Thursday, February 9, 2012

Will the Real Me Please Stand Up

My wife suggested that I explain a bit about my life and what we’re going through. With that in mind, I figure it’s about time you met ‘me’. I wrote something similar to the following as an introduction for a book I have not completed yet.

“I grew up in upstate New York. I was your average student, graduated high school, got a job installing fences, married my high school sweet heart and 10 months later got divorced.  So at the age of twenty I left New York and began a soul searching “walkabout”. I spent several years hitchhiking around a large chunk of the United States. My home was a backpack and my backyard was the whole world. I quickly learned what I needed and what I didn’t.  What I wanted and what I didn’t. I experienced a little bit of everything from having to find water in the barren stretches of Arizona to seeing strange lights in the skies of New Mexico; finding food in the hills of Tennessee to digging for crystal in Arkansas; staying dry on the Northwest coast of Oregon to seeing triple rainbows in Northern California; keeping warm in the mountains of Maine to kayaking the coastal waters of New England; feeling the crushing effects of a potential hurricane barreling towards New Orleans to the beautiful sights of the Mississippi.

I eventually settled in the Boulder area of Colorado under the watchful eye of the majestic purple mountains. They say that you haven’t experienced Colorado until you’ve woken up in the morning and dressed in shorts and a t-shirt and ended your day by being bundled in a heavy coat and shoveling snow off the walkway. Coloradoans are used to experiencing all four seasons in one day. They’ve had blizzards in August and gone swimming in January. Here, under these conditions, I continued my “houselessness” for several more years, learning more and more about being prepared for any and all possible situations.

As the year 2000 loomed I realized that it was time to resume life as our society today accepts it. I found employment and exchanged my backpack for a home with four walls and a roof. I continued his ‘search for meaning’ and one day, while watching a news story on the frenzied preparations in anticipation of the perceived Y2K ‘threat’, it came to me.

During my travels I had noticed that most people were living life almost completely oblivious to the fact that their world could change in the blink of an eye. They heaped large amounts of importance on their ‘stuff’ and almost none on their lives. I needed to somehow help them to realize that life is very fragile and that they needed to learn to be prepared for sudden and unpredictable change. To help them learn about what might come their way and what they could do about it.  I had to teach them two things so that they could live. One; preparedness can be very simple and inexpensive. Two; being prepared can have a truly profound effect on your sense of freedom.” However due to circumstances I had a lot of Ground to recover in order to be able to do that.

Since the year 2000, many things have changed drastically in my own life. I joined the corporate world for a while, got married, and became a father. I went from zero income to $50,000/yr + income and back to near zero income due to outsourcing and job loss.  In 2006 my wife became ill and lost her long time position and our insurance as well, eventually becoming disabled. In 2007, we were asked to leave my wife’s grandmother's home as she had provided for it financially since 1999 and could no longer do so. As a result I came to the realization that in order to be truly prepared for anything, one should live in such a way that when that ‘something’ happens, you will barely notice it. That means not only living within your means and carrying low amounts of debt but also living sustainably and self sufficiently – by gardening, recycling, repurposing and bartering.

At that point we moved our family of four into an apartment and I began investigating ways to become involved in the emergency preparedness industry. In 2008 I became associated with a venture called QuakeDog that offered distributorships and products. It never took off and I was having trouble finding sufficient work in the Denver area so we buckled everything down and got out of there. We moved into ‘rural America’. It was a tough decision as it required leaving a child who had just recently come of age behind to stand on her own but my wife and I both knew in our hearts it was really where we wanted to be anyway. Now don't get me wrong here folks, I still miss the coffee shop and getting pizza delivered but I can honestly say I appreciate that coffee and pizza much more now. Trust me when I say it tastes so much better when its home made.

I had already begun the attempt to start an online business prior to the move as a result of QuakeDog's sudden end but there was a delay in getting services connected once we moved so since I knew only a small amount about internet business I proceeded to learn more about website development. I taught myself how to create a nice website and learned about blogging and other types of writing. I purchased reference books, spent hours at our tiny rural library finding places that offered information, carried supplies, and had forums. This has been a long trek for me, it's been just about five years since I first began toying with thought of doing this online and I'm still learning.

In the last few years we've come a long way in other ways as well. We had many discussions, narrowed down our wants, made sacrifices and compromises that were followed by trips into the nightmare of home financing during a housing crisis and quite a few attempts at purchasing homes. Finally we were able to acquire our very own forever home last fall with the aid of a USDA guaranteed rural home loan. As the proud new owners of a 1916 livable fixer we will no doubt be making home repairs and updates to improve efficiency and self sufficiency. We've experimented with different gardening styles and are starting completely new again this year due to the move. Prior to moving we had discussed home schooling vs public schooling that included a bus ride to another town, fortunately we actually moved closer to the school. We still face a lack of employment living rurally as we are and have the commuting vs ? debate in progress. As newbies to a small town there is the socialization factor, meeting folks, fitting in, being accepted and so forth. After two years and a move into the slightly larger (700 vs 100 people) town, that has improved. We are now on town water and find we miss the well and will need to plan for that better. We try to shop local but not much is available locally so we are working on that. We have a lot to do and I acknowledge I have a long way to go and much to learn. I will share as I go because it's time for the real me to "please stand up".

I hope we can do it together and that you will continue to follow my journey to almost complete self sufficiency as my family and I work through the challenges of setting up our little ‘homestead on the plains’.

