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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Family Time at Christmas

I'll be taking several days away from blogging as we enter Christmas week and the New Year to spend time with family and friends. Hubby is coming home from his active duty mobilization at Ft. Knox to spend a week with us for Christmas, which we'll all enjoy.

During this holiday time, take a few minutes to think about your family and preps. How are you ending the year? In better shape than when you started? Here are some items you might want to consider as you head into the new year resolutions:

Where are you in your prepping goals as the year draws to a close?

Where would you like to be this time next year?

How can you get there - what plan can you implement?

Is your prep storage secure from the elements?

Is your prep storage organized? Do you know what you have and where it is? Do you rotate items?

Do you have friends or family members that can go in with you to purchase in bulk at sometimes better pricing / shipping?

What skills do you have?

What skills do you want to acquire?

How can you establish a plan to acquire needed skills?

Have you practiced with any of your prep items?

Is your immediate family on board with prepping?

If yes, do they all know their responsibilities? Their skills? Do they practice?

If no, how can you find ways this coming year to introduce prepping into their lifestyle?

There are many other questions we can ask ourselves about our prepping needs and desires. The important thing is to take the time to ask them. Spend a little time as the year draws to a close to assess where you are and where you want to be. Then make it happen!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

National Association of Free Clinics

I saw this posted over on the APRN Ham Radio blog and thought it was definitely worth sharing.

The National Association of Free Clinics (click on link to search your state) has listings of FREE MEDICAL CLINICS in each state.

Many are seeing rough economic times these days with reduced hours, lay-offs and job losses - this could be a resource you or someone you know might need in the future for medical care.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Chia Seeds - Excellent EFAs

Image courtesy of Natural Remedeez

We've recently discovered this fabulous little seed - Chia Seeds. Yes, these are the very same seeds used for those horrendous Chia Pets that make their way through the stores during this time of year for Christmas presents.

But don't let that discourage you. Keep on reading - you'll be amazed.

Research on these little seeds reveals what a truly wonder seed they are. We've long tried to figure out good ways to have long term storage for Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Most things that are high in these oils go rancid quickly or it would be cost prohibitive to store.

Enter Chia Seeds. Here is some info for you:

From Wiki:
It is still widely used in Mexico and South America, with the seeds ground for nutritious drinks and as a food source.

Chia is grown commercially for its seed, a food that is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, since the seeds yield 25-30% extractable oil, mostly α-linolenic acid (ALA). It also is a source of antioxidants and a variety of amino acids.

Historically, chia seeds served as a staple food of the Nahuatl (Aztec) cultures of Central Mexico. Jesuit chroniclers referred to chia as the third most important crop to the Aztecs behind only corn and beans, and ahead of amaranth. Tribute and taxes to the Aztec priesthood and nobility were often paid in chia seed.

Chia seed may be eaten raw as a dietary fiber and omega-3 supplement. Ground chia seed is sometimes added to pinole, a coarse flour made from toasted maize kernels. Chia seeds soaked in water or fruit juice is also often consumed and is known in Mexico as chia fresca. The soaked seeds are gelatinous in texture and are used in gruels, porridges and puddings. Ground chia seed is used in baked goods including breads, cakes and biscuits. Chia sprouts are used in a similar manner as alfalfa sprouts in salads, sandwiches and other dishes.
Another source for excellent info: BuyChiaSeed.com
Chia seed is high in calcium, 5 times the calcium of milk. 631 mg per 100 grams of seed.

Chia seed is also high in protein, with 18 grams per 100 grams of seed.

The optimum ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 should be 3:1
Chia seed provides that ratio.

Chia seed is hydrophilic. Absorbing up to 14 times (Mix @ 9-10 times) its weight in water. This helps extend energy and endurance.

Chia seed is rich in antioxidant oils.

Chia seed contains chlorogenic acid, and
caffeic acid as well as myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol flavonols. These compounds are both primary and synergistic antioxidants that contribute to the strong antioxidant activity of chia seed.

Chia seed is also low in sodium, only 19 mg per 100 grams.
We buy ours here: Natural Remedeez

from their website:
Chia turns out to be the highest known whole food source of omega-3s. 3 1/2 tablespoons contains as much omega-3 fatty acid as a 32-ounce Atlantic salmon steak. Chia is an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and copper. It has as much magnesium as 10 stalks of broccoli, as much calcium as 2 1/2 cups of milk and as much iron as half a cup of kidney beans.... The Chia seed contain high levels of fiber, and more antioxidants than many berries. it can also help regulate blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease. Chia stabilizes blood sugar levels by reducing blood sugar swings through its ability to slow down the release of carbohydrates and their conversion into sugar. Chia seed is considered to be nature's perfect food.
We've eaten ours by the spoonful, have ground them into smoothies, and I've ground them into a flour and put them in pancakes. We've sprinkled them on top of salads and waffles.

I encourage you to give Chia Seeds a try and add them to your long-term storage preps!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Make Your Own Dishwasher Powder

One week I decided to see if I could make my own dishwasher powder. I've always used the Shaklee Basic D and have been very pleased with it. But, I also think it is fun to try something you can make at home that costs less and turn it into a homeschool lesson at the same time!

I looked across the internet and would you believe how simple the recipe is??? Equal portions of Baking Soda and Borax. That's it. Easy as pie - and how inexpensive are these ingredients!!! I use 1-2 Tablespoons per load depending on how dirty the dishes are and if they've been sitting there for a while.

If you want specific measurements, you can start with 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of borax. This should make enough for you to try it and see how you like it!

I also put white distilled vinegar in the rinse compartment - this will keep your glasses shiny and without spots - and doesn't cost as much as those expensive rinse solutions you buy!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Recipe: Anyone For Scones?

Here's a recipe you might want to try for your family this weekend. One of the all-time favorite things my family likes to have for breakfast would be scones. These are right up there with homemade blueberry pancakes and waffles. They really are very easy to make and can be made in so many varieties. We sometimes have them several times a week!

For breakfast, my husband likes them best with dried cranberries, walnuts and orange zest. We dip these hot out of the oven into local honey. Yum. The girls' favorite is chocolate chip, which I sometimes make for breakfast for them, but most often as an afternoon snack. They also make a great dinner bread with sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Makes my mouth water just writing about them!

Here's our basic recipe:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar (can be decreased or omitted, depending on variety you make)
4 Tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
3/4 cup milk (can use cream for added richness if desired)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. (This picture show the dough after incorporating the butter. I added chocolate chips to these and am about to lightly mix them in with a fork).Add milk and blend well; the finished dough should be sticky. Flour a flat work space and knead the dough for about 1/2 minute. Press out to about 1/2 inch or less thickness ~ and cut into any shape desired. Triangles are traditional. Transfer to a baking sheet. (Be wary of little hands trying to snatch them before they are even cooked yet!)
Bake for 15 minutes and immediately remove from baking pan to cooling rack. Yield is about 12 depending on shape and size.


Cranberry Orange: After cutting in butter and before adding milk, stir in with a fork about 1/2 cup dried cranberries and orange zest to taste. You can also stir in some chopped walnuts. Proceed with the rest of the recipe as written. Finish the top with demerara sugar before baking if desired.

Citrus: After cutting in butter and before adding milk, stir in with a fork lemon and orange zest to taste. You can also stir in some chopped walnuts. Another breakfast favorite here with local honey!

Chocolate Chip: After cutting in butter and before adding milk, stir in with a fork about 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips and proceed with the recipe as written. For these, you want to be sure to add the 1/4 cup of sugar. These will hardly last the afternoon at our house!

