“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Annual Assessment

Every December, I take a look back at the past year and try to do an honest estimate of our family situation in terms of self sufficiency. I run some reports, look at spreadsheets, and go over a journal I keep that relates to all the different facets of this particular mind set in practical terms.

Some years, I think we have made significant steps forward, and others, it's clear we have lost ground. Usually, the latter happens due to circumstances beyond our control. Unexpected events occur that take precedent over your plan for the year and that causes missed goals.  Life has a way of changing your priorities.


This year, we've done fairly well.  Despite having given away a significant amount of food to our guests in October, and transferring still more up to the kids in the form of long term storage items, we have more in our supply rooms, and of better quality, than we started the year with. I am particularly pleased with the fact that we utilized a lot of the canned goods and replaced them with new supplies. We added large quantities of dried fruit, spices, butter and cheese to the stored supplies and now I feel like we have close to what we really need.

The situation on arms and ammunition is very good.   I was not much affected by the great panic that ensued when Obama went back on his word not to try to take people's guns away. Although I've bought some ammunition during the shortage, I already had plenty and the means to make more, so that is not a problem for me.

All of the vehicles are in good condition, though my daughters Commander needs some cosmetic work. Her proclivity for running into things in parking lots makes that a normal state of affairs.

The house and outbuildings are in good shape. Log buildings always require maintenance but there are no major jobs pending and everything is in good condition.

We have paid off a significant amount of debt this year.  Largely this was related to my daughters medical expenses. Even though we had fair insurance, her medical costs were high and will continue to be so. Even more now that Obama has caused us to lose our HMO and we have been dumped into a Health Expense Reimbursement Account that is worse than useless. I did not worry about debt to any great extent in years past, because I figured if things got really bad nobody was going to be coming around asking about payments. But I've learned that it's the grey times, in between all's well and total calamity, where you need to be cautious about debt. So we've launched a program to get out of debt as much as possible , as quickly as possible.

The damage from the wood burning stove chimney fire has been repaired and the stove is back in order.

On the debit side, I have not replaced the electric fence that was destroyed in a big storm last Spring. I will have to completely replace it, down to the last insulator and pole.  If I had done so, this big storm last week would have torn it to bits with trees coming down and limbs falling out of trees. I am not sure it is cost effect or practical to rebuild the fence, though it is nice to be able to look out from the porch and see the red light on the energizer which tells me nothing has broken through the fence. I don't think it ever kept anything out, but it did let me know, before I walked out in the dark to the barn or shop, if something was inside that perimeter.

I have not replaced the security camera system.  The one we had worked well for many years, but when it failed, the cost of replacing it was , by my standards, exorbitant. Some friends sent me specs on nice systems, but they obviously had more in their operating budget for security than I did.  I'll have to address this though, because the camera system was a great boon on dark nights when the motion detectors started going off.

I know more people via the internet than I did a year ago, and that's a positive thing. Not only can I learn a lot from others with similar interests, but I get a better feel for conditions around the country, and even in foreign countries. It's a much more reliable way of keeping a finger on the pulse of things than listening to the bleating of the talking heads on television.

All in all, I 'd be inclined to put this down as a good year.  I feel like we are going into 2014 with a good handle on all these issues, and if nothing dreadful and unexpected happens, I think next year will be even better.

22 comments:

  1. You sound prepared for anything. I would like a security camera system. We were almost ready to buy one and then I needed some major car repairs. Always something.

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    1. Mine was old and relatively primitive, but it was a tremendous asset, especially at night. Friends sent me specs on their systems, or systems they were in the process of buying. I was much impressed with how far night vision technology has come on security systems since I bought the old one. However, it came at a cost, literally, as even the most basic system was more than $400.00. I have it in our budget, but as you pointed out, unexpected expenses tend to push low priority items down to the next level. It is, indeed, always something.

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  2. countryside magazine link flextrax.com

    instead of tire chains which are not legal everywhere, for your kids
    djh

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    1. I was not aware that there were places chains were not legal, though they are notorious for chewing up asphalt roads. I'll take a look at that link, and thanks for thinking of us.

