Garden 4-2-17

Over the last week, we have received about 3 inches of rain. This was great since my rain barrel was down below half full. We had some plants really take off and some plants that are not.

 

I line my rows with cardboard. Has anyone used yard clippings for mulch? I am using mine for compost but looking for free material for mulch.

This is a quick update. I wasn’t  able to do much this weekend with a tournament, rain, and just being exhausted. Over the next few weeks, I hope to have some more updates showing the rapid growth of the plants. Please check my other posts in the different categories.

Go, live life, and enjoy your freedom.

 

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Fire! Fire!

My boys, my wife and I went “camping” in the back yard in the last few month. The experience was to see how the boys would react. They loved it! They are so ready to go deep in the woods to camp, or so they have asked. My wife and I are not so sure just yet on the deep woods adventure. State parks are the next step in camping for our family and looking to go this summer. We love the outdoors, but need to make sure they are ready for the challenge. So it got me to thinking about what would be important to know when we do go this summer. Food, water, fire, and shelter.

FIRE! Creating fire is one of the most essential lessons to learn. Most people do not know how to start a fire using primitive methods. I will have future posts about the necessities to survive.

Creating fire is pretty easy when you have dry tinder, dry wood, a good fire starter, and ideal situations. Many times people are trying to start a fire but they are working against the elements. Depending on if it’s a dire need based on a true survival situation or an experiment (camping included), one needs to know what to use and how to use their supplies. Survival skills do need practicing in order for that time when it does mean life or death.

My wife and I keep all of our dryer lint for making fires in our pit outback. I am looking to stuff paper towel rolls with lint for emergency tinder in a bug out bag situation. I will be sealing it in zip locked bag to keep it dry. The lint will be the first step to create a fire and the tube will be the next easiest piece to catch.

When the conditions are wet, some individuals use cotton balls and other will use cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly as a fire starter.  It is key to have dry tinder. I usually keep something flammable in my bag to help to get the fire going. Crayons are good way to keep a small flame going. Light the paper and the wax will keep it from burning too quickly. Worst case, take lint off of your cotton garments and use that for tinder.

The main thing you need to go along with the tinder is enough of various sizes of dry wood. I keep a few knives in my truck at all times. In case of emergency where I am stranded, I can always at least make a fire. I use the knife or hatchet(don’t keep in my truck but should) and a blow-stick to hit the back of the blade with. Using this hammer and wedge method will allow you to slice your firewood into various sizes to have a better chance of success of getting the fire started. You can also use the knife to create wood shavings for tinder.

My main spark for fire is my fire steel. Some people will make fun of me but I have the Bear Grylls Fire Starter. Nice and compact and easy to use. I also have a magnesium fire starter. It does burn great, but trying to shave the magnesium into a small pile and start a spark into it usually sends all the shavings flying. Maybe I get too close to do it. Maybe I am not doing it correctly, but I am not a fan of the magnesium fire starter. I have waterproof matches, but not a great concept for a long term scenario.

I was that guy who just used lighter fluid and matches to get fire started. Those days are done (mostly) because there will be a time I need a fire but don’t have anything to start it with. Finding different methods that work. I have not tried the following methods: fire piston, bow drill, or with steel wool and a 9 volt battery. Now, the most interesting one I have never tried are Doritos.  The oils that the chips are cooked in soak into the chip and should be able to light that oil on fire and the chips will burn.

Practice your methods of fire starting, along with the rest of your survival skills, You never know when you will need to use them in a life or death situation. Go, live life, and enjoy your freedom.

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Thank you,

Richard

 

 

Month 1 in the Books

I’ve had my blog up for about a month. I want to thank everyone that reads it and sends comments. It has been a learning curve to learn the layout of the page, what the jargon means, and just finding followers.

At the start, I had my sisters look at the blog to see if it is user friendly. After working some of the kinks out of it, I posted it to my Facebook page. I got an immediate increase in the number of followers.  During this last month, I have been working on the garden, some projects around the house, and my full-time job of teaching and coaching. Some have asked how do you do it all?

Teaching a subject I am familiar with (Geometry) helps a lot. I show my students different things I build or have built in the past. They keep asking me why do I teach if I can build? I enjoy the thought of teaching and reaching the minds of today’s youth. I believe they need someone who enjoys the content and can actually show them the use of the content. I use an online classroom for their homework and tests, so I do not have anything really to grade.

With gardening, I work on the weekends, when given a chance. My sons love the part of digging, but once that was done, they tended to stay away from the garden. They help plant a couple of my seed cups ( http://wp.me/p8pCsM-21 ). I wanted to plant a lot of different vegetables and wanted a good crop. I was trying to find a tiller to borrow but we finally just purchased one. I am glad we did because I planted 2 more beds because my seedlings did pretty good.

