Cases

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Well, I  got the Pelican case I wanted the other day. Sportsmans Warehouse had a sale that would have taken 20% off the usual $199.99 price. Saving forty bucks is always a good idea, so I went up there and grabbed one. Silly me. Last time they had them they had the Model 1750 cases. What was up there this time were the 1720. The difference is that one is shorter in length than the other. So…the case I picked up wont fit my CZ550. So, although this case would be excellent for tucking away an AR,870 and Glock it isn’t what I need. Back it goes. As luck would have it, between yesterday and today a 1750 was added to the display so I managed to tradeoff for the one I needed. As a result, my CZ550 now has its own cozy little cocoon. I need to spend some time tonight fitting the foam padding but if all goes as planned my .308 will be safe and secure by tomorrow.

The Hardigg cases have been making a name for themselves lately. Whereas Pelican pretty much limits their design to what amounts to armored briefcases, Hardigg has some very cool stuff…like their ‘mobile armory’ cases. (Which, as it turns out, Pelican just introduced their version.) And their footlockers. And other cool stuff. And it appears to be fairly competitive against the Pelican stuff. Both products can be found on eBay if you want to comparison shop.

Now, if you go and check these prices you’re going to see that on a good day your gonna pay north of $50 for a small case and well over $100 for anything in a useful size. (By usefull, I mean large enough to store the important gear like guns, packs, electronics, etc.) Like much in life, there is a ‘ghetto’ alternative. That is to say, theres an “80/20” alternative. (You pay 20% of the price of the spendy item and get 80% of the utility.) So, before I mention it, let’s see if you can figure it out. Think of a container product that is:

  • Waterproof
  • Airtight
  • Extremely durable
  • Lends itself to military applications
  • Is cheap
  • And fairly ubiquitous

No, no, no…don’t go all McGyver on me, the answer is: ammo cans. They’re not just for ammo anymore. Most of us are falmiliar with what we refer to as “.30 caliber” and “.50 caliber” cans. If you’re a little more in the know you’re aware of “Tall .50’s”. If you’re into this subject more than the average bunker dweller then you’re aware of the myriad of other ‘ammo cans’ that are available. Larger ammo cans aren’t really ammo cans…they’re rocket cases, mortar round carriers, etc, etc. However, there is always one made that fits your needs. I’m going to cover a few here so you know what to search for on the various search engines.

  • .30 cal. Cans – This is one of the most common cans you’ll encounter. They are ideal for storing things like handgun ammo and smaller things. They can usually be had for $5~
  • .50 cal. Cans – This is the other common ammo can. It is also arguably the most useful size for general use. Good for various tools, entire handguns with accessories, etc, etc.
  • Tall .50 cans/60mm – exactly what it sounds like. Very similar to the .50 can but a bit taller. Not terribly common but not a difficult find.
  • 25mm can – opens at both ends. Heavy duty plastic just like a Pelican case. The interior doesnt offer alot of room, but for the gear that does fit inside these things are great.
  • 40mm/20mm can – Extremely useful. One of the most useful ‘big’ cans. A good choice (but not the best) for storing an emergency kit. They can also be made into panniers/saddlebags for motorcycles. They’re excellent choices for hauling stuff around in the back of a truck. (only an inch or two difference in dimensions between the two different caliber cans.)
  • 120mm mortar can – These look like extremely tall .30 cans. They’re a good choice for storing certain longarms. Most ‘assault weapon’ type guns will be too long (and possibly too tall), but many of them, broken down, will fit.
  • 120mm can – Probably the #1 choice for serious storage. The lid cams into place to provide a good gasket seal, the lid can be locked in place with a simple padlock, and the damn thing is almost bombproof. Excellent for storing longarms that have narrow profiles. Most guns will need to be broken down to fit inside but some (10/22, 870, Mossberg 500, short SKS, etc) can go in without any other concern. These are hard to find but once in a while they turn up. They are very much worth having and an excellent choice for a burial cache.
  • 2.25 Mk2 Mod 0 Rocket container – Best ‘footlocker’ type case. They have locking dogs along the edges to assure a tight seal, thick solid walls, and are generally indestructible. Heavy, but first choice for ‘leave it in the truck bed in all sorts of weather’. Theres a ‘tall’ version that has less length but more height. Also a winner.
  • Medical chest – The biggest common ‘ammo can’ is actually designed for transporting medical materials. These cases usually run $75~ but they are wonderful pieces of equipment. You can also buy an insert that slides into the case to turn it into a ‘dresser draw’ arrangement. If you have the money, this is the first choice for stuffing a loaded backpack and broken down rifle into. Be prepared to pay a bit for shipping unless you can find them locally. Camping supply stores sometimes have them as ‘bearproof’ containers.

