Report from the OP, September 5, 2021

What a week. Seriously.

Let’s start off with Hurricane Ida. Here in the Piedmont region of North Carolina (if you look at a map, it’s between the mountains and the middle of the state), it was mostly a non-event. We got about 2.2″ of rain from a trailing band of storms. A little wind. Watching a lot of drone footage on YouTube I know just how lucky we are. The devastation in Louisiana is unbelievable. Folks there are going to have a long, hard road back to anything that looks like “normal”. They deserve our prayers.

For me, because abrupt shifts in barometric pressure are one of the worst triggers for my migraines, I could tell you Sunday that the storm was coming. Wednesday and Thursday were both migraine days, and I still am not fully recovered. Still, I ain’t in Louisiana, so I’m good.

I hope that people who are unprepared will look at Louisiana now and realize that their comfortable world can disappear in less that a day. No electricity, no water. No grocery stores, Walmart, Target or Costco. Maybe no home. I hope those people get the joke and they start building resiliency into their lives.

This week was also Mrs. Freeholder and my anniversary week. 32 years. We were supposed to take the RV out and spend the weekend up toward the mountains. But Tuesday, as I was checking tire pressures and preparing to pull the camper out from under its cover for loading, I found a big puddle of pink fluid under the truck. Dirty words ensued – hadn’t we just spent a fair amount of coin getting the blasted transmission to stop leaking? A rollback and trip to the shop later, it seems that one leak was probably hiding a seep that decided to turn into a leak. The seal at the shift leakage puked up a hairball, probably sometime on our trip home. It’s fixed and back home, but not before we had to cancel the trip.

Last year sort of sucked for taking the RV out due to the Wuflu hysteria. This year, we’ve missed about half of our planned trips for various reasons. Given what this little hobby costs, I’m have to wonder if we might not be better off selling all the stuff. Mrs Freeholder disagrees with that line of thought, and so….

We did take a day and hit the farmer’s market in a nearby metro. I’ve never been to it, but she has. Much better, even mid-week, than our local one. A good supply of various veggies, fruits (we got some killer peaches, along with a good education in buying and storing them, courtesy of one of the fine folks of Johnson Farms in Candor, NC), meat (really nice grass-fed beef, but beyond our means) and landscaping plants were available.

There was also a sort of yuppie feed and seed store. Not a real feed and seed, but they had interesting and expensive items, some of which were actual seeds. We now have a selection of seeds for planting next spring. Not enough to live on by any means, but it will be a good for a first go at serious gardening. Per advice from reader RedClay, these will go in the downstairs fridge for storage. Most of them are packaged for the 2022 year, but some are from the bargain bin and were for 2021. If nothing else, it’s a good experiment to see how well those store.

All of these seeds are open-pollenated or heirloom varieties, so we can get into the seed saving business. Some of the veggies we bought are the also open-pollenated/heirloom, and we’re going to save the seeds from those we like. Mrs. Freeholder has already vetoed the Cherokee Purple tomatoes.

A bonus is that I have the names of a couple of local seed companies who have varieties that perform well in Southern gardens.

We’ve also looked at the back half-acre of our property, which is covered primarily in 90′ pine trees. Mrs. Freeholder has some doubts, but I want to look into having those trees cleared and possibly milled into lumber for future use. I could see a really nice little cabin-like building that should serve multiple uses, such as guest quarters. That’s pipe dream, probably, but maybe we can at least get the trees down.

Besides, the trees are on the south side of the house, and shade a lot of garden area and potential solar. No, I’m not giving up on the concept of solar. I figure a good blackout or two will help bring the Mrs. around.

Other trips included grocery shopping, where evidence of the supply chain issues are becoming more obvious, as is evidence of inflation. I haven’t been in a while, so the increase in prices was a bit of a shock. It makes the money we’ve spent on gardening look a lot better investment.

There were very few empty holes on the shelves, but it was obvious that the inventory had been heavily fronted. There was a lot of empty at the backs of shelves. New stock was going on the shelves, but even if it had all been on the shelves, the empty space would still be noticeable. Empty holes this time included dairy products. Milk was especially short. Cleaning supplies were also short. At Walmart, I got the last 3-pack of toilet cleaner in the place.

And yes, it seems that toilet paper and other paper products are getting short. I’ve got plenty, so not an issue for me, but I’m beginning to think that one can use toilet paper as a barometer to measure the panic level of the sheep.

Something else I’m noticing is that the variety within a category is much less than it was pre-Wuflu. Where you might have had the choice between 5 brands of something, now it’s one or two, and often brands that are unfamiliar in our area. Still, the products are available.

There are also issues at the local big-box home improvement place. I’ve been working on my replacement ham antenna in fits and spurts. I’ve got a guy who will do the trenching I need, which I figure is better than someone like me, who has never ran a trencher, renting one and doing it. So I need to have the conduit that goes in the trench on hand. The big-box place had 3 sticks of 2″, plenty of 1/2″ and that was it. Luckily one of Son’s buddies works at a local electrical supply house, so he got me what I needed.

Gas prices are up another few cents, nudging over the $3/gallon mark. As you might expect, this is sort of a mental alarm point for a lot of folks, and the number of discussions on the subject are on the rise. People are unamused. *President Joe Biden has few friends around here, especially ones who will mention their support out loud. However, we have someone who is setting up a road side stand selling “Trump 2024” merchandise, and people are buying. I figure the 2022 election is going to be very interesting.

Our weather has cooled off to temperatures that are roughly on average for this time of year, and the humidity has eased off as well. That means I can get back to getting some things done outside. One of those is to wash and wax the RV before Son and I head to West Virginia for some trout fishing. I’m looking forward to that. The fishing, not the washing and waxing.

Cooler weather also means that we’ll be cooking on the outside griddle more often, and I’m all for that. Daughter and SIL can’t join us tonight, but Son is bringing steaks and we’re eating in for a Sunday evening change of pace. He has the day off tomorrow, so I’m hoping he can hang around for a bit.

And speaking of outdoor cooking, I need to get away from this computer and start rounding up things for that. Enjoy your Labor Day holiday, even if it is Communist in origin. Out here.

2 thoughts on “Report from the OP, September 5, 2021

  1. We grow Kentucky Wonder beans and like them better than others. We use strings going to a crossbar for them to climb on. They will get 6’ tall so plan for that.
    Brandywines have great flavor, but mature later than hybrids. I make sauce with them too. You will have to stake them, they grow very tall and heavy and will knock over most tomato cages.
    We use small window solar panels and a few truck or marine batteries. It works well enough to power some lights and charge phones. We rely more on a generator when the power goes out.
    We’re making a WalMart run this week. Stock was spotty last time.

  2. Walmart had empty places on the shelves, notably in canned goods, flour, cooking oils, cleaning and paper products. They still had those things, but fewer of them. Still no replacement lids for canning jars. Some people wore masks, most did not.
    Ivermectin was just about cleaned out at 3 places I went. I got the last 2 tubes, and the clerks all noted it sells out soon after they get it in.

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