During spring break, I had a chance to scavenge some 2×6’s from a local construction site. I dug some out of the dumpster and also asked the foreman if I can take some out of the trash pile next to the houses. This is where my outdoor dining table came from ( http://wp.me/p8pCsM-bD ).  I had many people comment and ask questions on this table.

This past weekend I joined many different groups on Facebook. I think this is how my blog will explode with traffic.  I am trying to find new avenues of how to broadcast my blog, find new followers, and make sure my posts are interesting.

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Planting Day 3-25-17

 

 

IMG_0289Today was a beautiful day. Sun was shining and a breeze. I got in super late last night due to rain delay and lightning delay for our game. Weathermen said 80-90% chance of rain yesterday, but I think they may have meant  80-90 sprinkles at our house or we are in a geographical bubble. So, I needed to water today. I didn’t get my pump set up yet but I got another bed planted.

Today, I planted my okra, and most of my cantaloupes. I spaced theIMG_0285 cantaloupe and the okra in the row of 1 cantaloupe to every 3 okra seedlings. I found a companion planting chart (http://permaculturenews.org/2011/12/02/companion-planting-information-and-chart/) and showed that melons and okra have a symbiotic relationship. I planted 60+ okra and about 15 cantaloupe plants. If they all make, I guess I will set up a road side fruit and vegetable stand.

For the rest of the garden, the corn is coming in great, along with the potatoes. The potato box needs another level. The third picture is a close up of a potato plant. I believe those little guys in the middle coming off the stock are where the potatoes will be produced. I cannot find anything online to tell me for certain though. I need to get dirt around these if that’s the case. There are a lot on the 20 plants I have. I have cardboard lining the walking/picking rows. I am trying to find some mulch to lay over it. I also have paper to line what I could not cover with the boxes. We did this in our front flower bed as a weed barrier, and worked like a charm. It helps with moisture absorption and retention, worm food, and weed barrier. I will biodegrade and will add nutrients back to the soil. Since I am a geometry teacher, I took all the old worksheets and will be lining the garden. I will have the smartest worms in all of Texas.

The squash is coming along nicely. I have a few plants that are about 8 inches across. This IMG_0291guy here is pretty nice. His little brother not doing well but I will keep him because I am doing a trellis (field fence) with the all my vine growing vegetables. Melons will not be so lucky. I will just trim them once onset of fruit is showing to make the plant pump more energy in producing the melon.  I will be using some fish emulsion this weekend as well. I was waiting for the secondary leaves to sprout. Most postings I have read for fertilizing told me to wait until secondary leaves are formed. Next feeding will be at onset of fruit. I will double check the different plants to make sure I am feeding them the right thing.

Yes, I see the grass growing next to the fence, and I will handle that. I will be trying the vinegar and salt mixture to see if it will solve my issues. I have some ants invading, so I will use the sugar, borax and water to get rid of them. The harvesters stripped my peach tree last year and I will not let that happen this year. I think my peach tree never reached its required chill hours to produce. Not a single bloom or leaf yet. Wait and see on this one.

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Garden Update 3-23-17

Plants are looking good. I am waiting just a bit longer to plant the cantaloupe and watermelon. The okra is doing awesome in my seeding cups and will be transplanted to the garden bed. My cucumber plants are not looking great but they are growing. The squash and zucchini are looking good and the green beans are sprouting.

I still have plenty of jalapeno and bell pepper seedlings, but they are not growing much. My wife went ahead and bought 6 plants from the store and they are doing terrific. I am still going to try to get the seedlings to grow. You cannot have too many peppers. Salsa, pickled, and just eating them on everything.

The corn is doing fantastic. I have a few that are 10 inches tall, and the others are looking well. My potato plants are already needing another level built. I have seen blogs and Youtube videos that tell you to add dirt when they are 6 inches, but I am letting them get about a foot tall. I think the little buds are where the potatoes actually are produced. I am letting them develop before covering. I have to be cautious because potatoes exposed to the sun while growing are toxic.

I got a pump for my rain barrel, I am hoping to hook it up this weekend (and it works). I am still looking to get another water tote (or 2) in order to have plenty or water for this hotter than normal summer that is predicted. I wish I could dig a well, but I don’t have time or the money to do it. The best way for me to store water is using rain barrels hooked up to our gutter system. A cistern would be ideal, but with our septic system located in the worst spot in our yard, it would be impractical.

