Cowboy biscuits are a great survival recipe. They take minimal ingredients, and travel well. The sourdough can also be used for many other breads, and you won’t need to worry about storing yeast.
Necessity really is the mother of invention. When famine strikes, and people are hungry, they start looking for unusual sources of food. Most people wouldn’t dream of eating these things today. But, these ten ingenious foods from history prove there are no picky eaters when food is scarce.
Droughts are becoming more common. The impact of droughts on food production is very real. After all, plants need water to grow. But, you don’t always need a ton of water to grow food. That’s where low-water crops come in. They can produce food for your family to eat without taking nearly as much water.
If you don’t have a large water stockpile, or you are concerned about a coming drought, it might be time for you to switch to a low-water garden.
Low-water gardens are designed to receive significantly less water than a traditional one. The soil, coverings, and seeds are all meant to work together to minimize your water needs.
Also known as dry farming, this method is a return to the roots of agriculture for many locations. Before dams and irrigation innovations, farmers didn’t have the access to water. They planted, gave an initial soaking, and then let the plants tend to fetching water for themselves.
Winter is a great time to plan your low-water garden. But, no matter the season, here are some essentials to consider when working on this type of garden.
The Soil Is Essential
The quality of soil in your garden will help stretch the length of time between watering sessions. You’ll want plenty of compost and organic material in your soil.
This will help absorb water and slowly release it. You’ll also want some coarse sand in your soil. Sand helps draw in any moisture that does fall, so you’ll maximize the benefit of rain.
Clay is another component of low-water garden soil. The clay will hold the water, and slowly give it to the plants’ root systems.
You’ll want to thoroughly mix your soil, incorporating all the elements evenly. That way all your plants will grow well. Loose soil is recommended for this type of gardening, so tilling your soil to a depth of four to six inches will help.
Unfortunately, making the exact soil combination that you need for your climate will take time. There isn’t one perfect formula that’ll work everywhere.
You Can’t Skip the Mulch
In a low-water garden, mulch isn’t just a suggestion. It’s essential. You need this soil covering to ensure the water stays where it belongs.
Without mulch, you’ll lose precious water to run-off. Evaporation will also be a problem.
A good layer of organic mulch prevents both of those from occurring. It’ll keep the water around the plants longer, and allow it to soak deeply into the soil.
What Plants to Choose
When picking plants, be sure to check out the hardiness zone recommendations so you don’t plant something that won’t grow well in your area. There are a variety of crops to pick from that don’t take as much water.
You can also have a long-term vision when creating a low-water garden. If you have plenty of water now, you can plant some perennials that will take water initially. Once those plants are established, their water needs drop substantially.
For both long and short term planning, here are some crops to consider:
If a drought happens, you won’t be able to depend on large grain producers to keep on growing. Even if you don’t regularly plant grains, you’ll want to have some low-water seeds stored on hand. That way you have them when you need them.
A bonus with these grains is they’re easier to harvest than wheat. Many take minimal processing before being ready to eat. These grains would be a good addition to your low-water garden crops:
- Field Corn
Vegetables are a great way to add variety and nutrients to your diet. Here are some excellent options for a low-water garden.
- Jerusalem artichoke (this takes more water the first year, but once it’s established it needs very little.)
- Sweet potatoes
- Swiss chard
- Asparagus (another long-term crop)
- Drought tolerant zucchini
To add some natural sweetness to your diet, be sure to include some fruits in your low-water garden. Here are some plants that grow well with little water.
- Most pit fruit trees (once established)
- Rhubarb (once established)
Many legumes don’t require much water. Consider adding these to your garden:
- Black eyed peas
- Tepary beans
If you head to a natural area nearby, what plants are you going to see thriving? Chances are many of those are wild edibles. Take time to learn about plants native to your region.
Some of the plants considered weeds by many will be the perfect purposeful addition to your low-water garden. After all, no one is out in the woods irrigating the weeds. They just grow.
If you can’t find any seeds for these plants, try to dig up some established ones and transplant them. That way you’ll get a variety that grows well in your area.
You might even have a separate area where you encourage these plants to grow. That way they don’t take over your dedicated garden space. That will also help spread out your gardening efforts and minimize your risk of losing everything from theft. Hidden food sources are wonderful!
- Lamb’s quarter
- Stinging nettles
Shopping for Seeds
When selecting varieties, you’ll want to go with heirloom seeds. Many modern versions of these plants have been altered and turned into very needy seeds. This is especially true with corn.
Back in the day, irrigation options were very limited. Plants often didn’t get much water unless it rained. You want plants that survived then—not the needy variations humans have turned those plants into.
The one exception would be plants that have been selectively bred for dry-land planting. You can often find drought-resistant varieties of many of your favorites.
Another tip is to plant mini-varieties of the plants you most want to grow. For instance, it takes much less water to grow a cherry tomato than it does a beefsteak. Planting a few of your favorite water-loving plants in the mini-form will help you keep from feeling deprived with your garden.
Save Your Seeds
By saving your own seeds each year, you’ll be selecting varieties that did the best in your soil. Over time, your seeds will be essential to increasing your yield. They are locally adapted plants that thrive in your garden.
The Native Americans knew much about growing food. One method they used is known as the three sisters. This method of companion planting grouped plants together to maximize their yield.
Corn, beans, and squash were the original three sisters. These crops work together in harmony. The beans give nitrogen to the soil, which the corn and squash need. The beans grow up on the tall corn stalks, reducing the need for additional scaffolding.
Finally, the low-lying squash leaves protect the soil from the sun’s rays and help ensure water doesn’t run-off.
Planting companion crops will also help you plant more in a smaller space. This is essential if you’re just getting your low-water garden established and don’t have much soil built up.
Give Plants Space
Because your dry land plants will need to establish a deep root system, you can’t plant individual plants or companion groupings as closely together as you do in a traditional garden. That means your yield won’t be the same.
When to Plant
Your soil needs to accumulate the winter moisture. This built-in reserve is what will get your plants through until harvest.
If you wait too long to plant, your soil will be too dry. Conversely, if you plant too early you risk a killing frost freezing your garden.
When you plant your seeds, you want the soil to be nice and moist. Keep an eye on both the weather and the soil. You’ll want to plant after the last killing frost, but before the daytime temperatures get so high that they dry up your soil.
Once planted, you need to seal in the moisture in the ground by applying a good layer of mulch. Have your mulch on hand and ready to go before you plant.
Caring for Your Low-Water Garden
Low-water gardens are easy to care for once they’re planted. You don’t want to water most of them, because you’ll risk cracking the dry soil. Cracked soil loses moisture much faster than soil that isn’t cracked.
Any watering that you do for your long-term plants that are just getting established needs to be done gently. You can’t turn a hose on full-blast. Rather, gently water the soil around the plant instead of the plant itself.
You don’t want to overwater any of the low-water varieties you are planting. Plants that don’t get watered will grow a deeper root system than ones that are frequently watered. You want to start your plants off trying to seek water from the ground.
Besides doing less watering, low-moisture gardens bring a couple of other benefits. They take much less time than a traditional garden.
For instance, you’ll notice that you won’t get as many weeds in a low-water situation once your plants are up. There just won’t be enough water for them to grow.
But, you’ll want to pluck out any weeds that do creep in. You’ll also want to be diligent about weeding as your plants are just sprouting. That way weeds aren’t competing with your plants for resources.
Many garden pests thrive in moist environments. They’ll often leave your dry land crops alone. So you’ll have fewer to deal with.
You might notice your plants starting to shrivel up before harvest. The leaves may turn brown and you might see spots. These are typical signs in a low-water garden, and they don’t necessarily mean you’re going to lose your harvest.
Are you a dry farmer?
What tips can you add to help others get started in this style of gardening? It’s a different approach to growing food, and everyone can benefit from you sharing your knowledge.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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You don’t want all of your gardening efforts to be wasted during this harsh season. There are steps you can take to maintain and protect your survival garden this winter.
Taking care of your garden and orchard in the winter takes a little work, but it’ll be worth it in the spring when your overwintered plants are still alive.
You’ll have a head start on next spring’s planting, and you will be able to provide more food for your family.
Keep a close eye on the temperature during the winter months—the lower the temperatures, the more work you’ll have to do.
1. Care for Perennial Plants
If you’ve planted perennials like asparagus or rhubarb in your garden, you’ll be overwintering some plants. These will need protection from the freezing weather.
Once the ground has gotten cold, ensure that you’ve cut back these plants. Then cover them with four or five inches of a natural mulch. You can use:
- Wood that’s been chipped
- Shredded pine needles
The mulch will protect your plants from the temperatures that can change rapidly in winter. You don’t want your plants to constantly freeze and thaw throughout the winter. Mulch helps keep their temperature more constant.
It also provides warmth for the roots. By protecting the roots of your plants from freezing, you’ll give them a much better chance of winter survival.
In addition to protecting your plants, the mulch will also provide nutrients to your soil. Just be sure to uncover your plants when spring comes. Then, you’ll want the mulch to be around the plants instead of on-top of them.
You’ll also need to continue watering your plants if you aren’t getting precipitation regularly. While plants don’t need as much water in the cooler temperatures, they do need some. Plan on a deep watering session at least once a week if the ground has begun to thaw and you don’t have a snowpack.
2. Start Your Seedlings
If your growing season is short, you’ll want to maximize it by starting your plants indoors this winter. Before planting, you’ll want to ensure you have containers that drain well and good soil.
You’ll want to time this step right so your seedlings can be transported directly to your garden when they’re the right size. If you have gardening neighbors, ask them for advice on when to start plants. Otherwise you can check with your county extension agencies or online resources.
3. Keep Pests Away
Winter’s freeze doesn’t eliminate the threat of pests to your garden. Some insects, such as the tomato hornworm and squash vine borer, burrow underground for the cold season. If you had a pest problem before winter, you might find yourself with an even bigger one come spring.
One strategy to eliminate these underground pests is to till your garden before the hard freeze, but after small freezes. Turning over your soil will expose the pests to the cold and decrease their survival odds.
Bugs aren’t the only pests you’ll encounter in the winter. Hungry deer and rabbits will be searching for anything they can find when the snow is covering what they normally eat. Make sure your garden fence is solid to protect your overwintered plants.
If you have an orchard, you’ll also want to have wire around the base of the trees. This will keep animals from gnawing on the trunk. This video shows an easy way to keep animals away from your trees with stakes and wire:
Video first seen on The Do It Yourself World.
4. Know Your Plants’ Hardiness Level
Not all plants can withstand the same levels of cold. Be sure you know the hardiness for your plants and trees. If the weather in your area drops lower than it typically does, you may need to take additional action.
When planting with overwintering in mind, always select hardy plants for your zone. You should know when your typical first frost occurs, and how low the average temperatures are when selecting seeds.
If colder than usual weather is predicted, ensure your plants have a thick layer of mulch. New plants and trees will need more protection than established ones.
5. Protect Your Orchard
Trees can be vulnerable to freezing temperatures, especially if they’re not very hardy. Water that’s in the tree can freeze, causing limbs to break off and other damage. Here are some ways to keep your orchard trees from freezing this winter:
- String some of the big, old-fashioned, non-LED Christmas lights through the branches. Though they let just a tiny bit of heat, it’s enough to protect from a light freeze.
- Place a blanket around your tree. This obviously works best for small trees.
- Don’t fertilize in the winter. This extra food boost will encourage your trees to grow, which is not what you want happening in the winter. Those new shoots will be extremely susceptible to damage.
- Apply a frost cloth to your trees.
- Mound the soil up high against the base of the tree.
- Light a fire on the ground nearby to help warm it up and provide heat to the branches. You can save what you trim each spring to burn over the winter.
If you wrap or bank the trunk of your trees, be on the lookout for insect infestation. The bugs like a warm place to live as well.
A buildup of snow can also cause problems with trees. If you notice that the branches are bowing under the weight of the snow, help them out by knocking the snow off. This will keep your branches from breaking off.
6. Bring Plants Indoors
Some plants that don’t respond well to freezing temperatures can be dug up and potted for the winter. Just bring the pots inside, and care for them by providing water.
Here are some plants you can bring indoors for the winter:
- Banana plants
You can also dig up starts from other plants, and bring the shoots indoors. But, you’ll want to do that before the deep freeze occurs to help avoid transplant shock.
Winter is also a great time to start a small garden indoors. You can grow a variety of food indoors, which will help lower your winter grocery bill and provide fresh, local produce to enjoy. Just remember to keep an eye on your indoor garden and keep it in a room of your house that isn’t going to freeze.
7. Inspect & Organize
Since you won’t be using your gardening tools as often this winter, take time now to inspect them all. Your goal is to make your life easier once you jump into the gardening season again.
Sharpen your pruners, hoes, and any other tools you use with blades. Repair or replace any handles that have cracked.
Also, take time to walk your fence and make any repairs that are needed. If deer were a problem, consider adding another layer to increase the height of your fence.
Organize your garden supplies and make note of anything you’re running low on. Now is a good time to reorder supplies so you have them on hand when spring comes along.
8. Keep Your Compost Going
You’ll want compost in the spring to help get your garden growing again. If your compost pile is exposed to the elements, you can use a tarp to cover it. This will help keep the center warm and encourage the organisms to continue working.
The cover will also keep your compost from getting too wet. Too much moisture isn’t good for your pile.
You can save your food scraps throughout the winter to ensure your pile continues to grow. If you’re letting your compost pile go dormant for the winter, you might consider starting a small secondary pile. Just remember to keep adding carbon.
Video first seen on Alberta Urban Garden Simple Organic and Sustainable.
9. Plan for Next Year
Winter is the perfect time for planning your next year’s garden. Take time to sketch out your current garden’s layout so you can remember where each crop was planted. This will help you more efficiently plan crop rotation.
You can use the cold months to study new gardening techniques, research the best varieties for your area, and reflect on last year’s harvest. There’s always something to learn when it comes to gardening, so pick up some reading material at the library, and enjoy planning your garden.
10. Harvest Edibles
If you’re overwintering carrots, onions, cabbage, or other plants that will continue to produce in your climate, be sure to harvest the edibles. There’s nothing like farm fresh produce in the middle of winter.
For plants that grow underground, the freeze will eventually kill off the tops. This makes your edibles less visible. Be sure to mark where these plants are located so you don’t forget when your garden is covered with snow.
If you typically enjoy milder winters, the number of edibles you can grow significantly increases. You can also extend your growing season with cold frames or greenhouses. Remember to water the plants you have in there, and keep weeds at bay.
This way you can have your own survival garden no matter the season. Click the banner below and learn how to grow an endless supply of nutritious food in your backyard with no effort and in extreme conditions.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Roosters. These beautiful birds often earn a bad reputation. But, when carefully selected and introduced, a rooster can be a blessing to your hens, not a curse.
I’ll jump into the how-to part of adding the rooster a little later in this post. Keep reading to find out more!
But first, let’s talk about some basics behind adding a male bird (or birds) to your flock.
How Many Roosters?
If you have too many roosters, they’ll spend more time fighting than doing their job. A good way to calculate how many roosters you need is to count your hens. You want one rooster for every six-ten hens.
That way every rooster can have his own little flock of hens to care for and breed with. Your hens will be happy because there won’t be three roosters trying to mate with each one. It’s a good ratio to try and maintain.
When deciding upon the number of roosters, take into account the following factors:
Are your chickens confined to a pen and a run? If so, you’ll need significantly more space per bird if you plan to keep multiple roosters in there. Each one needs plenty of space for his flock.
If your chickens free-range, you’ll be able to get away with less space in the coop. But, you’ll want to make sure you don’t go below the minimum recommended space of four square feet per bird.
Having multiple, small coops available also helps minimize rooster squabbles. Or maybe you’ll have some of your birds roost on the barn roof at night like mine do.
No matter where they are, make sure each rooster has roosting space to enjoy at night with his hens. They will enjoy being together night and day.
Feeders and Waterers
Many rooster fights originate over a battle for resources. If you have multiple roosters, you may need multiple feeders and waterers too. You definitely want to keep an eye on your flock, and if there are meal time problems add some additional options.
You’ll want them to have plenty of food and water for their ladies. Roosters will eat whatever your hens are eating, so you won’t need to worry about separating food.
Roosters are roosters. And they make noise. Contrary to popular belief and many movies, roosters don’t just crow when the sun comes up.
They crow pretty much all day, or at least mine do. When a hen lays an egg? They crow. When they sense danger? They crow.
Roosters are loud. So if you have a backyard flock in the city, be sure to check out your town’s ordinances before introducing a male. They aren’t as easy to hide behind a privacy fence as hens are.
How to Pick a Rooster
There are so many breeds of chickens available, so you’ll have plenty of choices for your rooster. While there are breeds that are known for being more docile, each rooster will have a temperament all his own.
That means you can pick a docile breed and still end up with a mean rooster. Likewise, you can raise a rooster from an aggressive breed, and wind up with a sweet, docile boy.
So basically, there are no guarantees when buying a rooster when you buy one as a baby.
I’ve had the best luck with banty roosters. My Ameraucanas, Australorps, and Blue Andalusians were all aggressive. While Ameraucanas are typically aggressive, Australorps are supposed be more docile.
The banty roosters have been fine. So have all of our new cockerels since the initial banty, that are half banty.
There’s been a little fighting, typically when a new batch matures in the summer, and they establish a new pecking order. Thankfully, there’s been no aggression towards myself or my children with these smaller roos.
Since breed isn’t a reliable indicator of a rooster’s personality, here are some characteristics to watch for when buying a rooster that’s full-grown. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to see him in action at his current residence before purchasing.
- What do the backs of the hens this rooster is with look like? (You don’t want a rooster that tears up the backs of his ladies.)
- Has the current owner noticed any aggression?
- Is this rooster the dominant one at the top of flock, or a beta male?
- Does the rooster share food with the hens, or does he keep it for himself?
- How old is the rooster? (Young roosters who are just figuring out the mating thing are typically the roughest on hens.)
- Is the rooster healthy?
Be careful buying roosters sight unseen unless you’re prepared for your new rooster to end up in the stew pot. Many people who get rid of their roosters are getting culling a problem bird. It’s not always the case, but is common enough that you should always be aware of it.
3 Ways to Introduce a Rooster to Your Flock
Over the years, I’ve introduced roosters to my flock in three different ways. They were all successful, but each had their pros and cons.
1. Buying a Rooster Initially with Baby Hens
The easiest way to introduce a rooster to your flock is to do it before your flock is established. When you’re buying baby chicks for the first time, just add roosters to your order to maintain the proper hen to rooster ratio.
This is how I started off. I ordered my chicks, added a couple of cockerels to the order and raised them all together. They established their pecking order from the time they were small, and I didn’t have a problem with fighting.
The chickens and roosters knew each other. I didn’t have to worry about isolating new birds, or introducing illness. It was simple.
But, you really don’t know the temperament of roosters until they are bigger. The roosters I ordered as cockerels turned mean. They were a risk to the children, and those roosters are no longer on the farm.
2. Adding a Full-Grown Rooster to Your Hens
About the time I got rid of my other roosters, a friend of the family had given my mom a small flock of banty chickens that included two roosters.
At first, she kept her flock in her coop across the road, though the long-term goal was always for them to move over here to join my flock.
Isolation: It Takes Time
The new birds were kept them in their coop for three weeks. This isolation time allowed for illnesses to be displayed. The birds were healthy.
Whenever you introduce a new bird, it’s important to not just stick them into your flock and hope everything goes well. A quarantine period allows you to check for mites and disease. That way you don’t inadvertently expose all your chickens.
If you don’t have a separate coop, you can create a smaller coop inside your existing one with chicken wire. Or you can use a shed or barn on your property. It won’t be forever, so as long as the space is predator proof it’ll work.
For introducing a single rooster, you can also use a large dog crate. I did this when introducing a batch of chicks, and it worked well for the birds to get to know each other.
Just be sure to keep an eye on food and water in the isolation unit, and make sure you don’t let the birds get too cramped.
Start with Face to Face meetings in Large Spaces
Once you know your new rooster is healthy, you still don’t want to just add him directly to your flock. Give them time to get to know each other in a less territorial space.
My chickens and the new chickens free ranged together at my house. They had plenty of space, and at first both flocks stayed separate. They each foraged over a different section of land, and all went to their known coops at night.
After a few days of this distant meetings, the birds began to mingle. This mingling was repeated every day, and became more frequent.
Let the Rooster in at Night
Now that all the birds knew each other, it was time for the next phase of the assimilation. One evening after all the birds were roosting, I began to move the new ones. Since they were roosting, they were calm and easy to move.
I walked each bird across the street and into my coop. In the coop, I placed them on an extra roosting pole. That way they weren’t directly touching any of my existing flock.
By introducing the birds to sleeping together at night, the birds will be more likely to accept the new member. Then you can just let them all out in the morning.
Don’t Let Your Chickens Be Bored
Many problems with roosters arise when they’re bored. To solve this problem, provide your chickens with some activities they can do together.
Provide a spot for them to take dust baths. Toss out some grains and let them scratch. Give them your food scraps.
These things are simple, but will keep your chickens engaged and busy. They’ll be less likely to fight.
Know a Pecking Order Will Be Established
Even when you take precautions to introduce your new rooster, there will be changes in your flock. Each rooster will want his own girls, and there will be a new pecking order established.
There might be some squabbles while this occurs, but they should be minor. If you notice severe fighting, or injury, the rooster might not be a good fit for your flock. Slow down and go back to isolation at night.
Once my flock had its new pecking order figured out, one rooster took his hens to the barn to sleep at night.
Since they could get up high on the rafters, they were impossible for me to get back down and bring into the coop. So they still sleep there at night.
You might notice your chickens and roosters sleeping a little differently as well.
3. Letting Hens Hatch New Roosters
The final way that I’ve introduced new roosters into the flock is to have my hens do it for me. One benefit of having a rooster around is the fertile eggs. If you have a hen that will brood, you can have a self-sufficient flock.
When the chicks hatch, the mother hen will take care of flock introductions. By the time the hen leaves her chicks, they are grown enough to know their spot in the flock.
But, there will be a new pecking order established. I’ve seen the most problem as the new roosters begin to become interested in mating. They will always try to claim hens for himself.
In that process, he will almost always step on the toes of an established rooster. There’s a bit of squabbling, but the older roosters help the young ones learn their place.
The downside of this method is you can end up with too many roosters. So be prepared to cull some for the stew pot to keep there from being many problems. Then you’ll get both meat and eggs from your flock!
Adding a new rooster can take time. But, having one around can bring plenty of benefits to your flock.
A chicken flock is as crucial for your homestead nowadays as it was for our grandparents in the past. Discover the secrets that helped them survive during harsh times.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Building your stockpiles is only part of the equation for survival. Once you have items stored up, you also must protect them all year long.
This winter, your reserves can be threatened in numerous ways. Are yours going to make it through until spring comes?
Here are five common threats that winter can bring. So you can adequately prepare, you’ll also find tips on how to avoid these threats. That way you can make it through the cold season with your supply stores intact.
1. Threats from Extreme Cold
Have you ever put a can of pop in the freeze to cool off and forgotten about it? I did once in high-school, and it’s not a fun mess to clean up!
When liquids freeze, they expand. This can lead to containers breaking, loss of supplies, and a mess.
Similarly, canned goods can bulge when frozen, breaking the seal. Water stored improperly can freeze and burst.
Additionally, any items you’ve stockpiled with a high liquid content can suffer changes in texture and may separate into different layers. This includes things like:
- Hand soap
- Shaving cream
- Foods with a lot of liquid like: condiments, evaporated milk, canned soup
To prevent damage and loss from extremely cold weather, make sure your supplies aren’t in an unheated area. If you must keep them where it’s cold, like in a garage or other outbuilding, take precautionary steps.
Run a small heater to keep the temperature above the freezing point. Or, add an extra layer of insulation to the area. You can even use straw bales to create a barrier around your stockpiles.
Here you can read more about protecting your water stores this winter. Do what you need to do to keep any items that could be damaged from freezing temperatures.
