There is something to be said about the pioneers of old. Well, there is a lot to be said about them. Maybe the most important thing is to say that they figured it out. They figured out how to live off the land like very few people had. They did so under some of the …
It all started with a problem….
What if I needed to leave on foot? If my mode of transportation was stolen, broken, out of fuel, stuck in a ditch, fried by an EMP, or in endless bumper to bumper traffic…
Cards are charged AFTER the campaign, and ONLY IF we reach our funding goal. Therefore you could say, it’s “ALL OR NOTHING”.
You will notice our campaign has a limited time-frame to reach our funding goal, help us spread the word!
I am looking for individuals who are interested in erecting their yurts or walls tents on a 16 acre plot of rolling, undeveloped woodland that I have.
The land has been primarly used for camping and recreation. You might be the FIRST pioneer to set up your yurt! The general idea is to create an off grid village with these portable structures as dwellings, and a social community set in a modern Bohemian culture. Artists, musicians, writers, free thinkers, performers and other eccentrics like myself.
Essentially, creative people- starving artists on a low budget who are willing to pool resources to meet needs, and live more simply in order to really focus on your projects, passions and creativity, instead of slaving away daily for some company you detest in order to pay high rent and utilities, and still have little time or money left to pursue what you’d rather be doing! (This is what a lot of us are doing right now!!)
Is this place right for you:
Are you a creative soul?
Don’t mind being in a remote, off grid, woodland location?
Can you handle an “off grid” reality? The ultimate in rustic camping!
Would like to surround yourself with other like-minded people?
Would like to build your own yurt or wall tent for a home?
Willing to help others with gardening, landscaping, micro farming?
Can provide for your own personal expenses- water/power/food and about $30 a month for your share in land costs (taxes and upkeep).
Moving toward a self sustaining community
With the focus of the community being farm and arts, it makes sense to pursue the idea of a farm and arts market on site to possibly create an income from personal gardening efforts and creative endeavors. The opportunities are there, just looking for community members- one person, and one step at a time.
Contact me if you would like more details!
The post START UP Community- DIY Yurt village and Bohemian Market appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.
The pioneers knew more than a few tricks to preserve food for the long-term. Any form of food preservation was designed to kill and inhibit the growth of bacteria, fungus and other micro-organisms. It also was designed to prevent the oxidation of fats which could lead to rancidity.
Our pioneer ancestors needed to master these skills for two reasons:
1. The seasons. Summer and fall were times of plenty, but winter and early spring were not. The ability to preserve food to over-winter in many environments was vital to survival.
2. Long journeys. They were traveling across open prairies in a wagon train, traveling on sailing ships to distant shores, traversing mountains with little or no vegetation or wildlife. Long journeys required stores of food that would keep well and not cause sickness due to foodborne illnesses.
Plan Ahead – or Else
You may have heard of the Donner Party. They were pioneers traveling to California who were trapped in the Rocky Mountains during relentless blizzards and cold temperatures. Many slowly starved to death while others resorted to cannibalism. That’s poor planning.
We’re not going to cover the obvious, like canning in mason jars (our pioneer ancestors didn’t have a lot of access to glass or finely crafted metal lids). And they certainly didn’t irradiate foods or use electric dehydrators.
Here are seven ways the pioneers preserved food:
1. Salt. Any civilization living next to a saline or salty body of water had the ability to dehydrate the water and gather salt. In ancient times, it was a valuable commodity and for a while, Roman soldiers were paid their wages with salt.
While we tend to think of salt as a standard seasoning, the value of salt in ancient times was more related to the preservative power of salt. Salt reduces moisture, inhibits bacterial growth and leaves a flavor that’s easy to eat, depending on the salt level. Ships at sea often carried small barrels of pork embedded in a cask of salt or a salt brine. This “salted pork” was standard fare for many people traveling across oceans for long journeys.
Salt is often used in brines to enhance the preservation of fish, fowl and game before drying or smoking, and it’s a standard addition to most pickling recipes and those casks of salted pork.
2. Fat. This may come as a bit of a surprise but fat, especially beef feet or tallow and suet, has exceptional preservative properties. It’s a standard addition to pemmican recipes, which usually involves a 50 percent mix of dried and powdered beef or buffalo and an equal amount of fat plus some raisins or black cherries.
