Hurricanes, canning

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

I see that municipal failure and not-so-subtle racist Mayor Nagin of New Orleans has a mandatory evacuation order up. This means that citizens are urged to evacuate, highways are opened in one direction for evacuation, buses are brought in and 40% of the police department suddenly packs its bags and disappears.

It’ll be interesting to see how this goes. After Katrina you can bloody well believe there were some folks down there who got religion real fast in regards to being prepared. I look forward to the news stories that start of with “Although not everyone was left in the dark. Some residents were prepared like New Orleans resident ….”. Naturally therell be the same idiots sitting around saying “We ain’t go no money to go nowhere” and there’ll be the hue and cry that the poor and black were ‘left behind’ and ‘fell through the cracks’. We’ll see. If you go through Katrina, survive, and then do the same stupid things at the next big hurricane you probably are just too slow a learner to live

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So…made a couple gallons of the missus’ favorite soup.

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And while she likes it very much, theres no way she can consume all of it before it starts to get funky. Even throwing it in the fridge will only gain it a few days. Now, I could freeze it but I lose a bit of convenience by having to wait for it to thaw. Plus, I dont want to squander all my freezer space. If only there were some way to preserve food safely so it can be stored in a room temperature environment. If only..if only…wait! What have we here….

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This would be an excellent time to try my new uber pressure canner. And, fortuitously, I just happen to have a couple dozen pint jars and lids. Good planning, that. Since these jars were purchased at WalMart and therefore could have been handled by any trailer-park mutant its a good idea to clean and sterilize the bloody things. Everybody into the pool for a nice relaxing bath in some boiling water.

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Once they been cleaned and sterilized, they are set aside for use along with the usual tools of the trade – a jar lifter for lifting hellaciously hot jars without burning myself, a funnel to fill the jars while keeping the outsides and rims sanitary, and a magnetic wand to lift the lids out of the hot water they are waiting in.

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Okay, soup is at a boil so we turn it down, jars are cleaned and ready, lids are patiently waiting…time to fill ‘em up and close em up.

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In this case I filled fifteen jars and had enough soup left over for immediate usage over the next few days. First layer of jars is stacked in the canner. Make sure that canner is positioned where you want it ’cause once its full it aint going anywhere. This new canner has plenty of room for two layers and thats what I did.

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After that it gets sealed up, looking kinda like something form the Manhattan Project, and I patiently wait for the pressure to get up to the desired 12# for 75 minutes. (In actuality the pressure fluctuated between 12#-#13 but as long as it never went below 12# and it was the full 75 minutes, we’re cool.

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And the finished products. The stuff comes out of the canner so hot (since the pressure allows contents to become hotter than boiling) that the contents of the jar will continue to boil for about twnety minutes even after being removed. We have hard water here so theres some mineral residue on the jars from the process but it wipes off with a towel. At this point I am not touching these jars if I can help it…they are extremely hot. Thats why the jar lifter..its like lifting fuel rods in a reactor. After a while the contents cool enough to form a vacuum that seals the jar and pulls the lids into a seal, causing little metallic ‘ping’s to be heard. After that each jar is very carefully examined. The lids should all be concave from the vacuum. All fifteen looked good.

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They’ll get stored in the classic ‘dark, cool, dry place’ for optimum storage but in reality she’ll go though these in a month or two.

As for the canning process itself, yes its that easy. If a complete klutz like me can do it, you can do it.

Recommended reading:

Ball Complete Book Of Home Preserving, Robert Rose Press #9780778801313 or #0778801314
Canning and Preserving For Dummies, For Dummies #0764524712 or #9780764524714

A bit of notekeeping for my own references – 1 doz. Kerr pints with lids was $7.00 at Walmart

.22 Ammo

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

I had a gift card laying around and was short of opportunities and ideas to use it on so I went with an old standby.

I now have about 24 thousand rounds of .22 ammo squirreled away. No, no,no..I didnt buy it all at once, I just figured I may as well load up and picked up about 4000 rounds today.

