Thursday, January 24, 2013

Day 95- Planning Ahead

It's even colder now.  I mean, seriously, you have to be careful just breathing outside!  The air is so cold it feels like it freezes your lungs.  We can't step outside for even a minute without our faces covered.  It hurts so bad.  I don't know how the animals are handling it.  They all seem to be fine though.  The dogs still enjoy romping in the snow in the afternoons too.  People are wimps.

We haven't been out much.  No visiting.  I hope everyone else is doing ok.  If not, they'll have to come here, cause we aren't going there!

On a positive note, the fishing should be good if we get a rise in temp.  The lakes should be well frozen over.  The Bigs are rather excited to get out ice fishing, and have spent the last few days finding and packing supplies.  Normally they would go to a friend's ice hut, but that's too far to walk now, and no telling if there are even any huts out on the lake.  They packed a small tent that they hope will work as a bit of a wind break.  I think if it's windy the tent will just blow away.  They've got blow up cushions for seats, blankets, and candles, along with all of the fishing gear.  The hard part will be breaking through the ice.  We're going to try one of the lakes along the highway, where hopefully others will have been out cutting holes already, rather than the small lakes behind us which are likely to be solid.  But not until it gets a little warmer...

In the meantime, I've been taking advantage of the extra labour in the house.  We've sorted through everyone's closet and removed worn out, damaged, and no longer fitting clothes.  Anything that didn't get hand me downed has been added to my material stash.  I'm slowly getting old blankets recovered, ready for a few more years use.  Buttons and zippers are carefully removed and stored.  Seams from old jeans are cut and saved for garden ties.  Nothing can be wasted now.

The Bigs did a cobweb sweep of the basement.  It was starting to feel so creepy, with the dim light from the candles and the cobwebs seemingly everywhere.  I hate spiders.

We sorted and tidied the cold room.  It's a little emptier than I had thought, but we're still doing ok.  We'll make it through winter anyway.  The last pumpkin was starting to turn, so it's on cooking now. 

We're on our last bag of rice.  That's going to change things drastically.  Rice is one of the key ingredients for doggy stew, as well as our current chicken feed.  We haven't been eating as much of it this winter, but even with cutting back and extra meat for the dogs- this is it.  I don't know what we're going to feed them without it either.  I don't have much oatmeal or flour.  They might have to go on a mostly meat diet.  We might have to think about reducing the number of dogs too. 

Rice is irreplaceable.  I can't grow it in the garden.  There is wild rice along some of the lakes, but not nearly enough to harvest and store for next winter.  I only have a bit of wheat seed, not enough for a crop, just enough to grow for more seed.  Peas are the only thing I can think of that will grow in sufficient quantity and provide that same filling consistency.  I wonder what the dogs will think of that.  Pea soup.

We're down to our last two bales of hay.  Husband is hoping for a break in the weather- then he'll try taking the sleigh down the back roads and hopefully find someone to trade with.  We're hoping we don't have to go to the Hutterite village.  That would be a long cold ride.  We'll need at least another 15 bales to make it through the winter.  Then we'll need to do some serious fencing in the spring.  I've been trying to get more fences up for years now, but it never seems to happen.  This year we'll have to make it a priority.

There are so many things to make priorities this year;  fences, gardens, foraging, fishing, firewood, hay.  At least everyone will be home to help.  There will be many long days of hard work ahead.


  1. Rice is a staple here, I didn't think about not having it on hand! Smart lady saving the ippers and buttons they are valuable now. This blog has made me realize how litle we have here...where I thought we were doing well on doing for ourselves. Apears like I need to take a loooong look at tfurther he life style changes. I've recently been gifted one of the the foxfire books and am stoked for spring to dive into things I'm reading about. Really feeling the sence of urgency building

    1. I have concerns about the sheer volume of wheat (flour) and rice we consume. I don't think I could grow rice at all- too long and too wet, but even wheat is so labour intensive I think it might be easier to find something else to eat. I'm going to plant my wheat seed this year and add to the seed storage, but I think it would probably be a couple of years before I had enough seed to be able to grow enough to eat bread even once a week. Currently we go through at least two loaves a day (home made).

      Peas grow really well here, but I keep trying to plant less, because we only like them fresh- raw. Then Husband will get in the mood for pea soup in the winter and I'll buy a bag of dried peas to make it, lol. Until I made him a pot of soup this week it never even occurred to me that I could grow them myself, and they might be a suitable substitute for the dogs. I need to do some research.