Also, pioneer women would often take cuts of meat and place them into a crock or small barrel and top it with tallow or suet due to its preservative properties. On a fundamental level, the congealed fat is preventing oxygen and airborne microbes from reaching the meat.
It was important to keep any container with these combinations sealed from air.
3. Honey. Good news and bad news about honey. The bad news is that it’s hard to harvest a lot of it, and buying it is expensive. The good news is that it has remarkable preservative properties. In fact, a jar of honey more than 3,000 years old was discovered in an Egyptian tomb, and clinical tests found it to be safe to eat.
Many of our pioneers preserved their most valued cuts of meat in honey and like salt, it added a pleasant taste to the food when eaten.
4. Vinegar. This is perhaps the most potent, natural antiseptic you can safely consume. It’s actually acetic acid and is usually a 4 to 5 percent solution in water. It was also easy to make from various fruits like apples. It was used to preserve everything from vegetables to fruits to meats, fish and fowl.
The typical process involved immersing the food in vinegar in a cask or container, and sometimes salt was added for flavor and additional preservative qualities.
5. Drying or dehydration. This is probably the oldest food preservation technique. It was used to preserve everything from vegetables to fruits and of course meats, fish and fowl.
The critical success factor with drying foods is to remove as much moisture as possible.
- Beans or legumes were often strung on sticks and hung in the rafter of a cabin or tepee to air dry.
- Fish were filleted and often salted before being hung in the sun on racks or over smoldering fires.
- Strips of meat from game were sliced thin, salted if possible and also hung in the sun or over a fire to dry.
- Fruits were sliced thin and left to dry in the sun and taken indoors at night to continue the drying. They were turned often and sometimes smoked. They, too, were hung on sticks in the rafters at times.
6. Root cellar. This is all about preserving vegetables such as carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, potatoes and parsnips. This approach provides multiple benefits:
- Fairly consistent temperatures in winter and summer.
- Consistent humidity, which is beneficial to root vegetables.
- Protection from insects and animals, to some degree.
- Protection from sunlight.
- Easy access to a variety of vegetables
- Smoking fish, fowl and game over a low and slow draft of smoke in an enclosed space not only dried out the food, but the smoke and moderate heat both killed and inhibited bacterial and fungal growth.
7. Smoking. Smoking over a period of a month or more also allowed larger cuts of meat and whole fish to be successfully dried and preserved, rather than the thin strips usually cut for traditional drying methods.
The meat or fish were sometimes cured with either a dry cure of salt crystals or in a brine.
Even after removal from the smoke house, large pieces of smoked meats would last a long time if kept in a well-ventilated and cool and dark place. Parma hams in Italy hang for months and months in the cool towers of buildings after careful brining and smoking.
Do more research about food preservation and if in doubt, throw it out. Our pioneer ancestors learned the hard way about what worked and didn’t work.
What is your favorite old-time food preservation method? Share your tips in the section below:
Baking bread usually requires an oven. But what do you do when you’re a pioneer living in the 1800s — and you don’t have an oven? Simple. You use a frying pan, or twist the dough around a stick or make a version of cornbread on the metal side of a hoe or large axe. This is what our ancestors did for hundreds of years.
The first recipe we’ll explore is a frying pan bread often referred to as bannock bread. The recipe is fairly simple. The only trick is making sure you don’t burn the bannock.
Bannock bread ingredients:
- 2 cups of flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 2 tablespoons of shortening
- ½ cup of dry milk powder (optional)
Bannock bread directions:
Before you add the water, you need to cut in the shortening using a couple of knives or a pastry cutter. After the texture appears crumbly, slowly add water until you get a putty-like consistency.
Oil a cast-iron frying pan. Mountain men would use bacon, salt pork or even bear fat. I’m OK with the bacon but I’ll pass on the bear fat. Pour the mixture into the pan. I used a small size 1 cast-iron pan. Place the pan over some coals or on the stovetop and brown for about 3 to 5 minutes. Flip the bread over in the pan and finish the other side.
