Journal Style Posts

I Knew It Was Too Good To Be True

Upstairs ac is definitely NOT fixed. Woke up to the upstairs being sweltering HOT. The unit is still freezing up. I have no idea why either. I talked to the company and they will be back out next week to get this thing fixed properly. We thought it was just low on freon. He added 3 pounds of freon so it was definitely low, but it is still freezing up and that’s NOT good especially since it will be 105° and possibly higher this weekend. We will be letting it thaw every couple of hours and turning it back on in order to keep it cool enough upstairs to be comfortable.

The downstairs unit is working perfectly. No complaints there. We are going to inspect a riding mower tomorrow to use while waiting for the new deck to arrive. It’s an older model mower, but not ancient. As long as it runs and cuts the grass, I don’t care. It’s cheap enough to lay out the funds without having it hurt our budget. Also, having two mowers means two people can now at the same time, making 10 acres worth of mowing happen MUCH faster.

I honestly don’t mind mowing. I put in my earbuds and play music while mowing. I zone out and the only negative is the possibility of sunburn I wear pants and long sleeves because mowing makes the bugs angry and I don’t enjoy mosquito bites. Plus, the long pants and sleeves protect me from projectiles like pebbles or small sticks that were missed. I have been hit by pebbles wearing shorts and it’s not fun.

I am trying really hard to not stress myself completely over this whole air conditioning issue. It’s not easy since I thought it was fixed and it was no longer an issue. I seriously hope this is the end of the breaking spree. I will probably start smashing things myself if anything else breaks.

Another lovely thing happened today. We set up an appointment with a company that sells and installs water softeners and whole home filtration systems. We have well water, which means we have hard water and even with a really good carbon filter, we still get sand when filling the tub sometimes. (usually after heavy rains)

Well, the appointment was for 5:00 pm because this company would only make the appointment if my husband was home, even though I handle the finances and I am the final say for all expensive purchases. (Only because I make the budget and know whether something will cause us to struggle financially if purchased at that time.) Well, Hubby was home, he was a bit irritated by the sexism exhibited by this company, but he agreed that it was worth looking into a different option for filtration and softening our water. 5:00 rolls around and the technician is now late. 5:15 and the technician is now a no call-no show. So, I call the company and they had canceled the appointment yesterday without informing us. Um…. okay….

The representative starts to ask me about rescheduling, but another technician won’t be in my area until December. Then, this was the kicker, they wanted me to mail a copy of the deed for our property to prove we owned our home. I started laughing at the representative. I went ahead and told her to remove ALL of my information from their system to include my name, phone number, email address, and my address. I told her we would DEFINITELY NOT be rescheduling this appointment and that this was both unprofessional and highly discourteous of their company to cancel an appointment without contacting the customer to inform them. I also told her that there was no way in hell I was sending a copy of the deed for our home, especially when that information is a matter of public record and can be pulled up on the internet in less than 5 minutes. Proving ownership by providing a copy of the deed to our home is absolutely ridiculous and I sincerely hope people don’t actually do that.

We found out about this company from one of those scratch off game mailers. I didn’t care about the mailer, we actually wanted to see what we could do to improve our water quality. I drink the water from our well daily. It tastes amazing and I filter it a second time through the fridge. (I don’t want to have sand in my cup.) This company offered to test our water at no charge, which was a major bonus considering that test costs anywhere from $150.00 to $350.00 depending upon the number of contaminants they actually test for and if you test both before and after filtration. Our well was tested last year and aside from minerals and sand, it is safe to drink, it’s just hard water.