There are a few other sizes Im leaving out, mostly because Im too lazy to go into the bunker and copy down the stencils off the side of the ammo cans. My point, though, is that if you hunt around you can usually find an ammo can that will suit whatever storage need you have. Now, Im the first to want to save a buck but if you can afford to, a purpose-made container like a Pelican case is the first choice for the truly expensive protect-it-at-all-costs gear. Like what? Precision firearms, optics, critical electronics, etc.

I try to keep as much stuff as I can in these types of containers because it makes storage more uniform, but more importantly it makes things man-portable for those times when youre trying to beat the clock. If you have to baby your gear, tuck it safely into someplace dry and protected, and then worry about not banging it around you’ll never get anything done. When the world is collapsing around you and youve got to leave now you need to be able to grab a handle, sling the weight off the floor, over your shoulder and into the back of a wet, snowy pickup truck bed and not worry about the contents of that container.  There’s going to be a time when maybe the sheriff is only giving people 15 minutes to grab their possessions and evacuate, or youre trying to beat an advancing fire, or the water is rising too fast to stay longer, or you can hear the angry voices of the mob approaching… and thats when you wanna be able to grab your gear and move, move, move. Thats also when you’ll want that gear in a hard, durable, waterproof case so you can heave it around and get the heck out of there.

So…next time youre at the local surplus store or gun show, check out the ammo cans and see if there isnt something that’ll meet your needs. Even if you never plan on leaving home, having your stuff protected form the usual household threats (dust, moisturem pests, broken pipes, etc.) makes the expense and effort worthwhile.

Corn

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

I don’t have much use for health/organic food stores. They’re usually full of Volvo-driving lefties who think that because something is ‘organic’ its worth a 150% price difference over the non-organic.

However….those ‘useful idiots’ can in fact be..well..useful. The local organic place sells bulk foods of various types. Now when I say bulk I mean literally bulk…you go up to a hopper, grab a scoop and start shoveling whatever it is you want into a bag. Thirty different kinds of rice, twenty different kinds of wheat and grain and I cant even begin to guess how many varieties of beans.

But…$0.89/# for ‘organic’ dried corn is just too rich and too stupid for me. So..lets wander up to the customer counter and see what we can make happen. I ask the liberal behind the counter if the dried corn is available in 25# bags. He replies that it is, they’re out, but they’ll have some more in a week. Fair enough. I give him my number and tell him to call me when its in. In the meantime…into the bunker to get a few things ready.

Mylar bags? Yup. Got a stack of ‘em right here. Might need to order up some more from those fine folks at the LDS website.

Buckets? Mmmm…need a couple more buckets. We can haz buckit. A quick trip to Home Depot will fix that. Plenty of bucket lids though.

And then yesterday the phone rings. Stuff is in. I head up there this morning. Four 25# bags of ‘organic dried corn’. Price? $13.11/25#. That’s about fiftytwo cents per pound. A difference of …uhm…well, a big difference from the earlier price of $0.89/#.

That’s 100# of dried corn to stuff down in the bunker along with the 100# of rice. Which, if you know your survivalist nutrition, comes out to 200# of a ‘complete protein’. Complete, sure, but probably nowhere near as tasty as a chicken breast cooked in butter. But…beats being hungry.

So…whats a body to do with 100# of dried corn? The obvious thing that springs to mind is cornmeal and polenta. And, if Im willing to spend the money, I can pick up a grain flaker for a couple hundred bucks. Check it out, man – my own corn flakes! How utterly hardcore would that be? But the majority will be earmarked (get it? ‘ear’marked? Ears of corn…ya see, corn comes on ears and…never mind.) for cornmeal/polenta. And, of course, corn meal opens up a world of delicious possibilities. Corn bread, breakfast cereal, corn batter for frying, various southern redneck entrees and I suppose if I simply rehydrate it I could also do corn chowder and that sort of thing. (Although I have a goodly supply of freezedried corn for that.)

But, the important thing is I’ve got more food to tuck away for that rainy day.