NOTE: I always use a pastry cloth when working with doughs instead of putting my flour on the countertop or on waxed paper. When you lightly flour your pastry cloth, it will keep the dough from sticking to the surface without incorporating extra flour into the dough you are working.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kitchen Knives and Cutting Boards

Here are 13 tips when buying kitchen knives and cutting boards:

Kitchen Knives:

  1. You can get by in the kitchen with just 3 really good knives~ Chef, Serrated and Paring.
  2. Chef knife is usually 8 to 10 inches long.
  3. Serrated knife is for soft foods, cold cuts, bread and tomatoes.
  4. Paring knife is usually 3 to 4 inches long.
  5. Look for knives that will hold an edge - no knife can be "ever sharp".
  6. Bolster is what provides balance during use.
  7. A full tang means the blade goes all the way through to the end of the handle. Some knives have an enclosed handle and some have handles where you can see if the tang goes to the end or not.
  8. Professional sharpening is usually needed about once a year. The "sharpening steel" is not for sharpening, but to keep the edge on the knife. You should use the steel on your knives every time you get ready to use the knife.

Cutting Boards:

  1. Should be wood or plastic. Glass boards will ruin your knife edge. You want them sturdy and thick, not thin and flimsy.
  2. I use plastic for RAW MEAT, because they can go right into the dishwasher. I use wood for everything else, including cooked meat.
  3. What to look for in a wooden cutting board: Maple is the best for care and ease on your knives. Get one that is as big as you can afford. You really only need one, as it will last a lifetime with proper care.
  4. Features to look for include a carving well, juice trough and finger wells.
  5. Be sure to use food safe mineral oil on the wood when it looks thirsty to keep it from splitting or cracking. Never put it in the dishwasher. Hand wash with soap and water then dry immediately.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cast Iron Cookware Care

I really love to cook with my cast iron cookware. My favorite skillet is one that belonged to my grandmother - it is so seasoned that it cooks like you wouldn't believe and nothing sticks to it! Here is some information that I've learned along the way about caring for cast iron.

  • Cast iron is very cost effective. It is so durable that it will last a lifetime or longer with proper care. It is an excellent heat conductor - can go from stove top to oven - it is very versatile. It isn't used by as many people today mainly because it is heavy and a lot of people don't know how to properly season it.

  • Seasoning cast iron is done so the pan will become non-stick and to seal the pores so there will be no odor retention. Here's how you do it:
  1. Lightly oil the pan with vegetable oil. If it has a lid, oil it as well.
  2. Place the pan (and lid) in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.
  3. Make sure the pan is placed in upside down - this is essential or the oil will bake in the pan and leave a sticky residue.
  4. It might take 2-3 times of doing this before it is seasoned well for the first use.
  • If you store your cast iron with paper towels between the pans, the towels will absorb any moisture and prevent rusting.
  • If the pan has been seasoned improperly and is already sticky, you can remove this residue with LOTS of elbow grease using steel wool with no detergent and hot water. After it is clean, re-season it.
  • If there is rust, you must scrub it and then re-season it. For severe rust, you can put the pan in your oven on the self-cleaning setting, then wash the pan and re-season it.
  • I rarely wash my cast iron skillets with detergent, just a rinse and wipe dry seems to keep them clean and rust free.
  • If you cook anything with a tomato or very acid sauce in your cast iron, you might need to re-season it.

If you've never cooked with cast iron, I really encourage you to give it a try! We haven't used non-stick cookware in our house for years - I rely solely on my cast iron and my stainless steel cookware that has copper bottoms.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope this day finds you all in good health, good spirits and hopefully enjoying at least one delicious holiday meal with family and friends.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

7 Best First Aid Kits For Any Situation

Here's another great article from Popular Mechanics that I thought I'd share with you all:

The 7 Best First Aid Kits For Any Situation

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hardship Drill - Could You?

Guest post from Ohio Preppers Network.

Hardship drill

Fire drills. Hurricane/tornado evacuation drills. Home intruder drills. Bug-out drills. All essential activities to engage in as part of your and your families preps. However, these address preparing for more or less single isolated events-- although you should also prepare for the aftermath. But what about preparing for hardships like job loss? Sure, you have a cache of food stores, hopefully of cash on hand, etc. What more can you do?

I'd like to suggest the "Hardship Drill." A Hardship Drill is a longer-term prepping activity designed to help you and your family learn how to deal with deprivation. Here's what I have in mind, but each family could tailor this to their own situation and habits.

I'm suggesting that each family member give up something for a week. That something should now be a regular item in the family's budget, and preferably one that ain't cheap. It could be a service like home internet, cable TV (hey Dad, can you live for a week without NFL ticket?), or cell phone service (or maybe just the texting feature). Whatever it is, it should be something you are now spending money on that might find itself on the chopping block if you are forced to cut expenses. Alternatively, the entire family could give up the same thing and go through withdrawl together!

I know some of you are living a real Hardship Drill that's lasting longer than a week. What do you think? Is it worth preparing for the psychological effects of "downsizing" a household?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ideas for Saving on Your Electric Bill

Saving on your electric bill

If you're a frugal prepper then you want to save money everywhere you can. You're electric bill is probably the easiest place to find waste that you can start to cut out. I'll tell you a little bit about what we've done to kill the watts in our Bug-In-Location. (I call it that, because we've always lived in areas that we would want to be if things ever get real bad...if the SHTF, we're bugging in, not out)

Our first choice was location. If you have a choice on where to live and want to focus on reduced energy costs, then choose a place in the northern states, preferably where firewood is accessible. I'll get into firewood more in a bit, because the focus right now is how my wife got our electric bill down to $51 in the month of July and about $60 in the month of August.

By living up north the need for air conditioning is minimal...Even if it's what we'd consider hot, it's not like you're going to die if you don't have air conditioning. Yes we do have one small window mounted unit, but it's rarely ever used and only as an amenity.

Here are some more tips:
*Insulation: If you are looking for a home, then get one with thick walls and adequate insulation. Our home is built with 2x6 exterior walls. Now I'm not a building expert but I do know the better the R value the better insulated your home is. This is even good to pay attention to in hot climates as you want to keep the heat out and the cool in. Make sure you have proper vapor barriers, and have sealed all drafts and that the attic and floor are also well insulated. Solid Core wood doors and double pane insulated windows are also a must. Wood transfers less heat than metal.

*Color: For siding, go with light colors rather than dark. Light colors reflect heat better and will actually reduce heat build up by several degrees. Do this with the roof also as that is where the direct exposure to the sun is. Now if you live in an area that is normally cool in the summer and very cold in the winter you may just want to do the opposite to absorb as much heat as possible.

*Shade Trees: we have tall trees and mountains where we live so our home receives a substantial amount of shade keeping it cool even in the summer months

*Windows: In the summer, when it's cool outside at night open your windows to cool the inside, then close them during the day. Keep the curtains closed to keep the sunlight out. In the winter, keep the windows closed and curtains open to draw in the sunlight for natural warmth

*Appliances and electronics: Keep them unplugged when not using them. Yes, most appliances and electronics still continue to consume energy even when they are turned off

*Hot Water Heater: We use this as a convenience...Really, do you need hot water to survive? If we did away with this amenity I'm sure we would have had a $25 electric bill rather than a $51 bill. But if you must use it, then turn the temperature down so that it's bearable to run your hand in the hot water even with the cold water turned off.

*Dryer: This is probably the next biggest loser of electricity next to hot water heaters....Come on now, use a clothes line! This one isn't rocket science.

*Turn out the lights: We see no need to have the lights on during the day, and go to bed when it's dark. Do you have kids and find this to be a tough rule to enforce? Then swap out your switches with switches that have motion detectors, light sensors, and timers. They can be set to only come on when it's dark and when someone moves in the room, this also makes for a great safety feature. When no one is moving in the room they will shut off automatically. We're staying with the incandescents because while they may use more watts they are dirt cheap to buy compared to the CFL's and are non-toxic. We plan to stock up on them before 2010 when they will no longer be sold in stores...If you rarely use them to begin with, then why not? I'd almost bet that I have incandescents that are used so rarely that they'll last longer than a CFL bulb that gets used constantly.

