Apocalyptic Homesteading (Day 293-300)
Apocalyptic Homesteading Day 293-300!
Six Week Supply Runs, Stormy Weather, A Change In Diet, Making Ashes & A Late Night Traveler
The sun is coming over the horizon as I write this and according to the weather forecast it is more than likely going to rain on and off throughout the entire day. At this point I am unsure if I will get much accomplished outdoors and am thinking that it may well turn into an indoor day. It poured rain late in the afternoon yesterday and everything is still a sopping mess around here because of it... so I will not be missing much by avoiding it. I did not really have a specific plan for the day besides getting some more measurements for the cabin's roof and metal siding so it is not all that big of a deal if I wait until the foul weather passes and things dry up.
Late in the day I went on a supply run to the grocery store and got all stocked up on stuff once again. There was something like a six week gap since my last trip to town and for whatever reason I was absolutely dreading going and tried to make the actual shopping part of things as 'quick and painless' as I could make it by not dawdling too long nor hunting for alternative items overly much which seems to be a common theme on every shopping trip that I make of late. It is not that I like a bunch popular items or anything but there always seems to be shortages of the things that I am particularly shopping for which inevitably leads me to either looking for the items at the back of the shelves or on the top shelves. Occasionally I get lucky and find stuff either hidden behind other stuff or waiting to be stocked but more often than not I wind up dicking around looking for alternatives. There are of course incredibly worse problems to be having right now so I do not let the supply-chain and shortages issues bother me. I am just thankful that there is stuff to buy even if the prices are high and availability is sporadic at best!
Right as I was leaving for the shopping trip was when the big storm broke and it must have terrified the dogs something fierce because when I got back with the groceries the cabin door was open, my boy dog had somehow gotten on the other side of the six foot (roughly two meter) tall fence and one of my girl dogs had a few small bites where her and one of the other dogs got into a fight. Most likely what happened was that the two dogs that react the strongest to thunder began pawing at the door looking for me in stark panic and bumped into each other resulting in a fight. I always kind of equate it to two very drunk people bumping into each other and lashing out in a panic because they do not really know what is going on. In other words I have seen it play out enough times now that I generally avoid leaving the dogs alone when there is going to be a big storm. I knew there was a little rain on the way but honestly had I known the storm was going to be so fierce I would have re-scheduled the supply run for another day.
While I was gone and the door was wide open the inside of the cabin got super wet and very dirty. Of course it was still raining when I got back and had to unload all the groceries so I hauled them to the door in the wagon, threw a big piece of cardboard on the cabin floor and quickly put all the groceries onto it. As hectic as it all was (or could have been) I just did the best that I could to get everything put away, clean up some of the mess, dry the dogs off and of course inspect them for injuries which thankfully all looked superficial and it was easy to wash them out with peroxide. The dog that got it the worst is running a mild fever today so I will keep an eye on her and if it persists I will then start her on a round of antibiotics which is one of the things that I almost always do after any of them get bitten by another dog just to avoid any infection.
The morning is really dragging on here and the sun is well up over the horizon at this point as I sip what remains of my morning coffee and psyche myself up to get outside and do my morning chores. Alright, I went ahead and knocked all the chores out and since then I have been pretty zoned out watching (mostly listening) to first the news and now some preparedness videos which undoubtedly is quite the combo and has me once again thinking about whether I am really 'prepared' or not. As always I am admittedly not much of a prepper outside of being ready for natural disasters and such and know that I should avoid psyching myself out about 'getting ready' for some undefinable future whilst neglecting focusing on the present moment that I am in.
All that said I do want to maintain a level of peace of mind in regards to preparedness and think that as the general calamity (instability) grows in the world I should enlarge my preparedness to meet it or at the very least attempt to mitigate some of its effects upon my own life. The best example I can give at the moment is there is a candy-bar that I enjoy eating and its availability has been hit or miss at best for the better part of a year now and well about five months ago I bought one and after storing it away I never ate it and still have it to this very day! The enjoyment of it being available has far outweighed the eating of it even though I have eaten several other ones along the way. That kind of peace of mind is priceless and although it may seem like a trivial thing it sure as heck is not if it helps with morale and maintaining a pleasant attitude and disposition.
