10 Requirements for Long Term Food Storage

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10 Requirements for Long Term Food Storage   This is a very simple article that details some very important pieces of the food storage process. Its a full article that doesn’t talk about the actual food to be stored. Rather, it focuses on how to store and plan to do things the right way with …

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Is Your Clean Water Really Clean

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Is Your Clean Water Really Clean This article is a stirring look at the idea of clean water. It takes a look at several common ways that we clean water both at home and on the trail. Its an exciting topic because we all want to believe that our water filtering method offers us the …

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7 Reasons You Should Raise Chickens

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7 Reasons You Should Raise Chickens This is a great article that seems like a no brainer to the chicken owner. As someone who enjoys the company of chickens I remember a time before my birds when I too was on the fence about bringing these creatures into my world. I was concerned about what …

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How to Restore Cast Iron Cookware

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How to Restore Cast Iron Cookware   The even heating and durability of cast iron cookware makes it the perfect solution for preppers. Even with great care you will find Teflon coated cookware loses its coating and begins to rust or chip after only a few years of heavy use. Cast Iron, on the other hand, will …

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50 Items for Your Home Medical Kit

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50 Items for Your Home Medical Kit From Tess Pennington, on of the best authors in the business of preparedness, comes an article that really breaks down the do it yourself home medical kit. This article is the one article you will need if you are looking to learn about and create your own medical …

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How to Build Your Own Survival Fishing Kit

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How to Build Your Own Survival Fishing Kit   There is no getting around it. Fish are your best source of protein in a survival situation. There is simply nothing else you can put on the menu that will satisfy your protein needs that comes as easy as fish. That said, having a survival fishing …

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The Prepared Home: 5 Prepper Projects to Start in the Spring

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ReadyNutrition Guys and Gals, as many of you know, planning is an important aspect of emergency preparedness. Each year, you should make new plans and practice your new skills. I wrote an article a little while back about planning (and possibly starting) an icehouse/root cellar during the wintertime.  As of this writing, spring is just around the corner (officially), and the cold weather is starting to retreat bit by bit.  We’re going to cover a few ideas for you to pursue during the spring months for building projects around your property.  Let’s jump right into it, with a description of the projects and the reason for building them.

Here are 5 Prepper Projects You Can Start in the Spring

  1. The Icehouse: As mentioned in the earlier article.  If you plan on doing it, you may just have at least 2-3 weeks where you can obtain some freezing temperatures.  This would behoove you to act, if you rent out a small backhoe and dig your cellar/icehouse.  Remember to go below the frost-line!  Fill up bins with water and let them freeze.  When the icehouse is finished, fill it up with these huge blocks of ice.  Sawdust is an excellent insulator, as is pine mulch (brown needles, not green, if you use needles).
  2. The Greenhouse: If you don’t have one, well, now’s the time to put one into place just before it’s time to plant and sprout your seedlings. There are almost innumerable styles and sizes to choose from.  Once again, you have about a month to get that baby up and running. Here is one greenhouse project you can do for less than $300. As well, consider the convenience of cold frames to get a head start on your garden.
  3. Underground (hidden) vault/cache point: Now this one will take a little bit of explaining. Once again, going below the frost-line, the key here will be to make a little “room,” so to speak, under the ground.  Make a foundation of gravel after you’ve dug out a cubicle/rectangular chamber.  Position this away from the house, where some government clown with a metal detector will not tread.  All the same, you can pick up a precast concrete module, or make it out of a culvert pipe.  You want to cover it up in the end with about 6” of earth, so that it’s not too much that you can’t get through it in the wintertime.  If you’re interested and indicate so in the comments, I can give you a good plan that I know works in a future article.
  4. Storage shed: Yes, build your own, if you have the time and resources.  Those pre-made sheds for sale in the building supply big-box stores cost a fortune.  You can do better by stick-building it out of 4” x 4” s and 6” x 6” s with pressure-treated plywood.  Make sure all your lumber is pressure-treated.  When you’re done, make your roof out of corrugated steel instead of shingles…it’ll save you time and energy during the winter with snow removal.
  5. Smokehouse: Now’s the time to prep that smokehouse for meat…months (or many moons, if you prefer!) before hunting season comes around again. This will involve perhaps the emplacement of a wood stove or the creation of a barbecue pit-type structure.  There are plenty of plans and diagrams on the Internet that you can weigh and balance against your needs.

This is the time to lay out all of your plans and figure out what materials you will be using and the costs for all of them.  In our rigidly-controlled social structures, there may even be a friendly government permit man or inspection man to meet…to find out how much they will take out of you before you start building.  Factor all of this into consideration prior to actually building, as it will alleviate headaches later.  You may want to do some smaller projects, such as a place to store firewood, or a small toolshed or such.  Do not allow the 5 mentioned in this article to dissuade you from some kind of project in the good weather for building.

Hopefully the weather will warm up soon, but this is an excellent time to lay the groundwork for what you have been thinking of building during the winter months.  The only limit is your imagination and to actually take action on the project.  The best plans in the world are only plans until they’re executed.  Here’s hoping you have some good weather and start the ball rolling on whatever project you decide.  Let me know about that item #3 above, and you keep fighting that good fight!  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

How to make an Emergency Water Filter

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How to make an Emergency Water Filter The bio filter is a powerful tool in your survival kit. We all know the importance of being able to filter water. Cleansing water is such an important part of any survival situation. No matter how good you are at building shelters or making fires, if you drink …

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This Is How To Make And Recycle Rubber

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You need a fully functional tire (as opposed to a donut) in the trunk of your vehicle, and you may have gone through the extra expense to get it. Many other people haven’t even thought that far ahead, even this problem alone would lead to endless traffic jams and other problems in times of distress.

And there’s more bad news: even if you take good care of your tires and have a viable spare, there will come a time when all of your existing tires will have to be discarded.

Modern tires actually need to make contact with roads on a regular basis or they will begin to crack and rot. That’s why having the skill of making or refurbishing tires would worth a lot during crisis or after a major collapse.

Rubber is Older than You Think

While Europeans are credited with spreading the use of rubber throughout the world, it was first used by the Maya. They used latex from Hevea trees to coat balls that were used in a game similar to basketball.The latex was mixed with sap from the Ipomoea alba vine to make it less sticky and more durable.

In the 1700’s, French and English explorers discovered that rubber could be used for many other things. “Vulcanization”, which also makes rubber less sticky and more durable was not invented until the 1800’s by Charles Goodyear.

Since latex bearing trees only grew in South America, a great deal of effort went into protecting this monopoly, and it didn’t change until thousands of seeds were smuggled out of Brazil in 1876 by Henry Wickam. The plants that grew from these seeds were eventually used to build enormous rubber plantations in India, Indonesia, Asia, and Africa.

As automobiles became more popular, it became harder to keep up with the demand for rubber. Eventually, scientists found a way to synthesize rubber from petroleum. During WWII, this became a vital source of rubber that was used to keep the war effort moving forward.

Today, most, if not all rubber used in automobile tires is made from petroleum sources. As different nations become more unstable, there is an increased interest in finding plant based sources of rubber.

Russian Dandelions (T. kok-sanghyz) produce a latex that makes rubber almost as good a what you would get from a rubber tree. Milk thistle, or Prickly Lettuce, also produces enough latex to be used in making rubber.

There are also several other plants in the United States and around the world that may be suitable for this purpose, however much work needs to be done to find out which ones work best and how to get the most out of them.

Where to Get the Rubber From

Many preppers feel that it is very important to store away essential building materials such as wood, metal, glass, plastic, and cardboard. How many of them did ever think about storing away rubber, which is also a very important material to have on hand?

If you are building a stockpile of materials, you may find it a bit difficult to find rubber at a place other than Grainger. Rubber that hasn’t been made into some kind of product isn’t available to consumers. Make your own research in the following places, and you may come across limited supplies as they become available:

  • Repurposed materials
  • Public Surplus – if you are interested in used tires, this site may be a good place to start. Check if your local community has abandoned properties or other places where tire dumping is a problem. If you can get ahold of these tires, then you could do something with the rubber from them.
  • Salvex
  • Skycraft Parts and Surplus
  • Surplus Record – If you are part of a large enough prepper community and have plenty of land to work with, then think about building a small rubber factory. This site will give you information about equipment used to make synthetic rubber from petroleum. If you also have land that can be drilled for petroleum, it may be worth your while to think about turning some of it into rubber.

Even if you do not need to make rubber immediately after a major crisis, it could be an important commodity as society rebuilds and regains its capacity to bring people together to achieve goals. If you can produce petroleum and rubber, you and your group will prosper as different groups of people seek to regain the technologies and conveniences that may have been lost due to social collapse.

Never forget that future generations of your family will have to compete, and that will entail having marketable skills and products. As expensive as this equipment may be, it may be a wise investment that will set you and your family further ahead than you realize.

ENERGY SAVING PLAN – Find out how you can save energy following two simple steps! 

Basic Guide for Making Plant Based Rubber

If the Maya could make perfectly good rubber centuries ago, then it may also be possible for preppers to do the same. Making rubber from petroleum will more than likely be a lost skill after a major social collapse occurs.

As long as you have a source of plant based latex, then you should be able to make small as well as large batches of rubber to meet a range of needs. Here are the basic steps:

Step 1

Start off by harvesting latex. While Hevea Trees have to be “tapped” with V shaped slits in the trunk, the process is a bit different for plants.

For example, if you are going to use Milk Thistle, you will need to break open the plant stems to get at the latex, which is a milky white colored substance. If you decide to use dandelions (ideally Russian dandelions), you can get latex from the roots as well as the stems.

Step 2

Once you have collected enough latex, add some water and an acid to the sap. You can use vinegar or other weak acids. The ratios of sap, water, and acid will depend on the amount of latex in the sap as well as the strength of the acid.

For example, if you are using regular or Russian dandelions, you would use 1 part sap to 8 parts water and then enough vinegar to make the latex and water stick to whatever you are using to stir the mixture.

Step 3

Even though rubber made from dandelion will finish to “cure” or dry out on its own, you may still need to add sulfur and heat it to produce a more durable form of rubber. You may also want to try using Ipomoea alba sap to vulcanize the rubber.

Remember, different applications will require different levels of flexibility and durability. You will need to study the different characteristics of each type of rubber you plan to work with, and see what will work best to make them.

Video first seen on DSCDocumentries

When making plant based rubber, remember to start off with small batches and see how the resulting compound holds up over time and across different temperature conditions. Among other things, you will need to assess if the rubber will crack, and how well it will bounce back to its original shape after heavy weights are applied.

Give yourself plenty of time to explore this fascinating topic. Since there is still a great deal of trial and error involved in making rubber from dandelions and other more common plants, it is best to see what others are doing in this field even as you develop your own recipes and methods.

How to Recycle Rubber

Overall, there is a point where you can recycle rubber easily enough, and a level where it is well beyond the technical skills and assets available to most preppers. The complexity associated with fully recycling rubber lies in the process of vulcanization.

Let’s say you want to bake a cake that requires using eggs, flour, and some sugar. Let’s say you sift together the flour and sugar. Even though the sugar and flour are well mixed together, you can still separate them using various means. Once you crack open the eggs, in theory you can still put them back into the shell. To some extent, you can also still retrieve the eggs, sugar, and flour after they are all mixed together. Up until the cake is baked (the heat from baking drives off water and also causes different molecules in the batter to break apart and from bonds with other molecules), it is actually possible to separate out all the ingredients used in it.

In a similar fashion, once latex is treated with sulfur and heat, the molecular structure changes to a point where it cannot be reversed – or at least not reversed with ease.

Over the years, a great deal of effort has been made to see if there is a way to take rubber and turn it back to the latex stage. There is one patent, held by The Goodyear Rubber and Tire Company, on a process that uses high pressure and 2-butanol to reverse vulcanization.

This process is not something that can be done easily enough at the consumer level. Therefore, if you are interested in recycling tires or other rubber materials, you will need to take the existing rubber and use it for some purpose other than simply remaking tires.

3 Tips to Know Which Tires can be Salvaged

Consider a situation where a major catastrophe has made tires unavailable. While you are searching for replacements, you find a landfill and hundreds of tires stacked up. It may take a lot of work to find salvageable tires with a little bit of patience and effort, but you can do it if you keep in mind the following:

  • Tires with cracks in the sidewall and tread area more than likely have dry rot. The tread and sidewalls cannot be restored or reused for making new tires. If the tire is of a size that you need, you could take it apart and use the belts in combination with new rubber that you make from a plant based source. As long as the tire doesn’t show signs of having more than two patches, there is a chance that the inner anatomy of the tire is still intact. Even if you have to recoat the inner structures with more rubber, at least you will have some belts to work with.
  • Avoid tires that were punctured or slashed in the sidewall. If the tire is punctured deep enough, than it might have been discarded because it would not hold air. There are some methods you can use to repair a sidewall, but the tire may fail at a critical moment and cause a very bad accident.
  • Be wary of tires that are patched, even if the patches are less than ¼ inch in diameter and located far enough away from the sidewall.

Video first seen on Tank0923.

There are several different ways to repair punctures in tires. Depending on the size and age of the tire, you may find one that is worth patching even though the former owner chose to discard it. Remember, many people throw away good tires or repairable tires because their vehicle must be inspected and they don’t want to risk it failing. On the other hand, if you really need tires, then you could get some mileage out of them so long as you repair them correctly and drive carefully.

6 Ways to Use Tires for Your Homestead

  • The rubber part of tires can be ground up into a smaller bits that can be added to paving materials.
  • Rubber from tires can be cut into pieces and shaped into everything from shoe soles to waterproofing for containers.
  • When treated with acid, rubber softens and can be shaped into different objects.
  • Rubber products such as tires can also be burned to generate heat. From campfires to operating a steam turbine, you can easily use rubber tires and other products for this purpose, but keep in mind that it might have some health impact.
  • The rubber from tires can also be separated from the steel belt; which can be used to make new tires or for other purposes.
  • Rubber tires can also be used as raised bed planters. This may be especially useful if you plan to grow a garden in an area where water supplies and good soil are limited. In fact, if you want a cheap, easy way to make a multi-level potato planter, just stack up tires as the plants grow, and then harvest in the fall when it is time. Needless to say, if you are looking to hide your plants in open sight, a stack of tires may just look so unappealing no one will bother to look there for edible plants.

Video first seen on Just Az.com productions

Anatomy of an Automobile Tire

Today, there are many different kinds of tires that can be used for the same vehicle. For example, “all weather tires” are different from snow tires, mudders, and ones used for racing. Regardless of the tire type, they all have the same basic parts, however these parts may be designed a bit differently to accommodate different driving conditions.

Even though each layer of a tire also has many parts, here are the most basic ones you need to know about:

  • Treads – this is the outermost layer of the tire. It is the part that grips the road and wears out from friction with the road. The treads may also have sipes, or smaller grooves that increase traction when the tires are moving over ice, water, sand, and snow.
  • Grooves – these are also found in the outermost layer of the tire. Grooves are the long, deep channels cut into the tire. They help the tire to shed water and moisture so that it doesn’t clog up the treads.
  • Sidewall – this is the side of the tire that covers the other inner parts. It serves to protect and keep them clean and dry.
  • Belts – even though rubber bounces back to its original shape, it is not very strong. Without belts of nylon, steel, and even fiberglass, the tire would not maintain its shape very well. Depending on the tire, it may have several belts organized into layers just under the treads. When reclaiming rubber for other purposes, you will also be separating out these belts so that they can be used to make more tires, or for some other purpose.
  • Inner liner – separates the belt layer from the plies. It is also meant to act as a barrier to air so that it cannot escape into the belts, sidewall, and treads.
  • Plies – this part is what gives the tire most of its strength, and also the layer that holds air in. Typically, this layer is made up of materials that are organized so that the fiber runs across the tire instead of around it (the plies are perpendicular to the treads).
  • Bead – this is a metal cable coated in rubber that runs all the way around the inner rim of the tire. It is meant to keep the tire from slipping once it is mounted on a rim.

Why to Make Your Own Tires from Scratch

If you look at a modern tire factory, you may feel like it is impossible to make tires on your own. The task is going to be a bit difficult, but do not give up on researching and looking into automobile history to see how tires were made before robots and large factory machines were used.

Even if the tires you make aren’t as good, or don’t last as long as ones made in a modern factory, they may still be of use for short trips or keeping a tractor up and running.

Once you know how to make rubber and feel confident in your skills, the next step will be to see if you can recognize which tires can be retreated, and then figure out how to design your own tires and build them from scratch.

Retreading Tires

Not so long ago, retreading tires was seen as something dangerous and to be avoided at all cost. In many countries, including the United States, retreads are seen as a way to keep tires out of the landfill, and also as a means of cutting costs associated with vehicle maintenance.

As a prepper, you won’t have a modern retread factory or some of the more complex tools to work with. Nevertheless, if you look at retread factories in other places in the world, you can get some ideas about substitute tools, and then also figure out how to make the safest and most durable retreads possible.

Regardless of the factory type or situation, retreading requires the following basic steps:

  • Start off by inspecting the tire to check for signs of dry rot, punctures, slashes, and anything else that might have damaged the internal structures of the tire or its sidewalls.
  • If the tire is basically sound, strip off the treads. You will still need to leave some rubber behind for new material to adhere to.
  • Make sure the new surface is perfectly clean and ready to accept new rubber. If you see signs of belts showing through, or other damage, repair these issues first.
  • Apply rubber to the ground down surface of the tire. You may need to do this in several layers.
  • Next, apply the treads. These should be pre-made from rubber. If you know how to make rubber, then you can also use basic casting methods to produce strips of rubber treads that can be used for retreading.
  • Use heat and pressure to finish binding all the tire parts together.
  • Check the tire again for signs of holes, damage, or other problems.
  • Finally, apply a coat of paint or some other sealant to complete the tire.
  • Once the tire is dry, it should be ready to use. Make sure that you test the tire out in a safe area after mounting it to the rim. Do not forget to balance the tires and make sure that they are inflated properly.

As you can see, there is more to making rubber and using it for tires than you may have realized.

At the same time, tires and many other rubber products are integrated into almost every area of life. Since it is not always possible to replace rubber items with plastic ones, knowing how to make rubber and use it for a variety of purposes will help you a lot.

From fixing your own tires to bartering these services, you will always have something of value no matter what is going on in the human world around you.

Click the banner below for more!

This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia. 

Resources:

http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Rubber_from_Dandelions#Temperate_Climate_Plants_that_Produce_Latex_and_an_Evaluation_of_their_Practical_and_Ecological_Use_in_Rubber_Making.

https://phys.org/news/2015-06-natural-rubber-dandelions.html

http://www.repurposedmaterialsinc.com/den-rolled-rubber-cheap-surplus-salvage/

http://www.publicsurplus.com/sms/browse/cataucs?catid=2503

http://www.scienceprojectideas.co.uk/make-rubber-band-from-dandelion.html

https://www.google.com/patents/US5891926

Vintage Skills…..Modern Kids Need!

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This article was originally published by Tiffany Davis  on  imperfectlyhappy.com

You might be like me, a suburbs kid that grew into a love of homesteading and self sufficiency.  That’s ok, better to start late than not at all!  I had the opportunity to learn many of these skills from my grandmothers but didn’t master them.  My grandmother’s weren’t homesteaders but they came from a time when homemaking was done by hand.  It is a lost art my friends.

Maybe you’re asking yourself why we need to teach these vintage skills to kids. It isn’t just so the art of them are lost but our kids deserve to have the ability to care for themselves. We live in precarious times. Modern kids need vintage skills as a matter of survival, sustainability and self-sufficiency.

