My first, successful, Wallaby hunt

After my first Wallaby hunt, where I ended up finishing unsuccessful, I was eager to return to my friends’ property and shoot a wallaby for myself.  My need to shoot a wallaby wasn’t due to any bloodthirsty urge, it was due to my wish to have the capacity to procure my own source of meat.  Learning the skills of hunting wallaby would provide me with the self confidence that I am able to provide for my family.  The knowledge, skill and experience of procuring wild meat is part of a great foundation of being self sufficient.

http://www.davidwrightart.com/

Part of the problem with my last effort of hunting was my rifle.  It is a great rifle, yet I was hunting with iron sights, on a dark and wet night.  After discussing it with my more experienced friend, I agreed that I would try out his .22 rifle which had a scope.  We also decided to try stalking the Wallaby on foot, rather than via tractor.  So we sorted out the rifle (just me checking out the scope, working out the bolt action and safety, etc), the large torch, and discussed which route we would take.

Shortly after leaving his home my friend spotted the first wallaby.  It was around 30 metres from where we were standing.  My friend shined the spotlight on the animal which caused it to stay still (as it is blinded in the night) and I started to take aim.  My friend quietly told me to use his shoulder as a rest in order to steady my shot.  I quickly moved to his left side I asked if he was sure, and he said of course.  I suspect that this is a usual position for experienced hunters who are in the field.  I loaded the first round, rested my hand holding the rifle on his shoulder and sighted down the scope so that the cross hairs were right on the wallaby’s brain.  I moved my finger to touch the trigger and took a breath.  As I exhaled, I started to squeeze the trigger, keeping the cross hair right on the back of the animal’s head (as it was looking to the right).  It felt like seconds, yet it was much less, when the trigger was squeezed sufficiently to fire the round.  I saw it hit the wallaby right in the head and it dropped dead instantly.  While I am reluctant to take a life, I felt a sense of jubilation at having successfully taken a wallaby.  This was a great achievement for me and proved that I could do this.

It isn’t a pretty picture

We walked over to the animal to ensure it was dead, as well as check it’s gender.  Female wallabies can carry young, which need to be dealt with.  Fortunately, this one was a male.  We checked that it was dead before moving on to hunt for more.

We walked for a couple of minutes before we located another wallaby.  My friend spotted it first and once more offered me his shoulder.  I decided that I would try without his aid, so I loaded a round, took a balanced stance, and took aim at the wallaby.  Without the aid of my friend to stablise me, the cross hairs were not steady and I had trouble keeping it on target.  I aimed at the brain section, and started to squeeze the trigger.  As I squeezed I believe I moved the cross hairs to the right and my shot went right in front of it’s nose.  It hopped away and I was at least grateful my missed shot didn’t injure the animal.

We continued on our walk, seeing a few wallabies, yet they quickly ran from our approach.  My guide advised me that the wallabies are so used to vehicles that they will not spook when you approach in a car (or tractor), yet they do not trust humans on foot.  As we were walking, more of them fled from us than our previous hunt.  Eventually my friend spotted a very large wallaby, yet it was some distance (maybe 100metres).  He decided to take a shot (which I appreciated… I doubt I could have taken the shot with my lack of experience).   He took aim and fired, yet his shot was a little high.  He has sighted in his rifle for short range hunting.  To compensate for the extra range he aimed high, yet it just missed the animal.  We checked for any sign of blood, yet we were confident the round missed.

We returned to the house with the single wallaby.  He was a small, young, one.  My friend explained that it would be very tender, due to it’s age.  As I had not skinned a wallaby, I was shown the procedure, and I think I can emulate it (although, it will take me a while to skin a wallaby at the speed of my friend.  It took him 3-5 minutes to do the whole thing).  I ended up with around 3 kilos of wallaby, and a whole wallaby skin for me to try to tan.

The skin was salted when I returned home that night, then washed (to remove the blood and tissue) and salted again.  I hope that if the tanning process goes well I might be able to fashion some moccasins, yet that is something for another day.

Even though I didn’t score a Wallaby, I still managed to get my hands on a couple.

A couple of days after the unsuccessful hunt (only unsuccessful by the standard that I didn’t get any Wallabies… it was a good night none the less) my friend called me to let me know that he had gone out hunting himself and he had managed to shoot four wallabies.  He asked if I wanted any of them… well, of course I did.  I went over to visit him after work that day and he told me I could take all of them if I liked as he had no room in his freezer.

I spent an hour cutting up the meat, resulting in around 4 kilos of meat (which I packed in 1 kilo lots), and 4 pairs of legs.  I stored all the excess meat in the freezer, so I scored enough wallaby for around eight meals!

