Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Where Do I Start?

So you’re looking around at the state of things and thinking, “Man, I ought to do something.” You’ve heard about preparing, and you’ve heard a bit about survivalists and what they do in order to be ready for big and little problems alike, but you have no idea of where to start. You don’t have much free time or extra cash, but you know that things are only getting worse; so now you start to panic because you think that it’s already too late, or that you can’t possibly reach the long-term goals of having more than a year’s worth of preparations put away, or some other such thing.

First, relax and take a few deep breaths. Prepping isn’t something that you decide to start today and finish tomorrow afternoon; it takes time even if you have millions of dollars to invest in it. There are many different aspects of prepping because we humans are complex creations with many needs, preferences, and options – but don’t let that worry you.

Sit down and make a list. I don’t care how you do this because we’re all different; I like using Excel, but you might prefer a pen and paper or a smartphone or some other thing. It doesn’t matter because the point is to start making some lists, as they help you focus and figure out what to do and when.

I started by listing the different things that my family and I have to have for survival. We really need food, water, clothing, and shelter; the rest can go bye-bye and we’ll continue breathing, though we might not be quite as happy as we are with our electricity, Internet access, cell phones, restaurants, TV dinners, and other such crap.

Next, I started a new list for each category. Shelter, for example, includes things like climate control (to a degree, anyway – you don’t want to freeze or die of heatstroke) and safety, along with pest control and a few other things.

Eventually, the lists became more detailed. I added a new category, skills, because I like being independent and self sufficient. Knitting is a skill, for example, that I started acquiring a couple-few years ago. This year, I’m knitting scarves for peoples’ Christmas presents because I’m basically broke – and these suckers are useful even in my part of Texas because we do have cold wind and it does make a person miserable.

Then, at some point, you start fulfilling the lists. I like to keep a list of things we need that are likely to turn up at flea markets, as I enjoy browsing the local ones anyway. We do weekly grocery shopping that’s a combination of replenishing what we’ve used and stockpiling some extras – what we put into the stockpile depends partly on what’s most important, but also on what’s on sale this week.

Set short- and long-term goals for yourself, including daily goals, and work on them as best you can. It’s fulfilling to be able to cross things off a list every day, whether they’re big things like, “learn to make laundry soap,” or little things like, “order book from Amazon today.” As you keep doing things, you’ll get a better idea of what you can accomplish every day/week/month and adjust the lists accordingly.

And you’ll have some bad days mixed in with the good ones. Don’t worry about that, though – just keep going. Stockpiling, prepping, survivalism…none of ‘em have specific instructions. The general idea is to be ready for trouble and have a way to deal with it not if, but when, it comes. That means different things to different people so, as long as you’re moving in the right direction, don’t let the incidentals bother you too much.

One of the more-common sentiments I’ve heard lately is, “I’m running out of time.” People say that about everything from investing for retirement to getting to work on time today, but it applies to this prepping bit, too. Maybe you’re worried that it’s too late to even bother starting, but put the smackdown on that line of thought. Even if things go to hell one week from today, you’ve spent a week doing something constructive. That buys you a week to survive while you work on longer-term plans. It’s better than nothing and it beats the hell out of being one of the people who won’t give any of this even passing thought until after the trouble comes.

The final thought of the day: Buy one, store one, give one away. Prepping isn’t only about me; it’s about my family and the people in my community. While I’m not about to feed everyone, I have friends and neighbors who might be able to use a little help. One of the dangers of prepping or survivalism is the desire to focus too much on ourselves, which is kind of a crappy way to live life.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Labels and Canned Goods

Most of us are storing canned goods even if we also have fresh veggies from the garden; home-canned foods; and other alternatives. It’s not a bad idea to diversify the food stockpile for a variety of reasons, including the military’s “Two is one and one is none” concept. Another reason to get canned goods is the fact that they’re cheap; if you hit sales like we do, you can get a lot of canned veggies for just a few bucks.

And while Mom and I are both learning how to can things (she used to do it with her mom, but hasn’t been involved in a few decades or so – gotta re-learn old skills if you’ve let them lie dormant for too long), we go by the, “Buy one, store one, give one away” mindset. We’d rather give away tin cans of veggies than home-canned foods because we want the jars and, as far as we can tell, most people around here don’t can at home; they wouldn’t have good jars to trade us.

