Time Out (Again)

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We got a ton of rain this week.  May is usually a rainy month (or so they tell me)  I think we got an entire month’s rain in just a couple of days. 

The garden seems to have loved it.  Things are growing like crazy.  Today I was able to get out there and try to work on the weeds because apparently they loved all the rain too.  
I’m just now able to get out there and get some weeding done.   

So what does it do late this afternoon?  Yup, rained like crazy for about 15 minutes.  It’ll be a few more days before I’m able to walk out there again.
I’ve been reseeding places where things didn’t come up.  The turnips didn’t make much of an appearance so I’ll need to re-plant those along with a couple of other things. I’ve been wanting to plant herbs in some of the bald spots but that’s going to have to wait until it dries out some too.

Everything  is looking good for the most part except for the squash bugs. Yeah, they are back.  I can’t tell you how much I’m beginning to hate them.  I’ve also been trying to keep close eyes on them.  The dreaded squash bug has found its target.  I’ve been checking all the leaves and scraping off eggs, smashing the dang bugs and laying down some more Eight.  It’s a merry go round with the dang things. Sometimes I feel like I’m fighting a loosing battle but I will keep trying till I get some dang squash! Only problem now is that it’s to wet to get to them without having my shoes sucked off my feet by the mud.  We really need to get some kind of mulch down, at least something in the walk paths.  It’s tough not having a truck though.  I can only get two bales of straw/hay in the car at a time.  We need much more than that!

I’ve had to rearrange the rabbits to accommodate the babies.  The first litter will be ready for butchering in the next week or so. 

I need the space for at least one more litter before it gets too hot. The last litter started at 12 and we are down to 4 babies left. Something like diarrhea struck and it struck hard on this litter. Not to mention the ones that got squished.  I need to get something to have on hand should it happen again. I cleaned out the cage and the nesting box real good and put in fresh straw after I scrubbed everything down. The remaining four seem to be doing ok. 

  Since I’ve never had any luck OR any babies to deal with I’m still a raw rookie.  I refuse to give up on them.  They are generally easy to raise and easy to butcher.  Besides, I like rabbits!

With food prices skyrocketing and forecast to rise  dramatically  this year it’s so very important to try to somehow stay afloat.   Do a search on food price increases over the next couple of months and you will find all kinds of articles on what lays ahead.  We are already feeling it here.  This is a big reason for raising the rabbits, as well as the garden.

And then there’s the chickens….
The four hens and the Roo are driving me nuts.  We just went through them molting and then two went broody.  We started getting two eggs a day for awhile.  Now the ones that were laying are back to being broody as well as the “loner” .  She’s the low hen on the totem pole and hasn’t moved off her nest in weeks.  I’m about ready to start all over again.  It ticks me off that I’m still having to buy eggs AND buy feed for them.  It’s always something….  lol

I am the perfect example of a rookie trying to become more self reliant.  At least I am learning.  Just think if/when SHTF and I was starting from scratch how far behind the eight ball I’d be!


Prep on folks, what you learn now might keep you from starving one day. Add to that what you purchase today I guarantee will only be higher in the coming months.

Lost in Panama! Basic rules for Travel Safe Training.

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Stuff happens, but of all the stories the ones concerning tourist bother me the most. When people disappear on vacation or business it dredges up stories of kidnapping and ransom. Our hearts go out to all the victims of these terrible crimes.

Although this may not be the issue with the lost ladies in Panama, as they could be simply lost, a lot of the same rules we use for travel safe training can be applied to any adventure.

After having developed and written many “travel safe programs” we have Identified some basic rules which should never be violated,

1. Like on a dive (SCUBA), never travel alone. Always use the buddy system.

2. Always leave your intended route with at least TWO responsible individuals. One should be a family member and the other a friend which can collaborate the information to the authorities. Family members will say/do anything to get help, collaborating information will re-enforce the validity of the information.

3. In addition to the route leave a “drop dead” time for your return with the same people. Also make arrangements to call them when you are back. Make SURE YOU make the call!

4. If you are keeping your motel room leave a piece of well worn clothing behind. I know it sounds bad but even tracking dogs have their limits and need help. A strong sent and early deployment of the dog is the key.

5. If in trouble DON’T follow the “no trace” rule! The more “sign” you can leave for a tracker the better your chances. In addition you are leaving a stronger scent trail for the dogs.

6. Make sure you are carrying at least a personal survival kit which fits your surroundings and satisfies your basic needs.

7. SIGNAL often! You never know who is out there. Whistle and mirrors during the day and fire light at night.

8. If it is a captive situation remain calm, humanize yourself to the captors and attempt to get on TV if available. Most captors want something and will use you to get it.

9.Finally, Don’t Panic! Regardless of the situation panic makes it worse.

 

For more information and to follow this story click on the following linkhttp://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-27573329

USI Understands that Survival isn’t learned from books but real world experience. This is just one area which makes Universal Survival Innovations unique in the world of training and equipment.

Check out our website at www.usiusa.com

or send us a message at info@usiusa.com

Author Ben Barr is a 30+ year SERE Specialist who has been a curriculum developer for the USAF Survival School, USAF Water Survival School, USAF Air Mobility Command, USMC and USN

Rough Beauty

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There is a kind of rough beauty out here. The kind that can kill you, or cure you, depending on how you step, how you breathe and how your heart beats.
One step can either break a leg or take your breath away with rapture.
That’s how it is out here.
The trees can whisper wisdom to you if you only stop and listen.
Of course you must stop yourself first.
Stop the mind-chatter, the ego, the judging, the “tapes” that lecture on your inadequacies….stop it all and just listen.

To the wind, the water, to the birds and to the voice of the Divine in everything around you.

If you can do that, you will leave this place a different person.

A better, less-fractured, universe-touched person.

Memorial Day

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I cannot find the words to express my deep gratitude to those who gave all so folks like me could live free. You are not forgotten.

A Quick Lettuce Lesson

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lettuceLettuce tends to be one of those overlooked vegetables. Most people tend to favor iceberg lettuce – the basic leafy part of every salad – and grow it exclusively in their backyard gardens. However, there are many more varieties that are just as easy to grow. Each has its own unique taste, and can add a new dimension to your salads, burgers, and other things.

Lettuce is an annual plant, meaning that it needs to be grown from scratch every year. Although some types of lettuce can survive cooler fall and winter weather (depending on your climate, of course), most varieties of it need to be planted and harvested while the weather is still warm. However, that weather can’t be too warm, as many types of lettuce are picky about heat and humidity. Despite this, it still is one of the easiest vegetables to care for as it grows to a good size. There are a number of different types of lettuce, each of which falls into one of these popular cultivars: butterhead, leaf, romaine, summercrisp, and crisphead.

Here is a quick breakdown of five of these types of lettuce, iceberg included:

Boston Lettuce: Boston lettuce falls into the butterhead cultivar. It grows in a “head” shape, like iceberg lettuce does, but it tends to be smaller. The leaves have a smooth buttery feel to them, and the taste of this vegetable follows suit. When perfectly ripe, it is both tender and sweet, and makes a perfect addition to a tossed salad.

