Sunday, January 14, 2018

Am I Prepared?

Missile alert ! 

Things sometimes get interesting, that's for sure! I've been looking at our situation and trying to evaluate just how prepared we were if it had been the real thing. 

Water - we have 2 large covered catchment tanks of water which we can easily disconnect the intake pipes (rain gutters) to help protect the water. We have 35 gallons of emergency ready-to-drink water stored under the house. Plus we keep 5-15 gallons in the house for regular use. We also have 1 large uncovered catchment tank that we use for agriculture, plus numerous ponds with water that can be used for livestock. So on the water situation, we're covered. 

People Food - we have a decent supply of back up food stored in the pantry and freezer (assuming that we have electricity- otherwise we eat out of the freezer first), although the menu will be boring after a week. Safely eating out of the gardens will depend upon the wind and rain patterns. 

Heating fuel - plenty of firewood stockpiled.

Animal food - enough to last a few weeks before the cats and dogs have to start eating something other than kibble, assuming of course that available pet food in the stores might be an issue. 

Medical supplies - well stocked, including hubby's prescription meds. 

Gasoline - this will be an issue. But we will be in the same boat with everyone else. We keep 20-25 gallons on the farm, plus the cars are kept tupped up, but that won't last long. We will have to be attentive to conserving gasoline until things return to normal....if ever. 

EMP protection - I don't know if there is anything we could do that would be practical. Practical is the magic word here. Protect the vehicles? Protect the solar electric system? Protect the generator? Making a true Faraday box building would be incredibly expensive and difficult. A steel or aluminum building simply wouldn't work. They would help somewhat but they wouldn't work. 

Communication - Unknown. Will there be functioning electricity? Cellphone? 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Missile Alert !! -- Things Just Got Real

8:07 this morning I was faced with a strong dose of "real"...... a missile alert. We were eating breakfast with friends at a local restaurant. Interestingly, after a bit of contemplation, we opted to continue our meal and see what developed. There wasn't much we could that would make a difference, so why not enjoy our hot breakfast. Nobody else in the restaurant did much different....patrons kept eating, waitresses kept working. Interesting non-response. 

People turned to electronic media. Cellphones and tablets came out. People looked for confirmation. After 4-5 minutes the public sirens still hadn't gone off, no civil defense alerts issued, everyone was confused and beginning to believe it was a false alarm. Twitter was abuzz, but everything else was quiet. Then Tulsi Gabbard twittered a false alarm notice and a local emergency worker confirmed it.....false alarm. Nooooooooooow we had a conversation topic to last us the rest of the day! Everybody was talking about it. 

Around where I am, there isn't any viable shelter to run to. Don't look up into the sky and get into a building is about all you can do that would make a difference. Most people I've talked with tended to continue what they were already doing, not panicking. Emergency personnel shifted into action, reporting to their stations. Otherwise, not much excitement. 

Ka'u isn't high on North Korea's hit list. But I don't have much confidence in their ability to accurately hit a target. So even if a missile was targeting Honolulu, we could very well be in immediate danger if the missile missed. But what's more concern for me is the aftermath. Am I prepared for that? 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Noodles - An Update

Here's an update in the new pup. Many people have been asking about him. 

Noodles is now a "big boy" puppy. He's 6 months old, so he's got an adult sized body with an eight week old's mind. Sometimes that's challenging to deal with. He frisks now more so than when he was younger, so it is hysterical to see this big goof gallouping about, crashing into things. He doesn't seem to get the hang of his ever growing dimensions ... longer legs, taller size, wider shoulders. Just this morning he crashed running up the hillside stairs, legs akimbo, flipping himself off the side. Not a rare occurrence, he crashes at least once a day! And just recently he's added whacking his head as he runs under the house. He hasn't quite adjusted to his increased height either. And he still tries to take a shortcut by running between the furniture and the wall, but he no longer fits. He either gets wedged, or pushes the chair or table out toward the center of the room. 

Noodles fits his name. Just try picking him up and see what happens. It's like picking up a pile of cooked spaghetti. The pup's legs just melt out from under him, his neck flops, his whole body goes noodlely. You can imagine the challenge of picking him up to put him into the car. Thank heaven he jumps in on his own accord nowadays, but there for awhile it was an interesting endeavor. And every time I brush him he "goes noodles".  He gets his legs, chest, and belly brushed more frequently than his head and back, only because that's what gets presented to me. 

Above, he looks quite grown-up after his first haircut. 3 inches of puppy fuzz got changed into one inch of neat, tight wave. 