*Buy Energy Star Appliances: All of our appliances are new...Our newest addition is a Kenmore Energy Star freezer and is said to only use about $35 worth of electricity per year. Got more time on your hands, then can your food...Who says you have to have a freezer to store food anyway? If the grid goes down your freezer will only work as a box to store dry goods in anyway. This is another amenity.

And lastly, my favorite, Wood Stoves:

It's easier and cheaper to keep a home warm than it is to keep it cool if you have access to firewood. We live in Northern Idaho on acreage so wood is basically free. Despite what environmentalists say, it's good to burn firewood if you have an efficient wood stove. A dead tree is breeding grounds for beetles that kill more trees and adds to the danger of forest fires if not removed. Do the forest and your neighbors a favor and remove the dead trees, check local laws first. If it's gonna burn, might as well be inside your fireplace keeping your house warm and reducing the strain on the grid rather becoming a danger to the forest. If the dead tree rots, termites and other insects that devour it will release methane into the atmosphere adding to the infamous "Global Warming"...LOL...If Environmentalists had any sense they would be proponents of efficient wood stoves for heating homes....A wood stove can also be used to cook your food, heat water, and dry your clothes (No, don't put your clothes on the stove, hang them a safe distance well away from the stove so they don't catch on fire.) Always consult with a professional and follow proper instructions on the usage of wood stoves. Our Wood stove is installed in the basement which is common practice where we live. Heat rises, therefore the whole house is heated more uniformly, again, check local laws and codes and seek professional advice before installing a wood stove.

I have several more tips about saving on power, just cant seem to think of any more off the top of my head at the moment. The most important thing to remember is every little bit helps. If it wasn't for "wanting" the amenities like the hot water, computer, and freezer, we could go off grid tomorrow, and use a generator when we really need power.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

8 Tools and Gadgets for Any Disaster

Here's great list over at Popular Mechanics that you should check out:

8 Tools and Gadgets to Prepare Your Home For Any Disaster

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Micro Greenhouse Idea

Ultra Micro Greenhouse

This was just an experiment and it worked great for me. I took a plastic juice jug which I have plenty of and made a Ultra Mirco Greenhouse. I just cut the jug in two, placed some compost inside and planted my seeds. Add a little water and put the top half back on, be sure to replace the lid this also it helps to keep the heat and the water inside. I only watered them when I first planted them and that's it. Seeds sprouted in just a few days. Set them in the window sill so they can get some sun and watch them grow. After your sprouts get a few inches high move them into a larger container.

This is a great idea to get a jump start on your Victory Garden. Raising food is a must for any long term survival situation or self sufficent life.

I used what I had on hand at the time which must be practiced in these situations.

for more great articles visit: prepperbook.blogspot.com

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dogs as Part of Personal Security

Before you get a dog

Before you get a dog, planning and research are in order. After all, this dog will become a member of your family and survival group. As in all things, the 5 P’s prevail: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

First, list what you want from the dog. Is the dog expected to protect people, protect property, give alarm, reduce vermin (rats and such), hunt, raise morale, more? Put those characteristics in order of priority. Most breeds of dog are specialized. They will do some things superbly, and others not at all. Hunting dogs are further specialized into hunting by sight (grayhounds, etc) and by scent (most hounds, among others). Only one breed of dog has been successful at both guarding and hunting as far as I know, that would be the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Hunting dogs generally will protect the person and family, but will not protect property – my neighbor’s Golden Retriever ignored the people that ransacked his house while he was working. Guard dogs are normally hopeless at hunting – my herding dog simply doesn’t understand fetch, let alone hunting.

Next, list your care constraints. How much room do you have? How much can you apply to purchase, training and continuing care? How much time will you give to the dog? Larger dogs need more room, some breeds need room to run. Walking and grooming the dog are continuing needs that take up different amounts of time depending on the dog and breed. Long-hair breeds need lots of combing, but handle cold weather well. Short-hair breeds don’t need as much grooming and are better in warm weather (but they still shed lots of fur, it just comes off easier). If there are allergies to consider, a poodle may be the only choice. Because of their hair, poodles can be kept by people that are allergic to dogs.

Once you have your two lists, research to find the best fit. http://www.justdogbreeds.com/ is a good place to start. Settle on the breed(s) that will work for you.

for more great articles visit: prepperbook.blogspot.com

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why We Should Store Food

The Basics of Being Prepared with Food & Why We Should Do It

In this country, we have become used to a certain way of living. We don’t have to hunt for food any more, our time is taken up with making or spending money and we have time for leisure activities and hobbies. Time for household chores has been cut dramatically, and cooking can be as quick as you want it. You can “drive thru”, go to a restaurant, cook on the bbq, create a home made masterpiece or “nuke” a hot pocket. Your local grocer has everything you could ever want to feed your family.

There are several problems with this.

The first is especially obvious in these current times, and that is the economy. Food prices are rising, nothing goes down…well, unless you believe in Wal Mart’s “roll back” pricing signs! Our very paycheck is at risk these days with such high unemployment. The prices go up even more when gas prices increase, which brings us to reason #2.

Our lovely, fully stocked grocer is only 3-7 days away from being almost empty! Your grocer (drug store, gas station, home depot) depends on a delivery to remain stocked. Raise the price of transport, raise the price of groceries. Stop the transport (due to a flu pandemic, an electrical outage, a natural disaster etc) and stop the groceries.

Nasty stuff is out there…we’ve heard of the poisonings and illnesses created by eating contaminated food. The government has the controls in place to prevent much of that, but they’d rather create more restrictive bills that will have us relying on big agribusiness. (another rant and a debate for another time lol). However, from time to time, things will slip by FDA and inspectors. Much of the problem is because we are spoiled and continue to demand food from other countries, out of season. We can add to that, our needs are so great that farms use chemicals to ensure the demand is met. This all can be solved by following what is called “The Hundred Mile Diet”. Eat food that is locally grown! Not only are you supporting local economy, you are eating food that is better adapted to your body. It’s also more likely to be less contaminated with harsh chemicals. Better yet, grow your own! A by-product of our eating habits is that we don’t always make meals that were once considered wholesome, hearty and healthy. We view them as too plain or fattening. This need not be true! All we need to do is make appropriate substitutions. But by fixing your own food from scratch, you definitely help with a variety of issues. Not to mention that your family will be very happy.

So, what does this have to do with Being Prepared? Well, the first thing that you need if something goes wrong, is food. FEMA, Homeland Security, Ready.gov, every state in the country, and even the White House suggest that every family be prepared for an emergency/interruption of services with food and water for 72 hours. However, that wouldn’t have done the people stranded in Katrina much good! The NEW suggestion is that you have at least 2 weeks worth of food, if not 30 days. That is the beginning of your basic food “preps” (preparations/emergency supplies).

So, how do you go about getting 2 weeks to 30 days worth of food? Do you have to resort to buying MRE’s (meals ready to eat like Army rations)? Are you going to turn into one of those wierdo’s that lives in a bunker with a thousand cans of Spam? Of course not, and it’s easy to do!

I follow the principle of “storing what I eat and eating what I store”. It’s kind of like having my own grocery store. It’s what used to be known as a full pantry in the old days.