Naturally, someone is going to ask “Why do you need so much .22 ammo”? Well, the price has gone up in the last few months on it to the point that its about $1.50-2.00 more per brick. So, if it does that again I’ll be ahead of the game. Additionally, of all the calibers I shoot, the .22 is the one I shoot most since its cheapest. So, no, you cant really have too much .22.

Hows it packaged? In its orignal cartons of 550 rounds, 9 cartons to an ammo can, four ammo cans to a shelf. I do believe I could single-handedly re-arrange the Endangered Species List and get ground squirrels in the top ten with all this. Thats….hmmm…. a hundred rounds a day for about 8 months. Maybe that’ll be my goal – 100 rounds per day for one year.
On the bright side, Im pretty much done buying .22 ammo for a while.

Bacon? Yes, we can!

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

You guys remember a while back the Germans had the bizarrely awesome complete-cheeseburger-in-a-can? (Yes, we has can cheezeburger!) Well, apparently canned bacon is now available after a long hiatus from the market. Heres one website where they crack open a twenty year old can of preserved pig. Apparently, theres something of a demand for long-term bacon and thus a small run of the stuff can be had from these guys.

True, there is shelf stable bacon on the market these days but its expiration date on the box seems to indicate a fairly short shelf life…a few months at most. Its also usually pretty bloody expensive. If youre going to spend the money, you may as well get this heart-attack-in-a-can. You could, conceivably, make breakfast ten years from now…canned bacon, dehydrated eggs, dehydrated hash browns, some Tang and a cup of freeze dried coffee. Mmmmm…

I have no intention of giving up eating meat. If the the powers that be did not want me to eat animals, they wouldnt have made them out of meat now would they? So…I have freeze dried chicken and beef, but bacon…man, nothing adds a little decadence to a sandwich like a couple strips o’ pig.

For real fun you could peel the label, replace it with one from a can of hummus or something and send it to your favorite serviceman in Iraq. Make a friend for life, I tell ya.

Shopping trip

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

What with the price of gas and all, we try to keep the trips to the Big Box Stores to a minimum. When we do go we try to hit ‘em all at once since theyre all along the same stretch of road. No point making the trip more than once, you know? So we saddled up and headed to SuperWallyWorld for some groceries and assorted items.

As has been mentioned elsewhere in the blogosphere, the price of the Federal .22 brick ammo was indeed up..about $13.50 now. This is up about a buck from last time we were there. Signs of the times, I suppose. Every time we head up there we try to make sure we pick up two boxes of the stuff. The way ammo has been increasing in price these days it seems like .22’s are about the only way I can afford to practice.

This trip I was doing some price comparisons on canning jars and lids. The good news was that WallyWorld had the Kerr jars for about $1.00 less per case than elsewhere. The bad news was that you could see there had been a rather large dent made in their supply of them. And they were totally out of lids and bands. Well, it is getting to be about the time of year when folks start pulling stuff outta the garden and putting it by.  I picked up a couple cases of pint jars for my next soup-making extravaganza and made a note to stock up on lids and bands elsewhere.

Trip to CostCo was rather uneventfull. Ground beef hovers at $3/# and I picked up another 10# to get re-packaged, vacuum sealed and stuffed away in the freezer. Same for some chicken.

Finally, we headed to the gas pumps filled up the truck and the spare gas cans (I had rotated out some gas) and called it a day.

The girlfriend ( or ex-girlfriend, I guess, since we’re married now) said that nothing gave her a feeling of security like having a little money in the bank for emergencies, a good supply of gas, and food in the freezer. Can’t argue with that.

More LDS stuff

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

A couple Mormon jokes..

Q: Whats the difference between LDS and LSD?
A: One you take with a cube of sugar, the other you take with a grain of salt

Q: What do you get when you cross a Mexican with a Mormon?
A: A guy with a basement full of stolen food.