Here is my list of the vintage skills kids need for homesteading and beyond.  They are in no particular order. Keep in mind the age, maturity and readiness of your child before diving into this list. But keep in mind, also, that in a bygone time kids were doing many of these chores before heading off to elementary school. You know your child best but they also may be more ready than we give them credit for.

  1. Cooking from scratch.
    No boxes, no pre-cooked stuff. Just real, whole, food. Collecting some vintage cookbooks could help in this pursuit as well.
    Additionally teach them to plan meals, eat seasonally and how to follow directions in a cookbook.
  2. Tending and preparing animals for food.
    This may be as simple as tending laying hens and collecting eggs.  Or it may be teaching them how butcher and process a chicken for the table. Don’t shy away from teaching where meat comes from.
  3. Mending and Sewing Clothes.
    Being able to create an outfit from a pattern and cloth is awesome and definitely should be learned and taught.  But simply knowing how to mend/repair clothing and putting buttons back on is practically essential! I think everyone should have a portable sewing kit for these little mends.
  4. Gardening/Seed Saving
    Gardening is one of the easiest things to teach our kids; meaning there is usually very little resistance. Not only is it important
    for growing one’s on food but it teaches patience vs instant gratification.  It also shows them the importance of treating our planet with love and kindness. Furthermore, to paraphrase Ron Finley, kids that grow vegetables, eat vegetables.
    Now don’t forget to teach them about GMOs, heirloom seeds and seed saving.  This knowledge is imperative to their future!
  5. Basic Auto Care and Repair
    Yes, even the girls! Go over how to change a tire, oil, how to jump a battery and any other basic repair you feel comfortable teaching. And show them the time frame for maintenance like oil changes, tune-ups, filter replacements.  Knowledge is power – even if it just keep you from getting taken to the cleaners by a dishonest mechanic.
  6. How to make a budget, saving and paying cash.
    We live in a credit riddled society that constantly lives above its means. I am not pointing fingers, I too have done it and paid the price. There was a time when we saved for big purchases, put money away for a rainy day and never bought on credit.
    Teach your children how to make a budget that includes savings for emergencies, and saving for large purchases. If this isn’t something you’ve been taught can I recommend you find Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class in your area or at least pick up his book Total Money Makeover.
  7. Camping/Hunting/Fishing
    Can your kids split wood, start a fire, build a basic shelter? I learned these skills in girl scouts many moons ago and so thankful for them. But many kids are scouting anymore and still need to have a basic understanding of these skills! Even if you don’t want to hunt, at least take them fishing. Show them what bait works, how to put it on, how to reel in a fish and how to prepare it for the table. You could take this a step further and teach them wild foraging skills. You can’t be too prepared, right?
  8. First Aid/Natural Health Care
    Everyone, including kids, needs some basic knowledge of first aid. I am not talking how to put a band aid on! But how to make a sling. How to close a wound without stitches. What to do if someone goes into shock. CPR!!!
    I also think it is important to teach natural health care, herbal treatments and essential oils. My 9 year old will give you peppermint if you have a headache and lavender for bug bites and itches. She was taught from an early age about oils so it is her first thought, not pills. I’m not saying don’t teach kids about responsible western medicine but don’t stop there.
  9. Food Preservation
    Canning, dehydrating, even freezing. Kids need to be a part of preserving the harvest so they can preserve their own in the future. I don’t recommend little kids jump into pressure canning but they can help dry tomatoes or make their own fruit roll-ups. They can be in the kitchen when you sterilize your jars and pack them for canning. Gage their maturity and readiness for their own hands on lessons; but everyone can watch, listen and ask questions.
  10. Housekeeping
    *Laundry (sorting, cleaning, hand washing, ironing, line drying)
    *Bed making
    *How to fold clothes, sheets, towels, etc.
    *Daily cleaning vs seasonal vs occasional
    *How to clean
    *Basic home maintenance like when to change a filter, gutter cleaning, unclogging a toilet or drain, etc
    *How to make laundry soap and other household cleaners
  11. Taking it a step further! 
    A few other skills you may want to consider teaching your kids:
    *Bartering
    *Reuse / Recycle / Re-purpose
    *Finding bargains
    *Organizing (house, bills, calendar)

I hope this list gives you a jumping off point on vintage skills kids need.  I’d love to hear how you’re teaching your kids skills or others you think should be added to the list. Leave me your thoughts in the comments.

Saving our forefathers ways starts with people like you and me actually relearning these skills and putting them to use to live better lives through good times and bad. Our answers on these lost skills comes straight from the source, from old forgotten classic books written by past generations, and from first hand witness accounts from the past few hundred years. Aside from a precious few who have gone out of their way to learn basic survival skills, most of us today would be utterly hopeless if we were plopped in the middle of a forest or jungle and suddenly forced to fend for ourselves using only the resources around us. To our ancient ancestors, we’d appear as helpless as babies. In short, our forefathers lived more simply than most people today are willing to live and that is why they survived with no grocery store, no cheap oil, no cars, no electricity, and no running water. Just like our forefathers used to do, The Lost Ways Book teaches you how you can survive in the worst-case scenario with the minimum resources available. It comes as a step-by-step guide accompanied by pictures and teaches you how to use basic ingredients to make super-food for your loved ones. Watch the video below:

 

Source : imperfectlyhappy.com

 

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Pressure Canning Asparagus at Home

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Pressure Canning Asparagus at Home Asparagus is one of the those amazing gifts of spring. I put it on par with the English pea and arugula as those first blessings from the garden. If asparagus is cooked too long it can become terrible. In fact, for many years I thought asparagus was what came out …

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Top 10 Barter Items Every Prepper Should Have

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Top 10 Barter Items Every Prepper Should Have Along with those items that you store for your own personal use there should always be a little bit stowed away for the purposes of bartering. You know the average American doesn’t have much cash stored in their home. Once that cash runs out, if the ATMs …

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How Cherokees Used Trees for Food, Medicine, and Craft

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How Cherokees Used Trees for Food, Medicine, and Craft There are those articles that stir ideas, that offer small smatterings of information often prefaced with a bold title. These articles are very important to the content of the community. This article is not that type. This is a well crafted and thoughtful article filled with …

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Growing Vegetables In Pots – Choosing Plants That Thrive

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Growing Vegetables In Pots – Choosing Plants That Thrive Not everyone has the chance of having a lush vegetable garden. Most of us have to deal with the lack of gardening space or arable land. Living in an urban environment requires for you to find alternatives to your gardening plans. However, there is always a …

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Gray Man Secrets of a Surveillance Operative

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Gray Man Secrets of a Surveillance Operative The infamous gray man is a topic covered pretty often and with a collection of great info throughout the internet. What makes this article unique is that rather than get the information from another prepper, survivalist or ex-military officer the source is much more connected. We have information …

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Survive a Winter Storm Power Outage

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Survive a Winter Storm Power Outage Winter storms must affect more people in the nation than another disaster. They hit giant metro areas like Boston and New York City. Even with underground power lines and a fleet of powerful plows the city and surrounding areas can be paralyzed by powerful winter weather. If the power …

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9 Ways our Homestead Cooks Off Grid

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9 Ways our Homestead Cooks Off Grid I learned early in my prepping career that stoves can die on you! Particularly electric stoves. They are just not the best single option for the average home. The power goes out and now you are stuck with eating out or eating cold. When you talk about a …

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How To Protect Your Ammo Stockpile

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Even though you may make every effort to become self sufficient, there are some things that cannot be made without a good bit of help from modern tools and equipment. Some of the best ammunition in the world will no longer be available once society collapses and the technology and skills are lost for making it.

Under these circumstances, you may feel that it is best to store away as much ammo as possible. At the very least, if you have a bigger stockpile left, there is a chance that you or your survivors can command greater resources once societies begin to form again.

In the meantime, storing ammo properly is also very important so that you will be prepared for smaller emergencies that require the use of the items in your stockpile.

Here are some basic guidelines for keeping your ammunition safe in a world where new technologies may make it a bit more complicated than expected.

Making Your Ammo Invisible

Ground penetrating radars, X-ray scanners, satellites, and other devices make it very hard to hide metallic objects even in your own home or in the ground beneath it. This, in turn, means that making ammo invisible will be harder than you may have expected. Here are some things you can try:

  • All of your ammo should be impossible to trace to you. When you buy ammo, always pay cash and only divulge your identity to people that you can trust. Never buy all your ammo in one place. If someone is watching your purchases at one location, they may not be able to gauge your stockpile as easily if you buy elsewhere.
  • Pack your ammo into smaller cans that can be harder to spot by scanners from above or at ground level. Smaller boxes can be hidden among metal pipes or other “scrap” as long as the metals in question are similar to those found in the bullets. If there is a reason why you would store away bullets with aluminum or steel casings over brass ones, this would be it!
  • If you purchase a square or rectangular shaped ammo can, it may be very easy to spot on some scanners. You may want to make unevenly shaped boxes from polymer or other materials that will keep the ammo dry, cool, and safe. When using polymer, do not forget to cover the outer surface of the container with rocks, bits of metal, or anything else that will help scramble the signature of the ammunition hidden within the can.
  • You may also be able to find paints and other materials that will absorb scanner signals or reflect them in a way that masks the presence of the ammo can. You will need to have a good idea of the technologies used to scan for ammo or metal, and then figure out which coatings will best suit your needs. While you may be tempted to try and jam scanners, the consistent failure of these devices in certain areas may draw unwanted attention. It is truly better to make the signature of your cache as small as possible so that it is overlooked or mistaken for something else.  Just remember that it can be harder to fool modern computers that do not get tired, bored, or lose focus as a human viewer would.

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Making Your Ammo Stockpile Mobile

One of the most important, but overlooked aspects of ammo stockpiling is making sure that you can move everything around with ease.  Here are some things you can do to make the task easier:

  • If you have ammo stored away from home or underground, make sure that you have pulleys, carts, and other devices to move the ammo around with ease.
  • Always make sure that you can clear pathways easily, yet cover them back up so that the presence of your ammo remains undetected.
  • Have a locus of four or five locations nearby that you can rotate each can in and out of. If you have two cans of ammo in your home, then you should have at least 10 hiding places that the cans can be moved in and out of.
  • Take the time now to practice moving ammo around so that you know what to expect. In an emergency, there is nothing worse than being pressed for time and unsure how long it will take to accomplish a task. Even if something does go wrong or the unexpected happens, these time frames will help you make better decisions about what to take along and what to leave behind.
  • Never forget that lighter weight is easier to carry around. Lighter weight cans are also less likely to break apart or puncture when jolted in transit.
  • When you practice moving ammo from one place to another, always include awareness of fires, excess heat, and water. Never put ammo near heat or flames even if you want to test your skills. It is safest to make sure that you are aware as you go through your drills. If you truly feel compelled to drill with live fire, then use ammo cans filled with sand; this will keep you safe and help you gain a sense of what must be done. Don’t forget to include a thermometer on top of the can and one that will record temperatures inside the can. If nothing else convinces you to avoid drilling with ammo in the presence of fire or excess heat, this may well do the job.

Video first seen on Patriotsurvival

Avoid Indirect Damage from EMPs and Nuclear Blasts

It is true that nuclear blasts and EMPs cannot directly cause primers to explode or gunpowder to ignite. EMPs are well known for causing fires.

If you have ammo cans stored near wires, cables, or anything else that might burn up from the EMP, then the heat from that fire may be enough to cause the ammo to explode. The thermal wave from a nuclear blast and the fires caused by it can also affect ammo in a harmful way.

There is only one real way to prevent EMPs and nuclear blasts from ruining your ammo supply. As with protecting yourself, all of your ammo will have to be stored in an underground bunker or shelter. Never hesitate to build additional tunnels or layers of tunnels so that you can move the ammo around underground.

If you cannot store ammo underground, then you can still take some steps to reduce the risk of ammo related explosions caused by an EMP. If you decide to stash ammo in the walls of your home make sure that the cans are far enough away from electrical wiring, metal pipes, or anything else that might conduct electricity. You should also avoid storing ammo in any location where only a bit of plaster or wood stands between an electrical appliance and the ammo hiding in the wall.

When storing ammo in a bug out bag, make sure that all electronic devices and conductive materials are stored away in EMP proof bags. As long as no fires start in the bug out bag, and everything stays cool and dry, then the ammo should also remain safe.

Safeguarding Your Stockpile

There are many different ways to safeguard your ammo stockpile. If you are prepping with a group, then you can always look for way to use conventional guard duty systems. That being said, no matter how much you trust the people around you, it never hurts to have a few hidden caches of ammo that only you know about.

If you have ammo stored in remote locations, the geography of the region itself should be able to deter electronic scanners and curious people. While you may not be able to actively patrol these areas, you should still be able to draw adversaries into fire zones or use traps to neutralize them.

When setting traps in areas you don’t plan on visiting very often, just make sure you remember what you did. There are few things worse in life than going to a cave where you hid some ammo, only to wind up hung up by a snare you set in front of the entrance, and then forgot about.

Depending on the location of your stockpile, some defense methods may be more feasible than others. For example, if you rent an apartment, or have very little room to hide ammo, then decoys, distractions, and diversions may offer some viable options.

Consider a situation where you have only one room suitable for storing ammo, you can still put one can in plain view. Even if it is empty, the invader may well move over to that can first. From there, you can choose any number of actions.

First, you can detonate traps that will prevent the invader from taking further action. If there is more than one person, you may want to use this diversion to grab your bug out bag and run. Should you be fortunate enough to have several minutes to make your escape, then you can always try to move one or two ammo cans to your bug out vehicle.

Without a question, if you have been drilling on moving ammo from one place to another, you will know pretty much how long it takes and then make your decision from there. If you feel that you cannot get the ammo out in time, it is truly better to escape with your life rather than lose it for the sake of a few rounds of ammo.

At its simplest, you can keep your ammo storage plans to choosing airtight and waterproof cans that will be stored away in a cool, dry location.

As a prepper, however, it is also important to be able to move, manage, and care for your stockpile even in extreme circumstances. Being able to effectively hide ammo, move it around, and use simple tools will all make it easier to have plenty of ammo on hand for years to come.

Keeping up with electronic technologies and polymers will also go a long way towards helping you keep your stockpile safe, sound, and in good condition.

No matter whether you are storing rounds or gunpowder, following some basic rules and maintaining a good level of stockpile awareness will truly be of immense benefit.

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This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia. 

Top 10 Homesteading and Preparedness Books

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Top 10 Homesteading and Preparedness Books There are so many resources in the digital world that its easy to forget about the importance of the old paper world. I feel like no group can better portray the importance of paper knowledge like preppers. There is also just something nice about a good book. It has …

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Reinventing The Wheel: How To Get Perfectly Round Shapes

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From round tires to mirrors and wheels of cheese, round shapes are a major part of our society and culture. In fact, round shapes are so common, you may feel like there is no need whatsoever to “reinvent the wheel”.

What happens when society collapses and there are no means to run the computers and factories that generate all the round things we use today? Where will you get new tires, new steering wheels, and other round items?

If you do not know how to make perfectly round shaped templates and then fashion them into working items, it will be impossible to repair damaged devices and build new ones.

The Importance of a Durable and Reusable Template

Consider a situation where you need to make a new wheel for a wagon or some other device. At the beginning of your task, you may think that you are only going to make one wheel, and then not need to worry about producing another one for some time.

For the sake of speed and utility, you may think it is best to find some way to duplicate a round shape right on the material that you plan to work with.

To begin, if you do not have a template, you will not be able to start again as easily if the material in question falls apart or does not work for your application. At the very least, if you have a template, you can simply use it to mark another piece of material without having to go through the whole measurement process again.

If another round object of the same size breaks, you can simply use the template you have on hand and save yourself a few steps.

A good quality template can also expand your material choices and options for producing the wheel. Among other things, you can use it to help with making molds, or even creating round objects that are made from layers of different materials.

The template can also be used to guide tools and help ensure that the final product is the proper size for your application.

Don’t forget to add extra material in case you need to add treads. Worst comes to worst, if the wheel is too big with the treads, you can simply sand or file it down to the right size. Just make sure that you also have a slightly smaller template to go by so that you don’t wind up with an irregular shape.

During the process of choosing a template material, it is very important to know what kinds of materials and tools you will be working with. For example, if you are planning to cut a round object from wood, it may be best to have a metal template.

This is especially important if you are going to use the template as a guide for the tools. Just make sure that the metal in question will not be damaged by the tools you are planning to use.

If you are only going to use the template as a means to draw marking guides on the material, then you can use paper, cardboard, or hard plastic.

Remember, if you do not have enough hard plastic on hand, you can try ironing together plastic bags to make a durable sheet of thicker plastic.

The template should be easy to fold up or roll up so that it does not take up much space. Just make sure that when you open the template back up, it does not have folds or creases in it that will cause spots to be less round than needed. The template should also lay perfectly flat and be easy to hold in place while you are working.

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Some Ways to Get a Perfectly Round Blueprint

When a wheel or another round object spins, any deviation on roundness or weight disbursement can cause wobbling, excess wear, and possible breakage of the item. While some of these problems can be compensated for with balancing weights, it is still very important to start off with the roundest shape possible.

Simply trying to trace a round object onto a piece of paper or other template material will never work because the object in question will have been worn down from being in use.

It is much better to use the following methods for creating a round template that can be used to shape other objects.

Use a Compass

Even though a drafting compass is not very large, it will give you a perfectly round circle. I tend to prefer all metal compasses that have one pointer leg and a second one to hold a pencil. There are also extendable drafting compasses that will work just as well.

Use a String and a Pencil

To use this form of makeshift compass, you will need to set the pencil (or other narrow cylindrical object) in the center of the material you are using for the template. It should not bend in any direction or wobble.

Next, place the string around the pencil and measure a length that corresponds to where you want the outer edge of the circle to be. Use a pencil or something else that will make marks so that you have a more precise measure.

Hold the marking tool in place while you take the two ends of the string and tie them together. The marking tool should fit within the loop. You can make the loop as big or as small as you need to make a large enough round shape.

To use the compass, keep the string tight against the marking tool as you move it around the central pencil. When using this makeshift compass, make sure the string does not jump up and down on the central pencil.

You will also have to be very careful to make sure that the marking tool does not bend inward or outward, as this will throw off the roundness of the circle.

Use a Stick and a Central Pin

This method is very similar to the string and pencil compass, but it eliminates the problems associated with the string jumping and marking tool wobbling.

Basically, this makeshift compass looks a lot like an old fashioned stereo arm. Instead of the arm reaching in from outside the record, the holding place is located in the center of the circle.

You can use a stick of wood, or just about anything else as an arm. Just make sure that it can spin as freely as possible on the central holding point without wobbling or jumping up and down.

Next, drill or cut a hole in the arm that matches location that matches the edge of the circle you are planning to draw.

Set a pencil or other marking device into the hole so that it does not wobble, lean inward, or lean outward. Now all you have to do is push the marking tool so that the arm moves with it. As the arm moves around the central point, the marking tool will create a circle.

Video first seen on Make Something

Basics of Wheel Design

In a time of need, you may not be able to get the exact same materials that were used to create the device you are trying to repair. While you may be thinking that plastic or metal might have to be replaced with wood, there are many other options.

Since different materials have different strength levels and tendencies, you may need to change the internal shapes found in the wheel as well as it size and thickness.

Keep the following wheel design elements in mind as you study different materials. If you are building something completely new, you will also need to evaluate these elements in relation to the materials on hand and the application.

