Wednesday, December 2, 2015

DIY Making Vinegar from Scratch

DOB August 19
From cooking to cleaning, hair care and laundry, I go through a ton of vinegar around here so this summer I decided to try my hand at making my own. I found plenty of How-To articles online, but almost all of them were cheat directions that involved buying Bragg's ACV with the mother already in it. I wanted to go really old school for this, and after a lot of searching ran across a comment in a forum that gave me a clue on how to pull this off.

We make a lot of wine and booze here at the Halfassed Haphazard Ranch, so I knew how the fermentation processed worked. Vinegar is basically just wine that's turned, so it seemed like it couldn't be that hard. I mean, all I had to do was make wine, then ruin it. I'm down with ruining things.

After canning peaches I was left with a bucket load of peels. Normally I toss them to the chickens but I decided to give peach peel vinegar a whirl. I threw a handful into a gallon pickle jar, and another into an old latch lid jar that was just taking up space. Added a cup of sugar and filled up with water.

Yes I said filled. We'll get to that later.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

DIY Dog Food

When I was 19 I worked for a specialty pet supply retailer located in a wealthy suburb of Dallas. The stores would later be bought out by a little California upstart named Petco, but before that happened our focus was entirely on pet supplies. No fish, no birds, no pets for sale of any kind. Part of my job was to know the premium brands of pet food inside and out, from the ingredients to the protein/fat percentages to the most important detail... what our markup was.

At the time Eukanuba was a favorite to push, along with the ever popular Science Diet. My personal favorite at the time was NutroMax. We all made fun of ANF, referring to it as Assholes Necks and Feet (a moniker we learned from the Science Diet rep). And Purina? Pedigree? *gasp* ALPO? That trash was not even allowed through our back door. As far as we or the sales reps were concerned, it was barely a step above feeding your dog table scraps. Just barely. To allow your dog to dine on your leftovers was considered the ultimate idiocy, and we heaped scorn upon those who dared to confess to that particular crime.

Fast forward a few decades and my how the worm has turned.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

I got seeds

My earliest memories of gardening involve my grandmother's massive garden and a fistful of prickly okra. There were many a summer night spent shucking a mountain of corn with my assorted cousins outside under a tree... I'd like to say it was a magnolia but I don't know for sure any more. I do remember there were fireflies and lots of them. I remember my grandmother and aunt and more assorted cousins up in the big house stripping corn from the cob and canning and freezing like a team of corn processing tornados. I remember the sticky aftermath, every surface in the kitchen coated in corn bits and starch, and the smell of the bleach used to clean it all up. And I remember looking into that freezer full of frozen corn and the shelves covered with gleaming glass jars of corn and being filled with an odd sense of satisfaction that we all made those.

Actually come to think of it all I remember is corn. No clue what she did with the rest of the haul.

Gardening is in my blood, and I've been doing it in one form or fashion since I was old enough to poke a stick in the ground and toss a seed inside. And yet I'm far from an expert gardener, and some years I feed more birds and grasshoppers and escaped chickens than I do ourselves. So when I hear a newly minted prepper proudly state they've bought a bunch of seeds and talk about how when TSHTF they will plant a garden and eat just fine, I can't help but roll my eyes. And if they called those seeds "survival seeds" I will struggle not to cough "douchebag" immediately after. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Take it with a Grain of Salt

I love salt. Salt on sweet corn, salt on cucumbers, hell I even put salt on bananas. I can get completely lost and drooling clicking around the Salt Works website, lusting for smoked salts and black salts and flavored salts. I mean, Sriracha Salt? Who knew?

Salt is probably one of the most overlooked items in prepper pantries, although many hardcore survivalists insist that salt will become one of the most highly sought after items during any long term disaster. If you watched the short lived post-apocalyptic series "Jericho", you know two towns went to war over a salt mine. Fiction sure, but it's an event that has played out repeatedly throughout human existence. While the idea of shooting my neighbors over a bag of flaked sea salt holds great appeal for me (especially after their kids keep banging on our door and running away in the middle of the night) it's probably better in the long run for me to keep stocking up on salt.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cheese Crack

I've been picking up #10 cans of freeze dried goodies on and off for a few years, but like a lot of others I mostly just stuck it in the cabinet for long term storage and forgot about it. I figured the day I woke up needing to eat it, I wouldn't get too worked up over the taste. There've been the occasional camping trip where I dipped into a 2 serving pack of Mountain House or Wise but the #10 cans have remained untouched.

Until today, when I found myself obsessed with a bowl of mac&cheese and no mac&cheese to be had. When I went Primal, I wisely relocated my massive hoard of instant mac&cheese to mylar bags, where I'd be less likely to break into them for an occasional fix. Rather than rip open a 6 box bag, I decided to pop the top on a can of Thrive Cheese Sauce and use it over the last of my Banza

Monday, May 11, 2015

Antibiotics. How I Love Thee....

As an asthmatic, one of my biggest concerns is stopping an upper respiratory infection before it's had time to pick up steam. A head cold for me is a guarentee of a sinus infection, and left untreated that quickly moves into my chest, becoming bronchitis and if STILL ignored, pneumonia, as I learned a few years ago. Having antibiotics available during extended emergencies can help prevent infections or even save a life. Unfortunately, you can't just go down to the nearest box store and pick them up like you can a case of Spam or a bag of rice.
That doesn't mean you can't get your hands on them. It just means you'll have to put a little extra effort into their procurement. Whether you choose to hit up a vet supply house or shop a little further from home is up to you.