 

The first meal I wanted to cook was a Vindaloo.  Why did I choose this?  Well, a friend who eats a lot of wallaby told me that this is his preferred method of cooking, as it removes the “gamey” flavour.  I also used to love a good Vindaloo when I was a young man, trying out all manner of different meats in my search for the best curry.  With the base decided, I cooked up the wallaby after slicing the back straps into cubes.  I wanted to add some vegetables, so I raided my garden and included carrots and potatoes which I had grown.

Not knowing if the wallaby meat would be tough, I opted to cook it in the slow cooker… it would take a lot longer, yet it would ensure the meat was not chewy.  I started cooking around 1pm, and every half an hour I would stir the meat until 3pm, when I added the vegetables.  Around 5pm I realised the meal was going to be much too spicy for my family, who are used to much milder curries.  In an attempt to take the edge off, I added a few scoops of sour cream.  This succeeded in lowering the temperature and also added some lovely flavour to the meal.

I cooked up some jasmine rice for a bed for the Vindaloo, and served it with Poppadums and some Naan bread.  Despite my efforts to take the edge off the curry, it was a lot hotter than I remembered.  I suspect my taste buds have grown milder over the many years.  My family tried to struggle through the meal, yet they couldn’t handle the spice.  I ended up eating nearly all myself, as no one wanted second helpings.  While it was very hot to taste, I still really enjoyed the meal and I could taste that the wallaby meat was similar to other meats I have eaten.  There will be more meals with this delicious meat.

My first wallaby hunt.

I am in the process of writing a guide on hunting Wallaby in Tasmania, something which may be helpful to those of you that want to get started, yet don’t have a clue how to begin.  While I am working on that document, I thought I would go into the story of my first Wallaby hunt.

One of my friends recently offered to take me on his large property and show me the ins and outs of hunting wallabies.  We didn’t really discuss it more than agreeing on a time for me to meet him, so when the night of the hunt came I was a little nervous.  I also wasn’t too sure what to expect, so I just packed some things which I thought may be useful.  In case we would be butchering the carcasses in the field, I packed knives, bags (for the meat), rubber gloves, and sharpening stones.  I also ensured I packed my rifle… I took my .22 rifle along with a box of ammunition.  Unfortunately, it turned out I forgot to pack hearing protection, yet it wasn’t so serious as I would be shooting .22 ammunition.

I arrived at my friend’s house and we prepared for our outing.  I had thought (and prepared) for a hunt where we would be walking around the property, stalking any wallabies we found.  My friend had actually revealed that we would be using his tractor for the hunt.  He had rigged up his spotlight to the vehicle battery so we could find the wallabies, and we would be able to bring home any killed animals with the vehicle.

A Savage 22…. not a picture of my rifle, yet it looks similar

My friend was driving, and spotlighting, while I rode on the back and kept an eye out for any wallabies.  I for the first part, we placed my rifle in a rifle rack he had installed at the front of his tractor. We had the plan that I would grab the rifle when we spotted a target, so I just held on to the tractor cabin.  I had a head lamp on my head, which provided a little extra light.  For the first 10 minutes we drove slowly around the edges of the property with my friend explaining some of the features by spotlight illumination.  After this ten minutes, we spotted out first wildlife, yet it turned out to be a spotted bandicoot.  We watched it scurry away before we drove on and finally found some wallabies.  I climbed off the back of the tractor and grabbed the rifle, yet before I could even chamber a round the wallabies had hopped away.  So after that we continued on out way and it wasn’t long before we spotted another couple of wallabies.  I once more climbed from the tractor back and recovered my rifle.  One of the wallabies stopped in the spotlight and this gave me a chance to take a shot.  I quickly chambered a round and tried to take a bead on the head of the wallaby, yet as I prepared to fire, the wallaby hopped away.  Another missed chance.  This time I put the safety on the rifle and decided to carry it with me to allow me more time to take a shot.

As we continued on our travels, a light rain began to fall, and in the extremely cold night air the light shower almost looked like snow.  I held the rifle tight in one hand while trying to keep a secure hold on the tractor, all the while attempting to keep my balance so I didn’t fall.  It was a fun ride and I mentioned to my friend that he could charge people for a night time ride around his property.