2. Threats from Flooding
Are your stockpiles in a room with water pipes running through? If your pipes freeze, they’re going to get soaked. Water can ruin many supplies quickly.
Mold is also a concern where there’s water damage. You definitely don’t want mold to get into your stockpiles.
To avoid any damage, ensure your pipes are ready for freezing weather. Insulate them. Run heat in the room. Keep some water flowing at night.
Video first seen on This Old House.
Patch any leaks before the dripping water freezes and causes problems. If you need a short-term solution, use plastic bottles to help.
You can also move your stores into containers that are more waterproof. For instance, large plastic totes can hold a lot, and will keep most of the moisture out if a pipe bursts.
Water pipes bursting aren’t the only threat water threat to your supplies. Check your storage areas. Be aware of other sources of water such as leaky cement walls, condensation and runoff from the thaw.
3. Threats from Pests
Do you know what the insects, mice, and other pests do when it gets cold outside? They typically try to find someplace warm to stay before winter sets in. That could be inside your home, outbuildings, or garage.
Stinkbugs and mice are more common to see indoors in the winter where I live. They start trying to get indoors in late fall, typically before the first snow. You might have different critters in your region.
No matter what pests are trying to get inside, you need to make sure your stockpiles are protected. Because it’s not fun to find a mouse nest inside your emergency go bag. Or mouse droppings on top of your food stores.
Those rodents can gnaw through so many things! You must store your stockpile properly to avoid spoilage.
Your stockpile should be pest proof year-round, but now is the perfect time to double check. Make sure the lids are tight on your containers. Ensure they are rodent and insect proof.
You might consider setting out traps for mice or other rodents as a prevention measure. Here is how to make a simple mouse trap.
Video first seen on Chris Notap.
If flying insects are a problem, hang up some fly strips to help eliminate them. That way you can stop the problem before it escalates.
After all, these emergency stores are for you and your family. Not to keep pests alive all winter long.
4. Threats from Loss of Service
Blackouts happen no matter where you live, especially in the winter. Entire cities have been left in the dark after damage to the grid caused by high winds. Damage from an EMP would be even more severe.
You must be prepared for loss of service. It’s a definite threat to your reserves.
Freezers Going Out
Are you relying on freezers to store most of your long-term food stores that you’ve prepared? In a power outage, your freezer won’t maintain the right temperature for more than a few days.
A generator can help. So can the great outdoors if your temperatures are below freezing. But you must have a plan in place to know where to move everything when the time comes.
When there’s no power, there’s no way to pump water. If you live in the city, you might not always lose your water for a short power outage, but those out in the country will. Regardless, you need water on hand.
Water freezes when it the temperature drops. But, you’ll still need liquid drinking water each day, along with enough water to take care of hygiene and everything else.
If you have a woodstove with a cooktop, you can melt your stored ice until it turns back into a liquid. But, that adds time and energy exertion to your day.
Keep at least a few days’ worth of water stored in your house where it won’t freeze. That’ll give you a few days to figure out your long-term plan. If you have animals, remember you’ll also need a way to keep them hydrated for the duration of the outage.
What’s your backup plan for heat? When services go out, you’ll need to make sure you and your stockpiles don’t freeze.
Ice buildup can cause problems even with your backup energy, so be sure to think through a winter plan.
Will you be able to find what you need in your stores if you’re working in the dark? You don’t want to knock over and break something while you’re pawing around.
To prepare, make sure you have a couple of flashlights or oil lanterns easily accessible. Along with those should be batteries or the fuel you need. Check on these a few times throughout winter and ensure everything is in good working order.
Then when the power goes out, you’ll know exactly where to go for light. You’ll be able to see your reserves clearly and avoid damaging anything.
5. Threats from Thieves
Not everyone believes in the necessity of building a stockpile. When times get tough, like they can over a long, hard winter, those unprepared people can quickly run out of needed items. If they know that you have plenty, or can see your supplies while driving by, you’re at bigger risk for thievery.
Thievery isn’t only limited to harsh weather, so take time now to secure your stores and make them harder to access. Here are some tips for keeping possession of your goods:
- Build your woodpile out of sight of the main road, along with any other items stored outdoors.
- Learn how to make your stores blend in naturally to their surroundings, hiding them in plain sight.
- Hide your valuables in unusual locations instead of places thieves commonly look
- Don’t tell your neighbors or anyone details about your stockpile. Stay silent.
- Stay under the radar when the power goes out. Don’t flash your powerful generator, your ability to prepare food, or anything else.
You don’t want everything you worked hard to prepare to be snatched. It can happen when you least expect it.
Also, make sure you check on your stores frequently. My family once had several cords of wood stolen out of our barn during the daytime, while we were out. We noticed it right away because we accessed the wood daily, and the thieves knocked over a good chunk of our woodpile.
It looked different, and we went over to investigate. A lot of wood was missing, and there were tire tracks all over the fresh snow.
Instead of just lamenting over the loss, we acted. We realized that our woodpile was visible to anyone who drove up the driveway. So we jumped in and moved it right away.
Learn from my mistake, and do your analyzing before a thief does. Keep your goods out of sight and safe, and check on them throughout the winter.
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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Do you need a quick bread that’s easy to cook over a campfire? Your very own instant baking mix of sorts that just needs water added?
Then you need some bannock!
Like hardtack, bannock has a long history. It’s believed to have been brought to North America by Scottish explorers. In Scotland, bannock was cooked over an open fire on a bannock stone.
Once in North America, the love of bannock spread quickly. Indigenous tribes from coast to coast adapted the method and created their own versions of this survival food.
Today, many outdoor enthusiasts rely on bannock to accompany their meals. It’s easy to prepare before heading out, and simple to cook over a campfire. This portability makes bannock a wonderful addition to your survival stores.
The ingredients of bannock are very similar to those of hardtack. Like hardtack, you can make a simple bannock out of just flour and water. However, to get the best tasting bannock, you’ll want to add a few additional ingredients.
A Variety of Bannock Recipes
There are bannock recipes with just two ingredients, and others with a lot more. At the heart of every bannock batch is flour.
The Scotts traditionally used oat flour. As the recipe grew in popularity in North America, corn meal and wheat flour were used. Obliviously, bannock works with a variety of flours. So use what your body can tolerate, and what you can easily store.
Besides water and flour, you can add some additional items to improve the taste of your bannock. Here are a few common additions, and how much to use of each.
To keep your bannock light instead of dense, add baking powder to your flour. A teaspoon for every cup of flour is an appropriate amount. Adding salt improves the flavor of the final product. Use ½ teaspoon of salt for every cup of flour.
Cutting a tablespoon of fat for every cup of flour into the dry ingredients helps improve the taste and texture of your bannock. If you use a shelf-stable fat like lard or shortening, you’ll still be able to store your dry mix for several months at a time.
You can adapt the recipe to use what you have on hand, which makes this bread an ideal survival food. Here’s how I tweaked the recipe. It created a flavorful bread when baked, pan-fried, or cooked over an open fire.
For each batch, you’ll need:
- 1 cup of white wheat flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 TSB. unrefined coconut oil
You’ll also need some water when you’re ready to cook the bannock.
Begin by preparing the dry ingredients. I mixed them in a small bowl, and used a fork to incorporate the oil. My end mixture looked a lot like commercial Bisquick or other baking mixes.
Once you’ve prepared your bannock mix, you can store each batch in a sealable bag. Throw a couple of these bags into your bug out bag, along with a bottle of water, so you can always be ready to make bread.
Here’s a picture of a bag of bannock mix I made, along with a bottle of water and a green stick. All I need is a fire and I can have freshly made bread! Since each batch doesn’t take much water, that single water bottle is enough to make a couple of bags.
How to Cook Bannock
The ingredients aren’t the only thing you can vary when making bannock. This bread can be cooked in several ways.
No matter how you cook it, you’ll need to add water to your mix. Just pour in a little water into the bag, and start gently squeezing the bag. You’ll distribute the water throughout the mix.
The dough will begin to form a soft ball. If your mix is too dry, add a tiny bit more water. It’s much better to add the water slowly than to add too much. Once your dough is a soft sticky ball, stop working it. You’ll make the bannock tough if you handle it too much.
Here’s a picture of what my dough looked like when it was ready to go.
There’s many ways to cook your bannock. Here are three popular methods:
Heat a little bit of oil in a cast iron skillet. Once water droplets dance, it’s time to add your bannock. You can just squeeze it directly from the bag to the pan. Or you can break it into smaller pieces to speed up the cooking. That’s what I did.
Let it cook a couple of minutes, shaking the pan gently. Once the bannock comes loose from the bottom of your pan, it’s time to flip.
You can either grab a spatula like I did, or grab the frying pan tightly and toss your bannock in the air. It’ll flip over and you can catch it. Then cook the other side.
Bake in an Oven
In a survival situation, you probably won’t have a traditional oven. But if you have a solar oven set up, or are just making bannock for supper, you can bake it.
Before putting it in the oven, dump your prepared bag out onto a greased pan. Then flatten it out a bit with your hands.
I baked my bannock at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes. It came out nicely browned, and cooked all the way through. Here’s a picture showing pan fried bannock (the small ones) and baked bannock.
Over an Open Fire
If you’re in the wilderness, find yourself a green stick from a tree. You’ll want to strip the bark from the end you’ll cook the bannock on.
You’ll also need a fire. Similarly to roasting marshmallows, you’ll want a fire that has plenty of hot coals. That way the bannock cooks all the way without burning on the outside.
To prep your stick, hold the peeled end of the stick over the coals for a couple of minutes. This will heat the stick and help the dough to cook on the inside.
When you’re stick is hot, it’s time to wrap your dough around it. Just pretend the dough is playdough and make it into a long snake. Then, wrap the snake around the peeled portion of the stick. Remember it’s hot, so be careful! You want the dough to be thin on your stick so it can cook.
Here’s what my wrapped stick looked like. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just as long as it’s on tight enough not to fall off while over the fire.
It took me a couple of tries to get my bannock cooked correctly, and not burn it. Then I discovered it was very similar to roasting a marshmallow, and adjusted the distance from the coals accordingly.
It should take a couple minutes to cook. When I thought it was done, I pulled my bannock away from the fire and broke off a little piece to test the center. After the center was no longer doughy, it was ready to eat.
Here’s my finished fire roasted bannock on a stick. The kids thought it’d make a fun hot dog bun substitute the next time we have a cookout. I agree.
We just tore this bannock into pieces to eat. But, you don’t have to eat your bannock plain. You can doctor up the final product with butter, jam, cheese, or some meat.
You can also stir many different ingredients into your dough to mix it up a bit. If you’d like a sweeter bannock, consider adding a teaspoon of sugar into your dry ingredient mix. Honey would also be a good sweetener, added at the same time as the water.
You can also add some shelf-stable ingredients to your dry mix that’ll add some texture and flavor to your bread. Here are some ideas to try. You can either use a single add-in, or make up your own favorite combination.
- Chopped, dried fruit
- Chopped nuts
- Spices (such as cinnamon or nutmeg)
- Mini chocolate chips
Storing Your Bannock
The shelf life of your bannock mix will depend on what ingredients you include, and how you store it. A basic mix with flour, baking powder, salt, and oil will last at least a couple of months when stored in a sealed plastic baggie. If you remove the oil, the mix would have a longer shelf-life.
Mixing up a batch of bannock mix takes just a couple of minutes. You won’t have a large time-commitment ensuring you always have a fresh batch on hand.
If you’re storing plastic baggies in your bug out bag, or even just for a camping trip, be sure that they aren’t going to get punctured. You might consider keeping the smaller bags inside a stronger, larger freezer bag to offer more protection.
Once your bannock is cooked, you can keep it for several days. That means you can cook up a big batch and use it to help give you strength if you’re on the move to another bug out location. You’ll notice the texture will change a bit as the bannock dries out, but it’ll still taste fine.
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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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But, burning wood takes a little preparation. You need to make sure your stove is ready to burn safely throughout the winter months. You’ll have to put up a supply of firewood to see you through the season.
Here are some major mistakes people make when burning wood, and how you can avoid them.
1. Not Inspecting & Cleaning Your Stove
Before you start burning around the clock, make sure your stove and chimney are ready for the season. As part of this inspection, you’ll want to examine your firebrick lining and see if any of it needs replaced. The brick reflects heat, keeping the body of the stove from overheating.
You’ll also want to make sure the chimney is cleaned. You can either get it cleaned professionally, or do it yourself, whichever you are most comfortable with. This will prevent chimney fires, and help your fire burn more efficiently.
If any of your stovepipe leading to the chimney has a sharp turn, you’ll want to give that section extra attention during cleaning. Creosote can build up quickly in a bend. When your stove is cool, disconnect the pipe if you can and take it outside to ensure its thoroughly cleaned.
While you’re checking your stove, be sure to check the seal around the door. You want a tight seal to keep smoke from getting into your house. The braid cord that’s around the door in many stove models may occasionally need replaced.
Once everything is in good working order, you’ll be all set to use your stove all winter long. Neglecting these steps can lead to a chimney or house fire.
2. Not Having Enough Wood
You don’t want to run out of wood in the middle of winter. It’s always best to have too much wood on hand rather than too little. How much you’ll need depends on many factors, such as:
- Whether your family is home all day
- How large your house is
- How efficient your stove is
- How much insulation your house has
- How low the temperatures drop in your area
- The type of wood you’ll be burning
- How hot you like your fires
- How much of the year you’ll burn
I live in a large, old home without much insulation in the rooms we haven’t yet renovated. Most windows are still single-paned. And the kids and I are home all day long.
We burn a lot more wood than my parents who live across the street. Their home is insulated well, has updated windows, and they work out of the house so they just bank their fire before they leave.
Ten cord of wood is what we try to have on hand at the start of winter. We don’t typically burn it all, but if the temperatures drop below zero, we go through wood at an alarming rate. We also don’t just burn in the “winter” months. To keep the house comfortable, we usually burn September through May.
It’s a lot of wood, but I’d much rather end the burning season with a head start on next winter’s supply than be caught short. We did that once when we first moved here, and falling dead trees with three feet of snow on the ground in the freezing weather wasn’t fun.
When you make your estimate for firewood usage, estimate high, especially if it’s your first year. You’ll be able to get a better idea of how much wood you used in the spring. That’ll make future estimates easier.
3. Not Storing Your Wood Properly
Once you have your firewood cut, it’s time to split it and stack it. You want to make sure it’s not going to get wet over the winter, so store it somewhere dry.
It’s best to store your wood off the ground a bit, like on a pallet. That way the air can circulate throughout the pile and keep everything dry.
You can stack your wood in a woodshed, an old barn, a lean-to, or pallets in the yard with a tarp on top. You’ll want to ensure a couple sides of your woodpile are opened to allow air to circulate.
Since wood is flammable and can attract pests, it’s best not to store large quantities of it touching your house or in your basement.
Properly storing your firewood will help protect your supply. That way you always have seasoned wood ready to go when you need it.
If you don’t take care of your woodpile, it’ll get exposed to the elements and won’t dry out.
4. Not Having a Backup Plan
What would happen if your wood supply gets stolen or compromised? What if you underestimated how much you’d need and now you’re out?
If you need to heat your home and you’re out of wood, there are some alternatives to burn in your stove. Some will burn quickly, while others will smolder for quite a while.
You should think through a worst-case scenario before winter hits, and examine some of your options.
- Rolled Jean Logs
Do you have old jeans that no longer fit or are so full of holes you can’t wear them? You can roll each pair into a tight log, tie it with string or twine, and then let it burn.
The tighter you roll it, the longer it’ll take to burn. That’s because you’re keeping the air from circulating through it as quickly.
To make a jean roll, you’ll need a pair of jeans and a couple of feet of string. Here’s the way I found to be the easiest.
Stretch the jeans out in front of you, with the legs closest to your body. Begin rolling one leg. Roll it as tight as you can, jellyroll style.
Once you get to the crotch, take a section of string and tie it around the rolled leg to keep it in place. You’ll want the string to run across the long end of the roll rather than the short end.
Now, repeat with the other leg.
When both legs are secure, grab onto both sections. Slowly begin rolling the leg rolls up into the waist of the pants. It’ll be bulky, so you’ll have to keep pressure on it to keep it tight.
The waist section should completely cover the individual leg rolls and wrap around it a couple of times. Once you’ve reached the top of the jeans, it’s best if you have some help to tie it. That way you can ensure it stays tightly wound.
Wrap string all the way around it and secure tightly. Repeat in three more places. Now your jean logs are ready for the fireplace.
- Rolled Paper Logs
Do you have a large supply of newspapers on hand? What about books, magazines, or a couple of phone books? This paper can all be used to create rolled paper logs to burn.
You’ll need to stack up your paper before you roll it. You want your finished log to be about three inches in diameter, so you might need to experiment with how much you stack to see how thick your finished product turns out.
As with the jeans, you’ll want to roll the paper as tightly as possible. It’ll take a while to get the first couple of logs rolled, but once you get the hang of it, the process will go more quickly.
Once the paper is rolled, use string, twine, or rubber bands to hold it tightly. You don’t want it to unroll on you.
Video first seen on New and Lost Crafts.
- Green Wood
If you have access to green wood, you can cut it down and it’ll burn. Are there any shrubs, bushes, or trees in your yard that you could get to safely?
When going this route, keep in mind that green wood burns differently than seasoned wood. It’s harder to start, and may require a propane torch instead of just a match.
Unseasoned wood also puts more creosote into your chimney, so you’ll want to ensure you check the chimney frequently for any build up. If you notice build up, let your fire go out and clean the chimney before you use it again. You don’t want to start a chimney fire!
- An Emergency Tree
We usually pick out one or two emergency trees at the start of each fire burning season. These are standing dead trees on the property that’ll be accessible by tractor even in the middle of winter. If our wood supply is ever compromised, we know that we can get a couple loads from those trees.
If you have your own wooded land, you might consider leaving an emergency tree too.
- Twisted Straw Sticks
You can take a page out of a Little House book and use the method Laura and Pa did in The Long Winter. When the Ingalls family ran out of wood to burn, they started twisting hay into long sticks.
It was time consuming, but kept the family warm through the long winter. If you have a surplus of hay or straw, you can make your own sticks to burn. You’ll want to ensure the sticks are tightly wound so they burn longer.
- Broken Furniture and Wood Scraps
Do you have any broken wood furniture around your homestead? How about wood scraps from building projects? Both can be burned.
What other wood burning mistakes can you add?
These are four common mistakes that people burning with wood make. Can you add others to the list? How do you best prepare for your wood burning season?
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Cellars can be an ideal location for storing your emergency supplies, and especially your food. Located underground, cellars take advantage of insulation from the Earth. This helps prevent your supplies from freezing in the winter.
Your survival cellar is also out of sight for your household visitors, so you won’t be advertising your stores for everyone. Whether you’re building a cellar, or using a crawlspace or cellar that’s already under your house, they’re very useful.
But, cellars can have a humidity problem. Because leaks can spring up, it’s easy to get too much moisture inside. That’s what we need to solve.
Problems with a Leaky Cellar
Too much water in your cellar can cause a variety of problems. The humidity can easily cause your food and paper goods to develop mold. It’ll make your cans rust. Both issues will severely impact the shelf life of your stores.
If your cellar is under your house, water damage can eventually lead to structural issues. This can lead to your house’s integrity being compromised. The wood your house is built from isn’t meant to be continually wet.
Additionally, unpleasant odors are common in damp cellars. If your cellar lacks ventilation, these odors will become more noticeable and can lead to allergic reactions and health problems.
Signs of a Water Leakage
Since signs of water damage can be subtle, you may not realize at first that there’s a problem in your cellar. You probably won’t find standing water across the floor. Instead, you’ll notice signs like these:
- A musty odor
- A white, chalk-like powder on the walls
- Cracks in the walls or floor
- Condensation on windows
- Water stains on the walls or floor
Once you discover signs of moisture, it’s important to investigate further. If you are unsure if the water is seeping into your cellar from the outside, or condensing from the inside, you can perform a simple test.
Take a piece of aluminum foil and cut it to a 2-foot by 2-foot square. Using duct tape around the edges, tape the foil to your wall.
The next day, examine the foil. Is there water on the side facing out? If so, it’s a sign that your water is coming from inside.
If not, take down the foil and feel the side that was facing out. Water on this side indicates you have a seepage problem.
Where Is the Water Coming From?
Cellar leaks from internal and external sources can come from a variety of places. It’s important to give the entire space an inspection. Here are some common causes of a leaky cellar:
- Ground Water
If you’ve had an unusually amount of precipitation, your cellar could be the collection point for the excess groundwater. Ground water can also be a problem during spring runoff times.
The water will have to find its way into your cellar, so be on the lookout for cracks in the walls or on the floor.
- Leaking Water Pipes
Check your water pipes for leaks. This can include outdoor spigots. One year ours sprung a leak underground and the only reason we knew was because of the water leaking into our basement.
Are you watering too close to your cellar? A misaimed sprinkler can send unwanted water into your cellar.
If you have gutters meant to bring the water away from your home, check and make sure they’re working properly. A clogged gutter can lead to water in the cellar.
A lack of gutters can cause a similar problem. It’s important to have a way for the excess water to be channeled away from your cellar.
- Trees or Bushes Too Close
Is there vegetation growing right next to your cellar? If so, the root systems can allow water to work its way inside.
- Drainage Conditions Around the Cellar
What’s the ground like around your cellar? Does the soil absorb water, or let it run freely? Is the grade of the land forcing water away from the area?
Taking a few minutes to inspect your cellar and the land around it can help you pinpoint the source of your leak.
8 Steps to Prevent a Leaky Cellar
There are a few simple ways to prevent leaks in your cellar. If you don’t yet have a moisture issue, these steps will help reduce the risk.
1. Gutter Maintenance
Make sure to take time to clean out your gutters regularly and ensure they haven’t fallen. While you’re working with your gutters, it’s a great time to evaluate your rainwater collection system.
2. Fix the Grade
Check the level of the soil around your cellar. You want it to be at its highest around the perimeter. That way water runs away from your cellar instead of down into it.
If you need to, you can add additional soil around your cellar. Then, use a rake and shovel to slope it away from your structure.
For a more permanent solution, you can make a retaining wall and then regrade around it.
Video first seen on This Old House.
3. Remove Overgrown Greenery
The roots of trees can reach a long way. If you have any planted too close to your cellar, their roots can cause problems. Bushes, shrubs, and other plants that send down massive root structures can cause similar problems.
Be sure to remove any greenery that threatens your cellar space. You don’t want roots to allow water inside.
4. Patch Cracks
Use caulking to fill any small cracks you see in your cellar walls. Even if they aren’t yet letting in moisture, they’re a weak spot that could start leaking in the future.
Larger cracks will need a little more attention. They may require the insertion of a rubber membrane, additional reinforcement with cement, or a special epoxy. Your exact repair will depend on the location, the material of the wall, and the size of the crack. You might need to bring in an expert to evaluate.
If your cellar has a cement floor, you can use epoxy to seal small cracks in it. Larger floor cracks may need a cement patch. You can mix up a small amount in a wheelbarrow and use a trowel to pack in the crack and smooth over the top.
5. Insulate Your Pipes
Do you have water pipes running through your cellar? If you do, make sure they’re insulated to avoid condensation.
If your pipes are leaking and you don’t have the material on hand to fix them the proper way, you can make a makeshift patch out of a plastic bottle.
6. Apply Waterproof Sealant
You can purchase special sealant at home improvement stores designed to keep the water away. Many varieties go on just like paint, though you’ll need a sturdy brush to apply it to cement. A coat of this will help keep your cellar dry.
Video first seen on Today’s Homeowner.
7. Put Plastic Down
Is your unfinished cellar’s floor made of dirt or gravel? Moisture can easily seep up through these materials. Consider lining your floor with thick plastic vapor barrier.
Insulation will help produce interior condensation. If your walls aren’t insulated, the temperature change between inside and out can cause water droplets to form.
Be sure your insulation is designed for foundation walls. Foil-backed or foam based insulation materials are common in cellars.
Depending on building regulations in your area, you may need to cover the insulation with a fire barrier. Thin drywall is acceptable in many areas.