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  3. Hey Harry have you looked into that stranded electric fence wire? It's much more flexible like string but yet thick. I used it to put up the fence for my mother's useless nags and she swears if it get's broken all you have to do is tie it back together and it still works. You can even splice in pieces. Not sure if it still works as well after a splice but I know it works when it's all in one piece.

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    1. It's not so much the wire. What happens is that a tree comes down across the fence, and rips out all the insulators and pulls down the posts. Then I have to cut up the tree to get it off the fence line so I can fix it. I can splice wire, so redoing the wire isn't so much of a hassle. If I have a big storm, I might get four or five huge breaks in the wire that have to be fixed. Then, as sure as God made little green apples, the damn fence will short out. I have to go around the whole perimeter and check every little tiny thing. Is an insulator letting the wire touch the center nail? Has a tiny little piece of mountain laurel touched the wire somewhere and shorted the whole circuit out? The wire will burn holes right into the bark if it gets up against a tree. I've found some shorts at night by seeing the tiny sparks, and others by just listening to the buzzing sound the short is making. The fence is a real pill to keep up and running, but I do like having a loop around the house. If anything or anybody breaks through it, the big red light on the energizer goes off. If you come out on the porch and that light is off, then you know it's not the time to go wandering out to the barn in the dark because maybe Ursus is out there, or worse, a herd of hogs.

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  4. I hadn't thought about the pulse of America via the internet aspect of blogging. Makes sense and I'm happy to learn from your posts as well. Keep Right On.

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    1. Well, most of the people who leave comments are self sufficient types. They may not all think of themselves as "preppers", and most of them certainly don't think of themselves as survivalists like the older crew does. But still, they are rational, concerned individuals. You can learn a lot by reading what they are posting about.

      I appreciate the kind thoughts. It's a link from the mountain top to friends all over the planet and a source of great enjoyment to me.

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    2. Harry, i couldn't agree more! i love the fact that i found a whole pile of people, some with very different points of view, but everyone of them i can learn from. it definitely feels like having the pulse of north america at our fingertips! having our little stupid blog has allowed us to link in with a whole pile of people with much to share and we can learn a lot of things from. having you back online and posting regularly is just the icing on the cake!

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    3. It's comforting , when the political situation gets to looking particularly glum, to know there are other people out there with the same thoughts and concerns. Sometimes living on this mountain top is like living on another planet. If I lose the net due to an EMP or any other cause, I will surely miss talking with my blog friends.

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  5. That's good overall that you are doing well. If you have a security system that doesn't work I'd leave it up. If people think you have one, they'll leave you and your stuff alone.

    By the way the Yellow Submarine Set does have Blue Meanies. My kids like that movie and the song.

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  6. Alissa, it's better than nothing, you're quite right. It will have to do until I can allocate the money to buy a new one. Since the kids moved out, I have had to take into account the family needs that multiplied with multiple locations. They do very well taking care of themselves but we still help some in time of need.

    I thought those were Blue Meanies. I can remember watching that movie with cronies when it first came out. I liked the song, too.

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  7. Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    Im kinda doing the same thing, listing my priorities on supplies etc.

    On any thing, like security camera's or electric fencing, I have to take a look at how complex the system is and how much it will costs. Also this goes back to the military in me. The more "complex" a system is, the more likely it will fail at the wrong time.
    I may lose my house in an economic collapse (I still have a mortgage) I plan to use tangibles and barterable items to exchange for land (maybe an acre or two somewhere) Being homeless and starving is my biggest fear. Bad things happen to refugee's. Buying land somewhere is the optimum long range plan.

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  8. The old system I had was basic but adequate. It had audio sensors, infrared capability, and just enough cameras to do the job. The new systems are far more sophisticated, but they are not cheap.

    If there's a major economic collapse I think you could just keep living in your house, based on what happened after 2007, at least for several years.

    Being homeless and starving is probably everybody's biggest fear.

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  9. Hi Harry. I assessed our situation in the last 2 months and then again we will do this with the finances in the new april tax year. being contractors we have to stay on top of everything. OH didn't work for 4 months this year. and due to diligence and foresight, my stock pile and veggie garden, we survived. and that was the main thing.