Before long we sighted a few more Wallabies, yet these ones were some distance from us and moving… not a target I wished to engage with my scope-less rifle.  I was actually having a nice time riding around and, in a way, I was glad that I didn’t get a chance to shoot any wallabies.  I turned off my head lamp as I decided I wouldn’t get a good chance to shoot any.  The relaxing moment was eventually past when we finally found a small group of wallabies.  They were standing still in the light of the spotlight and now was my chance to take a shot.  My friend urged me to hurry, so I leapt from the tractor and thumbed the safety off.  I raised the rifle stock to my shoulder, put my cheek to the side of the stock so I could look down the sights, and moved my finger to prepare to engage the trigger.  It was then that I realised my wonderful fibre optic sights were useless without any light… and I had turned off my headlamp.  I hesitated for a moment, trying to decide what to do.  The largest wallaby, the one I wanted to shoot, took a couple of hops before stopping again.  My friend whispered to me to take a shot.  In the light of the spotlight, I could make out the feint outline of the sights and I felt that I could see the Patridge iron sight over the wallaby… now was the time to shoot.  I squeezed the trigger with my index finger and it appeared the shot hit a log just next to the wallaby.  The wallaby moved its head and I had time to load another round before I took another shot.  This one must have wizzed past it’s head as the sound scared the animal so it fled.  My friend and I checked the area.  No sign of a hit, nor any blood.  I put the safety back on and we decided to head back to his home.  I didn’t bother turning the headlamp on and we drove on for a minute or so when we once again found a group of wallabies.  I was pretty surprised as we were making a lot of noise and I just shot.  I jumped down when my friend stopped driving and I again threw the safety off and took aim at the closest wallaby.  Once more, the headlamp was off and I couldn’t get a good look at the iron sights, so I aimed as well as I could.  As I was starting to squeeze the trigger I realised I wasn’t to bothered if I missed, as I was just having a nice night.  Of course, the shot went wide and the wallaby immediately left the area and hid in the scrub.  We checked to ensure I didn’t hit it, yet there was no sign of blood.  I decided to unload the rifle and we called it a night.

We rode back to my friends house and we talked about the hunt.  My friend was apologetic that there were not more wallabies, I was apologetic that I missed.  It must have seemed pretty funny.  We ended the night, chatting about how we had to do this again soon.

The older you become, the harder it is to make friends.

As an older person, it can be hard to meet new people that I like.  I have a group of friends that know me, they have accepted me and my imperfections.  Meeting new people can be an inconvenience and can allow you to be being taken advantage or for granted.  I was very surprised when I recently met someone who lives (relatively) near me and shares similar views on prepping.  It all happened due to my sons, who have a couple of friends with whom they attend school.  Kitty drove my boys over to visit their friends recently and while she was there she was chatting to the parents… they have some property and seemed interested in self-sufficiency (which is, in my opinion, an indicator that the person may be a prepper).  They also have several dogs, one of which is a Maremma.  When Kitty told me they have a Maremma I instantly said I need to go see the dog when it was time for my son’s to be picked up.  You see, I still miss my old dog George who we had to give away to be re-homed.

When I arrived there I was greeted by the owners of the house, who were happy for me to come see their dog.  As dog lovers themselves they appreciated my enthusiasm for their canine companions.  While giving their Maremma a good scratch on his head, I got to talking to the gentleman who owns the house with his partner.  He has a sizable piece of land which he is using to provide for his family’s needs, working with his partner to tend to their animals and grow food.  They are working hard towards the ideal of being self sufficent.  They have pigs, sheep, goats, bees, pheasants, chickens, ducks, and a bunch of other animals I can’t remember.  He has committed to providing all his families meat requirements from his flock, supplemented with hunting and fishing.  I can’t even begin to explain how amazed I was at their set up… it was very inspiring.

These people are very advanced along the path of self sufficiency, producing fodder for their animals and using all the produce they can gather to provide for their needs.  They were also very welcoming, which is (as I mentioned above) something I am not used to experiencing… yet it is very welcome.

We talked for ages… all about his plans and the work he was doing on his property.  I talked about some of the things which I was working on and we had a great old chat.  After a while I realised I should get going, so he and I wandered over to Kitty and his partner who were having a good chat themselves.  It was then that Kitty told them they should check out my blog for more information on my projects.  To be honest, I freaked out a little… I don’t tell people when I first meet them that I am a Prepper… I prefer to wait a little while before broaching that subject.  Despite the fact that Prepping has become more common place, I still worry a little how people will react to news that I prepare.  They asked my blog address, which I told them (all the while feeling very self-conscious), and they looked at each other and said “Prepper?”  I prepared myself for the jokes which often accompany this, yet I was surprised when they said that they too were Preppers.  I laughed, saying I should have realised from the topics of our conversation.  We got to chatting about more “on topic” prepping subjects before I was asked if I was interested in coming over one evening for some Wallaby hunting…. This is something I have been keen on doing so I accepted the offer and told them I would be in touch later.