Removing Moisture from a Wet Cellar
If excess moisture has already reached your cellar, the above steps can help prevent future problems. By keeping future water from getting in, you’ll help improve the conditions in your cellar. However, you will also have to address the moisture problem. To get rid of excess moisture you can:
- Air Out the Space
Open the windows and use a fan to help circulate the air. A dehumidifier will also help suck the moisture out.
- Remove Mold or Mildew Damaged Items
If your cellar has mold or mildew, you need to get rid of the items effected if they can’t be properly cleaned. This will help remove the odor and built up moisture from your space as well.
- Install a French Drain and a Sump Pump
If your cellar continues to have water problems even after taking corrective measures, it might be time to install a French drain and a sump pump. This interior drainage system will help channel the water where you want it to go.
This involves digging a trench as close to the wall as possible around the inside perimeter of your cellar. You’ll then put down connected pipe that slopes to your water collection pit. Inside this pit is a sump pump.
The sump pump will then pump the water out of your cellar and out to a spot away from your foundation. When the pipes are all connected, you’ll cover it with gravel and then pour more concrete on top. You’ll leave the sump pump accessible, with an air-tight lid, in case it needs repair in the future.
This is a more involved DIY project, but it’s possible to do without calling in a professional.
Video first seen on gregkieslich.
Have you ever dealt with a leaky cellar? What other tips can you share for preventing the problem or taking care of moisture in your cellar? Were you successful in drying it out, or are you still dealing with moisture?
Click the banner below to find out how our ancestors use to deal with the challenge of storing the food safely for long term survival!
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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If you and your family are stranded in a small space or hidden shelter, you’ll need to have a plan to keep your kids entertained. Otherwise you’ll all end up on each other’s nerves and the already serious situation can quickly become much worse.
It’s essential to be as prepared as possible, so take time now to integrate some of these ideas. That way they don’t seem as strange to your children.
If you have a shelter or panic room already in place, practice spending time there. That way your kids aren’t dealing with both a brand new environment and a crisis.
Don’t Leave Your Kid in the Dark
If you’re in hiding, the kids are going to figure it out. Do them a favor, and tell them the truth. You don’t have to get into all the details, but definitely talk to your kids in an age-appropriate way.
Share what’s going on and what you have to do. That way your kids know your expectations and you can work as a team to survive.
Kids are perceptive, and will often pick up on emotions they’re parents are exhibiting. Taking time to talk about the situation will help ease their fears. They’ll know what they need to do, and most of the time kids rise to meet our expectations.
Have a Variety of Activities on Hand
You won’t be able to bring much into small quarters, but by being prepared you’ll make your shelter more enjoyable for everyone.
The age of your kids will definitely impact the activities you plan. Here are some ideas that’ll work for a large range of ages. Of course you know your kids best, so be sure to pick somethings you know they’ll enjoy.
Having a variety of games on hands is great, but if space is tight you probably won’t have that luxury. The good news is with a little creative thinking you can create your own games with some basic items.
Games are a fun way to keep the family engaged. You’ll help distract your kids from what’s going on. Games are also relatively quiet activities, which helps if you need to stay hidden.
Here are some things to keep on hand for game time:
- A deck of cards
- A couple of card games that don’t take up much space such as
- Tell Me a Story
- Phase 10
- A couple of dice
- A pack of index cards and a marker or two
With these items, you can create hours of entertainment. A plain deck of cards gives you everything you need for dozens of games. Here are ten popular games that are easy for kids to pick up.
- King’s Corner
- Crazy 8s
If you start learning one of these games a week as a family, you’ll build great memories now. You’ll also be familiar with them in the event of a crisis. Then playing cards will seem familiar instead of like a foreign activity.
In addition to playing the card games according to the traditional rules, you can experiment with adding rules or changing game play completely. With the boxed card games, you’ll have plenty of variety to create your own family favorites.
For instance, you can use SkipBo cards to play Go Fish. You can hide all of the wild cards from the Uno deck and have your kids go find them. The letters from FastWord can be used to see who can build the longest and shortest words.
You can use the dice to learn about probability, to roll for a treat, or to create new games. The index cards and marker will give you everything you need to create customized cards. Perhaps you’ll write words on them and use them to play Charades or Pictionary.
The possibilities are endless!
Pen & Paper Games
With a stack of paper and a pen, you can create a variety of games. Like the card games, take time to learn these now. That way you’re all set if you need them. Here are five favorite pen and paper games for kids:
- The Dot Game (where you try to make boxes out of dots by drawing lines one at a time)
- Categories (everyone writes down a word from a named category)
- MadLibs (write a story but leave some words blank. Then have your child name a color, a noun, a number word, etc. to fill in the blanks.)
Games with No Materials
If you didn’t have time to grab any supplies, or you just need some fresh ideas, these games are perfect. They don’t require any materials.
1. Guess Who
One person secretly selects a character or person. The other players take turns asking yes or no questions to figure out who the mystery character is. You can ask:
- Are you a female?
- Are you in a TV show?
- Do you wear fancy shoes?
- Are you a real person?
- Have we ever met you?
And all sorts of other questions. Once someone guesses the identify correctly, another player takes a turn. This game can keep everyone entertained for hours.
2. The Alphabet Challenge
Work together to name an object from a given category that starts with each letter of the alphabet. You can try to name:
- Boy Names
- Girl Names
You can decide in advance that you’ll skip a given letter if no one can think of an answer. That way you don’t get discouraged.
3. Math Drill
You can take turns giving math problems to each other. They’ll help keep your brain sharp. For younger kids you can ask them to count to a certain number. Older kids and adults can tackle multiplication or division questions, or problems with multiple steps.
4. I Spy
This classic is a great game for young kids. One person secretly picks an object in the room and then says, “I spy with my little eye something…..” and says the color of the object.
Everyone else takes turns guessing what the mystery object is.
Since space will be tight, you won’t be able to bring an arsenal of art supplies. But, a small white board and a couple of markers for each child will help. Remember to throw in an old sock to use as an eraser.
On the boards you can have your kids:
- Practice writing their letters or words
- Write a short story
- Practice math facts
- Play any of the pen and paper games
They’re can be used individually, which makes them an ideal silent activity. If you’re able, you can have your kids take turns sharing what they worked on. That’ll help them feel connected.
While you can’t fit your whole library into your survival space, you can select a couple of books to bring.
You can either select read alouds or family favorites, or bring a couple of each.
If you bring enough books for everyone to have one, you can implement a daily reading time.
If you’re reading aloud, you can encourage your kids to draw something from the story on their white boards. Keeping their hands engaged will help them listen and stay quiet while you read.
Depending on your situation, you might have your kids act out a part of the story. Bringing books to life is a fun way to pass the time.
Simply talking about what you’re reading will encourage reading comprehension. After all, you don’t want to stop learning while you’re in your shelter. These discussions will also help draw you closer as a family.
Simple Sewing or Needlework
A needle and thread along with some scrap fabric is all you need to help your kids learn a new skill. They can practice sewing squares and then take the seams out and try again.
This Survivopedia post shares how to recycle an old pill bottle into a sewing kit. That doesn’t take up much space.
If you bring some yarn and knitting needles or crochet hooks, you can teach your child a skill that’ll help keep them quiet and engaged. They’ll be able to practice, and can always undo what they’ve created and make something new.
A Family Journal
When the crisis passes, you’re going to want to remember some events and feelings from your time in your survival shelter. Keeping a simple spiral notebook and a pen around can help preserve these memories.
Encourage everyone to write in the journal regularly. Your younger kids can draw a picture about how they’re feeling or what they did. Writing is therapeutic for many people. This process might help provide your children with an outlet to share the thoughts they’re having.
There will be times when everyone just needs to hit the reset button. When the kids are fighting and everyone’s temper is short, it’ll help to have a few fun distractions to bring out.
You shouldn’t use these things regularly, but instead save them for when they’re needed most. You can pick up most of these items at the Dollar Store or around the house, so you don’t have to worry about spending a ton of money on them.
- Glow sticks
- A pack of bubbles
- A coloring book to rip pages out of
- A sheet and some clothespins to create a fort
- A new game
- A puzzle book like Crosswords or Word Searches
- A toy car
Once everyone’s mood is lifted, you can put the special items away for another day.
Sitting for extended periods of time is rough on the human body. Break up your positioning if possible. Roll a die and see how many jumping jacks everyone should do. See who can do the most sit-ups in 1 minute. Take time to do this several times throughout the day.
You’ll help improve blood flow, and will help keep your muscles from getting stiff.
Of course you’ll need food in your survival space. If at all possible, ensure it is food that your family is used to eating. You don’t need any battles in your tight quarters.
In addition to your food reserves, you’ll want to have a few treats on hand. These can be pulled out to boost morale, to use as bribery in the event of immediate danger, or simply as a reward for something.
These foods make good treats for kids, and the adults:
- Chocolate chips
- Small crackers
- Dried cereal with fun shapes or marshmallows
- Fruit snacks
While these aren’t the most nutritious foods, they can help provide a sense of normalcy to your children. They’ll also help break up the routine of survival food and feel even more special.
Be sure your survival space has plenty of water on hand. You’ll need water for drinking, and also for hygiene purposes. You don’t want to run out of water!
A Place to Relieve Oneself
Kids have to use the bathroom, just like adults. Be sure you’ve thought through how this will work in your survival shelter. You’ll need a way to dispose of your human waste.
If you have babies, you’ll need diapers and wipes on hand. You can use cloth diapers and wipes if you have enough water to keep them clean.
You’ll also want to have toilet paper or substitutes on hand. Also bring along a bottle of hand sanitizer to help keep germs from spreading.
If you’re able to hang a sheet or something around your bathroom area, it’ll help add a sense of privacy to your shelter.
Give Your Kids Jobs
Kids love to feel useful. In a tight space, there might not be much that needs done. But, any job you can give your kid will help them realize that they are playing an important role in your family’s survival. You might be able to ask them to:
- Dry dishes
- Entertain the baby
- Pick up the trash
- Organize the supplies
- Count the different items to help you take inventory
These jobs might not seem critical, but they’ll help your children embrace the situation.
Your Attitude Matters!
Your kids will know how your feeling. If you’re getting sick of being in the tight space, they’re going to pick up on that attitude and amplify it.
Even if it’s hard, try to have a good attitude for the sake of your kids. Look at it as an exciting adventure. Be cheerful about the activities you’ll do.
A little bit of enthusiasm on your part will do wonders in helping the family survive this tough time. This is especially true if the crisis lasts for an extended period of time.
What Ideas Can You Add?
Keeping kids entertained in tight spaces can be challenging, but it’s definitely possible! What ideas can you add to this list? Please share them in the comments section so everyone can have a solid list remember if they ever need it.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Summer is gone, we are enjoying autumn days and heading to winter now. In many regions, this cold season brings snow, low temperatures, and plenty of harsh winds. You’ll need to take some extra steps this fall to ensure your livestock make it through winter in good condition.
Water, food, shelter and safety are essential for your livestock. Focus on these requirements and follow the next steps to prepare your livestock for the coming winter.
Animals can’t live without water. When the freezing weather hits, watering the animals takes a little more effort. You’ll need to make sure their water doesn’t freeze. Here are some tips:
Use Electrically Heated Waterers
Waterers are available in a variety of sizes with electrical heating elements built in. For large stock tanks, you can find electrical heaters in a cage that floats in the water. Your local feed store should have all of these available.
The purpose of the electrical heater is to keep your animals’ water from freezing. The electrical part stays just warm enough that the water stays liquid. These are the easiest way of ensuring your animals have plenty of water all winter long.
The downside is that you have to have electricity available where you water, which isn’t always feasible. There are propane stock tanks available, which might be your best solution for large livestock.
Water More Frequently
If you’re around the farm during the day, make it a point to check on your animals more frequently. Since I don’t have electricity out by my rabbit pens, I water them three times a day instead of only twice. That extra watering keeps them in water for the bulk of the day.
When the weather is extremely cold, I only fill their water halfway during each watering. This usually keeps it from getting filled completely with ice. I still have to bring out hot water once a day to take care of the ice, but it’s easier than doing it every time.
Make Sure Your Waterers Work in Winter
My first winter with rabbits I made the mistake of trying to use water bottle type waterers. The water froze completely on the straw portion which meant even after I’d filled the waterer, the rabbits couldn’t drink it. I quickly realized my mistake and switched to bowl style waterers.
Be sure to check any special water tanks you have for your critters to ensure they are working in the winter.
Move Your Waterers to a Heated Shed
If your animals have a shed to take shelter in, you may be able to move the waterers in there. Then you can run a propane or electric heater to keep the water from freezing. The roof and sides of your shed will protect your heater.
Have a Backup Water Source
If I lose power, I lose water too. The electric pump at the well house can’t run. Since we normally lose power for several days each winter, a backup water source is essential.
Thankfully there’s a creek running through my farm. My husband and I have broken ice and hauled water 5 gallons at a time several times to water livestock.
If you don’t have a creek or pond nearby, you’ll need to think through another water source.
Do you have enough water stored that you can water your animals during a power outage? Do you have a large enough tank that they can go without a fill-up for a couple of days?
Watering in the summer is simple enough. You hook up a hose and run it to the tanks to fill. But when the cold weather hits, you have to take extra precautions with your hoses. That way they’re available for watering each day and not frozen solid.
In the winter, I run my hose through the barn instead of around the outside. Though it means I need a little extra hose, I’m able to drain it and store it in a room with a small heater. It’s just enough to keep it from freezing. Usually.
Sometimes it gets colder than I anticipated, and the heater can’t keep up in the uninsulated barn. When that happens, I haul the hose into the house and let it thaw behind the wood stove.
It’s also a good idea to keep a backup hose on hand. Perhaps you can store an extra in an outbuilding or in your basement. That way you always have a hose ready when your animals need a drink.
Here is an interesting project on how to keep your livestock’s water from freezing.
Video first seen on WELSBY ROOTS.
Animals need plenty of feed to stay warm in the winter. Stockpiling feed in the fall will ensure you won’t run out midwinter if a large storm keeps you away from the store.
If you’re feeding large animals hay, you’ll want to store at least a ton per head. Depending on your location and the length of your winter, you may need more.
I don’t like having to track down hay in the winter because it’s typically more expensive and a pain to go get. I usually store enough hay to get me from September to May because by May, even in a bad year, the pasture is ready.
You know what your winters are like, so do some basic calculations and figure out how much of a supply you’ll need to build. If you’re feeding grains or other concentrates, you’ll need to keep it stored in rodent-proof containers.
Keep a close eye on your animal’s condition over the winter. Most animals will lose some weight over the winter, which isn’t anything to be concerned about. However, you don’t want them to get too thin. If you start noticing ribs sticking out, it’s time to increase their rations a bit.
If your animals are used to eating fresh pasture, be sure to start their transition to winter feed a couple of weeks early. That way they can eat both and slowly get used to what they’ll be eating.
Timing of Feeds
To avoid dealing with feeding and watering in the dark, my winter chore schedule is different than the rest of the year. I feed later in the morning, and earlier in the afternoon.
If you’ll be adjusting feed times this winter, be sure you give your animals a chance to get used to the new schedule. I tend to start moving the time up in early fall, and then adjust by a half an hour or so each week. That way the animals aren’t startled by an entirely different schedule out of the blue.
Chickens need a certain amount of light each day in order to keep laying eggs. If you want your chickens to lay all year, you’ll need to provide them with some sort of artificial light.
I have a light plugged into a timer in the coop. It turns on early each morning and automatically shuts off around 9 AM. By that time the birds are all out of the coop and frolicking in the barn or around the yard.
Be careful having your light turn on in the late afternoon. If your chickens don’t realize it’s night, they won’t hop up on their roosts for the night. Then the light will shut off suddenly, and they’ll have to stumble in the dark to get where they need to be.
Some animals need some extra heat to make it through the winter. For instance, some of my chickens don’t handle the cold as well as some of the others.
To help provide a bit of extra heat, I have a red heat lamp plugged into the coop. It’s on a sensor that turns on when the temperature drops below freezing. When the temperatures warm back up to 38 degrees, it shuts off.
It’s not a lot of heat, but it’s just enough to keep the coop warm. Keeping it on a sensor means I don’t need to keep turning the lamp on and off manually. It definitely cuts some work out of the winter chores.
The red lamp provides heat, without bugging the chickens by turning on and off in the middle of the night. A yellow heat lamp provides the same problems that a regular light does when it shuts off suddenly.
Your animals need a place to go to get out of the wind. It gives them a place to bunker down on a cold winter night.
You’ll want your shelter to have a roof and a couple of sides at least. You can use tarps to create sides if necessary, but make sure you do this in the fall. Otherwise you’ll be outside in the cold yourself trying to wrestle a tarp in the wind. It’s much easier if you do it before winter!
Tarps around rabbit pens helps keep the wind from blowing right through the wire sides. You can also secure tarps to wire cattle panels to create temporary shelters, like this one.
A good layer of bedding inside your shelter keeps your animals warm. I typically use straw or old hay as bedding. The carbon from this material will also help reduce odor from cooped up animals.
I employ the deep layer method of bedding for my chickens. I clean out the chicken coop each spring, and get all the old bedding out. Then I slowly start adding straw as necessary to cover up poop. By the time winter comes around, they have a fairly deep layer, as you can see in the picture below.
As the lower layers of poop and straw slowly break down, it releases a little bit of heat. This helps keep the birds from freezing.
I’ve started using the same deep layer method with the cows. They get a little bit of fresh bedding each day, covering up the poop piles. Then in the spring the tractor cleans it all out.
I ensure my rabbits have plenty of straw to burrow in to stay warm. My pens have a portion with a solid bottom, which is where I put the straw. If your pens have a wire bottom, you can use a piece of a cardboard box to hold straw in for them.
A good layer of bedding will keep your animals warm. Be sure to check it frequently and replace as needed.
When you’re looking at the shelters for your animals, you need to keep ventilation in mind. When animals are cooped up without proper air flow, sickness can spread quickly.
You’ll want to ensure air flows well through your chicken coop. If you have windows, leave them open just a little bit throughout the winter to get the air moving.
Cattle, sheep, and other large livestock benefit from a shelter that isn’t completely closed in.
Here’s a picture of the large pen where most of our cattle spend most of the winter. You’ll notice that it’s partially open to the elements. This open side allows the air to get in, and helps prevent illness. The closed side provides the much needed windbreak, and keeps the cows warm.
There are a lot of homesteading and survival secrets you can learn from our descendants. Click the banner bellow to find out more about them!
Are Your Animals Ready for Winter?
Are your critters ready for whatever winter brings? Did I forget anything about preparing? Please share what steps you take to get your livestock ready in the comments section below.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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When a crisis hits and it’s no longer safe to spend as much time outdoors, you’ll want to have a discreet garden to produce some food. You can create an indoor survival garden that’s out of sight of marauders inside of a terrarium.
While they are most often used for growing flowers and other non-edible plants, it is possible to grow food inside of a terrarium. Keep reading to find out out how to turn this mini-world into a food source for you and your family!
Once you get your terrarium built and your indoor garden established, it’s a low-maintenance, low-profile way to grow food. It’s also another way to keep your survival garden portable.
How to Choose Your Terrarium
A terrarium is a closed or almost closed mini-ecosystem, enclosed in a clear container. Depending on what’s inside, the lid will either fully or partially cover the bottle. The lid will help control the environment inside your terrarium.
To get your terrarium garden started, you’ll need some supplies. Many can be repurposed from around the homestead.
For each terrarium you’ll need:
- A clean, clear container with a wide top and a lid such as:
- A large mason jar
- A cake stand
- A gallon pitcher
- An aquarium
- A plastic deli container
- Activated charcoal pieces or an aquarium filter
- Potting soil that drains well
- Enough pebbles to line the bottom of the container a by ½ inch
- Sphagnum moss
- Your desired plants and seeds (more details below)
- A spray bottle for misting
- Plastic wrap to cover the top if your container’s lid is missing or doesn’t cover tightly.
How to Assemble Your Terrarium
You’ll need four layers at the bottom of each terrarium. They are each essential to creating a healthy, low-maintenance system.
First, place a layer of pebbles or cleaned gravel at the bottom of your container. This layer allows drainage from the upper layers, and prevents your plants from rotting at the roots.
The second layer is a thin layer of activated charcoal. You can also use a piece of aquarium filter cut to size. The charcoal absorbs odors from the decomposition that’ll happen as your garden grows and keeps the soil clean.
If your plants don’t need a tropical environment, you can skip the charcoal. For these plants, you’ll be leaving the lid off of your terrarium at least partially, and the fresh air will keep the odor down.
Next you’ll add a layer of sphagnum moss. This moss is often found in swampy areas, and is also known as sheet moss. It will prevent the soil on top from making its way down to the filtering material.
Your final layer before adding plants is potting soil. You’ll want soil that stays well drained. A soil mixture comprised of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite works really well for growing in small spaces.
The soil needs to be deep enough to accommodate root growth. Three inches is a good starting point, though you can adjust this based on the plants you are growing.
Before planting, you’ll want to pack down your terrarium’s base as much as possible. You can use your hand, or a small gardening tool that’ll fit inside your container. A hand-held potato masher also works.
This packing process will remove air pockets in the soil and gravel, and help your plants grow better. Once packed, your soil and drainage materials should take up about a quarter of your terrarium container.
What to Grow in Your Terrarium?
Now your terrarium is ready for plants. You can either plant seeds or transplant seedlings to the container you prepared.
The size and shape of your container will dictate what sorts of plants you can grow. For instance, dwarf fruit trees can be planted in a tall terrarium, but not in a short, horizontal shaped one.
Not every plant is suited for terrarium growth. You want slower growing plants that won’t grow bigger than your container. Here are some that gardeners have had success with:
- Dwarf tomato plants
- Dwarf blueberry plants
- Herbs such as mint, thyme, and oregano
- Green onions
- Creeping figs
You’ll find many of these plants on this Survivopedia post on the most nutritious food to grow in your survival garden. While you won’t be growing on a large scale in a terrarium, you can grow nutritious food that’ll help you survive a SHTF scenario.
While herbs won’t add a lot of nutrients to your plate, they’ll help ensure that your survival food actually tastes good. There are also plenty of medicinal uses for herbs, making them extremely valuable in a crisis.
Here is a list of 10 survival foods you should grow.
How to Arrange Plants in Your Terrarium
You don’t want to overcrowd your terrarium, so you’ll want to arrange your plants carefully. Remember that your plants will grow, so be sure to leave enough space between them.
If you’ll be planting multiple kinds of plants in a single terrarium, make sure they’re compatible. You’ll want to check:
- Heat tolerance and needs
- Water needs
- Light needs
Once you’ve decided what to plant in each terrarium, plant the tallest plant first. This will ensure that you can look in the front and visually inspect each of your plants. It’ll also make it more appealing to look at.
When your plants are in, it’s time to water. You’ll want to use your spray bottle so you have better control over how much water is added. It won’t take much to get your soil damp, but not soaked.
Creating the Proper Environment
Your terrarium can produce a wide range of environments. If your plants need a tropical, warm and wet environment, leave the lid on almost all the time. This will hold the heat in and allow the water to condense. It’ll be an almost completely self-sufficient system.
But, not all plants thrive in such an environment. To make your terrarium more temperate, simply leave the lid partially off. This will allow fresh air to enter and keep the whole container cooler.
If your home’s interior temperature is warm, you may even take the lid off completely. This will make your terrarium behave more similarly to any other container-style garden.
Factors to Consider When Creating the Proper Environment
You don’t want to boil your plants, so keep your terrariums out of direct sunlight. Otherwise the sunlight can heat the water inside to extremely high temperatures.
It’s much better to allow your plants to receive indirect sunlight. So place them next to the window instead of in the windowsill. This will also make your garden terrariums harder to spot from anyone who passes by.
Closed system terrariums need very little water because it recycles the water through the water cycle. A light misting once a month will be all you need to keep the soil moist.
