Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Few Minutes of Hard Rain..........

If you were watching the news this past week, you likely saw mudslides shutting down some major roads in Southern California. Three to four inches of rain fell in a very short time, soaking parched mountain-sides devoid of the plant life that normally keeps it in place. The result: a wall of mud several feet high covering at least one major interstate (I-5) and several local highways. At the same time, a chemical spill closed yet another local highway. California's great Central Valley was effectively cut of from southern California for 24 hours.

Now, I don't want to be overly dramatic, because it was short-lived. Also, you could add 6 hours to your trip and go around the mess (although the single alternate route looked like a parking lot). No one died and the people stranded in the mud were eventually rescued from their cars. A lot of Central Valley folks did not make it to the Dodger game, but they lost anyway.

For the first time, however, I really took notice of just how easy it would be to cut my state in half. I spent some time studying a map of the area yesterday and was surprised at what I saw. If you wanted to derail transportation in the southern half of the Golden State, it would not take much.

I'm not talking about just flooding. That doesn't happen very often around here. We do have earthquakes from time to time and I've written before about what could happen if travel on Interstate 5 were disrupted. In the back of my mind, though, I've always been secure in the knowledge that there are alternate routes that could be used in a pinch. I'm not going to go through all of them because it would be tedious and I don't want to show a map either because I don't want to make it too easy for anyone looking to cause some havoc.

 As I looked at these roads, many I am familiar with, I noticed how each road had multiple bridges. Some are short, some are much longer. A major earthquake epicentered north of Los Angeles might be enough to collapse a lot of those bridges or at least weaken them so they are unusable.

Earthquakes, you say? Sure, they do happen and a big one has been forecasted since I was a child. However, I can't help but think of how easy it would be for someone determined to cause trouble to bring down a half dozen of those bridges. This would disrupt transportation for weeks, maybe months, not hours. At certain times of the year, a great deal of agricultural commodities are transported back and forth along the corridor between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

I don't think it's in the vane of Gotham City in The Dark Knight Rises.  We wouldn't be completely cut off from the world. But how much panic would there be when the store shelves are bare or just severely reduced? What will people do when McDonalds runs out of Big Macs? It doesn't task much to push people over the edge.

So what do we do? Well, we prepare obviously. Starting with a weeks worth of food and building from there is a great start. Electricity and fuel won't be too much of an issue for us in the Central Valley, but LA could be seriously impacted (SoCal loves us some cars).

Another issue is protection. People panic, some easily, some not so easily. You need a way to protect yourself, your family and your preps. Guns? Sure! OPSEC? Absolutely! Situational awareness? Definitely!

Stay frosty.


Edit: Sadly, the initial report that no one had died has now been shown as false. One body was found buried under the mud in a car and another was swept away in the flood and remains unknown.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I Wrote an eBook!

Seems funny for a guy who rarely updates his own blog to take the time to write an book covering the same topic as his blog, but I did it anyway. The reason why is Amazon is chock full of books written by Preppers for Preppers to become better Preppers. Those books that are written for the novice are usually exhaustive compendiums that become a huge turnoff a few chapters in.

Situations are creating Preppers more often than enlightenment and that is backwards, people!

I have maintained for years that being prepared does not have to change your entire lifestyle. Adding some extra food and water to the pantry is a start. You don't have to cash out your 401k and buy a bunker in the woods tomorrow. Ease into it, my friends. Prepare for that short-term emergency first, then move on to the long-term survival situations. That is why I wrote the book. I talk about my own journey and offer tips for yours, as well. It's short, like 30 something pages and cheap, only a buck. So I urge you to buy it and review it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Garden Planning Time!

            The beginning of the new year signifies the beginning of the gardening season for me. In no way is this more evident than in the large stack of seed catalogues sitting on my garage bench. Frankly, the seed I order tends to come from only one or two vendors, but I love looking at what all the major vendors have to offer.

            This year, I’m thinking about adding a few more trees. Now, my little slice of Earth is not very big and currently the only trees I have are three useless palm trees in my front yard that I hate but not enough to remove. I just don’t have the space for full size trees. So, I am looking at some dwarf varieties.

            Trees are the gift that keeps on giving. Once planted, the roots tend to spread quickly and deeply. Outside of water and the occasional fertilizer, most trees usually only require a yearly trimming and harvest. In general, they are more tolerant of weather changes than smaller, annual plants. This makes them perfect food for Preppers. But they do take more space, which I don’t have.

            Dwarf varieties generally only grow 4-6 feet in height so they require less space. I can plant these against my northern fence (where I already have a successful dwarf lemon tree) and they won’t rob my raised beds of any food, water or sunlight. It will probably take a year or so before I get a good crop, but the inputs are so small, it is worth it.

            Since I live in growing zone 9, I have to be sure the dwarf trees I get are good for that area. I would love an apple tree, but very few will work in zone 9 other than Granny Smith. So apples will probably be out. Before you buy any dwarf trees, make sure they work in your area. Visiting your local nursery will help, but I have seen trees for sale locally that will not thrive in this area, so do your own homework. Walk around you neighborhood and see what other people have planted. If the full size variety thrives in your area, it’s a pretty safe bet the dwarf version will thrive, too.

 Just remember, the payoff takes time. Buying a 2-year old dwarf tree will likely cost $30-$50. It may take another year to get a good crop and that may only be a dozen or so fruits. But given the low inputs, you will likely get your money back within a few years. For example, I bought my dwarf Meyer Lemon tree for $30. It was about 2-years old and already had a few small lemons growing on it. I removed those and the few more I got 6 months later. After a year I started getting about 12-18 lemons twice a year. Lemons are cheap, but after a few years, I've easily made my money back and I know where they come from.

So, I return to my seed catalogues. I will definitely be growing my tried and true favorites and maybe trying some new stuff. I’ll put up my small, temporary greenhouse in the next few weeks so I can start my seeds by the end of January. Though it’s still pretty cold overnight around here, my mind is already turning to thoughts of tomato sauce and pickles.
I wonder if they make a Tomickle?