Leaf Lettuce: Leaf lettuce does not grow into a nice, tidy head of lettuce like Boston and iceberg lettuces do. Instead, it grows in a bunch with a stem at the bottom holding it all together. Leaf lettuce comes in two different colors – bright green, and a reddish purple that is usually just called “red” or “red oak.” Either way, this lettuce is both sweet and crisp, making it an excellent addition to your salad – and your garden.

Batavian Lettuce: Batavian lettuce falls into the category of summercrisp varietals. It is fairly heat tolerant, and, like leaf lettuce, comes in a number of colors, ranging from deep green to “red,” which is almost purple. The leaves are a bit thicker than they are on other types of lettuce, and they have an almost nutty flavor.

Romaine Lettuce: Romaine lettuce is a bit of an anomaly among its fellow lettuces, since it is much more tolerant to summer heat than the other varieties. This makes romaine lettuce a very good plant for your garden, particularly if you are in an area of the country that has to deal with hot weather all summer long. Romaine can be used in garden salads, but its slight bitterness makes it a better choice for Caesar salads, where it complements the dressing and other components better.

Iceberg Lettuce: Iceberg is a type of crisphead lettuce. It differs from Boston lettuce both by its size and its color. Individual heads of iceberg lettuce tend to be larger in size and lighter in color. The texture is different as well, since iceberg is crisper and less buttery than its butterhead counterpart.

Pic by Dwight Sipler

Episode 28: The Great Myth of the Founding Fathers

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Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_States

 

Today I want to talk to you about a common myth I find on many peoples minds and many arguments.

Often you will hear “The Founding fathers would be rolling in their graves” or “The Founding Fathers would NEVER have approved of this….”

The myth is this, that the founding fathers were a homogenous group of like minded people, concerned with individual liberty and wanting to restrict the power of government.

The Truth is that there were two competing groups and thoughts within the Founding Fathers.

One Group personified by Thomas Jefferson, in varying degrees believed in the sovereignty of the individual and that government at best is a necessary evil and one must rein in centralization of power at all costs.

The Other group personified by Alexander Hamilton, in varying degrees believed in the Supremacy of the State and that individual liberties should be curtailed to the greater needs of the state and its glory.

 

 

 

 

 

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DIY Pour Spout For Mason Jars

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I ran across an interesting idea somewhere.  I can’t remember if it was on Face Book or Pinterest so I can’t give a h/t for the great idea.

You know those cartons that have the pour sprouts on them?  Like on orange juice cartons? Well I found an excellent use for them and it’s super simple to do. 

Take an empty carton and open it up. (notice the markdown? Yet another cheap frugal item lol) Get a pair of scissors and cut  the part of the  that has the pour spout on it. 

Then you trim around the edges of the pour spout using the jar rim as a template.  Grab a ring and put it on snugly.  That’s it.  Now you have a pour spout  on your jar!  It makes it so much easier to pour from a jar. I use it for my DIY French Vanilla Coffee Creamer.  Pretty neat, huh?

May 23, AWCP Career Day 2014

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Students in the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program met with Alderleaf alumni and others working in nature-based careers at our career preparation / alumni class day.

Vermiculture 101: Composting with Red Worms

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My family has composted with Red Worms for a long time, and this year I started my own.

Red Worms will give you some of the best soil improvements and fertilizer for your gardens out there, no need to buy fertilizer from the store, and all you need is a few bucks in materials and things you already throw away in your home!

The worms will provide you two things…

Castings: Basically Worm poop, they are several times high in nitrogen, phosphates and potash than the surrounding soil.  They will result in a healthier plant and because of that health more resistant to disease and implant good microbes and enzymes into the soil.

Worm Tea/Leechate: While not technically a compost tea, this is what is commonly referred to as the “juice” that drains out the bottom of the bin.  It is actually best that as you drain it you return it for a second time through the bin so that the worms can redigest it and make sure no harmful toxins from the plants themselves (leeched during decomposition) are in the tea.  You can also Aerate the Compost tea from worms or straight compost using this method.

You can use the juice straight if you want but dillute it 20:1 and spary on productive trees on their leaves, or a 1:1 – 1:5 for liquid fertilizer in your plants, it has a high PH so you need to be careful and test a bit before you go crazy.

 

There are multiple ways to build your bins so I will give you the plans for both.

 

1 BIN SYSTEM

Materials:

  • 1 Rubbermaid Tub (10 Gal.+) Opaque (not clear). You CAN buy these through Amazon, but I found mine through the Dollar Store and since its the Garage sale season I would fart around those on a saturday and see if you can pick some up for cheap.

  • 4-6 Inches shredded newspaper/cardboard (black and white newspaper, not glossy!)
  • 1-2 lbs of Kitchen Scraps (at the bottom of this page I give you a list of what IS ok and what is not)

 

The reason a rubbermaid type tote is recommended is that surface area/volume is better than a bucket, you want spread out worms not a sheer vertical drop like a bucket would do.  Not saying a bucket CAN’T be used.  Only that it is not as ideal, and you will not get the same return as you would a tote.  Check around discount stores or find some friends who may have a few laying around.  Just make sure it is NOT clear, light kills worms, so anything that is not clear will work.  You can construct the bin out of wood if you so choose, its up to you how much work you want to put into this.

First take your container and mark out where you want to put the vents and mark with a permanent marker around them to mark where you will drill/cut the hole.

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Do the same for the spigot, you will want this at the bottom where the worm juice will pool up.

 

 

 

 

 

Once you have that you can use a SPADE Drill bit to drill out the holes, you can also just carefully cut the hole out with a knife or box cutter, i prefer the drill because it is a no b.s. correct size hole.  If you do not want to buy roofing vents you can cut many many many 1/8′ holes along the top of the Bin (see picture below)

step2

 

Then you will cut out the hole for the spigot and thread it on, inside the container.  Pour some water in and tip it so that it covers the hole spigot, see if there are any leaks.  If so use a non-toxic sealant like a silicone bead sealant for windows, etc.

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Now you will  add the “bedding” for the worms, this is the shredded newspaper and cardboard.  Before you add it you will want to get it wet.

 

When i say wet i don’t mean soggy, i mean wet/damp.  So you can do this one of two ways.  You can use a spritzer (that hasn’t been used with chemicals) and spray and spray the newspaper until it gets nice and damp.  You can also soak it in little bits of water until the desired wetness is achieved.  I just took it in the bowl and put little bits of water in it until it was nice and damp.  If you squeeze it and a few drops come out then it is ok, if 3-5 drops come out, it is too wet.  Worms like dampness not soggy and soaking wet, this is why during a rain they come out, so they don’t drown.  Once it is wet enough, then put it in the bottom of the bin, but make sure it is “fluffed” and not all packed down.

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Next sprinkle some kitchen scraps into the bin and bury them into the bedding, then sprinkle a layer of good dirt/topsoil.  The topsoil is not 100% necessary but it does help to add some dirt for their diet, which is good for the little guys. (NOTE: I took the picture with Orange Peels in the mix.  I ended up removing these as orange/Banana peels will give you a nice flock of fruit flies)

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Then dig a little hole in the middle of the bedding and dump your worms into this.  If they came packed in peat moss that’s great.

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Then sprinkle a layer of wet bedding (newspaper/cardboard).  This will completely bury the food scraps/worms and will help to keep the fruit fly population from starting up. If you have an issue with flies, its a matter of too much food and or exposed food, make sure its covered/buried.