So what sort of nickname can you give a puppy called Noodles? Noods? Yes, I've caught myself calling him that in public, and yes, I get some strange looks. Kinda funny. But he's acquired a few other monikers : Noodle Boy, Alligator Mouth, and Poindexter. Ok, why Alligator Mouth? He is a very mouth oriented dog, having Labrador in him. So he likes to gently grab and hold, sticks, often our hands or wrists. On top of it, he has the long narrow snout of the Standard Poodle. He very much reminds one of a gentle alligator. 

So why Poindexter? That's an odd one, right? Well, we have a friend who thought Noodles was a cute puppy name but not appropriate for an adult dog. She suggested changing his name to Doodles when he grew up. She was serious!  Frankly, we like Noodles and it fits him perfectly. But it did put the idea into our heads about a more sophisticated name. Don't ask me why, but the name Poindexter struck a cord with hubby. This pup has been more of a studious, nerdy puppy compared to others we've raised in the past, so it's apropos. Now, whenever we want to talk about him but not let him know it, we refer to him as Poindexter. He already knows that Noodles, "the puppy", and "the dog" involves him in some way, but he hasn't caught onto Poindexter yet. 

Every night Noodles sleeps with a pile of his stuffed toys. And brother, he's got quite the collection. 18 all told! And he remembers every one of them. Plus has special assignments for them. The red moose, pink monkey, and white cow are taken outdoors for playing with. Every time I bring them in, out they go again. But none of his other stuffed toys are taken outdoors. Never. Six are living room residents. Six are bedroom residents. Plus the golden monkey and rope snake can end up anywhere. I guess they are "free agents". It is really strange that he designates where his toys stay stashed. 

Each night he sleeps in a crate in the bedroom, atop a pile of stuffed toys. He's probably old enough to start sleeping out of his crate now, but he automatically enters the crate on his own accord. So I'll let him keep the habit for a while longer until such time that he decides he wants to try sleeping with his best pal, Crusty. But during the day he naps out in the living room. He's got his six toys there, but he's also got something special that he sleeps of the jumbo Costco teddy bears. 

We've never seen him nap anywhere except atop his toys, or now, his giant teddy bear. Yes, it was his Christmas present from Santa Claus.

We've grown quite fond of this pup. He's turning out to be a good one. He's been an extremely easy pup to raise and train. He's constantly happy and optimistic. And just recently starting to show watchdog tendencies -- perhaps an influence from Willy, the farm guard dog. Oh yes, while Crusty is Noodles BFF (best friend forever), Willy is his early morning playmate. Noodles has put some spring and energy back into old Willy, turning him into a younger dog again. Nice to see them play together. 

Noodles is coming along and looks destined to becoming one really fine dog. We surely lucked out getting him. He's the ideal puppy for two old people to raise. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

How Much Fencing Does a Farm Have?

"K" asked, "How much fence do you have around your farm?"

The entire 20 acres has a perimeter fence, and while the front property line is a stone wall, there is fencing running inside it. Why? Because one of the farm dogs used to jump the wall when he was skinnier. He's now too overweight to make the leap, but the fence stays. It comes in handy for keeping the new dairy goats in, and 2 footed snoops out. 

The back 14 acres also has cross fencing. That means that it is divided into several separated pasture fields. This is because I use rotational grazing. 

So counting all the fencing, it comes very close to 2 miles of fence. Oh geez! It's hard for me to believe I put most of that original fencing up myself. Thank heavens for David, who completed what I started. Yup, the old farm fence was all rotted away when we bought this land. Even the fence posts were well past their lifespans. And now since the time that the fence was put up, it's had to have many repairs here and there over the years. Occasionally a t-post has rusted off at the base, but mostly it's the fencing itself that rusts out. Surprisingly the whole fence doesn't rust away at the same rate. Some sections of my original fence have rusted badly, requiring replacement twice now. Other sections are the original fence. All the same brand and grade fence, so go figure. 

Although it was very expensive, I have no regrets fencing in the 20 acres. And the cross fencing, though not mandatory, has been a significant benefit. I may never see a full cash return on the cross fencing in my lifetime, but again, I have no regrets. 

