2017 Suburban Steader Update – Week 07

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Lucky number 7!  Week 7 of 2017 is already upon us and the Suburban Steader Homestead has been a busy one.  Snow really hosed up our lives for a few days and illness ran rampant through the house.  But, in the end, we made progress towards the end goals of growing our garden and getting

Prepper’s Survival Medicine Handbook (Book Review)

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You’re a suburban homesteader.  You know how to raise your own food, protect your land, hunt for your protein, fix just about everything around your home and work with your neighbors to make your world that much better.  But, do you know how to deal with any acute medical emergencies that show up?  Scott Finazzo’s

2017 Suburban Steader Update – Week 06

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Week 6 of 2017 was a critical week on the Suburban Steader Homestead. I finally planted my first seeds of the 2017 season and also did some work in the shop.  The blog continues to grow as well with the latest article being a DIYer’s dream post about pallet projects. Let’s get down to brass

2017 Suburban Steader Update – Week 05

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Week 5 of 2017 was an interesting week around the Suburban Steader Homestead.  I did a little bit of “homesteading” work and a lot of planning to move forward in the spring.  Let me jump in and tell you how it all went down. This Week’s Milestones Last week was full of personal milestones that

Suburban Micro-Farm (Book Review)

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What is the first thing that a suburban homesteader does?  I’m sure you guessed correctly – they start a garden.  It’s probably the easiest thing to do to start a self-reliant lifestyle because of many reasons. There’s a low barrier to entry – you just need some dirt and a few seeds – and it’s

2017 Suburban Steader Update – Week 04

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Week 4 of 2017 was a bit hectic for me but not so much around the Suburban Steader Homestead.  Curious why? Well, it started with a trip to the AFC Championship Game and then a snowboard trip to upper Vermont.  Come find out all about my adventures! This Week’s Milestones Last week was full of

2017 Suburban Steader Update – Week 03

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Week 3 of 2017 has been a busy one around the Suburban Steader Homestead.  I’ve been gearing up for a trip north next week.  Part of that preparation is getting my vehicle in shape for the trip and also getting the homestead squared away for my ladies in my absence.  Come find out what my

Survival Hax Survival Shovel Review

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I was recently approached by Survival Hax to review a new shovel they had come out with.  The Survival Hax Survival Shovel is filling a void in the marketplace for a budget-friendly, collapsible shovel.  It’s small and lightweight which makes it conceptually ideal for hiking and backpacking.  Likewise, it’s adjustable which promotes ease of use.

2017 Suburban Steader Update – Week 02

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Two weeks of 2017 are in the books. Have of January is gone. And what have I done around the Suburban Steader homestead? The simple answer is: not much. But that’s about to change… This Week’s Milestones Much like last week, this week was kind of mild around the old home front. It was mostly

2017 Suburban Steader Update – Week 01

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The first week of 2017 is upon us and it’s time to start updating you on the Suburban Steader Homestead.  I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about what I was going to write about here and I figured I’d break it down into three things: what I did this week, what I aim to do

Prepper’s Armed Defense (Book Review)

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Armed defense is always an interesting topic when it comes to prepping, survivalism and suburban homesteading.  At the end of the day, I strongly believe in a person’s right to stand their ground and protect themselves.  Jim Cobb shares that belief.  He has used his latest offering, Prepper’s Armed Defense, as a means of explaining

2016 Suburban Steader Recap

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Suburban Steader had a hell of a 2016.  I want to spend a little time going through what changes the site went through, some of our successes, some of our failures and a bit about what the future holds.  Overall, 2016 was a good year for the site and, more importantly, for the Suburban Steader

Maelstrom Soft Shell Tactical Jacket Product Review

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A jacket is a critical piece of gear for any suburban homesteader.  Rain, wind and cold are all elements that we battle both on the homestead and in our day-to-day suburban adventures.  In today’s post, we see if the Maelstrom Soft Shell Tactical Jacket meets the demands of today’s suburban homesteader. Product Description The three-layer