Every time I go grocery shopping, when something I use is on sale, I get as many of that item as I can afford. For instance, we eat spaghetti often. When pasta is on sale, I pick up 10 boxes instead of two. When spaghetti sauce is on sale, I pick up 10 cans/jars. The shelf life of pasta (properly stored) is about 10 years. The shelf life of your canned/jarred sauce is about 5 years. I know that I have enough food for 10 meals without my family noticing that I haven’t been to the store! Of course, I do the same with tuna and mayo, flour and sugar and many other things. Make a menu for three meals a day for a week. All the stuff you would normally make, include comfort foods like brownie stuff) and then multiply the ingredients by 4 and then as the items go on sale, you can purchase enough. Soon, you will have enough to feed the family for a month with no hassles.

Consider why this might come in handy:
Flu/quarantine (yes, the government CAN quarantine you for 2 weeks! NO trips to the store)
Natural disaster (hurricane, earthquake, fire)
Civil unrest (probably due to unemployment and high taxes lol)
Martial Law
Terror Attack

Your first responsibility to yourself and your family is to feed them, then defend them…can’t defend, can’t start a new life, can’t wait till the problem is solved if you starve to death!) You can’t be a Patriot and fight the government when they have food and you don’t.

Author: HerbalPagan
Visit: GreenSurviving.blogspot.com

for more great articles visit: prepperbook.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fire Starters

Gear Review: Fire Starters

Author: Mathiasj

Making a fire is the most important thing in a survival situation. It can provide you with warmth, food, and a huge moral booster. Fire is also useful when camping and for fellowship of friends and family. There are many different ways to start a fire and knowing different ways to start a fire is important whether you're in a survival situation or not. A fire needs 3 elements to burn (fire triangle) heat, fuel, and oxygen. Sufficient heat is needed to start any fire, and the proper fuel to oxygen ratio is needed to keep a fire going.

First off is the trusty lighter or matches. Every prepper should have a few packs of quality Bic lighters put back, and a few thousand matches. This is the easiest way to start a fire. When starting any fire you will need something to burn to get the wood going. Newspaper is good to use to start a fire, and those free want ad papers at gas stations are great to have on hand. You want to stay away from using fuels to light a fire, especially if you plan on cooking over the fire. You run the risk of getting those chemicals on your food.

The next best thing to a lighter or matches is a firesteel. A firesteel should be part of every preppers survival kit. Whether it's your get home bag, everyday carry, bug out bag, or camping supplies; a firesteel is invaluable. If you're lighter runs out, or your matches get wet, your fire steel is your last line of defense so to speak. A firesteel works by moving a metal blade across a magnesium alloy to create sparks that can get up to 5,500°F. Those hot sparks can be thrown on a number of different types of tinder to start a flame that will light your fire. Firesteels can even be used in the rain or snow and will last for around 12,000 strikes.

Here are some ideas for tinder:
-Vaseline Soaked Cotton Balls
-Hand Sanitizer Soaked Cotton Balls
-Dryer Lint
-Pine Needles
-Dried Grass
-Unraveled twine

There are a lot of ways to start fires in the wilderness if you don't have a lighter or firesteel. I will do a part 2 to this post detailing some ways to start a fire without them. This post is to show that you need to have these things on hand so you don't have to rub sticks together to try to keep yourself warm at night. A firesteel can fit in your pocket and is a crucial part of your everyday carry.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Budget Prepping

4 Super-Cheap Prepping Resources

Author: The Survival Mom

Our family is simultaneously trying to become debt-free, save as much money as we can, have at least six months of food on hand, and take care of some badly needed DIY home projects. Believe me, I need every cheap resource I can possibly find to help me toward my prepping goals! The four cheapest resources I have found are all available to you, too!

1. Garage and Estate Sales

Been there, done that? Aren’t thrilled about buying other people’s junk? When you’re prepping, your shopping will have a focus, and I think you’ll find these sales a useful resource. Keep a list of items still needed for your 72 Hour Kit or general preparedness. This list will help you visit more garage and estate sales in less time because usually, with a quick glance, you can tell if a sale has what you need.

Even better, use online garage sale locators. Google “local garage sales” or something similar. You’ll be surprised at what pops up! Often, these sites will list items at the sale, and this can help you choose which sales to visit. You can also find estate sales in your area here. I prefer estate sales since everything in the house will be sold, down to half used bottles of Windex. Here are a few things I’ve been looking for:

* tools — I don’t want to count on, “Made in China” if we’re ever truly in a bind. Tools made decades ago will be high quality with lots of years still left in them.
* backpacks, gym bags — I need two more backpacks for our personal 72 Hour Kits and miscellaneous gym-size bags are great for holding all kinds of gear to take camping.
* camping equipment — we have a tent but nothing else. My husband is hardly Grizzly Adams! I would especially like an outdoor cook stove.

Remember, once you know what you want, the search goes much more quickly!

Oh! BONUS TIP! Retirement communities often run their garage sales Thursday through Saturday.. You can get a jump on all the other bargain hunters by heading to these neighborhoods early on Thursday mornings!

2. Freecycle.org

Freecycle is exactly what it sounds like. Recyling things you own by giving them away for free. Once you’ve signed up with a Freecycle email group in your area, you’ll begin receiving regular notices from other members with offers of free “stuff”.

I’ve seen some great items offered on Freecycle that would help out any prepper. Watch for glass canning jars, camping equipment, water barrels, dog crates, and so much more. Usually what is offered is mentioned in the email’s subject line so you can scan through them quickly. Remember to offer things hanging around your house or garage that you no longer want or need!

3. Dollar Stores

Don’t forget to visit your local dollar store! Apparently, dollar stores are becoming quite trendy. Who would have guessed?

I took a stroll through one near my home last weekend, and here are some of the best bargains I found.

* binders starting at just $2
* a package of 8 small memo books for $2. These are great for keeping in your car, your 72 Hour Kits and your purse.
* vinyl shower curtain, $2 Multiple uses for this including a ground cover and a quickie tent.
* can opener, $1.25
* chess game, $4. Would be useful in providing entertainment during a crisis.
* triple antibiotic cream, $2.30, along with a good variety of other pharmaceuticals
* large bottles of spices for $1
* a can of Quick Flat Fix, $3
* a 6-pack of Top Ramen, $1.10

Not everything is a great bargain, but you won’t know that unless you’re paying attention to prices at regular retail stores. Would you believe, I didn’t think my town even had dollar stores until I checked out these websites. What a find!

* Dollar Tree
* Family Dollar
* Big Lots!

4. Friends, Relatives, Neighbors, Casual Acquaintances…

You get the idea! Every one of us has stuff around the house, in the attic, out in the garage, in a storage unit, etc., etc. that we’ll never use again, and so do your friends, relatives, neighbors, and so on. When you get to the end of your prepping list, and you still have items you need, why not ask around?

Consider a casual barter agreement to get what you want, such as a few hours babysitting in exchange for a tent or a set of sleeping bags. Here’s a great article on the age-old practice of bartering.

We don’t know when an emergency will happen, and it just makes sense to get your preparations in order as quickly as you can. If you’re like me, your don’t have an infinite amount of money to prepare for everything, perfectly, all at once. I decided to jump in and do what I can, when I can, and I’ve been pretty impressed with how quickly my prepping has come together with these four money-savers!

Check out these four cheap resources and see if your dollar doesn’t go a whole lot farther! Soon, you’ll be ready for just about anything!

for more great articles visit: prepperbook.blogspot.com

Monday, November 16, 2009

Survival Literature for Children

INSTANT SURVIVAL TIP: Survival-Savvy Kids Literature

Author: The Survival Mom

Are your kids wondering why, all of a sudden, they’re seeing buckets of wheat around the house, and Mom is reading up on how to can meat? Our kids are already hearing about job losses, families losing their homes, and it’s no wonder that many of them are pretty anxious about current events.

A great way to talk with them about your own plans for being prepared for hard times is to read together, books like Little House on the Prairie, Farmer Boy, Hatchet and My Side of the Mountain.