On a different note. Going on those supply runs once a month (or hopefully now every six weeks) sure puts what I really want into perspective and on this latest trip I did something that I generally do not do and bought a bunch of stuff that will require cooking. I even got some items in bulk form just to cut down on the cost which is not something that I generally do with un-canned meat items in particular. Having the refrigerator sure changes a lot of things and I decided to try adjusting my diet in a way that reduces how many canned and dried goods that I eat each month. Honestly I am horrible at getting into (let alone staying in) the habit of cooking so it is a bold move on my part and one that hopefully will force me into a better diet. The fall is always a pleasant time of year for cooking outdoors but come winter (if the cooking habit lasts that long) I will need to figure something else out. While I could cook in the cabin (on the stove-top that I make coffee on) I really do not like the idea of food being cooked in such a small living space even though it would be totally safe to do so. Mainly I want to avoid drawing bugs into the cabin but I also dislike the idea of having a bunch of grease splatter in it.
It is a new day here and I just spent the last several hours zoned out typing some feedback for a few things and not paying much attention to how much time was going by. Alas the sun is now up and I am uninclined to miss a day of writing anything so here I am. It is yet again a chilly morning and I am seeing a lot more fallen brown leaves than earlier in the week so yeah autumn is nigh! There is not much more time left for me to keep putting off getting all my cold weather gear sorted through and have ready for the coming cold. Even though the day time temperatures will probably stay rather high over the next few months I know better than to get caught 'flat footed' by the brisk fall nights and mornings.
At this point I am pretty cautious when it comes to weather related stuff and just try to 'prepare for the worst and hope for the best' as the old saying goes. If extreme weather is the new norm then I doubt that I can go wrong by staying prepared for it let alone paying attention to it. Just the other day when I went on that supply run a tropical depression popped up and drenched everything while I was gone like I described before in this entry. The thing is that I had maybe lapsed for an eighteen hour period where I did not closely look at the radar and bam it stormed like crazy. I knew that there was a chance of rain but I had failed to look deeper at things and given what a severe storm that it was I would more than likely have either waited it out and gone shopping afterwards or rescheduled it to a different day entirely. Since I always know ahead of time when I am going on a supply run I should get in the habit of closely investigating the weather beforehand so that I can schedule accordingly. When storms develop rapidly its tricky to stay up to date and I totally get why folks often have NOAA weather alert radios.
It is barely a new day here and although twelve-thirty might be way to early to start my day... I woke up about an hour ago after taking a late in the day nap that I failed to wake up from until super late in the evening. At first I thought about going back to sleep but then I brewed some espresso and began doing all the stuff that I routinely do online in the wee hours of the morning-like checking the news and weather. I gotta say that I can already tell that I will be taking an early nap later today and will have to do my best to not let waking up this early become a routine. It is not that I mind waking up this early (or at any time really) but I do not want to spend the days napping which always seems to be what happens if my wake-up time is this early.
Anyway, yesterday was not super productive but I did manage to pick up the sticks laying around the dog yard that were left there from that recent storm that blew through a few days ago. I also burned a bunch of the cardboard and other burnables that I have been meaning to burn for a few weeks now but it was always either too rainy or windy for me to do so when I had the free time to 'babysit' a fire. For how wet a lot of the cardboard was it sure burned pretty quickly and although it threw up a few drifting pieces of ash I kept most of it down by putting a lot of sticks atop the burning cardboard and rolling the entire mass around as it burned. Since the fire-pit itself has gotten almost full of eroded topsoil I did not let the fire get all that big and put it out with some water once the bulk of the stuff was finished burning. I really need to shovel that fire-pit out and haul its contents to the compost mound and spread it over it before adding a new layer of clay to help encase the mound better.
On a different note. Switching my food supply to being comprised of more fresh foods has been pretty interesting and ever since my last trip to the store I have had a hard time restraining myself from voraciously eating stuff! It is pretty easy to resist eating dry goods and canned goods but resisting some nice fresh fruit, bread or whatever is super tricky for me and especially so once I get busy doing stuff for the day and start burning calories. I am sure that I will adjust because the alternative is to run out of fresh foodstuff too early before my next supply run happens and of course that would suck and probably make me irritated with myself to boot. Basically if I want to get my routine worked around to only going to the store every six weeks (instead of once a month) then I have to successfully ration what I have on hand. Given that I have a decent pantry of dried goods it is not like I am going to run out of 'all' food if my rationing efforts fail but as always it is nice not to have to use that stuff unless I am rotating it out of stock after replacing it with a newer version of itself.
Over the last year I have really done my best to hone in my food supply and although I never mentioned it my government assistance with food ran out a few months ago. Although I did at first feel some mild panic about it running out, I eventually felt kind of relieved that losing it was not an end to me being able to feed myself. I am still debating on filing for it again but for now I should be able to cover it between my odd jobs and the trickle of revenue that I make online. I am sure that I will remark upon it if my food scenario gets dodgy and I will also file for assistance if it comes to that but at the moment I think that I actually have it sorted out pretty good or at least good enough! What might be the most pragmatic and economical thing to do in the end is finding one of those discount food stores (like the one I used to visit) and start doing my shopping that way again which could be epic now that I have a refrigerator and freezer to store stuff in.
