First of the Month
Test run your generator?
Rotated you gasoline stores?
Tested your smoke and/or carbon monoxide detectors?
Checked your household and vehicle fire extinguishers?
Given your dog his heart worm pill and flea/tick treatment?
Changed your HVAC filters? (I forgot to include this last month)
Small Things Hitting the Fan Add Up
A couple days ago, I noticed my left eye had some swelling and itching around it. By Tuesday, I was wearing my glasses instead of contacts. Wednesday I made a visit to the doctor. My wife was thinking pink eye; I was thinking poison ivy. The doctor couldn't decide between a minor infection or a touch of poison ivy, so he treated me for both with some prednisolone pills for the poison ivy and an antibiotic eye drop. This all got me thinking about eyes and injuries or illnesses in TEOTWAWKI. I wear contacts 99% of the time, and glasses when I go to bed to read. If I was without them, I am blind as a bat, and can literally not read the computer screen while typing. My wristwatch has to be within about 8 inches for me to tell time. With them, I am 20/10. I try to be very strict about wearing safety glasses when shooting, working with any tools, doing yard work, or even just out in the woods. Today I ordered 6 extra months of contacts and I also ordered an extra pair of glasses from Zinni Optical for less than $16, including the shipping. I've read of them on various survivalist boards and blogs and figured I'd give them a shot. If the glasses fit right, I'll probably order a few extras to keep in the truck and BOB. If you want to give them a try, you'll need your prescription, plus several measurements.
But what about eye medical problems? Unless you have an optometrist/optician/opthamologist (opthamologists are the actual MDs) in your survival group, what can you do? One suggestion is to get the book, Where There Is No Doctor. It is published by the Hesperian Foundation and intended for use in remote and third world locations. The great thing is, they offer it as a free .pdf download at their site. I have this on my computer desktop, but at 500+ pages, it is unreasonable to print it out. You can also get a hard copy from Amazon. It has a great deal of basic information ranging from public health issues to childbirth, skin problems, geriatrics, and everything in between. They also offer Where There Is No Dentist as a free download or in hard copy form, as well as many other books on midwifery, cholera, disabilities and other topics.
I think it would also be good to know some basic information about herbal remedies for various ailments. But that is a topic for a later date.
This past weekend I tried to get a jump on my first of the month chores and test ran my generator. I put in my Star-Tron treated gas and fired it up first press of the button. But it wasn't right. It was spewing think smoke, and running very slowly and roughly. My first thought was that the Star-Tron wasn't all it was cracked up to be, so today I got some brand new gas and put in it. Same thing. Only today it was an emergency. We got hit overnight by severe thunderstorms and a tornado watch. Today we were under a wind advisor. Yep, we lost power while I was at the doctor this morning. I started trying to see what I could do with taking things apart and spraying carb cleaner. I noticed that if I let it run after shutting off the fuel line that for the last few seconds it would run perfectly. I then figured that it was running too rich and getting too much fuel. I took the carburetor off and found that the brass screw thing that goes in the bottom of the carb to let in air had broken off. I got the rest of it out, but the nearest NAPA store did not have it in stock. I'll go to a small engine shop near my work tomorrow and hopefully they'll have one (or several) in stock so I can get it back together this weekend. Now the thing that makes this noteworthy to me is that I have next to no mechanical aptitude. Ten years ago, I would have gotten rid of the genny and bought a new one. Five years ago, I would have taken it to a service shop and paid for the repair. Now, I am slowly but surely learning how to be more self-reliant with my power implements and things such as electricity and phone lines in the house. It's a great feeling of accomplishment. Ever since I've had the genny, the tires have been flat and needing to be refilled any time I moved it. Because of that, I've kept it beside the house under a tarp. I finnally got around to buying and putting on some flat-free tires from Marathon Industries. These things are made with a solid polyurethane, have a weight capacity of over 400 lbs, and took less than a minute each to swap out. They made a huge difference in making it easy to move, so it will now live in the shed and be better protected from the elements. I wish I had done this a long time ago! They tires cost close to $30 each, but they are well worth it! I highly recommend you get a set for your generator, garden cart, or anything else that might need them.
The Deer Hunter
Finally, some quick notes on my hunting trip the day after Thanksgiving with my step-brother and nephew. I am a complete novice at hunting. Thankfully, they are very experienced. I learned a lot about deer behavior and what different signs from different game look like. I didn't get a shot, but my nephew got a nice buck. From there, I learned how to track wounded game. I seem to have a knack for it. I found the initial scrape in the leaves and blood spill, then was able to find many of the track continuations, even at places with no blood, I could really see where he had been through the leaves. We tracked the buck for about 250 - 300 yards through sometimes heavy brush before the blood finally dwindled away to nothing. Near as my brother could figure, it hadn't been a killing shot, and the bleeding stopped. He said the tracks seldom last more than 80 - 100 yards. My nephew felt pretty bad about wounding the deer, but we tracked for over an hour and a half, and there just wasn't anything else to follow. I really learned a lot on this trip, and although I don't anticipate becoming a frequent hunter, I'd like to go a few times a year get the hang of it enough that I would improve my chances of taking game in bad times. Its crazy how different the game laws are from the last time I had a license. Many more rifle counties (in much of Virginia you need to use a shotgun to hunt deer), no 2 round plug, and six deer on the basic license.