One of the things that I hate about canned goods is that most companies don’t stamp anything useful on the actual cans beyond a “best by” date. When I look at cans of corn, peas, and green beans, the cans are all alike other than which labels are wrapped around them. Green Giant is an exception, but we don’t buy that brand often unless it’s on sale for a better price than others.

So, folks, what happens if the labels are ruined? You get to play Tin Can Roulette, that’s what, which isn’t always a fun game to play. If a flood destroys some of the labels…if one of the cats finds its way into your food stash and pees all over the cans…if some other, unexpected problem takes out the labels…you don’t know exactly what’s in there. Even if your stockpile is neatly sorted, separated by what’s inside the can, what about the bug-out bag? What if you have to throw a bunch of your stockpile into the vehicle and bug out? The glue on labels isn’t the best ever, so don’t be surprised if some of the labels end up in the bottom of your bag or on the floorboard.

Here at The Homestead, we use a Sharpie on the cans’ tops, noting what’s inside and its best-by date. Even though that date’s already stamped on the can, it’s much easier and faster to read a large “10/12” (October 2012, of course) mark on the top of the can than it is to go looking for the smaller stamp.

None of the labels are vital, so we can still safely prepare and consume the food without them. I don’t need the label on the canned soup to tell me that I only need to heat it and serve because I eat that soup in everyday life and am, therefore, familiar with it. This is one of many reasons why the idea of storing what you eat anyway is a great one. If, on the other hand, you find that you really need certain labels, it’s not a bad idea to save a few of them from cans you open and use.

And while labeling each can does take a few minutes, we know that the five or ten minutes we invest after coming home from the store could save us some frustration later.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Several Broken Water Mains in Town Proper

In town proper, the person in charge of monitoring the water company’s tanks received an alert that both of the towers were nearly empty. The computer alert is only one part of the system, though; the tanks also have floats that somebody with the water company can go observe.

You would think, then, that a “Your tanks are nearly empty!” alert from the computer would be simple to confirm. If you were in charge, you’d probably radio or call one of the employees in the trucks all over the town and ask him or her to drop by and check the floats, right? That’s simple and sensible confirmation of what the computer told you was wrong, so why not?

The idiot in charge decided, instead, to blame the alert on a computer glitch. Instead of confirming that there was really a problem, he called tech support; the agent told him that somebody would be out the next day. In the meantime, this dolt sat on his hands, ignoring the alert because it couldn’t possibly be legit.

As it turns out, the tanks supplying the entire stinkin’ town with water really were almost empty when the water company’s employee failed to do anything useful. By the time the computer tech came out and told him that there was no computer glitch, they were almost bone dry. Shortly afterward, citizens started calling in to report that they didn’t have any water coming out of their magical faucets or garden hoses.

The fix – getting more water into the tanks – went well enough. The problem, though, is that the water lines running all over the town are old and crappy. When the water started running through these pipes again, several mains broke.

Yes. Several. As in, roughly seven.

All this happened yesterday or the day before; the water company swears that people in town proper will have water again by Monday. In the meantime, they don’t have water to bathe, flush their toilets, drink, do dishes, or fill their inflatable swimming pools.

Do you trust everyone at your water company to always do the sensible thing? Do you have complete and utter faith in the invisible-to-you pipes and other equipment? Do you believe that any necessary repairs will be completed before you even start to smell bad, especially in a heat wave like we just got past?

If not, now’s as good a time as any to make sure that you have plenty of potable and non-potable water stored away. The people in town didn’t have much, if any, warning that they were going to lose water, so that’s an excellent example of why preparing in advance is a good idea.

A few barrels of water in the basement…some five-gallon jugs of drinking water…a rain-collection system…one-gallon jugs…there are lots of ways to put back water so that, when something happens, you won’t suffer too much.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Some Light Housekeeping

As you can see with your own eye(s), I’ve done some housekeeping around here. The blogroll’s been updated and the settings are changed to put the most-recently updated blog at the top of the list. Maybe this will make it a little easier for y’all to see when there’s something new to go read when you’re finished sitting in awe of my very existence. (Hah!)

I made the font a wee bit smaller, too, because text was ridiculously huge on my wide-screen monitor (and it’s only a basic, seventeen-inch model – nothing high speed or too fancy). If you’re using Firefox and want to make the text bigger, hold down CTRL and the “+” key; for smaller text, hold down CTRL and the “-” key.

