Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Top Five Prepping Failures of 2011

It's mid-December, which is a great time to put down the eggnog and Christmas cookies and reflect upon the past year. I made progress in our preparedness but have definitely experienced some failures. I'll talk about what went right in 2011 in a future post. Today is the day I get to expose all my inadequacies to the world. ;)

Top Five Prepping Failures

5. Sun Oven
The Global Sun Oven

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with the Sun Oven itself, other than an initial chemical odor that can lend your food a nasty aftertaste until you cleaned it thoroughly. Once I finally purged the Sun Oven of the noxious fumes, the only problem was me! There is a definite learning curve to the Sun Oven and it took me a month to figure it all out. By the time I had it mastered, my family was ready to stage an Occupy the Sun Oven protest. I guess they had enough raw potato soup!

Thankfully, the experiment ended on a high note.

Bread baked in the Sun Oven. Success at last!

This is a very vivid illustration as to why it is so important to USE and PRACTICE your preps.

4. Fall Garden

Remember this garden plan? We put a lot of effort into researching fall gardens. We learned about the best varieties, methods, and timing for our part of the country.

The results were even less stellar than the toxic chocolate chip cookies I baked: a handful of carrots, a few  small heads of cauliflower, and some radishes. We couldn't even get Swiss Chard to grow and all the authorities I've consulted say that chard is pretty much as foolproof as vegetables come. We didn't get any  beets, lettuce, spinach, salad mix, or cabbage. Our broccoli sprouted and grew tall, but they never formed heads.

Obviously we'll have to go back to the drawing board for next year. Our summer was abnormally hot and dry and that didn't help. Maybe things would have performed better if we had planted transplants rather than direct seeding. Perhaps we could have used floating row covers to shade the soil so that it wasn't so hot while the seeds we germinating.

All I know is that I am not cut out to be a subsistence farmer.  

3. First aid
The beginnings of my first aid stockpile, February 2011

One of my goals at the beginning of 2011 was to develop and deepen our first aid stockpile. I bought a few first aid basics last winter but didn't really progress any further. I picked up some supplies here and there for free (hurray for coupons!), but nothing in massive quantities.

I guess I wouldn't classify this so much as a failure but a result of a shift in my priorities. Getting a full year's supply of food has been project number one. I've also slashed my prepping budget in recent months and focused instead on saving money for the chicken moat and coop.

You can bet that I'll definitely focus on first aid again in 2012.

2. Diet/Exercise

Like so many of my fellow Americans, I am a bit out of shape. Four kids, stress, and a penchant for snacking have wreaked havoc upon my once shapely figure.  Hubby Dear and I vowed that 2011 would be the year we got our flabby butts in gear and got healthy.

Although it started promisingly, our New Year's resolutions fizzled and we remain the same girth that we started the year with. We'll try again. I don't need to be supermodel thin, but I do want to make sure that I'm healthy and capable of working hard.

Lastly, my number one, most pitiful prepping failure of 2011 is

1. Cloth Pads

I had so many good intentions! 

When my mom delivered a vintage sewing machine to my house last January, a world of possibilities opened up to me. How cool - I could sew clothing for my family if need be. I didn't want to wait for TEOTWAWKI, though. I wanted to create something practical that I could use now. Since I am not only concerned about preparedness but also increasingly interested in sustainable living, I became strangely excited about sewing my own cloth menstrual pads.

I tried, I really did. But when you carry the Un-crafty gene, there's just not much you can do.

My best effort was only good for a demented hand puppet

No matter what I did, I couldn't keep the needle threaded. Part of my problems might have come from the thickness of the four layers of absorbent material I was sewing through. I'm sure the failure is mostly due to my own incompetence, however.

If I want cloth pads, it looks like I'll have to buy them from someone else.


Now that I have this all out in the open, I feel much better. I'll take a cleansing breath, take another swig of eggnog, and think of 2011's successes. But that is a post for another time.

Experienced any prepping failures? Share your tales of woe below.  


  1. I really liked MedVetInternational on Amazon for a wide variety of medical supplies. I got 1200 4x4 gauze pads, 36 rolls of adhesive bandage wraps, 4000 cotton balls, a 50-pack assorted curved needles in a variety of threads, and more for really great prices. Mercury thermometers were $4 each. I bet for less than $200 you could suddenly boost your first aid supplies to a well-supplied level.

  2. And if you're looking for the stretchy wrap (to keep a bandage in place), check out your local tractor supply/feed store by the horse stuff. It's usualy a $1.50 a roll- much less expensive than buying at walgreens or grocery store. And the colors are usually much more fun ;)

  3. Regarding your comments about getting into shape, or better shape. My son often reminds me that, "Mom, round is a shape". Gotta love kids. Have enjoyed your wittiness, and poking fun, at times, at yourself, weather intended or not. And if no one has told you yet, keep it up, your doing a great job.

  4. Melissa - Good to know!

    Anonymous - Aww... thanks!

  5. For the sewing... it takes practice, and lots of familiarity with your machine. If your needle is coming unthreaded constantly, it probably needs more tension. It's easy to tell when you have too much tension, because then sewing will break the thread (or needle, but those are pretty cheap). Also, with thicker/more layers, you may want to try a tougher thread, such as upholstery thread. Regular cotton/poly blend thread doesn't cut it for sewing multiple layers or very thick fabrics. Keep trying! You can do it!

  6. Jeanne S - Thanks for the tips and encouragement!

  7. Okay the thing about the cloth pads is hilarious! We just finished ours. The problem is that sewing anything curvey is NOT for beginner sewers. I ditched several like that too and finally just made everything rectangular--rectangular pad with rectangular wings. I also opted to make the inner padding layers removable. It made the sewing much easier. I made enough for myself and my 13yr old.