I recently put in the compost bin (3 x 3 x 3) and it is almost filled up. I need to make a few more so I don’t overfill the original one. I have plenty of space to put them at the end of the garden. They will serve 2 purposes; for the compost and a border of the garden.

I need to weed the garden. I want to wait so I can see if the seeds sown directly will be disturbed if weeding early. I have seen some natural weed killer, and I am going to try some of it on the fence line where I couldn’t get the tiller close enough to break apart the roots and rake them out. 1 gallon of vinegar, 2 cups of epsom salt, and a 1/4 cup of Dawn. I am probably only going to make a small batch to test out. I don’t want to waste more than I need.

I am sorry I do not have pictures. I get home at dusk and there is not enough light to get good shots. I will try to get some this weekend.

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Outdoor Dining Table

IMG_0255

Over the weekend I made a table (mostly done). My wife wanted a table for the backyard so we have a main table when hosting things at the house. The table is made to allow people to use folding lawn chairs to sit at the table without too much trouble. I will be adding a cross piece underneath, and end caps (after thought and hope it works). The tabletop is 7.5 ft long as is and 3ft wide. It stands 30 inches to the tabletop. I found various lengths of 2×6’s at the local construction site (and their dumpster) and found almost enough wood to make all the pieces. I am missing 3 6 ft boards to finish it out. I need to go around to find them in order to finish the base.

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Even though the legs and cross members are hollow, they are plenty heavy. I ripped the 2×6’s down to get rid of the imperfections on the edges and the round over edges that they come with from the mill. The wood was weathered, muddy, and dinged up but with my planer, the wood looks great! After the small amount left to finish, I will stain it. I will also will be building a bench for the table, but that will be another weekend project.

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Garden Update 3-15

Its been a few days since I have posted anything. With the rain and getting softball fields ready for our games, I didn’t have time to sit down to post anything.

My main garden bed is completely filled and I have tons of seedlings left to plant. Today, I spent time preparing rows in a second bed with mapping out potential 3rd bed. I bought some okra seeds, soaked them in water, and planted them in my seedling cups. What happened, I have 90+ seedling cups now and most of the plants are looking really good. I will be giving some to my mother in law along with a few squash, cantaloupe and watermelon  seedlings. I am hoping we have a great spring and mild summer so my family can reap a good harvest this year.

Along with making rows, I planted my corn, green beans, chives, oregano, and a few extra strawberry plants. I am still trying to figure out a watering system that is cheap(free would be good) and maintenance free. It would be nice if I could pressurize my rain barrel to create water pressure so I could use a water hose to water the garden. Anyone with suggestions? I also need to put another level on my original potato box since the bigger plants are roughly 10-12 inches tall. It will be another week before the second box needs it second level.

Over the weekend, I also baited most of our fire ant hills. I can’t seem to get rid of them though. I look at the old hills and see all the dead ones, so the bait is working. I just have to be diligent on baiting. I also bought a broadcast fire ant bait once I mow later this week. I am mixing borax and sugar today and soaking cotton balls. I will try everything that is going to kill those pests just shy of dumping gas(want to but not going to) on the hills.

This was a brief update. If you like my post, please follow my blog by email and share. There are other postings in the categories listed to the right.

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Survival Multiplier

What does survival multiplier mean? Survival multiplier is a skill or characteristic that one possesses that gives him or her an advantage in a situation. In a physical fight, if one of the fighters had extensive hand to hand combat training, then that would be their survival multiplier.

How do we gain a survival multiplier? People enroll in many different courses to gain an advantage over an obstacle or an opponent. I wish I thought of this when I was in college, I would have signed up for some of the recreation and combat classes Texas Tech offered. I did not. Others sign up for courses in building and construction trade, cooking, botany, survival schools, and many other courses that allow them to learn a skill or a trade that one day will help them survive. Some people read books and watch educational videos.

What happens when you do not have time or money to enroll in all these different courses? What do you do?  If you are like me, I eat, sleep, and work. I don’t have much time outside the normal work day to do anything extra (until summer break). So, I take the time at lunch and my break to watch videos (mainly YouTube) to learn different things. You have to be wary of which videos you do watch. For instance, I recently watched videos on canning, so I made sure it was filmed or sponsored by a canning company like Balls or Kerr Jar Co. Many people out there have techniques and practices, but some of them don’t know their elbow from their earhole.

I believe many people forget one of the characteristics they need in order to survive, and that would be they need to be physically fit. You may not need to have 10% body fat, be able to run a marathon, or bench press 350 lbs but I do believe you need to be able to manipulate your body enough to get in and out of tight spots. For about a year now, I have been running. I am also starting Insanity Max. I am embarrassed that I have not done it much lately because I came down with the flu and tournament season in softball (I teach/coach high school students) got me off track. Spring Break starts this evening. I will try to get back on track with my fitness this coming week.