Someone very kindly forwarded me a link  to one LDS wards effort to get its members to standardize on an emergency communications plan. The local leadership here did that a couple years ago. They sent a few of their people to sit in on the local ham radio class and when it was over they asked about what they would need to set up their own communications network for emergencies. The guys in the ham club told them that there would already be a network in place using local ham guys. The church guys hemmed and hawed, not wanting to come right out and say that what they wanted was their own emergency network. Flash forward a year or two and Im at the LDS cannery and they have some radio gear hooked up to a battery backup system and a map of Montana with all the fellow LDS licensees noted on it. Im tellin’ ya, these guys have it together. SPeaking of….

YouTube a popular medium for food storage enthusiasts – article video

You know, Im not purposely trying to be a cheerleader for these people. While theres things I like about their religion theres things I dont as well. I just think its so damn cool that theres a large group of people who have the desire to take this sort of thing seriously enough that they have their own food production facilities, canneries, etc, etc.

Making friends

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

Lurk around the discussion boards long enough and you’ll see the same questions being asked over and over and over again. One that turns up regularly is the ‘how (or where) do I meet like-minded individuals?’ This is a pretty good question. If you ‘come out’ to the wrong person you can easily wind up being known as ‘that survivalist whacko’ or, worse, wind up compromising an uncomfortable amount of your privacy and security. But, while there is a certain amount of stereotyping of the ‘lone wolf’ type of survivalist, it’s often more practical and simply more enjoyable to have people you can discuss this sort of thing with without them looking at you like you’ve lost your mind. Although survivalists are often pegged as anti-social (and, to be sure, some are) I like having a small group of like-minded individuals I can talk to about things and feel comfortable speaking my mind.

For example, I enjoy being able to kick back at the range, plink with .22’s and chat with my buddies and kick around ideas like propane vs. diesel storage, freezedrieds vs. air dried, .308 vs. 30-06 for sniping, etc, etc. and not feel like I have to watch what I say lest I be considered a kook of some sort.

That is what we call ‘acceptance’. Its genuinely nice to be able to be yourself around other people without having to worry that your coming off like some sort of paranoid whacko. Additionally, aside from the social aspect, its beneficial to have a few friends or social acquaintances who share common goals. It certainly makes bulk purchasing easier. When I did the bulk purchases of Mountain House last year there was no way I could make the minimum order on my own..but by bringing in my like-minded friends and acquaintances it was possible.

So, how do you find these elusive and secretive people? I’m willing to bet money you already know a few. I’m only going to go by my own experiences, so this is not an all inclusive Guide To Detecting Survivalists. Its just whats worked for me in the past.

First off, I never actively seek out these folks. Its always been that I knew them through some other interest and then later discovered we had a shared interest in preparedness. The internet makes this sort of thing a lot easier since you can actually ‘meet’ these people on forums and then later get together ‘in real life’. In this regard, I’ve had two people just walk into the shop, introduce themselves, and say they knew me from the internet.

Fella I knew collected guns and liked to shoot. Right off the bat, we had that in common. But I noticed his choices of guns were…interesting. What clinched it was that he bought everything in pairs. That’s pairs as in ‘one to use, one as a backup’. Hmmmmm. We’d chat a little about politics and discover we were pretty much on the same page. From there it was a short trip to talking about preparedness-related topics and finding that we both had more than a passing interest in that sort of thing. Through him, I met one of his longtime friends who was also ‘one of us’ and in that way formed a little nucleus of like-minded friends.

The Mormons, naturally, already have a head start in that direction and I’ve met several of them who would definitely fit the bill as ‘well prepared individuals’. I’m not a member of their faith (or any faith for that matter) but I’ve found that doesn’t seem to matter too much when talking about preparedness. A nice bonus is that lately they’ve been very generous and let me use their canning facilities.