      Enjoy the books! I am!

    2. the books are awesome! and the comments that your story is creating are awesome too! wendy - this is one of THE BEST survivalist blogs that i have come across in a very long time. keep it going gurl!

      your friend,

    3. lol... Thanks, kymber. It's just fiction. :)

  2. I don't think that rice is a staple for dogs. It is just a filler...but it does help. Dogs can live off of just a protein diet but you have to have the protein. Saving zippers and buttons is great but you really aren't wearing out that much in just a couple of months (not really because you can wear clothes a whole lot longer than most people do now (trust me we did).
    I seriously doubt you would find any hay because by now everyone would be holding on to what they have.
    If you had animals you would be spending a whole lot of time breaking ice and hauling unfrozen water to them throughout the day.

    1. Life is different in the north. I know it seems everyone everywhere is complaining about the cold this winter, but it's really cold here. We just had a week of -40°C to -54°C temps. (-42°F to -65°F). It's been very cold. We (people, dogs and livestock) burn a lot of calories just to keep warm. So rice might not be a staple for your dogs in Florida, but my dogs need starch and fat. The amount of protein they'd need to replace the rice would be extreme- like butcher a cow just to feed the dogs extreme. I'm not prepared to do that in my story or in real life. They eat 12-15 cups of doggy stew each per day.

      My livestock drinks very little water through the winter. They get water twice a day in real life, but mostly they eat snow. It's warmer and less shocking to their systems. In a power out situation like this, I wouldn't really be concerned about water for them so long as they had plenty of snow available. If there seemed to be some sort of ill effects from lack of water, I'd build a fire in the pasture to melt snow for them. While that would consume some time, probably less than an hour a day. 'Firewood' is also readily available for it, from the piles of branches laying in the pasture.

      I have been shopping thrift stores for about 20 years. Some things last longer than others. I only sort through my boys' closets once a year. There's always a few things that need to be pulled out of circulation, too worn to pass down to younger brothers. Boys tend to leave stuff pile up on the bottom of the closet. Some things I can fix- small rips and tears, a patch on the knee, a missing button. Some things are done- jeans with half the leg ripped off, the rear end ripped open and/or missing. And of course my youngest outgrows all the hand me downs eventually.

      I don't shop like 'normal' people. I can probably count the number of clothing items I've ever bought 'brand new' for my boys on my fingers. I've always kept hand me downs (there's a size gap between #2 and #3) in the basement. I'm not sure what you mean by wearing clothes a 'whole lot longer' than we do now, but when a thrift store/hand me down shirt makes it all the way from #1 (now 17) to #4 (almost 10), there's not much left of it to pass on to someone else.

      We keep separate farm clothes and town clothes. Newer items are added to the town clothes. As the farm clothes wear out and get pulled from circulation, the older/stained town clothes get demoted to farm status. That's a normal part of doing laundry at my house. I use fabric paint to mark the boys clothes with an x for farm or a dot for town. They each have their own colour.

      As for Husband's and my wardrobe, due to weight gains and losses over the years I had a bin full of jeans that don't fit at the bottom of our closet. I am currently taking them apart- keeping zippers and buttons- and turning them into a new blanket. While I might be less inclined to make a blanket out of jeans in a TEOTWAWKI situation, sorting through closets is a normal winter activity that would still need to be done. Patching blankets and fixing things would still need to be done.

      As for hay, since the power outage didn't start until after hay was done last year, the people to harvest to sell would have already done so- the same people we would normally buy from. Since money has no value, and transporting the hay is an issue, I don't think they would have sold out before now. With grocery stores closed down and no supplies incoming, a lot of people would have butchered, reducing the demand for hay. Since hay is rarely stored indoors around here, it's not a crop that can be saved for next winter, so holding on to more than what you need wouldn't serve any purpose. I don't believe finding hay would be any harder than it is right now- except that I can't phone and have to travel around. The second winter though- everyone would be on their own.

  3. Our stock tank heater went out this past week and hubby took a metal tub and built a fire under it and we melt snow and ice for our cow and calf. We don't even have running water at this time but that's another whole other story. I'm glad we aren't dealing with your cold. We are going to try planting wheat and oats for the first time this year. That's the plan anyway. We use rice a couple of times a week. I imagine eventually some of these staples would become available again. How far down the road is anyone's guess.

