think higher hourly pay) or the other hospital would be paying me PRN pay (think higher pay since I'm not a full time employee there.)


Over the course of a year, using these methods, we were able to purchase a year's worth of food storage. We also beefed up our survival supplies with a Berkey water filter, twelve 55 gallon water drums, an outdoor shed for extra storage, a shotgun, tons of gardening supplies, three molly bags full of bug out supplies and more.


Helpful tip #1: Figure out WHAT you need and write it down. I used a CraigsList application on my phone to look for things on our list. If I was looking for a shed, I plugged in an automated search for the keyword "shed" and set the price range to what I could handle. Then set the proximity to your house or how far you are willing to drive to go get it. Then I set it up to check posts every ten minutes. This is how you become the FIRST person to call a seller after he posts an item. We bought 90% of our items this way. The other 10% was either on sale at Amazon or Walmart. Some items took a year to find, others were pretty easy. It took almost a year to get a notification that someone was selling a Bosch mixer for $250 with all the attachments. Those are hard to find. Garage sales are a great resource too.

Helpful tip #2: The other side of the equation to putting money in your pocket is KEEPING money in your pocket. Write down all of your expenses and go through them one by one to see what you can reduce. Remember, every dollar you DON'T spend is a dollar earned too. We called Verizon Wireless and found a more affordable cell plan. I installed motion sensor light switches in the kids bedrooms to keep them from leaving lights on when they aren't in the room. We cancelled our $50 per month satellite tv and bought a Netflix subscription for $7.99 a month. We watch Hulu and Youtube movies for free instead of going to the expensive theaters. I even called our bank just to see what would happen if I asked for help with our second mortgage and auto loan payment. They offered a modification of sorts and have reduced our monthly payments by hundreds of dollars. I was shocked to say the least. It never hurts to ask!

So there you go. Like Larry the Cable Guy says: Get R Done!

-------------------------------- 

Thank you  uh...Dad.

Now folks, please consider sending us an essay on your plans, thoughts and experiences in self-sufficiency and prepping. I know a lot of you have skills and training on these important topics. You have a real shot at some great prizes (ours and especially theirs) by simply putting on e-paper or video, things you've already considered and practiced that might be of great help to others just starting out. I've always been into helping others. (And a chance to get "paid" to do it doesn't hurt either.)

Send your entry to: shrewsburydon@hotmail.com

Just a short note from The Husband of the Boss

Howdy all,

First of all, Thanks to everyone for ordering a copy of Patrice's book.

I saw that there have been several comments from folks wishing that Patrice could personalize her autograph in the book. Patrice would be delighted to do so and there is a way to get this done. On the order page, there is a comment box. Just write in what you'd like for her to write in your book (your name, or if it's to be a gift, the name of the recipient) and she'll be glad to do it.

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog.

Thank you,
Husband of the Boss

History repeating?

A reader sent this 1934 Chicago Tribune cartoon. Look it over verrrrry carefully (click to enlarge) and tell me we're not following the same course today.  Do we never learn from history?

Chicago Tribune 1934 Cartoon

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The passing of a friend

Many of you remember a few weeks ago when I posted a prayer request here and here for my cyber-friend Bill, who was dying of cancer. A lot of you wanted an update on him, something I was unable to provide because he was beyond the point of sending emails and I had no other way to contact him.

Thankfully one of the kids he fostered and who is now grown -- her name is Willow -- dropped me an email today as follows:

Hi, I don't know if Bill has told you about me, but my name is Willow and I am the closest he has to a daughter of his own.

I have some sad news. Bill died a few hours ago. Yesterday they said he was slipping away, and today he's gone.

I'm sorry if that was horribly blunt. I can't find a nice way to explain it.

Kind regards,
Willow


I'm so grateful Willow took the time to let me know.  The funny thing about receiving her email is that Bill has been strongly on my mind for the last couple of weeks. I think a part of me knew his time was close. I find myself relieved he's gone because he was suffering so much in the end. Now I have no doubt he's rejoicing in the arms of his Savior.

Thank you all for your kind comments and inquiries about Billl. It was a great comfort for him.

Update on Bratz nonsense

In response to the blog post A Message to Little Girls in which I gripe about Slutz...er, Bratz dolls, a friend pointed me toward a watchdog group called Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, specifically their info on sexualizing children. Well worth looking into.

A kick in the pants

You folks know how I feel about entitlements and other factors that are bringing down our once-great nation. Blogger Rob Hirl at PACNW Righty doesn't mince words when it comes to this very point.