Shopping trip

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Minding my own business, not harming anything…..and as I walk into the local Albertson’s they have the usual stacks of cases of food piled up front. These are products that are on sale, usually part of their “10 for $10″ promotion. (For those of you who went to public school, that means $1 each.) Surprisingly, my favorite spaghetti sauce was on sale for $1 ea. Hmmmm….best price I can find is $1.50 on sale and the regular price is usually twice that. So…two cases later Im looking at the receipt:

Normal price: $3.19
Card savings: $2.19

Total savings: $52.56

So, what normally have cost $76.56 wound up costing $24. That, my friends, is significant savings. How significant? It means I can buy three times as many for the same amount. These are not savings to be trifled with, oh no…these are the types of savings that make a real difference.

Which is why, of course, Im heading back there later for another couple cases. Shelf life is 18 months and since I usually cook some form of pasta at least once a week I can get a years supply for about $50.

Moral of the story: watch for bargains!

(As an aside, yes, I could make my own spaghetti sauce from scratch and I often do. But I cant make it as cheaply. A 28 oz. can of tomatoes is a buck all on its own so right out of the gate we’re over the one dollar the bottled stuff is costing me. [28 oz. crushed tomatoes, 2 clove garlic, half a minced onion, oregano, basil, a little thyme, some salt. Simmer for an hour until thick.])

Germ warfare

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Life continues apace. And while all is not sunshine and stun grenades around here, it could be worse.

Avian/bird flu is rearing its head over on the Asian continent – again. This time it’s the Indians (That’s Indians with the dot, not feather) turn and, according to various news reports, attempts to contain it are meeting with varying degreese of non-success. Not surprising. Who wants to turn in your chickens for slaughter when you cant eat beef because the cows are sacred? (Ghandi voice: No,no,no..don’t sanctify the chickens…they taste too good.)

Its already cold and flu season here in the US (that’s the regular cold/flu…not the bird variety). It sounds very elementary and basic but it really does seem to be true – deliberate and frequent handwashing goes a long way towards preventing a person from catching the bug. This makes sense if you think about it…probably 99% of your actual ‘contact’, as in bare skin physically touching something, is done with your hands on a day-to-day basis. You handle money (filthy stuff…terrific vector), doorknobs, store countertops, telephones, keyboards, etc, etc. with your hands and then those hands shove a hamburger down your gullet. Next thing you know, you’re in the bathroom driving the porcelain bus and trying to recall what it was you ate that might be doing this to you. So, reasonably, washing your hands frequently eliminates a large percentage of your vulnerability.

When the girlfriend and I go to WalMart for groceries I cant help but look at the masses of humanity wandering the aisles and think that these same creatures had their filthy hands on the handles of the cart Im pushing or basket Im carrying. So…in my everyday bag I have a small ‘pocket pack’ of bleach wipes. I take one with me in to the store and wipe down the handles of the cart/basket before I do anything else. Clorox makes the small pocket pack I normally use and I recommend them. They are also a godsend if you have to use a public restroom. To make sure they don’t dry out I keep the pocket pack in a small Ziploc bag. A tiny bottle of hand sanitizer also goes in my bag as well. (Hey, speaking of public restrooms…if you use your bare hand to hit the flush lever or pull the door open on the way out you’re probably asking for trouble. Use a paper towel, that’s what they’re there for.)

Bleach is some seriously cheap stuff. I just picked up two one-gallon jugs of unscented Clorox up at CostCo for something like $4.90. Given a choice, get the unscented variety…no additives…this way you can use it for water purification duties if necessary. While you’re in the local megamart go pick up a package of empty spray bottles. Fill one with a bleach/water mixture and use it for wiping down everything in your bathroom and kitchen. Very cheap insurance. Think about how much money you earn in a day and how much you’ll lose per day if you’re sick and unable to work. Now compare that with ten bucks for a gallon of bleach, a spray bottle and some bleach wipes. Cheap insurance, man.

Although I enjoy the face-to-face personal interaction with customers I don’t enjoy shaking hands with them. Sure, it has to be done sometimes but once the customer is out the door and out of sight the hand sanitizer comes out from under the counter. Its not OCD, its being careful. Buy yourself a big jug of the stuff and use it to refill your smaller ‘tavel size’ bottles that you keep in your car or bag. Saves you a few bucks as it keeps the viral nasties at bay.

Handled money? Wash your hands. Shook hands with someone? Wash your hands. Handled an object (keyboard, phone handset, shopping cart, etc) used by countless other people? Wash your hands. Just used a public restroom? Soak your hands in gasoline and set them…I mean, wash your hands.