Just a generic stock image of people meeting people.

When we drove away from the house, I felt great.  Meeting people who share your views on issues is rare for me and it always surprises me when I do meet someone who is a Prepper.  I think I have become trapped in a bit of a cycle of not meeting new people.  To be honest, I normally dislike meeting new people… having to tip-toe around topics that may offend them, listen to their views on subjects which I believe are wrong (yet being too polite to argue), etc.  Meeting this family has made me feel great and not so alone.  I feel that they will have a lot to teach me, and I may be able to help them in some way.

I know many people in the Prepping community are reluctant to meet new people, yet I would recommend that you give it a try.  You don’t need to advertise your preps to people, yet I believe that you should be willing to discuss your views with new people.  Know why you prepare, and why you feel it is important.  Which brings me to some tips for talking to people about Prepping?

  • Be polite – You don’t need to force people to prepare.  If you explain your position in a polite fashion people will be more inclined to at least listen.
  • Be knowledgeable – You don’t need to make up facts of figures, you just need to plainly explain why you believe preparing is important.
  • Be willing to back away – Some people don’t want to know about Prepping.  I have a friend who gets anxiety attacks when she thinks about Prepping, so I just don’t talk to her about it.  If someone is being antagonistic, or not interested in discussing the topic, I would recommend that you steer away from the subject of Prepping.  Some battles are not worth having.

So go on out there and meet some new people.

A silver lining to the recent storm

A few articles ago I wrote about the storms which had affected Southern Tasmania.  One of the unexpected occurrences which has resulted from that storm was a huge increase in free Atlantic Salmon.  It was reported that the Salmon fish farms which litter the coasts of Tasmania had been adversely affected, with hundreds of thousands of Atlantic Salmon escaping.  Atlantic Salmon are not native to Tasmania, so they were not able to cope with being free.  They have become accustomed to being fed a diet of pellets, so they have no ability to hunt for food.  This has resulted in a great benefit to local Tasmanians who were able to hit the water and fish up a nice collection of Salmon.

Photo from the ABC article on the storm damage,. A Huon Aquaculture enclosure washed up at Taroona during the storms. (ABC News: Ellen Coulter)
Photo from the ABC article on the storm damage,. A Huon Aquaculture enclosure washed up at Taroona during the storms. (ABC News: Ellen Coulter)

If I was a little better prepared, with some free time and the equipment needed, I would have been able to take advantage of this situation and fish up big… stocking my freezer with the valuable resource.  Unfortunately, I don’t currently have access to a boat to allow me to fish from off the shore.

After trying to live offshore around Tassie, starving and some being captured in nets, etc., the Salmon started to make their way inland.  I suspect it may be related to the spawning instinct, yet that is only a guess.  This was where local Tasmanian fishermen (and fisher women) started to take their catches.

Despite my lack of initiative, I managed to find myself with some fresh Salmon.  A friend of mine’s partner has taken advantage of this situation.  He spent his weekends catching salmon on the inland rivers of southern Tasmania, landing so many that he can’t store them.  He has filled his freezer (and apparently his parents freezer too) with the fish, so he has given out kilos of filleted salmon.  I was lucky enough to be given a couple of choice fillets, which turned out to be around a kilo of salmon.

With so many options on how to prepare the meat, I decided on a simple method… frying the fillets in olive oil, along with some salt and pepper.  I served this with some baked potato wedges and some slices of lemon from our lemon trees.  The whole meal was a major hit with my family, with everyone getting enough salmon, feeling full and happy.

I would have taken a photo of the end product, yet it was so quickly consumed that I didn’t have time.

This bountiful harvest is another reason why living in Tasmania is so great.  There is such an abundance of resources that these introduced fish can be caught in great numbers.

Is it possible to have too many chickens?

Obviously the answer is yes…. If you have a quadrillion chickens, that is definitely too many.  I am sure everyone would agree that there is an upper end to how many chickens you can have.  That upper limit is dependent on your situation and the way you should answer the question of “how many chickens” is reliant on several factors.

One of the girls before I sold her.
  • How much land do you have to be available to the chickens?  Smaller amounts of land equal smaller number of chickens which can be housed without a seemingly exponential increase in cost and labour.

 

  • What will you feed the chickens?  Will they free range in an area, or will you provide store bought food?  The cost of this will need to be considered and will impact the amount of livestock you can keep.

 

  • Why do you have the chickens?  For egg production?  You need to ask yourself how many eggs will you need and work out the number of chickens that will be required.  Some people want meat production, which requires a Rooster (the purchase of fertilised eggs or new hatched chicks can negate the need for the Rooster) and will need extra care due to the chicks you will need to protect.