Here are the links to my pages. I hope you enjoy them!

Facebook group where we all share all sorts of ideas ~

Website where you can find many books, links, deals and in the future, videos and picture of my progress and of other's progress ~

Thursday, February 2, 2012

OMG! It’s Winter!

The following was issued by the weather service this morning. They have been telling of the potential for this storm to be a major mess for two or three days now.

“The national weather service in Denver has issued a blizzard warning which is in effect from 11 pm this evening to 11 pm MST Friday. The winter storm watch is no longer in effect. Snow will develop by late this afternoon and continue through Friday night. Moderate to heavy snow will develop tonight and continue through Friday evening then gradually decrease by Saturday morning. Total accumulations of 12 to 24 inches will be possible over the palmer divide with 8 to 16 inches over the northeast plains. North winds will increase to 20 to 30 after midnight and continue on Friday with gusts up to 40 mph. Blizzard conditions will develop after midnight and continue through Friday evening east of a Greeley to Denver to castle rock line with visibilities near zero at times.  Snow and blowing snow will make travel difficult if not impossible late tonight through Friday night across the palmer divide and the northeast plains of Colorado. Pets and livestock exposed to the harsh winter conditions should be moved to a protective location before the onset of this storm.”

As I understand it, many people are freaking out about it. Personally, I don’t understand why. After all it IS winter and we live in Colorado. My family and I have been ready for this since fall. I admit I did make an emergency trip to the store yesterday to get an extra gallon of milk.

The weather service also felt the need to issue the following additional statements:

“Travel will become extremely dangerous or impossible late tonight through Friday night and is discouraged due to expected blizzard conditions. Consider delaying travel until conditions improve later this weekend. Road closures are a possibility over the plains and across the palmer divide.

A blizzard warning means severe winter weather conditions are occurring or imminent. Sustained wind and/or frequent wind gusts of 35 mph or higher will combine with considerable falling and blowing snow to produce widespread visibilities below one quarter of a mile. Travel will be extremely dangerous and is discouraged in these whiteout conditions. If you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you; keep extra food, water, a flashlight, and dry clothing in your vehicle.  If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle and wait for help to arrive.”

As for the suggestions in the above precautionary statement, the most important one is ‘don’t travel if you don’t have to’. If you must travel, keep an emergency kit with you at all times. This is in addition to the standard auto kit you should have. These emergency kits can be purchased or assembled. If you purchase one, you will still need to add dry clothing and maybe additional supplies. Make sure you have enough for everyone who will be traveling with you.

Here is an easy to assemble list for a simple kit. You can store it in a backpack, duffel bag, 5-gallon bucket, or whatever you find easiest to carry or transport.

Extra food and water such as MREs or emergency food bars can help keep your energy up and also minimize the likelihood of panic. The human body requires water to metabolize food so make sure you have enough for everyone. It’s also good idea to have water purification tablets, just in case.

Extra clothes protect against hypothermia. Multiple layers of clothes are generally warmer than a single thick garment. By having the ability to simply take off a layer of clothes, you can avoid overheating, which can cause sweat and dampen clothing. A change into dry clothes is the fastest way to get warm if you're wet. Extra clothing is also useful for protection from the elements, including thorns, insects, sun, wind, and cold. If necessary, they can be cut into bandages, used as a tree climbing aid, made into hot pads, pillows, towels, or makeshift ropes.

A first aid kit should always be in your vehicle and don’t forget a supply of any prescriptions you may need.

Matches, lighters and fire starters (always have three sources of flame) to light a fire, which can help prevent hypothermia and signal for aid, should always be kept available. In an emergency, a fire can also help increase your will to survive.

A knife for opening packages, building shelter, shaving wood for tinder, eating, field surgery (after sterilization of course), cutting rope and clothing, etc. should also always be kept in your vehicle. A multi-tool such as a Leatherman is also a good thing to have in addition to your knife.

Flashlights and headlamps protect against physical injury when traveling in the dark. A flashlight is also useful for finding things in the pack, observing wildlife in dark places and for signaling. Extra batteries and bulbs are highly recommended. Lamps using LEDs have become very popular, due to their robustness and low power consumption.

A map and compass will help you keep track of where you are. Losing your bearing in unfamiliar terrain raises the risk of anxiety and panic, and hence, physical injury. Maps that cover the area you will be traveling in or through in sufficient detail and dimension (topography, trails, roads, campsites, towns, etc.) and the skill and knowledge to use them are indispensable when traveling, especially when the place of travel lacks signage, markings or guides. Even a basic compass can help you find your way to safety.

Sunglasses to help prevent snow blindness. Sunlight, especially when reflected in snow, can seriously limit visibility, and jeopardize your ability to travel safely.

One more VERY important thing to remember: your cell phone, whether ‘in service’ or not, can always reach 911 as long as it has a charge. You may have to tell the operator where you are so try to know the road you are on and the nearest mile marker. See this page:

Do you know the hazards of each season in the place you live? You should. It’s just common sense. Here are a few winter season links to help you out if you don’t already know what to do:

My other sites that compliment this blog:
·         Kaya Self Sufficiency Facebook group ~ please feel free to join and share!
·     Kaya Self Sufficiency Website ~ a constant ‘work in progress’ and I'm always adding to it, so keep checking back!