A few little jobs done around the house

It was a snowy weekend with a biting wind though it wasn’t very cold for winter.  I salted the front sidewalks on Friday evening for snow but I missed a few places where it got Icy.  Today the 25th of Feb I shoveled off the sidewalks and added a bit more ice melt to the Icy sections I could not shovel.  At worst we have about 2-4 inches of snow and it’s not worth breaking out the snow blower for that little bit of snow.

I finally got the new curtain rod hung over the large window in my living room.  The installation was very easy following the instructions compared to my usual job of “winging it”.  I installed a new shower curtain in my big bathroom and it looks okay, but I have to cut down the old shower curtain for my small bathroom shower. I won’t need the “tie backs” on the small bathroom shower curtain and guess what the burgundy color tie backs match the color of my living room curtains.  A couple of decorative hooks and I’ll have my curtains looking great and functional.  These are simple little jobs I have put off but it did feel darn good to get them done.

I had a very interesting experience today of another cat on my front porch smuggled up with Smokey the cat.  In the past Smokey was very territorial and would get all cranky with any cat entering her territory but this cat seems to be an exception.  Also this new cat seems very nice towards the black kitten “Ebony” who seems to call the alley home and my place specifically.  I set out some more food to augment the mouse hunts that they are doing.  I may set out Mom’s Chicken heated water setup so the critters can stay hydrated.  Clean fresh flowing water is critical to animal survival.  Plus if we can get a few good mousers to Mom’s place that would be wonderful.  The cats will have a good home and Mom will have a great mouse traps.

Tucker the peke has healed up well after having his eye pop out. He is still a bit odd looking after having the eye removed and the lid sewed shut but it was the only option after not saving the eye.  While Tucker has a bit of a blind spot on that side, it does not seem to have bothered his depth perception on jumping on my bed.  It is incredible how adaptable animals can be.  They don’t think to revel in misery they just move ahead on life and adapt.

There is still snow on the ground so on to gardening…..   LOL

Mom and I attended a local church that has a very extensive raised bed garden and learned quite a bit, or at least I learned some stuff.  I think their raised beds concept would work for me and be much less expensive over all than my concept of a raised bed for my main garden area.   Heck I’ve done most of the ground prep already.  Not buying cedar fence and pressure treated boards will save a lot of money.  It won’t be cheap with the rising cost of lumber but it won’t be as expensive as I thought it would be this year.




So I guess the mobile blogger app doesn’t say anything if there are comments that need to be approved. I only approve older comments half to make sure I see them and half to avoid excess spam.

So I had like a hundred and fifty something comments to approve. Most were spam.

Now that I know I will try to keep up on it better.  

7 Ways The Old-Timers Knew It Was Time To Tap

7 Ways The Old-Timers Knew It Was Time To Tap

Image source: Pixabay.com

Tapping trees to make syrup is an annual late-winter-into-spring tradition for many homesteaders. One of the keys to a successful syruping season is timing, and as is true with many homesteading activities, timing is all about the weather.

Nowadays, we have weather satellite information readily available at the touch of a screen, and can easily find charts of predicted weather to determine the best time to set our taps.

But satellite weather reports have not always been available. Old-timers used alternative sources to determine when was the best time for tapping trees for sap.

Here are seven ways they did that:

1. Day length. For the first weeks after the solstice in December, the day length grows so slowly that it’s barely discernable. As the equinox approaches, daylight begins to increase dramatically. Rapidly lengthening days told early homesteaders that tapping season was around the corner.

2. Sun height in the sky. During winter in the north, the sun slides east to west across the southern horizon. As warmer months approach, the sun’s daily traverse reaches higher into the sky. Sunrise gradually occurs more toward the east than in the southeast, sunsets are more to the west than the southwest, and the sun is higher in the sky during the day.

3. Warm days and cold nights. Old-timers could follow the temperature trends with or without a thermometer. It goes without saying that they could tell how warm or cold it was by going outside and feeling the air on their skin, but they could probably also get a sense of the temperature just by looking out the window. They could get a feel for the weather by the way the wood stove and chimney smoke behaved, the way livestock’s breath fogged up (or didn’t fog up), frost on roofs of outbuildings and neighbor houses, and the amount of ice clinging to the branches of trees.

4. Snow texture. When the temperature rises and falls, the snow gets grainy. Some folks may have called it “corn snow” in their day. People who spend a lot of time on snow can easily discern a lot about atmospheric conditions by the feel and sound of the snow, and I suspect our ancestors were better at it than we were. The warmth of the sun on long sunny days turns the snowpack to mealy mush, which then becomes granular when the nighttime temperatures plummet.

5. Dripping branches. Branches that have broken off due to wind or ice, or lopped off by a snowplow blade, will begin to drip when the sap is starting to run. This can be so dramatic that it’s visible driving past in a car, but syrupers in years past probably saw more close-up evidence as they went about their regular chores on the homestead.

6. Sap-drenched tree trunks. Any break in the bark of a standing tree will allow sap to run out, sometimes so abundantly that it looks like someone left a faucet turned on up high on the tree. I’ve often admired the glistening trunks of late-winter maples while on my snowshoe travels, and I expect the old-timers must have, too.

7. Sappy sawblades. Cutting into a live tree while the sap is running will result in a wet sawblade, whether it’s a modern chainsaw or an old-fashioned two-man crosscut.

These are likely to be some of the ways that our forbears could tell it was time to think about setting taps in trees and preparing to make syrup, and might well be some of the sure signs of tapping season that many people still observe today.

For my own small-scale backyard syruping operation, I use a combination of convenient online predictions and old-fashioned observations. However, probably the method I use most is none of the above. When I see lines and buckets up and running in other people’s maple groves, I know the time has come to run home and dig out my tapping supplies! This might sound a little slapdash, but a day or two either way does not make that much difference. And since large-scale outfits often use vacuum equipment which allows them to begin harvesting sap earlier than those relying on gravity, leaving plenty of time for me to get my taps set after noticing commercial operations already up and running.