    Hope you don't mind but I will do an audit this weekend and then blog about it. it makes me accountable. and that is part of why I blog. people give amazing feedback and I have learnt sooooooo much from others. I think I will also list my go to blogger.

    I am hoping to teach myself how to add tabs to the top of my blog and add a blog roll of all the blogs I read. it is vast.

    on the side of the security system. My friend named a system to us that is wifi. the actual units were very reasonable to me. we can view it any where via the internet and if there is any movement in our garden, garage, major rooms or our hall we get pictures that are sent to our email and OH's smart phone. So when those little oinks tried to get into our garage and managed to bend the garage door out, we got their lovely mug shots which we emailed to the police who sent out a car. Where were we? Vietnam! lol caught the little gits 2 houses down stealing from their shed. You can pan the cameras around and they also follow the moving object. all the other cameras come to life also. the sound quality is ok. I wont say great as it isn't. it is worth it though

    We also have a camera front and back in our car (like they have to have in Russia), in case some one hits your car when you are diving.

    Food and heating poverty are in the news here all the time. you know this by all the blogs about being frugal. I read them myself. And in Australia I have found it is about growing your own food and being greener. those maybe just the blogs I have found, but in Australia they seem to be really on top of where their food comes from. I think that is excellent. especially after the horse meat fiascos of the last 2 years.

    Love this post it has inspired me.

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    1. I look forward to seeing what you come up with on your audit. I use the same procedures I did when I was working in the oil and gas business and they seem to work pretty well on personal stores management as well.

      I haven't heard of anything like you describe unless a person goes to an Alarm company, but I would imagine if they are available there I should be able to get one here. The system that a friend sent me I liked the best had night vision, infrared, audio, was wireless, and had a receiver that plugged into your computer, and six cameras. You could add more cameras as you went.

      There are a lot of people growing their own food. I know Tania in Australia has a big garden, there's a South African couple that has a farm I keep up with, and Dreamer has a lot of vegetables she grows. Here in the states Pioneer Preppy does a lot of farming, and several other folks as well. I need to try harder this spring instead of just throwing up my hands and saying it's too much work for too little gain. One day when I can't drive to town and buy canned food I may need to have gardening as a skill.

      I'm almost afraid to ask, but the horse meat thing you referred to, is that selling horse meat and telling people it is beef?

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  10. Sol - i would like to thank you for your amazing blog, and for your well-thought out comments here on Harry's blog. i find that if i scroll through other people's blogrolls, then i find a whole pile of other interesting people to learn more from.

    Harry, you have had, and always will have, one of the best, most precise, and clear survival blogs out there. we have learned much from you, my friend, as you already know...and you have been one of the best supporters to new preppers/survivalists and bloggers on the net. thanks so much.

    your friend,
    kymber

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    1. Kymber,
      You and J do pretty well. I am always amazed at how self sufficient the two of you are, how you use everything that comes to hand, and particularly how proficient you are at making great meals!

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  11. I can understand your concern about the fence and camera's. These days you never know just what to expect. My neighbor is a K-9 cop, and has two really mean German Shepherd's. Needless to say, the neighborhood is VERY quiet at night!


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    1. Scooney,
      I live on top of a mountain in the Smokey's, with national forest on three sides of me. It's very, very isolated. As our county Sheriff once said to me, "you folks are on your own out there." So I am security conscious, all the more so since we have had a huge influx of Hispanics, who tend to use the national forest for their business transactions. I've got some good dogs too, they are a big comfort on dark nights.

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  12. It's good that you do a periodic assessment. I know we need to stock up on more canned food. We have sufficient beans and pasta but need more soups and vegetables. We will also try to improve the garden beds next spring so we'll be doing some seed catalog research during the winter months.

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    1. Kathy, I try to do a check on supply levels every month. Then in December I go to some trouble to do a thorough evaluation of all the different aspects of self sufficiency, from supplies to security to finances and on. Sometimes I am surprised by what I find when I look at actual numbers. This year was not a bad one for us, though it didn't go exactly as planned. They never do.

      Your ability to garden is something I am going to work on this spring. I know you have a tractor, but I'll have to rent a hand tiller. I only have about one acre I can plant on this mountain top though, and I doubt we will actually use all that. I still envy you the tractor!

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