Even though you may be thinking mostly about vehicle wheels, there are many other places where these elements must work together for optimal performance.

If you are going to lift heavy objects with a simple machine, you will need to figure out the best ratio for pulley wheels. If you decide to advance into making gears, these elements are also very important to consider.

No matter whether you decide to create a pulley, a water wheel, or an automobile wheel, you will need to know how the following elements affect the performance of the wheel, and how that, in turn, affects the entire machine you are building or repairing.

Wheel Size

Since a wheel is designed to move in relation to a central axis, the diameter of the wheel is very important. A larger wheel will turn fewer times to cover longer distances, however, the engine or source of power will have to do more work to make the wheel turn. Smaller wheels will turn more times when compared to larger ones to cover the same distance, but it takes less work to turn the wheel.

Wheel Width

Thinner wheels can be useful for applications where you want less traction and resistance to travel. Thicker wheels are better for places where you want to reduce the risk of skidding while moving forward or making turns. Since thicker wheels also weight more, they will also absorb bumps better and with less loss of control.

Wheel Weight

More than a few people think that wheels should be as light as possible so that it takes less work to move them. On the other side of the equation, wheels need to have enough weight so that they will create enough drag as they move over surfaces beneath them.

If the wheel does not grip the surface properly, skidding will occur. Minor skidding can also be a problem because locked wheels are harder to turn than ones that grip surfaces properly.

Spokes vs Solid Construction

When you start making wheels big enough for a wagon or other vehicle, the weight of a solid wheel can cause a number of problems. On the other hand, spokes or cutouts in the wheel can reduce the weight to acceptable levels. That being said, if you are working with a material that has very little durability, you may still need to revert back to more solid shaped wheels.

You can also try using fortifications such as an independent rim that will add strength while reducing the overall weight of the wheel.

Surfaces for Traction

Weight alone is not enough to ensure that a wheel will always maintain good traction. This is why patterns or “treads” are often cut into tires. When combined with the weight of the vehicle, these treads help to grip the road without adding to the weight of the tire.

If you are going to build a brand new wheel, do not forget to choose a tread pattern that matches your application. This includes making sure that you know which patterns will work best in the mud, snow, ice, or anything else that you might be driving on.

How to Cut Round Surfaces

Once you know how big and thick the wheel is going to be, the next step will be shaping it from the base material. Here are the basic steps for a situation where you are cutting the material from a block of solid wood, plastic, metal or some other material.

  • Start off by making sure that the block is the right thickness or width for the wheel. Try to make the surface as smooth and even as possible.
  • Next, use the template to draw the round object. Be sure to note where the axis will go as well as how big it will be.
  • Use your cutting tools to take away the bulk of material from the edge of the wheel. Do not cut all the way down to the template lines. Leave at least 1/8” to ¼” so that you have enough room to sand the edges as well to create the roundest shape possible.
  • Once you have the basic wheel shape in place, go back and try to make it as even as possible all the way around before sanding. Do not cut to the point where you are at the template lines. At this stage, try to leave at least 1/16” all the way around the wheel.
  • Get rid of any excess material by sanding it away.
  • If needed, add any treads that you may need to complete the outer surface of the wheel.
  • Go ahead and drill out the area where the axle will go.
  • Complete the wheel by hollowing out any areas required to reduce overall weight.

Video first seen on bobdutica

Shaping Wood and Other Semi-Pliable Materials

Have you ever looked at wooden arched doorways and wondered how they could be made from just a single piece of wood. Surprisingly enough, this task isn’t as hard as it looks. By the same token, you can also bend metal and other materials into wheel shapes with relative ease. In order to do so you will need a solid wheel form that can be used to support the new form.

If you are planning to shape wood into a wheel, start off with a thin board that has the same width as what you need for the finished wheel. Next, you will have to soak the wood to soften it a bit.

Apply weights to the wood so that it “warps”a little, and then it it slowly dry up again. You will need to repeat this process several times to complete the wheel shape.

Once you complete a wooden wheel, do not forget that thin wood will require some form of support. You can use metal or plastic rims, as long as they are durable enough and can easily be bolted to the wood.

After you complete the outer rim of the wheel, you will need to complete the spokes and the hub. These can be fairly involved processes. As you put the spokes and hub into place, do not forget that the wheel must balance properly while in motion. If you notice that it wobbles you can attach weights on the inner surface of the wheel rim to improve balance.

In some ways, shaping metal can be a good bit easier. You can heat and hammer wood into thin enough strips that can be bent with relative ease with your hands or pliers. Just make sure that the underlying form can withstand the heat from hot metal if you decide to work with metal when is softer and more pliable.

Overall, you will find plastic one of the easiest materials to make wheels from. If you are working with a hard plastic, just apply some heat and let the plastic rest on the underlying form. Make sure that you also have the form covered with something that the plastic will not adhere to. Make sure that you can break the underlying form apart if needed.

Casting Wheels

Throughout time, many people have found out it is easier to produce consistent wheels by making a reusable mold first. Molds also open up the number of materials that you can use to make wheels.

For example, if the wheel isn’t going to be used in heavy stress and strain applications, you may even be able to get away with using glass. Wheels made from plastic, metal, or even clay are easily made when you cast them using a mold. Here is the basic process:

  • You will need to start off with an exact model of the round shape. It should match your needs in terms of width, circumference, hub design, and spokes. You can use any material that you want as long as it won’t collapse or warp while you care making the mold.
  • Next, choose the material that you will use to create the mold. The material should be heavy enough to withstand pulling and pushing without warping. It should also be strong enough so that it won’t break or be damaged by the material used to make the final shape.
  • When creating the mold, you will need to account for a place to pour in the material used to make the wheel. You will also need to decide how and in what places the mold will be opened in order to remove the finished wheel. Depending on the wheel design, you may be able to get away with a 2 part mold. If the spokes or internal shapes are more complicated, you may need a 4 part mold.
  • After you remove the model (it’s OK if it is destroyed as you won’t need it any further), go ahead and clean up the mold.
  • Put the mold back together and secure it with rope or something else that will keep the pieces all together. Try to make sure the pieces fit together as tightly and as perfectly as possible so that the material used to make the wheel won’t leak through.
  • Next, go ahead and fill the mold.
  • Once the material used to fill the mold is fully cured, go ahead and open the mold up. If you did everything right, you should have a fairly close duplicate of the original model wheel. You may need to remove mold seams and other imperfections, but the basic round shape should be just fine.

Right now, it is fair to say that most people take wheels for granted. At the same time, if we lose factories during a major social collapse, wheels, gears, pulleys, and other round objects will be very hard to produce.

Knowing how to “reinvent” a wheel may not seem very useful until you are in a situation where you must do so or face serious problems.

From bugging out to keeping your homestead running in good order, being able to make new wheels and design them from scratch is a very important, but overlooked skill.

More valuable secrets form our forefathers are still to be discovered.

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This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia. 

Hygiene and Being Resourceful

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Hygiene and Being Resourceful Image credit: safety-zone.com How much do you really know about personal hygiene outside of the what sits on the store shelves? Do you know that there are tons of options right under your nose that can keep your personal hygiene up to snuff when the world around you is falling apart? This …

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7 Tips For Successful Defensive Shooting

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7 Tips For Successful Defensive Shooting Your EDC gun can prove quite useful in a defensive shooting scenario if you know how to handle it. I’m not talking here about pointing at the target and squeezing the trigger. Everyone can do that, however it is where the bullets end up that counts. The drills you …

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How To Store Tap Water For Survival

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How To Store Tap Water For Survival

You turn on the faucet and there it is: as much water as you could possibly want. But then, as a prepper, you think, “What about the day when I turn it on and nothing comes out?”

Many people buy bottled water for their stockpile, and that’s fine, but you can also store tap water for survival and it won’t cost you a dime beyond your monthly water bill, if you have one.

There are some precautions that you need to take, but otherwise, turn on the tap, fill your containers, and store away!

Use Clean Containers

Even a few bacteria will quickly travel and multiply in room temperature water. That’s why they say to turn the sink in a public bathroom on and off with a towel. Even if you’re the only one who drank out of the bottle, the contents of the bottle can spoil and contaminate the tap water stored in it and make it undrinkable.

To avoid this, run the containers through the dishwasher using the hot water cycle, or clean them with hot soapy water just like you do your canning jars. It’s important to use containers that are easy to clean and don’t have little nooks and crannies that can harbor bacteria.

This proven-to-work portable device which provides clean fresh water 24/7! 

Containers to Store Tap Water

It’s important to choose the right container to store your water in. Some people use milk jugs but I wouldn’t recommend it for a number of reasons. They’re relatively flimsy, which makes them easy to puncture.

They’re also difficult to get clean because of the narrow handle. The lids nowadays often pop off. You don’t want a container that’s going to easily leak, and milk jugs are just a flood waiting to happen.

Some containers that are good for storing water include 1- and 2-liter soda bottles, juice jugs, and, if you want to store a larger quantity, 5-gallon food-grade buckets are great. They’re sturdy and stackable. You can also buy the sturdy camping water containers at your local superstore. They’re a bit expensive, but they’ll hold water for years.

Glass containers are always a good option too, though they’re heavy and breakable.

Make sure that all of your plastic containers are BPA-free so that no chemicals will leech into your water. Using opaque containers is good too, because direct sunlight will cause algae and the like to grow, just in case there are any spores at all in your water.

Video first seen on NoBudgetHomestead

Store Your Water in a Cool Location Out of the Sunlight

Sunlight promotes the growth of pathogens, so store your jugs out of direct sunlight. Sun also breaks down some plastic containers, which is why it’s important to use BPA-free containers. Also, hot water takes up more space than cool water, so you may have a problem with your containers swelling and leaking – especially if you’re a die-hard believer in milk jugs.

Remember that even if your containers are clean when you put the water in them, they’re not sealed so pathogens can still get in.

Add a Few Drops of Bleach

If you have city water, your water already has chlorine in it that kills pathogens and prohibits the growth of more. If you have well water, you may want to add a few drops of bleach to serve the same purpose. To be more exact, add 2 drops of bleach per quart of water to kill pathogens.

You may be thinking, “Why do I have to worry about this if my containers are clean when I put the water in it?” Well, there are a couple of reasons. Even if your containers are completely sterile when you fill them, they’re probably not completely air-tight, which means that pathogens can still find a way in.

A few drops of bleach will make it a very bad day for any germs that happen to choose your container!

That being said, if the container isn’t airtight, the chlorine will break down and leave it vulnerable to bacteria, which leads us to our next subject.

Rotate

Water doesn’t go bad, but it can get slightly acidic after a while. That’s because a minuscule percentage of it chemically changes to carbonic acid when it’s exposed to air. This makes it a prime breeding ground for bacteria. Considering that and the fact that bleach or chlorine breaks down, you should probably rotate tap water every six months or so.

This isn’t necessary for commercial water because it’s sealed, but it’s still a good idea to use the FIFO (First In, First Out) method, if for no other reason than to keep in practice.

There used to be expiration dates on commercially bottled water, but the CDC lifted the requirement due to lack of evidence that water goes bad. Remember though, that this water is sealed so that air can’t get in it, and the water and container are both sterile when the water goes in. That’s not the case with tap water.

Empty, clean, and refill your tap water containers at least every six months. Use the water that you’re dumping as grey water to water your plants or whatever.

Make Ice

If you have the room in an extra freezer, store some of your water in there. Frozen water bottles will help keep your frozen food cold longer if you lose power. They’re also great to toss in a cooler in place of messy loose ice, and if you’re heading to the gym or hiking, or anywhere really, a bottle of ice will melt so that you have nice cold water for a few hours instead of drinking it warm.

If you use the small bottles, they’re also great for ice packs.

Store in Different Sizes

You may have noticed that I’ve mentioned different size options for your bottles. Why choose just one? You can store large quantities of water (i.e. 5 gallons) for use by the entire family for a day, then store gallons to have on hand to use for cooking or personal use throughout the day, and store individual servings such as water bottles to carry with you on your person.

Having water stored in 5-gallon buckets or 55-gallon drums is great if you’re staying in, but what about if you have to bug out? That’s a danged heavy thing to tote around. Also, that many large water containers will be tough to keep inside and tough to hide outside.

Storing tap water is a perfectly reasonable, safe, cheap way to prepare for disaster. As long as you store it properly and rotate it, there’s no reason why it isn’t every bit as safe as store-bought water. Between it and rainwater, which we show you here how to collect, you can store as much water as you need to survive for at least a while.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

Two-Story A-Frame Cabin

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Two-Story A-Frame Cabin This tiny house could change your life if more ways than you can imagine! If you are like me and can’t afford a big fancy cabin for a retreat or even a bug out shelter, this 2 story, half A frame tiny house may just be your saving grace. Yes it’s small …

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Why Every Rural Homestead Should Have a Pig

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This article was originally published on notsomodern.com

I’ll admit, I had my reservations about raising pigs. Being a country girl from rural Ohio, I’ve grown up around hog farms. My uncle was a hog farmer for most of my life. My brother even raised a couple hogs for 4-H one year. The only things I really cared to know about pigs were that they destroyed everything and smelled horrible, even if they are rather tasty. So it really came as a surprise to me more than anyone when I agreed to raise a couple for meat. It wasn’t long before I also decided to breed them, but that’s a story for another time.

So after a lifetime of swearing off pig farming, why the sudden change of heart? It was mostly economical. We want to raise most, if not all, of our own food. We need to fill the freezer. Pigs were the easiest and most cost effective way to achieve that end. I highly recommend raising pigs for meat to anyone with the means and here’s why.

Space Requirements

While cattle require acreage, pigs can be raised in a much smaller space, which makes them ideal for homesteaders operating on smaller acreage. We live on a 5 acre wooded lot with very little grazing available. To raise a cow, we would need to spend a lot of money on hay and grain. Pigs on the other hand only require 20 square feet per finished hog (less space for weanlings and growers). Granted, I have found that more space equals less smell, so I prefer closer to 50 square feet per pig, but it’s still much less space than I would need for a cow. Many homesteaders also prefer to pasture raise their pigs. Just keep in mind that the larger the space, the more calories the pigs will burn, so they will grow at a slower rate and need to consume more feed. It’s up to you to determine the balance that’s right for you.

Initial Cost

Here in Central Florida, a weaned calf (I don’t recommend bottle babies) will cost about $600-800. A yearling will cost closer to $1,200. If you have the acreage, you can finish them on grass with very little additional investment until it’s time to take them to the butcher. If not, you also have to factor in the cost of hay and grain for at least 6 months to finish them. It adds up quickly. On the other hand, decent quality 8 week old piglets are $60-80. You’ll have to buy grain, but a well bred meat pig should be ready to butcher around 6-7 months old, so you’ll only be feeding it for 4-5 months. It will also eat considerably less than a cow. It takes approximately 650-750 lbs of commercial pig feed to get a 50 lb feeder pig to a butcher weight of 250 lbs. I pay about $12 for a 50 lb bag of 17% hog grower feed, so that equals $156 – $180 in feed costs per pig.

Healthy as a Hog

Forget horses, pigs are the true masters when it comes to health and resiliency. In my three years of raising pigs, I can count on one hand the times any of them have been sick. In fact, none of them have been sick since I’ve started vaccinating. Even those times when they have been sick, I’ve been able to treat them on my own, and they’ve made a full recovery. I did have one issue with a piglet with a hernia, but that was genetic and not much I could have done about it. Now that I know what to look for, I know not to castrate male piglets with hernias. Even with that piglet, the vet didn’t expect him to survive the next two days, and now he’s a 250+ lb hog ready to go to the butcher. Seriously, they are very resilient animals.

Rapid Growth

The average steer is butchered at 18 months old. If you’re raising a weaned calf, that means you’ll be waiting a year before you can fill your freezer. A well bred meat pig will be ready around 6-7 months old. If you buy an 8 week old piglet and free feed it (access to grain 24/7), then you can have a freezer full of pork chops, bacon, and sausage in as little as 4 months. Raise a piglet every 6 months and you’ll have more pork than you know what to do with, believe me.

Final Yield

Granted, when you butcher a cow, you’re usually getting back 400-500 pounds of beef. It’s usually more than the average person can fit in their freezer, so you end up selling some of it to friends and family members. However, all of that beef only accounts for about a third of the cow’s live weight. Cows have an average dressing ratio of 62%, that means that a 1,200 lb steer may only have a hanging weight of 744 lb. That’s just with the organs removed, much more weight is lost when the head, skin, extra bones and fat are trimmed off. That’s not to say that you can’t get those things back from the butcher (I highly recommend getting the bones and fat back), but they’re generally considered waste.

Pigs have an average dressing ratio of 74%, so a 280 lb hog may have a hanging weight of 207 lb. They have much less bone than a cow, so you don’t lose as much weight with the finished cuts. On average, you can expect to get about 50% of the live weight back in finished cuts. That’s 140 lbs of pork on a hog you may have fed for 5 months and only paid $80 for vs. the steer you paid $800, fed for a year, and got back 400 lb of beef. I’ll let you do the math.

I also like to get the extra bones and fat back from the butcher. I render my own lard and use it in almost all of my cooking. I use it to replace a lot of vegetable oils in savory dishes. I use it as the fat to saute my vegetables in. I also use it to season my cast iron pans. The bones I can use for stock and bone broth. Also, ask your butcher if they use the jowels and ham hocks. Some butchers may grind them into the sausage, or you can get them back to cure and smoke yourself for use in bean soup. In the book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing, the author uses almost the entire hog, including the blood and intestine. If you’re interested in curing and smoking your own hams, sausages, and bacon, I highly recommend that book.

Little Goes to Waste

I don’t know about you, but I hate throwing away food. We survive on leftovers, and I generally try to use up all of our leftovers before they go bad, but sometimes even the best of intentions die in the back of my fridge. This is where I love having pigs. Even if the food has started to mold, I’m able to feed it to my pigs (scary science experiments excluded). There really isn’t much they can’t eat. When we had problems with a fox killing our turkeys, I threw the turkey carcasses to the pigs. We’ve also thrown them old baked goods and rotten vegetables from the local grocery store. I know some people who make their pig’s entire diet out of scraps, although I don’t really recommend it. Scraps should be treated as more than a supplement. First of all, pigs are omnivores and need a balanced diet of proteins, fats and vegetables. It’s difficult to know if they are getting that balance with scraps. Second of all, they tend to grow more slowly on scraps and may not reach their full growth potential. You’ll spend less on feed, but you’ll probably have to house them for a longer period of time and end up with less pork in return. I prefer to have a higher turn over so I can make room for the next batch of piglets. Plus, if I have to pay the butcher, I’d like to get my money’s worth.

Another unexpected benefit to feeding rotten vegetables to pigs is the volunteer vegetable plants. All of the tomato plants in my garden this year have come from pig manure. We also have a papaya tree because we fed papaya to the pigs. However, compost the manure before you try using it on your garden (I dig the volunteers out of the compost pile). Hubby tried fertilizing the onions with pig manure one year, and the onions were crowded out by volunteer tomato plants. I’ve joked that I’m going to feed my vegetable seeds to the pigs one year because they seem to get the best germination rate.

If you’re looking for a way to be more self sufficient, and you have the space for pigs, I highly recommend them. They don’t have the health issues that a lot of meat animals may experience, making them very easy for beginners to raise. One pig can provide approximately 140 lbs of pork, easily filling the freezer and providing your family with enough pork for several months. The meat also preserves well through curing and smoking, which is why they were a favorite animal of pioneers and homesteaders when our country was first founded. They can also help you with composting, turning your leftovers and rotten vegetables into valuable manure. After all, how many other animals can turn tomatoes into bacon?