I always say that one of the best things about homesteading in the 21st century is that we have the luxury to having both old-time practices and cutting-edge technology available. When it comes to setting taps for backyard syrup operations, using wisdom from the old-timers is a great way to start.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

Their Radical Plan To Off-Grid, Debt-Free Living Worked. Here’s What They Did.

Their Radical Plan To Off-Grid, Debt-Free Living Worked. Here’s What They Did.Jocelyn and Jarvis knew they would have to make some radical changes in their lifestyle if they were going to get out of debt, but they did not know that those changes would put them on a different path altogether.

In order to pay off their $96,000 debt from student loans, credit cards and the purchase of small rural property, the couple moved into a small apartment, changed jobs and switched to a strict cash-only budget. By adhering to a frugal lifestyle, they were able to pay off their debt in 20 months. Their plan was then to save to make the down-payment for their own home.

However, the lessons they had learned had changed their perspective. “We’d gone from this heavy burden of debt to feeling very free,” recalls Jocelyn, adding that they asked themselves, “Do we really want to now take on a huge mortgage?”

Their answer was no, and when a friend of Jocelyn’s was selling the framework of a tiny house on a trailer bed, the couple began a new journey. With only a two-week window to make the decision to buy the house, Jocelyn admits she talked her husband into the design and building project. “We planned to work on it for maybe four to five months,” Jocelyn says. “We started in May and we thought we would be finished by November.”

However, since neither of them had building experience, and their daughter was born in the meantime, the project ended up taking 14 months. “We spent our evenings on YouTube watching videos on how to wire an outlet or how to flash a roof,” Jarvis says.

“It was a huge sacrifice,” says Joselyn, who cared for their baby while Jarvis worked on the house. Their story is detailed in a new YouTube video (above). “I sort of hated the tiny house for a while. … But as soon as we moved in, it was totally worth it.”

Today, after two years in their new home, the family has added a fourth member, a baby son, and they are hooked on the tiny house lifestyle.

Built on a 32-foot by eight-foot trailer bed, the home has a 225-square-foot main level and a 100-square foot sleeping loft. Jarvis admits that having a separate small bedroom for the kids on the main level is an important part of the design for his family. “I’ve seen a lot of designs that only have a nook (for kids), but I think that would be very challenging,” he admits.

The home has a composting toilet, uses well water, is heated with propane and has an on-demand hot water propane tank. It operates on a standard 15-amp plug-in to the property owner’s home. They have added solar panels as part of their plan to be able to go off the grid in coming months.

“Living in a tiny house really promotes living a lot of the time outside,” says Jocelyn. “We are so much more connected with the seasons now.” Calling themselves novice gardeners, the couple is starting to grow some of their own food in terraced gardens outside their home, and they are raising chickens for eggs.

Jarvis and Jocelyn currently rent their home site but are saving to purchase their own property and to then live off-grid in the near future. “Because we don’t have debt and we don’t have a lot of possessions, we have a lot of freedom,” says Jocelyn. “We feel very much in control of our lives.”

Would you want to live in a tiny home? What advice do you have for getting out of debt? Share your thoughts in the section below: 

The Perfect Carbine-Pistol Package That Will Fill All Your Gun Needs

The Perfect Carbine-Pistol Package That Will Fill All Your Gun Needs

If you like compact and maneuverable carbines in the hot 22 WMR rimfire cartridge, then the Kel-Tec CMR-30 is for you. When Kel-Tec introduced the CMR in .22 WMR, it added another player to their lineup of lightweight, compact rifles. There’s a lot to love about this little gun, and if you combine it with the Kel-Tec PMR-30 pistol (same caliber) you would have a dynamite package for hunting, survival, defense and target shooting.

This carbine barrel is 16.1 inches with a 1 in 16-inch twist. With stock fully extended, the overall length is 30.6 inches. Thanks to mostly aluminum construction, it’s very light, at 3.8 pounds unloaded.

Lots of Features

The CMR is loaded with a wide range of useable features right out of the box. Examining this nice carbine overall you will find:

Adjustable stock. Kel-Tec calls it a four-position stock, but that doesn’t include the fully collapsed position, which shortens the gun to a very portable 22.7 inches. The ambidextrous adjustment lever is located just under the top front of the trigger guard. Operation in my experience has been silent and very smooth.

Metal sling loops on either side of the buttstock. Admittedly, they’re small, but that’s a trait that can be compensated for by using a length of paracord to accommodate larger sling hardware connecting points.

The magazine release, like most other things on this rifle, is ambi-friendly. Its location at the rear lower edge of the mag well takes a little getting used to, however.

Ambidextrous safety. Several folks that shot in testing the CMR are southpaws — and all found the thumb-operated lever convenient.

A textured pistol grip that complements this gun’s pack-ability with its narrow and flat profile. The signature Kel-Tec texture makes keeping a solid grip and shoulder mount easy.

A roomy trigger guard allows for safe operation, even with gloved hands.

Flip-up Magpul rear sight, with aperture that’s adjustable for windage. This (along with its mate up front) is a surprisingly high-end attachment. Regardless of the reason for putting better sights on the CMR-30 than on other Kel-Tec carbines, they did right by the consumer with this choice.

To match the rear sight, the front is a flip-up, Magpul adjustable post. This setup is great for keeping the gun compact, as optics can clear the sights without being mounted extra-high. The sights can thus co-witness with many optic setups.

More Pictatinny rail than you’ll ever use runs the length of the stock, top and bottom. You can add more stuff than you probably need!

Ambidextrous bolt operation, with a charging handle big enough to grab onto and operate quickly to clear a malfunction while keeping the gun shouldered. It’s also there to simply lock the bolt back, though doing that without breaking the firing position would take more work than I’ve put into this gun so far. The lock-back lever isn’t ambi; it’s on the left side only. At first glance it appears the charging handles may reciprocate during firing, endangering fingers. They don’t—they’re only for manually pulling the bolt rearward.