Prepper’s Communication Handbook (Book Review)

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Communication is important – both in normal, everyday life and in a SHTF scenario.  Suburban homesteaders have the benefit of being nearby people and, often, don’t have to worry about being stranded without normal communication equipment functioning.  That doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from Jim Cobb’s latest offering, Prepper’s Communication Handbook.  This book will not

The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook (Book Review)

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Bushcraft survival is something that a lot of folks in the prepping community have an interest in.  Most of us spend some time outdoors away from our homesteads.  Knowing how to survive if SHTF in those situations is quite important.  In his book The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook, Anthonio Akkermans walks you through the different ways to construct shelters and how each can be used appropriately given your situation.

Book Set-Up

The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook is written in a chronological manner.  That means that it starts with talking about the fundamentals of shelters and then progresses through shelters from natural materials, shelters from modern material and then store-bought shelters.  Finally, the book sums up the shelter process with a chapter on mental preparedness.  The chapters are:

Chapter 1 – Shelter Fundamentals

Shelter fundamentals is an important base of knowledge to know before you go headlong into building shelters.  This chapter is full of information on shelter knowledge – starting with clothing (your first line shelter), move onto to sleeping equipment and finishing up with information on where to build a shelter and what materials to use.  There are two “bonus” sections on how to make cord and a hammer from elements found in the backwoods.

Chapter 2 – Making Debris Shelters With Your Bare Hands

This chapter gets into the fundamentals of what it takes to use natural (backwoods) material to build shelters.  As you might imagine, different areas of the country and different seasons dictate the use of different shelters.  For that reason, the author has provided how-to knowledge on the following types of shelters:

  • Natural Shelter
  • Rock Shelter
  • Debris Hut
  • Lean-To
  • Stacked Debris Wall
  • Round Debris Wall Shelter
  • Bent Sapling Shelter
  • Subterranean Shelter
  • Snow Shelter

Additional information is provided on improvements and furnishing such as fireplaces, shelving and bedding.

Chapter 3 – DIY And Modern Material Shelters

Anthonio moves into more modern shelters which involved man-made materials.  The topics covered in this chapter include shelter bags, emergency foil blankets, bansha/tarp shelters, Scandinavian Lavvu and a ger or yurt type shelter.  Essentially, this chapter starts with “cowboy camping” situations and finishes with more permanent structures that are built to last more than a night or two.  I was most interested in this chapter due to the breadth of knowledge represented here.  My interest was probably also due to the fact that living in a permanent structure for a long duration interests me greatly.

Chapter 4 – Modern Store-Bought Shelters

All you campers will like this chapter.  In it, Anthonio talks about your basic camping gear including standard hiking tents, hammocks, bivvy bags and bell tents.  The pros and cons of each option are discussed.  In addition, there is a good amount of time spent talking about the best way to use each and how to set each up properly.  I’m an avid camper and try to spend a good amount of time sleeping outdoors.  I agreed with a lot of what was written here, but did disagree with a few minor points.  In all honesty though, my disagreements were so miniscule that they are not worth discussing.  They were more personal preference than technical disagreements.

Chapter 5 – Mental Preparedness

Anthonio wraps up The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook with a smart talk about mental preparedness when it comes to shelter.  He talks about how you should drill (or practice) any shelters you may use as trying to build them under stressful situations is nearly impossible.  In addition, he talks about ways to handle the stress involved with surviving in a shelter and how to gain confidence as you go.  Adopting the right mental attitude is key to surviving in a shelter.

Why I Liked The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook

Anthonio Akkermans takes a very large topic and boils it down to a simple presentation.  The way he systematically approaches shelter building and living is intelligent and easily digestible.  One chapter builds on the next.

The other great part about this book are the pictures.  The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook is picture heavy which makes understanding the topics presented much easier.  As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

What I Didn’t Like

There were two things about this book I didn’t like.  