Partially closed or open terrariums will require more frequent watering because some water will be lost to evaporation. Keep an eye on your soil, and ensure it stays damp.
You’ll want to keep an eye on your plants and ensure they aren’t getting too large for your container. If they are, prune them back a little to help them focus their effort on producing fruit. If your plant starts touching the edges of your container, you’ll want to move it to a larger sized container.
5 Common Problems with Terrariums
Though terrariums are fairly low maintenance once you get them established, you may run into problems. Here are five of the most common signs to watch for, and what to do for each:
1. Root Rot or Moldy Plants
Overwatering can cause root rot or mold to form on your plants. If you notice this, let your terrarium receive fresh air to dry out for a day. Then, don’t water your terrarium again until the soil is dried out.
Add just a bit of water and ensure there isn’t standing water at the bottom of your container. That’s a sign of too much water.
2. Shriveled Plants
Though terrariums don’t need much water, it is possible for them to be under watered. If you notice your plants beginning to shrivel, the first thing you should do is check the soil.
You want it to feel slightly damp about an inch down. If your soil is dry, it’s time to add some more water. Depending on the ecosystem you’re creating, you may need to readjust your watering schedule.
3. Too Much Light
If your terrarium is receiving too much direct sunlight, you’ll start to notice burn spots on your leaves. If you aren’t able to move your terrarium to a slightly darker location, try covering it with a paper bag during the hottest part of the day. This will ensure the glass isn’t able to magnify the light and create an extreme condition inside.
4. Not Enough Light
Plants that aren’t getting enough light will start to look pale. They’ll also start stretching, growing towards the sunlight. While all plants will naturally grow towards the sun, ones that are deprived will have an unnatural, stretched out look.
If your plants need more light, you can either move them to a sunnier location (though not in direct sunlight) or provide artificial light each day.
5. Mineral Buildup
If you use tap water to water your terrarium, you may notice a build-up on the glass. This is typically caused by the salt and minerals in your water.
Using captured rainwater or distilled water will keep this from getting worse in the future. These types of waters will also ensure that your soil isn’t developing a buildup of salt that’s harsh on your plants.
Here is an example of how to take care of your tomato plant in a terrarium garden:
Video first seen on ehowgarden.
Start Your Terrarium Gardens Now
If growing your own food indoors in a terrarium sounds appealing, you should start one now. That way you’ll be able to experiment and see what grows best in the environment you create.
Starting now, before a crisis hits, will also ensure that your plants are established and producing when you need them. You’ll make sure you have everything you need and that you can do your troubleshooting now.
So grab a container, and the other supplies you need and start experimenting. You’ll be amazed at what you can grow in such a small, low-maintenance system.
Have You Grown in a Terrarium Before?
I know I didn’t cover all the intricacies of growing in a terrarium in this post, so if you have more information to share with your fellow readers, please do so in the comments below! Be sure to share what you grew, and if you used a closed, partially closed, or open system. That way everyone can benefit from your knowledge and experience.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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The weather is cooling down, at least in my neck of the woods, the pasture is drying up, and fall is in the air.
While autumn may not be associated with gardening as much as other seasons, there’s still plenty you can do.
Depending on the date of your first expected frost, you can still get seeds in the ground to harvest before winter. There are many plants that do better in cooler weather as opposed to the full-sun they’d get in the summer.
Now is also the time to plant crops that stay in the ground all winter to harvest in the spring. Your plants will establish a good root system this fall, which gives you a head start on next year’s garden plans.
10 Quick Growing Plants to Sow Now
These ten plants mature quickly. You can plant them now, and harvest them in mid to late October. Some will keep producing well into November to really extend your fall harvest.
When selecting seeds, be sure to check the package to see how many days until maturity are needed for that particular variety. You’ll want to go with the one that has the shortest length, to ensure your plants are ready to harvest before winter.
- Green onions
You’ll notice that greens and root crops make up the bulk of these recommendations. These types of plants typically do well in cooler weather.
Tips for Sowing Seeds in Autumn
The weather should be your biggest consideration before sowing seeds this time of year. You don’t want to lose your plants to a hard frost before you’re able to harvest anything.
If You Expect an Early Frost
Each area has a different growing season, which means you might not be able to grow as long as someone in a warmer climate. You have to know what the weather patterns are in your area.
If you aren’t sure what the autumn weather is like, it’s time to find out. Ask your local county extension agency. Talk to your neighbors who garden. See if your library has books specific to your region.
Once you know when to expect your first hard frost, you’ll be able to plan your autumn garden more efficiently. If your area freezes early, you’ll need to take extra precautions when planting. Otherwise, it’s likely that your plants will die when the cold weather strikes.
- Plant indoors
- Use a greenhouse
- Create a cover for your plants with wire and plastic
- Use garden fabric to cover plants
- Create cold frames
- Cover plants with blankets
These techniques will help prolong your growing season. You’ll be proactive in fighting the frost instead of just watching your plants freeze.
1. Keep Your Soil Warm
If you live in an area where it doesn’t normally freeze early, you may not need to take as many precautions. One thing you will want to do though, is ensure that your soil stays warm.
Your layers of mulch dutifully kept your soil cooler all summer long. To help keep your soil warm, consider removing this mulch before planting fall crops. That way the soil can suck in as much sunlight as possible.
You might also want to think about using a layer of plastic to trap the heat. You can cut an X in the plastic where each seedling will emerge.
2. Watch the Wind
Is it windy in the autumn where you live? Fighting the wind is hard on plants. Provide a windbreak by:
- Building a fence
- Utilizing existing trees and bushes
- Set up garden fabric over your plants
Not every region experiences cold winters. If you live in a zone where temperatures stay above freezing year-round, your garden can thrive throughout the fall.
You won’t be limited to the plants listed above. You’ll be able to grow just about anything, including:
- A variety of peppers
- A variety of winter squash
- Brussels sprouts
If you’re area is prone to extremely hot summers, fall may turn out to be your most productive garden season. Your plants won’t be struggling with heat, and can actually spend energy on producing a harvest.
Crops to Start Now for Spring Harvest
In many zones, fall is also the perfect season for starting plants for spring. You’ll need to select hardy plants, that can withstand your area’s low temperatures. Otherwise your plants will die over the winter, instead of simply remaining dormant.
If you grow any perennials in your garden, such as asparagus and rhubarb, you’re already used to the concept of overwintering plants. They grow all year, and then rest over the winter. Then they shoot up in the spring, bursting with newfound energy from the warmth.
Plants that are short and low to the ground tend to do better with overwintering than taller ones. The snow layer that gathers will actually provide a layer of insulation, protecting the young plants.
Why Overwinter Annual Plants?
Planting in the fall allows your crops to get a solid root system developed before winter. Then when the snow melts in the spring and temperatures start to rise, these plants will lowly resume their growth. Fall planted crops will often lead to an earlier harvest in the garden.
The slow growth does have an effect on the plants. Many root crops that are allowed to overwinter are described as being much sweeter than their spring planted varieties.
Here are ten crops to consider adding to your garden this fall with the intention of harvesting in the spring:
- Winter squash
Planting these now will give your garden a great head start in the spring. Just be sure that they have ample time to establish a root base before the harshness of winter sets in. Four to six weeks before your first killing frost is a good reference point for getting seeds in the ground.
If your winters are severe, you may need to offer your young plants protection in the form of row covers. You can either buy ready-made ones, or make your own.
How to Plant Trees in the Fall
If your area typically experiences mild or moderate winters, you should be alright to plant your trees in September or October. But, you’ll want to ensure they have protection around them.
A layer of mulch or straw will provide excellent insulation. You can use a wire cage to hold this material up to the trunk of your new tree. There are also tree guards you can purchase that’ll protect your tree’s trunk from pests and sun damage.
Fall planting allows your trees to get established before winter. They’ll continue to grow early in the spring, and you’ll be that much closer to having your own fruits and nuts.
However, the extreme cold of some areas of the world are not suitable for young trees. If your ground freezes by mid-October or November, you should wait until spring to plant trees.
How to Plant a Cover Crop
If your soil needs a little boost, you can consider planting a cover crop over all or part of your garden this autumn. Also known as green manure, this crop will return nutrients to your soil. By sowing in the fall, you’ll allow this plant to grow a bit before winter hits.
In the spring, you won’t harvest your crop. Instead, you’ll till the greens back into the soil. Just as plants you harvest nourish your body, cover crops nourish your soil. It’s a natural fertilizer.
Cover crops do more than just feed your soil. They also help keep weeds at bay, control pests, and keep your soil workable.
You’ll want to plant most cover crops at least four weeks before your first hard frost. This will give the roots time to get established before winter arrives.
In the spring, you’ll want to mow this crop before it comes to seed. Use a lawn mower or similar device to cut the cover crop short.
Once it’s short, you’ll be able to till the rest directly into the soil. Plan on doing the tilling a couple of weeks before you plant your garden in the spring. That way the green bits have some time to decompose.
Some cover plants will winterkill in cold climates. That means they won’t grow at all in the spring since the low temperatures at winter will kill them. Many gardeners prefer to grow winterkill cover crops because they are easier to deal with in the spring.
Rather than mowing and tilling live matter, the dead plants will form a thick mulch layer on top of your soil. In the spring, you can rake this away to get down to your refreshed soil.
What to Plant as a Cover Crop?
If you aren’t sure what cover crop to sow, here are some suggestions.
- Rye (either annual or cereal)
- Field peas
- Forage radishes
Your climate and the hardiness of the variety you plant will both play a role in which plants winterkill.
What’s Going in Your Autumn Garden?
I’d love for you to share what you’ll be planting this fall in the comments section below. Will you be planting for harvest in the fall or getting a start on your spring harvest? Are you growing a cover crop on any of your land?
If you share, be sure to let everyone know what zone you’re in so other readers can benefit from your knowledge. After all, there isn’t one right way to garden!
Sharing knowledge is a great way for us all to learn. This is how we’ve learned from our ancestors, and now we want you get this knowledge as well. Click on the image below for more about great survival tips from the old days.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Having a stockpile of food on hand for emergencies is essential. But, it’s not the only step to ensuring your family can eat if a food crisis arises.
You also need a pantry of food reserves intended for everyday use.
What’s the Difference Between a Pantry of Food Reserves and a Food Stockpile?
Some preppers might use the terms food reserves and food stockpile interchangeably, but in my mind they’re different. Let me explain.
My food stockpile consists of much food designed for emergency rations. It’s long lasting, and stored securely out of the way of pests. Some is packed in go bags, or directly in the car.
This stockpile is food that I know the family will eat, but it’s not something we eat all the time. Food in my stockpile typically costs more than I’m willing to spend on food for daily consumption. It’s truly for emergencies.
Conversely, my food reserves are in the kitchen pantry cupboards, ready to feed my family on a daily basis. They’re canned good, shelf-stable staples, and other items that we use routinely. They even include items in my fridge and freezer—things we use frequently.
My reserves aren’t stored to last for decades, because I plan on using them up well before then. It’s food that’s needed to create the meals on my annual meal plan.
These reserves are more short-term than long-term. They’re how I fight back against rising food prices, and save gas by not having to constantly drive an hour to the store. It’s how I can throw together quick meals to avoid the expense of going out to eat.
As long as my pantry is stocked, I don’t ever have to worry about my family going hungry.
How to Begin Building a Pantry
If you currently don’t have a lot of food on hand, the idea of creating a well-stocked pantry may be overwhelming. But, by taking it one baby step at a time, you can get to the point where you don’t have to go to the store every week. You may even stop going to the store for a couple months at a time.
Sit down for a bit and think. You’re going to want notes, so grab a piece of paper, your favorite notes app on your phone, or your computer. Once you’re ready, here’s what I want you to think about.
1. What Does a Typical Day’s Food Look Like in Your Home?
Are you currently cooking three meals a day from scratch? Are the kids eating lunch at school while you’re going out to eat? Does dinner come in a box?
There are no right or wrong answers right now, so answer honestly. What does your family eat in a typical day?
If you aren’t sure, you might need to spend a day creating a simple food journal. Just write down everything you eat all day long. Indicate if your family members joined you, or if you were on your own.
Once you have a general idea of what your family eats in a day, it’s time to do some analyzing.
2. How Much of that Food Was in Your Pantry?
Look over the list of consumed foods. Put a star next to everything that was in your pantry. Also circle anything that you grew on your own, or produced on your property.
3. What Does Your Family Enjoy Eating?
Now that you have a better idea of how much food from your pantry you’re already using, it’s time to think about food your family actually enjoys. This step is important because if you fill your pantry with food your family despises, you won’t use those food reserves. You’ll actually have wasted money on food that likely won’t be used before it expires. That sort of defeats the purpose.
If you’re already a meal planner, you can pull out several of your old meal plans and look over which meals your family enjoyed. If not, take a few minutes now to write down several meals that your family enjoys. Try to think about breakfast, lunch, and dinner to ensure you’re prepared for each meal of the day.
Once you’ve created your list, look for similarities. Are there several recipes that use oats? Or that use a particular type of bean?
Those items need to be in your pantry! They’re items you use in multiple dishes, and you know you’ll eat.
Is Building a Pantry of Food Reserves Expensive?
If you have nothing in your cupboards and plan on adding a month’s worth of staples, then yes—building a pantry can be expensive.
But, it doesn’t have to be. You can start slowly—adding a few extra cans or bags to your grocery cart each time you go shopping.
Look for bargains on what you know you’ll eat. If you find cans of tomato sauce marked down, buy as much as you can. Look for deals on flour, rice, and spices.
If you only buy items for your pantry when they’re at their lowest price point, you’ll save money in the long run.
How I Tackle Pantry Building
I live in the middle of nowhere, and it costs money to get to the store. This realization helped shape my current pantry building routine. I now try to shop only once a month. My goal of each trip is to ensure my pantry is well-stocked enough that I can go 6-8 weeks without visiting the store.
Though I usually shop more frequently, I love knowing that I don’t have to. It’s been especially helpful if the kids are sick when I’m planning on going to the store.
But how did I get to this point? Let me walk you through what works for me in hopes it’ll inspire you to create a plan that works for you.
An Annual Meal Plan
I hate meal planning. I know it saves money, but it’s not something I enjoy. So I learned how to minimize the amount of time spent meal planning.
The kids and I work every July to create an annual meal plan. We pick a breakfast for each day of the week. That means we eat the same breakfast every Tuesday for a year.
With seven breakfast options, it’s not nearly as boring as it sounds. We do the same process for lunch.
Dinner is planned around a theme; such as noodle night. We pick four or five meals for each theme. At this stage in my life, I tend to stick with simple meals as often as possible.
So for noodle night, we may have spaghetti and meatballs one week, and beef stroganoff the next week.
A Shopping List
Once our meals our planned, I begin creating my shopping list. By the time I’m done, I know how much of any one item I’m going to need for a month’s worth of meals. I know what I need to buy when I go to the store.
By using a little basic math, I can easily extrapolate how much I’ll need for a year. That means when spaghetti noodles go on sale by the case, I can accurately predict how much we’ll go through in a year. And I buy that many.
Now I don’t have to buy spaghetti for a long time. I can take the money I was using to buy spaghetti each month and put it towards another staple. Doing this allows me to continue to build a stockpile without spending an arm and a leg.
I’m buying what I know we’ll use before the expiration date rolls around. But more importantly, I’m buying food that already has a purpose.
That keeps me from stocking up on canned kidney beans just because they’re on sale. No one in my house really likes kidney beans. Before I figured out this food reserves thing, I had a dozen cans just sitting on my pantry shelf. I bought them because I knew I should have food on hand.
But just having food on hand doesn’t actually help feed your family on a daily basis if it’s food they don’t like. A shopping list will help you be wise as you build your pantry.
Building Food Reserves at Different Seasons
Because of the snow we get here, it’s much more difficult for me to go to the store regularly in the winter. That means I spend my summer and fall building even more of a reserve.
Conversely, in the summer I’m able to grow more of our own food. Our chickens are laying at their peak production. Our cow is putting out a lot more milk.
There’s also a ton of edibles growing in the forest. I don’t need to worry about having as much food on hand, because I know we can eat emergency meals based on what we produce if necessary. That’s why I picked July to redo our food plans.
I can let our stores get used up leading into summer. I make sure we use the last of things I won’t need again with the new menu. I’m able to save some grocery dollars this way.
Then, when I’m ready to start building a new year’s worth of reserves in August, I have extra money to use.
Spend some time thinking about the seasons where you live. Are there months when you’re without an income due to seasonal employment? Are there months where flu season is running so rampant that you don’t want to leave your house any more than necessary?
Do you visit a farmer’s market in the summer or participate in a local CSA? Do you grow your own food during some seasons?
Think about your year, and the highs and lows you have. You can prepare for these seasons by having food reserves on hand. A well-stocked pantry helps you make it through the rough patches in life.
Where Do You Live?
Where you live also impacts your needed reserves. Think through the amount of space you have on hand. You may have to get creative to store your extra food.
If you grow and preserve much of your food, your shopping list will be different than a family who lives in an urban setting.
Start Filling Your Pantry
You know now what kinds of food your family eats regularly. You have an idea of what meals you can make and know that everyone will eat.
You’re ready to start filling your pantry. Start slowly, and buy as much extra as your budget allows.
Try to buy food when it’s on sale, and only buy food that you’ll actually eat.
How did you start building your food reserves? If your pantry is ready to sustain your family in the midst of a mini-crisis, please tell us how you started in the comments section below.
If you haven’t yet started, is there a particular question you have about building your reserves? Chime in in the comments, and other readers can help!
And click on the banner below to find out how our ancestors planned their food reserves for survival!
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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It can be hard to imagine a looming food crisis when you can walk into your local grocery store and see shelves overflowing with abundance. You can find easily find everything you need, and plenty that you don’t.
You might even ignore those around you warning you to stock up on food while you still can. In fact, they might seem like Chicken Little desperately calling out, “The sky is falling!”
But don’t let the full shelves fool you. While the sky may not actually be falling, the world is facing a food shortage. It’s only a matter of time until it hits. Until then, the government wants you to keep walking into the stores, feeling like everything is fine.
The world’s food situation is not fine. Here are just eight of the many indicators that it’s time to stockpile food, and start growing some of your own.
1. Raising Food Prices
Have you noticed the price of groceries rising in your area? I sure have here, especially for basic staple ingredients such as butter, flour, and rice. Every time I head to the store, it seems like I have to stretch my food dollars a little further.
It’s not just in my neck of the woods where prices are creeping up. According to a study by the USDA Economic Research Service, supermarket prices are expected to rise .25-1.25 percent during 2016, and 1.0-2.0 percent during 2017. While those percentage points may seem low, they’re still moving up.
But, since the price of gas and food are intertwined, those numbers could soar past predictions if gas goes up again. Most of the food in the supermarket wasn’t grown in your local area. It was shipped there, requiring fuel.
As food prices continue rising, it’s getting harder and harder for families to buy what they need. That means the number of families now getting food assistance from the government continues to grow. It’s not a healthy outlook for our food supply.
Plants need water to grow and produce harvestable yields. As temperatures around the world rise, droughts are becoming more common.
Widespread droughts are hitting fertile cropland across the planet. From California to India, low rainfall and high temperatures cause devastation on crop production. Long-term forecasts indicate these weather patterns are likely to continue.
3. Diseases Wiping Out Crops & Animals
It’s not just the weather wreaking havoc on our food supply, it’s also disease. From the virulent Panama disease taking out bananas to African Swine Fever that can wipe out entire pig farms, diseases are running rampant in the food supply.
Modern food production techniques such as CAFOs create the perfect environment for peril. In a natural setting, you’d see a couple of pigs on farms across the landscape. They’d be interacting with nature, and have other animals and plant life around to help keep disease causing parasites at bay.
Instead, the majority of today’s pig farms are just pigs and concrete all around. When a disease comes in, it quickly moves through the whole herd. Often entire farms have to execute their animals to prevent the disease from spreading.
The loss of that many animals plays a role in rising food prices. Supply can no longer keep up with demand.
These issues aren’t just a problem for pigs. Cows, chickens, and other animals are being raised in conditions that make them prone for disease.
Crops are being raised in similar fashion. Instead of farmers growing a variety of crops, you see corn growing in huge fields for miles around. There are similar fields for soybeans, wheat, and other crops.
4. Food Safety Concerns
Have you noticed how often food is being recalled? From peanuts to frozen vegetables, meat to processed foods, it’s hard to trust the establishment to deliver safe food to your table. Listeria, e-coli, salmonella, and a host of other food borne illnesses are harming and killing people around the globe. Modern food handling practices have led to these food safety concerns.
Factories play a part in the production of numerous food products. When one factory has a role to play in the bulk of the food system, a containment can quickly spread.
Add transportation, storage, and unsafe handling, and you’ve got food that’s ready to play host to multiple strains of bacteria. Then there’s that whole GMO debate. Some countries don’t believe that genetically modified foods are safe for consumption. Others have drunk the GMO Kool-Aid and are pushing them on the marketplace at an astounding rate.
That’s another reason to grow your own food. You can pick heirloom varieties that haven’t been modified. No matter what you grow and preserve, be sure to inspect what you stockpile to ensure it’s safe.
5. Crops Being Used for Other Purposes
Crops aren’t just being grown to feed humans anymore. A huge portion of our food supply goes to feed cows. Cows were never meant to eat grains in the first place! Let them eat hay, and that’ll relieve a huge burden on our food supply.
Then there’s the whole ethanol thing. About a quarter of US corn is being used for fuel instead of food now. With a food crisis already in the works, using food for other purposes adds to the problem.
6. The Death of Small Farms
The family farmer is slowly become obsolete. Small family farms are being bought out by large mega-farms.
When single companies have their hands in so much of the food chain, a blow to one can cause huge problems. Conversely, when you have hundreds of small farms producing, it’s easy for the others to step in and make up the difference if one experiences loss.
But with rules and regulations definitely favoring mega-farms, it’s no wonder that small ones are selling out and shutting down. As governments continue persecuting small farmers, the number of farms producing your food will continue to shrink.
7. Mistreated Soil
The Fukushima crisis spewed nuclear material onto much of Japan. That soil isn’t safe to grow food in, and probably won’t be for a long time.
Nuclear disasters aren’t the only thing polluting our soil. Farming practices that strip all the nutrients out and dump chemicals back in also play a role.
Mega-farms don’t tend to care about the soil. They just like the money. Until sustainable practices are used in the ag industry, our soil will continue being mistreated.
Bad soil won’t grow as much food. However, it will keep bringing the food crisis closer to our reality.
8. Dependence on Processed Food
The majority of food on supermarket shelves is highly processed. This is the food that many people rely on to supply their nutrition on a daily basis. This boxed and packaged food hardly resembles real food. Because of this, people are becoming further removed from the source of their food.
Many don’t know how to make bread. They don’t know how to cut apart a chicken. They don’t know what animal hamburger comes from. For many people, food just comes from the store. That’s all they know, and this attitude is dangerous.
The further people get from their food, the easier it is for a crisis to occur. They’re totally dependent on other people to supply what they eat. When those farms or factories shut down, they simply won’t have a clue how to begin feeding themselves and their family.
How to Prepare for the Food Crisis
It’s not too late to begin preparing for the coming food crisis. You can begin taking steps to ensure your family’s survival when the grocery store shelves are empty. Here are a few important ones:
Ensure you know where your food comes from. If you are currently food ignorant, make friends with some farmers. Do some research. Learn all you can. Feeding yourself doesn’t have to be complicated!
To take it a step further, you can educate yourself about local food regulations. Be on the lookout for laws that are restricting your right to feed your family. Play an active role in the political process to end the regulations that are strangling small farms.
Source food that’s grown as close to you as possible. Not only will you be supporting your local economy and farmers, you’ll also be eating food that’s fresher.
Local sources of food are less likely to be affected by national food shortages. If you’re already used to finding food that’s not in a supermarket, you’ll be a step ahead when the time comes.
Start Producing Your Own Food
No matter where you live, you can begin growing your own food. If you don’t have much space, put a couple of containers in your windowsills. Learn how to grow food in small spaces.