A farm surely doesn't need field fencing. There are indeed other options. But field fencing keeps not only my livestock in, but also controls the farm dogs. It's really nice being able to let the dogs run the farm without having to keep an eye on them. Now that the new pup is 6 months old, he can no longer squeeze under the gates, so he's secure now too. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Emergency Fence a Repair - Being Prepared

Checking the fenceline today I came upon a rusting section that is finally giving up the ghost........rusting through, that is. It's been trying to die for months now, but it was still solid enough and effectively keeping in the livestock. But on close inspection, I found places that had rusted away, potentially leaving holes in the fence. Time for action. Leaving it go much longer could result in escaping sheep. Believe me, they can be difficult to relocate and bring home. Been there, done that, never want to do it again! 

Now here's the Boy Scout part ..... being prepared. I keep a roll of field fence on the farm at all times. Not always a full roll, but at least 100 foot of fencing. Why stockpile it? Because the nearest place to buy it is a 1 1/2 hour drive away, and when it's needed, it's NOW, not this afternoon. 

The roll I had was about 150' of fence. The rusting section was 100', give or take a few feet. So I had enough on hand to fix this section. 

Since David was working today, I asked him to help. Between the two of us, we cleared the fenceline of weeds and brush, strung the fence, got the job done in less than an hour. 

Because of our local volcano, replacing sections of fencing is a never ending job. Now I need to put a roll of field fence on the shopping list for the next time I run to Hilo. Last time I bought a roll it was almost $200 for the medium grade. I'd like to buy the better grade but it's difficult finding it in stock. It's a popular item. Perhaps this trip I'll be lucky. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Home Skills -- Required?

These past couple of days I've been communicating with folks dealing with the deep freeze back on the mainland. A number have blogs and have been posting about their troubles. The one thing I've become aware of is that many of them lack basic skills to deal with their problems. Thus they are on a long waiting list for repairs.....damaged rooves, broken water pipes, furnaces that won't work, no electricity, frozen doors and locks, fallen trees blocking driveways, etc. Learning some basic skills would have come in handy. 

While living back in New Jersey back in our young days, because of the lack of a savings account, out of necessity we had to learn how to maintain our vehicles and do basic repairs (brakes, new rings, timing belt, new clutch, oil changes, etc). Hubby learned to do plumbing, with galvanized, copper, and plastic piping. He also learned to do electrical. I learned to repair our appliances -- range, washing machine, clothes dryer, furnace. I even managed a few repairs on our refrigerator. We figured out how our water well worked, re-primed ours using a hand pump, repaired the water pump multiple times, replaced check valves. Figured out how to unfreeze pipes and sewer lines. Learned about septic systems and built a new leach field. Built French drains and swales when we had flooding problems. Learned how to repair broken windows and screens, fix doors, repair roof leaks. Even put on a new roof and exterior siding. Figured out how to install new windows, doors, and insulation. Learned to use hand and power tools safely, including a chainsaw. 

Back in those days we couldn't google it nor watch YouTube videos to learn how. We did it the old fashioned way -- went to the library and took adult education courses at the local vo-tech college. 

Call me old fashioned, or just plain practical, but I think knowing basic skills is a necessity when living on a small farm or living independently. This recent deep freeze is showing that. Blogs written by older established rural types show them going about their day successfully dealing with the ice, snow, and sub-zero freeze.  But other blogs and Facebook pages show people struggling to survive and awaiting rescue via the repairmen. Several were poorly prepared. 

Guess I'm just a Boy Scout prepared. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

New Piglet

A new addition to the farm today -- a tiny piglet. Tiny indeed! 

He's a little feral pig, and very, very thin. I'm guessing him to be 3 to 3 1/2 weeks old, but it's hard to gauge because he's so malnutritioned. Obviously lost from his mom, he was destined to die. But friends of mine found him wandering alone, managed to get some food into him, and offered him shelter until I could go retrieve him. 

Until I can get a proper shelter and run built, he will temporarily stay in an old dog cage and use a small pet carrier as his "house". And while I will be putting hot water bottles into his house at night for him to snuggle up to in addition to a fluffy blanket, he needs something for extra warmth for while he's running about. So one of hubby's socks got turned into a piglet sweater. (Sorry, hubby.) the little guy took to the sweater within 30 seconds. Guess he suddenly felt warmer. 

Getting him to eat hasn't been a problem. He readily chows row dog food soaked in lambs milk, plus willingly suckles a bottle of milk. 

Once sated, he returns to his little makeshift house. He's not interested in checking out his pen yet. Just wants to eat and sleep. 

At night I'll cover the cage with a tarp to keep out the wind and chill, plus add a hot water bottle. I hope this little guy makes it. Tomorrow I'll deworming him, and if he's healthy next week, I'll neuter him. 

Now....a name. Since he will be a pet for my wwoofer, I'll let Adam name this little fella.