 

A issue that I had was some worms trying to escape, I found that this is common and the amount is what tells you if there is a problem or not.  If you have a then it may help to put a layer of dry cardboard on top of the last bit of wet bedding.  Then i also put a piece of cardboard inside over the top of it, this makes a dry layer where they dont want to go past (they like it damp).  If you still have a problem see if putting the bin in some light with the top off for 5 minutes helps, if not then go to 10 then 20 then put the top on, if a few still are trying to get out or just laying there then it is probably ok, they are just sick or confused, discard them.

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If you continue to have a lot of worms escaping you may want to sprinkle some water on them.  peel back the dry layer and pour a few splashes of water here and there and replace the dry layer.

You will know you have the right moisture if you follow the wrung sponge rule of thumb.  When you put your fingers into the bin in different spots it should feel like a wrung out sponge, not dry or soggy.  If its dry add some more splashes of water/wet bedding into the mix.  If its to soggy, add some dry bedding into the mix to help it absorb a little bit.

Put the lid on the top, presto all done!

 

 

2+ BIN SYSTEM

 

Materials:

  • 4-6 Inches shredded newspaper/cardboard (black and white newspaper, not glossy!)
  • 1-2 lbs of Kitchen Scraps (at the bottom of this page I give you a list of what IS ok and what is not)

 

This will be the same as the first bin as far as the setup for the first bin, however for a two bin system in the corners of the first bin (bottom) you will  put in 4 soda (or like) cans in the corners to be used as supports, or not, its up to you and depends whether you will have multiple bins on top. (you can also drill holes and insert PVC pipes  horizontally in the first bin to use as supports for the second bin).

For the second bin, insert the air vents the same as the first.

Then drill 1/4 or larger holes in the bottom of the second bin, this will allow the worms to migrate to the second bin for harvesting.

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When you are ready to harvest the first bin for castings, insert wet bedding, etc (same as you did for the first bin to get your worms ready) and then insert it over the top of the first bin.  give it a month or two and the majority of worms will migrate up to the top and into the second bin through those holes where food is plenty, away from the old bin with little food in it.

You can start this process by waiting until your first bin is NEARING completion and then inserting the second bin.  Some worms will continue to stay and eat what is left and then migrate up.

Once you have given it a week or so, drain the remaining worm juice, etc and remove the bottom bin.

What few worms are left can be tossed in to the second bin and if there are some food scraps left you can place them in the second bin as well.

Take out the castings and put them in whatever storage container you want, you can mix this in with soil for planting or make compost tea with it.

 

HOW MUCH SHOULD I FEED THEM?

After a while you will get the hang of it.  Don’t add any more food scraps for a week or so.  Before you do, check to see how they are doing, if there is still a lot of the food you initially put in there don’t add more, wait a few more days.  If it smells there is too much food in there because the worms are not eating it and bacteria is breaking it down faster than they can consume it.

Worms can eat their weight in food per 24 hour period, so roughly .5-1lb per 1000 worms per day.  The nice thing about worms is that if there is plenty of food they will start to mate and reproduce and make more worms, if there is too little food they will not reproduce and some will die off.  They have a way of maintaining the correct balance in the system.

The nice thing about worms is if you need to leave for a vacation you can add some extra food, and even if the food gets scarce they will slow down and not reproduce!

You do not need to grind their food, you can cut up say some rotten potatoes, or larger items, but no need to grind the food, put it in as is.

I recommend placing the new food in a new section of the bin every time, this way they will follow the scraps across the whole bin and not be everywhere.

 

WHAT DO I FEED THEM?

 

YES:

Vegetables

Fruits

NOTE: Peels of Fruits can and do create fruit flies, orange rinds and apple cores are ok, or if you dont care then throw it all in.  I personally toss the fruits and other items that the worms DONT like but can be composted in another bucket for the compost pile outside.

Coffee grounds

Tea Bags

Breads/Grains

Egg Shells (is also good for PH)

Orange Rind

Cardboard

Newspaper (Black and White and NOT glossy inserts)

Dry Leaves

Mature Manure

 

NO:

Many of these things will attract rodents/pests

Meats

Dairy

Any Oils (This includes veggies cooked in oil)

Orange Peel/Citrus (This will attract Fruit Flies)

 

 WHAT CAN I USED THE WORM BYPRODUCTS FOR?

worm castings

(photo courtesy of tentgardens.com)

Worm Castings can be put and mixed in with the soil that you will be planting into.  They are the most potent fertilizer you will find and are ready to be used by your plants right away no need to break down as they are the natural food of plants in nature.  If you are harvesting these castings AFTER you have already planted, I would dig in around the plant without disturbing its roots and push these down around it.  You can also just sprinkle them around the base of your plants and dig them in slightly if you are worried about damaging the roots.  You don’t need a lot to get a big effect however you can’t overdue it so that’s not an issue. Its a bit unnecessary but you can use this to make a worm casting compost tea, using it straight or mixed with other composted materials (I say unnecessary because you are also getting worm juice so need to make it into a tea you will be getting both solid and liquid fertilizer!)

 

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(photo courtesy of gippslandgardener.wordpress.com)

Worm Juice (Tea) is the liquid byproduct of worms breaking down your compost.  Using this is simple, just pour it into your container gardens at the base of the plant or if you are getting a lot of it and/or have a large amount of plants and trees you want to treat you can spray it using something like this…

I would dillute the mixture 2:1 (2 parts water 1 part juice) to maximize its benefits and have it last longer if you dont have a large system.  Once again there is NO detrimental effect whatsoever to pouring “too much” on your plants or trees, this is 100% beautiful liquid gold that your plants will eat right up, like that first cup of coffee in the morning it will get them going!

 

If you have any questions feel free to email me rmorgan(at)greatnorthernprepper.com (replace the ‘at’ with @)

 

 

 

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Question For Ya’ll?

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Kitty Cake

   Well, it looks like most of the garden is in.  I’ve got a few bald spots where things just didn’t come up and I that I think I’ll stick some herbs in there today and see how it goes.  
   I’ve also noticed that on each end of every row  there is a bit of space where nothing is planted.  It has to do with the irrigation system I suppose.  I’ve been thinking I might have just found some spots to try and start some flowers after all!  I’m not sure they’ll all get enough water but a girl’s gotta try.  Especially since my flower beds have been hijacked!!
    I have to admit though that the garlic is looking really good and the lettuce is at least a mix of seeds with varying colors and textures. Besides I see some volunteer flowers here and there anyway.  And since I’m in charge of weeding at the moment there is no way I’m going to pull them up.  lol
   Well enough rambling for today. The winds have died down enough that I can get out there in the garden and do some plant dusting.  Something is eating my beans.  Well they are actually cutting the plant  off at the stem.  I have no idea what is doing it so I’m going to try a dusting of Eight and see if that helps. I’ve been reseeding the areas they are messing with. Mostly beans but they have also done the same to a couple of pepper plants.
    Any ideas out there as to what just cuts the stem and leaves the leaves of the plants just laying there beside it?  And if so, what can I do to treat it?