Threaded muzzle, with a good checkered steel cap, allows for quick installation of a suppressor or flash hider. The cap keeps the threads clean and the barrel streamlined without an accessory.


The CMR trigger has a bit of take-up but isn’t heavy or grainy, and the reset is palpable without being match-grade sensitive.  Kel-Tec says the weight range is three to five pounds, and it’s not adjustable.

Finally, Kel-Tec provides a full-color, highly detailed owner’s manual. It’s a nice gesture in an age when most manufacturers are issuing dull, generic manuals that drive us to YouTube when it’s time to clean the firearm.

Accuracy and Ammo

Shooting the CMR with a variety of setups was found to be more than acceptable. Especially considering a magnified optic was NOT utilized for a detailed accuracy test.

Ammo types during the trial include CCI TNT Green (lead-free) 30 grain, CCI Maxi-Mag 40 grain, and Hornady Critical Defense 45 grain. All achieved one to one-and-a-half-inch groups at 25 yards, with the TNT Green forming the tightest group of less than an inch. This is not to pass negative judgement on the other loads, as improvised rests used in the prone position, wind and shooter error surely had some effect, as they usually do.

Keep in mind that just a year or so ago 22WMR ammo was quite challenging to find, due to supplies having been bought up over the previous six to eight years because of concerns over gun and ammunition availability. Moral to this story: Keep a very good supply of the calibers of ammo you enjoy shooting and intend to use for all purposes.


The owner’s manual provides rather sternly worded instructions about loading the magazines, and they’re not kidding. Loading the 30-round mag is the only thing inconvenient about operating this gun. Ammo must be loaded from the front of the magazine while sliding the round toward the rear wall of the magazine. The manual recommends tapping the flat backside of the mag on a flat wooden surface every 5-10 rounds. The spring is quite tight, and much pressure is required to load the last 10 rounds. The rounds also tend, at any stage of loading, to get a little off kilter in their double-stack configuration. The four misfeeds experienced during the 125-round test (a three percent failure rate) can probably be attributed to a slightly displaced round near the top of a full magazine. Once you become accustomed to the magazine loading procedure, it’s not that big a deal.

The magazine drops easily from the mag well upon release. This allows one to run speed or tactical reloads without hassle.


Disassembling the CMR-30 is a straightforward process, if unusual in comparison to most common semi-autos. A small pin located on the frame and above the trigger must be pushed through with an improvised pointy object. The grip/trigger assembly separate as one unit, along with the stock, and barrel/bolt assembly which can be separated for cleaning. It’s not intuitive, but once done, it’s easy to repeat.

Parting Thoughts

Mounted with a magnifying optic, zeroed for the shooter’s ammo of choice, the Kel-Tec CMR-30 is a highly portable, dependable and accurate tool for a variety of applications out to at least 100 yards and probably beyond. For shooters whose visual acuity is good, the same is true for using the rifle with its stock sights.

What’s even more attractive is that the CMR-30 companion gun, the Kel-Tec PMR-30, is a full-size pistol of the same caliber and the magazines are the same for both.

Both the CMR and the PRM appear to enjoy a continued high demand. Current retail pricing for the CMR-30 ranges from $450 to $550.

Have you ever shot either of these guns? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the section below:

5 Uses For Wood Ash You’ve Probably Never Considered

5 Uses For Wood Ash You’ve Probably Never Considered

Image source: Pixabay.com

People have been using wood ash for as long as they have been building fires. From writing, to making soap, wood ash can be an invaluable staple to have on the homestead.

What is wood ash? Also referred to as pot ash, wood ash is the leftover byproduct from burning wood, not to be confused with coal ash.

Some common uses you’ve probably heard of for wood ash are:

  • Garden pest deterrent
  • Dust bath for chickens
  • Ice and snow melter
  • As part of compost

The Not So Common

One cord of wood can produce an amazing amount of ash, roughly 20 pounds! This is a great resource that is readily available for FREE! If you are living off-grid or in the wilderness, you can harvest it anywhere that you can build a fire.

No. 5 Uncommon Use for Wood Ash: Pottery

Used for pottery glaze since 1500 B.C., wood ash provides a beautiful dark brown to green color.

From the University of Pennsylvania:

“Ash glaze, as the name suggests, is a glaze derived from ashes. The earliest such glazes can be traced back to the Shang period in China (c. 1500 B.C.), and it is thought they were produced accidentally, the result of white-hot wood ash being carried through the kiln with the draft of the fire and settling onto the pots, where the searing white heat melted it to a glass. Three thousand years later, wood ash remains an important and immensely popular feature of pottery glaze making.”

No. 4 Uncommon Use For Wood Ash: Teeth Whitening

Much like using activated charcoal to whiten teeth, wood ash contains potassium hydroxide (KOH) that aids in teeth whitening. Simply mix it with water to form a paste.

Please use caution: It is not advised to use wood ash too often, as it is abrasive and can damage the enamel on your teeth.

No. 3 Uncommon Use For Wood Ash: Cleaning Dishes

Since wood ash has the chemical properties to aid as a cleaning agent, it can be used to clean other things, like windows and dishes. I have used it to clean the glass on my wood stove — and it worked amazingly well. Just a little water, ash, newspaper and elbow grease does the trick.

No. 2 Uncommon Use For Wood Ash: Construction

While watching an off-grid YouTube video, I saw a man mix wood ash with clay and moss to add chinking to his log home. Of course, I had to research this technique further. In my research I found a website that specialized in log homes and mentioned that “for a historic restoration with chinking, keep a supply of ashes, silt and clay.”

No. 1 Uncommon Use For Wood Ash: Wounds

This is the most unusual use for wood ash that I found during my research. Many natural remedies have very little scientific evidence behind them, but this one does. In a controlled study, wood ash in comparison to Neosporin (Polymyxin B Bacitracin Zinc ointment), did better at healing wounds. According to the study:

“Since the earliest times in the history of human kind the traditional unscientific and unproven clinical trials of different types of mixtures have been used successfully. This recommends developing a trust in the healing power of nature.”