You can continue to expand your survival garden as space allows. Try to grow some of the nutritious foods described in this Survivopedia article.
If you grow too much, learn how to preserve your harvest. Freezing, dehydrating, canning, and fermenting are some of the methods used to save food for later.
Producing your own food will help you lower your food bill and gain self-sufficiency. Everything you grow better prepares you for the food crisis.
Learn How to Cook
Stop buying processed food and take back your kitchen. Learn how to prepare simple, nutritious food that your family enjoys. Good food doesn’t have to be complicated!
Each time you go shopping, make it a point to buy some extra food. But, you shouldn’t just buy any food. You really need to stockpile what you actually eat.
Otherwise your family will have to adjust to both a crisis and new food when the time comes. It’s much better to have food on hand that you enjoy.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to stock up. If your budget is really tight, try allocating just $5 or $10 a shopping trip. While it doesn’t sound like much, you’ll begin growing your reserves.
Be sure you store your stockpiles properly to keep pests and bacteria out. You also need to rotate your stores, which is why you should be eating what you’re storing. When I add to my stockpile, I put the new in the back. That way I use the older food first.
How Are You Preparing?
Have you noticed these eight signs of an approaching food crisis? Are there others you’d add to my list?
What basic steps are you taking to prepare? What advice would you give someone who is just starting to develop a preparedness mindset? Please share your tips in the comments section below so others can learn from you!
And click on the banner below to find out how our ancestors survived crisis and to learn their tricks!
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Plants need sunshine to grow, but when the temperatures are too hot, your plants feel the impact. They can wilt, wither, and eventually die from too much heat.
The best way to prepare your plants is to incorporate protection into your garden plan. You can look for local plant varieties that are proven in your area’s weather.
On your hottest days, you’ll still need to take extra precautions, but picking the right kinds will give your plants a better chance.
You should also plan your garden for heat. Sun map your plot so you know what areas get the most sun. Use taller plants to offer shade to smaller ones. Add trees to your master plan, and use the shade they offer wisely as you plan.
Even if you haven’t planned for hot days, there are steps you can take to protect your plants from a heatwave. These will help ensure you don’t lose your harvest.
The roots of plants take up water and it’s delivered to the rest of the plant through a variety of veins.
It takes energy for the plant to get the water where it needs to go.
During the hottest part of the day, plants are expending energy simply staying alive in the heat.
They don’t have the energy they need to efficiently move water through their veins.
Mid-day watering may reach the roots, but it’s not likely to travel up the plant to where it’s most needed.
So when you water, make sure it’s in the early morning or evening when the temperatures are a bit lower. This way your watering efforts aren’t wasted.
Since the roots have to get the water, drip irrigation systems help deliver the water where it’s needed. When you water from above, it’s harder for the roots to get as much water. They’re competing with the other plants or weeds in the area, and with evaporation from the sun.
You’re also more likely to cause runoff when you water with a traditional hose or sprinkler. The dry ground takes time to absorb the water. If you apply too much water too quickly, it’ll get the top soil wet and then runoff.
Drip irrigation allows you to slowly water the top soil, and the soil the roots are actually growing in. You want to get that water about 18 inches into the ground. That way the roots can continue to use it once you’ve stopped watering.
During the hottest days, you don’t want to overwater your plants. Moist soil and hot days offer the perfect environment for a variety of fungi and other plant problems. Overwatering encourages their growth.
Plan on soaking your garden once a week, and always test the soil for moisture before watering. Wilted leaves aren’t always a sign that more water is needed. Sometimes, plants wilt in the sun just because of the heat. If your wilted plants look better in the cool evening, they aren’t in need of water.
If you find certain plants do need more water, you don’t need to water everything to save that plant. Just spot water, allowing the water to penetrate the ground into the roots. Applying water correctly will help your plants survive in the heat.
Soil & Mulch
Now that we’ve tackled water, let’s talk about soil and mulch. Some soil holds water better than others. If you have a sandy garden, you’ll probably need to water more often.
No matter the state of your soil, a good layer of mulch will help hold in water. It’ll also help prevent weeds from growing. That’ll mean fewer plants will be competing for water.
You can use a variety of materials to mulch your garden. By using what you have on hand, you can keep your costs really low. Gardeners have used a thick layer of newspaper, straw, wood shavings, dried grass clippings, or cardboard to mulch plants.
If you use a light colored mulch, you’ll also help keep the sun’s rays from heating the soil too much. A lower temperature in the soil means your plants are more likely to survive.
Pruning & Fertilizing
A heatwave is not the time for pruning or fertilizing your plants. Both of these activities cause a burst of growth. Your plant will put all of its energy into growing, and won’t be as able to withstand the heat.
You also risk your plant absorbing the fertilizer too quickly, and burning as a result. So save your fertilizing (even with natural fertilizer) for a cooler day.
If you have wilted leaves, don’t prune them off until the heatwave passes. The leaves offer a bit of shade to the stem of the plant, and can help protect it.
Shade offers much relief to a hot plant. Shade keeps the direct sunlight off of your plants. It’ll also help them lower their temperature, and increase their defenses
For plants that are in containers, planters, or pots, move them into the shade is possible. For plants that are unmovable, you’ll need to look for other ways to get them shaded.
How to Create Shadow for Your Plants
If your garden lacks natural shade from taller plants or trees, you can easily set up some temporary patches using one of these methods:
Cardboard and Stakes
Use stiff cardboard and stakes to set up shade wherever you need it. You can cut the cardboard to the size you need. Then use a heavy duty stapler to attach it to your wooden stakes.
Pound the stake in the ground around your most delicate plants, and they’ll get instant shade. This set-up is inexpensive, easily installed, and highly portable.
If you’re caught with an unexpected heatwave, you can use your patio furniture to protect your plants. Just carefully set up a lawn chair to provide protection. Because of the legs, you may not be able to use this in all garden setups.
If you don’t have any lawn chairs, look around your property for items that are easily moveable and don’t weigh too much. You don’t want to compact your soil as you make shade. Here are some ideas that I’ve used in my garden:
- A laundry basket
- A cardboard box
- A plant pot
You can buy shade cloths online or in your local garden center. You can attach this to posts in your garden, or to stakes.
If you’re using dark colored shade cloth, keep an eye on your soil temperatures. If the cloth is too close to the ground, you can inadvertently bake your plants.
You can gently pull a paper bag over your plants. You’ll want to staple or tape the end closed to keep it from flying off.
You don’t want to obstruct air flow for too long however, so be sure to remove these bags as soon as the heat of the day has passed.
Wood Lattice with Bricks
If you have a piece of wood lattice and bricks, you can make shade. You’ll want to make four stacks of bricks, one for each corner of the lattice. Place these where you need it, and then set the lattice on top. This method is especially useful for newly sown seeds and low crops.
What Plants Need Shade the Most?
If you aren’t able to shade your entire garden, you’ll want to prioritize your plants. Some plants will bolt if they overheat, while others may wither a bit, but will bounce back.
Here are some of the plants you’ll want to be extra careful with in a heatwave:
- Cauliflower and Broccoli
- Any cool weather crops
If your area is typically hot, you should hold off planting these heat-sensitive plants until closer to fall’s cooler weather. During the hot sun, plant your heat-loving plants like tomatoes, corn, and melons. That way you take advantage of natural growing patterns that each plant needs.
Sometimes even with your tender loving care, plants wilt. It’s a reaction when the plant leaves are shedding water faster than the roots can get it up the stem. It’s a natural phenomenon similar to the way humans sweat. It helps the plants protect themselves.
Smaller, or freshly transplanted plants are more likely to wilt in the sun. That’s because their root system isn’t as established yet.
Usually, your plants will bounce back on their own once the temperatures drop. You’ll notice that they look normal in the evenings, and then wilt when the sun returns to high in the sky.
If your plants are still wilted in the evening, double check that their soil is moist. If not, give the thirsty plant a nice long drink to saturate the roots.
If watering doesn’t help, you’ll also want to ensure that you aren’t dealing with root rot. This can cause wilting leaves as well.
Is it hot where you are?
What are your best tips for keeping your garden growing strong even in the summer heat? I know our readers would love to hear what works for you, so please share in the comment section.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Corn has a bad reputation today. Besides being genetically modified, corn today has been transformed into high-fructose corn syrup. It’s creeping into all kinds of foods and beverages where it never belonged.
The modern agriculture movement has taken this important crop and turned it into something to be avoided. The soil becomes so depleted it needs tons of fertilizer to continue producing. It’s been eroded, and completely disturbed. But a quick look at history will show that our ancestors depended on this staple crop.
It’s a calorie-dense food that’s fed countless people and animals throughout time. It grows six out of the seven continents, making it an ideal survival food in almost every climate.
Corn is a great addition to a survival garden. It’s fairly easy to grow, and is easier to harvest than other grains. There’s no need to thresh the corn crop after all.
Types of Corn
You just need to pick the right variety of corn. There are six main categories, but I’m going to focus on only three, sweet corn, field or dent corn, and popcorn. The other main types are flint corn, ornamental corn, and flour corn. Since these types have different uses, you’ll want to be sure and grow the kind or kinds that you need.
Harvested when the kernels are in the milky stage, sweet corn is what you find in the grocery store on the cob. It’s sweet, tender, and flavorful. Many gardeners plant varieties of sweet corn in their home garden.
Field (Dent) Corn
Field corn isn’t as sweet as sweet corn, but it has a multitude of uses. It’s used as animal feed, ground and turned into cornmeal, or prepared as grits. It’s perfect crop to grow for survival.
Before harvesting, field corn is allowed to dry a bit while still on the stalk. As the moisture leaves each kernel, a little dent appears.
If you have space to grow an extra variety of corn, consider popcorn. The kernels pop up fluffy and provide a nice snack.
After you’ve harvested your popcorn ears, you’ll have to dry out the kernels even more. Some growers prefer an oven, others let the sun do the job.
How to Grow Corn
No matter which variety of corn you decide to plant, make sure you find seeds that are open pollinated, heirloom varieties. These seeds haven’t been genetically modified, and they have a historical track record of helping nations survive.
If you plant more than one variety of corn, be sure to leave some space between them. At least 500 feet is recommended. Otherwise the different types of corn will cross pollinate and that can affect how each one tastes and grows.
Corn has a reputation of being a fairly needy crop. If you plant heirloom seeds, you won’t need to water it nearly as much as today’s popular varieties. After all, it survived all those years before irrigation was readily available. Mulch will help keep water in your soil.
However, this crop does require a lot of nitrogen. It’s known as a heavy feeder plant. In days past, each seed was planted on top of a dead fish. As the fish decomposed, it supplied the growing corn with the extra nitrogen it needed.
If fish aren’t in abundance where you live, you can also use compost and blood meal. You’ll want to give the soil an initial boost before planting. Once the corn reaches knee high, you’ll want to give it some more.
Corn thrives in soil that drains well. You should pick a location with full sun. You’ll want to know the length of your growing season, and plant a variety that does well.
Where I live, the growing season is on the short end. We often have killing frosts until Memorial Day or even a little past then. The locals recommend starting seed indoors and transplanting it to the soil in June. The saying here is that you want your corn, “knee high by the 4th of July,” but check with others in your area to learn what works best where you are.
Rotate Your Crops
Because corn pulls many nutrients out of the soil, it’s important to rotate your crops each year.
Many people plant a cover crop after corn, to help improve the soil.
Harvesting Your Corn
Sweet corn is ready to harvest when the tassel begins turning dark brown. You’ll want to open up an ear and check to make sure the kernels are milky. You also want to make sure the kernels are well developed and plump.
If the liquid from the kernels is watery, it’s too early to harvest. Let them continue to develop and test again later.
Field corn and popcorn need to be left on the stalks longer. They’ll begin the drying process before you harvest them.
To pick corn, twist the ear gently towards the ground. It’ll break off. Sweet corn is best picked on the day you’re planning on eating or preserving it. That’ll keep the flavor the best.
Preserving Your Corn
Once you’ve picked your corn, it’s time to eat it or preserve your harvest. You’ll need to shuck your corn, removing the silk and husks. But hang onto at least some of these—we’ll cover their benefits in a later section.
You can stockpile sweet corn in a couple of ways. You can dry it, freeze it, or can it. There are pros and cons to each method, but drying and canning are probably better for survival purposes. You might not always have electricity to run your freezer.
Field corn and popcorn are dried and stored either on the cob or as kernels. When you’re ready to cook field corn into cornbread, you’ll need to grind it into flour first. Be sure your grain mill can handle corn.
If you’ll be feeding corn to your critters, you can store it on the cob in a corn crib. The slats on this structure ensure that air can circulate around the cobs. This will keep them from molding.
Now that you have yourself some corn, what can you do with it? Corn can be used in recipes, to improve your health, and around the homestead. It’s a versatile crop.
Since corn stores so well, it’s an ideal addition to your food stockpiles. Once you’ve dried some kernels, you can easily roast it and turn it into parched corn. These original corn nuts will be handy to take on the road.
Cornmeal mush is another way to use your corn. Mix 2 cups of corn meal with 2 cups of cold water. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil, and carefully add the cornmeal mixture. After it returns to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer while you stir occasionally. It’ll take about ten minutes to thicken up.
Whole kernel corn is a popular ingredient in salsa. You can combine your corn with other produce from your garden to create a delicious dip.
You can pop your popcorn in a pan with a little oil. Put a tablespoon of oil in a cold pan, and add enough popcorn to evenly cover the bottom of the pan. You don’t want to add too many kernels or it’ll burn. Cover your pan, turn on your burner, and slowly heat the pan.
You’ll want to shake fairly frequently. This will prevent any from sticking and burning. When the popping slows, remove the pan from the heat. Let it sit for a minute or two in case any additional kernels pop. Serve with butter, salt, and any of your favorite seasonings.
Corn used in plenty of other recipes as well or you can turn it into flour or use it to feed your chickens. You can even use corn husks to wrap tamales in. Take time now to try some recipes and see what you and your family enjoy eating. That way survival foods won’t come as a shock to their system.
Corn silk tea has historically been used as a diuretic. It’s used to treat bladder and kidney ailments. You’ll want to finely chop your clean corn silk. Then, steep a tablespoon of this in a cup of hot water for ten or fifteen minutes. Strain out the silk before drinking.
In addition to its diuretic benefits, corn silk tea helps the body release extra fluid. It’s a gentle detoxifying agent.
Corn silk can also be used topically. It has some antiseptic effects, which helps promote wound healing.
Around the Homestead
Corn has been used as animal feed throughout history. If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to feed chickens or raise hogs, corn can help. Typically, you’d crack the corn through a grain mill once before feeding. The act of cracking the corn helps the animals to break it down better.
Saving Seed for Future Harvests
It’s important to save some of your crop each year to plant the following year. Not having to purchase seeds every year will help you become more self-sufficient. Saving corn seed is fairly simple.
You want to harvest your ears after the husks become dry. Then, you need to ensure the kernels are thoroughly dry. You can hang the ear upside down to help dry it out evenly.
Once dried, shell your corn. These seeds should be stored in a cool, dry location. They will remain viable for several years if properly stored.
Final Thoughts on Corn
Corn that hasn’t been genetically modified is a survival crop utilized throughout history. It’s beneficial as a food, for its medicinal purposes, and for feeding your animals.
Are you currently growing this essential crop? What varieties grow best in your neck of the woods? Please share your corn tips and tricks in the comment section, and click on the banner below to find out more survival secrets from our ancestors!
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Cats and dogs are often counted as one of the family. That means you need to prepare for your pets as well as everyone else. They’ll need to eat, even after the SHTF and you can’t run to the store and simply buy another 50-pound sack.
Since the fats in dry kibble quickly turn rancid, it’s not ideal for long-term storage. Canned food lasts longer, but it sure takes up a lot of space. And it’s more expensive.
What’s a loving pet owner to do? After all, vets would have you believe that you’re limited to commercial food if you want to keep your pet in good health. But if you can’t store up enough food to last for years on end.
Don’t get discouraged. With a little planning and work, you can store or raise what you need to keep your pet healthy and happy even after a crisis. Before we get to the details, let’s take a look at the very profitable pet food industry, and the actual nutritional needs for most cats and dogs.
A Quick History of Feeding Pets
Contrary to what many vets proclaim, your pet does not need pet food to thrive. Before the pet food industry exploded in popularity, people kept their animals alive just fine.
Back then, dogs were typically given bones, scraps that the family could afford to spare, and occasionally bread that had been soaked in milk. They also ate whatever else they scrounged. Their meals rarely consisted of exactly the same thing, and this variety helped them achieve a balanced diet that worked.
Cats hunted for birds and mice. They chased and ate butterflies and other insects. They were given extra milk from the milk pail, and perhaps some other scraps as they became available.
If pets truly needed commercially prepared food to survive, there wouldn’t be any pets around today. They simply wouldn’t have survived all of those years before it was invented.
But, the pet food industry doesn’t want you to know this. They are very profitable, and make lots of money by people believing the lies they’ve spread. Examining the brief history of the industry will help pet owners feel more confident in their ability to use common sense to feed their animals.
The first commercially available pet food was inspired by hardtack crackers. It was a meat, grain, and vegetable based cracker for dogs. It was easily portable, and contained nutrients that dogs needed.
A couple of decades later, canned dog food made an appearance. Horse meat was the main ingredient. In the 1930s, cat food also appeared on the shelves.
Dry kibble came after the canned variety. The tin rationing in the United States during World War II played a role in its invention. Another factor was the perfecting of the extruding process that was being used for cereal at the time.
Once dry pet food was available, the manufacturers dove into marketing. They created jingles, told everyone that table scraps would hurt their animals, and got veterinarians onboard. The public responded favorably, and started turning to commercial food as the main diet of their pets.
Nutritional Needs of Dogs
Since dogs don’t need commercial food, what do they need? As scavengers, dogs eat a variety of foods. They are opportunistic carnivores, preferring meat when it’s available. But, they’ll also eat grains and vegetables. Actually, there’s not much a dog won’t eat.
But, just because a dog can eat something doesn’t mean that it should. Many table foods are bad for pets. Chocolate is a common example. Onions and garlic (in excess) are others.
Video first seen on Veterinary Secrets.
Three Simple Recipes for Dogs
The Piles of Three
- Cooked or Raw Meat (rabbit, chicken, ground beef, lamb, tuna, etc.)
- Cooked Carbs (white rice, oats, quinoa, potatoes)
- Cooked or Raw Veggies (green beans, peas, carrots)
The recipe is simple. You mix one part of meat, one part of carbs, and one part of vegetable. Then feed your dog in appropriate sized portions for the breed and size.
This stew has to cook for quite a while to get the nutrients out of the bones and make them safe for your dog. It may not be appropriate for all SHTF scenarios, but if you’re cooking on a woodstove, or have another solid supply of heat, then it’s a great way to feed your dog from scraps! You’ll need:
- Meat scraps
- A couple of potatoes or sweet potatoes cut into chunks
- Green beans
Throw your meat scraps and bones into a large pot. Cover with water and simmer for several hours, until you can crush the bones easily between your fingers. Now, add the potatoes and green beans and let cook until those are soft. Mash the stew into appropriate sized pieces for your dog, and let cool before feeding.
Leave It Raw
Many dog owners are embracing the raw food diet. This actually would work quite well in a SHTF scenario, as long as you are raising meat for your family. You’ll need a combination of:
- Raw, meaty bones (rabbit, chicken backs and feet, meaty bones from cows, etc.)
- Whole prey
- Organ meat
Your dog will figure out how to eat it Just make sure that organ meat doesn’t make up a large portion of this diet.
Nutritional Needs of Cats
Cats and dogs are different in many ways, including their nutritional needs. While dogs are natural scavengers, cats in the wild typically hunt for their meals. They are obligate carnivores, which means they need animal-based protein.
Organ meat is an important piece of a cat’s diet. They need the taurine these parts provide.
But, you don’t want to feed your cat exclusively organ meat, or any other one type of food. As you’re preparing food for your cat, strive for approximately 80% meat, 10% organs, and 10% edible bones to mimic the food they’d hunt on their own.
Video first seen on Real Pet Tips.
Three Simple Recipes for Cats
If your cat is used to being outdoors and mousing, that’s a great way to provide a large chunk of its diet. Eating the organs, bones, and meat of the prey will help meet your cat’s nutritional needs. If that’s not possible during a crisis situation, you’ll need to prepare food.
A good quality meat grinder that can handle bones will make preparing this food easier for you and your cat. This is especially important if your cat isn’t used to chewing on large chunks of meat or small, raw bones. As they adjust to the diet, you can slowly transition to larger chunks.
It’s important to note that as a hunter species instead of a scavenger one, cats prefer warm or room temperature food. Many cats won’t touch cold food. To warm your homemade food, place it in a resalable container and submerge it in warm water for thirty minutes before feeding.
You’ll notice that meat is the star of all these recipes. Cats need meat. If you give your cat other foodstuff, that’s fine for a treat. Cats even eat grass occasionally! But the bulk of what they eat should be meat.
Canned Fish & Liver Meal
Canned fish makes a simple base for your cat’s diet. Look for a variety that includes the bones and skin, which will provide the calcium and fat your feline needs. Canned salmon, sardines, and mackerel often meet this requirement. The liver is added for the taurine, and is an important addition. You’ll need:
- A can of fish (undrained)
- A tablespoon of ground chicken liver
Mix the ingredients together and mash the large chunks before feeding.
Raw Chicken, Liver, & Heart
This recipe can make use of the liver and heart of any animals you are butchering, and some cooked chicken. You’ll need:
- 2 pounds of bone-in raw chicken thigh
- 3 ounces raw chicken liver
- 6 ounces raw chicken heart
Grind all the ingredients in a heavy duty meat grinder and feed.
Rabbit is an ideal meat for your cats. It’s a great proportion of muscle meat, organs, and edible bone. You’ll need:
- One rabbit (organs and bone included)
- Grind the rabbit. Feed in appropriate sized portions.
If your animals are currently on a commercially prepared diet, you’re going to want to stockpile a bit. That way you can slowly transition to this new way of eating over the course of a month. Your animal’s system will adapt better when you go this route as opposed to a cold turkey switch.
Cats are especially prone to turning their nose up at unfamiliar food. You might consider feeding your cat one of the above recipes for one meal a week now. That way when a crisis arises, the new food won’t be completely new.
Long-Term Feeding Tips
When you’re preparing for your pet, you’re going to want to make some long-term plans. Most pets will be a part of your family for many years, so think beyond a year or two.
If you have the space and ability, raising your own rabbits or chickens will help feed your pets along with the rest of your family. You can also let your animals hunt, keeping the rodent population down around your homestead.
By canning your own meat now, you’ll be able to build a stock-pile of meat. This can be used as a supplement to your pet’s diet when necessary.
If you have a dog, as you build your food storage, throw in extra rice and vegetables. Stored properly, dry rice and canned or dehydrated vegetables will last a long time.
Don’t Forget the Water!
Just like you need plenty of water for survival, your pets do too. It’s essential that you have a water supply on hand that’ll meet the needs of everyone in the household and all your animals.
Do you have a backup water plan? Do you have a way to filter water? Start making plans now before it’s too late.
Do You Make Your Own Pet Food?
By thinking outside of kibble, you can make a viable long-term feeding plan for all the pets in your life.
Do you make your own pet food? What are your solutions for long-term feeding? I’d love for you to share additional tips and tricks in the comments section below.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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With only two ingredients and a little time you can stockpile a survival food that’s been used for centuries. Let’s take a lesson out of the history books and learn from various soldiers, sailors, and explorers throughout time.
It’s time to look at hardtack.
Hardtack is a simple survival food. It’s really inexpensive to create, and lasts for years. In fact, there’s still some on display from the Civil War that’s still good.
The most basic of recipes call for only two ingredients: all-purpose flour and water. Other recipes call for additional ingredients, but the basic recipe has stood the test of time. We’ll start with that one.
Hardtack provided nutrition for hard times throughout history. It’s a good source of carbohydrates. If you keep it and protein-rich pemmican in your bug out bag, you’ll have sustenance to keep you alive for a while.