Don’t Give Up On Gardening – 4 Common Culprits for Gardening Failures

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Nearly every prepper “authority” out there will tell you that in order to be truly self-sufficient, whether during a SHTF disaster or even just day to day life, you need a way to produce your own food and that the most efficient way to do that is gardening. I definitely agree with that.   Gardening …

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Tuesday Ramblings

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From looking around the blogosphere it seems that many of us are busy at the moment.  Lots of things to get done this time of year.  I got the second of the new rows planted this past weekend. I was surprised Mars “let” me plant what I wanted in it.  I suppose he just didn’t want to hear me fuss about what all I didn’t get a chance to plant. For some reason it’s nagging on me, there seems to be things I should have planted but didn’t.  Of course that doesn’t mean flowers.

This year Mars pretty much has most of my three tiny flower beds spoken for. How I managed to let that happen I just don’t know.  To be fair though, one of them has always had herbs in it anyway, and that didn’t change.  Then there’s the one that has garlic in it.  It should be ready to harvest sometime soon so maybe I can find something that is more of a summer/fall flower.  And then there’s the nice bed he worked up for me a couple of years ago.  It’s not very big but still much more roomy than either of the other two.  It’s got 10 strawberry plants in the back. They aren’t looking too good though.  They are starting to brown around the edges of some of the leaves.  I’m not sure what’s going on with that.  I HAVE been pinching off the flowers as they come on though in hopes of a better show next year.  The rest of the space is filled with a mixed lettuce blend.  As a matter of fact we had our first green salad with our own lettuces night before last.

I don’t think I mentioned it before but Mars has put in three new 100 ft rows this year with plans for one more when we can afford to get some fittings for the drip lines.  So that (along with the bottom garden) gives us a bit over 5000′.  I know it sounds like a lot, and it is, but I believe the reason behind it is solid. If you were watching the news this past week you might have seen the article about the increase in food costs for April was a whopping 2.6% and there is no end in sight for extreme prices to come down. 

Food storage is becoming more and more important as prices rise at an alarming rate.  Think of it as a tangible asset.  What you can put back now will only increase in value. You can’t argue with that logic.

Mars has decided to try growing corn again this year with some of the seed my Dad sent.  We are “kind of” leaning toward the 3 Sisters method in the lower garden.  We’ve planted butter beans this past week and had the corn in about 3 weeks ago. We also transplanted some volunteer squash from last year.  The corn had a 99% germination rate. Pretty cool.  The corn has been in the family for many years so I think that’s pretty awesome in and of itself!

We lost a few tomato plants and are down to 21 now.  I looked in Tiny Town for some 6-packs but all they have are the bigger ones at $3.59 per plant.  No way am I going to pay that much for a single plant!  I’ll be starting some seeds today and hope for the best for some fall tomatoes.  We’ll see how it goes.

All the rows are planted now.  I think I’m going to fill in spots where nothing came up with different herbs and see how that works.  It looks like I’ve only got 2-3 cilantro plants that came up and none of my dill came up.  I’ve said it over and over though, I cannot seem to grow herbs. *sigh*  OH, that reminds me I planted several lemon basil plants last year and they did really well.  I was out weeding and noticed there are bunches of volunteer’s coming up.  Someone told me that planting basil with tomatoes will keep away the hornworms.  I’m going to see if it will work with the lemon basil.  No harm no foul right?  Another surprise in the garden this year is that the marigolds I planted with the tomatoes last year came back on their own!  I’ll leave them where they are but did plant more marigolds in the tomato row this year again.  I don’t know if it was just blind luck last year planting them together but I had no problems at all with bugs on the tomatoes.  We’ll see…

Well I suppose I’ve rambled on long enough. Time to get back out there and pull some weeds.  I’m trying to weed one row a day with the hope that I’ll be able to keep up with them. With 12 rows and the “flower beds” I’m not sure I’ll be able to get to them all without bunches of weeds trying to beat me on this venture.
Have fun with your gardening and if it just gets to be “too much” work remember that you are growing tangible assets.
Ya’ll take care!!
Sci

Trading Tradition for Function

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1911 on bottom was traded for the AK
I recently traded my S&W 1911for a Yugo M-70AK-47. Some of you may believe I made a good move and some of you are considering tracking me down and kicking my ass. I debated doing this trade for quite some time and took quite an emotional beating from a good friend of mine when I told him I made the trade. Putting aside bias towards a certain platform and nostalgia for a tried and true piece of Americana, this was a smart move on my part.


The 1911 is as American as apple pie and pickup trucks, but in my situation it was a redundant firearm that was easily replaced by my Glock 19. The 1911 has amazing knockdown power and would stop a threat with one well-placed round, but so will any caliber firearm. No one shoots only one round in a life or death situation. The 1911 is by no means a piece of junk or a dying platform. For my situation the 1911 just didn’t make sense and the cost of .45 ammo is insane compared to 9mm or even 7.62×39.


We can talk Glock vs. 1911 another time; this is about finding purpose for what you choose to have for personal defense and discarding items you no longer have use for.

From a recent AK playdate
The AK platform has genius in the simplicity of its design. The tolerances are loose which allows the ability for the firearm to function even when caked with mud and crap on the internals. If you believe we are at risk of a foreign incursion, you most likely have a Combloc firearm in your safe already. This platform is used by every country we view as a threat to our homeland and getting used to its function and manual of arms is a smart decision. If something were to happen like “Red Dawn” or any other invasion scenario, you would have an abundant amount of ammo ripe for the picking.


I try to keep firearms that have the same caliber as the military and law enforcement as well as our main adversaries overseas for the purposes of ease of sourcing ammunition in a SHTFscenario.  A bare bones armory for some people would maybe have these common items:

  •          AR-15/10
  •          12 gauge shotgun
  •          Pistol (9mm, .40, .45)
  •          AK-47/74

DIY Container Gardens: Growing Potatoes Indoors

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DSCN4974

 

Today I present my Youtube video on how to grow potatoes inside in bins.  I presented this first in my post on all the uses for the lowly cardboard box, and decided to give the straw free potato bin container garden a try myself this year.

Its very simple just 4 inches of topsoil a few handfuls of straw and light watering and by fall you will be able to just reach in and grab potatoes free of dirt and ready to eat!

This is very useful if you live in an apartment or are short of space.

 

 

 

 

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Currant Season!

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I love the wild currants, but I gotta say the picking is quite labor intensive.

It’s THAT time of year again, when the currants begin to ripen and are ready to be picked and dried for the year.  It always manages to happen when the weather gets hot, meaning any foraging trips require plenty of water, cooling clothing, and in this Ginger’s case, plenty of sunscreen.

But the effort is worth it.

I use wild currants in a lot of my baked goods, including my homemade brioche, muffins, and pancakes.  And earlier this year Dave McCallum soaked them in whiskey for our Valentine’s Day Gluten Free Foraged Cake!

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This is my brioche, mid bake, with dried currants from a nearby park.

So I think this week I’ll be taking Hunny B. out to my favorite currant picking spot to gather and dry enough berries to get us through the year.  I don’t need many, the flavor is very strong so usually less than a gallon is enough to get us through til next season.

But I’d better do it soon.  Carolina’s parents are visiting from Chile at the end of the month and love my Wild Currant Brioche.

Just remember, whenever you forage, to use proper foraging etiquette.