First, as odd as it may sound given the section above, is the pictures.  While they are plentiful, the pictures are all black and white.  Most are also quite washed out meaning they don’t have good contrast.  This fact makes them hard to read and sometimes lacking in information.  I understand that color pictures cost more during printing, but it would definitely help to better convey the quality information provided in this book.

The second thing I didn’t like about The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook was the writing.  The knowledge presented in this book was top-notch but it often read like a textbook.  That fact alone made getting through this book difficult at times.  A writing approach that was a bit lighter and more story-telling might help make this an easier read.

Overall Thoughts On The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook

I think The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook by Anthonio Akkermans is an overall interesting read.  The knowledge base is top notch and the information presented may help save your life one day.  It’s presentation, while dry at times, is successive in its presentation meaning one part builds on the previous.  While I do not necessarily think this book is a “must have” for a prepping library, I would definitely put it in the “nice to have” category.  It lends itself more to the bushcraft crowd and, for them, I would lean more towards the “must have” category.  

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and think you would too if you have any interest in being in the woods for any reason.

The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook


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17 Survival Items You DON’T Need In Your Bug Out Bag

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A while ago I wrote an article called 50 Items You Forgot To Put In Your Bug Out Bag. Several readers complained, saying things like, “How the hell am I supposed to fit all this stuff in my bug out bag?” Well, you’re not. The point of the […]

The post 17 Survival Items You DON’T Need In Your Bug Out Bag appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Prepper’s Natural Medicine (Book Review)

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Natural medicine is something you will invariably hear about as you get involved in the prepping community.  We, as a general society, have become very dependent on conventional medicine – doctors, hospitals, pharmacists, etc.  If a SHTF scenario ever happens, we’ll need to be able to take care of ourselves both from a conventional medicine standpoint and a traditional medicine, or natural medicine standpoint.  Cat Ellis’ latest offering, Prepper’s Natural Medicine, walks you through the unnecessarily intimidating world of natural medicine.

Book Set-Up

Cat has created Prepper’s Natural Medicine in a very concise, direct manner.  Each chapter listed below is presented in an intelligent chronological manner which builds on the information already presented.  The chapters in the book are:

Chapter 1 – Introduction

Cat uses this chapter to introduce herself and her background.  She also spends a significant amount of time talking about why we should use natural medicine, the benefits of using natural medicine in a SHTF scenario and, most importantly, her version of natural medicine.

Chapter 2 – Stocking The Home Apothecary

This is where Cat starts to get into the nuts and bolts of natural medicine.  She takes the time to describe all the different items you will need to start in the natural medicine movement including formula ingredients such as herbs, alcohol, vinegar, glycerin, raw honey, beeswax, propolis, mushrooms, oils and fats, bentonite clay, kaolin clay, activated charcoal, salts and essential oils.  Don’t worry – you don’t need to have all of these things to get started! Cat just does a great job of outlining everything you may need!  In addition to these ingredients, she also discusses containers and other equipment you may need to start working with natural medicine.

Chapter 3 – Basic Skills

Very simply put, this is the ‘how to’ section of the book.  Cat goes through all the different ways you can create natural medicine and walks through the general directions for the creation of each.  The methods discussed include:

  • Tisanes – Infusions and Decoctions, as well as Blending Herbs for Tisanes
  • Tinctures
  • Aceta
  • Herbal Wines
  • Glycerin and Glycerites
  • Oxymels
  • Syrups
  • Elixirs
  • Infused Honey
  • Electuaries
  • Powders
  • Pastilles
  • Poultice
  • Infused Oils (both cold and warm infusions)
  • Salves
  • Lotions and Creams

She also discusses topics such as fresh vs dried herbs as well as the effect of alcohol percentage in tinctures.