It’s also a good addition to your supply of emergency food. You just have to ensure you keep it away from pests and moisture. If the bugs get it, you’ll find weevils living in your stored food. If the hardtack gets wet, it’s prone to mold.
Hardtack is simple to prepare. Before you begin, turn your oven on to 350 degrees.
It won’t take long to mix your hardtack up and you want your oven ready when you are.
Now, get yourself a big bowl. Measure out two cups of all-purpose flour and dump in.
Next, slowly add a half-cup of water and stir.
Keep adding water, a tablespoon or two at a time.
Your goal is to achieve a thick dough that’s just slightly sticky. A thick playdough type consistency.
While many recipes tell you exactly how much water to add, it really varies quite a bit. Your humidity, the dryness of your flour, and the type of flour you’re using all play an important role.
A rough estimate is ½ the amount of flour. So for two cups of flour, you’d need about one cup of water.
If you accidentally add too much water and your dough is pasty, just add some more flour. Once it’s the right consistency, mix it for a couple of minutes. This will ensure your moisture is evenly distributed throughout the whole batch.
Now it’s time to roll out your dough. A rolling pin works best, but in a pinch you can just pat it out with your hands. You’ll want to roll the dough until it’s somewhere between ½ an inch and a ¼ of an inch thick. Any thicker, and it’ll be even harder to eat when it’s dried.
Once it’s thin enough, you can cut the dough. A pizza cutter works really well, but so does a sharp knife. If you want your hardtack to look uniform, you can pull out a ruler and cut it into 3X3 pieces. Or use a biscuit cutter and have round pieces. Otherwise, just cut it into rectangles that are roughly the same size.
Grab a chopstick or a clean nail, and dock each piece. Docking means you poke holes in it, but don’t go all the way through. You’ll want to poke about sixteen holes in each piece, with four rows of four. It’ll resemble a modern day saltine cracker.
Then flip over each piece and dock the other side. Docking your hardtack will keep it from puffing up in the oven. It’ll also help ensure the moisture gets out by allowing the steam to escape.
Place your docked hardtack pieces on a cookie sheet. You’ll want to bake them for 30 minutes. When the time is up, remove and flip over each piece.
Bake them for another 30 minutes before removing them from the oven. They should be fairly hard at this point.
You’ll want to set your hardtack pieces on a rack to continue drying. Let them sit out at room temperature for a couple of days. They’ll be hard as bricks when they’re fully dry.
Proper storage is essential for optimal shelf-life. You can pack the hard tack into glass Mason jars, or metal tins. These will keep the moisture out better than regular Ziploc style bags.
You can also store them in vacuum-sealed bags. No matter how you keep them, you want to prevent moisture and bugs from getting in.
Video first seen on SNO Multimedia.
Now that you know how to make and store hardtack, let’s talk about storage. While hardtack will help your belly feel full in an emergency situation, it can be difficult to eat. That’s because it’s so hard.
Back in the day, this survival food was commonly called “tooth-breakers.” Make sure you don’t bite into it directly with your front teeth. They can break.
Of course if you’re a parent to a baby, you’ll find a benefit from the hardness. A chunk of hardtack makes a good teething biscuit. Just be sure to provide supervision with it to ensure a small chunk doesn’t break off and become a choking hazard.
If you don’t desire to simply gnaw on a chunk of hardtack all day, there are other ways to eat it. Here are a few common methods:
As hardtack sits in moisture, it absorbs it and becomes softer. You can soak your piece in just about anything. Coffee, soup, and water have all been used historically.
Another benefit of soaking the hardtack is bug removal. During early wars, proper storage wasn’t always possible. Weevils became prevalent in this grain-based ration.
Once placed in liquid, the bugs began to float to the top. Diners could easily scoop them off the top and discard them before eating.
After cooking up salt pork, soaked hardtack can be fried in the grease. This adds flavor and fat, helping to make it more palatable.
As a Thickener
You can crumble your hardtack with a pestle and mortar. If you don’t have one accessible, you can take a lesson from soldiers and hit it with the barrel of your rifle until it breaks. Once it’s powdery, you can stir it into a stew. It’ll act as a thickener and add some caloric bulk to your recipe.
As a Holder for Spreads
Many people have used hardtack as a bread of sorts. When you add a moisture-rich spread like soft cheese, honey, or peanut butter and jelly, the moisture will slowly soften your hardtack.
Using Hardtack Creatively
You don’t have to be limited to the above recipes when eating hardtack. With a little creativity, you can turn these hard squares of dried flour into many dishes. Here are two more ideas for you to try.
Slather it with pizza sauce and toppings and make yourself a mini-pizza. Just be sure to cut it before consuming so you don’t break a tooth.
Soak your hardtack overnight in buttermilk. In the morning, fry it up in butter or bacon grease. Serve with maple syrup and call it a pancake.
Since basic hardtack tastes a lot like flour, many variations of the original recipe have crept up. While the addition of salt, seasoning, oil, or protein powder may improve the taste, they do have an impact on long-term storage ability.
If you decide to make a batch of one of these recipes, inspect your hardtack closely before consuming. Make sure it’s still hard and hasn’t started to go soft. Be on the lookout for any mold growth. You might even decide to make a new batch every year or so, just to ensure your supply is good when you need it.
To your original recipe, just add 2 teaspoons of salt. Then, continue as directed above. It’ll help improve the flavor.
You can even experiment a bit within a single batch. Before you roll it out, break your dough into smaller chunks. Add different seasonings to each, and then continue with the recipe. This will allow you to take notes on what you like or don’t like before committing to making an entire batch.
Several recipes online call for the addition of about a tablespoon of shortening, butter, or oil. While the added fat would help improve the texture, it is prone to becoming rancid. This addition is better served for short-term storage.
Substituting the Flour
All-purpose flour is not the most nutritious flour out there. But, it stores well since most of the oil from the bran has been removed. By simply experimenting with the flour you use, you can change up your hardtack.
Give whole-wheat flour a try to increase the nutrients. Try substituting a cup of flour for a cup of cornmeal. Or a cup of protein powder to add protein to your emergency ration.
Hardtack is an excellent DIY addition to your survival food stores. When properly stored, it can be added to this list of foods that’ll last longer than you do!
Have you made hardtack? With the endless variations, I know I didn’t cover them all. What are your favorite additions or ways to use your hardtack?
Leave a comment below and share your tips with all the readers. And click on the banner below to get more tips on how our ancestors survived!
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Do you have an alternative medicine cabinet ready for your kids? Would you be able to fix up their wounds and heal their common sicknesses if you couldn’t make it to the doctor?
If you have kids, this is an essential area for emergency preparedness. The day may come when you can’t just head to the store and pick up another bottle of acetaminophen.
But first, let’s take care of some precautionary information:
A Child’s Dosage
Unlike those bottles at the pharmacy, natural remedies don’t always feature a dosage chart for children. Overdosing on any medication, even a natural one, can be dangerous. Don’t give your child an adult-sized dose.
Instead, you’ll need to calculate the percentage of the adult dose to give to your child. It’s based on age. Here’s a simple way to do the calculations using long division and multiplication:
- How old will your child be at his next birthday?
- Divide that number by 24.
- Round to the first decimal place
- Multiply that number by the adult dose.
Here’s an example:
- .291 rounded to the first decimal place is .3
- That means a 7 year old would get 30% of an adult dose. If the adult dose was 5ml (1 tsp) this child would need 1.5ml.
The older your child is, the closer to an adult dose he’ll need. If you’re treating a baby and you’re breastfeeding, you can take the remedy yourself and pass it through your milk.
Storage of Natural Remedies
Light and heat should be kept away from your remedy supply. A dark glass bottle, stored in a cool part of the home is a great storage solution.
You’ll also want to make sure your remedies are inaccessible to children. If you don’t have a high shelf ready, consider using a lock-box. That way curious little hands can’t accidentally overdose.
Honey & Babies
Some of these remedies use honey. Honey isn’t appropriate to give to a child younger than a year old, so avoid these treatments with babies.
Natural First Aid for Children: Wound Care
Since they’re bodies are constantly growing and changing, children tend to be a bit clumsy. They bang into things and fall frequently. Bruises, cuts, and scrapes are common wounds you’ll have to tend.
With open wounds, infection is a primary concern. Keep the wound clean and dry. Bandages or strips of cloth help. Rather than using store-bought antibiotic ointment, try these natural alternatives before you cover the wound.
Take time to stock up on witch hazel. It’s typically found by the hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol at the store. Store-bought witch hazel contains isoproply alcohol, helping it to clean wounds completely.
It also forms a protective barrier, which promotes healing. It will sting though, so you might want to warn your little one before you squirt it on.
Raw honey has antibacterial properties. It’s beneficial all on its own, but when combined with sage and left to age, you’ll have an even stronger antibacterial ointment. This treatment is also simple to prepare, especially if you grow your own sage. It’ll also last in your cupboard for a long time.
To prepare the sage honey:
- Take a small glass canning jar, and loosely add chopped sage leaves. You want to fill the jar, but not pack the leaves down.
- Next, pour raw honey over the top. It’ll cover the leaves and fill up the jar completely.
- Then, put a lid on the jar and leave it to rest. You’ll want it to sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours before you use it. Over time, it’ll become even stronger.
If desired, you can remove the leaves in 4 weeks. It’ll make it a bit easier to rub onto wounds, and a bit more child friendly.
Sage honey is easy to use, and safe for children. You just apply a small amount to the top of the wound.
Lavender Oil Rub
Lavender oil helps reduce pain and prevent infection, making it the perfect go-to flower for small cuts. If you already have essential oil, you’ll want to dilute it with a carrier oil. Olive oil and coconut oil both work well. If you need to make the oil, this Survivopedia article can help.
A ratio of 10 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce of carrier oil is appropriate. For children, it’s important to ensure essential oils are properly diluted before use. Never apply them full-strength.
To prepare the lavender oil rub:
- Measure your carrier oil into a dark container.
- Add your essential oil.
- Mix thoroughly.
You can either rub a small amount of the lavender oil rub directly onto the wound, or you can soak a cloth in the prepared oil. You can then use the soaked cloth as a compress, wrapping it around the sore.
Plantain is common in many parts of the world. It’s also an astringent, which helps slow and stop bleeding. If you’re out in the woods and need an immediate remedy, chew on a few plantain leaves. Then, use those chewed leaves to cover the wound.
It’ll help the bleeding stop while you get back to the rest of your medical supplies. Teach your children to recognize this important plant, and how to chew it. If they’re on their own and injured, it’s a safe first-aid remedy they can use on their own.
Arnica helps reduce swelling. It’s a helpful herb for bruises and bumps. If you’re able to stock up on homeopathic arnica pellets, you’ll help get your natural first-aid kit ready. You can also create your own cream to use topically.
This is how to make an arnica cream:
- After harvesting arnica, you’ll want to dry the plant completely. Then, it’s time to turn it into an infused oil.
- You’ll need a carrier oil to use for your base. Coconut oil, olive oil, and almond oil are common base oils.
- Fill a clean jar loosely with chopped, dried arnica. Then, cover the arnica with carrier oil, and put a lid on the jar.
- You’ll want this oil to sit in a warm, sunny spot for two weeks. After the time passes, strain out the arnica using cheese cloth. Throw out the used herbs.
- Your oil isn’t yet ready to turn into cream. It needs another batch of dried arnica added. Just add it directly to the oil in the jar. Leave this covered for another two weeks, and then strain out the herbs for a second time.
- Once you’ve finished the oil, you can measure it into a sauce pan. For every cup of oil, you’ll want to add ¼ cup of grated beeswax.
- Heat this mixture over low heat until the beeswax completely melts. Take it off the heat, and transfer it to a small jar for storage.
Rub a small amount on bumps and bruises to promote healing.
Natural Remedies for Coughs & Colds & Earaches
In addition to bumps and bruises, children are prone to colds and upper respiratory infections. Ear infections are also common. There are natural remedies for all of these ailments.
A cup of hot tea helps loosen congestion. The peppermint also contains menthol, which helps decongest the sinuses. If your child is too young for tea, simply smelling the steam from a cup of your tea will provide some relief.
Warm Honey Lemonade
Honey and lemon both help soothe the throat. This is an excellent treatment for a child with a cough.
This is how to prepare the honey lemonade:
- Place ½ cup of honey and ½ cup of lemon juice in a saucepan, and gently stir as you warm over low heat.
- Once the honey and lemon have completely combined, add ½ gallon of warm water.
- Continue stirring until the lemonade is as warm as you’d like it to be. Then, remove from heat.
Encourage your child to drink a mug of the hot lemonade every few hours. Not only will this help with a cough, it’ll also keep your little one hydrated.
Garlic is a powerful medicinal herb with many health benefits. If your child is getting a cough or a cold, chop up a clove of garlic finely. Your child can either eat this plain, add it to a glass of water, or you can mix it with butter and spread it on toast. My kids prefer that method, as the butter and bread help cut some of the garlicy taste.
You can also make garlic oil that helps with earaches. Garlic oil doesn’t last long without refrigeration, which means you might not want to mix up large quantities all at once. The good news is it’s simple to prepare, so you can make a fresh batch each day you need it.
Here is how to make garlic oil.
- Crush a clove of fresh garlic and add it to a saucepan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil.
- Slowly heat the oil over low heat for twenty minutes.
- Strain out the garlic.
Add 2-3 drops of oil to the hurting ear. You can repeat this treatment every few hours to provide maximum pain relief.
However, if your child has a perforated ear drum, this is not an appropriate treatment. If you aren’t sure if the ear drum has ruptured, use a garlic compress instead.
To make a garlic compress, soak a small piece of cloth in your garlic oil. Squeeze out the excess liquid before use. Have your child hold the garlic compress to her ear. This will provide relief, though not as quickly as the garlic oil.
In addition to earaches, you can also use a garlic compress on top of a wound to help prevent infection.
Do you heal your child naturally?
There are many other natural treatments for common ailments. Share your favorite natural remedies for kids with the rest of our readers in the comments below, and click on the banner for more knowledge about surviving where is no doctor around!
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Do you have a family member with special needs? I do. My oldest son, Owen, was born with Angelman Syndrome. It’s a deletion on the maternal 15th chromosome.
He’s completely non-verbal, globally developmentally delayed, has hard to control epilepsy, and eats anything he can get his hands on as a result of Pica. He’s also one amazing kid with a cheerful personality. He’s a fighter—surviving more in his short life than most people have to in a lifetime.
That’s how I know that prepping with a child with special needs is a bit different. It requires some serious thought, and some creativity. Read the following article, and you will see what I mean.
Special needs is sort of a catch-all phrase. It doesn’t mean exactly the same thing from one individual to the next. That means we won’t prep exactly the same way. We all have to do what’s best for our individual family.
Regardless of your loved one’s diagnosis, here are ten things to consider when prepping:
1. Make an Accurate Inventory of Needs
What does your loved one need each day? Take time to make an accurate inventory of these needs. On a piece of paper or your computer, list:
- Daily meds (including dosage)
- Rescue meds
- Self-Care needs (diapers, wipes, gloves, etc.)
- Durable medical equipment (wheelchair, stander, walker, etc.)
- Other medical supplies (feeding tube supplies, bags, catheters, etc.)
- Special food (formulas, etc.)
- Anything else your loved one needs on a regular basis
Now that you have a list, you can use this information to help you prep. Look over your list. What are essentials to life, and what are niceties instead of necessities? Prioritize your list in order of most essential to least essential. That way you can start with the essentials.
2. Talk to Your Loved One
As you start prepping, be sure to talk to you loved one. I operate under the belief that my son understands a lot more than I realize. When I talk to the other kids about what we’re doing and why, Owen is there too.
I explain it in as age-appropriate terms as I can, and reassure them all. We talk about our fire escape plans, our family meeting place, why we’re stockpiling certain things, and everything else we can think of.
I explain to Owen that one of the reasons his bedroom is on the ground floor is so that he won’t have to try and jump through a window. It’s not something he could physically do. I let him know that we’ve thought about his needs, and will always do our very best to meet them.
Include your loved one in conversations and planning so they have an idea of what you’re thinking and can ask questions if possible.
3. Prepare for the Most Likely Event First
I live in the middle of nowhere surrounded by miles of timber in every direction. Wildfire is the most likely event I should prep for. The odds of having a fire come through my land are greater than other natural disasters.
I know that in a wildfire event, we’d have to bug out. It’d be much easier to stay put with all of Owen’s equipment, but it wouldn’t be safe to do so. So we make sure we’re prepared before wildfire season rolls around.
Owen’s wheelchair stays on our family’s minibus when we’re not using it inside. So does a dose of each of his emergency medications. Each year, I repack a plastic tote with clothes for everyone. I also include a couple days’ worth of meds for Owen, diapers, wipes, and disposable gloves.
There’s also some bottled water and storable food. It’s everything we’d need to survive somewhere else for a few days. And it’s already packed on the bus and ready to make a quick exit.
What event is most likely in your area? If you haven’t yet started getting prepared, prep for that event first. Think through it in your mind, and start gathering what you’ll need.
Start by getting a 3-day supply built up of all your loved one’s essentials. It’s a baby step, but an important one.
Bug Out or Bug In?
Medical equipment is heavy. It’s bulky. And it certainly doesn’t move quietly through the woods. Depending on your child’s mobility, leaving might be very difficult.
When you’re making plans for a crisis, you might find it makes more sense to stay put. That way you don’t have to leave all of your equipment and medical stockpiles behind. If we don’t absolutely have to leave the farm, we’re planning on staying here.
4. Stockpiling Meds
I’ve heard that some doctors are understanding and will help you stockpile meds to be better prepared. I haven’t yet found this to be true. Unfortunately, doctors are at the mercy of insurance companies, and most of modern medications are very expensive.
The insurance companies don’t want to shell out more than they absolutely have to. They carefully monitor dosages, when medications are being refilled, and do everything they can to prevent paying for too many.
But, there are still ways to stockpile meds. Using these techniques, I’ve successfully gotten a couple week supply built up of most of my son’s medications.
Simply by switching to auto-refill, the medication is refilled as soon as the insurance company will allow it. I’ve found this is usually a couple of days before the medication runs out. Owen’s meds are automatically shipped to us thanks to a mail order pharmacy, and I’m slowly building a reserve.
Refill On Time Even When Just Starting the Medicine
Almost every med my son has started required a slow start. He started with a half-tablet, or just one instead of two. As his body adjusted to the medicine, we slowly increased the dosage.
He didn’t use the entire bottle before it was time to refill. I refilled it anyways. Just like that, a small stockpile was created.
Each time my son has surgery scheduled, he doesn’t take his meds in the morning. They have such a long half-life that it’s easier to just skip the dose than to mess with trying to make him take them without food or drink.
If your loved one has to miss a dose for some reason, hang onto that pill. Each time you save a pill, you’re adding one additional dose to your stockpile.
5. Learn Alternatives to Medication
My son’s seizures are controlled well on a low-carb, high fat diet. Unfortunately, this diet takes a toll in other ways, especially in his behavior. That’s why we’re relying on meds currently.
But, if I ran out, I know I could keep the majority of his seizures away by changing his diet. With a milk cow for cream, and chickens for eggs, I have a steady supply of ingredients for a high-fat, low carb diet.
Not every medication can be replaced by a natural alternative. But, many of them can. This Survivopedia post shares some excellent points about medication alternatives that are easier to stockpile. Do some research and see what you can try as a replacement.
Know What Each Medication Does
Before you can think about replacing a medication, you have to know what it does. Ensure that you know the purpose behind every drug your loved one takes. You can see if there are over-the-counter meds that might work in a pinch.
You should also research the half-life of each drug. That’s how long it’ll last in their system.
I’m not a doctor, but in a crisis situation, you may be able to increase the amount of time between each dose. That’ll help stretch your stockpile. You can also experiment with dosage and see if you can offer a lower dose and still get the desired result.
Have a Medication Weaning Plan
Going cold-turkey off of some pharmaceuticals can cause many problems. It’s often too much of a shock for the body. That’s why having a weaning plan is imperative.
When you can no longer pick up meds, take a count. Inventory everything you have and see how many doses that is. Then, work backwards to slowly cut the doses down. That way instead of going from a full dose to nothing when you run out, you already have a plan in place for stepping off the med.
If you’ve found a natural alternative, be sure to slowly introduce this during the weaning period. It’ll be a smoother transition for your child than changing it all at once.
6. Think Through Dietary Changes
If your loved one requires a special diet, or is fed by formula, it’s essential to think through alternatives. Do you have a way to meet nutritional needs without the actual formula?
Could you stockpile infant formula? It won’t have the exact same nutrients, but its readily available and will provide some nutrition.
Could you create a homemade formula out of goat’s milk and supplements? Start researching recipes and learning from other parents in similar situations.
Having a backup plan for meals will help you know what to store.
7. Stockpile Medical Supplies
In addition to meds and dietary needs, what else does your loved one need? My son struggles with incontinence since he can’t tell me when he needs to go to the bathroom. As a result, we need to keep diapers and wipes on hand.
By receiving as many packs as the insurance will allow, we’ve built up a nice supply of diapers. We are working with Owen on toileting, so our supply lasts longer than it otherwise would. Every diaper not used is one we can store.
I’ve also used the subscribe and save feature on Amazon to stockpile supplies we purchase out of pocket. I just have an order shipped a little sooner than I really need it. Over time, a nice supply has accumulated. You can try this for:
- Over the counter meds
- Disposable gloves
- Baby wipes
- First aid supplies
- Anything that’s shelf stable
8. What About Power?
Is your loved one dependent on electricity for any reason? From powering feeding pumps to using oxygen, many medical devices require constant access to electricity.
Do you have the ability to power your house off the grid? If you aren’t able to completely unplug currently, consider investing in a generator. Or ensure you have what you need to build your own.
It’s a small step towards preserving your loved one’s quality of life while you gain more self-sufficiency.
9. The Marvel of Modern Science
Many children with special needs, my son included, have had their lives saved or extended because of modern science. Owen has used life-saving emergency seizure medications more than once. He also has a battery operated device implanted in his chest keeping many seizures at bay.
In addition to seizure rescue, other medical advancements have kept him alive. He’s used rescue medication for a severe reaction to a wasp sting. He’s had emergency surgery to pull foreign bodies out of his throat.
Without modern society, he most likely wouldn’t have survived many of these events. Before advancements in science and pharmaceuticals, the infant and child death rate was higher. Society simply didn’t have the medicine and medical training necessary to save those lives.
Unfortunately, there’s not always a suitable replacement for modern science when a crisis occurs. I simply won’t be able to perform the surgery needed to replace the battery in his VNS implant. I will run out of meds at some point. He will likely continue to eat objects that pose a threat to his life.
You have to be mentally prepared for the worst. All of the prepping and stockpiling of meds can only go so far.
As author William Forstchen discusses in the novel One Second After, the chronically ill and the elderly are at a distinct disadvantage in case of an EMP or solar storm. They’re also at risk in many other SHTF situations. As hard as it is to admit, not everyone will survive a crisis despite your best efforts.
10. Today Isn’t Necessarily Your Future
Because of the high risk for people with special needs, it’s easy to get caught thinking about what will happen to your child if society changes. Depression and a sense of despair are common. But, there’s one essential component we haven’t covered yet.
When my son was first diagnosed, he couldn’t swallow liquids properly. He was diagnosed with failure to thrive. Eventually, he had a g-tube installed surgically.
For a couple of years, he got almost all of his nutrition through his tube. Any liquids he took by mouth had to be thickened. He was hooked to an electrical pump at night, and drip fed for several hours. We assumed he’d be using his tube forever.
But we were wrong. Today, we only use the tube to keep him hydrated in times of intense illness. He eats everything else by mouth, and can swallow liquids without aspirating. As he grew and got stronger, he outgrew some difficulties.
I share this because you can’t accurately predict what the future holds. None of us can. Just because your child requires certain medications or treatments today, it doesn’t mean that’s what is in store forever.
So prep for today’s needs. That’s all we can do. But know that as life changes, your child’s needs will change. As each change occurs, take time to reevaluate your prepping plan. Update your gear, change out meds. That way you’re always as ready as you can be.