I don’t know about you but I cant really afford to get sick even in the best of times… and I definitely can very much not afford to be sick when things get weird. Every little step counts in these regards.

Is this a guarantee of avoiding the various viral issues that circulate among us at this time of season? Nope. There are no guarantees…but it definitely reduces the likelihood of catching something by a very large amount. While we cannot exclude all risk from our lives we can certainly tip the odds in our favor from time to time. (And, really, being prepared is all about tipping the odds in you’re favor, isn’t it?)

Keep in mind that bleach does lose a bit of its efficacy over time. However, for less than three bucks a gallon its hardly a hardship to replace your fading supply after a year or so. More likely you’ll wind up using most of it before it ‘expires’ just doing normal things like laundry and other cleaning.

Vinegar has a reputation as being somewhat antimicrobial and the girlfriend uses it to wipe down the countertops here at the house. Makes the house smell like a salad. While Im sure vinegar has some merit in the ‘keep me from getting sick’ department I think bleach is packing a little bit more power.

Bleach, of course, has other uses. Mixed with ammonia you’ve got the pretty much the same stuff that killed thousands on World War One battlefields. Mix them together at your own risk. Seriously, its nasty stuff…people get hospitalized every year when a house cleaning binge goes bad and someone scrubs the tub out with ammonia and bleach. Its bad news. Be careful.

So head down to your laundry room, see if you have any unscented bleach and go out and pick up a gallon or two. While you’re at it definitely get the pocket pack of bleach wipes. They are a seriously useful piece of gear that’s worth keeping with you.

Glock Knives

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Whats the ‘best’ knife? I have no idea. Depends on what you think you need a knife for. If you’re going to chop your way through an Amazon jungle then a Leatherman tool is probably a bad choice, much as a machete is probably a bad choice for removing a sliver from your hand.

gk.JPG

For a general purpose sheath knife, I’ve been liking the Glock knives. They are extremely affordable, take abuse exceptionally well, are largely indestructible, and seem to hold an edge. They are a bit light so if your needs including hacking/chopping you may want something with more weight. For busting steel bands, prying ammo crates open, digging stuff out of the dirt, and other abusive tasks it seems to perform very well. These are not unrealistic tasks for a knife. To use an example from real life, take the aftermath of Katrina – you need a knife that’s fairly impervious to the wet (and especially the contaminated, chemical-laden, mold-inducing wet) and that rules out a leather sheath. You’re going to need something for breaking windows, prying at hinge pins on doors, cutting seat belts, cutting wire, prying open crates and barrels, punching holes in materials, being hammered through tough-to-cut objects, and generally abused in order to achieve your goals. So you need something durable, cheap enough to have spares (because while a $400 damascus bowie may be a thing of beauty, it’s a little too pretty to mess up) so you can destroy a knife if necessary, light enough to carry all day, and built well enough to handle the ‘voids the manufacturers warranty’ type of tasks. Plenty of good synthetic handled, kydex scabbarded knifes out there but for the money I’ve found the Glock to be very very good.

The Glocks come in two styles (with or without a sawtooth back..the sawteeth do work well but their utility is debatable) and in three flavors (OD, black, desert). If you shop around you can usually find them for $25-35~. As you would expect from Glock, theres a goodly amount of plastic involved. The scabbard is molded plastic…heavier than Kydex and rather rigid. Whereas Kydex will sometimes break/tear where its edges are riveted together, the Glock sheath appears unbreakable. Oh, you might break it if you really worked at it in some way but I cannot forsee any normal (or abnormal) usage that would ruin it. I’d have no trouble believing it would be just fine after being thrown under the wheels of a truck. Theres a unique locking device that secures the knife in the sheath but is easily released with the thumb as you draw the knife. Knife can be carried in the sheath facing either direction, thus the scabbard and knife are completely ambidextrous. The locking mechanism for the securing the knife is also completely ambidextrous. These are very much ‘left-hand friendly’ knives.

The sheath attaches to the belt by an openable belt loop. You can remove the sheath from your belt without unbelting. The mechanism is somewhat similar to the old style Bianchi fastener on the UM84 holsters. The blades are non-reflective, approx. 6” long and have a false edge on the forward top portion. They come from the factory pretty sharp and I’ve only had to have mine sharpened a couple times. The blades will etch from blood, as will most knife blades, and when the coating wears of the blade the metal is a plum color. The handle is grooved plastic. The handle fits the hand pretty well, tapering at either end and swelling in the middle. Nothing remarkable there. The handguard features a bottle opener which is always a nice touch. There is a plastic buttcap/pommel which can double as a hammer but it will mar the plastic a bit. There is an attachment point for a lanyard.