You might want to flip a few times to cook the bread through and to prevent burning. When you think it’s done, poke a stick into the center of the bread. If it comes out clean and dry, then the bread is done. If not, then you can let it rest in the pan off the heat until it finishes.
Bread on a Stick
Another recipe was popular with sourdoughs and mountain men. It was bread on a stick. This was a surprisingly simple solution because all it involved was wrapping a long roll of dough around the end of a shave stick and setting over the fire. The stick was usually inserted in the ground at an angle to the fire and turned occasionally. If you dip your hand in water and spritz the dough while it bakes, then you’ll get a pretzel texture to the finished bread twist.
Bread on a stick ingredients:
- 2 cups of flour
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 cup of water
- 1 teaspoon of yeast
- Extra flour for dusting and rolling
Bread on a stick directions:
Combine and mix the dry ingredients and slowly add the water. You want to create a dough ball that you can roll out into a rope of dough. Use the reserved flour to keep the dough from sticking. Let it rest for about 10 minutes after kneading and then wrap it around the end of your cooking stick. The ideal dimension for your cooking stick is about an inch in diameter with a pointed end and about 3 feet long. I usually insert one end of the dough into the point at the end of the stick and then try to either overlap the dough as it’s wound or if I’m lucky, push it onto a small branch about 10 inches down the stick. Set the dough on the stick aside and let it rise a little more. I just push it in the ground away from the fire.
When it’s time to bake or roast your bread on a stick, push a different sharpened stick into the ground at an angle to your fire. You could also support it with rocks. You don’t want a roaring fire. A nice bed of coals will do. Turn the stick from time to time, but be careful and wear gloves because the stick will get hot. You can also spritz the dough with water flicked from your fingers if you want a pretzel-like finish to the dough. You can toss some salt on the wet dough toward the end of cooking after your final spritz.
Tear a piece off and give it a try. If it needs more time you can slowly turn it over the coals.
Another pioneer bread is commonly referred to as “Hoe Cake.” This is a cornbread that was literally baked on the curved metal side of a hoe. The hoe was parked next to the fire and the hot iron cooked one side of the hoe cake while the heat from the fire cooked the other side. I don’t happen to have a hoe, but I have a large timber-squaring axe, which did the trick just fine.
You can also finish your hoe cake in a cast iron skillet. It’s the same concept, although you have to flip if from time to time to finish both sides.
Hoe cake ingredients:
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¾ cup of buttermilk
- 1/3 cup plus one tablespoon of water
- ¼ cup of vegetable oil or bacon grease
- oil for the pan or the hoe
Hoe cake directions:
If you want to do this the old-fashioned way on the side of a hoe (if you have one) or in my case, the side of a large axe – you’ll want a fairly thick batter that will stick to the side of the metal. If you would rather do it in a pan, you’ll want a cast-iron pan. Oil the pan and drop the batter into the skillet after it’s hot. You’ll probably want to turn it once or twice to cook it through and prevent it from burning.
It’s fun to try these old world recipes and they’re easy to make. You might want to experiment a bit, but it’s a good skill to know if you find yourself in the woods or wilderness and have a craving for something as fundamental as bread.
What advice would you add? Have you ever a survival bread? Share your tips in the section below:
Corn Pone is a form of cornbread normally made without milk or eggs. It is normally baked or fried. Where corn pone came from is contested in the history books. It is well documented that it was used by both armies during the Civil War, so both the North and the South at least agreed on one thing! It’s also something that was cooked and eaten by pioneers.
Most of the modern recipes we see for corn pone use milk and eggs. This is really just corn bread. Older recipes for corn pone leave out the milk and eggs. The people were poor and often just scraping by.
Here is an old corn pone recipe.
4 cups ground white or yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon salt
2-3 cups of very hot, but not boiling, water
Up to 1/2 cup bacon grease or other oil
In a large bowl, add the hot water to the corn meal and mix into a thick batter. Cover with a dishcloth and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. The batter should still be soft enough to mold into a small cake about the size of the palm of your hand. If not add a bit more water. Take your cake and shove three fingers into the middle, if the batter holds the fingerprints, the batter is just right. If not, adjust the water or corn meal as necessary.