There are plenty of people I know whom I would suspect to one degree or another are more prepared than your average individual. Customers who come in and buy AR mags by the dozen are a good example. Since Im in a gun-centric business that’s my barometer. If I worked in, say, a bookstore I’d probably notice the folks that buy books on things like food preservation, first aid and medicine, and that sort of thing. Books, by the way, are almost always an excellent indicator of a persons interest. Loan out a copy of Lucifers Hammer or Alas Babylon and get some feedback when the book is returned. Odds are that’ll tell you all you need to know.

Like any other demographic, theres ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Personally, I don’t think anyone who prepares, to any degree, against the uncertain future is ‘bad’. However, Im far more likely to be social and interact with someone who has a bunker full of guns, food, fuel, spare parts, clothing, medical gear, etc. than with someone whose sole benchmark for ‘preparedness’ is how much camouflage clothing and ammo they have. Yes, I can be a snob. The guy who thinks firepower is all its gonna take to come out on top of any crisis is probably someone I don’t really wanna hang out with.

So, you probably already have several friends and acquaintances (especially your shooting buddies) who are like-minded individuals and just don’t wave it around in front of people. Quietly observe, ask a few casual questions about their opinions on things and maybe you’ll be surprised.

 

 

 

Link – LDS faithful using more food storage – video/article, not a hurricane

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

Video

Business Week ‘Mormon Index’

A filler piece about how the demand at Mormon food handling facilities has gone up and how the trepidation about the economy is to blame. Interesting to note that about ‘5%’ of the people using the services are not actually Mormons. :::waves:::

Dean Ing wrote a few books about a post-apocalyptic America where the LDS church, being the most organized and well-prepared section of the populace, became the ruler of a theocratic America. (For those who are curious ‘Single Combat’, ‘Wild COuntry’, ‘Systemic Shock’….a trilogy.) While Im sure there are individuals and small groups probably better prepared than the Mormons, Id bet that theres no single block of people approaching anything like their sheer numbers.

As I’ve flogged the idea before, lemme flog it again – if you can wrangle an invite with a Mormon friend, or if your local cannery allows unaccompanied non-members, you’d be doing yourself a disservice not to take advantage of the opportunity to use their facilities. Its also a good opportunity to network.

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Florida had itself a not-a-hurricane. The news was full of the usual stories about people evacuating and roads being jammed full. It seems that its standard practice to insert a fast paragraph somewhere about someone determined to ride it out. The article I read had one guy saying he wasnt worried…he’d built his home out of concrete, knew what it could handle, and had a generator ready to go. Sad thing is, guys like this are mentioned because they are the exception. How can anyone posibly live in a place that gets these things every year and not think that it might be a good idea to prepare for them? For crying out loud, the state even gives used to give sales tax exemptions to encourage people to buy the gear they need!  Just from an economical standpoint you would think .gov would find it advantageous to have people prepared so that they can not need .gov services.

The cycnics among us will point out that thats exactly what .gov wants – people needing their services. Lest they discover that perhaps they really can live without Big Brothers benevolent hand in their lives. Hmmmm.

Lemme tell ya kids, if I were governor you can bloody well believe that ‘Emergency Management’ or ‘Civil Defense’ or whatever you wanna call it would be a totally different ball game.

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Okay, as a nice change of gears to something more pleasant, lets have a link to the fabulous Swiss civil defense programs and their poured-concrete testimonials to optimism.

Canner, growing stuff

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

Life continues apace. The new pressure canner arrived today. It’s a monstrous construction with a very steampunk look to it. I think it looks like some sort of small nuclear device. Since Im a fan of function over form, I don’t really care what it looks like as long as it does what I want it to. Now that it has arrived I can work up another batch of the soup that girlfriend seems to like so much. At this point I put half into containers in the fridge for immediate use and the other half gets put back in jars for much later consumption. This is interesting because, up to this point, she would absolutely not eat the same food two days in a row. Its one of those little quirks that drives me absolutely nuts. However, she’s been eating this soup everyday for the last couple weeks. Go figure. Regardless, now that the pressure canner, with its increased capacity, is here I can make a couple huge batches and get them put away so I don’t have to make any more for a month or so. And, of course, if theres anything else I wanna put up I’ll have that ability as well.