Source : www.notsomodern.com

About the author : Bonnie was raised in a small farming village in central Ohio where she was active in 4-H and FFA. She grew up surrounded by a large family who taught her how to can, garden and cook from scratch. Now living in Florida and raising two outrageous kids, Bonnie is running the family farm where they raise chickens, ducks, goats, pigs and horses. She also enjoys teaching her kids how to live off of the land, appreciate God’s creation, and live a simpler life.

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Prepper Acronyms: Common Survival Acronyms to Know

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Prepper Acronyms: Common Survival Acronyms to Know SHTF, BOB, TEOTWAWKI… Whether you embrace the shorthand or not, the fact remains that there is a lot of it out there. It has almost evolved into an exclusive language where you can hold a whole conversation without using layman’s terms. I’m pretty used to this myself, there …

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10 Awesome Tips You Never Knew About Using Wood Stoves That May Change Your Life

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 ReadyNutrition Readers, we’re having a heatwave out here in Montana…it’s 9 degrees Fahrenheit while I’m writing this.  I hope you guys and gals are nice and warm and you have a good wood stove in front of you keeping it so.  You recall I wrote one on wood stoves not too long ago, and I wanted to supplement this for a few more things you can do with yours.  Aside from using wood stoves to stay warm and cook food on, here are a few tips you never knew on how to get the most out of your wood stove.

10 Ways to Make the Most of a Wood Stove

Ashes

One of the things you should consider is the potash that comes from your stove.  Yes, all that wood turns into ashes that can be recycled and used.  One of the things that you can do is to store them in a container (preferably a metal one that has a tightly-fitting lid) and use them later for producing your own soap.  The ashes are boiled down in water (yes, this too can be done on your wood stove!), and combined with lye and other ingredients.

Your ashes can also be used for metal polishing, for the likes of metals such as brass and silver.  It works really well straight up, or mixed with just a few drops of water.  The ashes can also be combined with your compost piles and used as a form of fertilizer to replace many valuable minerals and nutrients that comes from carboniferous materials being burned.  Why do you suppose a new forest sprouts up in a few years after a forest fire?   All of that burned wood goes into the soil and enriches it.  You can turn it into your gardens when you’re planting in the springtime for the same effect.

Charcoal

Charcoal is another product that you can take from your wood stove.  Used for a variety of things besides just cooking, charcoal can also be finely-crushed and added to your ash supply to make soap.  It can be set aside for use as cooking material or a fire-starting ingredient and even used to clean teeth.  Charcoal can also be used to filter water (see previous articles on water purification).

Soot

There’s also soot from the chimney (although you’ll probably have to wait until springtime to obtain it when you brush your chimney pipe).  Soot is the black substance formed by the combustion of your wood in the stove.  This is fine particulate matter that adheres to your pipe walls, and is blackened, consisting mainly of carbon that has not been completely burned. Soot is responsible for many chimney fires.  Soot can be mixed (in small quantities as needed) with a little bit of vegetable oil and some water to make your own ink.  A type of soot is called lampblack, and is used in enamels, paints, and inks from a commercial perspective.

That soot also has a great deal of unburned oils and resins in it (especially if you burn a lot of pine…don’t scoff…if you live in the Rockies, you will burn pine unless your last name is Rockefeller, believe me).  The oils, resins, and unburned carbon are excellent to mix with things such as sawdust and lint, with some wax for fire starters for the wood stove or camping and backpacking.

Dehydrate Food

The top of the stove is great for dehydrating food as well.  You have recipes from ReadyNutrition for pemmican and jerky.  You can make your own on top of the stove with small-aperture wire racks…of the type to cool off hot sandwiches and the like.  Lay your meat on top of the wood stove top on the racks and allow that heat to dry them right out.

We’d love to hear any suggestions of things that you have found to do with your wood stoves (along with heating your home and cooking, of course).  It is all part of your preps and homesteading and learning to economize and obtain the maximum use for all of the materials you have at your disposal.  Explore some of these and let us know what you think, as well as things you have discovered on your own.  Keep up that good fight, drink a good cup of coffee, and stay warm!

 

JJ

 

Don’t forget to join us March 9th 7 p.m. (CST) for a FREE interactive webinar about solar cooking. Click here for more details!

MARCH9G

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Lessons from History – Hand Powered Tools

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Crank It Out

When we hear “crank it out”, we tend to be hearing “get it done”. We have a lot of advantages with that these days. Nobody’s spinning a wheel on a giant roller to produce our news – we just tap a few buttons, and systems lift and press, roll, and cut for us, or we’re online and reading away without a walk to the morning paper at all.

The conveniences are all around us, from our coffee grinders and brewers, out in our sheds, and all around our homes and lives. But it wasn’t actually too far back in history that “crank” was a very literal term for a lot of those conveniences.

In my kitchen, I have a simple slider mandolin, mason jar pump-top onion chopper, and a salad spinner. I’m going to break down and get a cherry pitter this year or next year. They’re convenient. They save labor in time and energy. Grinders are there for coffee and wheat, so I stay happy/sane. My world is full of items that do the same, from my battery drill and power saws to the blender that cranks out curach and turns strained jelly peels and pulp into slurries for fruit roll-ups.

A disaster is a bad time to lose all of our conveniences in life. There are also some hand powered tools we can pull from the pages of history – and that inspire modern tools – that will help us with our self-reliance. They bounce back and forth from the kitchen to the workshop, out to the barn. Here’s a quick look at a handful of those things that can help us keep cranking it out.

Oil press

An oil press can be a big financial commitment, and it’s not for everybody. Until there’s enough land space to be producing foods, let alone oil nuts and seeds, it should go on the back-burner. On the other hand, if you’re in suburbia and you have the 1-2 working oil presses in 3-25 miles, you have a very powerful bartering tool at your fingertips.

Essential Oils Natural Remedies: The Complete A-Z Reference of Essential Oils for Health and Healing

That’s because fats are important. A lot of game animals are very lean in fats. In a world where we and our limited livestock are working just as hard as wildlife to eat, stay warm, prepare for winter, recover, and raise a family, we’re going to get leaner, too. That’s not always a good thing. There are vitamins and minerals our bodies can’t process without fats.

Fats are also important in baking, and make cooking (and cleanup) a whole lot easier. Plus, check out your powdered peanut butter. I’ll bet it tells you to add some oil for best results.

Sadly, even Crisco and powdered margarine won’t last forever, and it’s not like they’re all that good for you.

There is an alternative to a press to get those fats – at least one.

We can basically mince the heck out of various seeds and nuts, turn them into a slurry, let them settle (for hours or days), pour off the liquids (that’s what we keep), strain and press the wet mass (to get more of the liquids), and wait for the water to dehydrate (days). There are regularly additional steps for different types of plants, like shelling, simmering, filtering, additional pour-offs, and milling. Fermentation and spoilage risks are high. Labor and time are through the roof.

With an oil press, an impressive number of tree and grass seeds can be turned into oils.

Many presses have or can be fitted with automatic shellers and separators. The leftover meal can be dried to use in breads, thicken stock and gravy, or be fed to animals. The same presses can be used for a wide variety of seeds and nuts, sometimes requiring a gear change and sometimes extremely small or large seeds require an additional piece or to be minced. Sometimes we do have to take our peanut shells and skins off, and feed it just corn kernels.

(There are corn threshers and bean-pea shellers available crank-style, too.)

Not only is the time and effort hugely reduced with an oil press, our product comes out cleaner and we usually have more to show for it at the end of the day.

I won’t go into as much detail for the rest of today’s list, but those types of factors are there for all of them. It’s why the “convenience” and “efficiency” machines came into play in the first place.

Hand Beater

While we’re right there talking about speed and ease in the kitchen, let’s talk about rotary beaters.

I know that at various stages, there were also rotary and pull-cord blenders on the counters. This guy has good memories for me, though.

Moms and Grandma used to have a set. They made whipping eggs or cupcake frosting for twelve or a classroom fast and easy. If we’re going to be doing a lot of from-scratch cooking, or if we have months and months’ worth of powdered milk, butter and creamed soups stored, something as simple as a design that hasn’t much changed in 50-100 years and can still be found in stores is a force multiplier.

Peeler-Corer-Slicer

Another kitchen equivalent to the venerable 1911 is also probably one of the most commonly suggested and available hand-crank tools. It extends way beyond the preparedness-homesteading crowds. Like a cherry pitter, anybody who grows or processes a lot of fruit considers these things gold. When I’m only filling out a few drawers in a dehydrator I’ll still just whip out the mini-paddle mandolin, but when you start talking buckets and bushels, these apple peelers more than earn their price.

Ours has the option for using the coring center or just a spike, so I can also peel potatoes with it, and the slicing blade can come off so I can grate those, pears, or apples instead of slicing them.

Hand-Crank Food Processor

Once we’ve peeled or washed our produce, there’s another gem we can upgrade to if we want – people have actually started (or returned to) making hand-crank food processors. Like the electric versions, they make pretty fast work of assembling salsa veggies, dicing for relish and chutney, slicing salads, or cutting butter into pie and tart crust.

Salad Master

There’s another version we can use that bolts onto a countertop or table. I actually prefer it, because I like the resiliency of metal when I’m plunking down a chunk of change (Queen Klutz here).

You can get them in a number of styles and there are sets with attachments as far ranging as the modern Kitchen Aid base mixer. That means a single hand crank base can be adapted for ground meat and sausages, and pressing pasta, as well as mincing, slicing and dicing veggies.

Which styles we like best is just personal preference.

Applesauce and Baby Food Strainer

If we do a lot of jelly and jam canning, want to quickly churn out applesauce, or want to make our own baby food, there are some pretty simple devices out there still – and that we can pick up from old farm estate sales fairly regularly if we watch for those.

Like the Foley applesauce and baby food strainer, many are meant to be used as a stage in the process of cooking.

You can also find steam and hand-crank juicers that work for syrups and jellies. If you plan to forage or produce a lot of the cranberry viburnum and chokecherry type fruits, those are handy to have.

Butter Churns

When we think of churning butter, a lot of people apparently think of somebody sitting with the tall canister and paddle or plunger, lifting up and down. I think of my blender, personally.

Throughout history, however, there have been a lot of different styles and scales of butter churns, and some of the small and countertop hand crank versions are more likely to fit into our storage space – and regularly, our budgets.

Styles like the canning-jar base are also a lot more hygienic than the wooden ones and the larger, longer metal designs. You can clean them more effectively in between uses.

If we’re in a world with limited outside assistance, that becomes even more important. Goats aren’t as likely to have a milk infection, but cattle used to get them regularly. They still do in some cases. Some of those diseases will only spoil flavor, but some of them have human health concerns. If that milk is transferred into plastic or wooden containers, it takes a lot of cleanser and then a lot of rinsing to regain comfort in using them. Water is going to be a hugely important resource for a lot of people, and it still might not do the trick.

Smaller glass and metal vessels can fit inside pressure canners and are easier to reach (and rinse) than larger ones, and long, skinny churns.

They’re far faster than shaking a jar or rolling it underfoot – although if you’re about to shell a solid ton of peas, the foot thing might work for you.

Centrifuge for Butterfat Testing

So, we have our goats, sheep, camels or cattle, and we want the ones with the highest butterfat for butter and clotted cream. How do we find out in the second and third generation of livestock after a crash?

An old-school hand-crank centrifuge.

That centrifuge can also be used just to find out which animal’s butterfat or heaviest creams separate fastest and easiest.

Instead of having shallow containers sit for hours – without jostling – with the risks of pests, dust and heat spoilage, we can also use various turn-of-the-century tools to speed that process.

Hand-crank sewing machines

When a ram horn catches us and rips a hole in our clothes, or our pockets start failing, when growing kids need clothes made out of curtains, we can sit down with a needle and hand sew, but if a sewing machine is available, it tends to be a lot faster of a process.

It’s also an easier process for old and damaged hands – some tension adjustments and threading is required, but then those hands (and eyes) can relax a bit.

You can hunt up antiques, or run some searches for non-electric sewing machines – they’re out there, especially from/for some of the still-developing nations.

Modern Manual Drill

Nothing is going to help us rebuild a shed or fence or put in a new milking bench like our electric drill and driver, but there are still manufacturers out there for hand-crank versions that will be faster and easier than doing it all with a screwdriver.

Hand augers are commonly seen on the lists of disaster tools, and are shaped a bit differently. They’re really good at what they do. Modern and yester-year manual drills that can also be fitted with our current drill’s screw tips have some advantages, too.

Combined, they make a pretty handy pairing around a house or farm that’s looking at losing power. 

Bench Grinders

Modern-made and antique, there are all kinds of handy things for the shop. While a drill is one of the most commonly reached-for items in our house, the wheel grinders are in high demand at my father’s. They make fast work out of sharpening tools and blades.

Some of the hand-crank versions are massive beasts that can be set up for two hands, and can handle light notching, planer, and plank sanding and some can even be set up as circular saws and used to cut pipes, tubing and OSB. (Those are two-person jobs for safety reasons.)

As with the kitchen, the speed and work effort compared to a hacksaw, steel wool, and sharpening stone plays a factor when looking at the costs.

And, as with the kitchen, both the bench grinders and the manual drills mean that people with injuries or ailments can still get work done in a lot of cases, and do that work faster. That, too, factors into what we’ll pay and how we prioritize.

The Wide Range of Shop Tools

Shop tools of all kinds are out there. I don’t use a drill press often enough (and they’re expensive enough) to have given it its own listing. But they’re out there. So are things like barn beam boring drills, smaller tinker-merchant and jeweler’s presses, ratcheting drill presses and nail setters.

Farm horses used to regularly be hitched to circle and power things like turnip slicers, grain threshers, and grain mills. Horse-drawn harvesters dug, separated and in some cases even sorted potatoes and turnips, working off gears attached to the wheels. Dogs and goats can handle some of that workload with smaller versions.

Modern Spins

Just as some of the hand-crank and -lever tools that bear consideration can be had from current production runs, the modern world has not turned its back on hand cranks.

They’re there in tire pumps and emergency lights large and small. We can also buy little hand-cranked battery boxes to charge our small electronic devices. One of my earliest articles dealt with laundry, with several modern takes on manual washers and wringers.

In some cases, we can find those devices in bike-pedal powered forms as well.

Cranking It Out in the Modern Age

The internet is a wonderful thing. It brings the whole world right to our fingertips, and it can regularly have most of that world delivered to our door.

We didn’t jump from caveman sticks and rocks directly over to sending email over HAM radio. Throughout history, there are gadgets that made lives easier and allowed us to do more work. As preparedness spending grows, we can find a lot of new manual gadgets becoming available from suppliers and inventors.

Whatever you reach for this week or this month, especially over planting and harvest season and the next DIY build or repair, make a note of it (a real, physical note). Is it a force multiplier? A must-have? A beloved convenience? How important does it rate on your scale?

If you’re doing things by hand or planning for a world without power, it might be worth popping a “manual” or “hand-operated” search for that item into your browser. There are fair chances somebody has one, makes one, or has a hack to create one.

If you liked this article, please rate it.

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3 Edible Plants in Your Backyard for Health and Nutrition

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3 Edible Plants in Your Backyard for Health and Nutrition Who decided which plants were good garden plants and which ones were weeds? It’s interesting to contemplate isn’t it? Especially when you consider that many of the plants we pull and toss are actually edible plants with as much or more nutritional value than those …

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Product Review: Plug & Farm Tower

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I waited until I had a chance to actually grow some plants in the tower before writing this review. Because I live in a warm area of the country (zone 9b) I’m able to have a year-round growing cycle, but I don’t have a lot of space.

This seemed perfect for me, so I’m recommending it to any prepper interested to grow its own food and save some space and money.

And here’s why!

Building the Tower

The tower itself was easy to assemble and get started and came with all of the necessary tools and parts, as you can see in the unboxing video below:

The drip system was logical and was organized in such a manner that it worked with gravity.

With a standard soil-based drip system, this usually means that the bottom plants don’t get as much water as the top plants, but since this system is made in such a way that it recycles water from top to bottom and uses a planting medium that’s much less dense than dirt, the water flows freely through it so that the bottom plants get just as much water as the top ones.

All in all, with the exception of the instructions, I’ve had a good experience with the tower.

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Each section is well-constructed, as is the base, though I did mount it to a wall for stability. It’s easy to use and easy to assemble, and works with gravity.

It also uses very little water, which is, of course, a huge deal, especially in a drought or survival situation. I can even see where it would be perfectly good for indoor use if you were so inclined.

What to Plant

I chose to plant strawberries, green peppers, tomatoes, basil, and lettuce. I sprouted the seeds and grew them to seedlings, then transplanted them into the tower.

I had a mishap a few weeks after I planted my seedlings and lost the whole crop, so I had to start over. I’m now starting to see the beginnings of fruit from the new batch, so I’m excited to see what happens.

I also reevaluated the positioning of my plants the second time through. Originally, I’d place the tomatoes in the middle because I thought that it would be easier to stake them using the side of the tower and letting them grow down, but I rethought that and decided it would be better to have them on the far left so that I can use lattice to support the plants if need be.

If you’re looking for a great way to grow vertically in small spaces using very little water, this tower is a great option.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

Tips For Building Emergency Food Stocks

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Tips For Building Emergency Food Stocks Have you been trying to build an emergency food supply, only to turn around and use up all you worked to stock up? It can be incredibly frustration and make you feel like you’re failing when that likely isn’t the case at all! Most people, when first starting to …

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Off grid living: Grow 25 pounds of sweet potatoes in a bucket

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Although sweet potatoes are an important staple food for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, this versatile, orange root tuber can be added to many other meals all year round. While sweet potatoes have been used for ages by many cultures around the world, until recently they weren’t a regular sight on American kitchen tables outside of the Holiday season.

In the past decade, however, the sweet potato has found its way to our hearts. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, the root vegetable’s popularity has skyrocketed between 2000 and 2014, with its consumption increasing by nearly 80 percent. And for a good reason; sweet potatoes pack a powerful nutritional punch.

They are loaded with essential micronutrients to promote overall health and have fewer calories than ordinary potatoes. Essential nutrients found in sweet potatoes include fiber, protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and many vitamins of the B-complex.

What’s more, you actually don’t need a big garden or a lot of space to grow your own supply of sweet potatoes. Read on to find out how to grow sweet potatoes at your home.

Easy steps to grow sweet potatoes in a bucket

  1. Select the right sweet potato – Rooted sweet potatoes will give you the best result since you can be sure that they are not treated with pesticides to stop the sprouting process.
  2. Create some heat – Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes love the heat. While sweet potatoes will still grow at a minimum temperature of 50 °F (10°C), they seem to do much better at room temperature. So, if you live in a colder climate, make sure to keep them indoors.
  3. Prepare a 5-gallon bucket – Once you have selected the right sprouted potato, fill a container that has draining holes in the bottom with moist soil. Plant one potato per 5-gallon bucket, tops exposed.
  4. Waiting for “slips” to emerge – After a while, green shoots or slips will start to grow out of the sweet potato. This step will take about 90 days.
  5. Transplant the slips – Once the slips are big enough, about 6 to 12 inches, it is time to gently remove them from the sweet potato and transplant them to a larger 20-gallon container. In each 20-gallon container, you can plant six sweet potato slips.
  6. Pick the right season – As mentioned before, sweet potatoes are a heat-loving plant. If you are planning to grown them outdoors, make sure the last frost of spring has already passed. Late spring is the ideal time of the year. Also, make sure they stay well-watered.
  7. Harvest time – After about 3 to 4 months – or when the leaves and vines start to turn yellow – you can start digging up the sweet potatoes. If you grow outdoors, this is usually just after the first frost. After digging up the sweet potatoes, shake off any excess dirt, but do not wash them with water as sweet potatoes need a curing process to create their delicious, sweet taste.
  8. Cure sweet potatoes – Next to enhancing their flavor, curing allows a second skin to form over scratches and bruises you made while digging up the potatoes. This protective layer makes it possible to store sweet potatoes at room temperature for up to a year. To cure, store the harvested tubers in a warm, humid place (80°F or 27°C) for two weeks.