Oh!  I almost forgot – speaking of Chile, we’re back with new episodes on Memorial Day!  We start with a trip to Chile, with urban foraging, a live volcano, and a hike to a glacier that gets us in a little over our heads.  Don’t miss it!

A Day Late

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 My Papa used to say “A Day late and a dollar short”.  That’s what this post is today.  Well not a dollar short but….  I’m not starting all over again.  Geesh I’d  never get a post up.   Anyway…

I hope everyone had a good weekend.  Around here we had really nice weather if you don’t count the wind.  I couldn’t believe just how hard the sustained wind was blowing.  It was probably around 25-30mph for most of the day. It was gusting at least 40mph and maybe more than that. I felt like I was back home on Galveston Island with those winds.

Check out the rocks

Why am I talking about the wind?   Well Mars and I were taking a break from the garden, sitting in the shade with big glasses of ice tea.  All of the sudden there was  a HUGE bang.  I kid you not! A  gust of wind had blown over the rabbit hutches.  I’m talking about completely blew it over, including the stands.  We use some old tin on top of the hutches (for shade) and very large rocks to hold the “roof” on too. 
 Shoot I know how heavy just the  hutches are, much less the 3 stands.  We were moving them out of the barn and into their summer spot just the day before. I can barely help him move them. The big nesting box he made is super heavy on its own. Not to mention about 25 rabbits involved.

Well I was on my feet in an instant thinking “Oh Cr*p I hope the babies are ok.”  We got every thing right back up and all the babies were fine. Poor Gladys got a busted nose during the fall.  She looks better now.  I’m just glad that was the only injury.  
This is her first litter and she’s turning out to be an excellent mother.  She had a huge litter too. 12 babies in all.  

Unfortunately we’ve lost 2 of them. I think she must have stepped on one from what I could tell. But the 10 that have made it are all pretty sturdy.  Even the runt isn’t a tiny baby.  I’ve read several places that anything larger than 7 or 8 and the mama can’t feed them all.  So I’m real proud of her.  She takes care of them all.
I still can’t believe that the wind actually pushed over the entire  hutch. 

 Stands and all!


 

Anyway…. I sort of got off topic! (no, really??  Did someone say squirrel?? ) 

Let’s get back to what I wanted to tell you in the first place.  We were at The Evil Empire picking up a couple of things Friday afternoon. The stuff we needed was in the back of the store so we parked out near where they had fruit and shade trees.    They were mostly crispy and leafless.  They had a few fruit trees left and had the price knocked down to $9.97. Not much of a deal for dead and dying trees. We went over to check them out and saw a few that might be saved if they got in the ground soon.  We found a couple of plum trees that looked like they actually might make it. 

 Mars told me I should go find the garden center manager and see if she would mark a couple of them down even further.  See if she might make a deal on a couple of them.  Long story short (yeah right, huh?)  She didn’t have a problem with marking the two plum trees we wanted down to $5 each.  

We thought the two we got would be just fine if we could get them in the ground soon and baby them.  It must be a karma kind of thing because  1)We’ve been wanting plum trees long before all this and   2)Mars had already started getting ready to transplant a couple of Red Buds.  He already had the holes almost ready.
 

Anyway….. he planted the trees and was leaning on the shovel and was smiling when he said 

“Happy Mothers Day”.

Episode 27: Litecoin, Bitcoin and other Crypto Currencies

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I recorded this a month ago so some of the information in regards to “cases” and recent events is somewhat dated but all the information presented is still very relavent.

Today I talk about…

  • How Crypto Currencies Work
  • Why Cryptocurrencies are a good thing for liberty.
  • What is a “miner”?
  • The Mt. Gox Disaster and why its a good thing
  • The myth that Bitcoin enables Drug Dealers and Terrorists
  • And More.

NOTE:

I didn’t finish my posts on how to build a miner and no longer advocate it with the advent of ASICS, specialized systems that mine but at fractions of the heating cost.  Basically its getting hard for the small guy to get in on it.  I have exited my position as a miner but continue to trade the markets and have been doing pretty well.

 

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Soul Food aka Southern Cooking

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I sat down this morning and checked out the new posts of several of the blogs I follow.  I saw that Carolyn over at Krazo Acres had a new post up. 
I had started to leave a comment and realized it was so long that I had the makings of a new post myself.  If you have been blogging any time at all you know that when you get an idea for a new post never turn it down! You run with it.  I’m going to put up her “homepage” link because you have GOT to read the one under it.  I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. 

And now for the comment I deleted over there…. Read on!

There was a time some years ago that I was really curious to find out what Soul Food really was.  I was around 20 when I finally found out.  There was a little cafe who’d just opened their doors and the sign on the building read Mama’s Soul Food.  I was SO excited!!  I was going to finally find out what “Soul Food” really was.

 The big day came and a friend and I headed over to check out the place.  When we got there we found the cafe was sort of like a cafeteria type line where you got to choose what you’d like on your plate.  The menus were rotated out  day to day.  So that day there were fried pork chops and fried chicken with a beautiful crispy crust, There were turnips and turnip greens with bacon, fried cabbage w/ham,   black-eyed peas and ham hocks, mashed potatoes and white gravy, pinto beans w/bacon (pork n beans southern style), fried squash,  cornbread and fresh baked rolls. For desert there was dewberry cobbler and banana pudding.  Everything looked so darn good but I still wanted to know where the soul food was.

  It seems I missed the days that they made things like chitterlings (pronounced chitlin’s)  and pigs feet. Not that it made much difference to me because it wasn’t like I’d not eaten those before.  I love me some chitlins! The cafe was only open for dinner (some folks call it lunch) from 11-2 on weekdays. If they ran out of food they just ran out of it.  Once it was gone that was it.  They had a chalk board with the menu printed out. They’d cross off what they ran out of.  It turned out to be a huge success with folks around town.  You would see business men in their work uniforms (suits) carpenters and craftsmen, folks from other service businesses.  If you wanted the best selection you had to show up early and stand in line for it.

The meal was wonderful but it was on that day  I finally found out that all the years I’d wondered just what Soul Food was that I’d been eating it all my life. For some reason that sort of bummed me out since  I pretty much cooked the same way at home as did my mom and grandma did. But it sure was a great place to go have what I call comfort food but apparently also called Soul Food. 
 One evening a week they served All You Can Eat Catfish n fixin’s every Friday for supper!!! It was the only day of the week they would cook a dinner menu and reopen at 5 for the catfish supper.  Once it was gone they’d close the door.

 Unfortunately  Mama’s Soul Food burned to the ground a few years after I’d found the place. They didn’t have the money to rebuild.  What happened after that was amazing.  Folks started to donate money to help re-build the place.  There were “tip jars” on dozens of business’ all over the place. Even the little hole in the wall bars were raising money for them. Even the local tv news stations were covering it.  It took over a year but they finally were able to re-open!  That shows you just how community can come together and make things happen.

Bugout Route Planning – Being Safe and Supplied On the Road

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The debate about bugging out and bugging in is as old as prepping itself. There are advantages and disadvantages to each strategy, but the reality is that in order to be truly prepared for any local disaster scenario, you need to be prepared to do both depending on the situation.   In today’s post we’re …

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Storing Fats and Oils

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Storing fats and oils long term requires defining ‘long term’ – which I’ll do in a moment. The problem with storing any fats and oils is oxidation – exposure to oxygen causes rancidity. Rancidity has been implicated as a cause of cancer (a carcinogen), heart disease, and atherosclerosis. On the other hand, fats are important for our health.