What uses for wood ash have you discovered? Share your tips in the section below:

Small DIY Solar Systems are Easy to Make


small solar systemA small solar system designed to power lights and possibly your refrigerator for an emergency is easy to build.  It is something that you can do yourself without a lot of training.

If you have read this post, you know how to figure out how many panels and batteries you need. You can use either new or used solar panels.

To build your small solar system you will need

  • Solar panels — make sure they are matching panels, same size same manufacturer. You can mix some panels but it takes a bit of expertise to get this right.
  • Controller — make sure the controller you get will handle the voltage put out by your panels and it needs to protect your batteries by keeping them from being overcharged. Not all controllers do this.
  • Inverter — your inverter needs to be big enough to handle the draw you intend to place on it.
  • Storage batteries — get good quality deep cycle batteries.
  • Miscellaneous wiring — make sure the wiring will handle the current draw.

Get good quality components; go to a good reputable supplier like sierrasolar.com.  They are a good source of reliable information.

Now that you have all the parts, it is fairly simple to put it together, assuming you have some minimal electrical skills.

small solar panel

Here you can see the wiring on a solar wagon. This shows the batteries and the inverter.

Once you have your panels, determine where you want to place them.  They need good sun exposure for as many hours as possible.  One option that I have seen is to build a solar wagon, An Easy to Make Solar Wagon.  You can build a unit that is portable and you can move to make the best use of the sun.  A wagon can carry enough panels to supply lights and run a refrigerator.

With a small solar system, it is best to connect the panels in series.  This means you attach the positive leads to the negative leads.  Two 12-volt panels will produce 24 volts.  So for each panel, you add your voltage increases.  This is different from a large system where you may have strings of panels in series and the strings then connected in parallel.

Next, attach the leads from the solar panels to the controller.  Then run your wires from the solar panels to the batteries.  The batteries should be wired in parallel.  Your jumpers between the batteries and to the inverter should be out of 2 AWG cable for up to 100 amps.  For 200 amps you should use 3/0 copper.

small solar system

This shows the panels connected in series, the controller and the batteries

small solar system

This is how you wire your batteries in parallel

The inverter should be connected to the batteries.  In mine, I would put a box with at least two 15-amp breakers between the inverter and the appliances.  This is not mandatory but is a good safety feature.

There are several ways to build these small solar systems, some are more complicated than others.  This one is about as simple as you can make. Have fun.

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Latex Cement Roof Experiment (Outhouse Build) Part 1

  I need an outhouse at the land if I am ever going to have workshops and classes. Additionally I have been wanting to find a cheap and durable roofing material.  I have lots of plans for domes that defy traditional construction.   I decided to build an outhouse and perform a Latex Cement Roof Experiment to kill two birds with one cheap stone. I first learned about latex roofs while researching ferrocement.  I still like ferrocement as a building material, but this particular technique is a little better suited to roofs.  The Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Notre

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An Intro to Homestead Water Sources

Securing an off-grid water source is a top priority. You can live comfortably on your property without electricity, but living without water is a different story. Everyone wants to have the convenience and security of a water source on your property. If you’re just beginning your research, here is an outline of the most popular water sources for homesteading. Dig a well Digging a well can provide a sustainable, off-grid water source … in the right circumstances. Unfortunately, it’s not practical to dig a well everywhere. In some places, you can throw a stone and be guaranteed to hit a

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Worth Reading: ‘Camping’s Forgotten Skills: Backwoods Tips From a Boundary Waters Guide’

One way to prepare for potential emergencies is to read and learn from informative books with practical, usable information. “Camping’s Forgotten Skills: Backwoods Tips From a Boundary Waters Guide” by Cliff Jacobson is a literary resource that should be part of any survival or prepper library.

Four Common Household Chemicals With Multiple Uses That Preppers Should Keep On Hand

Baking soda, vinegar, borax, and Epsom salt are four common household chemicals that have many multiple uses, on and off label. These “sulti-tools” of the household are very useful to preppers, survivalists and homesteaders, yet may be difficult to obtain in a post-collapse scenario, They also may make for excellent barter items. I stock up on extra of all four items, and recommend you consider doing the same.  Here are some of the possible uses for each:


Baking Soda Where to even begin? Baking soda is seemingly useful for everything – cooking/baking, cleaning, odor control, personal hygiene… It makes a great substitute for toothpaste, can be applied under the arms in place of deodorant, can be mixed with warm water for an antacid, or used as a gargle to help ease coughs and sore throats. Baking soda mixed with water to form a paste and applied to the skin can help sooth insect stings, sunburn, and itching due to poison ivy/oak.  There’s even some evidence that baking soda may be useful in the prevention and treatment of cancer and kidney disease.  Baking soda can be used to kill cockroaches and other insect pests. In cleaning, it helps cut through grease, can be used to kill mold and mildew, removes coffee and tea stains, and can freshen the smell of upholstery, carpet, and even pet beds. Baking soda can be used as a safe way to extinguish grease and electrical fires. Baking soda mixed with vinegar can help unclog drains and toilets. Got some oil stains on cement or concrete? Sprinkle on some baking soda and scrub with a wet brush to reduce or even eliminate the stain.  It can even be used to clean silver and jewelry. The uses of baking soda go on and on and on. Just google “uses of baking soda” for dozens of other ideas.

Vinegar –  Vinegar has lots of uses relating to cooking, canning, and food preservation. Its also useful in cleaning, unclogging and deodorizing drains and toilets, disinfecting cutting boards and counter-tops, eliminating mold & mildew, and polishing silver, brass & copper objects,  Vinegar can be used to clean and sanitize canteens, water bottles, thermoses, jars, and other containers.  Vinegar can be used to help remove the glue residue of bumper stickers, price tags, and decals. Pouring some vinegar on a rusty screw or hinge can help unstick it.  Some folks even use vinegar soaked rags staked in and around their garden to keep out deer, dogs, rabbits, and raccoons, which can’t stand the smell even after the vinegar has dried.  A number of medical studies have shown many health benefits of vinegar, especially apple-cider vinegar, including improving insulin sensitivity and decreasing blood sugar levels (both fasting and post-meal) for folks with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. My own experience as a type-2 diabetic has convinced me that consuming vinegar with a meal lowers my after-meal blood sugar spike by 25-40%.  As with baking soda, the list of possible uses goes on and on and on. Just google “uses of vinegar” for lots more ideas. 