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Which reminds me, I found a use for all the wooden ammo crates I have sitting around here. I tore the bottoms off, filled ‘em with dirt and used them as forms for raised beds to grow vegetables. The tomatoes look good, the cukes didn’t do so well, but the lettuce mix is taking off like a rocket.

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(Get it? Lettuce..rocket..arugula…trust me, that joke killed at the greenhouse.) I really meant to put in a nice garden this year but somehow it just never happened. I really, really want to get some peppers and tomatoes going. One year I planted about thirty or forty tomato plants and they did great. Realistically though, lets check some math – a 28 oz. Can of crushed tomatoes costs me, on sale, one dollar. Just the canning jar and lid to house that much garden grown tomatoes would be more than a dollar so, as long as the supply lasts at the supermarket, it makes more financial sense to purchase and store canned tomatoes than to grow them. However, the key thing here is the term ‘as long as the supply lasts’.

As long as the supply lasts, it is cheaper to purchase many things than it is to grow/produce them from scratch. Take hunting for example. I can pay $2.69 per pound for beef. Killing a deer, and that’s assuming I get one on the first day, cost fuel, ammo, cost of a rifle, lost income for the time taken off to hunt, processing for the meat, etc, etc. Factoring in those costs shows that, as long as beef is available at $2.69/#, it probably makes more sense to simply make a trip to the supermarket and load up the freezer.

There are, naturally, intangible unquantifiable elements involved that make it ‘worth it’ to some people. Mathematically it makes more sense for me to buy beef than to hunt deer. However, the experience of being outdoors in the fall, the ‘lottery ticket’ feeling of hope and optimism when looking for deer, the satisfaction of eating something I killed myself, and the quality time by myself may be worth the costs. Same for gardening and growing my own tomatoes.

Of course, when the supply is not assured then all bets are off. At that point it doesn’t matter what the item in the store costs, or what the cost of procuring it yourself is, when it isn’t available anywhere at any price.

There is also, naturally, a bit of satisfaction in knowing that if you had to you could produce your own vegetables and get your own meat. And, as I mentioned, theres some personal satisfaction and enjoyment in doing things the hard way. I won’t say I enjoy watering the plants, but I don’t dislike it either….it’s a simple task that gives me pleasant results. I certainly don’t enjoy running a rototiller and doing stoop work, but I enjoy being able to walk into my yard and pluck a pepper or tomato off the plant and have it on the cutting board a minute later.

So, next year I really, really need to be serious about things and get the damn yard rototilled early, start the seedlings early, and have things ready to go by our last frost date (which is usually around June). Goals: tomatoes, peppers, onions, and various herbs.

Pressure canner, leaky FEMA fuel tanks,

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

The new pressure canner should arrive tomorrow, if the UPS tracking information is to be believed. I am enthused. I am also curious where the hell Im gonna put the bloody thing since it may take the title of Largest Kitchen Gadget. I mean, I’ll find a place for it, sure….its just…big.

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Heres an interesting article about leaky underground FEMA fuel tanks. The fact that the tanks themselves are leaking isnt noteworthy to me. Whats noteworthy is why those tanks are there in the first place. Years ago the girlfriend and I looked at buying one of these communications bunkers and it had originally been equipped with a 3000 gallon fuel tank. The tank had been removed when the place was decommissioned but you could see the hole where it used to be. So, if a person were to get ahold of this list of tanks that need attention you would also have, de facto, a list of hardened facilites and sites since no one was gonna dedicate a resource like fuel and storage to a facility that would crumble at the first bit overpressure. By the way, if you have Google Earth the coords for the bunker we looked at were 46° 4′53.63″N 112° 6′56.83″W. If you go to the 3d perspective you can see the hill it was on commanded a view of the entire valley. The 75′ radio tower with platform for microwave dishes would have made an uber sniper roost. Sadly, there wasnt a drop of water on the place…it had been designed as a remote unmanned facility so a well wasnt put in. A shame, ’cause those 12″ thick walls, reinforced concrete and steel blast shutters were mighty attractive.