Chapter 4 – Materia Medica

“Materia Medica” is a Latin medical term for the body of collected knowledge about the therapeutic properties of any substance used for healing.  This section is the meat and potatoes part of the book.  There over sixty-five pages of information on fifty individual herbs and plants which are used in natural medicine.  Common material such as cayenne, comfrey, garlic, ginger, lemon balm, sage, thyme  and valerian are discussed as well as lesser known items such as chinese skullcap, hyssop, ma huang and sida.

Cat discusses the Parts Used, Actions, Preparations, Dose, Uses and Contraindications for each item.  The information discussed here is incredibly in-depth and useful.

Chapter 5 – Herbal First Aid Kit

As you might expect from the title, this chapter walks you through building a first aid kit which consists of natural solutions.  Cat talks about how each person’s first aid kit will differ, but she does spend some time walking through different items she recommends everyone have including ingredients required and the directions on how to construct them.  She includes natural medicine solutions for some common situations including infection, inflammation, burn care, constipation, ear aches, nausea/vomiting, sore throats, sprains, stress and wound wash (among others).

Chapter 6 – Everyday Natural Medicine

In addition, to the remedies mentioned in Chapter 5, Cat spends a significant amount of time in this chapter talking about preventative, as opposed to reactionary, natural medicine solutions.  You would use the solutions in this chapter if you have a chronic situation or know that you require a longer term solution.

Appendices & Indexes

There a multiple different tables and lists that summarize different natural medicine solutions as well as herbs that are used in different situations.  In addition, there are lots of links to external information sources.  Definitely a treasure trove of information.

Why I Liked Prepper’s Natural Medicine

Plain and simple, Cat Ellis takes a very daunting, ambiguous topic and brings it down to a simple presentation that just makes sense.  I’ve not only been able to understand her writing, but have started to implement some of her suggestions and can attest to the fact that her directions are complete.

In my opinion, that’s the best part of this book – the level of knowledge that is presented in a clear, concise manner.

What I Didn’t Like

I don’t want to be that guy, but there was not much to not like about this book.  It reads as an information book and and is definitely more of an educational tool than a theoretical or opinion-lead work.

Overall Thoughts On Prepper’s Natural Medicine

I think Prepper’s Natural Medicine by Cat Ellis is a solid addition to your long-term survival library.  The natural medicine information provided is straight-forward and no-nonsense.  In addition, the presentation is put together in a chronologically intelligent way.  You can build on the information as it is presented to you.  The book, in its non-digital form, will be a great possession to have in your survival kit.

natural medicine

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Founder/Owner at Suburban Steader
I am a middle-age guy with a wife, two young kids and a couple of crazy dogs. We live on Long Island, NY and had an interesting experience with Hurricane Sandy. That experience led me towards the self-sufficiency movement and eventually led to the founding of SuburbanSteader.com. I aim to provide suburbanites with the confidence and know-how to become more self-reliant by providing content on topics such as gardening, personal health, financial responsibility, cooking, self-preparedness and self-protection.

Prepper’s Financial Guide (Book Review)

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Financial freedom is something I often preach about here on Suburban Steader. All suburban homesteaders can benefit from being free of financial burden.  How do you get there?  There’s lots of ways to go about it.  You can get quite overwhelmed with all the different ways to get to financial independence.  Jim Cobb’s latest offering, Prepper’s Financial Guide, walks you through different topics which will lead towards financial independence.

Book Set-Up

Jim has laid out Prepper’s Financial Guide in a very concise manner as is typical with his books. Each chapter is precise and addresses both the why and how of each topic. The chapters are as follows:

Chapter 1 – What Is An Economic Collapse?

Jim spends some time talking about the definition of an economic collapse as well as describing what can cause one.  He goes into depth talking about some economic collapses in history including Germany (1921-1924), the US (1929-1940) and Argentina (1998-2002).

Chapter 2 – Debt Reduction

The first step in finding financial freedom is debt reduction. You’re halfway home if you don’t owe anyone anything .  Jim discusses topics such as authoring a budget, reducing your realistic debts (debt snowball, anyone?), managing credit cards and cutting your expenses in both soft and hard approaches.