BoraxBorax is best known for its use as a laundry detergent, but there are a myriad of other uses, too.  Borax can be used for a large variety of cleaning tasks, including odor control, a very effective all-purpose cleaner, and removing mold, mildew, rust, and various types of stains. It can be used to unclog drains and toilets. Mixed with equal parts of sugar, it can be used as a bait to kill cockroaches, ants and other insect pests. Mixed with equal parts of salt, and a little elbow grease, it can be used to scrub clean cast iron cookware without leaving behind a soapy taste.  Borax is a natural weed-killer. Borax can also be used in small amounts to fertilize boron-deficient soil (see the wikipedia article for instructions). Borax is also used in candle-making to treat wicks (makes them burn longer with less smoke and ash).  Google “uses of boax” for many other ideas. Note: Borax can be toxic to people and pets. Store safely and do not consume borax.  


Epsom SaltEpsom Salt can be used to make a very relaxing soaking bath. It relieves pain, sprains, bruises, and muscle cramps. It is used to soothe tired aching feet, and  fight foot and toe-nail fungus.  It also makes for an excellent facial scrub and body wash. Mix with water and spray on the skin to reduce the itching from mosquito bites and insect stings. It also provides sunburn relief. Epsom salt can be used in the garden to control slugs, snails, and other pests. It also makes for a safe and natural insecticide spray. Adding a tablespoon of Epsom salt to the soil around each tomato plant is a great boost to tomato production. Other vegetables will also benefit from the magnesium in Epsom salt. Roses and houseplants may also benefit from small doses of Epsom salt. Google “uses of Epsom salt” for many, many other potential uses. Note: Even though Epsom salt is a type of magnesium-based “salt,” it should not be consumed like regular salt since it acts as a powerful laxative. If you do use it as a laxative, follow the directions on the package closely to prevent over-use.   

Book – “Alas Babylon”

This is the book that I think could widely be regarded as the gateway drug into preparedness fiction, and probably to some degree the gateway to developing an interest in preparedness in the first place.
I first read AB when I was 13 years old and it solidified a feeling and interest I’d only recently become aware. (No, that OTHER feeling.) Written back in the halcyon days of the late 1950’s, AB is probably the ‘cleanest’ of the nuclear war novels that followed. By ‘clean’ I mean that there is an absence of the sort of brutal imagery that we’ve come to expect in books about nuclear war. The violence is minimal and not graphic, no one dies of slow starvation, the citizenry isn’t roused to action against a cannibal army, and the characters don’t experience a dramatic renaissance of personal development that leads them into becoming some sort of ‘Red Dawn’-esque ersatz militia. The book simply tells the story a a man, his neighbors, and how they cope with the aftermath of a nuclear war that devastates their region.

For people like you and I who have read tons of literature on the subject, and have a basement full of freeze drieds, you’ll find the book to be a bit frustrating at times with the mistakes or lack of insight that the charcters show to their situation. But the book wasn’t written for survivalists…rather it was written to encourage people to think about survival. The author, whose real name was Harry Frank, wrote the book from the perspective of someone who believed that Americans needed to be more proactive in preparing for a possible nuclear exchange with the Soviets. To this end he wrote AB to illustrate his points.

The action in the book takes place mostly in Florida, in a small town where the main character resides. The cast of characters include pretty much everyone you would see on an episode of The Andy Griffith Show in Mayberry. One interesting thing to note is the 1950’s-era way in which blacks are portrayed. Hey, it was 1959 when this thing was written and ‘colored’ was considered a perfectly good word back then.  Notably, Frank addresses this issue in a very forthright way – the poor black family down the road winds up being an asset to the community as much as any other group and is never treated as anything less than equals.

What’s so wonderful about AB is that unlike many end-of-the-world books, it wasn’t really written with the idea that the main character (or any character, really) has any background at all in survivalism. It seems like in every book there’s always that one character..usually a retired military veteran of some kind…who winds up turning the whole crew into competent guerilla fighters (Lights Out, One Second After, etc.) That sort of thing is absent in AH. Oh, there’s a retired admiral that is a good supporting character but his influence isn’t anything like what other books in this genre show.

Alas Babylon isn’t a difficult read…I read it at 13-years old and found it to be light reading of the easiest kind. But it’s an enjoyable read. The characters are fairly simple, with no real backstory beyond a paragraph or two about their initial history, but it’s still a good story and there is enough variety in the characterizations that it’s easy to find someone you can empathize with.

Good fiction, as I’ve said, make you think. Alas Babylon was one of the first books I’d read in this genre and it certainly made me think about things I hadn’t thought about before. As the book progresses, characters lament the loss of their batteries, matches, soap, fishhooks, and all those other little consumables that we take fro granted. It’s a good example of how the small details in life get overlooked and by the time you realize you should have stocked up on salt (or .22 ammo or instant coffee) it’s too late.

Having been around for almost 60 years it is not difficult to find a used copy of Alas Babylon in pretty much any used bookstore. Even if it doesn’t sound like something you would be interested in reading…not enough zombies or gunplay for you, perhaps…..it is still absolutely worth reading simply because it is the book probably most singlehandedly responsible for influencing most survivalists.

So…no cannibal army, minimal (but reasonably likely) gunplay, no gear-heavy descriptions of equipment (cough*Ahern*cough), and no zombies. But….you do get a good story, set in an interesting time, written by someone who wanted to gently nudge the reader rather than hot them over the head with a hammer. In that regard, given how much this book is cited by survivalists as being influential in their lives, I’d say Frank did a good job.

Available from the usual sources.