As reported by Off The Grid News, bucket-grown sweet potatoes will have a yield of about 25 pounds for each 20-gallon container. (RELATED: Find more information about off-the-grid living at OffGrid.news.)

Source : www.naturalnews.com

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How To Choose A Good Pressure Cooker

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Ahh  … the much revered and often feared pressure cooker.

Your mom makes delicious pot roasts in them, and you can cook food in a fraction of the time that it takes to cook it on the stove or in the oven. The problem is that you’ve heard horror stories about pressure cookers that blow up and spew hot food and liquid all over the place.

That’s a reasonable fear. I cook with a pressure cooker at least once every couple of weeks, but I have had an explosive incident when I was young and learning to use it. It was a completely user error.

I was using an old pressure cooker with the top jiggler and I didn’t put it on correctly, nor did I properly seal the lid. The jiggler blew clear through the dry wall in my ceiling, and my roast beef blew all over my kitchen.

They say there’s no better teacher than experience. Fortunately for me, I had my mother to tell me what I did wrong, after she made sure I was OK, then laughed for ten minutes when she saw my kitchen.

Don’t let this story scare you. It’s a rare thing, and if you’re buying a modern pressure cooker, much of the mysticism and dangerous flying objects have been removed so that anybody can use one without needing to patch their ceiling.

For that matter, if you’re buying an old one, you’re gonna be just fine after you read this article.

Can I Can Foods in a Regular Pressure Cooker?

The short answer? No. don’t do it. And this is coming from somebody who laughs in the face of most government-issued warnings.

And here’s why you shouldn’t use a pressure cooker to pressure can foods. Pressure cookers don’t maintain a steady heat and pressure. Both rise and fall, and you don’t have control of heat other than high, medium, or low.

It’s imperative that your pressure-canned food maintain a minimum temperature for a set amount of time in order to kill pathogens that won’t kill you in 2 months or 2 years when you get around to opening that jar. Buy pressure canners specifically meant for canning. You can find these at thrift stores and yard sales, too.

Discover the ingenious recipes that helped our ancestors stay alive!

Types of Pressure Cookers

There are two types of pressure cookers: rangetop and electric. Electric pressure cookers may be better for you if you’re especially timid because they work very much like a crock pot does; well, at least they’re more goof-proof. On the other hand, they are useless during blackout unless you have a good and steady energy source.

A stovetop pressure cooker can be a bit trickier, especially if you’re using an older one. One is no better or worse than the other and the end result is the same as long as you use them properly. Rangetops do typically cook faster, though.

Video first seen on thenewsurvivalist.

Tips to Buying a Good Used Pressure Cooker

Like most of my good kitchenware, I inherited one of my pressure cookers and picked the other two (yes, two) up at yard sales. There are five traits to consider when you’re buying a used pressure cooker.

  • First, make sure that the seal is in good condition. You’ll find this in place in a ring around the inside of the lid. Pull it out and inspect it. If it crumbles in your hand or shows signs of dry rot, skip it.
  • Next, make sure that the pot and the lid are in excellent condition. This isn’t one of those products where you can overlook a few dings. You want to make sure that the sides all feel even and that the lid seals tightly onto the pot. Most have a locking mechanism that falls into place when the lid is properly locked, so check that if there is one. Lock it down to make sure that it works. The handles should line up and stop. If they just slide right past each other, skip it.
  • Don’t forget to look at the jiggler. It’s technically called a regulator and most that you find will have at least five- and ten-pound capabilities. Make sure it’s there because the pressure cooker won’t do you a lick of good without the regulator.
  • Make sure that the rack is in it. Pressure cookers have a rack that sets in the bottom of the pot. This keeps the food suspended above the bottom so that pressure can circulate all around it, and it keeps the food from burning to the bottom of the pan.
  • Finally, look for a good brand name. Even if you buy an older one, if it’s by a well-known brand name, chances are good that you’re going to get a good product and will likely be able to buy a replacement seal if yours goes bad.

After all, a pressure cooker is something that you’ll be able to pass to your kids. One of mine is over 50 years old and is still as reliable as an April shower. Or snowstorm, depending on where you live.

Two excellent older brands that are still producing pressure cookers today are Presto and WearEver. Newer brands include Imusa, Fissler, WMF, Tramontina, and Fagor. Two of mine are Presto and the other is WearEver. I don’t have any experience with new ones.

Tips for Buying a New Pressure Cooker

First of all, you’re going to have to decide whether you want to buy an electric pressure cooker or a rangetop pressure cooker. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Rangetops typically cook faster and the pot can be used by itself as a stockpot. You’ll have to regulate the pressure via the regulator and the heat settings on your stove.

Electric models automatically pressurize and depressurize according to how you set it and most of them can be used as slow cookers and steamers. They take longer to cook, though.

Which type of pressure cooker you need is up to you. They come in different sizes and some offer only a couple of pressure settings while others offer 3 of 4. The electric ones can get pretty fancy and have many settings. It’s all a matter of what you want and need. Good Housekeeping did a review on top pressure cookers that may help.

In general, you’re going to need to pick a size based upon what you plan to cook in it, and you’ll have to decide between electric and rangetop. Look for a pressure cooker that has a good seal, and I recommend one with a locking mechanism for somebody just learning to use one. That takes away the chance of not aligning the lid and pot properly.

What’s up with the Different Pounds on the Regulator?

The pressure regulator is what determines the pressure inside of the pressure cooker. Typical pressure settings are 5, 10, and 15 though many of the electric models have ranges from just a couple of pounds up to 15 pounds. That number is how many pounds of pressure build up inside the cooker.

Different foods require different pounds of pressure. For instance, delicate vegetables like spinach may only need 5 pounds, while roasts require 10 or 15. In many new cookers, this will likely be expressed as low, medium, and high.

Now that you know how to choose your pressure cooker, you can easily go ahead with the best recipes for your family.

Find how our forefathers handled their survival food, and steal their secrets for your own survival!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

28 Important Tasks You Should Do This Spring on the Homestead

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This article was originally published on morningchores.com

Have you ever noticed that you never feel like you are ever really done when it comes to a homestead?

I realized how frequently I feel like I am caught with my bloomers down last year. It felt like I wasn’t prepared for winter.

But then before I knew it, spring was upon us, and I was chasing my tail again.

So here are a list of spring chores that you should keep on your radar so that your homestead will run smoother. I’m happy to say with a little more organization, I feel much better prepared for my homestead duties this year.

Remember, organization is key to homesteading. Here are a few ways to help your organization along:

1. Nurse Your Garden

If you don’t plan on buying all of your seedlings (which I don’t recommend), then you’ll need to start your own.

Depending upon where you live will depend greatly upon when you need to start your seeds. Here is a great seed starter calculator. However, whenever you can start your seeds, do so. This will save you lots of money and also give your plants ample amount of time to grow.

2. Bring the Babies Home

If you do not set your own eggs, then the spring is the right time to purchase new chicks and ducklings. This is the right time also to purchase chicks that you plan on raising for meat.

Also, if you purchase a hog to raise for meat instead of keeping a breeding pair of pigs, the spring is the right time to purchase it. Keep turkeys in mind too. If you want to purchase just a few turkeys to eat on special occasions instead of raising a breeding pair, then you’ll want to purchase them in the spring too.

3. Rev Up the Incubator

Photo by The Poultry Guide

My husband runs our incubator year round. Between it and the massive brooder box he built, we are able to sustain baby chicks, ducklings, and keets year round.

However, if you don’t have a small hatchery in your backyard, then you’ll probably only want to start incubating eggs in the spring and summer months. This means that the spring is a great time to start pulling eggs out of your coops and giving them a chance to hatch.

4. Build Tractors

Photo by The City Chicken

We use a lot of tractors around our homestead. They are great for baby bunnies, chicks, ducklings, and keets when they are starting out.

However, this means that we must build and repair them in the spring while the babies are still too small for them. Then when the babies get bigger, we can place them in the tractors to move them around the land and allow them to safely forage. This give the animals a healthier diet and saves us a lot of money on feed.

5. Get Ready to Milk

As spring comes around so does the baby boom usually. If you have goats, cows, or any other animal that you use for dairy purposes, then you’ll need to have your milking supplies ready.

We use a basic set-up with a milking station and a pail. However, I have to make sure that my milking stand is in good condition and that my pail is still clean and ready for milk. It is better to make necessary repairs or purchases before it is time to milk. That way you aren’t caught off guard.

6. Prepare Your Birthing Kit

Being prepared for birth is a necessity so you get the most out of your homestead. For rabbits, you need to ensure they have nesting boxes and hay. Be sure your brooder is cleaned out and ready for baby birds.

Though, I actually have a birthing kit when I’m expecting baby goats. It is nothing fancy. It is a laundry basket I purchased at the dollar store. Inside of the laundry basket I have fresh towels and blankets. I also include some latex gloves as well.

However, each spring is a good time to make sure it is easily accessible and that I have everything I need inside the basket. Goats don’t really need much help when birthing, but I’m usually present and there to pull (if needed) and to help my nanny goats clean their kids as I feel sorry for them trying to clean one kid and birth another.

7. Take Down Winterizing Materials

Depending upon where you live, you may have to winterize your coop, hutches, or bee hives. When warmer weather finally comes around, you need to go through and take all of the layers off.

Even though I live in the south, I still winterize to some extent. Our rabbit hutches are layered with more wind breaking material and so are our coops. When summer hits, we remove some of the layering because they just don’t need it.

So spring is the perfect time to go through and shed some of those heavier layers of protection for your animals and bees.

8. Clean Out Your Sheds and Barns

Sheds and barns are used heavily during the warmer months. It is important that they are organized so that you can find everything that you need as efficiently as possible. My husband use to be the world’s worst at just laying stuff down or not putting it in its place.

Finally, I had enough and my oldest son and I went to town on organizing things. It is amazing how much more functional our homestead is now. My husband has even become more organized because it truly makes life that much easier.

So go ahead and clean out your barns, buildings, and storage sheds while you can. It will make your summer and fall much easier.

9. Mend Your Fences

It is a fact of life that things break. Unfortunately, a lot of things break during the colder winter months. Fences are often times one of those things. Something will happen while it is cold and snowy outside.

Often for us, we’ll slap a band aid on it until the warmer months. However, when the warmer months roll around go ahead and mend those fences. It will save you a lot of time later when you aren’t having to round up animals that have escaped through your band aid.

10. Repair Your Buildings

Buildings are not cheap nor easy to build. Taking care of them is a necessity. Over time though, they wear down.

So instead of just letting them fall to ruin, make necessary repairs during the spring. If you had a roof collapse from the weight of the snow, go ahead and put a new roof on it with whatever materials you have on hand. It will save you a lot of money in the long run.

11. Repair Equipment

In case you haven’t noticed my theme yet, spring is a great time to make repairs. The reason is that the busy season is almost upon you. You are making preparations for when your homestead is in full swing again.

So go ahead and get your equipment in tip top shape so you won’t lose precious times in those warm months having to fix a tiller, a tractor, or whatever else you need to help your garden along. This will certainly make your life easier later if you make the time now.

12. Place Your Order

Some times we have to break down and purchase things. I hate those moments because I’m frugal. Yet, they must be done. For instance, I can’t grow a tractor part, gardening tools, or even farm equipment. I can purchase them inexpensively or even second hand, but it still requires I place an order.

So if there are items that you absolutely need and you have to purchase, spring is a good time to go ahead and get it over with. That way you’ll have what you need for the busy season, and hopefully the busy season will be a profitable one as well in order for your to recoup some of the money spent.

13. Build Garden Beds

Every year we add a few more garden beds. It just seems that we want to plant more so we naturally create more space for it. If you have any garden beds that need repair, or if you are needing to build extra space, then consider this a good time to begin building them.

So when spring rolls around, try a few of these garden bed ideas to get your amped up for the grow season.

14. Harvest Winter Vegetables

If you live in a warm enough climate, you can still grow vegetables during the winter months. We usually grow vegetables like carrots, radishes, turnip greens, and lettuce throughout the winter.

However, before we use the gardening space in the spring I have to be sure to go through the beds and pull up any left over veggies. This is particularly true for carrots as they hide very easily beneath the soil.

15. Clean Up Winter Greenhouse

If you have a cold frame or a fully heated green house, chances are you may use it to grow vegetables throughout the winter. I think that is awesome! I have a smaller greenhouse I use to start seedlings and grow fodder for my animals throughout the winter months.

But these greenhouses have to be cleaned up and ready for a fresh cycle of planting. The spring is a good time to clean them up and also to plant in them again for the next cycle.

16. Mix Up the Compost

Planting season is upon you if spring time has rolled around. In early spring is a good time to mix up your compost. This gives everything a good chance at complete decomposition by the time you need it for planting in around mid to late spring.

So keep this in mind in the early months of spring. Compost is a vital part of having a successful harvest during the summer and fall harvest.

17. Plant the Future Harvest

If you expect to have a harvest, then you must first plant the seeds. Mid to late spring is when most items need to be planted. This can be a large task depending upon what size garden you have.

We have a larger garden so it usually takes me a couple of days to get everything planted. I also feel like I’ve had a tremendous work out by the time I’m done. So expect to put in a lot of work with this chore.

18. Plant Some Eye Candy

I love flowers. I know a homestead is meant to be functional, but for me, I want it to be gorgeous too. This is why décor around my homestead is super important to me.

So if you love having a beautiful homestead too, then use the spring months to plant gorgeous flowers in beds and in window boxes to add some natural color to your property.

19. Create an Outdoor Living Space

I have lots of outdoor sitting space. I want my home to be a place that sustains us while also being a place that we can enjoy.

For this reason, I create outdoor living space. We have a back porch that gives us a shaded space to rest on hot days. I have a front porch that gives me a great place to relax at night and enjoy the view.

However, when spring rolls around I must put out my outdoor furniture in order to enjoy these spaces. So if you have outdoor furniture the spring is a great time to pull it back out and enjoy those outdoor spaces again.

20. Clean Your Heating Source

I’ve mentioned that we do have HVAC, but we also use a wood stove to heat our home during the winter months. When spring time hits, I know it is time to clean out the wood stove one final time as well as the ash pale.

Also, I need to clean my HVAC unit so it can be ready to blow cool air as those warm temps are just right around the corner. This is a good time to perform routine maintenance on these items as well.

21. Work on Your Water Barrels

We use multiple water catchment systems around our house. You should consider these options if you aren’t familiar with rain catchment systems.

However, the spring is a great time to make sure your rain water systems are working as they are supposed to. Use this time to do routine maintenance so you can water your gardens and animals without having to use the water for your home.

22. Defrost and Clean Out Your Freezer

Spring is upon you so the cycle of refilling the freezer for winter has begun again. This is a good time (when it should be at its emptiest state) to defrost the freezer, clean it out, and reorganize the items that are left with in it.

This way you will be able to know what is oldest and eat it first so nothing wastes. You’ll also be able to spot if your freezer needs any maintenance. Plus, you can take inventory of what you have available to eat in your freezer as well.

23. Get Your Pantry Up to Par

I don’t know about you, but my pantry can become a mess rather quickly. I have multiple children who rummage through it and have a  way of taking my organization and throwing it to the four winds.

So spring is a good time to get a grip on that situation. I go through the pantry, reorganize, and rotate canned items so I know what I need to eat first. Plus, I make room for the items I’ll be canning in the upcoming seasons.

24. Make Room for Staples

My husband works a regular job while I work at home and then we homestead on top of that. However, his job is based upon work load. So he usually makes a lot more money in the summer in comparison to the winter months.

So I use these months to stock up on staples while I have the extra cash. But I also have to make room in my home to hold these extra staples. Spring is a good time to start making room and dedicating certain spaces in the pantry, closets, etc. to hold certain staples that you can buy cheaper in the summer and use all year.

A few examples of items I’ll buy in the spring and summer are wheat seeds (I grind my own wheat), sugar, baking supplies (like baking soda and baking powder), and often I find coffee cheaper during these months. So I go ahead and stock up for the year so in the winter when I don’t have as much stretch to my budget, these items are already stored away for when I need them.

25. Clean Your Homestead Home

You didn’t think in all of this preparation I was going to forget about your actual dwelling space, did you?

Well, I didn’t. Having a clean house is so important because it helps to keep things organized and that just makes life function so much better.

Not to mention, there are certain areas in our homes (like behind the stove and refrigerator) that need some attention every 6 months or so. This is a good time to make the time to clean these items so you start the busy season of homesteading with an organized dwelling space.

26. Pull Out the Cool Stuff

I’m talking about temperature cool. Spring starts bringing warmer temps with it so you’ll need to put away the warm winter clothing and linens.

Instead, you’ll need to replace them with lighter weight options. This will keep you comfortable and organized too.

27. Clean Your Canners

Canners need a good scrub down. I usually scrub mine down after I complete a season of canning and then again before I begin. You might think that odd of me, but I want to make sure they are put away clean.

Plus, I want to make sure that all of the dust that can gather on them during the winter is removed. It is also a good time for me to check my canners out and make sure they are functioning properly so they can do their jobs.

28. Go Shopping for Canning Season

Spring time is the time to shop for canning supplies. If you need to buy a new canner you better do it before the season really gets started.

Also, you must buy lids. If you live in my neck of the woods, when lids come into town in certain stores with the lowest prices, you have to hustle or you’ll miss out.

So use this time of year to get prepared for canning season and make sure you have all of the supplies you need.

Well, there are 28 chores that should help you use your time in the spring to better prepare for the busy time of year that is only right around the corner.

But I’m curious what chores you do around your homestead in the spring time. Do you have anything specific that isn’t mentioned here?

Please let us know by leaving your thoughts in the comment section below.

Source : morningchores.com

 

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How to Hone Ax Skills and Chop Your Way to Functional Fitness

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by Todd Walker

how-to-hone-ax-skills-chop-functional-fitness

Crazy eyes! They stare at me when I tell folks I’m cutting a cord of firewood with an ax. No chainsaw, no bucksaw, no maul… just an ax.

Real-world ax skills require massive, deliberate action.

February is history as are 88% (probably more) of the 2017 New Years resolutions. Following the season of overindulgence, these were the top five according to the Google:

  1. Exercise more (38 per cent)
  2. Lose weight (33 per cent)
  3. Eat more healthily (32 per cent)
  4. Take a more active approach to health (15 per cent)
  5. Learn new skill or hobby (15 per cent)

Expensive gym memberships, designer workout clothing, and faddish fitness equipment were purchased by folks really wanting to keep their resolutions. I’m so over the whole gym thing… have been for years. Here’s why…

  • Gym workouts are too predictable and safe
  • And the big one, they’re indoors!

Lifting heavy stuff in the gym is loaded with one-dimensional sameness. Running on a flat, rotating rubber mat has to be the most boring exercise ever invented. Any increase in fitness levels will obviously benefit anyone who enjoys the outdoors. But exercising for the sake of exercising is one reason people lose interest.