Let’s see…I’ll update whenever I think that I have something worth saying and hope that this happens at least once a week. I’m also visiting various blogs, leaving comments if I think that they can be useful or at least entertaining. Good times.

Incidentally, ten-pound bags of chicken are on sale again this week at the same store. This time, however, they were smart enough to put a “limit 1 bag with additional $10 purchase” notice/disclaimer in their ad. Last week, the people in charge of the circulars didn’t include that, so there was, as you probably imagine, a run on those bags. Mom and I grabbed only two because we didn’t have room for more but, if we’d been set up to store several bags, we would have snagged them – this week, though, we’ll pick up only one bag because fair’s fair.

Here’s to a great weekend for everyone! I’m planning on enjoying a little free time to do some writing, play with the cats, and see if I can get rid of the last of the wasps hanging out near my bedroom. If they weren’t constantly coming into this room, I wouldn’t care. Now, though, they’ve decided that they want to be indoor critters, which isn’t happening. Like I really want to inadvertently sit down on one of those suckers.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cluck Cluck!

Bags of fryer quarters normally run about .79 a pound here so, when Mom and I found them on sale for .20/lb., we bought two big bags. That’s what we have room to store at the moment but, if we had room, we’d have grabbed more. I imagine that, after Mom and I make the chicken casserole tonight, we’ll have somebody go back to the store and pick up another bag.

Mom and I cooked the chicken in her big ol’ roaster oven because it’s a fast and easy way to take care of twenty pounds’ worth of quarters. The chicken’s chunked and in the freezer, aside from the portion that’s going into dinner tonight, so we’re happy. Also, the cats and dogs got the skin, which is just gross if you’ve boiled it (in my opinion), so they were thrilled.

As for the chicken stock, Mom poured it up into the half-liter bottles that we’ve had lying around for a while. I have a tendency to buy Mountain Dew in six-packs of these bottles because it’s convenient and the suckers are usually on sale for a good price. We started saving the bottles a while back because we figured that they had to have a practical use or two, but we weren’t sure what we’d do with them at the time.

They’re food-grade plastic and are subjected to a thorough cleaning before we re-use them, so they’re excellent for filling halfway with water and sticking in the freezer. I used one, wrapped in a towel, for an ice pack a few days ago because the two proper ones were being rotated (Mom needed them). I bash the bottles full of ice with a hammer, cut them open, and pour the ice into the cats’ water dish when it’s hot as heck, like it has been lately in this part of Texas.

But the bottles also work very well for chicken stock. We didn’t bother separating the fat because that’s easy enough to do later when we use each bottle. Just poke a hole in the bottom – it’s much like shotgunning a beer, really – and let the chicken stock drain out; the fat that’s left will stay behind.

We have four liters of chicken stock cooling off so that they can go into the freezer. That’s a decent amount for the six people we’re feeding here, but you might want more or less depending on storage space, family size, that sort of thing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back - Finally.

I haven’t written anything for this blog in ages because I haven’t had anything to say. And because I’ve been busy. And because I haven’t felt very well as of late, but am getting better.

So, let’s play catch-up really quickly before I make what I hope is an interesting point about the value of having gold or silver in your possession despite the fact that you can’t eat it, drink it, or build a shelter out of it (or wear it, now that I think about it).

Since I last bothered to update An Unsheltered Life, we’ve done some cool and not-so-cool things.

-Oldest Bro got married! His wife is a lovely, sweet young lady and I’m incredibly happy for both of them. We got them a firearm for their wedding present because they couldn’t really afford one (seriously, times are tough everywhere) and we wanted to be sure that they had a means of defending themselves and their home. They both love it.

-I finally finished college despite knowing that it’s a big, fat waste of time if you aren’t studying a hard science. English literature degrees aren’t overly valuable in the workforce, but I enjoyed the learning that I did while I was in school.

-A Bachelor’s in English is good for a temporary job at Walmart. I earned a little money, helped contribute to the family’s stockpiles, and met some interesting people. I also sprained the crap out of my shoulder while I was there, which prompted two doctor’s visits on Walmart’s dime. Oops. I’m fine now, by the way, and put my handy-dandy sling in storage in case we need it again. (Man, do I ever hate slings. It’s really difficult to do anything when your strong arm is bound up like that.)

-Mom and I experimented with using the Food Saver’s jar attachment to vacuum seal various foods. I’m pleased to report that, a full three months later, the chocolate chips, white rice, and other goodies are still safe and sound in the jars. We’re keeping a close eye on the chocolate because Mom and I both have occasional cravings for it. It would well and truly suck if we were stuck without even a few morsels to tide us over, I think.

-Dad was laid off a couple of weeks ago. The bad news is that the local economy sucks out loud. The good news is that he’s eligible for unemployment. The justification for that is the fact that he’s spent most of his adult life working, paying into the system, so the safety net isn’t a handout that he didn’t help fund. And, y’know, the local economy is horrible.

-Over those two weeks, Dad’s been griping because there are buttloads of canned goods in the pantry. He doesn’t buy into this “Let’s stock up when things are cheap because we’re going to eat these foods anyway” philosophy, mostly because he doesn’t think that far ahead.

-Sis and I got Mom a bread maker for Christmas. She’s still having a blast with it, churning out some very tasty breads. They’re particularly nice with the cherry preserves that I bought for “I feel like crap and need to be comforted” food.

-Mom also received a twelve-inch, cast-iron skillet (a Lodge, I believe) from me. Good times.

-My brothers and Dad are gearing up to go make a big dent in the firewood tomorrow morning. Ideally, they’ll get a massive pile that Mom and I can work through with a log splitter that my middle brother brings home (yep, he still works at the rental yard). If that works out, we’ll have a few cords stacked up for the coming winter.

As for precious metals: Who’s going to want them if we reach a point in American society where fiat money is flat-out worthless? Will the grocery store take them? Possibly. Will your neighbor want them in exchange for some of his supplies? Probably not. Can you eat them? Of course not.

But some of us have to pay property taxes, which is bull crap but necessary if we intend to keep our land. I hold out a tiny shred of hope that the State of Texas will abolish this atrocity so that my family and I will truly, for real, own the property – but I don’t wager on that actually happening.

That’s one reason why the precious metals aren’t terrible ideas despite their theoretical uselessness in everyday life as a survivor. Once a year, they could come in handy, especially when you’re having a tough time putting together enough folding money to pay the tax man for what should be completely yours anyway.

“But Sarah, won’t the tax office stop bothering after an economic collapse and nobody has money?”

Maybe – but are you willing to wager your property on that? I’m not.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Unprepared in Action

One of our neighbors is currently using our shower because her family fails to prepare each and every time winter comes around.

They know that their water lines are going to freeze and rupture because that happens to them every year: as soon as we get a decent freeze, something bursts over there. They don’t get off their butts and wrap their pipes, which is insanely cheap and easy to do: just use newspaper and duct tape if that’s what you have on hand.

What’s worse is that, even though they know the consequences of their decision to avoid preventive maintenance, they don’t keep extra parts or supplies on hand. Instead, they wait for the pipes to freeze and then make a special trip all the way into town to buy what they need.

This time, they sent the guy’s daughter, who has no idea of what to buy. She came back with fittings that were too large and the wrong type of PVC glue, so they still don’t have running water. Even worse: the father, who does know what to buy, went into town after the pipe burst – but did not bother stopping to pick up the necessary supplies. He sent his daughter out on another trip even though he knew that a) he was already right there in town and b) she had no idea of what she was doing.

Oh, yeah, and they do have television, which does broadcast weather-related information. They know when a freeze is coming and have plenty of prepping time, but still choose to sit around and wait for the inevitable.

I’m just ticked because one of the neighbors is using our stinkin’ shower. Why should we help them out? They aren’t even trying, so we’re only teaching them that our family is right here to bail them out despite their lack of effort.

They have no idea that we’re prepared for bigger problems than ruptured pipes. They don’t know that, should the food supply go haywire for whatever reason, we aren’t nearly as worried as they’re going to be. They shouldn’t come knocking on our door, but something tells me that they will anyway because they’re being taught that we can, and do, solve their other problems. Will it really be beyond their rudimentary imaginations to think, “Hey, maybe they have food?” because we already provide the shower, among other things?

Society is full of people who rely on others to take care of the essentials. I have too much pride and work ethic to let other people take care of me, so I can’t imagine being like the neighbors. How can they be comfortable letting us provide them with running water? Why don’t they feel like crap for not being capable of taking care of themselves? What is it about them that prevents them from saying, “This is embarrassing. I’m going to make sure that this doesn’t happen again”?

I don’t know the answer to any of those questions. I don’t understand the unprepared person’s mindset; all I know is that, when things are really bad, there are going to be a lot of people in this country with no idea of what to do – and they’re going to try to find the natural leaders who were prepared in advance.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Walmart Destroys New Merchandise

Everywhere I go in the real world or online, somebody’s complaining about the recent revelation that Walmart, among other companies, destroys and discards unsold clothing instead of, say, giving it to charity. People are outraged over the wastefulness as well as the “corporate greed,” as they put it, that encourages Walmart employees to do things like destroy overcoats and other, perfectly good textiles before dumping them.

Let’s look at a few truths about businesses here in the United States.

One: Some manufacturers or distributors REQUIRE retailers to destroy and discard unsold items in order to receive most, if not all, of their (the stores’) credit for them. The publishing industry is a fine example of that attitude: if you report unsold books as “Unsold and destroyed,” you get a big chunk of credit…versus the small amount of money that you would make if you sold the books at a deep discount or gave them away. So, instead of shipping back all those unsold copies of some politician’s crapfest of a book, you remove the front covers and toss the tomes into a Dumpster. It’s fast, extremely cheap, and easy – and it works.

Why not just ship all the unsold stuff back to the warehouse? The associated costs are significantly higher than trashing the unsold merchandise, that’s why. If Walmart actually paid the expense of returning unsold goods (because you know that the makers or distributors won’t pay that bill), they’re going to have to jack up prices. They’re happy capitalists, so they aren’t going to eat the cost of shipping a truck full of books, clothes, and other goods back to the warehouses: that’s not nearly as cost effective as simply doing what the makers and distributors want (destroying and discarding them).

Why not put the merchandise on the clearance racks and shelves? Walmart does that quite often, actually. I do plenty of clearance-rack shopping at all sorts of stores. However, the fact is that not every single item will sell no matter how low the price. Walmart has to do something with that size-negative-8 dress that nobody in my entire county is anorexic enough to wear.

Two: Doing useful things with unsold goods inevitably leads to fraud, which will cost the company a big chunk of money and, of course, increase our prices.

Let’s say, for example, that my local Walmart agreed to donate unsold clothing to the local Goodwill in exchange for the tax write-off. As soon as Wally World does that, people are going to buy a three-dollar shirt from Goodwill, bring it back to Walmart, and return it for eighteen dollars.

Let’s say, for example, that Walmart starts giving away the clothing to a homeless shelter. As soon as they do that, people are going to bring the clothes to Walmart and return them for full, retail price.

Let’s say, for example, that Walmart contracts with an outlet store in order to move the new goods at reduced prices. People will buy the reduced-price goods and return them.

And no, you can’t stop people from returning the clothing in a fraudulent manner. You could, I suppose, mark the clothing, but any idiot can defeat any mark that a) isn’t obtrusive enough to discourage people from buying and wearing it; and b) actually helps Walmart employees figure out that the item should not be returned. Kid Sis works at Walmart and, despite having been there for only one year, knows many of the tricks that fraudsters use in order to scam the store. Some of them are rather creative, which is surprising because the average thief barely has three spare brain cells to rub together.

Oh, and when stores like Target and Walmart try to defend themselves with various policies, such as strict requirements for returns or not giving away free things? Customers gripe. A lot. They get pissy because they must have a register receipt in order to return or exchange anything. They complain because the store insists on giving them a gift card instead of cash or a credit-card refund. They whine because they don’t like having to show their receipts to the greeter as a loss-prevention tactic.

Three: Walmart owns the clothing, so they can do whatever they want with it, including destruction. I don’t like the wastefulness all that much, but I REALLY dislike having to pay more because a bunch of oxygen thieves found an easy way to scam Wally World out of a good bit of money.

As for the “Walmart only cares about the money!” war cry: yes, that’s true. They’re capitalists, just like me. I want the freedom to do whatever I want with anything that I own – even up to destroying it if that’s my preference. Nobody gets to tell me what to do with my stuff, and I don’t get to tell anybody else – including a giant corporation – what to do with theirs.

Don’t shop at Walmart if that’s your preference. Frankly, I don’t care what you do with your money and I don’t think that I have any right to dictate your spending decisions to you. But if you’re going to be angry because a corporation is wasteful, you’re going to have to be angry at almost every corporation – and, in fact, many smaller businesses – in this country. Even the mom-and-pop stores in my community are wasteful. They throw out perfectly good food. They destroy merchandise that they just can’t move even at discounted prices. They use disposable products when reusable versions could work just fine.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cat Food and Your Stockpile

When you stockpile food for your cats, remember that they require a certain diet – one that doesn’t include dog food to a great extent.

It’s perfectly okay to occasionally let the cat have the dog chow, but don’t make a habit of it. Cats have to have more proteins, for example, along with some other things that either aren’t present in dog food or are not present in enough quantities to satisfy the kitty’s physical needs. Cats who’ve been fed a steady diet of dog food have gone blind before because their bodies weren’t getting what was necessary.

I’m bringing up all that because some people on tight budgets tend to buy one bag of pet food – dog food if they have dogs and cats – without knowing the consequences. It’s also easy to justify storing only one type of dry food because that costs less money and requires less storage space.

You can grab water- and airtight pet-food containers at Tractor Supply or the pet store. They aren’t too terribly expensive but do a good job of keeping the cats’ food safe. Alternatively, you can break out your Food Saver and make your own, custom-sized bags of vacuum-sealed pet food.

Of course, feeding the cat from your stash is not necessarily a terrible idea. Some people make their own pet food which, if done properly (i.e. including the right ingredients for the pet in question), can save you some money and storage space. There are plenty of good cat-food recipes online, including a few for kitty treats if that’s your thing.

I’m not even going to suggest getting rid of the cats before the world goes berserk because a) I love cats and really don’t want The Homestead to be feline free, and b) where I live, it’s very difficult to find good homes, even for the most-adorable kittens, because the economy around here really sucks. People are having to choose between medication and food for their current pets, so they aren’t likely to take in another kitty who needs a good place to stay.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Sorry about being absent, folks. I had final exams; graduation-related stuff; employment searches; family time; and a whole buttload of other things going on all at once. However, I hope that 2010 is fantastic for each and every one of us and that we accomplish as many prepping-related tasks as possible in the New Year.

It looks like I’ll be starting grad school in the fall (Lord willing) because I really need to work on my MFA. The longer I take off between now and then, the harder it will be for me to get started, much less finish. That’s pretty much gospel truth because I know myself fairly well at this point: the sooner I start a project, the better.

Going to school isn’t a terrible idea, especially if you can find some classes that teach useful skills. At the local community college, for example, you can study agriculture and ranching. One of my brothers went there to learn welding, which took him only one year (certificate program). Even if you don’t pursue a degree full time, or even part time, you can take a class or two that seem interesting. Local colleges can teach all sorts of neat things, from leatherworking to animal husbandry, and I’m pretty sure that you can find good ways to use those skills after you acquire them.

However, college is hardly the only place to learn new things. If you don’t want the expense or hassle of going to classes, you can head to YouTube and find all kinds of videos about almost anything. MB wanted to do some Fiberglas-repair work on his car’s bumper a few months ago but had no idea of what he was doing. He went to YouTube, watched a few videos, and did a first-rate job of repairing his bumper.

The local library is a great, free way to grab good books on various subjects. My library isn’t worth a fart because it’s tiny and run by women who want romance novels and the latest fiction best-sellers more than anything else: what few books they have aren’t overly useful. That’s okay, though, because your library might be better. You can also use PaperBackSwap.com to trade books through the mail. The site’s open to all U.S. residents and has a large number of users, so the odds of finding a good book on your favorite subject are pretty good.

Anyway: in this New Year, I think it’s a good idea to intentionally focus on acquiring a new skill, big or small. This year, for example, I’d like to learn how to can my own food. It would be really nice to hit the farmer’s market, grab plenty of fresh vegetables, and preserve them. I’ve already started the process by acquiring basic, required tools (jars, for example) as I find them, especially if they’re on sale at the time. It’s not much, but it’s a start, right?

In the meantime, I’m off to make myself some lunch and see about getting a shower.
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
-George OrwellAnimal Farm