 

  • Finally, how much time do you have to devote to caring for the chickens?  When you have more time, you can compensate (a small amount) to cutting costs, moving the chickens on to fresh ground, etc.  When you have less time, you must make some decisions which (should you have a larger flock) may be considered as short cuts.

 

Kitty would tell me that walking in the garden made her feel like she was in the classic film, The Birds.

 

What do I mean by short cuts?  I don’t have a huge amount of time when I return home from work each week day.  In order to cut the time demands of my chickens, I allow them to free roam throughout my garden (except for crucial growing areas, such as my vegetable garden).  I don’t put them into a coop at night, instead allowing them to roost in my orchid.  As the chickens are free to roam, I feed them in an area so that they can spread out to eat and not be forced close to each other (which can cause friction, such as fighting).

 

 

A family living on a tiny suburban lot may have three chickens, any more may be too many for their needs.  A Pastured Poultry farmer may have two thousand chickens, and they are satisfied that is all they need for now.  When I look at my situation, which is that I have a small amount of land, little money for feed, a small amount of time to care for them and too many chickens, you get into a position where mistakes can be made.  I started out with a small number of Australorp chickens at my home, I believe I had two females and one male.  From these I incubated several dozen eggs before selecting a number to keep for my own flock.  I ended up with the one male and (around) six females, which provided me with two-three dozen eggs per week.  As the Rooster I owned was the father of the majority of the flock, and he was an incredibly bad-tempered chicken.  He was so awful that he would attempt to attack my family on a regular basis.  After I removed him from circulation, I bought a new Rooster from a different bloodline (whom we named Reggie).  Reggie was a great Rooster, caring for his girls with a high level of attentiveness, yet never being aggressive to my family.  Reggie fathered many chicks, the majority of which were sold.  When I removed Reggie from the flock, I decided to hatch a last batch of fertilised eggs.  It seems that several of my hens decided they would do the same thing, as I ended up with 24 chickens.  While I worried I had too many, I didn’t mind it too much.

How I deal with my unwanted Roosters.

Over the course of a few weeks I noticed the condition of my lawn starting to degrade.  With the approach of winter, my chickens were causing significant damage to the sodden ground.  They were also causing problems with just moving through my back yard, as they crowded around when they were hungry.  This meant that a short 10 second walk to my shed would take a minute as I navigated through the flock.  It was when I noticed that I was going through significant amounts of fodder each day, and the chickens were still hungry, I had to make a quick decision to reduce the size of my flock.  The decision?  I decided to sell 5 of my younger chickens.  This netted me a nice bit of cash (to put back into chicken feed), yet I had to deal with the people on Gumtree.  I won’t go into Gumtree right now, just know that the majority of interest is from time wasters.

After selling 5 chickens I am down to 19 chickens… two of which are males (so they will be dispatched eventually), and a couple of the older females are now around three years old… which means their egg production is going to dry up.  After some culling which I plan in the early Spring, I should be down to around 12 chickens.  I hope to gather around five dozen eggs a week, which will allow me to provide all the eggs my family needs, and some additional to be sold to help cover their feed costs.  The number for me, at the moment, will be 12… yet this number may change with our needs.

 

Process for selling a handgun in Tasmania

With a heavy heart I recently decided it was time to sell my guns… or at least my hand guns.  I owned two hand guns one was a Ruger, the other was a Baby Eagle (which was my favourite firearm in the world).  I hadn’t used them for well over a year and the firearm club, with which I am a member, had reported that I had not met my requirements.  Why did I fail to meet my requirements?  It was getting too expensive and it also took a lot of time from my weekends.  The guns were gathering dust (figuratively… as if I would let them get dirty), Firearms Tasmania were upset with me for not meeting my requirements and I needed the money… so I decided to get rid of them.

My old Baby Eagle… you can see the red section where it is missing the slide pin.

I started looking for information online in selling them and I didn’t really get any helpful information.  It turned out to be really hard to find information on how to sell the pistols.  Places like Reddit were full of advice on how to sell them if they were illegally acquired.  That was not useful and actually baffled me as to what people were thinking.  Eventually I talked to a friend who used to work in the gun business down here in Tassie.  She told me that I should talk to Firearms Tas and get the information straight from them.  A quick phone call later and I received some great information.  They told me how to do it via a broker, sell them myself to a shop, organise sale online, etc.  This information was exactly what I needed.  I thanked the girl (her name was Michelle) and I was ready to get the process started.  One very important aspect was that I learned you will need the blue form (Firearm Registration form) which proves that I have a permit for the gun.  This form, similar to car registration, has an area on the rear which allows me to transfer ownership.  Without this form, the whole process is very messy.  Fortunately, Firearms Tas offered to print out new copies for me.  They even offer to mail it to your home address (takes up to seven days to arrive), or you can go pick them up from the Police Headquarters in Hobart.

