Thursday, July 31, 2014

Preparedness Essentials - Ebola

Recently, I received an email from a reader asking me to blog about Ebola (thanks Don - just what I wanted to write about!).  It is a subject that I have stayed away from because, quite frankly, it is a terrifying prospect.  And really, there are no good answers.  In spite of all of that, we are preppers, and I know that it is always prudent to asses risks and prepare for potential threats - and so, I present Preparedness Essentials - Ebola.

There is one, critical, preparedness essential, that if neglected, renders every other precaution useless and without effect.  That essential is a strong, living, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Without preparing your soul for eternity, every other preparation you make is of no consequence.  Make no mistake - Jesus is your only salvation.  Preparing for Ebola has everything to do with your soul and little to do with your body.  Without your soul your body is nothing.

Now, on to the nuts and bolts.  Ebola is a virus that causes hemorrhagic fever.  It is hallmarked by severe bleeding, organ failure and most often, death.  Ebola is native to Africa and lives in host animals such as fruit bats, monkeys, chimps and other primates.  Scientists believe that Ebola is transmitted from infected animals to humans via bodily fluids such as blood (during butchering), eating infected animals and coming into contact with animal waste.

After contracting Ebola, it is further transmitted through direct contact (via broken skin or mucus membranes) with blood, secretions (snot, spittle etc.), organs or other bodily fluids of an infected person.  Not only are the bodily fluids infectious, so are any surfaces (clothing, beds, tables, the ground) that have come into contact with infected fluids.  Ebola remains infectious on dead bodies, rendering the care of the dead risky behavior.  A man who has contracted Ebola and recovered can still transmit the virus through his semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery.  There is no evidence that Ebola is transmitted via insect bits.

Signs and symptoms of Ebola manifest within 5 to 10 days of infection.  Early symptoms include fever, severe headache, joint and muscle aches, chills and weakness.  Basically, Ebola's early symptoms are those of a really bad flu.  As the disease progresses so do the symptoms.  These increasingly severe symptoms include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea (may be bloody), red eyes, raised rash, chest pain and cough, stomach pain, severe weight loss, bleeding (usually eyes), bruising and internal bleeding.  People near death may bleed from other orifices such as ears, nose and rectum. 

As Ebola progresses, it can cause multiple organ failure, severe bleeding, jaundice, delirium, seizures, coma and shock.  If a person does recover, the recovery is long and arduous.  Survivors may experience hair loss, liver inflammation, weakness, fatigue, headaches, eye inflammation and testicular inflammation.  It may takes months to regain strength and weight.

Immediate and complete quarantine is essential if there is suspected exposure to Ebola.  If exposure is confirmed (or even suspected) personal protection equipment (PPE) needs to be immediately deployed.  PPE includes non-latex gloves (up to 3 pair at a time), surgical mask, eye shield or goggles and a clean, non-sterile long-sleeved gown (or Tyvek suit).  Along with PPE, basic hygiene rituals must be maintained, which include stringent hand-washing, respiratory hygiene (putting surgical mask on infected patients as well as potentially infected people), and safe burial practices.

Caring for the dead is another critical aspect of containment.  The dead must be immediately buried or cremated.  If buried, the body must be encased in at least two body bags and buried in a deep grave (away from any water source).  Any personal items such as clothing, pillows, linens - anything that came in contact with the infected person must either be buried with the person or burned.  The people tasked with caring for the dead must practice rigorous personal hygiene throughout the burial or cremation process.  For their own protection, they must wear 3 sets of gloves, masks, goggle, coveralls and boots.

There are no drugs currently available for the treatment of Ebola.  Supportive care includes pain and fever management (pain relievers and fever reducers, ie. Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc.), providing fluids (oral rehydration fluid - can be administered with a baby bottle if required), providing oxygen, replacing lost blood (if possible), treating secondary infections. *

Specific treatments include:


Oral Rehydration Fluid I 
1 liter (quart) boiled water
1 tsp. salt
8 tsp. sugar
1 mashed banana (for potassium) if available.  Otherwise substitute potassium chloride (salt substitute).

Before adding the sugar, taste the drink and make sure it is less salty than tears.