Take your cast iron skillet and put it over a medium heat on the stove or over your fire, add the bacon grease or oil. When the oil is hot lay the cakes into the pan. Cook them until they are browned on one side, this should take about 3 minutes. Turn each and brown on the other side. Drain the fat and serve.
Corn pone can be fried as above or baked in a Dutch oven. If you have ham, bacon, or chili peppers, they can be added as an option. I love it with chopped up jalapeno peppers mixed in the batter.
As one old boy said, “This was a get-by recipe, when you had nothing else. If you were lucky enough to have butter or jam it tasted plenty good.” In the days of the Great Depression, sometimes this would be a meal in itself.
UPDATE FROM NOAH: Pioneer and Great Depression recipes are very popular among preppers and homesteaders. Over the years, Howard provided quite a few of these and over the coming days, I’ll be updating and posting them. They shouldn’t disappear into the archives.
All Is Well?
(Editors Note: This short story is the opinion of the writer and is meant to be shared as a nice read. Not one to change your preferences or sway you in any way.)
“What?! Are you crazy?!” You must be thinking to yourselves. Hold on! I agree with you, clearly, all is not well. But it can be. Can’t it? Allow me to explain and then elaborate. But first I must go back into history to illustrate.
In 1846’s Mormon pioneers first began the long trek from Nauvoo, Illinois to the uninhabited Salt Lake valley. This trip was made in wagons, handcarts and on foot and continued with many different ‘companies’ for several years. Approximately 10% of these pioneers perished on this so called ‘Mormon Trail’ (part of the Oregon trail) with one company in particular loosing as many as one quarter of the entire group. Clearly all was not well with them. The primary reasons for their troubles came from either being poorly prepared or leaving too late in the season. With handcarts that would only carry 500 lbs of supplies I can see how it would be difficult to be adequately prepared for the 1,300 mile journey. I wish to illustrate how we can learn from the past to prepare for the future. There’s no need to let the lessons learned by our ancestors go to waste.
Despite their numerous problems during their journey, as well as the difficulties of creating a new settlement in the middle of the desert once they arrived, one of the things that kept them going was their faith. One of the ways they carried on with faith was with the help of Hymns, including a particular song that they sang and kept in their hearts as they crossed the plains.
“Come, Come Ye Saints.”Come, come ye saints. No toil or labor fear. But with joy, wend your way.Though hard to you this journey may appear, grace shall be as your day.‘Tis better far for us to strive, Our useless cares from us to drive;Do this, and joy your hearts will swell – All is well! All is well!You can find more verses of this hymn here. https://www.lds.org/music/library/hymns/come-come-ye-saints?lang=eng
With all of the trouble of the world right now, that we hear and see everyday, does it not lighten your spirit and lift your heart to have the right perspective in your preparations instead of doom and gloom? The proper attitude in a survival situation is essential!
Many of us who are preparing for the difficult times that we know are coming our way may not in reality be emotionally, mentally or spiritually prepared for how hard it actually is going to be. We may have plenty of guns and ammo, food storage and supplies but that may not be enough. I personally do not fully comprehend the extreme level of difficulty and suffering that is possible but looking back to our ancestors helps me to gain some perspective. This perspective, I believe, will help me to better prepare for what the future holds.
To be properly prepared requires us to be aware of current events which are filled with ugly and depressing news. We then attempt to compensate for fear and despair by buying more and more stuff. Yes, stuff is important to have, but far more important is to be spiritually prepared. Now, don’t misinterpret my statement. I believe that it is our responsibility and instinct as human beings and as children of God to be prepared to survive whatever situation we find ourselves in.
Referring back to the hymn;
And should we die before our journey’s through, Happy day! All is well!We then are free from toil or sorrow, too;With the just we shall dwell! But if our lives be spared again to see the saints their rest obtain,Oh, how we’ll make this chorus swell – All is well! All is well!With the right attitude and perspective, that is only truly attainable through your own spiritual preparedness, by your own personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ, all IS well and will be well in the end. None of us can escape this ‘end’ but individually I hope that I can do as much good as possible before my end. I believe that these Mormon pioneers knew these truths which ensured many of their survival.
