What I Did This Week To Prep

Now that summer gardening is over, I wanted to get a jump on improving and expanding the growing space for next year. I hate watering grass, but the home owner’s association thinks it’s important, so I came to a ‘compromise’. I expanded the gardening area in the front yard so it now covers about a third of the yard. Next summer I’ll feel better  about watering because now I’ll also be watering a garden. Removing the sod was a hassle, it’s a lot of work and it’s heavy.

Ryan, Chanse, & Brynn with compost

Once the sod was out, Chanse and I (using his dad’s truck) picked up about two yards (two truck beds full) of fine compost from the landfill compost factory (the compost is made from local yard wastes). The boys and Brynn helped me add a layer of compost to the expanded front garden, and we also covered about half the back garden. We still need a couple more loads for the backyard, but it was a good start. I hadn’t purchased compost in bulk like that before; it was interesting to see the steam coming off the compost and feel the heat in the pile, even after we got it home. It felt like fluffy dirt, and was easy to move and spread.

Sarah and I finally selected and ordered some winter seeds, hopefully we’re not too late (we’ve been talking about it for weeks). We ordered from Bountiful Gardens, we like their company and love their catalog (we’d definitely recommend requesting a catalog). We’re not doing a lot, we ordered a compost crop seed mix, containing: vetch, wheat, rye, and fava beans that we’ll plant in all the beds. We also ordered Dutch White Clover seeds to spread in the backyard grass, both to improve the soil and in preparation for getting rabbits. We’re tentatively planning on getting rabbits (for meat) sometime around February.

As winter approaches the Northwest (it has definitely arrived in some parts of the country already), I decided it would be a good time to inspect the cars for winter. Ryan, Chanse and I checked to ensure all our vehicles had: ice scrapers (had to add one to Chanse’s car), air in the spare tire (couple were low), jacks, good windshield wipers, wiper fluid (needed some), and we added additional warm clothes and sleeping bags. I do still need to take Ryan out in the Jeep and review with him how to use the 4WD (both high and low), but other than that we’re in pretty good shape.

What did you do?

(Monday: But I’m Working Now)

(11/12/11)

What I Did This Week To Prep (An Intro)

There is an analogy that life is like walking up a ‘down’ escalator. If you just stand there – you go backward. If you walk at an even pace – you maintain. If you walk faster and push yourself harder – you go forward. I believe that, to a great extent, this sums up a self-reliant lifestyle. So writing this each week will help me remember to continue moving forward. Most of the things I do, I’ll just briefly mention here; many of them will probably turn into full posts later (if you see something you’re especially interested in be sure and mention it in the comments).

My wife (who is my biggest supporter) asked, “Are you sure you want to commit to writing this each week?” “What if you don’t do anything?” “What happens when we’re done?” Then in a slightly hesitant voice she asks, “We will be done eventually, right?”

I believe that prepping is a habit, a lifestyle, a defining characteristic. Once you start, once you take “the red pill”* it’s difficult to return to “the blissful ignorance”. Jack (on TSP) says, “Everything you do to prepare . . . should be blended into your life in a way that improves your life even if nothing disastrous ever occurs.” (TSP Modern Survivalist Philosophy).

“Hope for the best. Plan for the worst.” I plan for a possible disaster(s), but I also plan for success. ‘What I Did This Week To Prep’ could therefore–hopefully–also be worded as ‘how I prepared this week to make my life better and more fulfilling for my family and myself’.

So, this week Sarah and I made our monthly Costco trip. Costco is a preppers playground: lots of stuff you need, lots of stuff you want, good prices, in big quantities. We used their coupons for AAA batteries and Kirkland brand vitamins (multi and C – I don’t take vitamins on a regular basis, but I do believe it’s appropriate to have in your preps). We bought the normal stuff we get in bulk and/or to back fill our SWYE shelves. We also got a Coleman LED 8 D-cell battery lantern (we have flashlights, headlamps, and oil lanterns, but figured this would fill a convenience/safety gap that we had).

The garden continues to come along (spring here was late and set everything back). Tomatoes are finally starting to ripen. Our fall back position for those that don’t ripen is to make and can green salsa. The herb garden is doing well; we’re using fresh herbs regularly and drying the surplus (we’ve tried both hanging them and putting them in the dehydrator, hanging was more efficient). We want to find a good way to continue to grow fresh herbs inside the house throughout the winter.

Ryan and I had set-up two 55-gallon rain barrels in mid-July and, believe it or not, we didn’t have enough rain to test them until last weekend (yes in Washington) when we determined they didn’t really work as planned/hoped. So we’re going to rebuild them. Our goal, in an emergency, is to use the rain water to flush the toilets and clean with, and filter if necessary. (We already have two additional barrels of drinking water.)

What did you do?

(Monday: Location, Location, Location)

*The term red pill and its opposite, blue pill, are pop culture terms that have become a common symbol for the choice between the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue) and embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red). The terms were popularized in science fiction culture via the 1999 film The Matrix. In the movie, the main character is offered the choice between a red pill and a blue pill, with the red pill leading to his “escape” from the Matrix, a fictional computer-generated world, while the blue pill would allow him to remain in the world with no knowledge that anything is wrong. -‘Red pill and blue pill’, Wikipedia

(9/25/11)