Oral Rehydration Fluid II
1 liter (quart) boiled water
1/2 tsp. salt
8 heaping teaspoons of cereal (finely ground maize, wheat flour, sorghum, or cooked and mashed potatoes).

Boil for 5 to 7 minutes to form a liquid gruel or watery porridge.  Cool the drink quickly and start administering. 

Caution:  Taste the drink each time it is used to be sure its not spoiled.  Cereal drinks can spoil in a few hours in hot weather.

* To either drink add Potassium Chloride or a half a cup of fruit juice, coconut water or mashed, ripe banana.  This provides potassium, which may help the person accept more food and drink.

Constant hydration.  Hot drinks.  Chicken soup (which has anti-viral properties).

  • Put the person in a cool place.
  • Remove Clothing.
  • Fan patient.
  • Pour cool (not cold) water over patient or put cloths soaked in cool water on chest and forehead.  Fan the cloths and change often to keep them cool.
  • Give plenty of cool (not cold) water to drink.
  • Administer medicine to bring down fever.
If a person with a fever cannot swallow the tablets, grind them up, mix the powder with some water and put it up the anus as an enema or with a syringe without the needle. **

Treatment for Ebola is limited.  Make sure that you know the symptoms and be prepared to treat each individual symptom.

The medical aspect of Ebola is sobering, but there are other things to consider as well.  If nobody in your family contracts Ebola, but it has reached the North American continent, you'll want to quarantine your own family.  The requirements for such an action are many.  Be sure to have adequate food, water and other basic necessities.  Make sure that you have alternative sources for cooking, heating and waste disposal (in the event public services are temporarily interrupted). Maintain an adequate emergency medical supply cabinet, complete with personal protection equipment, medicines and more importantly, medical knowledge. 

Ebola is a threat, along with so many other things in this world.  We don't have to be afraid, just prepared. Prepare to the best of your ability, but put your faith and hope in Christ alone.

* Information gathered from WHO International and the Mayo Clinic.
  **  I am not a doctor!  Please see your personal physician for specific treatment options!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Bringing Home the Harvest

It has been hot - and yes, my Texas friends, that does mean that it's been over 80 degrees! 

You've all heard the expression "Make hay while the sun shines".  Well the sun is shining and the fields are full of farmers bringing in the harvest.  This has been a tough hay year.  It has been rain, shine, rain, shine, which the hay has appreciated tremendously, however, the farmers - not so much.  It has been a monumental task trying to get the hay into the barn in between thunderstorms and rain showers.   Last week we even had a summer deluge complete with quarter-sized hailstones and downed trees - all while hay lay in the fields.

Our closest neighbor has about 40 acres in hay.  Most of that she puts up for her 30 cow/calf pairs, but one 10 acres field (closest to our property line) she groomed specifically for exportation.  "Farmer Green" had made arrangements with a farmer that regularly exports hay to swath and bale her small field and bundle it with his, netting her a tidy sum of $6,000.00.

While the sky's were blue and the weather was cooperating, Farmer Green swathed, baled and stacked all of the hay from her other fields neatly into her barn, sighed a sigh of relief and waited expectantly for "Farmer Brown" to take care of her small front field. 

One fine morning, Farmer Brown showed up in his huge swather and had all of Farmer Green's hay down within hours.  Gorgeous, huge windrows filled the field, enhancing the already charming landscape.  They hay lay on the ground, day after day, drawing a worried Farmer Green to the field for regular inspections.  And then, the rains came.  And came again.  Followed by a huge storm.  The hay was ruined.  Farmer Brown, now disappointed with the quality no longer wanted the hay.  It was time for Plan B.

Plan B rested on another farmer that wanted the hay for his cattle.  He didn't mind a bit of brown in the hay.  It was lush and thick and fine for his stock.  He made arrangements with Farmer Green to fluff and bale her front field.  It was perfect - he was going to use his round baler (huge bales) and load them onto his truck with his tractor - she wouldn't have to touch a thing!  Again Farmer Green waited.  And again, disappointment.  Plan B flopped and she was once again faced with 10 acres of swathed hay, and no equipment big enough to handle the large windrows and no hay crew to wrangle the bales.