My old Ruger 22/45. Apparently the steel versions are in demand at the moment

I contacted a member of my gun club who is also the club firearm dealer.  He told me that the market is pretty flooded with pistols at the moment, as Tassie has passed new legislation which made storing the handguns more troublesome.  Due to that, many people were getting out of the pistol hobby.  When I mentioned my intentions to sell my guns he was very helpful in providing me with advice on how to go about it and even traveled to meet me and complete the purchase.

I didn’t make a great deal of money… yet selling the guns makes life easier for a while, both with placating Firearms Tas, and also giving me some extra cash.  I am very sad to sell the pistols, especially my Baby Eagle, yet I know that when I am better off financially I will buy myself another pistol… maybe that CZ Shadow I have been keen to buy…

The new CZ Shadow

 

An Everyday Carry bag can help ease some of life’s little problems.

A recent fire drill at work started me thinking about the use of an “Everyday carry bag”.  What is an ECB?  It is similar to the “Everyday Carry” which many Preppers espouse, yet it is a bag.  I usually don’t go anywhere without a backpack… it is something I have done for decades.  In addition, I can carry much more in a backpack than I can fit in my pockets.

I have posted previously about my Get Home Bag (GHB) which I keep in my car.  The ECB is meant to assist me in getting to my GHB, or (in a pinch) serve as a rudimentary Get Home Bag.

As I mentioned, it was during a fire drill at my work that I started thinking about the need to write about this essential piece of equipment.  It was as I was walking down the stairs to the ground floor when someone asked why I was bothering to carry my backpack out.  I told them that I would take it if it was a real evacuation, and that it contained everything I needed for an emergency.

Why doesn’t every Prepper carry an ECB?  I don’t know… It could be that they worry about how people may perceive them.  It could be that they worry people will think they are Preppers… or it could be that they just don’t want to carry a backpack.

I think this leads to a good question… what bag makes a good EDC bag?

When considering which backpack to carry, I would recommend steering away from military style bags.  I love the design and look of a military backpack as much as the next guy, yet I think going in this direction will make you stand out more than the normal person carrying a backpack.  I know that when I see someone wearing military style clothing, or carrying a military backpack, I pay them a little more attention.  This may not be something you wish to do.  It is also important to choose a bag which you are comfortable carrying, will allow you to carry everything you need, and also a bag which is within your budget.  Finally, you will need to consider how large your back should/could be.  It will need to be large enough for your needs.

The bag which I carry was purchased off eBay and was pretty inexpensive.  It isn’t the greatest bag in the world, yet it serves most of my requirements.  In my case, I wanted a backpack which would carry well on my back, wouldn’t scream “Tactical”, and also featured a separate lower area that would allow me to place all my Everyday Carry items without mixing them with the stuff I needed for my work day (such as my lunch).

 

Contents of pack

Firstly, I have to say that my bag contains a lot of junk.  I use it every day and I keep receipts, empty packets of food, and other things in my bag till I do my weekly dump.  Secondly, I don’t have the money to buy high quality items, so I have to make do with what I can afford.  If you want to make your own bag, don’t copy mine.  Think about what you believe you need and head towards making it a reality.

I some of the items I have included are:

  • heavy-duty poncho
  • around 20m of Paracord
  • a Multi-tool
  • a large woolen blanket
  • some snack foods
  • basic first aid supplies
  • head lamp
  • small pocket survival kit
  • Emergency blanket
  •  A small roll of duct tape

 

Why are these items included?

For the majority of the items included in the bag, the reason is that they can serve multiple uses.  I also wanted them to be able to be used in non-survival, “Prepper” type situations (such as a broken button on my pants).  This bag isn’t for the end of the world… it is for the more likely events which happen in the real world.  What do I mean by that?  Well, I am not sure if I have talked about this before, so please forgive me if I have.  A year or so ago, I was walking through Hobart city.  As I walked, through the crowded lunch-time streets, I noticed that my inner thigh area was feeling cool and breezy.  I stopped at a pedestrian crossing and looked down, my heart skipped a beat in my chest…. the inner seam of my pants (on one of my pant legs) was split open from my crotch to near my knee.  I did have my bag with me, yet it wasn’t as kitted as it is now.  It didn’t contain any of the current items which would have allowed me to fix this situation.  As it was, I had to (as discreetly as could in crowded city on a lovely sunny day) walk back to work and put on a spare pair of pants I kept in my desk.  If I had my current bag I could have slipped into a public restroom and repaired my pants.