Chapter 3 – Currency

Do you know the difference between commodity and fiat currencies? Want to understand more about exchange rates? This chapter of Prepper’s Financial Guide will set you straight.

Chapter 4 – Precious Metals And Minerals

Most preppers know that gold and silver are the mainstays in ‘prepping currency.’  Jim dives into these precious metals and others.  He also talk about minerals (diamonds, rubies, etc.) in this chapter.

Chapter 5 – Post-Collapse Barter And Trade Goods

Stocking up on vices, consumables and medical supplies is recommended in this chapter because barter items will be the ‘normal’ currency in a SHTF scenario.

Chapter 6 – Bartering Skills Instead Of Stuff

Don’t have any material possessions to trade? No worries. Jim talks about trading time and sweat of your brow in this chapter.

Chapter 7 – Safeguarding Valuables

Safes, hiding spots and caches – as you might expect – are the main topics in this chapter.

Chapter 8 – Investing In Self-Sufficiency

This chapter of Prepper’s Financial Guide is one of the longer ones.  Jim spends a lot of time explaining how the best way to survive a financial downturn is to reduce your dependence on purchasing power.  Grow a garden, raise your own livestock, learn about medicinal plants and herbs, grow your handyman skill set – these are all skills you can be doing now to reduce your financial dependence later.

Chapter 9 – Putting It All Together: The Home Of The Self-Sufficient Investor

Setting up your property to be self-sufficient and maximize your investments is a key part of being a financially free prepper.  Jim’s exploration of this topic is broad and general due to the fact that each situation will be unique.

Chapter 10 – Final Thoughts

Jim summarizes the books and gives a few parting shots of wisdom.

Prepper's Financial Guide by Jim Cobb

Why I Liked Prepper’s Financial Guide

You’ll notice that Jim doesn’t have any Earth-shattering information in his book when you compare it to most financial books. Everything he presents is rock solid advice that most anyone will provide AND he paints it in a prepper’s hue. In my opinion, there are a few things in this book that make it a quality addition to your long-term survival library:

  • Bluntness – Jim has a history of not sugar-coating anything. An economic collapse situation is going to be tough. Getting your mind wrapped around that idea and accepting it is going to be half the battle.
  • Checklists – Much like in Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide, Jim disperses valuable checklists in the chapters and provides a large, long barter item checklist at the end.
  • Creativeness – Jim’s approaches are not always inline with mainstream thinking.  He’s not afraid to think outside of the box and present unorthodox ideas.

What I Didn’t Like

In my opinion, an economic collapse will bring out the worst in people.  Folks will be capable of doing most anything when they are hungry, thirsty and cold.  I would have expected a bit more in the chapter about safeguarding your valuables.  I think Jim’s view is a little too utopian – although this book wasn’t intended as a prediction of social environments.  I have to say that I was a bit surprised that the “Oldest Profession In The World” didn’t come up in Chapter 6.  I wouldn’t expect Jim to promote it, but I would expect that – if you’re talking about bartering “skills” – the topic would come up.

Overall Thoughts on Prepper’s Financial Guide

I think Prepper’s Financial Guide by Jim Cobb is a solid addition to your long-term survival library.  Most of the financial information and advice provided is no different than the majority of financial books and websites out there, however, the book is written with the prepper in mind.  That last fact makes it a good read.

Prepper's Financial Guide by Jim Cobb

Disclaimer: Jim Cobb supplied a copy of Prepper’s Financial Guide for me to review. I can assure my readers that I gave it a fair and honest review.

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Founder/Owner at Suburban Steader
I am a middle-age guy with a wife, two young kids and a couple of crazy dogs. We live on Long Island, NY and had an interesting experience with Hurricane Sandy. That experience led me towards the self-sufficiency movement and eventually led to the founding of SuburbanSteader.com. I aim to provide suburbanites with the confidence and know-how to become more self-reliant by providing content on topics such as gardening, personal health, financial responsibility, cooking, self-preparedness and self-protection.