I’ve had several of these knives over the years and one of them is usually with me when I go hunting. In fact, when the girlfriend got her deer I gave her the Glock knife to use and it (and her) performed quite well. The blade is rugged and durable enough to split bone and the point doesn’t deform or break when hammering it between joints. Pounding a knife with a rock to force the tip through pelvic bone is a fairly good test for durability…the Glock passed. These knives are quite affordable and for the money it would be hard to find another knife of similar quality and, more importantly, durability. They’re cheap enough that you can abuse one with no remorse. They are also cheap enough that you can buy several without breaking the bank. I have the one in my hunting kit that gets used on most of my outdoor escapades. Down in the bunker I’ve several more in various colors waiting for the time I need to replace my current one or to be given to someone who needs it. Plus, its nice to be able to afford to keep one in each backpack, always ensuring one will be available. Although it’s a ridiculous practice with absolutely zero practical application (except amusement) they throw pretty well too.

Are they the best knife out there? No such thing, amigo. However, it may be the best within certain parameters – the best, affordable, general purpose sheath knife not made in China for example. The hidebound will no doubt proclaim that their Kabar is the only real field knife out there and that anything else is unmanly. Whatever. I’ve used them too and they are good knives, especially with a Kydex scabbard. I like the affordability of the Glock although I appreciate the heft of the Kabar. When I do want a knife with a bit of heft and weight behind it I usually go to my BK&T BK7 or TacTool. (Which, like a lot of very cool products, is no longer made although they can be found on eBay and similar venues at stupid prices.) Of course, this doesn’t say anything about pocket knives (or folding knives). Those are a whole different story.

Gamma Seal bucket lids

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

B2.JPGRecognize this? Its the ubiquitous 5-gallon bucket. (Although to be fair, alot of 6-gallon buckets look darn near identical to this thing.) They can be had new for somewhere between $3-5~ at any hardware store. The lids are a major pain in the ass to remove but they weren’t really designed for repeated openings. A product that I use and can honestly recommend is the Gamma Seal lid. These lids consist of a threaded ring that snaps onto the rim of the bucket, and a gasketed threaded lid that screws into the threaded ring. In short, it turns the bucket into an easily resealable large container…ideal for foodstuffs or anything else you want to protect from damage. The buckets themselves are usually pretty durable since theyre designed for shipping about 40# of paint around in the back of trucks and trailers. I suppose they might get brittle in extreme cold but I havent had it happen yet. Theyre sort of like lightweight, really big amo cans in terms of their usefulness of storage.
B1.JPGAnyway, back to the matter at hand. If you happen to have some of these buckets available to you, do yourself a favor and pick up some of the Gamma Seal lids. They can usually be had for around $8 a throw. Sportsmans Guide sells them for six bucks and change, and Im sure somewhere on the interweb theres a place selling ‘em for less if you order enough. I ordered a dozen from Sportsmans Guide a few years ago but they only offer them in whote and black. (And in retrospect I probably should have used the black ones for ease of viewing in these pictures…but, hey, Im not a photographer.) The lids come in several colors so you can color-code your buckets for rapid identification. A smart individual might code them white for food, black for ammo, red for medical stuff, green for…whatever green means to you, etc, etc. Of course, theres nothing to keep you from slapping a durable label (or better yet, a packing list) to the exterior of the bucket since the last thing you need is to be frantically digging through these things when you’re desperate for some piece of equipment.

B4.JPGThe adapter ring attaches to the bucket using natures miracle adhesive – brute force. The ring is supposed to ’snap’ into place on the bucket but a rubber mallet or a length of 2×4 makes things alot faster. (Also alot louder. Make sure to set the bucket on a solid surface [like a concrete floor] before whomping on the adapter ring.) Both the adapter ring and the screw on lid have gaskets but if youre a suspender-and-a-belt kind of guy you may want to run a bead of silicone sealant around the lip of the bucket before hammering the adapter ring on. Once the adpater ring is on the opening to the bucket will, naturally, be slightly smaller than the actual mouth of the bucket but not enough to make any practical difference. The tradeoff for the ease of use in opening/closing the lid is worth it, in my opinion.