The Sign of the Beaver is one of my family’s favorites about a boy left on his own in Indian country. Your kids will be impressed with his ingenuity.

These books, along with many others, illustrate people working to be self-sufficient and prepared for the future. Summertime is a great time to spend reading together. Why not choose a book that illustrates your own values and goals and learn together?

for more great articles visit: prepperbook.blogspot.com

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Power Outages

Guest Post

Off Guard and Off Grid

Off grid means many things to many people but for this post we will be addressing off grid as not have any electric power from an outside source, electric power company, ect.. Most of us depend on this outside source to provide all of our electric needs and wants. Many dream of living off grid, I'm one of them, but it's not for everyone I know. But what happens when the electric company is unable to provide you with your electric power for what ever reason? I have, and I'm sure many of you have too, been left in the dark due to a power outage, downed power lines are common during winter storms, even summer storms for that matter. Fire, auto accidents and flooding are just a few of the many other things that can and do interrupt electric service. What I'm saying is that you could be caught off grid unintentionally. But you don't have to be caught off guard during this time. Power outages can last only a few minutes or in some cases a few weeks. You can go here to read one families adventure during a power outage and some of the things they wish they had prepared for. Here are a few things you can do to make this time a little more pleasant or at least comfortable.

First, don't panic. It's not the end of the world, you are not going to die. Keeping your head during this time is the most important thing you can do for your safety.

Know where your flashlights are and have fresh batteries in them. You do have a flashlight??

Gather all family members in the same room to make sure all are accounted for and assure them that everything is and will be ok. Give each family member a flashlight to use as necessary. Candles are always important during an emergency, find them and light them to provide light for all to move freely and safely around the house.

I always shut off my main power breaker and you need to make sure any gas appliances are shut off too. Some use an electric thermostat or pilot light and may not perform as they should without electricity. This is for the safety of the whole family.

Check to see if your neighbors or family close by have electricity. You may be on a different power grid than they are and they could have power when you don't. If conditions are favorable you could go to their house and wait out the power outage. If road conditions, the weather or you vehicle is not up to par, STAY PUT !!

Next, if it's a cold weather situation you need to stay warm. Put on your socks and shoes or boots. Layer clothing to stay warm. Put on a jacket or coat, gloves and hat. It's much easier to stay warm than it is to get warm again.

Do you have an alternate heat source? A wood stove or kerosene heater, small propane stove. Any of these will help keep you warm through this outage. Make sure to provide ventilation for any gas burning heater.Once you have a little heat and some light this situation will be feel much better for all.

Do you have some water stored?? I hope so because many times water service will be lost during these times too. You will need water to drink to help keep you hydrated during this outage.

Now, where's that battery operated radio. Listening to the radio will give you some idea of how long this outage may last and inform you of any road conditions as well as provide some form of entertainment.
Speaking of entertainment, how about those board games. This will keep everyone in a little better spirit until things get restored. If this outage doesn't last too long it can be really fun for the whole family. Sort of a camp out of sorts.It's a good idea to keep a note pad and pen or pencil handy too.

This is a good time to make notes of things that you should have had ready for an emergency. You will think of many things that would have made this time much more comfortable for you and your family.

So, let's review the basics that we need to be safe and comfortable.

Light source-- flashlight, candles, battery operated lantern, ect..

Heat- Wood stove, kerosene heater, warm clothes, ect..

Radio-- Weather Radio, AM/FM radio will do fine to keep you informed of the situation.

Batteries, Batteries, Batteries. You can never have too many extra batteries.

Entertainment--board games us no power source at all and are a lot of fun for everyone.

Sit back and relax until the electricity comes back on. With these few simple ideas you can be safe and secure during this time. Get a few preparations in order and don't get caught off Guard and Off Grid.

I know these are not all the things that may be useful during these times. I also know that many readers will have other ideas as to what to do. Let me know your ideas and anything I may have left out of this small list. We would love to hear from you. Be sure to leave us a comment.

for more great articles visit: prepperbook.blogspot.com

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Grab and Go Binder

Over the course of the next several days, I'm going to share some valuable posts that are available across the American Preppers Network that you might not have had the chance to review. I'm still around, just taking a little holiday time with my family and using that time to share some great info with you all that is already out there in the network.

A Prepping Essential: The Grab-n-Go Binder

Author: The Survival Mom

In a panic situation, which happens around my house quite often, actually, people lose their wits. The extra adrenaline produced by the human body at such a moment causes confusion and the sense of events happening in slow motion.

It can even cause some of the same symptoms as a heart attack.

Can you imagine the level of adrenaline in your body if you suddenly got news of a dangerous chemical spill in your area or of a wildfire that had taken an abrupt turn toward your neighborhood?

Officials tell you to evacuate now.

Where on earth do you start??

Being prepared beforehand will calm your nerves and give you focus. A Grab-and-Go Binder is a vital part of your Family Preparedness Plan, and is one of the first things you should put together. This binder will contain all of the most pertinent information in one place for any type emergency.

You can be at least one jump ahead of all that adrenaline because you’ll have your important documents all together in one place. It may take some time to gather all the records you need, but start now with what you have. In my opinion, “prepping” is no time to be a perfectionist. Do what you can, when you can, and you’ll be far more prepared than the average person.

For this project you’ll need a 1-2″ three-ring binder, a set of tabbed dividers, and a copy machine. A box of plastic page protectors will keep your documents clean and unwrinkled. Your binder will be unique to your family, but here are some suggestions to get you started.

Financial Documents:
1. copies of the fronts and backs of debit/credit cards
2. copies of house and car titles
3. copy of your will
4. names, addresses and phone numbers of all our banks
5. other important documents related to employment and/or a family business
6. copies of your insurance policies (life, health, auto, homeowners, etc.)

Personal Documents:
1. names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of relatives and close friends
2. include copies of:
* marriage license
* birth certificates
* drivers licenses
* CCW permits
* pet vaccine records
3. a list of firearm serial numbers
4. legal documents pertaining to child custody matters
5. recent photos of each family member and each pet
6. color photos of your house and each room in the house
7. photos of anything of particular value
8. passports — put them in a plastic page protector and seal the top with tape

Medical Documents:
1. copy of health insurance cards
2. a list of blood types for each family member
3. names, addresses and phone numbers of all doctors
4. medical histories of each family member
5. immunization records

With your finished Grab-and-Go Binder, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that your family can focus on a quick bug-out, without trying to retrieve important family records.

What’s in your Binder? I’d love to hear of anything unique to your family that you included!

Instant Survival Tip: Grab-n-Go Updates

Author: The Survival Mom

Two of my readers offered excellent tips for the Grab-and-Go Binder. Squantos suggests having more than one copy of the Binder. Keep one copy in a home safe or fireproof lock box. To keep it waterproof, double-bag it in two Zip-Loc style bags or use a SEAL bag for safekeeping.

A second copy of your binder should be kept in a safe deposit box in a location at least 50 miles from your home. I think this is a great idea if you find yourself unable to return home to get your hard copy. Additionally, consider electronic storage of your information on something like a USB Fob (can keep it on a keychain or hang around your neck, example here), a mini disk or other storage device. Thanks, Squantos!

Reader Apple Pan Dowdy reminded me of the need for good maps! I can’t tell you how many times we have been halfway to Disneyland only to realize we don’t have any road maps and we have to guess our way there. Maps are vital to a safe evacuation, and I have much to tell you on the topic, but for now have a good road map of your state and the surrounding states. That would be a very good start.

for more great articles visit: prepperbook.blogspot.com

Friday, November 6, 2009

What to Watch in Ukraine H1N1 Severity

Recombinomics had a good article today detailing that while the WHO is so far indicating they see no "big" mutations or changes in the sampling they've done in the Ukraine so far, Recombinomics reminds us that even "small" changes can lead to dramatic results - quoted below:

However, the changes seen in Ukraine do not require "big" mutations. Small mutations, such as SNP can have profound effects for a virus like pandemic H1N1.