On occasion I like to play the Xbox game “HALO” with my brothers. I am sure many of you are familiar with it. One of the most frustrating times for me in this game is when a new games starts and I am killed off almost immediately. I am unable to make any progress before I’m terminated. This happens a lot as I only play about once a year. Fortunately, in this game we are “spawned” anew and get to try over again and again. The obvious parallel drawn here is that in the game of life we don’t get that chance. We need to make our first and only chance count. But if we don’t make it to our desired destination, and if we are spiritually prepared, then “All is well”.
We have the privilege and capacity to be the most prepared people to have ever lived on this planet because of the technology, resources and wealth available to us. This unique situation to us makes our generation either the most prepared or the most vulnerable that there ever was or ever will be. There’s quite a dramatic difference between these two conditions. The difference in spiritual preparedness is also just as noticeable right now with statues being erected to celebrate Satan and monuments being torn down reminding us of God’s commandments, the contrast is frightening. But don’t worry, it will get much worse.
Imagine the conditions of these pioneers. What gear did they take with them over their 1,300 mile trek? Wool clothing and blankets at best. Black powder rifles, Inferior steel knives and tools. Heavy canvas tents. Heavy wood handcarts and wagons that consistently broke down. How much better off do we have it now as to technological advancement?! The stark difference is nearly mind boggling. Although these same pioneers endured harsh persecution for their religious beliefs their physical trials were possibly even more difficult. I believe that we now face just the opposite conditions. Although our physical trials will be very difficult our spiritual and mental struggles will be even more so, thus the even greater need for spiritual preparation, perspective and attitude.
I have often thought that as we see technology take over, the more simple things in life will become more desirable, just as the opposite was true as convenience from technology began to emerge. I find that this is becoming true as I speak to more and more people who desire to escape from technology and information overload, and seek the more spiritual nature of our soul. We are spirit beings first that were placed in physical bodies that have many limitations. Both of which need attention and nourishment. As we recognize what we lack in our physical preparations let us not forget to also pay attention to our spiritual needs.
Let’s take this approach as we prepare ourselves for the coming difficulties. Fortunately you don’t have to wear only wool clothing and leather boots if you are planning on bugging out. Fortunately we don’t have to try and keep our powder dry or cast our own bullets but have the lightest and most accurate firearms and most convenient and powerful ammunition ever known. We know exactly which guns we need and we know exactly the solar oven we need, but do we know exactly what we need to do to spiritually prepare?
It is not my intention to tell you how to spiritually, mentally or emotionally prepare. That is a very personal search for each and every one of us. I will say that it is essential to your survival and should demand your immediate attention as you also continue to also build your physical preparations.
As these pioneers made their journey to a physical place they believed would give them the freedom they so righteously desired, they came to realize that their spiritual strength is what made the difference and even saved their lives many times. I won’t go into details with their many stories of struggles and survival but it was their faith and their attitude that “All is well!” that carried them through, made their journey bearable, and brought them closer to God. The same will be true with us but only if we are prepared. The time is now to gather the stuff that you will need to survive. The time is also now to be prepared for if we don’t survive. In either case the truth can be “All is well!”.
Images borrowed from the National Oregon Trail Center website.
There’s a pioneer cooking tradition in the United States that stretched from cook camps on cattle drives to lumber camps. It’s “perpetual soup,” known in some regions as the Skillagalee kettle.
Back in 1910, Horace Kephart wrote an iconic book titled: The Book of Camping and Woodcraft: A Guidebook for Those who Travel in the Wilderness. He covered just about everything related to living and surviving in the wilderness back then, and had this to say about this type of food: “Into it go all the clean ends of game — heads, tails, wings, feet, giblets, large bones — also the leftovers of fish, flesh, and fowl, of any and all sorts of vegetables, rice or other cereals, macaroni, stale bread, everything edible except fat.”
The post, he said, is “always kept hot” and its “flavors are forever changing, but ever welcome.”
“It is always ready, day or night for the hungry, varlet who missed connections or who wants a bite between meals. No cook who values his peace of mind will fail to have skilly simmering at all hours.”