B5.JPGNow, if youre storing grains or other foodstuffs you could just use the buckets by thensleves for non-long-term storage. I keep a bucket of rice in my kitchen for daily use. Unscrew the lid, scoop out a cup of rice, close lid…that sort of thing. I’ve been using out of that same bucket for about two years now and theres no problems of any kind. No moisture, no contamination, no insects, no dirt, no nothing. However, why not err on the side of caution, hm? If youre going to store anything in bulk in one of these buckets do yourself a favor and entomb it in a nice mylar bag first. Its those nice, thoughtful touches that make the difference. Especially if you ever have to transport your precious edibles in horrid weather conditions in the middle of the night. Last thing you want to worry about as your barrelling down the road in thunderous rainstorm is whether the 25# of wheat in the back of the truck is getting ruined. Of course, if youre putting away food thats already in its own durable packaging (canned food, or pouched foods for example) you can just go ahead and and stack/cram/pack ‘em in there.

B3.JPGTo get slightly sidetracked for a minute, I’m not selling these things, nor am I directing you to any place that does sell them. Not because Im above that…after all, from time to time I might try to sell you something…but because I simply am not selling this particular item. I would never advocate or try to convince you to buy a product that I was not willing to use myself, and since I use the Gamma Seals for my own storage needs I thought some of you who don’t have any experience with them might find a little post about them useful. As I said, I’ve been using them for several years now and have been pleased with them. In addition to the obvious things like food, theyre also good for storing first-aid kits or vehicle emergency kits. If you can stuff ‘em in there, theyre great for protecting sleeping bags or blankets in your vehicle.

So, as they say on television “I use and endorse this product”.

Stocking up….

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Its the little things in life that bring me joy..a pleasant summer day, an orange sunset over the mountains, a case of HydraShock 9mm sitting in the back of the truck…that sort of thing.

What makes me particularly purr-like-a-cat content this weekend was going to CostCo and stocking up on a few things. Also, saving money makes me happy. And if I can combine the two – stocking up and saving money – then Im about as happy as Bill Clinton at female swordswallowers convention.

About a week ago I was up at Wally World and while wandering the aisles I took the time to make note of various prices and serving sizes for later price comparison. When I was at Costco yesterday I checked against my notes and found that some stuff was indeed cheaper at CostCo than at WallyWorld. Example? The canned chicken broth I wind up using frequently was $0.72 at WW, if I bought a 12-pack of it at CostCo it came out to $0.5825 per can. A savings of approx. $0.14, or $3.36 for the case of 24 that was purchased. That doesnt sound like much but look at it another way, it was the same as if getting six cans free. Or, put another way, 25% off.

So, stocked up on a few flats of canned goods, a case of toilet paper (because while there are substitutes, there are no good substitutes), several pounds of butter, about 15# of pasta and of course a healthy selection of meat.

The bulk ground beef gets broken down into 1# packages, vacuum sealed, labelled, and entombed in the deep freeze. Of course, at the same time, the oldest ground beef gets pulled out and shuffled into the kitchen freezer for use. Currently, I think the stuff I have thawing is dated 2004. Yes, if you vacuum seal it and freeze it (not in the freezer built into your fridge, which doesnt usually get to the mind numbing cold of a true freezer) it can keep for years. Oldest stuff I’ve pulled out of the freezer has been close to five years. Once thawed it cooked up just fine. The obvious advantages (and disadvantages) make bulk purchasing of meat an extremely economical way of doing things.

Chicken, on the other hand, has been a delight to store. Know why? Theyre packaging the chicken breasts in their own vacuum sealed, datecoded, heavy plastic pouches these days. I dont have to do anything to it other than throw it in the freezer. Damn convenient.

And, just to keep my freezer from turning into some sort of meat mausoleum, theres a write-n-wipe board on the door of it that is used to keep track of whats inside. Thus, when I head for the warehouse store I can tell if I need another 15# of ground round or another 10# of bacon.

The butter, by the way, freezes really well but if left in the freezer for any real length of time will start taking on wierd odors and flavors. Vacuum sealing it prevents this and greatly increases its shelf life. Yes, you can also can butter (or buy canned butter) and although its more expensive, I hear its quite tasty. Handy for when freezing/refrigeration isnt an option.

So, returning from CostCo, running the vacuum sealer, stocking the shelves, updating the spreadsheets and admiring the enhancements to the food stockpile always put me in a better mood. Nothing says ’security’ like several months worth of food. Except of course for ammo. And fuel. And metals. And guns. And medical gear. And warm clothes.