Enter Master Hand Grenade and Miss Serenity.  Farmer Green called early Saturday morning and requested her favorite hay crew.  Of course Hand Grenade and Serenity willingly agreed.  Little did they know what they were getting themselves into!  This was no regular haying job.  Before they could bale this hay, they had to fluff it so that it would dry properly and be fit for baling.  Unfortunately, the windrows were so huge that the fluffer Farmer Green had was too small to do an adequate job.  Hand Grenade and Serenity's job was to finish turning the hay, by hand - all 10 acres!  Armed with pitchforks and a good attitude, they set to work.  As the sun set in the evening and the temperatures cooled, Dragon Snack and Master Calvin joined their older siblings in their hay fluffing adventures.  Even the little ones put in a good days work!

Serenity and Hand Grenade directing their crew

Master Calvin wielding his pitchfork

Working together
After two days of fluffing hay, the baler went to work.  Kachunk, Kachunk, Katchunk, the baler labored until 1 o'clock in the morning, baling over 40 tons of hay.  Hand Grenade and Serenity bucked bales, earning every callous on their hands, until 10:30 last night.  Their morning wake-up call was 4:30 a.m.  By 5 O'clock the kids were back in the field, loading hay onto the hay trailer.  They had a brief respite about 7:30 - just long enough to have a quick breakfast (together they ate 14 eggs scrambled with sharp cheese and fresh chives, along with multiple slices of toast!), before reporting back to they hay field. 

As I write this, it is 7:45 p.m.  Hand Grenade and Serenity are still in the field, with two loads of hay left to go.  Each load takes 45 minutes to load in the field and off-load and stack in the barn.  Hand Grenade has worked all day, even when it was 102 degrees.  Serenity worked until 11:30, took a quick shower and reported for work at her day job - and then hit the field again as soon as she got home (5 o'clock this evening).

In the field

Bucking bales
Haying is hard, hot, uncomfortable work.  And, in the whole scheme of things, doesn't pay particularly well.  But none of that matters.  What matters is that my children are helping a neighbor.  They are learning to work hard.  They are learning to push themselves beyond what they believe they are capable of doing.  They are learning that work is good for their souls.  As a mother, I am so grateful to live where my children can learn these unparalleled lessons.  A place where they can learn the value of work and of neighborliness and of putting other people before themselves.

The temperature at 6 o'clock this evening
You may ask why our children have spent so many hours in the neighbors field.  The answer is simple - and terrible.  Farmers can't find anyone to hay anymore.  Teenagers no longer seem to need a summer income.  The work is hard and kids just don't want to do it.  Most farmers in our area have taken to baling in huge square or round bales simply because they can do all of the work themselves, without having to hire a hay crew.  They just move the bales with their tractor and don't have to go through the hassle of having to find a couple of kids who want some greenbacks in their wallets.  A sad state of affairs, methinks.

And now, I'm off to prepare for the return of my children, bone wearied but satisfied with a good days work (or four, but who's counting?).

Until next time,


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Posse Comitatus

Recently, Sir Knight was reading a news article about the Boston marathon bombing.  The accompanying photos were disturbing - police officers, arrayed in full in tactical combat gear were clearing houses, military fashion.  They were making their way through a suburban American neighborhood, rifles at the ready, stomping on what was left of their fellow citizens Constitutionally guaranteed rights.  

Pulling the next article up, this one dealing with the exploits at the Bundy ranch, Sir Knight noticed a troubling trend - the militarization of civilian law enforcement.  Once again the law enforcement officers looked more like Rambo than Sheriff Andy Taylor.  Their very aggressive demeanor served only to escalate hostilities rather than to facilitate peaceful resolution.  

As he read these articles, he asked, somewhat rhetorically, "What has happened to Posse Comitatus?  We are Americans and yet we allow troops to walk through our front door just like the Nazi's in WWII?  I guess we need to get ready for the gas chambers next!"

Think he's overreacting?  Here is a little history on Posse Comitatus....
Posse Comitatus is a Latin phrase meaning "power of the country".  Posse Comitatus referred to all males over the age of 15 on whom the Sherriff could call for assistance in preventing any type of civil disorder.  Although it had it roots firmly entrenched in English Common Law, it was used extensively in the western frontier, and in fact, is the origin of the term Posse.