Why not combine resolution #1 and #5 (above) and actually get stuff done around the homestead, backyard, or base camp? I’m aware that many reading this will be limited in both skills and resources (trees). For those in the beginner stage of ax work, I would highly recommend spending time learning how to safely swing an ax. This is dangerous work. If you’re not a bit nervous before swinging your ax, you’re probably too cooky and will soon be humbled. The danger aspect is what keeps me focused while swinging sharp steel attached to a long stick. There is, however, nothing as satisfying in this woodsman’s psyche as honing an essential self-reliant skill and staring at a stack of ax-cut firewood seasoning.

The functional fitness aspect of wood chopping is a natural byproduct of ax work. Are you gonna bulk up like bodybuilders admiring their sculpted bodies in the mirror? No. If that’s your goal, stick to the gym. You will see noticeable gains in stamina for real-world, ever-changing daily tasks. Moreover, there’s the practical reward of watching a firewood pile grow which will provide heat to your family.

There are many more qualified axmen to learn from than me. I’ve wielded an ax most of my life but never in such a concentrated manner or time frame as the last six weeks. Hopefully, my experience will benefit some, and, perhaps, encourage others to start using our most basic of woodcutting tools. The ax is back!

Tree to Firewood

Old school professional boxers knew the benefits of swinging an ax. Jack Dempsey, George Foreman, and Mohammad Ali, to name a few, were known to chop wood for peak performance. As mentioned previously, finding available resources to chop may limit your adventure. An alternate workout, one I did several years ago, is to swing a sledge-hammer. But swinging a blunt object won’t increase your firewood supply.

There are far too many concerns and safety issues which need to be addressed to turn a standing tree into split firewood with an ax. I’ve covered a few Ax-Manship topics on our blog over the years. Before launching into serious ax work, I can’t recommend The Ax Book highly enough. Mr. Cook covers these topics more thoroughly.

Felling, limbing, bucking, hauling, splitting, and stacking your own firewood, in the woods, on uneven terrain, is physically demanding. According to Dudley Cook, after cutting a cord of firewood with an ax, “you will cumulatively lift about 24 tons for each cord.” Especially if you haul logs back to camp on your shoulder.

Not everyone will choose to cut their firewood with an ax only. If all you have available for a functional fitness workout is a long log, the following movement is an excellent way to exercise your major muscle groups.

Shoulder Log Lift

I’m in the middle of the Axe Cordwood Challenge at my base camp. There are some interesting obstacles with my scenario. Once a tree is down, my means of conveyance is to haul the logs back to base camp on my shoulder. I have neither machine nor animal to transport the wood. I’m the mule… or jackass in many cases.

Daddy taught me this method for hauling heavy pipe early in my youth in his plumbing/welding business. Balancing a long, heavy object on your shoulder is a skill every woodsman should learn.

I’ve found it easier to lift a longer pole than shorter logs of the same diameter. A six to nine foot log needs less vertical lifting force than a 4 footer of the same diameter. The reason is that a longer log tips over the shoulder (fulcrum) without needing extreme vertical force to get it into position.

Here’s the technique on video…

One would be wise to make a pad to protect your neck and shoulder. My makeshift pad is a cloth possibles bag stuffed with a shemagh I carry in my haversack.

How to Hone Ax Skills and Chop Your Way to Functional Fitness ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

My makeshift shoulder pad. That’s one crooked red oak on the ground in the background.

Also, when limbing the tree, be sure to cut all limbs even with the trunk. Protruding limbs, even slightly raised, will not only poke into your shoulder and neck, but find a way of snagging every vine along your path of transport.

If it’s too heavy to lift one end, don’t attempt a shoulder carry. Split it into manageable rails first. You’ll develop a feel for what you can and can’t shoulder by standing the log vertically.

How to Hone Ax Skills and Chop Your Way to Functional Fitness ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Notice the amount of bend required to position my shoulder at the midpoint of this 6 footer vs. the 9 footer in the next photo.

How to Hone Ax Skills and Chop Your Way to Functional Fitness ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A 9 footer of smaller diameter. Longer logs require less vertical lifting power.

Once the log is vertical and balanced, position your feet near the base with your heels close together. Squat facing the log where your shoulder will meet near the balance point of the pole. Keep your back straight, grip the base of the log, and let the pole lean back over the shoulder as you lift by straightening your legs. A slight backwards rocking motion helps. Lifting with your back bent is inviting serious injury.

Position the log to balance slightly toward the rear, not forward. To adjust the lay of the log on your shoulder, hold with both hands and give a slight bounce with your legs to move the log forward or backward. When set properly, walk with one arm cradled on top of the log as your travel. Use your other hand if needed over rugged terrain. Here’s where nature’s gym throws a real-world workout at you.

Wear sturdy boots, take your time, and watch for tripping hazards. If you stumble, and a tumble is imminent, drop the log from your shoulder and get out of the way in the opposite direction. If possible, hedge your bets by walking inclines with the log on the downhill shoulder.

When you arrive at your destination, reverse the process to unload the log. With the end place on the ground, flop the standing end over. You’ll create a stack of long logs ready for splitting on a chopping platform. For smaller stock, just toss it off your shoulder taking care to avoid a kickback of the falling timber.

How to Hone Ax Skills and Chop Your Way to Functional Fitness ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

An updated photo of my ax-cut firewood stash.

The old adage, “Chop your own firewood and it warms you twice,” is a big fat lie! In my experience, the number is more like 7-10 to turn a standing tree into firewood. If you’re up to it, you’ll develop ax skills along with upping your functional fitness level. For those interested in either, check out the additional resources below…

Additional Resources:

Disclaimer: If you choose to use an ax in any manner to chop your own firewood, recognize the inherit dangers and take responsibility for your own wellbeing and safety. I am not responsible for anyone doing stupid stuff, or any other stuff. Even doing non-stupid stuff holds risks of injury and/or death when wielding an ax.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

 

How to Be a Marksman Year-Round For Less!

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How to Be a Marksman Year-Round For Less! Shooting an air rifle is a great hobby to keep your marksman skills sharp. While shooting .22 caliber ammo can chew through your wallet quicker than a honey badger, air rifle pellets are about as cheap as they come. There is nothing quite like picking up a heavy …

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How To Feed Your Family Without Any Soil Or Space

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Growing hydroponically sounds complicated and expensive, but it’s actually neither. All that it means is that you’re growing your plants without soil. I’ve seen examples of hydroponic systems made out of our favorite tool ever – a 5-gallon bucket.

I’ve also seen systems that are exactly what you imagine – tables and tables full of fancy equipment and mysterious-looking tools and chemicals.

Just like anything else, it’s just a matter of how complicated you really want to get.

Let me give you a quick rundown of what it’s all about though, and why you should consider it, then we’ll talk about why it’s a great partner for vertical gardening.

As we already determined, you don’t use soil. The entire system is based on the concept that the roots are freely flowing in the water. They’re not packed tightly in soil. Hydroponic plants grow 30-50 percent faster than their soil-grown sisters, are generally healthier, and produce more fruit.

This is likely because the extra oxygen in the water helps the plant absorb nutrients better, and the nutrients are readily available in the water/solution and the plant doesn’t have to work to extract it from soil. It uses the extra energy to grow and produce.

Use it Inside

Hydroponic growing is also good to use inside because you don’t have the dirt mess and the plants don’t have to struggle so much to get the nutrients that they need, so it’s easier for them to grow in a semi-challenging environment. It’s a great way to grow food in small spaces.

Save Water

Vertical gardening and hydroponics also pair well because the drip-down system is an effective method of watering, and if you’re using a hydroponics system to catch the runoff, you’re saving a ton of water.

In a situation where fresh water is limited, that’s a huge benefit. As a matter of fact, in a world where soil is becoming depleted and water isn’t as plentiful as it used to be, vertical hydroponic gardening is seen by many as the method of future mass food production. Of course, their plans for world garden domination is a bit more complex, but it’s based on this theory.

Save Yourself $24,000 Instantly Using This One Easy Prepper Hack!

Stack it Up – The Foundation of Both Ideas

Also, and this takes us to our next point, hydroponics systems are commonly used in a stacked fashion so that the water is drawn up from  catch basin at the bottom and is released via drips onto the plants below. Then it drips from the top layer to the layer beneath, and so on until the water is back in the catch basin.

This makes hydroponics a great partner for vertical gardening.

Lighter and Portable

One problem that you often face with regular, dirt vertical gardening is that the wall is heavy and bulky, in large part because of the weight of the wet dirt.

With hydroponic vertical towers, you get rid of that.

There’s still some water weight, but unless you’re using gravel or sand to secure the roots, the weight is less.

This makes it more portable, too, especially if you use a well-contained system like Plug and Farm Towers. Portability is good for a couple of reasons.

If you need to move your vertical gardening wall or tower so that the plants are getting more or less light, or so that looters won’t know that you have food, then you want to be able to quickly and easily move the wall.

Know What You’re Eating

Another huge benefit is that you know exactly what’s going into your plant. Though you can buy bags of soil to grow your plants in, there’s no way for you to know what’s in that dirt. The same goes for using plain old yard soil. There could be residual fertilizers, pesticides, or acid rain in it and you’ll never know.

When you use hydroponics, you know exactly what your plants are coming into contact with. Enough said about that.

Best of Both Worlds

Finally, the “piece de resistance”, so to speak, about combining vertical gardening with hydroponics is that you get the benefits of the expanded growing space that comes with vertical gardening with the faster growth and higher yield of hydroponics. Bam! That’s what does it for me.

Vertical gardening and hydroponics are like peas and carrots – different, but when you bring them together, they’re a delicious combination that just works!

Start growing your own survival food without soil or space! You only need 10 minutes per day to take care of your fresh food.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

Why Vertical Gardening Works for Preppers

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As preppers, we all share the common goal of being able to take care of ourselves and our families in worst-case scenarios.

Having a ready supply of nutritious food is most certainly at the top of that list. And since we don’t all have the acreage (or even the yard) to grow a huge, traditional garden, enter vertical gardening!

Vertical gardening is exactly what the name implies – you’re growing your plants vertically instead of on a flat surface (the ground). This is great because it allows for growing fresh produce even if you don’t have any space other than a wall or a porch. You can even grow a vertical garden inside!

Grows Anywhere

Whether you have a fence around your yard or you only have a space on the porch or even a wall inside your house, you can grow a vertical garden. Living in urban areas doesn’t mean that you can’t grow your own food – it just means that you have to get creative about it.

If you have even a little bit of a yard, you’ll be surprised how much you can grow using the vertical gardening method – the options are practically limitless. You can even grow plants out the top AND bottom of the planters!

If you only have a single closet or small wall in your apartment, you’re still in luck, though you’ll have to make sure that you have plenty of light either in the form of sunlight or grow lights. Herbs are great to grow vertically, as are tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, onions, and green leafy vegetables.

Can be Used for Privacy

If you have a porch or yard, build your vertical garden in such a way that you block vision of your house. If you use a solid back that faces out from your house, people won’t even know what you’re doing!

Of course, you may not want to advertise what you’re doing, so grow it somewhere that people can’t look over your fence.

Works Well with Hydroponics

Growing plants hydroponically is a great way to increase your produce yield while decreasing your water consumption. It also takes the guesswork out of what you’re exposing your plants to, and how many nutrients the plant is getting, because you control both of those conditions.

Plants grown hydroponically, such as in the Plug and Farm Towers we tested, and have been shown to be healthier, grow faster, and produce a bigger yield. This is likely because water is oxygen rich, which helps the plants absorb nutrients, and they don’t have to harvest the nutrients out of the soil, so they can use that energy to grow instead.

You can Grow without Sharing What You’re Doing

Because you don’t need to lay everything out in the yard, you can grow in places that your neighbors won’t know about. You can grow a ton of vegetables on vertical growing racks inside your house. If you decide to go with a hydroponics system, you won’t have a dirt mess, but you can grow them in soil just as well.

Other places that make good hiding places include old sheds or barns that back up to a place in your yard that’s out of site. Just remember that you need plenty of light no matter where you plant them.

Grow Year Round

If you decide to grow a vertical garden inside, you can have year-round fresh herbs, veggies, and fruits. They do well in greenhouses, too. This is yet another advantage you’ll have over your neighbors if stuff goes south in the winter.

You’ll have access to fresh produce right there in your guest bedroom. Don’t be shy about putting a vertical garden in your living room, either. They look beautiful and make the house smell good, especially if you’re growing herbs.

You can Grow a Variety of Produce

The good thing about growing up instead of out is that you can have 7 or 8 different types of plants in an area that’s only 8 feet long and a foot or so wide. Nearly everybody has that much space!

An advantage to this is that if you don’t have access to a good food supply, having several different types of plants growing in what space you have will allow for you to have a variety of nutrients. Go for different colors because each color has different nutrients – red, yellow, orange, green – they all provide different nutrients that will help keep you and yours well-nourished.

Easy to Care for by Anybody

It’s hard to get down on your hands and knees to root around in a garden, pulling weeds in the sun and making sure the soil stays loose. With vertical gardening, it’s all right there in front of you. You can sit on a chair to take care of your plants if you need to. And harvesting is easy, too. For that matter, if you plan it right, you can make your vertical garden portable.

Another way that vertical gardening is easier is that, especially if you’re growing hydroponically, there are minimal weeds and you don’t have to worry about squatting over to take care of your vining plants.

Less Waste

This is one of my favorite reasons to grow vertically – the plants aren’t dragging on the ground and the fruits aren’t sitting in dirt, so they aren’t as prone to disease and rot.

There’s nothing worse, in my opinion, than working hard to nurture plants all the way from seed to harvest just to lose part of it because it was tucked under leaves where we couldn’t see it, and rotted. That’s not a problem with vertical gardening.

I’m obviously a fan of vertical gardening because of where I currently live and have benefited from it myself.

Remember that every survival plan should have food at its core. With only 10 minutes per day you’ll never have to worry about feeding your family again.

Click the banner below to grab this offer and start growing your own survival food!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

4 Key Tips To Create A Garden For Canning And Preserving – Grow Your Food This Year!

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More and more people are planting backyard gardens every year for canning and preserving! Beyond the simple joy of getting to play in the dirt and experience the great outdoors – gardening has become more popular than ever as people

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What To Start Planting In March

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What To Start Planting In March I get a lot of messages asking what you can plant in March, so here are some great tips to help you along and get an amazing spring garden you have always wanted! It’s the perfect time to start working on your Spring gardening plans, even though Spring doesn’t …

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The Next Gen of Preppers

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The Next Gen of Preppers Regardless of what you may think or feel about the millennial generation, there are certain things about them that have far exceeded their parents’ generation. Information, for example. All they’ve ever known is to Google search. They have little to no concept about the Dewey decimal system, cassette players, or …

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DIY Homemade Healing Neosporin Cream

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DIY Homemade Healing Neosporin Cream Knowing how to make your own Neosporin like boo boo cream is a great skill to have. This recipe is a great natural alternative and cheap and easy to make. This homemade ointment consists of powerful essential oils, herbs and beeswax that quickly address pain and stinging while reducing the …

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How To Prepare an Herb Garden in Winter

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imageWho’s itching to get outside and start gardening? This article has to do with some things you can start preparing in your herbal gardens for the spring…but prepare now.  Yes, now, while the snow and ice and the Yeti are all around… well, probably not (and hopefully not) the Yeti.  But just because that snow and ice are still on the ground does not mean you cannot start taking the steps to give you an advantage and a “step ahead” of the pack come springtime.

Having a successful garden is all about timing. Make sure you prep your starter soil, pots and the area where you plan to grow. If you don’t live in an area where there is heavy snow, begin cleaning and preparing your growing area. Here are some tips to get started.

Planting Conditions

So, what kind of herbs are we talking about here?  Chives, Cilantro, and Parsley, for starters, are perfect herbs for starting in the late winter.  You’re going to start these guys indoors: seeds in general don’t germinate unless the mean temperature is at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit.  In addition, you’re going to have to utilize as much of that sunlit side of your house as possible.  When you throw these guys into pots (containers) and leave them in your windows?  Give them some “setback” from the glass, as the cool air will linger up to about 1 to 1 ½ inches away from the glass.

Sunlight

You’ll need the sunlight, but not the cold up against the glass.  You will have to be more inventive if you have closed off your windows with plastic, as this will stop some of the sunlight from reaching your sills.  Your herbs will need at least 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight (morning is preferable), and some indirect in the afternoon if it can be provided.

Naturally, if you have your greenhouse, then much of this becomes a moot point as long as allowance for sunlight and temperature are taken into consideration.  You may need to heat the greenhouse, and this can be done in several ways: with electric heat/heat lighting, with manure/peat that generates organic heated “gassing,” or with a small wood stove.  With this last option (as I’ve mentioned in past articles), it is very important to throw a teakettle (a noiseless one!) or a pot of water on the top of the woodstove.  This will allow for some moisture and humidity, and your plants will appreciate this even more than you!


The factors to control are your water, your soil, and your drainage.  An excess or inadequacy of any of these can lead to ruined herbs, whether you’re germinating your own seeds or whether you’re using cuttings.


Potted windowsills or potted greenhouses, take your pick and stick with it.  Another thing you can do is in March, set up low-tunnels, with hoops made of plastic or aluminum and covered with plastic sheeting.  These will enable maximum amounts of sunlight, and keep your cuttings or seedlings close to the ground.

Prepare the Garden Area Before Planting

Make sure you clear out an area for them that is sufficient.  When the weather warms up so that your herbs (the hardier ones) can handle a frost, it’ll be time to transplant them into boxes.  Anything on the ground should not be touching the ground directly, to prevent frost from entering.  You mulched your perennials in the fall, and soon it will be time to start tending to them, such as garlic, for example.

All in all, potting your seedlings and/or cuttings is the way to go, either in the windows or in the greenhouses.  Best thing to do is research your herbs prior to exposing them to the cold, as some herbs like basil cannot handle cold weather and fall over when the cold hits them.  Plan according to the herb, and the zone in which you live, all of which can be determined either online or in your county extension office.  So, start your herbs and planning for the spring…a few are “early risers” (such as the ones mentioned) that you can begin in the wintertime.  Spring will be here before you know it, so get those green thumbs moving!  We’d love to hear those “green thumb” comments about what you do, as they are valued by us and all of the other readers as well.  Thumbs up, and happy winter herb gardening!

 

JJ

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

How To Live Self-Sufficient With These 10 Simple Tips

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How To Live Self-Sufficient With These 10 Simple Tips Have you ever wondered about what it would be like if you lived out on a farm where your neighbor was a mile away and you owned at least an acre, rather than in the middle of a bustling city with a department store just a …

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How To Freshen and Clean Carpet Spots with 2 Natural Ingredients

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How To Freshen and Clean Carpet Spots with 2 Natural Ingredients If you have carpet you know how annoying stains can be. I found a great NATURAL way to clean them and this works great to freshen the carpets too. These 2 natural ingredients are that good they will tackle and clean away the toughest …

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Homemade Apple Cider Recipes To Die For

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Homemade Apple Cider Recipes To Die For   My grandma made the best apple cider from an old English recipe. My mom has an old dutch recipe that is pretty good too. I went hunting the internet for a collection on apple cider recipes that I could share and I think I have found a …

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How To Make A Quick Emergency Lamp From A Mop

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How To Make A Quick Emergency Lamp From A Mop In a real emergency situation we all need to use everything around us in order to thrive and survive! That being said, I remember seeing this somewhere on the internet years ago and I am sorry I can’t remember which site. Luckily I can remember …

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How To Make Papercrete

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How To Make Papercrete Papercrete is the ultimate building material for preppers, homesteaders, and off grid living enthusiasts. It is easy and cheap to make. It also could solve your paper and cardboard recycling problems. Literally! You make these building blocks by using old paper or cardboard. The process to make papercrete is easy and if …

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How the Early Pioneers Preserved Food and What They Ate

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How the Early Pioneers Preserved Food and What They Ate Imagine living in an era when there is no refrigeration. Ever thought about the foods our pioneer ancestors ate, and ancient people before them? Foods from 150+ years ago or long before that. Compare that to the “food” we eat for decades before we woke …

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Start Growing Your Own Food Using Hydroponics

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Hydroponics, the process of growing plants without soil, is gaining momentum throughout the gardening community for many different reasons.