There is something pleasant about this time of the night and being awake for it after already getting plenty of rest. It is incredibly quiet and the chill outside air coming in through the cabin's window reminds me that the seasons are rapidly changing. There are also a bunch of cricket noises which is something that I find quite soothing so that is nice. I do not know why I did not think of it until now but I bet that it would not be all that difficult to raise some crickets. There are even several of them living in the small firewood pile near the fire-pit under the cardboard there that I could possibly catch.
Well, it is still super early in the day here and I am crawling at a snail's pace with getting this all written because I keep looking at greenhouse tents and researching some do-it-yourself 'cricket breeding' strategies. The idea of growing meal worms or even wax worms also crossed my mind as sources of food for the chickens but when it comes down to it crickets are way less messy even if they make a heck of a lot more noise. There is of course plenty of stuff for the chickens to free range on both inside and outside of the dog yard but having a nice backup food supply for them is not all that bad of an idea. I bet that a small outdoor enclosure/habitat for the crickets would not be all that difficult to construct either. They might do well inside a greenhouse also so that is one more reason that I should get serious about the whole greenhouse project.
Okay, so there is a bunch of stuff jumbling around in my mind this morning and I would like to note that yesterday during a hike I observed a coyote not all that far from the the gate near the chicken coop and although it did not to appear to be all that interested in the chickens I think that it might have had some pups with it. The reason that I say this is because there was something(s) near it in the underbrush making a whole lot more noise than either it or any full grown coyote would make. It also paused for a long while with me in plain sight as it appeared to usher something that I could not see in front of it along the trail. As obscured as the scene was by vines I still got a pretty good mental picture of what might have been going on there unless I am totally wrong and it was some wounded prey or something else entirely! Who knows with nature but the experience lead me to hiking around and making sure that the coyote had not abandoned a coy-dog pup nearby or was laying in wait for the chickens. Mostly I took care to walk all around the dog yard and leave a nice scent trail so the coyotes know to avoid the area. I am sure that they are well aware of it anyway given the dogs, the compost, the chicken scents etcetera but it did not seem like a bad idea to lay down some fresh scent around the place just for good measure.
Now it is a little after six now if that gives you any idea how slowly these entries get typed. That they get typed at all is what seems most significant to me so I seldom think negatively about the time it takes to get it achieved. The spell checker alone would tell a nasty tale of my blunderings and I am glad that by the time that I post them they get as 'polished' as they do. If it was just me chronicling my days I would assuredly still be posting blobs of meandering text and call it good enough. Sharing stuff online definitely raises the bar above what is 'sufficient' for archival purposes but in the end I think that it is worth the endeavor even if it simply bolsters rudimentary editing skills and clarification techniques. I go back and forth on the topic of 'polishing' stuff but for the most part I have found that it is often essential to do it if I want to achieve 'clear' communication with the broadest possible audience. I am no pro at it all but it heavily influences how I convey things nonetheless. To any new writers out there it is my advice to just keep writing and sharing without too much anxiety over making things 'perfect' and just try to convey what you can the best way that you can and keep going from there!
It is an hour or so before dawn on Monday morning and I am going to try to get some writing done before the rest of the morning slips away from me. Late Saturday evening a buddy of mine (that I had not seen in well over a year) stopped by for an overnight visit while traveling through the area. It was really enjoyable getting to chat with them around a fire and more or less 'shooting the shit' about what we have been doing with our lives since the last time we saw each other. Since they arrived late at night we did not go on a tour of the place until the morning and whoa while I was summing up the various projects that had already been done it really hit me just how much stuff has already been accomplished here. My friend having seen several of my other setups seemed quite impressed with the new one and really liked how we are setting things up for solar power as well as the general idea of the place as a private retreat and/or private campground. All around it was an awesome visit and I am glad that the first visitor that I have had got to enjoy themselves and will probably stop by the next time that they are passing through the area.
Anyway, since my sleeping pattern got skewed I missed out on writing and spent much of the following day (after my guest had gotten back on the road) taking some naps in between doing a bunch of odds and ends stuff around the shelter site which mostly amounted to doing my daily chores at a really slow pace. It is worth noting that before my friend visited I shoveled out the fire-pit (which nearly filled the wagon) and got everything that was inside it spread over the compost mound. It was not quite enough material to cover the entire mound but it was enough to cover nearly half of it so that is not bad at all considering how small the fire-pit is. I thought about covering the rest of the mound with some of that topsoil that has collected in the corner of the dog yard behind the chicken coop but by then I was covered in sweat and getting chewed on by bugs so I decided to tackle that task at a later point. Recently I got a big bag of bird seed and although I never mentioned it I spread a bunch of it in the raised garden beds, the flower pots that have all my seed potatoes in them and over the compost mound. The bird seed in the raised beds has already sprouted and there are a bunch of tiny plants growing in them and I am hoping to accomplish the same thing with the compost mound.