Now is Not the Time to Get Complacent


Jan Sterrett of Heritage Life Skills joins me today. We talk about the real problem behind school shootings and it’s not guns. Jan also talk about the upcoming Heritage Life Skills conference in Waynesville, NC.


Seven Cows, Ugly and Gaunt is now available as a complete box set for Kindle!

Danny and Alisa’s lives are turned upside down when Danny begins having prophetic dreams about the judgment coming upon America. Through one of Danny’s dreams, they learn about the imminent threat of an EMP attack which will wipe out America’s electric grid, sending the country into a technological dark age. If they want to live through the most catastrophic period in American history, Danny and Alisa will have to race against time to get prepared, before the lights go out.


Trading Post in the Woods is ran by veteran crisis responders who know how important it is to be prepared. They specialize in comprehensive natural survival remedy kits, preparedness and homesteading supplies as well as skills training. Visit them online today at TradingPostInTheWoods.com.

Ready Made Resources is a trusted name in the prepper community, because they’ve been around for 18 years. They offer great prices on Night Vision, water filtration, long term storage food, solar energy components and provide free technical service. Get ready for an uncertain future at ReadyMadeResources.com!


CampingSurvival.com has all of your preparedness needs including; bug out bags, long term food storage, water filters, gas masks, and first aid kits. Use coupon code PREPPERRECON to get 5% off your entire order at Camping Survival.

The post Now is Not the Time to Get Complacent appeared first on Prepper Recon.

Top 12 Best Small Towns for Preppers to Live in

by Megan

When SHTF most experienced preppers know it’s important to prepare to hunker down in place or get the jump on the masses and head for their bug out retreat that has been well prepared in advance. But for anyone still in the planning stages of strategic relocation, how do you decide where to relocate or where to buy your bug out retreat? In this article we’ll talk about the criteria that are key to a good prepper location as well as how to ferret out the best small towns for preppers to live in.

Recommended Must Have Criteria for a Good Property Location

Everyone has their own idea of what their little piece of heaven should look like. For most preppers there are some recommended must have criteria. The more of these criteria your property has, the better you will be able to build a sustainable life before, during, and after SHTF.

  • Plenty of fresh water sources available on property and nearby areas
  • Good soil and accessibility to water for growing food and raising livestock
  • A moderate climate or one that you are fully prepared to live in without power.
  • Several hundred miles away from potential targets, nuclear power plants, and military installations
  • Property or at least a region where livestock can graze naturally
  • Land that is free of restrictions that might prevent you from living off-grid prior to or following SHTF such as state and local zoning, easements, HOA rules, etc.

What Makes the Best Small Town for Preppers?

Okay, we all know that most people cannot live in a vacuum and the lone wolf prepper mentality isn’t going to cut it for most of us. This means we are going to need our neighbors during and after a SHTF event if we’re going to survive long-term. It makes sense to include those people living in the small town around your ideal prepper property in your network. So, in addition to the above criteria for your property, what kinds of qualities make the best small towns for preppers to live in?

  • A town where you can live a relative normal life until SHTF
  • Relative proximity to conveniences such as medical treatment, employment, and other amenities.
  • Away from large cities and urban centers (the average person can travel up to 25-30 miles in 3 days)
  • Reasonably close enough if you need to commute
  • Look for a community of like-minded people
  • Values that are aligned or at least tolerant of your own values, morals, behaviors
  • Free of mining, drilling, commercial farms, factories, or other types of industries that could pollute the air, water, or ground.

Choosing the Best Town

Okay, so now that we know what we’re looking for in a property and in the best small towns for preppers, below are some recommendations. Keep in mind that choosing a strategic location is a very personal decision and often times means prioritizing between desirable factors based on what your own needs are at the time.

This means someone with health problems that require continued maintenance may need to live closer to town than is suggested simply to have easier access to medical treatment prior to a SHTF event. If you aren’t able to get further away from cities and urban centers or must stay close for one reason or another, you may need to ramp up security and defensive measures to balance things out.

For those who are more experienced and skilled with living off-grid, you can risk being further isolated. If your skills are still limited, you’ll need to depend more on neighbors and small-town amenities before and after SHTF, so you’ll want to stay closer.

The list of top 12 best small towns for preppers to live in given below is simply intended as a guideline to get you thinking about the areas and towns you may want to consider. It is definitely not a definitive list of best small towns for preppers to live in, nor is does it come close to including all the small towns you should consider for your strategic relocation. Your personal situation may lead you to remove or add other small towns from our list.

How to Narrow Down Your List of Small Towns

The first thing to do when you start your strategic relocation research is to narrow your search to the areas or regions that are the best for preppers to consider and suit your own lifestyle needs. To do this, you may want to ponder over several factors in addition to the ones mentioned above including:

  • Water Rights and Laws
  • Crime Rates
  • Climate and Weather
  • Population Density
  • Government Level of Intrusion
  • Gun Laws
  • Home Schooling Laws
  • Employment Opportunities
  • Alternative Energy Regulations
  • Political Climate
  • Business License Regulations
  • Health Code Laws (septic/sewer)
  • Disposal of Hazardous Materials and Untreated Waste Laws

Some of the issues above may be more important to you than others. Several of the issues will matter more in the months and years leading up to a SHTF and not as much after a SHTF event.