In case you live in Oklahoma, I don’t recommend this company at all. I started reading reviews online after the technician never showed and apparently this is common practice for this company. It’s just shady and unprofessional in my opinion. So, we will purchase the kit to test our water, then, we will find a water softener and maybe another option for a whole house filtration system at Home Depot or Lowe’s, the small hardware store in town, or even the Co-Op. We have a whole home filtration system in place and I just purchased a new type of filter for it, which is supposed to filter all solids, bacteria, and contaminants. We will test the tap water and the water from the well prior to filtration. I want to know if the well is contaminated in any manner because it isn’t difficult to decontaminate a well. I have to pour chlorine or bleach into the well every time we have an extended power outage or when the well has broken in the past to decontaminate it so, I know exactly what decontamination consists of. The bleach or chlorine is flushed through the lines and the well pump by opening all of the faucets after allowing the chosen form of chemical to sit for a specific amount of time, which is based off of well diameter and depth, and then letting the water run for like 10 minutes. So, not only is the well sanitized, the plumbing for the entire house is sanitized at the same time. We test the well every year just to be safe. Our neighbors have a well that is not as deep as ours and they have dealt with contamination multiple times since moving in. Ours is over 100 feet deeper than theirs. So, flooding does not affect our well as much as it affects theirs. That is definitely a bonus. We also do not have a well house, everything is in the basement. We have not had any issues with pipes freezing up or anything of that nature because the basement isn’t as cold as it is outside in a well house. I did teach my awesome neighbor my pool noodle trick (they work rather well for quick pipe insulation and are much cheaper than the black ones at the hardware stores) she also knows how to avoid a burst pipe in case it does freeze. They are new homeowners too and have never dealt with these issues either. We learned these tricks from the guy who has fixed our well when it broke in the past and from simply talking to people about having a well.

In case I never specified, this is the first home I have ever owned. For hubby, this is home number two. However, even his first home did not have a well, a propane hot water heater and an electric one, multiple ac units, and acreage. So, this is all new to him as well. We are learning as we go. When I registered our basement as our storm shelter with the city, they handed me an entire packet with well decontamination instructions (including a chart for determining how much chemical to dump in and how long it needs to sit and be flushed through the lines.) numbers to call after a tornado for assistance in removing fallen trees or other debris, radio stations to tune to during tornado weather for regular weather updates, television channels, web pages to visit if you still have internet, resources for clothing and food if your home is destroyed or damaged during a storm, and all sorts of useful information. They had an option to donate to continue producing this packet, I donated. I was amazed at how much information was included. One of the best things was a map that shows the topography of the surrounding areas (it is a county map) it shows low lying areas, higher ground, water sources, etc. As someone who is constantly trying to be better prepared for every possible scenario, this map is amazing. I have several maps of Oklahoma and one is a topographical map, but having just our county, enlarged, is really nice.

I registered our basement because I want to make certain that emergency services knows that we may be in our basement after a tornado. They keep a list in ambulances, firetrucks, and police vehicles. All emergency response vehicles have a copy of the registry. Because there is an old storm shelter just behind our home, which floods, and is NOT safe to use as a shelter, I registered our basement because I don’t want to be trapped and they are assuming that we were not home because the other dilapidated shelter is empty. That would suck.

As it is tornado season, hurricane season, and monsoon season in different areas of the United States, I would like to remind anyone who is reading, that having a storm kit, 72 hour kit, or a grab and go bag, can save your life. I highly recommend having all three, with 72 hours of supplies for everyone who lives in your home, including your pets, as well as an extra kit or two for anyone visiting your home when an emergency happens. Even if you don’t have visitors, these extra supplies will come in handy during an emergency situation.

If you don’t know where to begin, I have written three posts on emergency preparedness and they can be found at the links below:

Emergency Preparedness Part 1

Emergency Preparedness Part 2

Emergency Preparedness Part 3

It is always a good idea to be prepared for every emergency situation that happens in the area where you live. Those emergencies may be different than they would be here in Oklahoma, but a majority of the supplies are the same. Seventy-two hours worth of food, water, and clothing, sources of light, warmth, ways to cook, things to beat boredom and to ease anxiety, a source for news and weather reports, and first aid. Specific items for different emergencies such as ways to stay warm during a blizzard or severe ice storm are definitely necessary. Pay attention to the seasons and make sure that you swap out children’s clothing often as they grow quickly. I recommend using clothing that fits loosely for children just in case you forget to change out the sizes. For example sweat pants for winter, two pairs can be layered for extra warmth with a pair of tights/long John’s for girls or long John’s/baseball compression pants for boys. Do your best and starting somewhere puts you one step ahead. I began with my storm kit. Then, I made 72 hour kits for everyone, including our animals, then, I made those 72 hour kitsch into grab and go bags, which have everything already to go in case of emergency evacuation. Don’t forget the sunscreen year round and bug spray in summer.