What to look for in a group post SHTF

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Post-Apocalyptic-Wallpapers-February-2014-1

 

Not all of us have a prepper group now or are planning on joining or becoming part of one.  I personally am not looking to be part of a group now, I look to my community as my “group” and while there is no community out there that is perfect, even if you have a group, if your community goes to crap you probably wont last. Now I don;t want to disparage J.W. Rawles and his Patriot Franchise, many of us, myself included were introduced to prepping early on by his novels, and as much criticism as he gets for his literary ability, I love Patriots and have read it about 4 times. That being said his story is just that in my opinion, a story.

 

In Patriots we see a small group of folks holding up in the mountains of Idaho, while that may be possible for most of us it probably isn’t, more than likely if any of us have a retreat or home we plan to bug in at, its near other people.  Where there are other people there can be problems. All of this has been a set up to get your mind in the place I’m talking about.

 

If you find yourself in a SHTF scenario, no one knows what it will actually look like, it could be bad, or REALLY bad.   However it could be bad in one place and horrifying in others, it all depends. Depending on what you are encountering where you are it may or may not make sense to join a group if it is even possible. Humans tend to congregate together, especially in bad times, however bad folks tend to congregate and flourish with other bad folks and the likewise for the other side, however this is also not a exact rule. So what should you look for in a group, good and bad to help you make a decision.

  • Before I ever approached a group I would shadow them, out of sight.  Watch what they do, how they treat each other, especially how the “leader” treats everyone.  Watch how and where they get their supplies.  Do they trade? Do they scavenge? Do they steal from others? If stealing and murdering don’t raise any flags with you, then maybe you do belong with them.
  • See if they have older people and young ones in the group.  If they do not then they are either heartless or pragmatic.  You will have to decide if you are ok with that, turning away anyone that isn’t an asset, even if it means their death.  If they do have some older folks and young ones with them, you will have to decide whether they might be “too open” and will put you at risk being that they will put the well being of the group at risk over  helping anyone in need.  I’m making no value judgements either way, just notifying you of your options.
  • After watching them for awhile, if you decide to approach them, then do so but in the daylight, cautiously.  Walk in like you would want someone to walk in on you if they had nothing but the best intentions.
  • Let them know that you are looking to join a group, ask to talk to the leader and or the group to discuss it.  Let them know what skills you have, what you can bring to the table, that you will bring more than you will take.
  • Ask them how long they have been together: Its important to know either way, and either way it could be good or bad.  If they had all been together a long time it could mean they are very tight and loyal, however it could also mean it will be very hard to crack into a group that has been through a lot together.  If they are all relatively new and have just gotten together it could mean you can get stitched in easily, it could also mean there are some bad elements in the group that haven’t been found out yet.
  • Where they came from: If they have been in the same rough area for a long time it means they have some sort of system or stockpile that has kept them there for the whole period of time.  If they have been traveling for a long time, it probably means they don’t have anything  secure there, but it also means they are very resourceful if they’ve survived that long and that far.
  • What their long term plan is:  Do they have a end destination,  a place where they want to settle down.  Do they have a end goal?  Looking for a place to settle down, plant some crops and make new little community?
  • What are their policies on dealing with raiders/criminals?  Have they run afoul of any semi-law along the way?  Its important to know how they deal with people they catch stealing or attack them.  To strict and at all sadistic and you may be dealing with some psychos, too lenient and you may be teaming up with some folks who might get you killed.

 

 

 

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Food Caches: Considerations

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rusty 55 gallon metal drum

 

We have all heard about having caches (pronounced cash-ay-s) for bug out and other purposes, I have even written a post a year or so back about how to cache weapons in the case of…the dreaded “C” word.

Leaving weapons and ammo aside, let us talk about why you should have food caches and thing to think about where you put them.

 

WHY?

The main reason to have food caches, or any caches for that matter, is to have redundancies in your preps and not to have all your eggs in one basket.

If you lose your house to a fire or to a natural disaster, or to a interested government official looking for “hoarders” during a crisis, whatever the case, the question is “how would you fare if your home and all the preps inside it were lost?”  Not good I imagine if that is where ALL your preps were.

The correct and logical course of action would be to stash some preps in other places, so if worst comes to worst you don’t lose everything, and if nothing happens you can always collect them later.

Cache’ing food and supplies can be in the same manner as weapons and ammo, using pvc pipe or pre-made vaults (Like the MONOVAULT).  You can also use clean and rust proofed 55 gallon drums to stock supplies in bury them.  Just be aware that this many supplies will be quite heavy, so you will want to truck them in by vehicle or ATV, but that also means you MAY have to hike these supplies back out.

 

CONSIDERATIONS

09_X_Marks_The_Spot

  • Store miles away from your home, preferably on your egress (escape/Bugout) routes to your bug out locations.  The reason for this is so that if you end up on the run in a hurry you will be able to access some of your preps along the way to keep you going until your get to your bug out location.  As I have mentioned before I would have 3 separate locations to bug out to and 3 separate routes to get there.  If possible I would have caches on each route, with the lions share along your primary routes and smaller ones on your secondary/tertiary routes.
  • Location is important.  Don’t dig these in right on the side of the road where the next road crew will dig it up in the summer.  You also will not want to put them near any hiking trails or camping areas, stay off the beaten path.
  • As well as keeping it out of the way, dig it deep, you don’t want some hiker or hunter to find it digging a few feet in the ground to take a dump before dinner.
  • While keeping it off the beaten path and harder to find you will want to make sure that it is NOT too far out of the way where you will have to spend 2 days hiking in to get it, you also don’t want it to be so far out and heavy that you have to make multiple trips.
  • Back to Location, you will want to steer clear of any utilities, as well as be aware of the local utilities companies in your area and keep updated on any future plans for “additions”, make sure it is not going to be in the area you buried them.
  • Public lands are good in that they are rarely sold off or ever developed, however unlike private land they are prone to be more frequented by hikers and backpackers, heed the “dig deep” warning earlier.
  • Another thing to be aware of is historical sites, don’t dig your caches in any area where historical peoples or events took place. The reason being that on occasion archaeological teams scour those areas and dig far and wide looking for artifacts.
  • As I had mentioned in the weapons cache post, to fool metal detectors and other “sniffers about” you may want to scatter old cans and other metal debris in the area and dug into the ground.  This may fool metal detectors so that they give up thinking its all junk strewn about.

 

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Big Day in Little Big Town

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Unless you want to be really bummed out, don’t go to the grocery store these days.  I ended up in Little Big Town  yesterday.(if you are new to the blog we have Tiny Town a few miles away, Little BigTown a few miles further and of course there is T Town about 45 miles away.)