That virus normally circulates in swine, and has recently jumped to humans. It already has many characteristics with the 1918 pandemic strain. Both are swine H1N1 that jumped to humans. Such species jumpers can increase efficiencies with small changes. One good example is position 627 in the PB2 gene. That position comes in two forms. When there is glutamic acid (E) at that position, the PB2 enzyme copies the viral genetic material most efficiently at 41 C, the body temperature of a bird. However, if that position has a lysine (K), the enzyme is most active at 33 C, the temperature of a human nose in the winter. The swine H1N1 has an E, which may be why it goes well in lung, which is 37 C and closer to the optimal replication temperature of 41C. However, a single change that produced the most efficient replication at 37C would lead to even higher levels in the lungs, which could lead to frequent cytokine storms, like those in 1918, instead of the less frequent level seen in Ukraine.
Just in case you haven't been following the severity of H1N1 in the Ukraine, here's today's update from Recombinomics:

Reported Cases in Ukraine Double Again To 871,037
Recombinomics Commentary 22:54
November 6, 2009

871,037 Influenza/ARI Cases

39,603 Hospitalized

135 Deaths

The above numbers from the latest update from Ukraine (see map) continue to alarm. More than half of the Oblasts and cities listed exceed the epidemic threshold, including Kiev and Kiev Oblast, raising concerns that the increase in case numbers will accelerate. Moreover, hospitalization of 39,603 raises concerns that the number of deaths will also accelerate, since 11% of hospitalized cases in California died.
Click the link for more detail about the hemorrhagic pneumonia being seen there. Granted, these people have very sub-standard living and medical care conditions that can cause delayed or non-existent medical care, but we still need to be aware of any mutations or changes in the H1N1 virus if it is found in this region.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Favorite Bread Recipe

Nothing like a little nip of fall in the air to make homemade bread even better! Here's my favorite recipe. If you've never tried your hand at making bread you really should - you'll get hooked!

Long ago I used to make mine a loaf at a time, when I had the time, in a bread machine. Once I tried making bread by hand though, I was hooked! I now make bread 2-3 times a week and make about 3 loaves at a time. It really doesn't take that long once you get the hang of it. Here's our favorite recipe for Wheat Bread.

I mix my recipe around a bit, depending on what I have on hand. If I'm running low on grains, sometimes I'll make this as a white bread recipe. I usually make it with white and wheat flour at least and sometimes I'll also add spelt or kamut to the recipe to make a multigrain bread. Here's my basic recipe:

Handmade Wheat Bread

6 cups unbleached flour*
2 Tablespoons wheat gluten
1.5 teaspoons salt
2 cups water at approximately 105-110 degrees**
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons yeast
1/4 cup oil

* For the flour, I usually break it down to 3.5 cups of King Arthur Special with malted grains. It is an unbleached flour that makes wonderful bread. To this I add 2.5 cups of whatever grain I want to grind myself that day - usually wheat, but sometimes spelt or kamut. Sometimes I use a combination of any two or even all three different grains. The dough will rise best with at least 3.5 cups of the flour being the King Arthur or whatever your favorite unbleached flour is to use. You'll notice I add wheat gluten to help the dough rise when I use the wheat or spelt or kamut.

**For the water, I sometimes use 1 cup of water at the desired temperature and 1 cup of kefir whey.

In a 4 cup mixing bowl, combine the water, yeast and sugar and mix well. Allow to set approximately 10-15 minutes to activate the yeast.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour(s), salt, and wheat gluten. To the activated yeast mixture, add 1/4 cup of oil (I use organic canola oil or a light olive oil or sometimes a vegetable oil) and mix well. Stir into the flour mixture until well combined and then turn out the dough onto a well floured surface.

Knead the dough well by adding additional flour, about 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough becomes a soft, silky ball. This usually takes about 10 minutes or so.

Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with a smooth cotton towel. Place in a warm place until the dough doubles in size. I put mine in my oven with the light on for about 2-3 hours.
Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, punch down and divide into half or thirds. If my dough has really risen well, I'll divide it into thirds and make 3 loaves. If it is not rising as well as I'd like, I divide it into half and make 2 loaves. Every day is different when you make bread - humidity, temperature, your flour, all play a part in how your bread turns out. Some days it will rise better than others.

Okay, here I don't knead the dough again, I just turn the corners and shape it into a nice little loaf. Put the loaves into lightly greased loaf pans and cover. Allow to rise until the dough is about 1/2 inch above the top of the pan.Heat your oven to 350 degrees and put the loaves in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. They will be nicely browned. Turn out immediately onto a wire rack to cool so the bread doesn't get soggy. Wait until they are completely cooled before wrapping. I keep mine wrapped in foil so they don't dry out too quickly. Usually, we can go through at least 1 loaf a day, so they don't last too long anyway!
Enjoy your bread!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Consider Beekeeping

Have you considered beekeeping as part of your preparedness goals? Believe it or not, you don't have to have a ton of land or crops to get started keeping bees. Many people raise bees in the city, the suburbs and in our urban and rural areas.

Perks are your very own delicious honey and honeycomb and knowing that you are helping out the bee populations that have been fighting in recent years to combat colony collapse disorder.


I even make lip balms, skin creams, lotion bars and bow wax with the beeswax that we collect from our hives.

Going into fall is a great time to start your education about beekeeping if this is a hobby that has your interest. This will give you the whole fall and winter to do your homework and get prepared for the surge of beekeeping activity that the springtime brings.

We started beekeeping in September 2008. Our middle child had an interest in bees and so my husband started showing her online videos about bees every night before bedtime. She was hooked.

The next step - they attended a meeting of our local beekeepers association. As it happened a member of the association was relocating out of state and could not take his bees with him. It was a stroke of luck for us, because we were then able to purchase an established hive and set of equipment.

Normally, you do not start keeping bees in the fall. But since this was an established hive and they had plenty of honey already stored for winter, we took the plunge.


We wanted bees primarily to help fertilize our pasture for our cows. Our bees are located in meadows adjacent to our cattle pastures and are doing a great job of fertilizing our clover and many other native plants.

Our hive survived the winter of 2008/2009 quite well. We were able to "split" our one main hive into 4 additional hives during this spring, which was quite a feat. The queens have survived in 3 of the 4; the 4th one we've re-combined with another hive for this winter and we'll see if we can split it back out next spring.

It pays to do your homework before you get started in your beekeeping adventures. Here are a few steps we recommend.

~ Take some time to browse online and watch some of the videos that are out there about beekeeping. This will introduce you to how different people handle their bees, what types of bees they raise, what types of hives they use, how they extract their honey, etc.

~ Find out if there is a local beekeeping club or association in your area. Start attending their meetings. Most beekeepers are very friendly and love to talk about their hobby, especially to new people wanting to learn. Just know that many of the "commercial" beekeepers do things very differently than you might want to as a small beekeeper. And this will also be a good time for you to learn from people who use medications on their bees vs those who opt for more natural beekeeping.

~ Do some reading. One of the best books we've read is "First Lessons In Beekeeping" - you can click on the link to see a copy. It is very basic, has good photos and illustrations and also discusses bee diseases and pests.

~ Once you decide you are ready for this hobby, you need to decide what type of hives you want to keep. The options are many - and you need to know before you start purchasing your hives which kind you want. Most main hive bodies use large frames. For your honey supers, you can use small, medium or large frames. Remember your back. There are 10 frames in each super - medium frames can generate a quart of honey per frame (times 10). Then there is the whole top-bar hive option, which basically lets the bees do their own thing. Know what your goals are, what your abilities are and then make your purchases. Also, there are tons of different ways to do your foundation wax. Some have to be wired in, some drop into the frames, some are plastic - your research will be well worth the effort.