I realize I tend to start my posts talking about one subject and tend to end up on a completely different subject by the end of my post. There is a reason why this happens. I write a blog post the way I would speak to someone. I write in a conversational manner. Some posts will stay completely on subject, but others will fall under journal style posts and they will go from subject to subject because I am writing them in a specific manner. I do hope this doesn’t deter you from reading my blog. Until next time…

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead, Journal Style Posts

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead Part 2

My first post about preparedness on the homestead was well received so, here is the second installment on the subject of being prepared.

Let me begin by first making it very clear that I am not expecting a zombie apocalypse or aliens attacking, although I do believe there is more life in the universe, but that is a completely different subject all together. I am simply prepared for the situations, which actually happen all across the globe every year. I am prepared for natural disasters, power outages, wildfires, and situations such as these.

Today, I am going to explain the grab and go folder that I keep close to the basement door. I strongly believe everyone should have one of these no matter where you live. My particular folder is an accordion file folder, which has 3-prong pocket folders and manilla folders in the plastic pockets. I used to use a 3-ring binder with pocket folders and plastic page protector sleeves and I will explain why I stopped using it for a grab and go folder, but still use it as a household binder.

My accordion file has a section for each vehicle, which includes:

  • Title
  • Current insurance cards/ the insurance policy paperwork
  • A photocopy of the license plate
  • A photocopy of the registration
  • A copy of the keys

A section for each member of the household which includes:

  • Birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Photocopy of all identification cards (driver’s license, student id, etc.)
  • Social security cards
  • Immunization records
  • Fingerprints, a lock of hair, and a current photo
  • A condensed medical record (list of allergies, medications, medical issues, etc.)
  • School and College transcripts
  • Life insurance, Health Insurance, Dental Insurance paperwork and cards
  • Any other paperwork, which is difficult to replace (ex: living will, power of attorney, last will and testament, marriage license, etc.)
  • Paperwork specific to each household member (ex: CPR training & first aid training cards, retirement paperwork, financial paperwork, a photocopy of cancelled checks and any debit/credit cards, bank information and contact numbers, etc.)

A folder for the animals, which includes:

  • Immunization records and treatment records (flea and tick, heartworm, etc.)
  • Tags and registration
  • Each animal’s license and any other required paperwork
  • Veterinary records
  • Chip information (our cats and dog are micro-chipped)
  • A  current photo of each animal

A Homestead folder, which includes:

  • The deed to the house and property
  • Insurance policy and paperwork
  • Copy of house keys
  • A survey of the property, which shows detailed information about the property lines and the location of the well, septic, storm shelter, all water lines, and the lines for the fiber internet and phone
  • A thumb drive with photos of all of our belongings, which cost over $25.00 as well as receipts for anything that cost over $100.00
  • Warranty information for home warranty and all electronics, appliances, etc.
  • Photos of each room in the house and photos of the outside of the house on all sides, all outbuildings, and photos of the property from Google Earth showing placement of house and outbuildings.
  • A rough drawing of the layout of the house as no blueprints exist since it is 100 years old.
  • The registration paperwork for the basement, which I registered with the town as our storm shelter because the actual storm shelter floods.
  • Paperwork for all firearms

Finally, I have one other folder which is not absolutely necessary, but it is very important to myself and my husband. This folder is plastic has a special bag inside, which is waterproof. This folder includes:

  • Every single piece of paperwork above scanned and copied onto a thumb drive
  • Every physical photograph we have scanned and copied onto a thumb drive
  • A copy of the other thumb drive mentioned above
  • MRI, X-ray, and Dental X-ray disks
  • Photos of my tattoos and Hubby’s tattoos (just in case)
  •  Additional copies of each of our last will and testament
  • A set of keys to my in-law’s home and vehicles
  • A copy of my in-law’s last will and testament
  • A copy of the deed to their home and property and copies of the  titles to their vehicles
  • Emergency Cash (when a major natural disaster occurs, atm machines often do not work due to power outages and cash is king)