Other skills I believe are considered my survival multipliers are able to build and fix most things, cook, sew, fire starting from various methods, not afraid to scavenge for materials, and the ability to problem solve. My wife is one of my best survival multipliers because she comes up with ideas for me to try, usually from Pinterest. I play ‘podcasts’ while I am travelling to learn about things, or at least have a chance to spark ideas on how to improve items I already have.

Growing up, I had many different adults in my life, and I learned a great deal of skills from them. If you consider yourself a homesteader, a prepper, a survivor, or just an average person, there is one thing all of them need, and that is a teacher. I am not talking about a school teacher, but some do teach more than their content, but someone who you can listen to, imitate, and look up to in order to gain knowledge. Knowledge is the ultimate survival multiplier. Papa was a great teacher. Sometimes my brother and I would go fishing with him and learned different fishing skills, how to tie a knot on a hook, make our own fishing bait, or just watch our poles. He helped us one year roof our house and showed us how shingles were supposed be laid down. I wish I was able to spend a little more time with him, but he passed few years ago. I inherited some of his woodworking tools because he thought I would use them. I try to honor him by keeping his tradition of building gifts instead of buying them. I may have replaced some of the tools but it isn’t the tool, it’s the tradition.

I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for every situation, but I think with the proper training and learning, you can problem solve your way out of most situations. I tell the students in my classes, sometimes it is not the content we are learning, the teachers are trying to teach you problem solving skills through our content. I teach geometry, which I believe is a very relevant subject to know. Many industries and jobs require some level of geometric knowledge in order for the worker to be successful.

(Picture of a sword and shield I made for my sons.)

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Downed Emergency Services

911….911… no connection…help is not coming…

Wednesday night (03-08-17) was a wake up call, AT&T 911 services were down. What would happen if they never came back up? You dial 911 and nothing; what would you do? How would you get the help you need?

I know my family will be protected. I am a firm believer of the 2nd amendment. People have the right to bear arms to protect them and theirs. You always hear in the news the bad side of gun ownership. Why? When someone is responsible and defends their loved ones or property, the story is barely covered. When a criminal uses a gun in an illegal act, then guns have no right in the hands of civilians. You take the guns out of the hands of responsible Americans, the rest of your civil liberties will follow. You take the guns out of the hands of criminals, they just find more.

Civil unrest is all around us. In the near future, it will turn violent. With the Democrats not showing up to the inauguration, Super Bowl champions not visiting the White House, and people blackballing the First Lady’s clothing line, we are witnessing the start. The Republicans and Trump are not making it any easier. Does slandering Obama and starting rumors about wire taping Trump is pretty disappointing? I don’t really associate with either side, just glad to be a Texan. Protect the family and the ‘Republic’ at all cost. I will not go any further on political views.

I have watched a documentary (numerous times) on YouTube by NatGeo called “After Armageddon.” Its a pretty good mock collapse of society based on a super virus spreading, starting in California. LA County has approximately 25,000 hospital beds for a regional population of 10 million. If a pandemic breaks out, the medical services will be overloaded and completely shutdown. Could this really happen? Last pandemic was the Spanish Flu in 1918. Its been 100 years and we have come to a point where we believe we are immune and nothing will bring us down. One day, our kryptonite will bring us to the realization we are not a superior race and mother nature will always win.

This brings me back to the 911 outage. Could it have been a test on the system? Could it be a cyber attack? When my wife mentioned it, I wasn’t paying attention to the news or the posts on Facebook. After hearing the news, I reacted as could this be a drill or is this, in fact, the start of the collapse? Either way, I feel like I am not as prepared as I should be. I know my family will not stay at our current home during the collapse. We have a river within a mile of the house, rain catchment system, the start of a garden, but also 10,000 neighbors. When most people don’t prepare, they will hunt for supplies. I know some experts say you should include your neighbors in your prepping, but I don’t even know most of my neighbors.

Knowledge is the first line of defense in an emergency situation. I am CPR and basic first aid certified, but I need more training. I believe I am well versed in making do with what I have and what I can find. I have a desire to learn more to be able to protect my family and provide for my family if ever an event should arise. This will be my survival multiplier. I will discuss what a survival multiplier is in a later post.

Thank you.

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From growing a garden and making your own furniture to survival skills and protection during emergencies… Showing you how to be less dependent now so when it will really counts, you will be ready.

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