Tater Tote

I've done tater towers in the past, using tires, wire cages, even laundry baskets. The problem is they never old much. This year I went big!

I took an IBC tote that had been cut in half and set it up at the end of the hay shed so the roof would drain off into it. I then filled it up with all the wasted hay my rabbits insist on throwing into their poop pans. Which is a lot! I then tossed in all the seed potatoes I'd saved from last fall, tossed in MORE hay, and waited.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Pallet Projects - Garage Shelves

When we bought this place the Mr. and I struck a deal. Being a former landscaper and a gardening nut I decreed the yard to be MINE. The Mr. agreed, on the condition the garage was his. No problem, all your's I said.

Six years later I decided enough was enough. While the yard looks amazing, the garage looks like a tornado went through it. A mad, drunken one. Part of the problem is there's no shelving and stuff is just all over the floor, but the garage itself was just gross. Stained, dirty walls, cobwebs everywhere, dead flies in the window. Ugh. 

Armed with a gallon of grey primer, two small pallets, and 5 wall studs I went to work.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Come into my garden

Two of my dogs have developed an unhealthy interest in both my chickens and rabbits, not to mention an overwhelming need to lie down on my plants, so I finally put in a gated entry to the garden and critter area of the yard.

I do love building things with pallets! I know the railroad tie looks odd sticking out, but when the gate opens it rests on that so the support post doesn't sag.

I got a lot going on behind that gate. :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Haphazard Prepper's Food Storage Calculator

Probably every prepper who has been around longer than a minute knows about the LDS food storage calculator. It's where a lot of us got our foot in the pantry door. There's other prepping calculators out there, some that go so far as to estimate the number of razor blades and bottles of motor oil you need to store, but for a noob looking to get started without having a panic attack, the LDS calculator is a good place to begin.

Unless you have issues with gluten. Or don't eat processed sugar. Or don't eat soy. Or hate lima beans. Or store rice for your dogs. Like me. So, I took the LDS calculator and tweaked it to better reflect what *I* store, and added a calculator to figure up a year's worth of rabbit and chicken feed (assuming confined animals eating only bagged feed). I also added in so it'll add extra rice and canned veg for my dogs based on the total weight of all the dogs on the feed bill. My EZ Dog Food mix is 1:1:1 rice:meat:green beans.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

IBC Tote Chicken Waterer

My hens like nothing better than to fill their water buckets with dirt, straw, and anything else they can kick up off the ground. I wasted a lot of water dumping that thing out every few days, so a couple of years ago I decided it was time for a change. I built a water system that used a 5 gallon bucket feeding to a section of PVC with some water nipples on the bottom edge. It worked ok but the hens always seemed like they were dying of thirst trying to get water a drop at a time. I finally went back to the water bucket and the nuisance of constantly cleaning it out.

This time I'm trying something a little different. Using a 275 gallon IBC tote as a water tank, I'm running PVC pipe along the bottom edge that feed into water cups I picked up from Beaktime. Because this tank originally had Roundup in it (chill, I cleaned the hell out of it) I'm going to add a homemade inline filter that uses activated charcoal. Activated charcoal pulls glyphosphate out of water. Finally putting all those water treatment classes to use.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

When Clyde Strikes

So much discussion about prepping revolves around worst case scenarios. EMP. Terrorists. Martial law. Pandemic. Aliens with reusable anal probes. It's understandable, after all there's nothing exciting about getting together with buddies and beer and talking about the possibility of dumbass Clyde down at the city getting crazy with the backhoe and digging up a water main he was tasked with merely uncovering.

The reality is that we're far more likely to encounter the Clydes of the world than we are a Book of Eli landscape, a fact I've been annoyingly reminded of over the last 18 hours as Clyde and his pals try to figure out how to patch up the 10" main they destroyed last night while "fixing" a minor leak. Last time I drove past they were all standing around a Buick sized hole (1976 Buick in case you're wondering) and scratching various body parts and getting nothing done as usual. Oh I don't know for sure that's what happened, but it wouldn't surprise me a bit.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Water Barrel Tower

I've wanted to do this project for a long time, but there is no way I'm shelling out $100 for a 55 gallon water barrel so it had to wait until I found a better option. And at last, I did. I located a steady supply of 55 gallon barrels that were used for food flavoring, for $25. It's a bit of a drive to pick them up, but even factoring in diesel they're still a fraction of what I was finding anywhere else. Plus we got to eat at BJ's Brewhouse. Because, beer, yay!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Recovering from Prepper Burnout

Anyone who has been prepping for more than a few years understands prepper burnout. Well, maybe not the noobs but trust me, the day will come.  Sometimes more than once, as you can probably tell by my occasional vanishing acts.

Whether it's the arrival of spring, the fact that my husband finally cleaned out the garage enough that I can access my 72 hour totes, or the 4 day Doomsday Prepper Netflix binge I shamefully indulged in during a recent injury, the hoarding urge has returned. Like a tsunami, I might add. And as many of you probably know, when that happens it can be completely overwhelming. I need to do this, buy those, restock that, build one of these, projects piling up on you until at last you sink to the floor, back against the wall with a bottle of vodka clutched in your shaking fingers.

Maybe that's just me.