Let’s look at this food more in detail – and consider its benefits.
The constant simmering and perpetual heat under the pot is actually an old food-preservation technique. By keeping the broth at a steady temperature between 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, anyone helping themselves would not suffer the consequences of food contamination. You could almost think of it as the pioneer Crock-Pot which was especially handy in a time with no electricity.
And that’s something to think about. As Kephart noted in his book, you can add just about anything to the pot. Personally, I don’t think I’d toss fish bones in with the chicken and beef bones, but maybe someday I’ll try it. What’s important is that the combination of ingredients are a potent brew of macro and micronutrients.
How to Make it in Your Kitchen
But you don’t have to hang out the cast-iron cookware over the open fire just yet. You can easily make perpetual soup in a Crock-Pot with some traditional recipes and just keep it on a setting that maintains a high-simmer. I’ve often done this on week-long fishing and hunting trips when I found myself sharing a cabin with five or six guys who always seemed to be hungry. I was the cook on all of these trips and appreciated Kephart’s recollection of a recipe for my own sanity when some of the guys came in from the cold.
You may be tempted to assume that making your own perpetual soup is no different than a traditional soup, but it’s the “ongoing additive nature” of this particular dish that makes it unique. We’ll cover a traditional approach that’s a bit less eclectic than the old 1910 version.
There are three basic things you’ll want to keep an eye on with your perpetual soup, whether it’s simmering over the fire or in a Crock-Pot:
- Slow and steady heat that keeps the broth between 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a bit easier with a Crock-Pot, and a gently, bubbling simmer should be apparent. Over an open fire you’re probably going to have to improvise and make some more physical adjustments.
- One thing that will definitely affect your simmer is the frequent addition of water. As the soup evaporates and is consumed, the broth needs to be replenished. There’s no precise measurement here. Just do what makes sense without overfilling. You also may need to crank up the heat a bit for a while to get your good simmer back.
- Keep adding ingredients. This is what makes perpetual soup so unique. Every time you add something new, it will impart a new set of flavors and nutrients.
Perpetual Soup Ingredients
The idea is to start with a foundation that you can add to, day to day.
- Water. This amount depends on the size of your pot, but I usually fill the pot 2/3 full whether it’s a Crock-Pot or a kettle on the fire. You’ll want to cover with a lid, but make sure you balance your heat to the proper simmer with the lid in place. A lid over any hot liquid will increase the temperature as heat is added, and you could end up with a rolling boil or boil-over instead of a very gentle boil or robust simmer.
- Vegetables. I like carrots, celery, roughly chopped onions with the skins still on (this will add a nice, caramel color to the broth), other root vegetables and stalk trimmings like radish and turnip stalks. Leave out the beets and trimmings unless you want a very bloody, red color.
- Bones. Beef bones, pork bones, chicken and pheasant carcasses and turkey carcasses. Get them bones in there. They add wonderful flavor and lots of good stuff. At some point you can pull out the big beef bones and make your dog very happy. He might like a sprinkle of the broth on his dry dog food.
- Seasonings. You have to balance this with your group’s sodium tolerance. Seasonings related to broth tend to be defined by salt. You may be pleasantly surprised that as your perpetual soup matures, its flavor grows and diminishes your craving for salt. Just taste as you go and go and go.
Fats are typically not a good idea with a Skillagalee pot, but they’re unavoidable. Also, if your fire went out at camp or you let the broth boil away overnight in your Crock-Pot, toss it and start over.
Add as you go from one day to the next, but think about how certain ingredients can dominate flavors long-term. Once you add fish bones to a stock, it will linger. Same is true for hot peppers and other dominant flavors. I love garlic, but a few trimmings in the pot will last and last.
Lastly, know when to quit. This could become very obvious as the off-flavors just don’t seem to be working. In my case, it’s when my wife complains about those constant smells in the kitchen from “that Crock-Pot.”
It’s easy to start over. After all, you’re just using water, trimmings and some simple seasoning.
The concept is pretty simple and it’s not like it takes a lot of practice. But the next time the lights go out or you find yourself with a large group for a while, give it a try.
Have you ever made perpetual soup? Share your tips in the section below: