Sunday, November 14, 2010

New Gear: Snow Peak Mini Solo Titanium Cook Set

A quick bit about a piece of gear I've purchased and used. I'm going to be periodically posting a lot of these in the near future.
This time it's the Snow Peak brand Mini Solo Titanium Cook Set.

This consists of a small titanium pot with a lid and a titanium cup, both of which fit together for storage, and the two pieces come in a mesh bag to hold them together. Each container has folding handles.
I got to use these items, or at least the cup, on a weekend survival training retreat that I took a couple months ago. We found and picked wild elderberry leaves and wild mint and made tea with them and though we used a different titanium pot to boil the water in, I did use my own cup to drink the tea and I have no complaints. The tea itself was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS by the way :) Best I've ever had.

In order to maximize the use of space, I also keep some small supplies inside my titanium pot. Inside I keep a 7ft length of twine, an easy-sharpening tool for my blades, a 25ft length of 550 paracord, and two cliff-bars.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Home container garden update

I don't know if this is really an update as I never posted the initial stuff on here, just on my social networking account, but I wanted to post my progress here since I've got multiple images to share.
Today I bought some more containers and potting soil to add to what I'm already growing.

I've tried to start from seed the following vegetables for a fall container garden:
- Carrots*
- Lettuce
- Broccoli
- Cauliflower
- Yellow Onions*
- Bell Peppers*
- Tomatoes*

Those with asterisks* were planted a few weeks ago, but the other three were still sitting in their biodegradable seed trays, drying out and running out of space to grow, and therefore dying. I finally decided to try and save them and bought some containers, rocks for dainage, and potting soil.

This here is the mess I made getting everything done today.
There are two large black containers with Broccoli, Caulifower and Lettuce in them, a small black container with mixed salad greens (which I ate for lunch just before posting this), two long containers with bell peppers and onions, respectively, wich you can't really see behind two are two old fish/reptile tanks which I plan on using as mobile mini-greenhouses if I ever have a large enough space to do so.

I'll spare the images of the broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce plants as they're so tiny and non-green that they barely stand out in front of the potting soil, but here's a picture of the 7/8 carrots I planted. One definitely didn't make it so it's just 7 now. By the way, growing in an old kitty-litter container.

Here above are the bell peppers and below are the Spanish Yellow onions.

I was thinking of growing green onions as well, we use them a lot in our boiled chicken for enchiladas and tacos and whatnot, but I just didn't get around to ordering any seeds so just yellow round onions for now. They'll be good to cut up and put in the rice or ground beef.

Despite the fact that tomatoes are supposed to be a warm-weather crop, mine are doing, very well, better in fact that anything else if the health and size of the leaves are to be any indicator. Thanks to our warm southern california weather, these babies seem pretty happy, even though it's admittedly been getting a bit cold and rainy lately.

They're actually a hybrid bush variety called "Bush Goliath," recommended by Jack Spirko of The Survival Podcast which I listen to on a regular basis. They're supposed to be better for container gardening because they grow in a bush rather than vine all over the place and they grow really nice big tomatoes, great for putting on sandwiches and burgers, which is what I tend to use tomatoes for more often than anything else.
Motivated by the success of this so far, I'm planning to grow some other varieties of tomatoes next spring/summer. Varieties better for putting in salads and making into sauce and paste so I can try and make my very own spaghetti sauce, sloppy joe sauce, and whatever else I can think to do with my own organic tomatoes.

Here's the aftermath of the salad I had for lunch. It used to be much bigger (it's actually three separate plants), but this is what it looks like after I've cut most of it off for my salad. It should grow back about 4-5 times before it stops so I've got some more tasty organic self-grown salad ahead of me.
I actually got these salad greens from the community garden I volunteer at.

This here is the remnants of my broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce. I took the best three of each and planted them in larger containers, but these look like they're done for. Either way though, I noticed that the clovers beneath my overturned fish/reptile tanks were growing pretty strong so I decided to water these dead looking guys and stick them underneath to see if I can possibly save them. Fingers crossed.
I really would like to plant in the ground, put in raised beds, and do WAY more than this, but as I'm renting all I can do is stick to container gardening. This is good though. I'm learning that I really have to be more attentive to my plants if I want them to do well. I'm lucky I've got as much still healthy as I do have, considering I sort of neglected them quite often as far as watering and I took WAY too long to finally plant these things. Lucky for me I live in one of the most forgiving climates in the country here in southern California and the city I'm in was originally all agricultural land (and much of it still is).

Anyway, just wanted to post about my progress, for my own sake as much as for the interest of anybody else who might care. I'm very happy to be progressing toward my goal of learning to self-sufficiently grow my own food and I'm taking note of every lesson I learn in the process.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Gerber Gator Jr. Machete

So one of the items I recently picked up is the Gerber Gator Jr. Machete. It's a 10" blade and it has a saw blade edge on the back.
I must say that I absolutely love this thing. It's leaps and bounds better than the cheapy 18" one I got from Harbor Freight in terms of weight balance, hand comfort and overall sharpness and chopping power.
The saw blade works very well and the ability to have both in the same tool is really convenient and made chopping up a monster vining bush in my yard into simple work.
The sheath this thing comes with is great too. it's got some rigidity to it and feels durable. The only thing I wish the case had is more capability to attach it to my backpack instead of just the standard belt loop.
This is the "Jr." 10-inch blade model, versus the standard 17-inch blade size. I went with this because I think it's a lot more versatile and easier to swing around. I was able to get into tight places on the bush I hacked down where an extra 7 inches would have made it impossible. The shorter size also makes it much more convenient for me to keep in or on my backpack. While I'm sure the extra weight at the end of the full-sized model would be great for a bit more chopping power, this one has enough weight to it for it's size and it's well balanced enough that it certainly gets the job done very well regardless.
Anyway this thing is great for yard work and I plan on taking it with me the next time I go hiking because there are some fallen branches on the trail I frequent that could use some clearing if someone hasn't got to it first. Also, it comes very nice and sharp but I haven't had to do any sharpening myself yet so I'm not sure how easy that will be. I'm a total novice so well see how that goes when the time comes that it needs it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

New Camelbak hydration pack. I'm stoked!

So I've been hiking a lot more lately and unhappily using my little brother's old "Outdoor Products" hydration pack. The thing was flimsy, not very well made and felt like it did a really bad job of distributing the weight on my back, so I decided to invest (somewhat heftily) in a Camelbak hydration pack.

I went with the Camelbak H.A.W.G 500 (don't ask me what h.a.w.g. stands for). It's the second iteration of the H.A.W.G. and the "500" comes from the fact that it's made from 500 denier cordura nylon material, which is half the denier rating of the original's 1000 denier (which is what the best military equipment manufacturers use). Denier is a rating for strength in cloth products.

The 500D makes it lighter, which is great by me, and I don't really need something to be a full 1000D for my purposes anyway. The 500D material feels PLENTY tough in it's own right and loads tougher than whatever the hell the last pack was made of.

Having never owned or experienced a real Camelbak pack, I was a little wary of spending $125 on a hydration pack, but after getting this thing I'm a firm believer in the brand and the quality they put into their products.

This is actually from Camelbak's military line and I wanted it because I knew it should be made to last and the PALS webbing on it will be ideal for mounting a tear-away velcro first-aid kit (makes no sense to have to take extra time to dig into my pack if I or someone else get's injured.)

Anyway my pack is shown up there sitting happily with my 1-liter Camelbak water bottle and my Leatherman Wave.

Here's the product page for all the details:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Not forgotten

I haven't completely forgotten about this blog, but I do constantly forget to post to it.
Since my last post I've stored some food in sealed mylar and food buckets. I can proudly say that if I were to lose my source of income I wouldn't have to worry about going hungry for a full month.
I've also purchased a firearm. A Remington 870 Express 12ga shotgun. I can now proudly say that I am supporting the inalienable and human right our nation recognizes of an individual to possess the means to both defend and provide for himself and those he loves.
I've also been doing more hiking and getting myself in better shape.
I've also found myself an awesome girl who is of like mind as far as having a goal of a self-sustaining lifestyle. Very stoked about that, hope it continues to go well.
I've also purchased various things for an emergency kit to keep in my car. With all these earthquakes happening lately you can't knock wanting to at least be prepared in case a big one hit our part of California.

I probably will continue to forget to post here, but I'll stop in as often as I remember.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Food Storage preps

I'm finally going to be getting some food storage preparations taken care of. I'll be storing two 5gal buckets, one of rice and one of beans. In each food-grade bucket will 3 separate sealed mylar bags with the respective rice or beans and a few oxygen absorbers to help the food last much longer. The benefit of keeping it in three separate sealed bags is that if I open one I don't compromise the longevity of everything all at once. I bought a cheap sealer from Harbor Freight and the mylar bags online.

And I know this sounds like something the crazy old hermit does, but I see it as a very positive and practical thing to do. Food price ARE rising and, this is a way to eat tomorrow at today's prices. Not only that but it's a peace of mind thing. If I were to lose my job tomorrow and not have money to buy food, I could easily and very happily live off the rice and beans that I eat on a regular basis anyway. And in the worst case scenario such as a natural disaster (most likely to be an earthquake around these parts) I'd be well prepared, which eliminates a lot of the fear of such a thing happening and the panic that one might have if they had NO food in their house and the grocery store was trashed.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Life Goal

They ask you when you're young what you would do if you had some enormous amount of money and they say that's supposed to help you determine what you might want to do for the rest of your life as a career.

I don't know that I've ever had a satisfactory answer for that which could be translated into a lifestyle before now. It might at one point have been to buy every material possession I could wish for, which is a sad thing because it means the person answering that might be doomed to be a consumer for the rest of their life, but thankfully my views have changed.

Today if I were given an enormous amount of money, basically if I were "set for life," I would buy a big property. Not necessarily a big house, but a big property that I would use to give myself a truer liberty than most people in our country have today by making that home into something that helps me take care of some basic human needs myself, rather than depend on society for those things and stay trapped in the cycle of having to work a full-time job in order to pay to survive in comfort and security for the rest of my life. I want to grow all the food I could ever need and most of what I could ever want. I want to harvest rainwater and shape the land to make the most efficient use of water to keep reliance on public water to a minimum. I want to install solar panels on my roof, not because Al Gore says I have to, but to cut down on my reliance on the power grid and keep my electricity bill to a minimum. I want to find peace in putting work into the land and not have to live every two weeks on my paycheck and worry about what a horrible situation I would be in if I lost my job tomorrow.

To work toward this life I'm going to seriously start saving money. I know it will take me a long time to save enough to buy my own place somewhere, but if I reach that point it will have been worth it.