I realize this is an extensive list, but if our home is wiped out by a tornado, I won’t have to figure out how to replace birth certificates, social security cards, or any of the paperwork listed. I won’t be mourning the loss of baby pictures, wedding pictures, and all of those little pieces of information, which is often lost when disaster hits. I have spent a lot of time organizing and downsizing this folder because I know just how quickly things can happen. When I was 14 years old, our house caught on fire, it was an electrical fire and all of this paperwork was kept in my mother’s bedroom. Her bedroom was where the fire started so, much of these things listed were either severely damaged or completely destroyed. I have multiple copies of those thumb drives in every bag and emergency kit. They are all password protected and the entire family knows the password.

I am prepared because I have experienced disaster. It is terrifying and picking up the pieces afterwards is nothing short of a living nightmare. We created a plan as a family and everyone knows exactly what to do in case of emergency. The first thing they do is grab that folder. Then, the animals. The dog follows whoever is home around the house so she will automatically follow. The cats love the basement so, the sound of the door opening means they immediately run down the basement stairs. If it’s not a storm, there is a travel crate close to both doors we use as well as a leash for the dog. The cats go in the crate, the dog goes on her leash. If there is time, they all know to grab a backpack, or all of them, which hold 72 hour kits. There is one for each member of the household. Each of these bags contains supplies for 72 hours, copies of those thumb drives, and food and water for the animals. I may go more in-depth on those kits in another post.

I did say that I would explain why I stopped using the binder as a grab and go binder. I love my household binder. It contains everything I need to manage the household. However, it was not working as a grab and go binder because it contains some of my most used recipes, my master pantry list, my master grocery list, etc. It was constantly being used and moved around because it just happens to also house my bullet journal and our family calendar. This became a major issue because it was constantly moving around the house, which meant no one could find it if an emergency situation arose. That was unacceptable so, I put a copy of those thumb drives inside the household binder and transferred every bit of important paperwork to the new grab and go folder. The household binder still moves around the house and I often have to hunt it down when it gets misplaced. The grab and go folder stays in its permanent home on a kitchen shelf next to the cookbooks. Everyone knows where it is and I don’t have to worry about it getting lost because someone needed to add something to the calendar or needed a recipe or birthdate. I may create a copy of my printed sheets and dividers I created for my household binder and gift this to email subscribers and followers in the future, but I will have to figure out how to do that first. I will definitely create a post explaining the household binder and ALL of the contents. It really is a wonderful tool, which has helped my husband run the household while I was hospitalized. I deal with all of the finances, schedules, and pretty much everything in the home.  So, he was completely lost when I was unable to take care of everything like I normally do. He had a written guide with everything he needed in a consolidated binder. Every question he would have asked me,  was answered within the pages of the household binder.

Being prepared does not mean you are paranoid or fearful of something, which will never happen. It means you are making sure that you and your family are going to be okay no matter what life throws at you. It means you will all be safe, fed, and warm if a nasty winter storm knocks out power for two weeks. It means you won’t be struggling to replace all of your important paperwork if a fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, or earthquake destroys your home. It means you won’t be panicking about how to locate contact information for renter’s or homeowner’s insurance if something happens. Being prepared reduces those fears and the stress that comes with the fears, which we all have about the what ifs in our lives.

I have given you a detailed inventory of what you need to gather from the random places around your home. All you have to do is collect these items, place them in a folder, binder, or even a plastic tote or shoebox. As long as these items are all in one place and easy to grab and go, you have taken a HUGE step towards being prepared. If you already have a grab and go folder, do you have any suggestions, that I did not list? If so, please, share this information and help myself and others to become even more prepared. I sincerely hope this post helps you to become more prepared for any event, which would cause you to have to suddenly leave your home without knowing if you would have a home to return to because of natural disasters, house fires, or wildfires. I hope it gives you peace of mind. Until next time….