So I headed out  to the feed store and to do some grocery shopping.  Mind you, I don’t like going to town much in the first place but to do it on a Saturday?  I must have lost my mind. The feed store was like a bee hive with what seems to have been the entire population of farmers in at least a thirty-five mile radius.  I had to pick up chicken and rabbit feed and get some propane bottles filled. While I was there I checked again and they FINALLY had 1lb packages of yeast. Yay!!! I snagged up three of them (I store my yeast in the freezer)  and headed to the counter to put in my order and let them know I needed propane as well.  Are you  wondering yet why I wanted to pick up yeast there? For some reason (and I’m sure it makes sense to someone somewhere) they are the only place I can find 1lb packages of yeast.  I can find those little brown bottles everywhere and of course the single packets in the grocery stores but not a single one carries the big packages.  After going to put in my feed order I went out to check on the propane and the guy said it was already in the car.  This guy had stuck them in the trunk of the car laying them on their side.  A BIG NO-NO.  Anyway I told him he was gonna have to set them in the floorboard of the back seat. (which is where he pulled them out of in the first place)  I didn’t want to be a statistic somewhere in a class on propane safety.  

Anyways…..  Next stop, Grocery Store stop #1.  Jeez, and I thought the feed store was busy!  Maybe it’s just me but it seems everything on my list has risen in price since last month, which didn’t help my crankiness about all the people in there jockeying for position at every turn.  Then it was off to the Evil Empire to finish up what shopping I had to do in Little Big Town. Someone should have smacked me down for that decision!

Last stop of the day…. The Evil Empire, packed with every sort of humanity walking the world!  If it weren’t so funny to watch folks I’d have backed off till another day. Anyway….I pulled up my big girl panties and went for it.  Every since I found out that they HAD to match advertised prices of ALL the other stores in the area (I’m not going to T Town if it can be helped)  Aldi’s (50 miles from home)
must really make them cringe with the excellent prices on produce they run most every week.   So I picked up four lbs of strawberries @.99 a lb to make my first batch of jelly this year and some bananas@.33 a lb and they had avocados on sale too @.33 each.  (I see another Tex Mex meal in the not to distant future.) 

The reason I’m sharing all this with you?  I have a perfect example of how much AND how fast groceries are going up.  I buy tortilla’s.  I don’t like making them but I can and I do know how.  I just would rather not.  So one of the things I pick up every month are flour tortillas.  Four months ago they were $1.48 for twenty tortillas, two months ago they changed the packaging and went up to 1.98 for the same tortillas.  This month I just about fell out when I saw they had bumped the price to $2.48. That makes a dollar increase in just four months time. Looks like I may be going back to homemade tortillas soon. 

I’ve been telling folks for what seems like years that prices are going up and only going to get higher.  Just about everything is going up even faster right now folks.  And just wait till this summer when you start seeing things go even higher.  That drought out there in California will certainly be taking its toll on food costs this year.  My advice?  Stock your larder as deep as you possibly can while you still can.

Field Hygiene and Sanitation in SHTF

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Meet-The-Dirtiest-Old-Man-Who-Hasnt-Seen-A-Bath-Tub-in-60-Years

 

 

Often we preppers focus on the big picture items, food, water, power, weapons and ammo to defend it.  However there are more dangerous things out there that can kill you, in fact in a total collapse you will be more likely to die from disease than roving gangs or starvation.  In WWII alone 38-55 million civilians died with around 25 million MORE dead from disease, this just goes to show you that with the massive amounts of battles, fire bombings, etc. massive amounts of people died, but still half were claimed by disease.

What lesson does this teach you?

That your vigilance is needed in the world of sanitation and hygiene as much of and more so than actually worrying about “combat”.

How can you better implement a sanitation strategy to your home/group in the event of a SHTF scenario.

First you should implement better hygiene and sanitation in your daily life now, as with anything in prepping the more you make a part of your normal life now the easier it will be in the future.

 

WASHING HANDS

This is basic, what we were taught as children “wash your hands before dinner…wash behind your ears.”

While it may have been annoying at that time, it was still good advice.  Once again listen to your mother and you may just survive this world!

Now you may think you need to have anti-bacterial soaps, however recent studies have found that anti-bacterial soaps are no more effective than anti-bacterial soaps when used by healthy people.

Something like Irish Spring Soap will work just fine and you can pick up large amounts of it in bulk.  However you may want to have some Anti-Bacterial soap on hand to use for people who may get ill, are weakened by other issues, etc.

wash your hands vigorously, scrub under your nails with a good nail brush especially before you eat or touch your hands to your mouth in anyway.  A good habit to develop is to just keep your hands out of your mouth.

 

 KEEPING YOUR BODY CLEAN

As with washing your hands keeping your body clean is of the utmost importance.

As best you can with what you have available take showers or baths daily, if you cannot wash yourself using a rag with soap and water.  The cleaner your body is the healthier you will be.

An easy and cheap makeshift shower is just a 5 gallon bucket with handle.  Using a nail and hammer, drill, etc., bust holes through the bottom.  You don’t want too many holes, fewer is better, you can always add more, if you have too many you will lose too much water to quickly.  Concentrate the holes in the center of the bucket.  Use the handle to hang from a branch and pour water into the bucket, or fill it up and hang it immediately.  Be naked before hand and get under it, and you have yourself a decent little makeshift shower.

If you do have power/water in your home you will probably want to conserve the water/electricity depending on where it is coming from.  The best way to do this is to institute the “Navy Shower” policy.  That is you turn on the water, get wet, turn it off.  Then soap up and wash yourself from top to bottom.  Don’t forget the crotch, butt and feet.  Then turn on the water and rinse off, and shut off immediately.  Its amazing how much water we waste just lounging in the shower.

A good loofa, sponge or pumice stone is great for getting off the dirty layer of muck and grim on your body or hard to get off dirt’s, oils, etc from your hands.  I had a friend tell me before I went into the Marines (who was a vet himself) to always make sure i keep my butt clean, i didn’t understand at first, but after my first few  week long forays into the field i realized that not doing so let to quite a bit of discomfort from what we called “swamp ass”.

 

EATING AND UTENSILS

It is paramount that you keep whatever you eat on and drink out of clean.  I recently had a bout of the stomach bubbles due to not keeping my cup clean on a recent hiking trip, this is just a pain now, but could spell death if your are not careful in a real survival situation, it was a good wake up call for my complacence in situation i consider second nature.

Always wash after eating and before eating if it was exposed to dirt and grime.

Water is better than nothing, and sand/gravel works well for a pre-clean scrub if you have nothing else. However this will not prevent any yuckies that may have formed on them.  I personally have bulked up on storing dawn dishwashing liquid.  You can pick up a gallon for around $11 on Amazon.  A quick word on Amazon Prime, its a great service and i have had it for 2 years now, basically it offers you free 2 day shipping on amazon prime items, most of them are. its around $90 but when you factor in shipping on a lot of this stuff it pays for itself very quickly.  Considering you could order 500 lbs of stuff and not pay shipping, that is great.  You can try it out for 30 days for free by going through this link.   

 

BATHROOM

I don’t need to go into this on this post as i just wrote a post about this recently called SHTF LATRINES: How to Poop when the water stops

 

MISC

A few other things to keep in mind…

  • Keep your socks dry when out and about, always carry a second pair, if the first get soaked take them off, and hang them around your neck or off your pack so they can dry.  Foot rot is not your friend
  • Foot and Body Powder are great if you have them, i would recommend storing some away, they can usually be picked up when walgreens, riteaid, etc have those clearance bins for dirt cheap.
  • It is also important for you to keep your clothes clean.  Now getting dirty isn’t something to be avoided like the plague, but it defeats the purpose somewhat if you keep yourself clean but never clean your clothes for weeks on end.
  • Zinc Oxide and other creams are good to keep some minor rubbing on your thighs, butt, etc from becoming infected.