How Are You Prepping?
What special needs do your loved ones have? Please share in the comments how you are prepping for these needs. As a community, we can all learn from each other, and be better prepared for whatever tomorrow brings.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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What kind of vehicles and equipment do you use every day? What would you use instead in a SHTF world without the power grid?
When modern equipment won’t work anymore, the prepared have a plan in place. They know that with a little ingenuity and some elbow grease, they can get the job done. But a willingness to work won’t get you very far if you don’t have a pile of materials to work with.
Using What You Have
Modern-day preppers can learn a lot from the Depression era mentality of saving. I know that I have!
My Grandpa never threw anything away. When we first moved back to the family property, I thought his old junk pile was an eyesore. Tires. Old tractors. Tons of screws, bolts, and who knows what else. It was a huge pile of junk.
In today’s use it and toss it society, I simply couldn’t fathom why in the world my Grandpa kept this junk. I was embarrassed by it. I wanted to scoop it all up and take it to the dump. Thankfully, we couldn’t afford to do that.
Because over the years since we’ve been back, I’ve realized the true value of that junk pile. We’ve taken parts from equipment of old to fix what is broken. We’ve used scrap metal and junk to fill a need and solve problems around the homestead. And we’ve saved a lot of money.
That junk pile? I no longer view it as junk. I think of it as our insurance. You see—when the day comes that we can’t just go buy something, we’ll have a leg-up. We’ll have stuff to work with.
So if you don’t have a junk pile of your own, I’d recommend you start one. If you have property, just gather your junk in a remote corner. If you don’t, you’ll have to think creatively.
Can you save extra nuts and bolts in a drawer in the garage? Can you partner with a country friend to create a joint pile? Can you devote a closet to accumulating odds and ends?
As odd as it may seem to save junk, recycling and reusing becomes crucial when the modern economy is gone. You simply won’t be able to go buy what you need. You’ll have to use what you have.
1. Make a List!
What kind of automated systems are you running right now? Since each of us have a different lifestyle and processes, we won’t all need the exact same things.
To figure out what you need, you have to make a list. Grab a piece of paper and write down all of the systems you’re currently using that run on electricity and modern machinery. Here’s some common ones to get you thinking:
- Milking machines
- Automated sprinklers for the garden
- Tractor for plowing the field
- Rototillers for the garden
- Irrigation systems
- Food storage (fridge and freezer)
- Laundry care
- Personal vehicles to get from place to place
- Heating a greenhouse to grow food year round
You’ll probably have more to add. Most of us are very dependent on modern innovations in today’s life. Now that you have your list, it’s time to start thinking through SHTF scenarios. Let’s work through a couple together:
Milking the Animals
How would you milk your cows if you had no power?
If you only have a couple of cows, you’ll probably be able to switch to hand milking. You might even get away with switching to once a day milking depending on how much milk your ladies are giving.
But, what if you have a whole herd and depended on a milker? What powers your machine milker? Do you know how your vacuum pump works? How will you clean the pieces if you don’t have running water?
Learn everything you can about the mechanics behind the automated systems you use every day. Read the manual. Study how the pieces work together. The more familiar you are with the parts and pieces, the more likely you’ll be able to repair it when the time comes. You’ll also know what sorts of extra parts to start stock piling.
When vehicles first came out, they were fairly simple machines. Most people could handle their own repairs. With today’s chips, computers, and complexity, that’s no longer the case.
These detailed systems often require specialized tools and scanning software to repair. There isn’t much you can do yourself without a large amount of mechanical knowledge. You might want to consider having an older vehicle around, just because it’s easier to work on.
They’re also more likely to run after an EMP. Here’s a great Survivopedia post on the best vehicles for an EMP event.
No matter what you’re driving, it’s essential that you start learning to repair it. If your car is broken, do some basic troubleshooting yourself. Every time you do this, you’re improving your mechanical ability.
If you take your car to the mechanic, learn all you can. Ask to see the broken part and where it was in your vehicle. You’ll learn more about your car, and start building a relationship with someone local with a mechanically minded skill-set. Or you can chose to grow animals for transportation.
You can’t just plop a variety of seeds in the ground and expect to magically grow enough food to feed yourself and your family for the entire year. There’s a lot of work between planting and harvesting. Many people rely on automated systems to do a portion of this work. From tractors to electricity or automatic watering systems, food production hasn’t escaped modern marvels.
Take a look at what you’re currently doing for food production. Do you run a rototiller over the ground each year? If so, it’s time to think about switching to a no-till method of gardening.
In this method, you prepare your soil initially before planting. Then you cover it with a thick layer of mulch. When it’s time to plant, you gently remove some of the mulch, and bury your seeds.
As your plants grow, the mulch holds in water, which is essential in a crisis situation. You continue to add compost and mulch to your garden. But, instead of digging the new stuff in, you just top-dress it by adding layer upon layer up on top.
This same method works in the field as well, though on a larger scale. Instead of a plow to prep the field for planting, you’d use a harrow. The impact on the land is a lot less, as harrows pierce the ground instead of turning it over.
Harrows are also more energy efficient since you can plant at the same time. That means only one trip around the field is needed instead of multiple.
If your farm equipment fails, do you have a backup plan? Some people keep horses around, but horses aren’t the only animal that can work a field. Dexter cattle have been called a tri-purpose cow because they’re good for meat, milk, and work.
You’ll probably need to do some innovating to get your equipment to pull by animal instead of machine. Harnesses will be essential to keep your animal safe while working.
You can look for older equipment now, while you still have the benefit of used marketplaces. Horse drawn machinery are often cheaper than their modern counterparts, and they’re also easier to work on.
Video first seen on jamminjamy.
It’s not only the planting of the field that you should think about, it’s also the watering. Water typically runs on a pump. If you don’t have power, you’ll lose the accessibility of water. Gravity fed systems are one solution.
Look for an elevated area on your property where you can collect rainwater.
If you prepare a large container with a hose connector and a plug down low, you’ll be set to use the water. When it’s time to water, hook a hose up to the container. Gravity will force the water through the hose to where you need it. Just be sure to put the plug back on your system when you’re finished.
You can also build a series of wooden troughs to carry water from a waterfall or creek if you have one on your property. This one requires a little more mechanical know-how, as you’ll have to ensure your angles are correct. Otherwise the water won’t flow.
To harvest your plants without machinery, you’ll need to learn how it was done in the past. If you’re growing your own wheat, instead of a combine you’ll need a scythe to cut it. You’ll also need to think through the threshing.
Only you know exactly what you’ll need to switch your automated systems over to manual ones. You’ll definitely need to have raw materials and tools on hand to keep your systems in good repair. But what can you do right now to start this process?
2. Stock Up on Printed Resources
There are plenty of books and details online that walk you through the systems you need. Now is the perfect time to stock up on printed research materials. After all, you won’t be able to do a whole lot of surfing the internet after the SHTF.
You won’t be able to learn everything in one sitting. That’s why having printed material is so beneficial. When you need it, you’ll be able to pull it out and learn on the go.
3. Develop a Repair or Reuse Mindset
When something breaks, it’s so easy to throw it away and buy another one. But, that attitude won’t get you very far in a crisis. Starting today, take time to learn about what’s broken.
If it’s something you were going to throw away anyways, you have nothing to lose. Examine the parts. See if you can pinpoint what failed. Then take it apart and see how everything fits together.
You might discover it was something simple that you can fix. If not, you gained valuable experience in troubleshooting and disassembly. Those skills will be crucial in the future.
Instead of throwing away things that break, see if you can come up with a more innovative solution. Can you pull the components and save them for an upcoming project? Can you hang onto the gears?
You might not have the space to save everything. That’s why it’s essential to have your list. What items will you use the most to keep your needed systems up and running?
4. Develop Your Creativity and Innovation
Instead of going out and buying something new, think creatively. Is there any other way to do what you need to do? Can you reuse something, or build a DIY model?
This will put your creative thinking skills to work. You’ll start thinking outside of the box. But just coming up with ideas isn’t enough. Innovation is the ability to put those skills to use to solve a problem.
5. Improve Your Mechanical Mind
Some people are naturally gifted in the area of mechanics. They’re tinkerers, always working on something. Others don’t have this natural ability. But, everyone can learn. If you’re not mechanically inclined, start asking questions. Watch what others do. Learn from them.
6. Carry Tools
You never know when you might need a screwdriver or a knife. If you aren’t currently carrying a multi-tool, start.
Put a basic repair kit in your car, and know how to use the tools in it. If you leave your vehicle in an emergency, you’ll be able to grab a couple of tools. Those may make the difference between you making it home or not.
7. Invest in Hand Tools
You’ll also want to build a solid supply of hand tools around your homestead. Think beyond the screwdriver and hammer. How would you cut firewood without a chainsaw? Pick up a hand saw that you can use if you need to.
8. Learn the Basics
While you can’t learn everything there is to know, you can learn a little about a lot of things. Here are some things to study that’ll help you be better prepared:
Every bit of knowledge and hands on mechanical experience you gain will help make you stronger in the future.
What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to off-grid mechanics? What systems would you have to replace? Could you survive off-grid, living the life our ancestors lived? Click on the banner below to find out more about their way of living and use their secrets for your survival.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Soil is essential for growing a traditional garden. It nourishes your plants, and helps produce an abundant harvest. Your soil needs care.
You can’t just drop seeds in the ground and expect a ton of produce. Gardening depletes the soil of essential nutrients. As a gardener, it’s essential to put those nutrients back.
In today’s society, many people turn to chemical fertilizers. These have been specially formulated to give your soil an exact dose of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. But, chemical fertilizers also contain undesirable ingredients. They also don’t take into account the other vital nutrients your soil needs.
A better solution is to save your soil naturally. You’ll be giving your soil exactly what it needs without any needless chemicals. You’ll also be prepared for a crisis situation. If you aren’t able to buy chemical fertilizer or fancy test kits, your garden will still grow.
What Nutrients Does Soil Need?
There are almost twenty basic nutrients that your soil needs. Three of them are vital:
The other nutrients are also important. But, not every plant needs exactly the same amount of each of these. That means some plants will still grow well even with a deficit. Those nutrients are:
Over time, your soil will lose some of these nutrients. Ideally, you’ll take little steps each year to keep your soil healthy. You can create your own fertilizer and add a mulch layer in the fall. These maintenance steps will help keep your garden growing.
However, it isn’t always enough. There will be times when a more intensive treatment is necessary.
How Do You Know When to Improve You Soil?
If your garden has been producing well and then your harvest slows down, it could be time to recharge your soil. There are other signs to watch for as well. Let’s look at four common gardening problems that indicate a soil problem.
If your plant’s leaves are changing colors, your soil is trying to tell you something. Take time to examine your plants throughout the growing season to check on the status of your leaves.
Look for yellow colored leaves towards the bottom of plants (a nitrogen deficiency), bronze colored or reddish leaves (low potassium or phosphorus is the likely culprit), new leaves that come in yellow leaves with dark spots (a lack of magnesium), older leaves that are wilting and turning brown only around the edges (a potassium deficiency), or new leaves that have yellow between the veins means (a lack of zinc).
It’s not only the leaves that can change color. Whole plants can as well. Here’s a couple of common ailments that cause plants to be discolored:
- Purplish plants – a phosphorus deficiency.
- Pale yellow plants – a lack of sulfur
If you suddenly start having an increase in diseased plants, it’s time to check the status of your soil. A good dose of compost will help replace many of the nutrients your soil needs. Healthy soil is more likely to produce healthy plants.
Diseased plants also indicate it is time to rotate your crops. Each crop takes a different amount of nutrients out of the ground. A simple rotation schedule will help revitalize your soil.
Excessive Moss Growth
Is moss starting to creep into your garden? Moss thrives in acidic soil. It’s an indicator that your soil is becoming too acidic.
How Do You Naturally Add Nutrients to Your Soil?
If you can get your hands on some rabbit droppings, you’ll go a long way to restoring the nutrients in your garden. Other manure helps too—just make sure to manage it correctly before adding it so you don’t burn your plants.
A compost pile is vital. If you don’t already have a pile going, start one today. That way you’ll be all set when you really need it.
All the organic matter you add to your soil helps feed the tiny microorganisms living in your soil. Those creatures digest the material you added. This process helps improve your soil structure and increase your yields.
You want some bugs in your garden; just not the pesky kind. Here are a few useful bugs you should have in your garden, and the plants that you should grow to attract them:
- Ladybugs – Plant dill, fennel, yarrow, angelica and coreopsis to attract lady bugs and their mighty larvae.
- Lacewinds – Plant cosmos, angelica, sweet alyssum and coreopsis to attract lacewings to your garden.
- Pirate bugs – They are attracted by goldenrods, daisies, yarrow, alfalfa, buckwheat, corn, willows and flower pollen and nectar.
- Soldier Beetles – Attract soldier bugs with marigolds, catnip, hydrangea and goldenrod.
- Spined Soldier Bugs – Attract spined soldier bugs with perennial plants because that’s where they take shelter.
- Ground Beetles – Plant perennials to attract them and provide ground cover such as logs or rocks for them to hide under.
- Tachinid Flies – Plant flowers with lots of pollen and nectar to attract them. They also like herbs such as dill, parsley and sweet clover. Let a few of your herb plants flower for them because that’s the part that they like best.
- Dragonflies – To attract dragonflies, build a little pond or leave a marshy area alone.
- Spiders – Plant flowers with lots of pollen and nectar to attract them. They also like herbs such as dill, parsley and sweet clover. Let a few of your herb plants flower for them because that’s the part that they like best.
How Do You Naturally Adjust the pH of Your Soil?
In addition to nutrients, the pH of soil is important. Some plants prefer acidic soil. Others prefer alkaline soil. Many plants do well in neutral ground. pH test kits for soil are common in today’s society.
You can purchase DIY kits at the garden center, or pay for an analysis at an extension agency. If you’re able to test your soil today with a kit, you’ll get an exact pH reading.
But, we won’t always have these options. There are ways to naturally test the pH of your soil. While you won’t get an exact reading, these results will help pinpoint the status of your soil.
The Baking Soda and Vinegar Test
Baking soda and vinegar cause a chemical reaction when they’re combined. In fact, the fizzing, bubbling reaction is often used in children’s science experiments about volcanoes. These same ingredients can be used for a useful soil experiment as well.
The premise of this test is simple. You’ll get some soil and see how it reacts to vinegar. Then, you’ll see how it reacts to baking soda.
To prepare for this test, gather about a quarter cup of your garden soil. Divide this into two containers. In one container, add 1/2 cup of vinegar. Watch for any bubbles to form and listen for a fizz. If you don’t get a reaction, get your second container of dirt. You’ll need to mix this one with some distilled water to make a slurry. Then, sprinkle about ½ cup of baking soda over the top.
Here are what the results of this test indicates:
- Baking Soda Reaction: Acidic soil
- Vinegar Reaction: Alkaline soil
- No Reaction: Fairly neutral soil
Homemade Litmus Paper for pH Testing
You can also test the acidity of your soil by creating your own litmus paper out of cabbage leaves. My kids and I tried this as a science project one spring. It worked well! Here’s how you do it:
- Take a quarter of a red cabbage and roughly chop it into slices.
- Add your cabbage to a saucepan with a half-cup of water.
- Bring the water to a boil, and keep it boiling for 15 minutes. Then, strain out the cabbage and save your water.
- Cut a couple of coffee filters into strips, then soak them in your saved cabbage water. They’ll absorb the color. Let these strips dry completely.
To use your strips to test your soil, you’ll need to create a slurry out of your soil again. Just add distilled water until it’s nearly liquid. It’s best to test the soil from a few different parts of your garden, which means you’ll use more than one strip.
When you’re ready to test, dip a test strip in your soil slurry and hold it for half a minute. Pull it out, and watch the color change. It’ll turn a shade of red or pink in acidic soil. Conversely, it’ll be blue or green in alkaline soil.
More Shelf Stable pH Test
You can keep your cabbage based litmus paper for a couple of weeks before it loses the ability to accurately test pH. But, you may not always have access to a fresh cabbage. There’s an alternative solution to create your homemade pH indicator.
You can use a combination of turmeric and water. Turmeric is shelf-stable, so be sure to keep some in your stockpile of food. Whenever you’re ready to use it to test the pH, add a bit of distilled water to make a liquid. Then add distilled water to a few tablespoons of soil create a liquefied soil. Add a couple drops of your turmeric test solution to your soil mixture.
Watch closely for the color change. Soil with a pH below 7.4 will be yellow. Soil with a pH above 8.6 will be a dark orange-red color. It’s not quite as accurate as the cabbage test, but it will give you a good idea about the condition of your soil.
How to Amend Soil pH Naturally
Now that you’ve tested your soil, you can take natural steps to improve it. If your soil is acidic, you’ll want to add wood ash or a generous amount of crushed eggshell. These elements will help move your soil closer to neutral.
If your soil is alkaline, you’ll want to add different natural matter. Pine needles work well to help adjust this type of soil. Spread a layer on in the fall so they have time to decompose over the winter.
Start Saving Your Soil Today!
Are you gardening? If you’re not, you should be. Even if you just grow one or two items, the practice will help you learn how to save your soil.
Building healthy soil isn’t a quick project. It requires time and effort. But, it’s possible.
What other tips and tricks do you have for naturally testing and improving your soil? I’d love to hear them, so please share in the comments below.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Pigpen? Check! Food source? Check! Lots of fresh water? Check!
You’ve made the decision to raise hogs for survival. You’ve lined everything up. You’re ready to go. Except something is still missing, you need to buy some hogs.
But what kind should you get? With so many breeds out there, how do you know which one is best? Is one kind of pig better than another kind?
Is There One Breed of Pig That’s Best?
The short answer is no. The long answer is, there’s a breed of pigs, or a crossbreed, that’s best for you and your farm. What’s best for you might not be best for me.
There are several things to think about before selecting a particular breed.
Four Factors to Consider Before Picking a Breed
Before you bring hogs home, take a few moments to research the breed you’ll be getting. In particular, you’ll want to look at the following things.
Where will you be raising your pigs? Will they have lots of room to roam, or just a small area? Will the pigs be around other animals or small children?
Some breeds of pigs are docile. Others are more aggressive. There are pros and cons to both.
If predators attack your farm animals, a more aggressive pig might fare better. Conversely, if you have small children, you’ll probably want a gentler pig. Remember that temperament can vary, even across breeds. No two pigs are the same.
If you’re picking out breeding stock, be sure to ask your farmer what character traits they’re breeding for. Also, check out the pigs in person if possible. That’ll help you make an informed decision.
In addition to temperament, pigs vary in size. Some pigs get huge. Others are smaller. Some pigs produce a lot of lard. Others are known as bacon pigs, producing a lot of lean meat.
How much meat will you be able to store in a survival situation? How much lard will you use? You’ll want to honestly answer these questions, and select a breed accordingly.
Where Are They Being Raised?
Modern pigs have been bred to survive in confinement. Commercial farmers have used selective breeding to ensure the pigs will stay alive on concrete, eating exactly the same food for its entire life.
If you prefer your pigs to act like pigs, and be raised humanely, modern breeds may not be what you’re looking for. Heritage pigs are breeds that were popular back before CAFOs entered the scene. They were the hogs that farmers and homesteaders raised.
For survival situations, you’ll want a pig that grows well on pasture, dairy, and scraps—foods that you can scrounge up even in the worst of times. Pigs who are used to eating only hog feed won’t be as useful when the SHTF.
What hogs are available where you are? You can bring in pigs from far away to add to your line, but that definitely adds to the cost. Local pigs have the advantage of being local. You know they’re adapted to your climate. That’s always a plus.
Ten Breeds of Hogs to Consider
Since I don’t have time or space to dive into every single breed of hog available, I’ve compiled information for ten common breeds. These are well suited for survival situations. Any of them would be an ideal addition to a homestead.
1 – Berkshire
Discovered several hundred years ago in Berkshire County, UK, the Berkshire is dark with white points. This coloring means they’re less prone to sunburn than lighter colored hogs. These friendly, curious hogs are a hardy breed. They hold up well over long, cold winters, as long as they have proper shelter to take cover. They’re adaptable hogs, and can thrive in many environments.
To help lower the food bill, Berkshires are able to graze on pasture. They grow more slowly than some other breeds, but their meat is delicious. In fact, they’re known as the favorite pork breed in Japan.
Berkshires are larger than many breeds. When mature, they average 600 pounds.
The mama Berkshires have good mothering skills. They produce a lot of milk, which helps the piglets get off to a good start.
2 – Duroc
Durocs are one of the most common breed of hog in the world. With the ability to convert feed into lean muscles, Duroc boars played an important role in breeding lines for factory farms.
Despite their use in confinement lines, Durocs are an ideal outdoor pig. Their thick, red coat provides protection from cold winter weather. When the weather warms the coat molts, allowing these pig to thrive during dry, hot summers.
They enjoy running and grazing on pasture, but their growth will slow considerably. To maintain the quick growth, these hogs need good quality feed.
Durocs are medium sized pigs. When mature, the sows range from 450-650 pounds. Boars are slightly larger, with an average range of 500-750 pounds.
Historically Durocs were considered an aggressive breed. However, many farmers have successfully bred out much of the aggression. It’s still a trait to be aware of though.
3 – Tamworths
These ginger colored hogs perform well on pasture, earning them the nickname Irish Grazers. Their long snouts are perfect for rooting and foraging. They also have long legs.
Because they have smaller bones, Tamworths typically produce a better ratio of useable meat. Their hanging weight is a higher percentage than many other breeds. When mature, both sows and boars average 500-600 pounds. They are an active, medium sized hog.
Their athletic personality means Tamworths require solid fencing. Be sure to have it installed before you bring them home.
Tamworths produce large litters, and the sows are usually able to care for them. Piglets are usually active, and full of vitality.
4 – Large Black
Large black pigs are named for both their size and their color. They average 700 pounds. Because they’re bigger than many other breeds, you’ll need to make sure your housing is large enough for your herd.
These pigs produce tender meat with excellent flavor, especially when allowed to forage. They’re well suited for grazing in wooded areas. The nuts and other food they find plays a role in the flavor of their meat.
Their docile personality makes pasturing Large Blacks simple. Many farmers have success with just a single strand of electric wire.
Large Black sows are excellent mothers, and usually have large litters. Obese sows can have problems with fertility, so it’s important to keep their weight in check.
5 – Gloucestershire Old Spot
White hogs with black spots, Gloucestershire Old Spots grow well from forage. They take your agricultural by-products like whey and bruised fruit and turn it into delicious meat. These are lard pigs, even though they aren’t as large as others breeds. Old Spots average only 500 pounds upon maturity. But, they have a higher ratio of fat compared to the bacon breeds.
With their white skin, this breed is prone to sunburn. Be sure to provide them with plenty of shade and mud to wallow in.
As far as temperament goes, Old Spots are docile. They aren’t aggressive, and are known as easy keepers. They do know how to bust fences though, so make sure yours are tight!
Gloucestershire Old Spot sows are good mothers. They average nine piglets per litter, though many sows will have more. Their milk production is high, helping the piglets grow.
6 – Hereford
Hereford hogs were bred to match the coloring pattern of the cattle with the same name. They’re reddish with a white face, legs, and belly. Herefords are large pigs. At maturity, males average 800 pounds. The sows average 600 pounds. These hogs grow quickly, and fatten easily. They often reach ideal slaughter weight in 5 months while eating less than many other breeds.
They are easygoing pigs, and typically docile. This temperament makes Herefords ideal for first time handlers. As such, 4-H children often use them.
Adaptability is another positive character trait for Herefords. They do well on pasture or in an enclosed pen. With their strong rooting ability, Herefords make great tillers.
Sows of this breed are prolific. They average 10 piglets per litter, and are normally good mothers.
7 – Yorkshire
Currently the most common pig in the United States, Yorkshires are also known as English Large Whites. They have light pink skin that’s covered in thin white hair. Their ears are erect. Yorkshires are used in many breeding programs because they aren’t fatty. While they are large pigs, they are very muscular. This lean meat means they are bacon pigs, not lard pigs.