"There was a time when living in poverty really meant something. It was difficult to put food on the table when you were living in poverty. Now it just means you can’t have i-phone for everyone, or there are only two TVs with cable hook ups in the house. Cut the entitlement programs to a point that when folks are on a program, they want off as soon as they can. Entitlements shouldn’t be so folks can pay for their fancy cell phone plans or for cable TV hook ups. If folks want these things, then they need to get jobs. So what if they have to do without these luxuries for a while, it can be an incentive..."

Read the rest of Rob's kick-butt essay here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Politically incorrect cow joke

(Equal opportunity insults.)

Two cows...

Capitalism, American style: You have two cows. You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

Bureaucracy, American style: You have two cows. The government takes the milk and pays you for it and then pours the milk down the drain.

Democracy, American style: You have two cows. The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.

Democrat: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful.

Republican: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So?

Socialist: You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor. You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.

Communist: You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk. You wait in line for hours to get it. It is expensive and sour.

Florida Corporation: You have a black cow and a brown cow. Everyone votes for the best looking one. Some of the people who like the brown one best, vote for the black one. Some people vote for both. Some people vote for neither. Some people can't figure out how to vote at all. Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which is the best looking cow.

American Corporation: You have two cows. You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the second one. You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have down sized and are reducing expenses. Your stock goes up.

French Corporation:  You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows. You go to lunch and drink wine. Life is good.

Italian Corporation: You have two cows but you don't know where they are. While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman. You break for lunch. Life is good.

German Corporation: You have two cows. You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour. Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.

Polish Corporation: You have two bulls. Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.

Japanese Corporation:  You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains.

Russian Corporation: You have two cows. You have some vodka. You count them and learn you have five cows. You have some more vodka. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.

Orders ahoy

Thank you to everyone who placed an order for a book! I signed and packaged them this morning, and I will mail them this afternoon.


I tucked a couple of business cards in each book as well. I'll ship these Media Mail (book rate) so they might take a touch longer to arrive, but rest assured they're on their way!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hoofed and dangerous

In response to my post last week about the doe and fawn, a reader named Trafal sent a remarkable YouTube clip of a deer that managed to get into his church, the Colonial Baptist Church in Cary, North Carolina. The clip was assembled from surveillance video cameras and set to music. This happened about two weeks ago.


Thanks, Trafal! This was amazing.

A message to little girls

When our girls were little, we never allowed Bratz dolls in our home. (Privately, my husband and I called them Slutz dolls.) The exception were a couple of toys that came in a McDonald’s Happy Meal which we allowed them to keep to illustrate our point of why these dolls were so loathsome – and these dolls were invariably the “bad guys” in all the kids’ imaginative games.

Of course now the girls are past the age of dolls, but they’ve grown up recognizing what it is about these dolls we don’t like: the emphasis on inappropriate clothing, the heavy makeup, the extraordinarily sexualized nature of a toy that teaches girls that their bodies are nothing more than tools for prurient purposes.


I don’t pay much attention to the toy market anymore, but for some reason I thought Bratz dolls had been discontinued. That’s why I was surprised to see a headline this morning for a CNN Money video titled Behind the Bratz Revamp. I guess the dolls are back on the market.

The video shows the mildly interesting procedure of how the prototype dolls get their hairstyles, makeup, and clothing. Okay, fine, whatever. But the narrator – who isn’t specified but presumably is one of the executives in the company – concluded with some startling words about the dolls. He said:

“They ARE edgier and we are not going to apologize for that. Actually they are going to become a little more edgier. The reason for it is frankly to give a message to little girls that you can express yourself, you can have self-confidence and do what you want, you’re not a second-class citizen.”

I wasn’t aware that girls were second-class citizens, and/or that to rise from the status of second-class citizen –- or to acquire self- confidence -– or to express yourself –- requires them to "do what they want." Since when does empowering girls mean they should dress like a tramp?  Is this what feminism has taught us?  Wow, what an accomplishment.


See, this is what I don’t “get” with modern society. The feminist movement has assured us that women are to be measured by their brains, nothing more. So why have these dolls proliferated in the last decade? Why can’t dolls be toys for little girls to practice their mothering instincts? Why are parents buying this crap for their daughters?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Making English muffins

Older Daughter has been after me to make English muffins, which she far prefers to the store-bought variety. I roped her into the procedure so she could learn how to make them.

The recipe comes from my classic Better Homes and Gardens cookbook:


Heating the milk, shortening, sugar, and salt to between 120 and 130F.


Mixing the rest of the ingredients.


Kneading.


Ready for the first rising.


Punching down.


Rolling and cutting the muffins.


While I cut the muffins using an old tuna can...


...Older Daughter brushes each muffin on both sides with water, then dips the sides in cornmeal.


I doubled the recipe, which yielded 36 muffins.