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Speaking of pressure canner, here’s a link for those interested in the subject: National Center For Home Food Preservation

Gun show acquisitions

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

The big Missoula Gun Show was this weekend. Its the biggest in the state so attendance is de rigeur. I was trying to be a good boy, I really really was. But, sometimes things happen.

I was walking along the aisles and a casual acquaintance from previous shows called to me from behind his table. I said hi and we chatted a while. As I was chatting I started playing with some of the stuff on his table. Specifically, a Browning HiPower. Blued with Pachmyer grips, adjustable sights and comes with seven magazines. Price? $475.

You like the HiPower, he asked?
Yeah, I have a few,
I replied.
Make me an offer. Im in a bargaining mood.

Now, I had no desire to get another P35. I already have a few. But, just to be polite we did the dance some more.

I dunno, man. I’d just lowball you and then your feelings’d be hurt.
:::shrugs::: Worst I can do is say no.
Okay. How about $400?,
I think ’surely he won’t take $400 for a genuine Browning…’
Done.

And in my head Im thinking…’crap, I dont think I even have $400 on me. I wasnt expecting him to go for it!’. So I quickly borrowed $50 from a friend and took away my new pistol. Its a used but very clean later model HiPower. Belgian/Portugal, although my other ones are Belgian/Belgian. This one would be a nice candidate for a little tweaking over at Cylinder & Slide…mostly, I like the guns ’stock’ but I would swap out the sights and add a bit more pronounced safety lever.

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So I put away my new toy and wandered arround promising myself ‘no more purchases’. See, Im a cheap guy and no matter how good the deal I always have guilt and buyers remorse afterwards. And yet….

Sitting on a table was a Ciener Atchisson .22 conversion for the AR-15. Actually, there were TWO. One looked older than the other. One was missing the magazine. Hmmmm…wouldja take less for the pair, especially since one is missing a magazine?

Next thing I know, I have two AR-15 conversion kits in hand. (Actually, one is an M16 kit since it features the parts necessary for functioning in a full-auto. [note that the parts dont make the gun full auto, the gun has to be fully automatic to start with]) Wandered a bit more and -surprise- found a guy selling these magazines. So, I’ll probably keep one kit and sell the other to help defray the costs.

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Last item I picked up was a 14″ .44 Mag. barrel for my Contender. That was really a luxury purchase but it’ll be nice to haul around in the woods this year instead of a nine pound rifle. Currently I have a Contender carbine in .30-30 with a Choate stock and it weighs maybe four pounds. Its a delight to carry in the woods for long periods. But, a gunnie needs something to play with every once in a while and the price was right.

Other than that, there were no real interesting purchases. I did unload a few cases of MRE’s. Since I got dealer status with Mountain House I found that a case of MRE’s takes up a space that can hold much more days worth of food using the MH product, so I figured Id thin down my stash of MRE’s a bit. I singlehandedly lowered the prices of MRE’s at the gun show.

Took the P35 to the range and it shot wonderfully. I forget how much I like those things. I carry the Glock but thats because of its durability and price. But, the Glock has no real character…which is fine for what its intended to be – a simple functional tool – but the P35 has some style and character to it. Too bad theyre (normally) so expensive.

The .22 conversion kits were tricky. They need to be cleaned very badly and I think I need to experiment with different types of ammo. The bulk Federal didnt doo a very good job of cycling things. I very much want to get these kits running smoothly.

Today is my day off from work so Im off to Goodwill to stock up on canning jars at $0.15 ea. My new canner will arrive Thursday.