Pasture can make up part of a Yorkshire’s diet. They are hardy, and can handle cold winters and hot summers.
In addition to highly desirable meat, the Yorkshires also bring excellent mothering genes to breeding programs. They have large litters, and take care of their young well.
8 – Mulefoot
The hoof of a Mulefoot differs from other pigs. It’s not cloven, so it’s like a mule or a donkey. These hogs are solid black, though some will have white points.
Mulefoot hogs are smaller than many other breeds, averaging 400-600 pounds. Because of their small size, the pork chops will be smaller. Don’t let the smallness fool you though; the marbled meat is tender and tasty.
These hogs are active, but not aggressive. They’re good at grazing, and do well in many climates. Their unique hooves allow them to thrive even in wet areas.
Mulefoot sows are calm mothers. They average 5-6 piglets with each litter.
9 – Red Wattle
The Red Wattle is the only domestic hog with a wattle. These flaps of skin on the neck are not believed to have any particular use. They are large pigs, with the boars averaging 750 pounds when fully grown. Despite their size, they produce high quality lean meat that’s favored by many chefs.
Because of their size, you’ll need to make sure your structures are big enough to accommodate. The good news is that Red Wattles are hardy, and easily adapt to a variety of climates. They thrive on pasture, which can help lower your production costs.
As far as temperament goes, Red Wattles are very docile. Many farmers consider this breed among the easy keepers.
Red Wattles are attentive mothers. Sows average 9-10 piglets per litter.
10 – Hampshire
Hampshire hogs feature a unique look. They’re black with a white belt around their midsection that covers their front legs. With their erect ears, they can hear what’s going on around them. They are very curious pigs. However, they are docile.
They are excellent foragers, and gain weight quickly. Hampshire meat is prized as being extremely lean. These are definitely not a lard breed.
Hampshires are known for their quick growth. It takes less time to raise them to market weight. Additionally, large litters are common for Hampshire sows, so you’ll have plenty of pigs around to raise.
Before You Start Breeding Hogs
Before jumping into a breeding program of your own, I’d recommend starting with a couple of seasonal piglets. This will allow you to test your desired breed of pig in your environment.
You can check out your fences, and make sure they’ll keep your hogs in. You’ll also be able to taste the final product. The experience will help you know if that breed is a good match for you. Once you’ve done a test run, you’re probably ready to dive into breeding.
Sometime during your breeding program, you might decide to introduce another breed into your herd. Crossbreeding hogs adds vitality to the mix. Vitality is an important trait for long-term survival.
Regardless of the breed or breeds on your farm, always remember the most important rule of raising pigs. Breed the best, and eat the rest. That way you keep only the best genes moving along.
Hogs of all breeds are an excellent addition to the homestead. It’s no wonder they were given an honorable mention in this Survivopedia post on top survival animals. They root, cut down on waste, and produce good meat that’s valuable for eating, selling, or bartering. But if you plan to get your food production to another level, then CLICK on the banner below to find out more!
Do you raise pigs? What are your favorite breeds? Did I miss any that you love? Please share in the comments section below.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Have you noticed the price of bacon lately? How about pork chops? Pork prices are soaring.
Besides costing an arm and a leg, grocery store pork often contains questionable ingredients. Things like benzoate preservatives and ractopamine. Ew! I like to be able to pronounce the ingredients I eat.
Thankfully, there’s at least one solution.
Raising your own hogs will help lower the price point per pound. It’ll also give you complete control over what goes into your meat. Hogs aren’t only beneficial in today’s market. When the SHTF, they’ll be invaluable. They’re the perfect homesteading addition as you prepare for the future. Ready to get started?
Here’s what you need to know before bringing home the bacon.
3 Important Considerations for Raising Hogs
Before bringing home any new animal, there’s a lot to think about. But there are some specifics just for hogs:
Do You Want to Breed Pigs or Just Raise Them Each Year?
There are two primary methods of pig raising. You can start each spring with a couple of little ones and butcher them in the fall. Or you can get your own breeding stock and raise pigs year round. There are benefits to each.
I’m currently buying weaner pigs each. My parents kept pigs year round when I was younger, and I enjoyed that. Someday I’ll winterize our pig pen and get breeding stock of my own.
Having your own stock will ensure your access to pork annually, which is preferred for survival. You may not always be able to find piglets to buy. Keeping pigs year round eliminates the search. However, year round hogs are the harder option. You’ll have to ensure your pig pen offers adequate protection for each season. Your feed costs will also be higher, as pregnant pigs eat a lot.
If you’ve never raised pigs before, consider starting off with just a couple of weaner pigs. Raising these to market weight will provide valuable knowledge and experience. Try this at least once before tackling your own hog-breeding program.
Cost of Pigs
Pigs used to be inexpensive animals. But now, $100 seems to be the new low for weaner pigs. During the spring, when everyone is buying, they’ll be much more.
Adult breeding stock costs more. Expect to pay several hundred for each sow and boar.
Since pigs enjoy the company of other pigs, you should raise at least two. If you don’t need the meat, you can always sell it.
What Will Your Pig Eat?
The easiest thing to feed your pig is a steady diet of hog chow. It’s formulated to meet your pigs’ needs, including the proper amount of protein and nutrients.
Hog chow is also the most expensive way to fatten up your hog. Each one will take a half ton by the time they reach butcher weight.
There are ways to lower your feed bill. You can give your pigs table scraps. These creatures eat just about anything.
Mine don’t like citrus or banana peels, onions, or raw potato peels, but eat everything else we feed them. We collect our produce scraps in a container in the kitchen, and feed them to the pigs once a day. They love it. We also feed ours extra milk from our cows, eggs that got cracked, or bruised apples. Pigs are a great way to reduce wasted food!
Just because a pig can eat almost everything, doesn’t mean you should feed them everything. They should never eat pork products, rotten foods, or highly sugared pastries. Remember that what you’re feeding them is turning into the meat you’re going to be eating.
To lower your feed costs even more, you can get creative. Are there any local cheese making companies that’d let you have whey? Or a small grocery store that’d give you unsold produce? Look around, and think creatively to obtain feed.
Pigs drink a lot, so you’ll have to give them constant access to fresh water. While you can use a trough, your pigs will probably dump it out a couple of times each day. They like playing in it. To solve this problem, you can get an automatic waterer at most feed stores. These hook up to a hose, or to a bucket. The pigs drink through a nipple.
What Do You Need to Raise Pigs?
Hogs aren’t as needy as many other livestock. They don’t require as much infrastructure. They aren’t as picky on their feed. In addition to the feed and water mentioned earlier, your pigs will need the following:
Pigs need shade. They don’t sweat, and can easily overheat in the hot sun. Make sure they have shade.
If your pigs are on pasture, trees are one way to provide shade. If they’re in an outdoor pen, give them a roof or tarp. Indoors, make sure they have ventilation to keep the heat down.
If you won’t be wintering your hogs, they won’t need a complicated shelter. Give them a place to get out of the wind and rain.
For cold climates, your pigs will need more protection. You can knock up a sturdy structure for them. That way they can bed down and stay warm.
If your pigs will be outdoors, you’ll need a fence to keep them in. Pigs are notorious for testing fences and finding holes. Make sure yours are secure.
Common hog fences are made from hog panels or field fence. You can also train pigs to electric wire. To teach them, run an electric wire at snout level around the perimeter of a small pen.
While they’re learning, it’s best to have an additional fence up. That’ll teach the hogs to go backwards from the shock instead of running forward.
Inexpensive Pig Pen
It’s possible to provide everything your pig needs without spending a fortune. Here’s what our pig pen looks like:
We used four hog panels, but didn’t make it square. Instead, we curved one of the panels, increasing the square footage of the pen. We secured the panels to T-Posts we already had around the farm.
To provide both shelter and shade, we added a simple roof over part of the pen. We used wooden poles we made from trees on the property for the structure. Metal scraps left over from other projects topped it. We used treated posts to hold the roof up. If you have rot-resistant wood in your area, those are even cheaper.
To make my pen winter ready, I need to enclose the sides under the roof. That’d give the hogs a place to stay dry and warm. It’s on my someday list!
Farrowing Area (If Breeding)
A sow’s gestation lasts about 115 days. You’ll want to make sure she’s in her own area before giving birth. Make sure she has plenty of bedding.
You’ll need to check for stillborn piglets. Check in on your growing litter frequently at first. Inexperienced mama pigs can lie on their babies and squish them.
Why Would Anyone Choose Hogs Over Other Animals for Survival?
When times are tough, you need an animal that is low maintenance. You need one that gives you the most value for your money and time. You need a hog.
Hogs also require a low time commitment. Once you’ve gotten their fence and shelter up, you just need to feed, water, and add bedding as needed. They are low maintenance, except during the farrowing season.
The hogs will also eat your food scraps, helping to keep your waste piles small. In a crisis, trash can easily pile up. Pigs will ensure there’s no food scraps going to waste.
Hogs don’t require as much space as larger animals, so they’ll be easier to keep in smaller quarters. Their snouts are great at tilling the ground and can prep your garden. They’re very versatile animals on the homestead.
Other Essentials About Raising Hogs
Because they’re constantly rooting around, hogs are prone to intestinal parasites. Some farmers routinely worm. You’ll want to check with a vet to find the recommended wormer for your area.
Many farmers castrate their male hogs, especially if they’re running males and females together. A castrated male is known as a barrow. Uncastrated males, known as boars, produce meat with a different flavor. It’s known as boar taint. They’re also more likely to be aggressive.
Ideal Butcher Size
Most pig farmers and homesteaders raise pigs to 225-250 pounds. It’s considered the perfect market size. Any bigger, and your feeding costs go up and you’ll get more fat.
Historically, pigs were bigger at butchering time. That’s because pioneers depended on lard for cooking, making soap, and plenty of other tasks. They needed fat pigs because they used the fat. If current economic conditions continue to change, you might see the return of the extra big pig.
Don’t worry though. You won’t have to drag a scale out to the pigpen. You can calculate a pig’s weight based on some simple measurements. All you’ll need is a piece of string, a measuring stick, and some time. It really works! It’s how I determine when it’s time to butcher.
When your hog reaches market size, you’ll need to make butchering arrangements. Since pigs are smaller than cows, many homesteaders handle this part on their own. I don’t. I call our local butcher, and they send someone out to the farm. The pigs are dispatched here, while I watch and learn all I can. Maybe someday I’ll try it myself. After dressing, they’re hauled in a refrigerated truck to get processed. The facility also smokes the meat for me.
If you decide to butcher on your own, this field dressing guide will help. Pigs are covered in hair, which you can either singe or scrape off. Skinning is also an option.
After you dress the pig, hanging for a few days will improve the flavor. The cool days of fall are perfect for butchering. Then, you can proceed to cut and wrap your pork.
How to Make Money From Raising Hogs
Pigs can be profitable! If you’re hoping to make money from raising hogs, you have several options. You can invest in quality breeding stock, and sell piglets for show. These typically sell for more than piglets for the table. 4H students are prospective buyers.
If you aren’t raising show hogs, consider selling them at a variety of sizes. Weaners are small pigs, around 25 pounds. They’ve just been weaned and are ready for farmers or homesteaders to raise. You can also keep your piglets a little longer, and sell them as growers. Those weigh 40-70 pounds. Hogs weighing over 150 pounds are known as finishers. They require more time and feed on your part, but usually sell for more money.
In addition to selling live pigs for others to finish, you can sell market ready hogs. A typical pricing method is to sell at a price per pound, hanging weight. You can add the kill fee into your price per pound. Once the hanging pig arrives at the butcher, the buyer can have it cut to specifications. The buyer is then responsible for cutting and wrapping expenses.
When I raise spring pigs, I usually buy one extra to sell. It usually brings enough money to pay for the initial cost, feed, and butchering costs for both pigs. It also covers my cut and wrap expenses.
Alternatively, you can have the pig processed and then sell the meat. This requires additional legalities than selling them live.
Around here, I’d have to pass an on-site inspection to legally sell pigs this way. Then I’d have to use a specific butcher that’s been USDA approved for hogs. Your local requirements may vary, so be sure to research these before you start selling processed pork.
If you smoke your own bacon and ham, you have a value added product. Maybe you’ll discover a niche market for dry canned bacon. Just make sure to follow the laws in your location. In addition to selling your pigs for meat, you can use other by-products for profit. You can sell manure for gardeners. You can turn the ears into delicious dog treats. With a little creativity, your pigs can bring income to your farm.
Are you raising pigs for survival? Do you have any additional insight to share, or questions that still need answered? Please post them in the comments of this article.
More are still to come about the simple ways to food independence. CLICK on the banner below if you are willing to take your farming to the next level!
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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If you’re contemplating bringing a new animal home to the farm, there’s a lot to think about first. Animals should never be an impulse purchase. You shouldn’t just go pick up a milk cow, a pig, or even a dog without first considering 12 “must know” facts that you’ll find below.
1. Can You Afford to Take Care of This Animal?
From feed and supplements to milking supplies and unexpected visits to the vet, animals can be expensive. Before you bring home a new animal, take an honest look at your financial situation. Can you afford this creature after it’s yours?
If you aren’t sure exactly what everything will cost, try making a list. You can call local vets or feed stores to help make your numbers more accurate. Here are some expenses to consider:
- Initial purchase price
- Feed (hay, grain, treats, etc.)
- Supplements (salt, minerals, etc.)
- Supplies (varies based on animal, but could include)
- Leash, collar, halter, lead rope, etc.
- Milking pail and stool
- Cleaning and sanitation supplies
- Clippers or shears
- Heat lamps
- Vet visits
- Annual check-ups
- Any required vaccines
- Emergency care
- Hoof care
- Fences or pens
Of course, you can always look for second hand supplies, and try to cut costs in many ways. But, at the end of the day, if you aren’t able to afford the care and keeping of an animal, it’s best not to bring it home. No matter how good of a deal you can find.
2. Do You Have the Land Bandwidth?
Animals, even small animals, require space. Do you have the room they need? Will your land support another animal now, or do you need to implement rotational grazing or other practices to improve your pastures first? The last thing you want to do is overgraze your land and find it in shambles.
Will this animal be free ranging, tied out, or in a structure? Do you have your fences built and shelters constructed? Don’t bring an animal home without being ready—temporary arrangements often just make everyone miserable. Take care of the to-dos first, and make sure your animal has a comfortable, safe environment to come home to.
Your plans may change over time, and that’s okay. You’ll have a place for the animals to call home while you rearrange. Our chickens are currently free-ranging, but we’re planning on enclosing a large run for them this year.
We’re tired of searching high and low for eggs, and also of stepping in poop. Building a run will give them the benefit of being outdoors, and allow us to not have to watch our step every time we head outside. They love our lawn too much! Here’s one of our roosters strutting his stuff right outside of our house.
It’s also important to think about land space for feed. Will you be growing food for your new animal? Do you have the space and equipment needed to do so? Do you have fields set up to grow vegetables to supplement the diet? Or will you be buying all of the feed? If you’ll be purchasing it, make sure you have local suppliers lined up ahead of time.
3. Do You Have Time?
Think about the time commitment your new animal will require. Even if they just need feed and water a couple times a day, that’s time you’ll have to spend. When you factor in longer chores like milking, cleaning pens, or training, along with the daily chores, do you have the time?
Does your schedule allow consistent time for animal chores? Most animals prefer to eat on a regular, predictable schedule. Here’s one of our Dexters, munching away on some hay. If we don’t feed him on time, he lets us know by bawling and causing a commotion. It’s much better to keep him happy with some hay on schedule!
If you’re buying a milk cow that’s currently in milk, be sure to find out when she’s used to being milked. While you can change the milking routine, you’ll want to do so gradually over time. Your cow’s milk production can suffer otherwise, and she’ll be prone to mastitis.
No matter what species you’re thinking about adding, take a close look at your schedule before bringing any home. Make sure you (or someone else) will be around to take care of the new addition. Oh, and if you’ll be adding a milking animal to the mix, remember that milking sessions the first few weeks WILL take longer. You and the animal both need to get used to a new routine.
Also, it’s a good idea to stick nearby the first few days, in case your new animal tries to escape. They will almost certainly try. And, they’re all pretty good at finding holes in fences.
4. Have You Done Your Research?
Even if you know you have the money, land requirements, and time for a new animal, you still aren’t quite ready to go out and buy one. You have to do your research first. Otherwise, you could end up with an animal that’s not a good fit for your farm.
Let’s say you want to buy a milk cow. Do you know what breeds of cows are best suited for your area and climate? Do you know how much milk you want to deal with? For instance, there’s a big difference in milk output between Holsteins and Dexters.
There isn’t a perfect breed of cattle, just like there isn’t a perfect breed of dog, rabbit, or sheep. All breeds of every species have their pros and cons, and you have to figure out which one is right for you. You might even make a list of two or three breeds that you’d consider, and then use individual animal temperament to make your final decision.
I prefer Dexter cattle. They’re small, require less food, and since they put out only 2 gallons of milk at their peak, they’re perfectly suited for once a day milking. Their meat is excellent. The steer calf in this picture is almost a year old, and though he’s small now, he’ll put on some weight when he heads back out to the pasture. When we butcher him in the fall, we’ll get about 500 pounds of delicious beef in the freezer.
In addition to researching breed, you should also find out what kind of care this animal needs. Will you have to brush it or provide supplements? How will it get its exercise? There are many books on animal care, and your local library may even have one or two you can check out. That way you’ll have a better idea about what you should expect.
5. Have You Seen the Animal?
Buying an animal sight unseen often causes problems. From health problems to breeding issues, there are many sellers out there just looking to make a quick buck, or cull their problem stock. Do yourself a favor, and go check out the animal before agreeing to purchase. Or make your inspection a condition of the sale.
Don’t just look at the animal, try to see it in action. If you’re buying a milk cow, ask to come by at milking time so you can see how the cow responds. Otherwise you may get home and discover that your new “sweet hand-milker” tries to kick your head in every time you touch her.
A gender check is also appropriate. Otherwise, you may spend six months wondering why your rabbits never reproduce. I did that, until the day I finally decided to catch my American Chinchilla, Beast, and check things out for myself. That’s when I realized that instead of two females and a male, I actually had three females. So Beast’s name was changed to Beauty, and I’m now looking for a male to bring home.
If you’re buying breeding stock, it’s important to ask to see some records. Is the animal proven, or still green when it comes to making babies? Are the parents on site? A reputable breeder will happily answer your questions.
Doing some quick research on the people you’re buying from is also wise. Check out their names online, and see what information you find. See if they have a website that includes testimonials, or reviews on Facebook. Not having an online presence isn’t a definite red flag, but several negative reviews probably are. You can also trust your gut. If you don’t feel comfortable about the animal or the buyer, don’t feel bad changing your mind about the purchase.
6. What Does Your Family Think?
If your family isn’t on board with you bringing home another animal right now, it may be smart to listen to their opinions. I’d have a lot more critters around if it were solely my decision. But, animals affect the whole household, whether you do all the work or everyone helps. You don’t want your spouse or children to resent the time you spend doing chores at the expense of being with them.
Try to find out if there’s a fear or concern with this particular animal, or this type of animal, or if there’s another issue going on. The more you know, the better able to address the problems you are. Perhaps the perfect animal for your family is out there, but it’s not this one.
Also, if you are married—don’t just bring home an animal without first discussing it with your spouse. It’s just the respectful thing to do!
7. How Will You Take Care of This Animal in the Event of a Major Crisis?
When the SHTF, what’s your contingency plan for this new critter? With the world being like it is now, it’s important to have an answer ready.
Are you self-sufficient enough that you can provide food solely from your land? Are you stockpiling feed? Do you have a clean water source onsite? Will you butcher this animal in the event of a crisis?
There’s no right or wrong answer here, and no one can tell you what you need to do. You just have to think through this situation to make sure you have an answer before you bring home a new animal. When life as we know it changes, you’ll still be the one responsible for your animals. You don’t want them to suffer because of poor planning on your part.
We’re currently stockpiling some hay from local sellers, and trying to build our land up to produce more. Ideally, we’d be self-sufficient on the feed front, but we’re not there yet. In the meantime, in the event of a crisis, we’d butcher a few animals to save on care costs.
8. Does the Animal Provide Any Benefits?
Will the animal be contributing to your homesteading efforts, or just another mouth to feed? While it might be okay to have a couple of pets, you don’t want to continually bring home animals that don’t earn their keep.
What will you be gaining from this new animal? Will it be providing food, fiber, or bearing offspring? Will it provide protection around the farm? Make a list of what you’re hoping this animal will accomplish, and make sure you think it’ll be worth what you have to put into it.
9. Is the Animal Safe?
If you have children, especially small children, the last thing you want to do is to inadvertently introduce an aggressive animal to the farmyard. When you go inspect the animal before purchase, watch for signs of aggression. Also, know that some animals are more prone to dangerous behaviors, and should just be separated from children even if there hasn’t been a problem yet.
Bulls are especially notorious for aggression. They’re also strong enough that they can cause significant damage to fences, structures, and other critters. Have solid fences and sturdy pens ready before bringing home a bull, or other animal that could cause damage. You need to protect your family, property, and other animals.
It’s best not to allow unsupervised interaction between small children and any new animal. Animals are animals, and can easily respond in fear to loud noises, sudden movements, or any number of stimuli, especially when in a new environment. Before bringing home any animal, make sure you have a plan in place to ensure everyone’s safety.
My red Dexter bull, Rusty Redbull is pretty tame as far as bulls go. But, we still make sure he’s in a secure pen and don’t allow the kids in the field when he’s doing his bull business each spring. Just in case.
10. What’s your Poop Plan?
From large cow pies to tiny rabbit droppings, all animals poop. How will you deal with all that stinky brown stuff? Before bringing an animal home, you should know what you’ll be doing with the poo. Otherwise, you may find yourself knee deep in poop wishing you’d never bought this crazy animal!
If you have a compost pile, most animal poop makes a great addition. But, you still have to pick up the poop and get it to the pile. Will you use a tractor with a bucket to clean out the muck? Will you do it by hand? Either way, make sure you have the tools ready and nearby to keep the job as easy as possible.
You should also know how soon you could use the poop. Many people take rabbit poop and throw it into the garden fresh. Other manure needs to age a bit to avoid burning the plants. If you’re unsure how long how to compost your animals’ poo, this Survivopedia article can help.
Some poop can’t be used as easily. For instance, dog poop isn’t recommended for composting. Make sure you have a plan to pick up and dispose of unusable poop as well. That way you or the kids aren’t stepping in piles all over the yard and tracking it into the house.
11. Do You Have Someone to Call in Case of Trouble?
Is there someone you know you can call if you run into trouble with your animal? If you’ve never milked a cow before, it can be intimidating the first time. Having someone experienced on call or better yet at your side can provide peace of mind. While not having someone to bounce questions off of doesn’t mean you shouldn’t proceed with your purchase, it might mean you should spend more time researching before you take the plunge.
Do you have any friends who have similar animals? How about a neighbor with the same kind of critter? Can you call the person you’re buying from if you have a question?
It’s also important to know the name and number of the local vet. Not all veterinarians offer large animal care, so check out the services offered beforehand. You’ll also want to find out if you have to bring the animal in or if the vet makes farm calls.
12. What’s Your Winter Plan?
Most animals join the farm in the spring or summer. If you’ll be wintering your animal, it’s crucial to have a winter plan in place. The needs of many animals change depending on the temperature and weather conditions.
Do you have shelter lined up that’ll protect your animal from the wind and snow? Is it well ventilated to avoid respiratory problems? How will you fill the water tanks when the hoses are frozen?
Before you buy an animal, think through all the seasons your area experiences. Make sure you’re able to provide care all year long.
Are You Ready?
If you’ve taken time to consider these 12 items, you’ll know if you’re ready to bring another animal home. You’ll be prepared to take care of it as long as it’s at your farm, and you’ll have plans in place for when the going gets tough. As long as you’re ready, animals make a great addition to the farm. I love all the critters around my place!
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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