    1. I think a lot depends on what you get used to. We had two horses when we moved up north, Tori, still my baby, and Sailor who has passed on. Just watching them walk through the snow was fascinating. Being an old boy, Sailor had seen many winters down south when we used to get snow there. He walked all over the pasture calmly lifting his feet above the snow with each step. Tori was only 4 and had never seen more than a few inches of snow. She kept trying to walk through the snow, pushing it forward with her legs. She didn't go far from the barn.

      Likewise with the water. Our cows are mostly lazy I think. If they happen to be within a few feet of the water barrels when we're filling them they might come to get a drink- at any time of year. If they are out in pasture in the spring or fall they'd rather drink out of a puddle than walk all the way back to the barn. With snow all around them in the winter they don't seem at all concerned with water. Tori is the only one to be seen at the water barrel regularly. Even the other horses and goats seem happy to eat snow wherever they are.

      Oh, I'm sure at some point they will. Location will have a lot to do with when though. Near as I can tell, rice still isn't grown in Canada, and imported rice wasn't processed here until 1882. I can't imagine it returning until after power is restored. Wheat, on the other hand, I would imagine would be grown and processed to some degree in most areas by the following fall. Of course, I don't believe that'll mean wagons full of wheat being carted across the country, but rather every farmer in every community growing a couple of acres for his own family and a bushel or two to trade at the 'general store'. That's assuming of course, that seed is made available and hasn't been raided by the hungry.

  4. oh Wendy - the stuff that you are writing about and the stuff that people are commenting about is teaching me soooo much!

    as for flour - do a google search on bean flour and then send me $350 bucks in $20's for pointing you in that direction. plus there's also cattail flour. you can make flour out of pretty much anything buddy.

    and heck - who needs bread when you can make dumplings in your cast iron pot over a fire every single day? no need for bread. use your dried beans or peas. or amaranth or whatever the heck grows good in your area. like cattails.

    you better keep updating the colony regularly or i will have to spend over $1,000 bucks to fly up there and kick your ass. don't make me do it buddy. please. i need the money for preps. bahahahahahah!

    your friend,

    1. Holy crap, kymber! $350?!!? Don't answer the vinegar question, I can't afford it! lol

      I was thinking about the bean cake I made last year and playing with the recipe to add some fruit or pumpkin to it.

      Have you (or anyone else here) ever used bean flour to make bread? I'm curious as to the differences between types of flours. You know, like you don't use your basic white bread recipe if you're making spelt or rye bread, or something else? Will the ability to make 'flour' be sufficient, or would we need recipes to go with it? I ordered some short season dry beans this year, hoping for a better yield/better quality. Last year's harvest did not look like the same pretty little white beans that I planted.

      Ah, but I LOVE bread. Truly, is life worth living without bread? I may not need it, and there are even folks who tell me it's bad for me, but I love it more than cakes and cookies and sweets! MUST HAVE BREAD!!

      Don't hurt me lady! lol. It's a long time til spring yet!

    2. bahahahahahah! yes - you can make your own mother from a starter kit. i had been planning to get a mother starter, a kefir starter and a yogurt starter but just haven't yet. your story is making me get off my butt and get ordering!

      yes - just do a search for bean flour bread in google - i have never made it but there are sooooo many recipes for it out there - it's gluten-free - so there are a lot of people making it and enjoying it! i will have to give it a try!

      i agree - i love bread too! but since moving here, we will go weeks without bread because it's too hot to bake. so it has become a winter food for us. but if you MUST have it - it's gonna suck when the flour runs out! poor gurl!

      just be sure to keep updating! like i keep saying - your story is the best one out there because it is all about things that would become terribly important - like saving zippers, buttons and how to make bread when the flour runs out!

  5. It's lucky you've got horse power going strong in your community, as well as the guy who is remaking horse drawn equipment (I forget which day of the story, sorry), because I'm pretty certain that out here on Vancouver Island, we'd have a serious hay shortage in the second season - there are quite a few driving teams around (plust the horses for the horse drawn carriage tours in Victoria), but practically NO ONE has or uses horse drawn implements. There are probably a couple of hobbyists around who could refurbish museum type pieces or even recreate them from recycled stuff, but that would be slow and time consuming and you'd have to know one of them. Interesting line of thought I'd not considered.