I will explain some of my considerations for a couple of these items.

The poncho is chiefly for situations when it rains and I don’t have a rain coat.  I can easily cover up and protect myself from the elements.  It also is large, features clasps and has grommet holes.  It could easily be fashioned into a spacious shelter with some additional items.

The paracord is useful in case of repairs which may need to be fashioned, use as a tourniquet in a medical emergency, or it can be combined with my poncho to make the shelter I mentioned previously.

The multi-tool combines a large number of useful tools (such as a screwdriver, a knife, pliers and other tools).  It can help repair most issues and is reassuring just to have it should I need it.

A large woolen blanket is there due to the fact we are in the middle of winter.  I would prefer to carry a micro sleeping bag, yet they are expensive.  The blanket will serve as a poor replacement till I can afford the item I wish to buy.  Why a blanket?  If I am stuck in my car due to a breakdown, it can help keep me warm.  I can use it if I am assisting someone injured, to help prevent shock, I can also use it as a blanket for when I eat lunch in the park with my friends or family.

Snacks… these are important to include as I travel far to and from home each day.  Eating something while driving can help me to stay awake.

I have included some basic first aid supplies, such as some compression bandages, band aids, latex gloves, etc.  They take up so little room that it makes sense to include them as they could help prevent someone (or me) in the event of an accident.

These are the items which I believe I need to carry in my EDC bag.  I would love to be able to afford some lighter, smaller, and higher quality items… yet I only have so much money to spare on this.  Carrying this bag with me gives me a sense of security. Knowing that within reach I have the capacity to deal with most daily situations, or those unlikely events which can occur in our modern world.

Learning new skills can be painful.

I think part of learning to prepare is not to be afraid to try new things.  Many times you may be able to try a task, or attempt a project, and in doing so you will learn a lot about yourself.  This past weekend saw me remodeling my kitchen.  Firstly, this is not the first time I have renovated a kitchen, and it isn’t something directly related to Prepping, yet it is how my story begins.  Renovating the kitchen  is something which Kitty has been very ken for me to do… I have been reluctant to do it as I could foresee a huge amount of work before me, and also, I was not bothered by the kitchen…. It was functional and had lots of storage.  Kitty’s plan would see the storage are halved and much less work area. Despite my concerns, this weekend I bit the bullet and dove head first into the long-awaited project.

This was the only picture I could find of my kitchen… it is from May 2016. You can get a good idea of the way the kitchen used to look.

Let me say, I wasn’t wrong about the amount of time it took.  I started by clearing away all the items stored in the cupboards, and in this I found many things which we didn’t really need.  I also found some items which I thought were lost, so that was a plus.  I disassembled the sink and bench, which took the majority of the first day.  At the end of this day I was left with a gutted kitchen, no working sink, and a bad odour emanating from the cut waste water pipes.

Day two dawned and boy, was I tired.  I actually slept in a bit as my back was painful from bending down and working at unusual angles, so after a slow start I returned to work.  I moved the new bench into the kitchen as well as a new storage cupboard which Kitty bought the previous weekend.  After this, several hours of the day were devoured as I had to go for a bit of a drive to visit the hardware store.  I had to buy some additional items to allow me to cap an unused drain pipe as well as some blades for my jigsaw to allow me to cut a hole for the sink in the new bench.  When I returned home I started to work on cutting the new sink hole, which shouldn’t have taken as long as it ended up taking.  The problem lay in the fact I wasn’t cutting the hole properly, which meant I had to keep re-cutting.  I went to bed earlier than usual as I was pretty tired from all the work.

Day three… Today was the day I should finish the project… I had to search for some additional sink fasteners from my last kitchen renovation, yet once found I was able to start locking the sink into place. This was the time that disaster struck.  While I was attempting to screw the tap into the underside of the sink, the back of my hand rubbed against the (unknown to me) extremely sharp metal sides.  I was wearing construction gloves, which could have save me from a much worse injury.  It all happened so fast… I was turning the tap nut to attach it to the sink and I was making little progress.  Next thing I notice is my hand rubs against the underside edge of the sink and the glove, and my skin parted like nothing I have ever seen.  I quickly grasped my hand to stop the bleeding which was about to start and called Kitty.  While Kitty has had no formal training in first aid, she has a lot of experience in treating minor injuries.  After a check, Kitty decided it might be beyond her abilities, so we drove down to the nearest medical centre to ask them to tend to my injury.  They had a look and decided it was beyond them and I would need to go to Hobart Emergency.  This was not something I wanted to do on a Sunday afternoon.  It would take an hour to drive there, a wait for 3-6 hours, then an hour home.  I persuaded Kitty into trying to fix herself.  She cleaned the wound area and tapped it up so that I could go to the Doctor first thing Monday morning.