Top 12 Best Small Towns for Preppers to Live In

Pikeville Tennessee

#1. Pikeville, Tennessee


  • Approximately 2,000 residents
  • Low taxes, low property costs
  • Rainwater collection permitted
  • Longer growing season (260 days)
  • Great natural resources for off-grid living
  • Tennessee River area
  • Plenty of seclusion
  • Located in Sequatchie Valley-bonus


  • Less than 40 miles from Sequoyah Nuclear plant


Cedar City Utah

#2. Cedar City, Utah

  • Population 25-30,000 people
  • Great mountain views
  • Independent attitude


Thayer or Alton Missouri

#3. Thayer or Alton Missouri


  • About 2,000 residents
  • Southern Missouri location
  • Good fishing and hunting areas
  • Very gun friendly state
  • Most counties allow you to live in any type of home you wish outside city
  • Missouri encourages off-grid living; one of the best for off-grid living


  • Rocky soil may necessitate raised bed or alternative gardening methods


Sierra Blanca Texas

#4. Sierra Blanca, Texas


  • Land at less than $1K per acre
  • Abundant solar exposure
  • Away from large cities
  • No building codes or DIY project restrictions


Corvallis Oregon

#5. Corvallis, Oregon


  • Oregon names one of the safest places to avoid natural disasters
  • One of better states for off grid living
  • Home to several off-grid communities (see below)


  • Tougher building and zoning codes in some counties (Osage is building friendly)
  • Recent reports indicate some Oregon counties fine residents for using rain barrels
  • May be too “yuppie” for some preppers
  • Gun laws can be restrictive


Hettinger North Dakota

#6. Hettinger, North Dakota


  • Only home to around 1,000 people
  • Southwest part of the state
  • Reasonably priced land


  • Colder winters; more snow


Carlin Nevada

#7. Carlin, Nevada


  • Around 2,000 people
  • Cheap land


  • Hot high desert


Pennsboro West Virginia

#8. Pennsboro, West Virginia


  • Less than 1,200 residents
  • Railroad history and 100-year-old tunnels
  • Friendly townsfolk
  • Good area for trapping and hunting
  • Land as low as 1K per acre


  • Zoning restrictions can vary significantly by town-do your research


West Liberty Kentucky

#9. West Liberty, Kentucky


  • Population about 3,000 residents
  • Eastern part of state
  • Some large tracts of land as low as $500/acre


Mountain Home Arkansas

#10. Mountain Home, Arkansas

  • About 13,000 residents
  • In the Ozark Mountains


Red Oak Oklahoma

#11. Red Oak, Oklahoma

  • Around 500 people
  • Southeastern part of state
  • Land at less than 1K per acre


Olympic Peninsula Washington State

#12. Olympic Peninsula in Washington State


  • Gets cold in winter but survivable
  • Lots of fishing and wild game for food
  • Edible mushrooms and vegetation


  • Washington State has stricter building codes and laws.
  • Not as gun friendly as other states
  • Crime rates and drug activity high in some areas of state

Best Regions or General Areas to Consider

If you don’t care for any of the best small towns for preppers to live in list we’ve chosen, below are some wider areas and regions you can consider.

The Appalachian Area

Near the mountains in Tennessee, Kentucky or West Virginia


  • Good opportunity for growing crops
  • Moderate weather climate all year
  • Good water availability
  • Stay west of the mountains to protect against the masses who may migrate from the east coast. (Roughly ⅔ of the population of the United States is in the eastern half of the country)


  • This is a popular area for preppers, so it may get more populated in coming years

The Ozarks Region

Oklahoma, Missouri, and Northwest Arkansas


  • Good water availability (freshwater springs in Southern Missouri)
  • Agricultural area
  • Popular area for preppers


  • Risk of drought
  • Summers can be very hot

Low Population Areas of Florida


  • Endless small lakes
  • year round growing
  • no winter weather worries
  • large elderly population won’t be able to flee
  • The Gulf coast north of Tampa is less populated


  • Stay away from Orlando and right along the east coast, also South of Tampa to Everglades is densely populated.
  • Population density from south Florida will flee north so choose out of the path of looters and members of the golden horde
  • Building an underground shelter is unlikely due to high water table
  • Bugs and Insects are prevalent
  • In recent cases courts have ruled living off grid even with solar power and rainwater catchments violates the International Property Maintenance Code.

Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia

  • Balance of affordable, defendable, self-sustainable properties
  • Reasonable commute to D.C., far enough to not be targeted
  • Government of West Virginia is very hands off
  • Less oppressive regulatory government
  • Slightly higher taxes
  • Likeminded neighbors (freedom, individualism, self-sustaining lifestyles)
  • Friendly firearm state

Southern States from Eastern Texas to Georgia


  • Moderate weather and decent growing season
  • Most areas friendlier regarding firearms laws
  • East side of North Georgia mountains low taxes and few restrictions


  • May have stricter laws in some areas regarding septic and water line hookups

South Louisiana


  • Bountiful water supply with high groundwater
  • Year-round crops
  • Swamp provides access to food

Wisconsin along Lake Michigan


  • Resources are abundant
  • Short growing season
  • Clean well water
  • Inland lakes
  • Hunting
  • Kettle Moraine Forest has plentiful herbs (wild berries, asparagus, etc.)
  • Organic dairy farmers for cheese, milk, etc.
  • Excellent spring water


  • Land isn’t cheap

Consider Established Off-Grid Communities

Intentional Living Communities are not well-suited for everyone and most politically conservative preppers will want to steer clear of these areas simply due to the fact that residents are generally more left-leaning politically and some may even prohibit use of guns.

Keep in mind these communities are often “ruled” by a committee of residents so there may be rules or regulations you must agree to abide by in order to move in. But if are looking for a likeminded community in exchange for giving up control over your own property, then one of these may be a consideration for you.


  • North Carolina Mountains, outside of Asheville
  • sustainable focused planned community
  • solar and hydro power
  • 320 acres with more than 60 residents

Three Rivers Recreation Area in Central Oregon

  • more than 600 off grid homeowners
  • 4,000-acre community
  • solar power electric, satellite TV, high speed internet
  • variety of price ranges for homes


  • more than 50 permanent residents
  • off grid community
  • heated by geothermal wells

Taos, New Mexico

  • Greater World Community
  • 1st Earthship division
  • solar powered
  • eco-friendly buildings of adobe or recycled tires
  • 634 acres of green space

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

  • Northeast Missouri
  • More than 40 residents
  • sustainable living focus
  • simple living, renewable energy, homes from reclaimed materials

So, the best way to choose the best small towns for preppers to live in is to make a list of all the issues and criteria that are important for your family and the lifestyle you want to create and then narrow your list down to three or four areas or regions.