The water requirements are stupendously less than growing in soil, you don’t have to worry about what chemicals have leached into your soil, and you can grow healthier plants that yield more fruit in less space, both indoors and out.

Though many people are vaguely interested in the concept, most people write it off as being too technical, difficult, or expensive. The truth is that none of those terms apply, or at least they don’t have to.

You can start a hydroponic garden for very little money and it takes practically no effort to maintain it, at least in comparison to a soil garden.

Start Your Seeds

Regardless of whether you are planning to grow your plants in soil or in a hydroponic system, starting them from seeds is basically the same process. You need to choose a medium to start the seeds. You can use just about anything that you want – rockwool, grow cubes, or even plain dirt. The important thing is that you get your seeds to grow to seedlings.

There are also mediums that support starting your plants right in the system from seeds. In that case, don’t worry about the seedlings! The only problem that I’ve heard about from folks that do this is the same one that I’ve experienced when starting my garden using only seeds – they’re not all going to sprout, so you may have dense areas and sparse areas.

Regardless of whether you’re putting seeds or seedlings in your system, it’s a good idea to start your own seedlings.

Seeds are cheap, you can choose what you want to grow instead of depending on what plants the store has available, and your system won’t be contaminated with chemicals, pests, or diseases that may accompany commercial plants.

Choose a System

You also need to choose a system. For your first time, it’s probably a good idea to start small so that you can make your mistakes and learn the ropes on a small, manageable scale. There are several different types of systems, but the one that we’ve found to be most efficient on a small scale is a drip system.

Drip systems use a submersible pump placed in a basin on the bottom that pulls the water up to an irrigation tube above the plants. The water drips down into the pan(s) and trickles back down into the catch basin and is then recirculated. It’s efficient and simple to use.

NOTE: Very few commercial hydroponics systems (or DIY ones for that matter) operate without electricity. In the case of an EMP or a complete grid failure, your system will require manual watering, so choose carefully if those situations are a concern for you. You’ll want to choose a system such as a vertical gardening tower that makes it easy to water without an operational pump.

We tested the Plug & Farm Tower system that’s great for both beginners and experienced growers and works well indoors or out, though it does require electricity. There are many different options out there, or you can build your own.

What Can You Grow Hydroponically

Well, just about anything, in theory. After all, you’re providing everything any living plant needs to thrive – water, nutrients, light.

However, there are some plants that are more challenging than others. For instance, root vegetables are a challenge and require a system that’s deep enough to grow them. You may want to get a bit of experience before you jump off that particular log.

Vining plants and light-weight fruits grow well hydroponically, too, and did well in the tower we tested. You can even start fruit trees, then plant them into soil when they’re big enough.

Now, for the system that we tested, vining plants, herbs and green leafy vegetables worked, but not root vegetables.

Transplanting Seedlings

If you’re starting your seeds outside of your system and transplanting it as a seedling, it’s a simple process. Germinate your seeds. You can do this by placing them in a grow cube or in a paper towel or baggy.

If you use the grow cube, just keep it damp with water or your hydroponic solution until your seedling pops through – anywhere from two to four weeks.

If you’re germinating the seeds before putting them in a growing medium, put them in a damp paper towel on a plate and keep the towel damp. Your seed will germinate in just a few days.

Now that you have your seedlings, you’re ready to transplant them to your system so that they can grow into delicious plants.

This process is going to be determined by the system that you’re using but will consist of placing the seedling so the roots are in the water/solution and the plant top is not.

A Note about Growing Mediums

You can use many different mediums in your hydroponics setup including gravel, sand, coconut shells (they don’t break down easily) or just about anything else that is food-safe and won’t decompose.

If you choose to use gravel, be sure to choose stones that won’t leech minerals into the water, because then you’re affecting the nutrients available to your plants.

The entire purpose of the medium is to support the roots in a way that water can flow freely around them, so don’t use mediums such as mulch that are going to break down to, well, soil.

Growing Your Plants

Now, your plants are in your hydroponics system, so what next?

Make sure that they stay hydrated and are getting the nutrients that they need! They should be watered thoroughly several times daily to prevent the roots from drying out, and the automatic drip system is great for this.

Once your plants begin to grow in earnest, you’ll need to provide support for vining plants. Trellises are great for this.

Keep your plants from dragging the ground in order to avoid rot and exposure to disease. Prune them properly and watch them grow!

Click the banner below to grab this offer and start your own survival farm!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

6 Trees Every Survivalist Should Know & Why

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6 Trees Every Survivalist Should Know & Why Being a prepper/survivalist is a great lifestyle. I am loving it and haven’t looked back. There is always new information to be learned and this article is proof of that for me. Trees give us wood for our campfires. They provide structure to our shelters, materials from …

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How To Build A Herb Spiral

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How To Build A Herb Spiral Spring is just around the corner and winter is starting to wind down, for some of us anyway. Build one of these beauties and have plenty herbs for the rest of the year. I found an article that shows you how to construct these simple herb gardens in a …

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The 10 Principles of Effective Family Survival

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The 10 Principles of Effective Family Survival There’s nothing more important than family in this world. No matter the differences and the hard times you faced, the survival of your family remains your main priority. If your loved ones depend on you to make it during a crisis scenario, you must bring them together. They …

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8 Tips On Reusing Containers For Water Storage

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One of the things that we as preppers and homesteaders are most proud of is using what we have on hand. If everybody operated like we did, there would be a lot less waste on the planet, and a lot more creativity. We re-use and repurpose so many items that we’ve taken it to an art form, so why not do the same with our water storage containers?

Sure, you can buy the fancy water containers at your local Walmart or Target, but they’re expensive and you’re not much bang for your buck. Why not reuse something that you’ve already paid for and are just going to throw away anyway?

What NOT to reuse as water storage containers

There are some things that you just shouldn’t use as water containers either because they’re not suited for it, or they can kill you. Neither situation is ideal, and we’re talking about storing something that is non-negotiable in terms of survival. You absolutely cannot live without a ready supply of clean water regardless of the season.

Food Grade Only

So, first on the list are porous containers that held toxic materials such as oil bottles, antifreeze jugs, and kerosene oil bottles. This may seem obvious to you, but believe it or not, there are cases of people who have reused these types of containers, much to their detriment. Use only food-grade plastic that has only stored food. So, enough said. Use your common sense.

Milk Jugs

Next on the list are milk jugs. I know – many people use milk jugs to store water, and they’re great for short-term storage in the fridge or freezer, but not for long-term storage. They’re relatively flimsy and easy to puncture or damage, especially if they’re warm or frozen, and the lids aren’t particularly tight on many of them.

You may use them for a couple of years, then come to check your stockpile and notice that one was punctured by a nail head or something when you scooted it across the shelf the last time you moved something, or the lid popped loose. Now you have water on the floor or shelf and it may have ruined some of your stuff. At the very least, it made a mess.

Plastic with BPA

Don’t use plastics that have BPA in them. BPA, or bisphenol A, is an industrial chemical that has been used for decades to add strength and resilience to plastic and to line cans and packaged food containers to prevent leakage and rust.

Unfortunately, it leeches out into the food or drink and binds to estrogen receptors and interacts with other hormones. This can disrupt body functions such as cell repair, growth, energy levels, metabolism, fetal development, and body temperature regulation among many others. In other words, you may not want to drink it.

Because of the controversy, many companies, especially ones that produce bottles and jugs meant to hold liquid, are shying away from BPA. Just check to make sure that your container is BPA free. It will either say it, or the little recycle triangle will have a 1,2, 4, or 5 in it. These are free of BPA and other harmful chemicals, but avoid containers marked with a 1. We’ll discuss that in a minute.

Now that we have our list of containers NOT to use, let’s talk about ones that are good to use to store water for long-term water storage.

Our forefathers used different methods to store their water when they settled with their entire family in new areas.

This long forgotten water storage secret can save your life! 

Good containers to reuse for water storage

Thankfully, this list is long and most of them are already in your refrigerator or cabinets.

How to distinguish food-grade plastics

As long as the little recycling number has a 2 (HDPE – high-density polyethylene), a 4 (LDPE – low-density polyethylene) or a 5 (PP – polypropylene), you’re good. It’s not a good idea to reuse containers marked with 1 (PETE – polyethylene terephthalate) because detergents and heat will break it down and can cause antimony, a toxic chemical, to leech into your water. So, use only plastic containers that have a 2, 4, or 5 in the triangle.

A tip about reusing plastic for water storage: wash it in the dishwasher or in warm, soapy water, rinsing well, and allow to air-dry.

Juice jugs

These are great containers to reuse to store water because the plastic is usually thick and juice is pretty easy to wash out of the jug. The lids are usually secure, too. Since the plastic is usually sturdy, you don’t run the risk of tearing it by snagging it on a nail head or breaking it if you bump a corner when you’re moving it.

Some people will tell you that you can’t get all of the sugars out of the bottle and that can lead to a breeding ground of bacteria, but if you use chlorinated water or add a few drops (2 drops per quart) of bleach, you should be fine.

Juice jugs come in many different sizes, from small, single-serving bottles to gallon (or bigger) jugs. All of them are good for storing water, and it’s a good idea to have water stored in smaller containers so that you can take it with you if you have to flee. Also, if you have all of your water stored outside in drums, people will see them. You want to keep your water supply hidden.

5-gallon buckets

Ahhh… yet another use for 5-gallon buckets. Personally, I like the idea of storing water in these because they’re stackable, they’re typically made to contain liquids (think pickle juice), and they’re opaque. They meet all of my needs except portability, but won’t it be nice to have a few gallons of water if you need to make a huge pot of soup to feed everybody?

As with all plastics, make sure that they’re food-grade because not all of them are. Though you can buy these, there’s really no need to because you can go to restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, and just about anywhere else that sells food and get them for free.

If they happen to smell like pickle juice, wash them well and fill them with water, then add half a cup of bleach to it and let it sit overnight. Charcoal and vinegar work too, but I don’t like to add vinegar on these because then it smells like vinegar, which is suspiciously similar to pickles. You can always just take off the lid and let it air out for a few days, too. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Soda Bottles and water bottles

Soda (aka pop) bottles are great for water storage. Since they come in many different sizes from 8 ounces on up to 2-liters, you have a lot of versatility. Many water bottles are reusable, too. As with all other plastics, clean well with warm, soapy water and rinse thoroughly.

55-gallon drums

If you want to store large quantities at a time, then these are a great option. Again, just make sure they’re food-grade and haven’t had any non-food products stored in them.

If you want to buy them new, just search the net for them. You may even be able to get them for free if you live near a soda distribution plant because that’s what they buy their syrups in. If they have a policy against giving them away, ask who picks them up, then contact that company. Chances are good you’ll get them for just a few bucks a piece.

Oh, and these come in both plastic and stainless steel, so you have options. I’ve never used the stainless steel ones so I’m not sure how heavy or unwieldy they are compared to their plastic counterparts. On a similar note, you can make a collection, storage, and filtration system using 55-gallon drums.

Now that you have some ideas for reusing containers for water storage, what are you waiting for? Start storing.

Remember the Law of Three: you can survive without water only three days. Click the banner below to discover our ancestor’s methods of water storage!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

How to Build the Ultimate Survival Shotgun

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How to Build the Ultimate Survival Shotgun Having items for survival at hand in any situation is obviously the ideal situation. What people don’t know is that you can place a lot of the 5 main categories, Water, Fire, Shelter, Signaling and Food in some of the weirdest places you can think of. The first being a shotgun. Think about this, …

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25 Car Emergency Kit Must Haves to Rule Any Road

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25 Car Emergency Kit Must Haves to Rule Any Road Most of us believe it or not do not have any kind of kit for emergencies in our car. I think the statistics is like 7% of Americans have an emergency kit for that just in case moment. I personally have a small tote I …

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How To Make Beeswax Candles

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How To Make Beeswax Candles – Easy, Healthy and Affordable! I love burning candles. There is something so serene about the warm glow of the flame. They warm up the room, smell great and who doesn’t look more attractive in candle light? As we approach the winter months and the holiday season grows closer many …

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How to Grow Sprouts In A Mason Jar For You Or Your Chickens

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How to Grow Sprouts In A Mason Jar For You Or Your Chickens Sprouts are great for us and our lovely chickens. They are full of nutrients and much-needed sustenance. You can use sprouts in your every day foods, I prefer them in salads It gives the salad a great crunch and taste. For chickens …

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Using a Wood Burning Stove to Cook Off Grid

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Using a Wood Burning Stove to Cook Off Grid Using a wood burning stove to cook off grid is not as easy as many people would think! Sure, anyone could start a fire in the stove, put food into a pot or pan and heat it up but would it taste good? Will it be …

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10 Disturbing SHTF Threats that most Preppers Haven’t Prepared For

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10 Disturbing SHTF Threats Most Preppers Haven’t Prepared For When SHTF it will be a scary and confusing time. Hundreds of thousands of people that are not prepping will be sitting ducks. Even preppers will be after reading the article in the link below. The article goes over 10 real threats that could affect us …

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How To Build A Drip Irrigation System For Under $100

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How To Build A Drip Irrigation System For Under $100 A drip irrigation system can save you time, money and conserve water. This drip irrigation system can be turned on and left to do its job without you having to stand over it to monitor its progress. Using water wisely with a drip irrigation system …

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How To Use Zip-Ties in An Emergency Situation

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How To Use Zip-Ties in An Emergency Situation Your imagination is the key to survive an emergency situation. It doesn’t matter if you’re stranded in the woods or in the concrete jungle. Putting your mind to good use and using the items you have can save the day. Having a few simple zip-ties in your …

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20 Long Lasting Foods That Should Not Miss From Your SHTF Pantry

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20 Long Lasting Foods That Should Not Miss From Your SHTF Pantry I recently realized I never really thought about how to stay alive during a long term survival scenario such as an EMP that could wipe out the entire electric grid for many, many years or an economic collapse like in Venezuela. It’s only …

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Take The Advantage Of Growing Hydroponic Plants!

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Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably heard of hydroponic planting. Even if you did live in a cave, you probably saw an example of it when you saw that little plant growing in a puddle of water in the rock. That’s what hydroponic growing is – it’s simply growing plants without soil.

But why should you try it? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

When you think about hydroponically growing plants, you probably get this vision of complicated systems and expensive grow lights, but that’s not the case. Growing plants using a hydroponic system is actually easier that using a soil-based system, as you’ll see in a bit.

You can use water alone, gravel, sand, coconut husks, or even artificial materials to secure the roots of your plants, but the idea is to choose a medium that allows the water to flow freely around the roots of the plant.

Here are just a few advantages of growing hydroponic plants.

Plants Grow Faster and Yield More Fruit

Studies show that plants grown hydroponically grow 30-50 percent faster than soil-grown plants and also yield more fruit. This is probably because there is a constant supply of water and the nutrients are delivered straight to the roots throughout the day.

Since the plant doesn’t have to search through the soil and break the nutrients down in order to absorb them, it’s free to use that extra energy to grow and produce.

Also, there is generally more oxygen in water than there is in soil. This helps the plant absorb nutrients faster and it also promotes root growth.

No Weeding

Since you’re controlling the medium and you only plant what you want in it, you’re not going to be dealing with weeds, and if you do manage to get a couple weed seeds blown or carried in, they’re easy to pluck out, roots and all.

This saves you time, and prevents the plant from fighting with weeds for nutrients and water.

You Control the Nutrients and pH

One of the biggest problems that we face when we grow plants in dirt is that we’re often at the mercy of the quality of the soil. Without sending it off to be tested, it’s tough to tell what nutrients are in your soil and how acidic it is.

Since some plants prefer a more acidic soil and others prefer neutral or base soil, you’ll find that some plants grow better in your soil than others.

With a hydroponics system, you take all of the guesswork out of the growing process because you control the amount and type of nutrients as well as the pH. This is another reason that plants are healthier and more productive.

You Know What you’re Eating

You really don’t know what’s in your soil even if you’ve lived there for 20 years because pesticides, chemicals, and even acid rain can contaminate it with all sorts of harmful materials. When you grow your plants using the hydroponics method, you know exactly what’s in the food that you eat.

Year-Round Fruit

Because there’s no dirt to mess with, hydroponic systems are exceptionally easy to manage indoors or in a greenhouse, which means that you can have fresh produce year-round.

If you get sick of growing tomatoes, just switch them out and grow some basil to go with them. Since your plants will also yield more fruit, you’ll really ramp up your production.

Indoor/Outdoor Options

We just mentioned that hydroponic systems are easily adapted to indoor growth, and there is more than one reason why that’s a good thing. First, you don’t have to go out in the rain or heat to tend your plants, or look at a snow-covered, barren garden in the winter.

That’s great, but what about security? If you’re growing plants inside, nobody will know what you’re doing. In hard times, when you’re trying to survive, this can be a deal-changer. And you don’t necessarily need much room for an indoor hydroponics system, either.

As a matter of fact, we’ve tried on, the Plug & Farm Towers can be mounted against a wall and only extends about 6 inches from the wall. It’s only a few feet wide and tall, but is designed so that you maximize your growing space. You can use it in an apartment or even a slightly large closet as long as you have the necessary lighting.

Less Space

Unlike traditional soil growing techniques, hydroponic systems lend themselves nicely to growing in stacked trays. I’ve seen many setups that range in size from the Plug & Farm Towers to ones that consist of 5 or 6 layers of trays that are several feet wide with a couple of feet between each layer.

If you use a gravity system, you can get quite clever with your angles so that each layer trickles down to the next, then is fed back up to the top again. Even using a hydroponics system that large, you’ll still be using very little water in the scheme of things.

Vertical crops

Soil Quality Doesn’t Matter

This one sort of goes without saying since you’re not using soil. To drive home the point, though, I live in Florida and the soil is extremely sandy, with just a bit of loam on the top. Tomatoes grow OK here in that, but they’re merely compared to ones that I grew in the rich soil of West Virginia.

However, if I use a hydroponics system, I don’t have to worry about soil quality. If you pair this with an indoor growing system, you can grow pretty much anything.

Lower Water Requirements

Any plant needs water because that’s how it absorbs nutrients.

Now, of course we can’t give an exact number here because the US has such a wide variety of soils and rainfall amounts, but in soil that’s not too wet or too dry, and grown in conditions that aren’t miserably hot with low humidity, it will take about 20 gallons of water per week to water a 32 square foot garden. That’s a garden that’s roughly 5 feet x 6 feet.

Now, if you have to water an area that large using a hydroponics system, you’re going to use as little as 1/4 of that. Maybe less if you’re filtering and oxygenating the water, because it’s a re-usable source.

In other words, with a soil garden, you’re going to be using 80 gallons per week, but in a hydroponics garden, you’re going to be using that initial watering (5 – 7 gallons) over and over again.