~ In addition to the different styles of hives, there are different building materials for hives. Wooden hives are most common, but there is also a polystyrene option, which we've enjoyed using. Do your research and decide what will work best for you in your climate and environment.

~ You'll want to at a minimum purchase gloves and a veil and smoker equipment. You'll need a hive tool and a brush. If you are buying a beginners set, it usually comes with the minimum you need to get started.

~ If you want to work with your local beekeeping association to catch swarms, then you need to know what you always need to have on hand for a swarm call.

Here's a fantastic blog that has broken beekeeping down into many steps:

Basic Beekeeping

Here are the beekeeping supply houses that we've used in the past and would highly recommend:

Walter T. Kelley


Better Bee

Brushy Mountain

Jester Bee

Glory Bee

We love beekeeping - if you have an interest, now is the time to get started!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Prepping for the Winter Season

Things have been busy around the homestead of late; hubby was called up by the reserves at the first of the month to spend another year on active duty (stateside, thankfully) ~ we're in the middle of processing our fall cattle for our beef customers ~ we're winterizing our bees ~ planning for the holidays - the list of things that have kept me quite busy for several days goes on and on.

In all of that, I've also been reviewing our winter preps. At the first little cold nibble, I start to run everything through my mind to make sure I'm as prepared as I can be for the coming winter season. This is something we work on throughout the year, but I always do a check as winter approaches to make sure everything is in good order.

Granted, in West Tennessee we don't have a terribly severe winter season - no real snow to concern ourselves with most years; occasionally an ice storm will visit us - but since we never know exactly what's on the agenda for Mother Nature any given year, it's nice to be prepared for what might come our way.

I start by making sure my food preps are in order. We keep long term, intermediate, short term and current use food preps. My current use food preps for the most part are always the one being used plus 2 in the pantry. For example, if I have an open peanut butter - there should be 2 more unopened ones in the pantry (or fridge or freezer, depending on what it is). We work it this way for our most commonly used items - things like butter, oats, sugar, peanut butter, ketchup, spices, cooking oils, etc.

I know that if we have an ice storm, for example, I'm well set with my pantry and other storage foods to make it through for many weeks if necessary. Along with food preps I make sure I have cooking fuel, something to open my canned goods with that isn't electric, things to cook with over a fire if necessary, things like that.

I make sure we have plenty of stored water. We keep some 55 gallon barrels of water stored outside, as well as juice containers of water inside. We also have some Water Bobs on hand that we could use in the bathtubs to store an additional 100 gallons of water if necessary.

Next I think about heat. One reason I live in the South is because I really don't like to be cold. And I'm cold once it drops below 75 degrees! So I tend to think a LOT about heat and ways to stay warm. Several years ago we had the gas line to our fireplace capped and had it lined with firebricks so we could use it to burn wood instead. This has been nice, but this year we're going to step it up and put in a wood stove insert so that if necessary, we could heat our entire home from the fireplace.

We have a little over 3 cords of wood put up, another cord to split and access to plenty more wood should the need arise. I anticipate we'll have our wood stove in place in the next month. We're looking at a couple of models that also have a cook-top option, which would be another cooking alternative should the power be out for any reason.

Those are my big 3 areas that I try to make sure are in good order. There are tons of other little things too - like making sure the furnace is in good order and the filter is new before we switch over to the heat, making sure our outdoor faucets have covers to keep them from freezing, making sure our vehicles are appropriately winterized and have winter emergency gear in them, getting our winter bed coverings out and refreshed, switching out the fall and winter clothes for the children and adults, and other things specific to our family and our homestead.

Are you ready for this winter season? Is there anything special you do to prepare? Let us know if you've found a particular tip or trick that helps you along!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Civil or Uncivilized?

There's been an interesting little discussion going on at Survival Boards for the past few days - revolving around the question: "At what point will people stop being civilized?" In other words, in the event of a major societal disaster or breakdown, when will people lose it?

Hubby has the following opinion - as always, we welcome a hearty discussion and love to hear your individual opinions - so feel free to leave us some comments!

Like many other questions about individuals, the answer will vary widely with the individual in question.

For some, possibly the earliest they will become uncivilized is when they realize that no one is watching - they are no longer constrained by law enforcement or held accountable. This crew turns savage sometime between the initial event and two days; they are your initial threat and may be present in riots or gangs. NOTE: Well disciplined gangs may conserve assets and gather information biding their time until much later.

Be prepared to deal with this group of people out of your Get Home Bag (GHB) and CCW.

Others will become uncivilized when their food, medicine or other goods they typically purchase run out; sometime between day two and one week after the initial event.

Be prepared to deal with this group of people out of a Bail Out Bag (BOB).

Yet others will become uncivilized when they realize no help is coming, there is no FEMA rescue, I'd say about one to two weeks after an initial event for this crowd.

Be prepared to deal with these people from your Bail Out Location (BOL). In some cases you could use these people to your advantage to recruit critical skills you need in your group. Perhaps something like Labor for Room and Board-type arrangements.

Finally, the organized predators, or road-gangs will come out; they will be equipped to take what they want from small groups of preppers, and will seek out sources of supply to raid or loot. They may be capable of overcoming small communities or fortified family groups. They will appear between three weeks to two months after the initial event. These people are actively looking for your Bail Out Location (BOL). Be aware, this group could also include well-trained former Law Enforcement Officers and Security Contractors.

So, in my opinion I think we should plan to expect multiple different waves of people to get uncivilized as each group reaches its trigger point.

Some people might see the first group as the biggest problem, I don't - they are easiest to dissuade by a threat of forceful response by an individual.

I see the last group as the greatest problem. They will not be dissuaded by the resistance of an individual - they have to be actually be stopped, and individual effort will not be sufficient. This is why many form "mutual assistance groups".

It is my opinion that any "mutual assistance group" with less than six operators will be ineffective or compromised as you move down the list of "uncivilized" people you will have to deal with.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Preparedness Cross-Training

Here's something to think about this fine fall weekend if you haven't already: Among your immediate prepper "family" or "mutual support group" - how much cross-training do you have?

Is this something you have thought much about? Not only how much cross-training do you have, but how much do you think you need? In what particular areas? If you had to be self-sufficient for a period of time, do you have enough people to do all the things that would need to be done in a day?

My mind has been thinking on this topic again recently, since my husband received mobilization orders and left this past week for a one-year assignment with the Army. He's stateside and will probably be able to come home for weekend visit every 2-3 months - so we're fortunate in that regard.

Given a lot of the things going on these days though - businesses still closing, unemployment still going up, homes still going into foreclosure, restlessness about the looming healthcare bill, concern about our economic stability, concerns about Iran, Iraq, terrorism in general, the swine flu, upcoming winter weather - there are lots of things to think about and pay attention to that could have an impact on your day-to-day life and survival.

Knowing that my husband won't be here on a day-to-day basis has made me spend some time thinking again about our preparedness plans and how they would (or would not!) work without him here to be a major participant in our plans.

We all tend to gravitate toward preparedness activities that we enjoy doing or know how to do well. And I'd venture to guess that in most families, Dad has his set of skills and areas he takes care of, Mom has hers and together they probably assign activities to any of the children that are around.

So if you take Dad or Mom out of the picture - how do your plans work? Where are the holes? Seems to me that cross-training would be a good idea to keep things going as smoothly as possible. Which means you have to think about what areas to cross-train, who to train, how frequently will you have them practice to learn and keep their skills, etc.