 

 

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Spanish Rice

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 Yesterday I was in the mood for some Mexican food. I found a  nice recipe for Green Chili Pork.  done in the slow cooker.  Of course I had to wing it some. I put up several pints of Green Verde last summer so I used it in place of the green salsa called for.  I also didn’t have fresh cilantro so I used some dried instead.  It really turned out well. 

I had one jar of black beans left from last year and all I needed was to find a good Spanish rice recipe.  I’ve never had much luck at all with Spanish rice.  It’s usually either to dry or to drab so when I found this recipe I just had to try it. Since we ran out of propane a couple of days ago (don’t ask)  I found a recipe for Spanish Rice that could be done in the nuke machine.  I’m here to tell you it’s actually far and away the best I’ve made and I’m adding it to my “line-up”.

As usual I pretty much had to make it work with what I had on hand the original recipe was just a sort of a blueprint.  So here goes!

SPANISH RICE (Microwave)
 from COOKS.COM

1 lg. onion, chopped  (subbed re-hydrated onions)
1/4 c. chopped green pepper (subbed re-hydrated red and green bell peppers)
2 tbsp. butter
Water
1 c. stewed tomatoes, chopped and drained – save liquid (subbed my own salsa recipe and tomato juice)
1 c. long grain rice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

In 2 quart casserole combine onion, green pepper and butter. Cook on High 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Add enough liquid out of tomatoes to make 2 cups. Add to dish with tomatoes, rice, salt and pepper. Cover. Cook on High for 5 minutes then on medium for 20 minutes. Stir only once. Let stand covered for 5 minutes. (Time may vary with each microwave.)

I re-hydrated onions and some green and red bell peppers and used them instead.  In place of the stewed tomatoes I used a cup of salsa. (my recipe for a wonderful salsa) 
and subbed a cup of homemade tomato sauce and one cup of water for stewed tomatoes and the saved liquid.. After that I actually followed the rest of the recipe.

So we had Verde Pork, Spanish Rice and Black beans.
Sorry I didn’t get a picture of the whole dinner but I promise you it was lip smacking good. I’ve finally found a Spanish Rice recipe I’m sure to be making again.  And again.

What Are The Most Important Elements of Preparedness?

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By Denis Korn

There is an extraordinary fixation in our current culture with all the trappings of physical survival – given the perception of imminent collapse, chaos and oppression.  The degree of hysteria and response to this phenomena is unprecedented in the 39 years I have been in the preparedness industry, and I will soon post an article with my take on what is happening.  I am not a prophet – just an experienced observer of the times and peoples reaction to the radical shifts taking place in our society.  The events that will unfold in the very near future may be catastrophic as many believe or just extremely uncomfortable – we shall soon find out.

The heightened sensitivity to the uncertainty of these times has obviously motivated many to a preparedness/survival mindset.  While so many folks writing articles and blogs are focusing on the myriad of aspects of physical readiness, and a boatload of preparedness/survival websites and advertisers are intensely promoting all the stuff required to survive, I feel the most important elements of preparedness/survival are often overlooked.  This brings our attention to the spiritual and emotional components of preparedness.

In a previous post I talked about Normalcy Bias – the mental state by which people cling to perceptions that are familiar and comfortable – and because of this state they can be in denial of the reality of the circumstances around them.  In some situations and contexts Normalcy Bias may be appropriate; however, in planning for emergencies denying the truth can be disastrous and often deadly.

After acknowledging that there are mental states and attitudes (see Attitude is a Decision) that are necessary to properly plan for emergencies and catastrophes, I want to address the emotional and spiritual aspects of emergency and disaster planning.  Most of the information, guidelines, lists and resources for preparedness focus exclusively on the physical “stuff” required to be adequately prepared for an emergency.  While this is obviously important, it is only one component in the preparedness process when looked at from a holistic perspective.

What is emotion? The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary gives us this definition:

2 a : the affective aspect of consciousness  : FEELING  b : a state of feeling  c : a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.

This is very pertinent as you engage in planning for emergencies.  The relevant point here is that the preparedness planner experiences a conscious mental reaction experienced as a strong feeling that is accompanied by a behavioral change.  While this appears rather self-evident, it must be pointed out that the emergency planner must be aware of their feelings and behavior and its impact on the decisions made on the physical component of the process.

What are the effects of one’s emotional condition and the correctness of their actions? I have talked with many folks about this issue and have seen and heard of the unfortunate results of decisions made that were a result of not being conscience of the influence of their emotional state.  Understanding the power of one’s emotions and acting responsibly can have a positive impact on taking correct action – losing control of one’s emotions and behavior can be destructive.

As I have discussed so often while teaching Critical Thinking in the college classroom, people habituallyreact to a challenging situation rather than critically evaluate and reflect appropriately.  The quality and effectiveness of their decisions is often significantly compromised.  Essential attributes in the preparedness planning process are DISCERNMENT AND INFORMED JUDGMENT!

What is the spiritual component? The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary gives us this definition of spiritual:

1 : of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit  : INCORPOREAL  [spiritual needs]   2 a : of or relating to sacred matters  [spiritual songs]  b : ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal  [spiritual authority]  [lords spiritual]   3 : concerned with religious values  4 : related or joined in spirit  [our spiritual home]  [his spiritual heir]   5 a : of or relating to supernatural beings or phenomena  b : of, relating to, or involving spiritualism  : SPIRITUALISTIC

For many the spiritual factor is the most important facet of preparedness and the point from which one begins the preparedness process.  One’s spiritual faith and belief forms the foundation for action.  Reliance on God in the decision making process is primary – trust in God’s guidance in making one’s decisions is fundamental and essential.

I believe the spiritual component encompasses the following aspects:

  • The ultimate outcome of the emergency scenario is in God’s hands
  • In a mysterious way God directs the process
  • We often focus our most important priorities in the wrong direction
  • The purpose of the disaster or catastrophe is of a spiritual nature
  • The difficulties and suffering in a disaster affords one the opportunity to choose to come closer to and rely upon God
  • One’s faith and trust in God is tested, and gives one a chance to assess their relationship with the Divine
  • We are not to rely on our own understanding
  • We are not to cling to the notion that our material possessions are the most important factors in our lives
  • The importance of earnest prayer is profoundly evident
  • Catastrophic events are a result of spiritual warfare of which we have no control
  • We are to love, support, assist, provide for, console, teach and inspire our family, neighbors, friends and strangers during the most trying of times
  • We are being required to ask – and answer: What are the fundamental truths I must learn, and who do I  truly trust during trials and tribulation?
  • Why are you being called to prepare and for what purpose?

To believe that being prepared is just a matter of having all the right provisions safely stored away is, in my opinion, overlooking the most important factors in survival, resiliency and effective preparedness.  We must not get caught up in the perverting media frenzy of perpetuating fear and anxiety to such an extent that clear thinking is obliterated.  Successful preparedness – and daily living for that matter – is a balance of physical, emotional and spiritual elements.

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