When you’re in a survival situation, that’s a huge difference in the amount of something that you need to live! In essence, that saves you an extra 15 gallons just in the first week, and, even assuming you lose a couple of gallons to evaporation weekly, you’ve still saved at least 40 gallons. That’s enough water for almost two people over a month!

Diseases and Pests are Easier to Get Rid Of

The way that many diseases and pests attack your plants to begin with is via soil. So, since you’re eliminating soil, you’re also eliminating much of the risk of your plants becoming infected. And one of the main reasons that pests and diseases are so hard to get rid of if you DO get them in soil-grown plants is because they hide in the soil and keep reinfecting your plants.

With a hydroponics system, there is no dirt to hold the pest or disease, so they’re easier to get rid of if you are unfortunate enough to contract them in the first place.

Greater Variety

Since you’re no longer dependent on soil quality or large land areas, and you can easily use a hydroponics system to grow year-round in a greenhouse or indoors, you can grow basically whatever you want.

You can also experience three or even four growth cycles (depending on what you’re growing), so even if you have a smaller growing area, you can grow one plant this cycle, and another plant the next cycle.

Physically Easier to Grow and Harvest

You can grow your plants at whatever height is comfortable to you – just build your system accordingly. That means that you don’t have to bend over on your hands and knees like you do when growing a traditional garden.

You don’t have to weed the garden, either, at least not on any serious level. If you do need to pick out a few, they pull out easily because their roots aren’t buried in dirt.

Now that you have a few really good reasons to try a hydroponics system to grow your fruits and vegetables, get started! We’ve provided a link to one that we’ve personally tested. It’s efficient, easy to assemble, and simple to use.

It’s also big enough to make a nice wall garden outside, but small enough to use inside even a small apartment. And with only 10 minutes a day you’ll never have to worry about feeding your family again.

Click the banner below to grab your own survival farm!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

You Won’t Believe What Bears Do When We Are Not Around

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You Won’t Believe What Bears Do When We Are Not Around I thought I would do a more lighthearted article today… I was just looking at bear photos and came across a collection of bears emulating human things. I want to share some of the funniest with you guys today. If you find them funny …

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Easy DIY Pallet Greenhouse Or Chicken Coop

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Easy DIY Pallet Greenhouse Or Chicken Coop This multi-purpose DIY project can serve as a great greenhouse or chicken coop. Easy to build for a very frugal price! There are loads of garden DIY projects on the web, the difference between this and others is that this is a multi-purpose garden addition, You can add …

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How To Make Whiskey Step by Step

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How To Make Whiskey Step by Step Who doesn’t like a shot of whiskey on a cold night? I love it. My granddad has been taking a shot of whiskey every night before bed for over 50 years and he swears it keep him healthy. I did a post on how to make watermelon moonshine …

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7 Steps for Growing Your Best Crop of Onions

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7 Steps for Growing Your Best Crop of Onions Onions are on of the crops every self sufficient Gardener should be growing each year.  Even if you only have a small garden it is possible to grow and store enough onions each year so that you never have to buy another onion again.  Onions are …

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Beyond Paracord: 8 Other Cordage Types You Need to Know

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Beyond Paracord: 8 Other Cordage Types You Need to Know It’s no secret that 550 paracord is the most versatile cord you can include in your bug out bag. It should not be the only type of cordage that you consider, though. Many types or rope, cord, and wire exist for many different uses and are …

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7 Simple Ways To Help Honey Bees

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7 Simple Ways To Help Honey Bees Did you know that you cold help save the bees in your own back garden? I found 7 Simple Ways To Help Honey Bees. I have been thinking about our poor bees for a while and I went hunting the internet to see if I could do anything to …

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70+ Preparedness Gardening Projects

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70+ Preparedness Gardening Projects Gardening has and always will be an important preparedness tool in aiding us towards self sufficiency and survival. With out it we wouldn’t last log in a SHTF situation. Having food stockpiled is great and will keep you fed but what would you do if the emergency you were in didn’t …

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How To Make a Stun Gun With a Disposable Camera

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How To Make a Stun Gun With a Disposable Camera This is the guide to make a device which runs on a battery and produces sparks at tens of thousands of volts very rapidly. DO NOT use this for any other reason then self defense. A stun gun is a very handy thing to have …

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How To Make Natural Tiger Balm

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How To Make Natural Tiger Balm The time-proven blend of herbal ingredients in Tiger Balm provides safe and effective topical pain relief for sore muscles, arthritis, neck and shoulder stiffness, and just about any other minor muscle or joint aches or pains that may come your way. Tiger Balm is a topical analgesic (pain reliever) …

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14 Prepper Items To Look For At Garage Sales

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14 Prepper Items To Look For At Garage Sales Garage sale season is here! This is the time of year when people do their spring cleaning, clear out their basements and attics, have garage sales, and sell valuable items for next to nothing. If you haven’t been to any garage sales yet this year, you …

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20 Amazing Uses For Soap You Never Thought Of

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20 Amazing Uses For Soap You Never Thought Of I haven’t used soap in years, it makes my skin dry and itchy BUT I read this fantastic article from modernsurvivalblog.com that goes over 20 amazing uses for soap. I never knew soap could be so useful. I will for sure buy some cheap soap now to …

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PRACTICAL TACTICAL NAMED ONE OF THE TOP 75 SURVIVAL SITES TO PREPARE YOU FOR THE END OF THE WORLD

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Lockpick World has named Practical Tactical one of their Top 75 Survival Sites and Blogs!

We are thrilled to announce that the good folks at Lockpick World have included us on their list of the top 75 survival sites and blogs alongside some of the heavyweights and best known haunts of those that run in preparedness circles.

Our goal has always been to help anyone interested in readiness and resilience get started on their journey to preparedness without feeling overwhelmed, while still offering something for the more advanced preppers among us. Joining the likes of JW Rawles’ Survival Blog, Tess Pennington’s Ready Nutrition, Lisa the Survival Mom, Survivor Jane, and Chris Martenson’s Peak Prosperity on this list must be proof that we’re doing something right and we are grateful to be mentioned with such a distinguished group.

We will continue to do our very best to help anyone interested in preparedness achieve their readiness goals. We strive only to be worthy of your time and we can’t wait to see you out there.

Keep up with everything Practical Tactical by subscribing to our mailing list and be sure to LIKE, SHARE and FOLLOW us across all of our social media platforms as well.

February Seed Starting Schedule

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February Seed Starting Schedule February is the month when indoor seed starting begins for most gardeners.  Even those of you that live in some of the coldest parts of the country will be able to start a few seedlings in February.  A few basic supplies and a simple shop light are all you need to …

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2 Ax Techniques for Fast Firewood Splitting

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by Todd Walker

2 Ax Techniques for Fast Firewood Splitting ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The permanent scars on my parent’s car port floor are a reminder of that grand idea Craig and I came up with while splitting firewood in 1977. The winter wind felt like we were tied to a whipping post.

“Let’s get out of the wind.”

“How ’bout the car port? The wood’s gotta be stacked in there anyway.”

Not our best idea ever, but we set up shop on the two-year old concrete floor. Driving the metal wedge with 8-pound sledge hammers, a few, quite a few actually, shot like bullets through the wooden rounds followed by a distinctive twang of metal meeting concrete.

“Ya think he’ll notice?”

“Nah. It’s just a few dimples. And we’ll stack wood on top anyway.” Upon further inspection, they were chunks, not dimples.

Had we known of these two splitting techniques, we could have saved Daddy’s new floor… and a lot trouble when he got home from work.

The Twist Technique

The normal way to turn big rounds of wood into little stuff is to use a splitting maul or hammer and steel wedge. These tools are heavier than an ax and doesn’t mind eating grit, even an occasional rock under ground. But they’re heavy fellows and not convenient to tote to base camp. A proper ax is easier to carry and does a noble job of separating wood rounds.

There are many frustrating ways to split wood. Typically, one balances a round atop a chopping block, takes aim, swings, and one becomes two pieces. And neither piece stays on the platform for further splitting. The cycle of bending over, balancing a half-round atop the chopping block, and splitting again is about as fun as a pulling teeth. Even using an old tire to hold the stick together while splitting requires lifting and placing the wood inside the tire.

If you want to speed up the splitting process, put a twist on your swing.

Stance, Swing, and Safety

Trees, like people, are different yet have similarities. No matter the wood species, when possible to determine, split rounds from top to bottom. That is, position the wood vertically as it grew in the forest, top end up, bottom (butt) down.

Longer axes are safer than short-handled ones. When splitting, even on a chopping block (backed-up vertical stroke), with a boys ax (24 to 28 inch length), if you miss the target and chopping block all together, your follow through will likely turn your foot into a clove hoof. A 36 inch or longer handled ax extends the swing arc and would stop in the ground on miss hits.

With that in mind, and the fact that we’re not using a chopping block, we’re actually splitting what would traditionally be used as a chopping block – a big, round chunk resting on the ground. A slight twist or flick of the handle at the moment the ax meets the wood will prevent the ax from traveling through the length of wood.

To start, target the outside edge of the round. For my swing, I aim about 3 inches in on the outside edge of the chunk. My right hand grips the bottom of the handle and flicks or twists to the right on impact. You’ll be moving around the chuck steadily removing wood so make sure your area is clear of all tripping hazards and swing obstructions.

Clear, straight-grained wood like the Red Oak in the video makes for fine splitting… until you hit a knot. At that point, the twist technique is not effective. Other tree species can be difficult to split even with a splitting maul. Sweet Gum, for instance, reveals a mangled, interlocking grain which frustrates the most seasoned wood splitter. The best strategy to get through knots with an ax is to strike dead center on the knot. Or, just designate the piece a long-burner.

The Tiger Technique

Steven Edholm, who issued his crazy Axe Cordwood Challenge, along with my fellow participants have tried to come up with a name for this splitting method. Nothing official has stuck. What I’m calling this golf-like-swing is the Tiger. You may have figured out by now I’m referring to Tiger Woods, professional golfer.

Whatever you choose to call it, the Tiger is my favorite and fastest method for turning a pile of large rounds into small, burnable chunks. Before the Safety Sally brigade shuts me down for even suggesting you use what appears to be a dangerous ax swing, allow me to explain the method behind what seems to be pure madness.

Safety Concerns 

I covered the basics of swinging an ax inside and outside your frontal zone in a previous article. There are inherit dangers anytime you swing 3 and a half pounds of scary-sharp steel. I get it. No matter how many times I grip my ax, my mind pictures a few online ax injuries, which can’t be unseen, as I soberly begin swinging. Even then I must follow, without exception, the protocol of safe ax use.

A few concerns always pop up from Safety Sally folks who have never attempted the Tiger. It just looks awfully dangerous. Here’s the gist of their advice/concern…

  • A glancing blow and the ax hits your leg. Don’t split that way.
  • The log should be propped up against another back rest.
  • Looks like an accident waiting to happen – especially with a double bit ax.
  • That’s a hazardous way of splitting wood. I’ve chopped and split wood growing up. Never chopped that way.

What’s interesting is that other seasoned axmen comment on the effectiveness of this method. This is a lateral swing and is preformed outside the frontal zone. The important part is to keep your feet ahead of the point of ax impact. Clear-grained wood separates with alarming speed… and will fly many feet in the wood lot.

When clearing and area for ax work, I use this same swing to remove small saplings close to the ground. As the ax arc begins its upward motion, the bit separates the sapling cleanly. Again, follow the Frontal Zone rules for safe swinging.

Just like any other ax technique, Doing the Stuff is the key to improvement. You can’t watch the video or read about it to become proficient. Study proper technique and go split some wood.

Here’s a few photos of my firewood stack at base camp. The Axe Cordwood Challenge is coming along nicely and teaching me some valuable lessons on the journey.

2 Ax Techniques for Fast Firewood Splitting ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The front stack is all ax cut: felling, bucking, splitting, and cutting to length. The Red Oak in the rear was sawn and doesn’t count in my Cordwood Challenge.

2 Ax Techniques for Fast Firewood Splitting ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Red Oak and Tulip Poplar stacked. You can see the difference between the sawn firewood and ax-cut wood.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

DIY Mason Jar Bee Hive

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DIY Mason Jar Bee Hive Making a mason jar beehive is super easy and the benefits of having one will help you out beyond belief. These are so simple this hive thrives in urban areas too. If you know anything about bees you know that having your own hive can be as easy as a …

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Surviving Off-grid: Hot Water From Your Wood Stove

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Survivopedia_Hot_Water_From_Your_Wood_Stove

Whether we’re talking about off-grid survival or just having the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of living in the 21st century in our cabin in the woods, having hot water for taking a shower, shaving, or taking a nice long bath is one of the yardsticks of well-being.

What can be nicer than enjoying a hot shower after working all day outside in the cold? And even better, if that hot water is completely free of charge? It doesn’t sound bad, does it?

Moreover, it would be pretty nice to have hot water at your disposal without being dependent upon a utilities company, whether we’re talking about electricity or gas.

We’re Reviving Ancient Techniques

What I am trying to tell you is that nowadays, heating water is one of the most overlooked functions when it comes to the archaic wood stove.

Just a few decades ago, many wood stoves were built with a water tank (it was called a range boiler) behind/beside the respective wood stove, for producing free and virtually limitless amounts of hot water. A two for the price of one kind of a deal.

Basically, whether you’re looking to save some dollars on your utility bills or get hot water in some place remote without breaking the piggy bank, the main idea is that you can use your wood stove for more than warming your homestead, cooking and whatever else wood stoves are usually good for.

Truth be told, domestic wood stove-based water heating systems are not new; they were invented centuries ago.

The Romans constructed incredibly clever central heating systems for public buildings (and the rich also had them, because they were too expensive for plebes) in an era sans electricity, and we’re talking 2000+ years ago. I know it sounds incredible, but yes, they actually had central heating through the floors 2 millennia ago; that’s how smart Romans were.

The Roman system was called Hypocaust and it worked by producing and circulating hot air below the floors (even walls in some cases) using a network of pipes. Hot air passed through those pipes and heated the floors/walls and obviously, the air was heated via furnaces burning wood and/or coal, because there was no electricity or piped gas back in the day.

In the event of a grid-down situation, how many of you are planning on heating their home with wood?

Learn from our forefathers how to install an emergency wood-burning stove!

How the Heater Works

Hence, getting hot water using a wood stove uses the same basic principle as a Hypocaust, but with a twist: water is used in our case instead of air, because it’s difficult to take a shower without water, right? I know – there’s an invention called dry cleaning, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Joking aside, to keep it simple: a regular water heater is nothing more than a tank of sorts, sitting on top or next to your wooden stove. As water rises when heated, hot water is drawn from the top and cold water is piped at the bottom via a piping system, obviously.

How does it work, you may ask? Well, it’s pretty straightforward: the stove water heater uses heat exchangers for transferring heat from the stove to the water. Depending on the design, the heat exchangers can be mounted inside of the stove, on the outside of the stove, or in the stovepipe.

Water is circulated through the heat exchanger when a fire is burning in two ways: naturally, via the thermosiphon principle which relies on water rising when heated or by using a pump.

The heat exchanger device is available in 3 main varieties:

  • a serpentine coil made of, in most cases, copper pipe
  • a small absorber, like a solar-collector
  • a box-like mini-tank. Most heat exchangers are mini-tanks or coils mounted inside the stove.

The heat exchanger can be built using copper, stainless steel, or galvanized iron, and they’re commercially available or they can be built in local shops or DIY-ed depending on your skills. For our intents and purposes, we’ll have to rely on the thermosiphon system, because this system works wonderfully off the grid and it doesn’t require fancy stuff like pumps and all that jazz.

The Tips that Lead to Success

“Keep it simple stupid” is the name of the game in a survival situation. As things get complicated, the probability of something failing rises exponentially.

Whenever the stove is used, water must circulate through the heat exchanger in order to prevent it from boiling. The storage tank must always be located higher than the heat exchanger and as close as possible to the stove.

Thermosiphoning-based systems are better than electrical-pumped ones not only because of their simplicity and availability, but also because in the eventuality of a power outage, the pump will stop working, leading to overheating the water in the heat exchanger.

This is a DIY project that can provide you with endless hot water without requiring electricity, as it’s based on the thermosiphoning process. This one uses a therma coil – a homemade unit – which consists of a serpentine made of copper, which is put inside the wood stove and connected via plumbing to a water tank.

This is a hot water-on-demand heater which can help you in a variety of situations. And best of all, everything is made using scrap materials, more or less (except for the copper piping, I guess).

Video first seen on engineer775 Practical Preppers

As a general rule of thumb, for best results, you should isolate all your hot water lines more than 3 feet away from the wood stove using slip-on foam insulation, which is designed for temperatures up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Don’t forget to spend 10 bucks on a thermometer; it’s well worth the investment and it will help you with eliminating all guesswork with regard to determining water temperature.

Copper is one of the best piping materials out there, as it’s very easy to work with when building coils (the heat exchanger gizmo), but remember that when used with iron, the latter will corrode.

The second DIY job is made by the same guy but this time, instead of a copper serpentine placed inside the wood stove, he uses a simpler water coil made of stainless steel. The rest is basically the same, check out the video.

Video first seen on engineer775 Practical Preppers

The third project also uses the thermosiphoning principle (hot water rises) and copper tubing for making the serpentines, but this is a “larger scale job” compared to the previous two, and more complex.

Video first seen on convectioncoil.com.

The fourth and last DIY project uses an interesting design, i.e. a double-walled water heater (a double-walled 6-inch pipe, basically) and between the walls there’s copper water pipe circling the inner wall, thus transferring the heat from the wood stove to the water circulating through the piping.

Video first seen on thenewsurvivalist.

That about sums it up for today folks. There are still many lessons to be learned.

Remember that knowledge is everything in a survival situation and take our ancestors’ example – they survived when there was no electricity.

Click the banner below to uncover their lost secrets!

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This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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A True Homesteader!

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A True Homesteader! Host: Bobby “MHP Gardner There is a lot of interest in being self-sufficient these days. People are looking for information on how to grow and store their own food, provide their own meats, go off-grid with solar setups… get out of the system so to speak. We see a lot of these … Continue reading A True Homesteader!

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$3 DIY Bamboo Longbow

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$3 DIY Bamboo Longbow The long bow! One of the earliest weapons made by man. You can make your own from Bamboo for around 3 bucks! This is pretty powerful and will be plenty adequate to hunt small game and maybe even mid size animals. I found a great tutorial that shows you how to …

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The Cricket Trailer: RV with Low Costs to Combat High Gas Prices

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The Cricket Trailer: RV with Low Costs to Combat High Gas Prices The Cricket trailer is a great option for a camping or bug out trailer. Low cost, lots of usable space. This trailer will quite literally rock your world. Before you start reading this could I trouble you to vote for this website as …

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Essential Oils for Common Sense Disaster Preparedness

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Essential Oils for Common Sense Disaster Preparedness Essential Oils have become very popular in the past 5 years not only to heal ailments, freshen rooms naturally and clean the house but in the preparedness community especially. I have been looking for a great article on essential oils for a while now and as I only …

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20 Tiny House Plans You Can DIY

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20 Tiny House Plans You Can DIY Tiny house living basically means living minimally in a small home with a size of under 500 square feet. If you’ve never heard of this concept before, you might think that it’s weird because isn’t it better to live in a modern, big house like those celebrities’ homes you …

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How To Make An Archer’s Thumb Ring From Bone, Antler Or A Spoon

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How To Make An Archer’s Thumb Ring From Bone, Antler Or A Spoon I am no expert what so ever on archery or hunting with bows… That being said I did a little research and learned that you can have a steadier aim and hold the bow drawn longer than most people who do not …

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