Once you have that shortlist, explore the areas to find the best small towns for preppers in those areas. Be sure to consider state and local zoning regulations and building codes to avoid buying property in an area with restrictions that will keep you from living as you wish prior to a SHTF event.

Video: Amputation in Survival Settings

Amputation in survival settings

Amputation in survival settings

One of the worst injuries that can occur in a disaster or other off-grid setting is the traumatic amputation. In the Civil War era. amputations on the battlefield or later in the field hospital resulted in 1/4 to 1/2 of the victims succumbing to their wounds. In an EMP attack, we could easily be thrown back to that era medically, and we should consider what can be done for those injured so horrifically.

Joe Alton MD attempts to tackle this delicate subject that others won’t touch in this video, knowing the limitations on the medic and the lack of sterility in most instances. See him explain his thoughts and rationale on what can and can’t be done, and some tips on what to do when confronted with the traumatic amputation.

To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

Joe and Amy Alton MD

Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy

Amy and Joe Alton

Fill those holes in your medical supplies with individual kits and supplies from Nurse Amy’s entire line at store.doomandbloom.net.

three compact first aid kits great for hiking and camping made by Amy Alton of store.doomandbloom.net

Video: Amputation in Survival Settings

Amputation in survival settings

Amputation in survival settings

One of the worst injuries that can occur in a disaster or other off-grid setting is the traumatic amputation. In the Civil War era. amputations on the battlefield or later in the field hospital resulted in 1/4 to 1/2 of the victims succumbing to their wounds. In an EMP attack, we could easily be thrown back to that era medically, and we should consider what can be done for those injured so horrifically.

Joe Alton MD attempts to tackle this delicate subject that others won’t touch in this video, knowing the limitations on the medic and the lack of sterility in most instances. See him explain his thoughts and rationale on what can and can’t be done, and some tips on what to do when confronted with the traumatic amputation.

To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

Joe and Amy Alton MD

Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy

Amy and Joe Alton

Fill those holes in your medical supplies with individual kits and supplies from Nurse Amy’s entire line at store.doomandbloom.net.

three compact first aid kits great for hiking and camping made by Amy Alton of store.doomandbloom.net

Preppers And Gun Safety

Preppers And Gun Safety Can you remember the first time you heard the word prepper? What about he the first purchase you made as a prepper? The reality is that some preppers get started on this journey with no experience in the military, outdoors or anything of the type. You begin to invest in survival …

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10 Wild Herbs for Chicken Health

10 Wild Herbs for Chicken Health Some days it  seems like wild herbs are magic. Do you ever get that feeling that these things are capable of anything? I mean really? I have healed cuts, made dinner and soothed children to sleep with some of the same herbs in the same day!  We are far …

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The 4 Survival Priorities You Should Know and Practice

The 4 Survival Priorities You Should Know and Practice Survival is such a broad word. What comes to mind when you think of survival? Is it something like surviving in the wilderness, is it a violent encounter or is it the process of a bugout? Survival is like a hawk high in the sky that …

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Beginners Guide to Making Homemade Cheese, Butter & Yogurt: Delicious Recipes Perfect for Every Beginner! (Homesteading Freedom)

For a limited time the Kindle book of this is free – Beginners Guide to Making Homemade Cheese, Butter & Yogurt: Delicious Recipes Perfect for Every Beginner! (Homesteading Freedom)

Do you want to know how to make delicious cheese?

 Do you want to learn to make real butter?

 Are you looking to make healthy yogurt?

 Beginners Guide to Making Homemade Cheese, Butter & Yogurt will teach you what you need to make homemade cheese, real butter, and even healthy yogurt. Beginners Guide to Making Homemade Cheese, Butter & Yogurt will also walk you through step by step to advise you in what you need as far as ingredients and equipment is concerned to make all of the recipes easily. In this book you’ll find cheese making tips, cheese making frequently asked questions, yogurt and yogurt recipes as well homemade butter variations. There is even a cheese and butter recipe for Bacon Lovers! This amazing book will have you making your own delicious dairy products in no time at all!

37 Urban Survival Skills

37 Urban Survival Skills This collection of urban survival skills is one that you have to look over. You are gonna find some hacks for everyday items and also some techniques for surviving in an out of control urban sprawl. Its the perfect storm that we all worry about, millions of people facing a collapse …

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How to Grow Calendula

How to Grow Calendula What do you plan on growing this year? What types of things make you very uncomfortable growing? While growing a garden makes you feel like some master of plants, there are a so many plants that we know nothing about. Beneficial plants that don’t make it into grocery stores or florists …

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Building Raised Garden Beds – Simple and Quick Construction

Building Raised Garden Beds – Simple and Quick Construction If there has been one thing that radically changed my success in gardening it would be raised beds. It would be taking ownership of my soil base each year and having the ability to easily manipulate it.  If you aren’t growing in raised beds the time …

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How To Create Perfect Potting Soil For Containers and Hanging Baskets

If you dream of gorgeous, stunning, and overflowing hanging baskets and potted plants, then make those dreams come true this year by filling your containers with the perfect potting soil! Having the right soil in containers makes all the difference.

The post How To Create Perfect Potting Soil For Containers and Hanging Baskets appeared first on Old World Garden Farms.

Homemade Spoon Butter Recipe

Homemade Spoon Butter Recipe In our throw away society we rarely concern ourselves with the maintenance of tools. Even important tools that cost lots of money are often left to go without maintenance and tossed in the trash when they break. What happens when that saw or that tool is the only one you have …

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Jones’en for a Cheap Prep!

Jones’en for a Cheap Prep
David Jones “Prepping Up with the Jones “Audio player provided!

This show Dave turns to Prepping on a tight budget. These Preps almost everyone can do and in a grid down situation could save your life. Barrowing the slogan from Ollie’s Discount Outlets Dave tell you how and where to get “good stuff cheap” for your prepper supplies. After this episode you will never look at the Dollar Store, Harbor Freight, Walmart and Family Dollar quite the same way.

Continue reading Jones’en for a Cheap Prep! at Prepper Broadcasting Network.