Monday arrived, and I couldn’t get into the doctor till after 4pm.  Apart from some pain and being unable to use my hand, I was OK to wait.  When I saw the doctor, she had a look at it and she was satisfied that the injury was not serious enough to warrant a visit to the hospital.  She redressed the injury and told me to rest the hand for a week… which is already starting to be annoying as it is hard to do most tasks on the property with one hand.

 

Despite being left with one usable hand, I needed to complete the project.  So… most of Monday I spent attaching the sink and connecting the taps and plumbing.  Kitty helped with the heavy lifting, such as moving the bench into place.  The funniest part was that the tap I had been screwing into place… the part of the job where I cut my hand open… it didn’t need to be screwed in… I actually connected it from the other side with no risk of injury.  If only I wasn’t so exhausted from the work I might have realised that and saved myself a painful injury.

 

Still a couple of things to do in the bench, and there are lots of washing up to do.

Four days of near constant work, an injured hand, a body wracked by pain and exhaustion… we have the finished product.  I still need to tile the back wall, as well as raising the table/bench on the right side of the sink… yet in all, I am happy with the kitchen.  Kitty was right that it would make it look better (she is always right about these things) and in the process she learned that she is able to tend to bleeding injuries and do such a good job on them that the doctor was impressed.

 

Oh, and I want to say, I typed this whole article one handed.

A one in sixty year weather event

Wow… what a terrible storm.  Tasmania has just experienced a once 60 year weather event which took us by surprise.  It happened late Thursday night, with forecasts to expect windy weather…. I don’t think any of us expected the events that unfolded in the late night and early morning.

My family and I were mostly unaffected by the weather… we did have some excessive winds batter our home, yet it has stood for over 100 years, so I wasn’t too worried.  I did hear some of the roof panels battering about, so that is something I will have to check.  I suspect our being unscathed has something to do with our location.  We are in fairly flat land area, with small hills protecting us from most sides, and a safe bay the other.

I had kept an eye on the road alerts when I woke up on Friday morning to drive to work.  There were many road closures, yet it looked like I wouldn’t be too troubled.  It wasn’t until I started to drive that I realised the severity of the situation.  The roads were covered in debris, mostly leaves and small twigs, yet there were also larger branches strewn across the roads which made driving more difficult.  I listened to the local radio as I drove in the darkness, and they explained the situation.  Streets within the city were flooded, with cars being pushed around by the force of the currents.  Despite this, I decided to continue with my journey… I passed buses driven from Hobart on my travels, which gave me an indication the roads were still open.  One thing of interest I did note, was that the National radio broadcasts (ABC) were not working… so they provided no helpful information on the storm.

I passed many signs of disaster work on my drive, such as trees twisted from their trunks, roads covered in sawdust with sawn limbs on the side of the road, and sections of road covered in large rocks (rocks the size of my fist!).  The drive was a little dangerous, yet I took my time and ensured that I was driving carefully.

Once in the city I was surprised with how few cars were about.  The city streets were both devoid of the normally large amount of people walking to work, and the streets were littered with piles of fallen leaves. When I arrived at work I started to see the size of the damage from the previous night.  There were many roads closed in the city due to massive damage from the storm.  There were areas flooded, with many houses without power (14000 houses).

Some locations (very close to my old home in Collinsvale) were so badly effected that the bridges allowing access to the town of Molesworth were destroyed… stranding many families in a place so close to a capital city, yet unable to escape.  They had food delivered by helicopter as some families were running low on essentials.  Some of my friends have had their homes flooded, been cut off from driving on roads, and experienced some suffering from this disaster.

I don’t know how prepared someone could be for such a situation. I will ask my friends who were effected for any recommendations they may have.  I don’t think many Preppers could arrange themselves so that this disaster would pass them by without effect.  Keeping valuable, and easily damaged, items off the floor might be a good start… yet who could live like that – Always worried a flood will inundate their homes?  I don’t think the weather forecast predicted the flooding, so being vigilant isn’t a solution either.  Maybe this is just one of the disasters we can’t predict or prevent.  If you have some fore warning, preparations can be made, yet this isn’t always possible.  I hope that I can get some information soon from those who experienced the disaster first hand.