Into the oven for the second rising (sorry for the blurry photo). The oven has a pilot light and stays warmish as a result, a good place to let dough rise.


English muffins are "baked" on the stove, not in the oven. Cook them in a dry (ungreased) pan or griddle for about thirty minutes, flipping them every five minutes.


First batch done. (This is the stage when the kids steal hot muffins and spread them with butter so it melts.)


These freeze very well, so it's worth making at least a double batch.


Here's the recipe:

ENGLISH MUFFINS

5 1/4 to 5 1/2 cups flour
2 pkgs active dry yeast
2 cups milk
1/2 cup shortening, margarine, or butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal

In a mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour and the yeast. In a saucepan, heat and stir milk, shortening, sugar, and salt until warm (120-130F)(I heat this up gently in the microwave) until the shortening almost melts. Add to flour mixture. Beat with a mixer on low speed for three minutes. Using a spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6 to 8 minutes). Shape into a ball. Place in a greased bowl; turn once to grease surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double (about one hour).

Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest ten minutes. Roll dough to slightly less than 1/2 inch thick. Cut with a 4-inch round cutter, rerolling scraps. Lightly brush muffins with water and dip both sides into cornmeal. Cover, let rise in a warm place until very light (about 30 minutes).

Cook muffins in an ungreased pan on low temp for 30 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. Yield: about 18 muffins.

The Alpha and Omega Strategy

This weekend's WorldNetDaily column is called The Alpha and Omega Strategy.


A couple weeks ago I was in Wal-Mart, which I seldom visit because it's so far away. But on this occasion it was convenient to some other errands, so in I went.

I found my favorite hand lotion on sale, 32 ounces for $7.27, or $0.23/ounce. This was a bargain compared to our local grocery store, which sells 10 ounce bottles for $5.00, or $0.50/ounce.

So I bought a bottle of lotion. I wish I'd had enough money to buy 20.

Why 20? Well, my logic goes like this: Hand lotion has a long shelf life. I will always use this brand of hand lotion. Therefore it behooves me to stock up when the price is right, especially since storage space isn't a big issue for us.

Keep this in mind for a moment as we turn to the faraway country of Belarus...
(Read the whole column here.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Direct from the author (whoo hoo!)

Here's a bit of news: I've received permission from WND Books, my publisher, to sell some of my books directly. Since I already have a couple of hundred copies here, that will be easy.  The link you see above, just below the main Rural Revolution picture, will be a permanent link, but I wanted to put up a post explaining the situation. What's nice about this option is I'm able to sign the books before sending them out. We've tried to keep the price reasonable and shipping is exactly what I'm getting charged at the post office for Media Mail rates.

So -- if you've already bought a book, thank you! But if you're still interested in buying a book for yourself or for a gift, you can come directly to the source (so to speak).

An award-winning ad (see update at bottom)

Here's an award winning ad from Kia. (Click on the link to pull up a larger version in order to read the text.)


What were these people thinking?

Never mind. We know what they're thinking. And they've just convinced me NEVER to buy a Kia. Congrats!
______________________

UPDATE: Thanks to reader AP's excellent sleuthing, you can make your thoughts known to the Kia folks by contacting the following:

Scott McKee, Director of KIA-USA Public Relations
c/o KIA-USA
111 Peters Canyon Road
Irvine, CA 92606

email: smckee@kiausa.com
phone: 949-468-4813

I sent the following email:

Congratulations on your new award-winning ad! It has worked beautifully and convinced me never, ever, ever, ever, ever to purchase a Kia vehicle.

- Patrice Lewis

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Random pix

A neighborhood game of kick-the-can / capture-the-flag on a windy day. Here all the kids are deciding the rules.


Lydia lays claim to Younger Daughter's bed.


Younger Daughter (right) and her friend Miss Calamity (left) out for a spin...


...and enjoying a quiet moment by a campfire.


I chuckled over Miss Calamity's fashion statement: camo pants, cowboy boots.


Chickens in a shaft of sunlight:


Neighbors planting their garden. Yes, we're still trying to get gardens in and hoping they'll have time to mature before the first frost hits.


A couple of bumper sticks that caught my eye:


Interesting cloud formation:


Our young pear tree has some baby pears growing:


Little house on the prairie:


My strawberries are looking good.


There are even a few blossoms, though I'm pinching these off to let the plants put their energy into growth this year.


Our neighbor's cat had kittens. Precious! In these shots they're only a few hours old.


Their ducks are also getting big.


A foggy morning with sunbeams...


...which resulted in a rare fog rainbow.


Busy hens.


Our wheat field.


The wheat is starting to head.


Some pretty sunsets over the last week or two.