The Posse Comitatus Act is a federal law that was enacted on June 18, 1878, after the end of Reconstruction (the Civil War).  Its intent was to limit the powers of the Federal Government with regard to using federal military personnel to enforce state laws.  The Act, which was modified in 1981, refers to the United States Armed Forces, it does not, however, pertain to the National Guard being deployed in their own state under the direct authority of the governor. 




Bundy Ranch - at least according to Google Images, although it would appear to be Iraq
Bundy Ranch
Bundy Ranch
Bundy Ranch

Just for reference, I have included photos for your consideration.  You tell me - which ones are our military engaged in far-away locations and which ones are our federal and local law enforcement agencies operating in our own back yard?

Our police officers now wear (military) combat uniforms.  They deploy tanks and armored personnel carriers.  They have night vision, thermal imaging and drones.  They undergo military training, use military terminology and  employ military tactics.  Our law enforcement agencies, both federal and local, have become military units.  And yet we still allow them operate on American soil. 

Wake up and smell the Gestapo.  The gas chambers are coming..... 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

From the Home Front....

I'm so sorry to have been silent as of late.  We had a tragedy and I haven't been up to putting pen to paper.  With a renewed spirit, I will update you on our latest happenings.

Our garden is growing well.  We have had a problem with Magpie's snapping the tender beans, peppers and onions before they are able to really spread their leaves, so there are a few sad looking plants.  Our heirloom bush beans are far outperforming the garden variety garden center beans that we planted just to use them up before the seeds were too old.  The tomatoes are growing famously and so are a majority of the peppers.  I can't wait to can my favorite tomato, pepper, onion mixture this fall!

Peas happily climbing the trellis

Our potato towers are actually  working!  They haven't become as green with leaves as I would like to see, however, on close inspection is would appear that all of the potatoes are sprouting, just at different rates.  We planted 8.8 pounds of potatoes, so we will weigh the harvest and give an end of year report.

Potatoes reaching out from their tower

One raspberry bed is heavy with fruit, while the other is bushy and healthy but won't put on berries this year.  We do have a few strawberry plants but not enough for preservation.  They are, however, just right for a handful of warm berries eaten out-of-hand.

A portion of one of our raspberry beds
The Buckfast bees are busy, busy, busy.  We have been caught off-guard by their super-quick build-up.  I put off ordering extra hive bodies, due to our experience with the Italians, and was horrified upon my most recent inspection of the hives to discover that they had completely filled all of their frames and were getting ready to swarm due to lack of space!  With no hive bodies to add to their home, Maid Elizabeth and I improvised.  I dug up two 10 frame hive bodies, stapled cardboard on either side of the bottom (about 1 1/2 " on each side - just enough to keep the bottom of the hive body from being open to the air) and set the 10 frame bodies on top of the 8 frame bodies.  I hoped that would give us enough wiggle room to get the new hive bodies here and assembled.  At this point, I think our foil worked.  The bees are contentedly filling the new frames with comb, which we will transfer to the 8 frame bodies when they arrive.

10 frame hive bodies perched atop 8 frame bodies - not something you see every day!
Notice the ratchet straps holding the hives into place.  The night we put our improvised hive bodies into place, a sudden and somewhat violet storm descended upon us.  I awoke to the crack of thunder and pouring rain.  Immediately I thought of the unprotected hives, teetering in a highly unusual configuration and woke Miss Serenity to brave the weather and help me secure the hives.  At 1:30 a.m., armed with a flashlight and rubber boots, we made our way to the hives and fiddled with ratchet straps until we had them securely in place.  Thankfully, the bees slept through our endeavor and we escaped unscathed.

Sir Knight replaced the broken window in my kitchen door!

And from the outside

My beautiful daughters - friends in the way only sisters could be.

The sun room dressed for summer

The sought-after outside bedroom

The children's cottage
Just a small note on our tragedy.  Our beloved dog Reaper died in a horrible accident.  Reaper was like no other dog.  He managed to capture each one of our hearts in a way that no pet ever has.  I must admit, we mourned our treasured pet - and really, we continue to mourn him.  He was a dog, but he was also our guardian and protector.  We are so very thankful to have known our dear Reaper.

I NEVER allow animals on the furniture...

But he stole my heart.

Enjoy these beautiful days of summer.  Savor every moment. 

Until next time.