The sun is now fully up and it is a little after eight so I should get to wrapping this up and get to doing the morning chores and letting the chickens out to roam. They sure have been having a go at all the pokeweed growing in the yard and are eating so many bugs off of it that they spend most of their time outside the coop picking over one patch or another of the stuff. I have yet to see them eat the ripe pokeweed berries but considering the lack of ones laying about on the ground I guess some other critters are. Apparently all parts of the pokeweed plant are toxic to poultry (thank you internet search that I just now made) so I am thinking that they must not be eating any part of the plant or they would all be dead by now! There goes my idea of drying out a bunch of the berries to save as foodstuff for them! Sometimes the tiniest amount of research can be quite eye-opening. Yeah, I do realize that I previously called it 'polk weed' and the correct name is pokeweed.
Alright, it is a new morning here and I am slowly waking up all the way as I drink my espresso and let my mind wander wherever it wants to. Once again it is quite cool outside and even though I braced myself for it... opening the cabin door to the colder weather was mildly alarming especially since even with the air conditioner running it is still colder outside than inside! Now that summer is winding down to an end I am going to have to get back to working on stuff in earnest and make sure that I have all my ducks in a row for the oncoming colder months. Over the previous few days I have noticed a lot more leaves dropping from the trees and the sun is setting earlier in the evening as the days grow shorter so whatever I am going to do before the seasons change I need to get to doing it as soon as possible without much in the way of dawdling.
So, it is super late in the morning here and I just woke up not all that long ago after staying up a little late last night. I do not know why I drank some espresso in the evening yesterday after waking from a nap but whoa it sure did keep me awake much later into the evening than when I usually stay awake. Eventually I did fall asleep and slept quite well so I guess that is all that really matters. Since starting this paragraph I have gone and done my morning chores and even taken a few hikes and since it is now afternoon I should either write more or get to doing some editing. Posting these entries once a week instead of once a month will take some getting accustomed to but at least I will not need to dread having to edit such lengthy entries!
Okay, it is now the middle of the night (almost one in the morning) and I am either up way too early or altogether too dang late. I awoke about an hour ago after one of my afternoon naps turned into sleeping for almost seven hours straight and then waking up in the middle of the night. At first I thought that I would fall back asleep but after almost an hour I gave up on doing so and brewed some espresso instead. Since I failed to finish this entry yesterday (I was hoping to post it last night) I will more than likely use the next few hours to get it all wrapped up and posted.
The rain moved into the area late in the day yesterday (just as I was laying down for a nap) and from what I can tell it just kept raining for the rest of the evening while I snoozed the hours away. The weather forecast is calling for lots of rain over the next four days (as another tropical depression blows over) so I will need to pay it close attention if I am going to get my routine chores done without getting rained on while doing them. With all the rain the nightly temperature outside is nowhere near as chilly as it has been the last several nights so that is pretty nice regardless of how muggy things are because of it. Now that I think of it the next several days will be quite the mess of cleaning up whatever muck and leaves me and the dogs track inside the cabin and I may as well resign myself to it (and the weather) getting worse before it gets better sometime next week.
I just got all this proofread so I should get to wrapping it up and getting it posted before I can add anything else to it or procrastinate getting it shared. I hope that everyone is doing well and has a nice day/night.
More about me: I have been doing property caretaking (land stewardship) for many years (decades) and live a rather simple life with my dogs doing what most folks would consider to be an 'alternative minimalist lifestyle' but what I often just think of as a low-impact lifestyle where I get to homestead and spend the majority of my time alone with my dogs in the woods doing projects in the warmer months and taking some downtime during the colder months.
Nearly four years ago I began sharing the adventures (misadventures) of my life via writing, videos, pictures and the occasional podcasts and although my intention was to simply share my life with some friends it undoubtedly grew into much more than that over the years and now I find myself doing what equates to a full-time job just 'sharing my life' which is not even all that glamorous or anything but hey folks seem to enjoy it so I just keep doing it!
The way that I look at it is that I give it all my best each day and while some stuff I write is better than others I think that for the most part I do a pretty good job at doing what I am doing which is simply 'sharing my life' as candidly as I possibly can and whatever folks get (or do not get) from it there is always the satisfaction of me doing what I set out to do... which is to simply share my life.