For example, I know how to build a great fire to heat our home and we've put in 3 new cords of wood this year (we're in West TN remember, it doesn't get super cold here for extended periods of time). We're narrowing down wood stove inserts and plan to purchase one in the next couple of weeks - it will have the ability to heat our entire home if necessary and also have a cooktop. So our ability to heat our home and have an alternative cooking method is in good shape. This year I'll be teaching our oldest child (age 10) how to start a fire and keep it going as good as I can.

Something I don't know a lot about though, is running the new generator we've purchased. I haven't seen it in operation yet. Also, we recently purchased a set of solar panels, 125 amp and 265 amp batteries, inverter - but this is another area that I don't know a lot about and need additional training if I want to make these useful to me. Hubby knows all about these items, but since we got them in place just before he left, he hasn't had the chance to cross-train me.

My oldest child at age 10 knows how to do quite a bit of cooking, laundry, basic cleaning, learned to mow the lawn this year, etc.

We take quite a bit of time to try to train our children how to do things that are part of our day-to-day lives and as they grow and mature, we add to these things like archery skills, shooting sports and safe gun handling, livestock care, etc.

Some preppers have taken the time to prepare elaborate notebooks with instructions so any member of their family can pick up the notebook and have detailed instructions about a variety of necessary tasks.

We haven't done this yet, but I know it is a great idea and one I'll be working on throughout this fall. Most of us have lots of information in our heads that we know intimately, but if we needed a spouse, child, friend or neighbor to pick up in our stead, there might be a few or many bumps along the way without a written plan.

I realize some personality types would see this level of detailed instruction as a nightmare. But there is probably someone in your immediate prepper group who would see the value of this level of preparedness and would take on the task of getting at least your most critical instructions in writing.

So now you know what's on my mind for the weekend and beyond - feel free to share any ideas or thoughts you have about cross-training - have you done it already? is it on your "to do" list? how will you accomplish it? have you set up a notebook of instructions? We'd love to hear your ideas.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Guest Post: G.O.O.D Bag - Ideas and How To

This guest post is coming to us from a regular on Survival Boards, Mr. SmokinOnion. He put this thread about "Get Out Of Dodge (G.O.O.D) bags" on the boards last week and did such a good job of explaining the "whys" of his decisions, I asked him if I could feature it as a guest post here. In the future, we'll also talk about a "Get Home Bag (G.H.B) and some of those details as well. Of course, know that this is one person's way of putting together their particular bag. Bags will vary as much as individuals do; this post is being provided to give you an idea of what one of these bags can do.

~~PART ONE~~~~~~~by SmokinOnion
Before we get started I’d like to cover some definitions, both generally accepted ones, and my own. I also want to state that I live on my BOL and have I have no intention of bugging out unless I have been burned out and a “Custer stand” isn’t on my list of things to experience.

Also, this review will come in segments, initial impressions, modifications, what it holds, final configuration and impressions, and finally a detailed explanation of the gear vest, contents and how the concept is working out for me, so if the concept interests you check back for updates from time to time.

Getting started:

There are several definitions for bug out bags; they are commonly referred to as follows:

INCH Bag = “I’m Never Coming Home” Bag, this is the actual basis for some peoples BOB’s.

BOB = Bug Out Bag, most commonly discussed option, traditionally a 72 hour bag, not INCH.

G.O.O.D Bag = Get Out OF Dodge Bag, original disaster bag, get out fast, keep going if you have to.

G.H.B. = Get Home Bag, original I’m at work SHTF get back home bag.

Those are the traditional definitions that I am familiar with.

This Edition of an Onion bag is a bit of a hybrid. This is the bag that is always in the truck on road trips and trips to the office for that matter. It can serve as a BOB if you like but to me and my definitions it isn’t quite big enough for a full on BOB, but is too big to be considered the typical GHB designed for the office. I can press this into a 72+ hour bag but that isn’t as dependent on the gear and is more skill related. Proper training, with skill added to a good plan trumps gear every time, so if you are going light or taking a minimalistic approach; the training and skill become paramount.

In building this one I wanted the maximum amount of flexibility in load out options while not having to carry a super large bag. I wanted to be able to modify it to my mission at hand, be it a trip to the local office, a 3 to 5 day road trip or a 3 day patrol. I wanted modular compartmentalized packing capability as well, so I could remove pieces of it and leave them on my gear rack; add them back when a task was going to call for them. I prefer a modular packing system as described, I like having seasonal capability without repacking the main, so I have set out seasonal additions, (Spring/Fall) summer, and winter. Spring and fall where I live are very similar in nature so these remain the same. Winter is a bear here and often this bag will get replaced by a larger full BOB version.

I also wanted to combine some common carry concepts, those being 1st, 2nd, and 3rd line gear. I’m going to use a vest for common carry items that are needed in any SHTF scenario, the gear vest will be packed in the bag. When needed I can pull out the gear vest from the pack, put it on and then slap the pack on. In this way, if I do become separated from the pack I still have my key 2nd line gear to keep me going, but have it in a non-threatening non-combat looking set up.

In beginning this project I had three packs in mind, a Kifaru Pointman, a Maxpedition Vulture II, and a Blackhawk Cyclone pack.

Of the three the Kifaru is the largest at 3,000ci, the Vulture comes in at 2900ci, vs the Cyclone at 1900ci; while the Kifaru is superior quality of the three and the attachment points and expandability matched what I was looking for, however, the $400 price tag, the fact that is larger than I wanted, (it qualifies as a full BOB to me), along with the fact that it is top and bottom loading took it out of the selection process early on. The Maxpedition is high quality and the size is right but the overall layout along with the limited modular addition capability took it off the table.

I prefer a smaller profile pack, slim and close to the back rather than deeper with more load further from the back. I like to keep things tight and close to the torso, I’ve got a wide set of shoulders, 30” across the back, so width I don’t mind as much as bulk going backwards. In the end I went with the Cyclone and what follows will explain why, and also I hope, provide some ideas to anyone else looking for additional ideas for their own operational needs regarding the get out of dodge bag.

Cyclone Specs:
1. Includes 100oz. BLACKHAWK Hydration System
2. Drink system protected by Microban antimicrobial technology
3. Market proven bite valve and patent pending quick disconnect system
4. Twin compartments for extra storage
5. Large compartment has internal pouch for radio packs and 3 antenna ports with flaps
6. Over 100 external S.T.R.I.K.E. webbing attachment points
7. Anodized D-rings and quick cinch buckles for compatibility with 3-Day accessory pouches
8. Reinforced waist belt with additional attachment points
9. Contoured, padded shoulder straps and sternum strap for comfort
10. Rubber drag handle
11. 1900ci

This is the pack I started with:

Extremely well stitched and solid. The back panel offered some excellent channels to keep a nice flow of cool air circulating across the back. The waist belt is not meant to be load bearing but rather to assist in stabilizing the pack and load, key for when you need to move fast but want your pack to hug you during the process. The flap covers an exit port for the secondary water bladder or a radio, there are 3 of these across the top of the pack, for antenna ports and additional water bladders.

The Vest

The gear vest remains packed in the main compartment of the bag. When it’s go time, it’ll be worn allowing me to carry the necessities on my person in case of separation from the pack. The vest has a total of 16 pockets including a larger pocket on the back and 2 inside the vest pockets as well as four front cargo, three front zip-closed pockets and several other smaller pockets. On the inside right there is a diagram showing the front and some of the uses for the pockets.

The vest is a simple Safari vest from Cabelas:

I do want to point out that LAPG has a pack than many Survival Board members have bought, the configuration of that pack, externally is somewhat similar to the Cyclone. It is quite robust, I bring it up here because the concept of what I am trying to do, could be applied to that pack at a MUCH reduced cost compared to the Cyclone. That pack is $29.99, a compadre of mine has that pack and has been using it now for about 8 months. His is rigged much like mine with some minor differences. So far he claims mine is more comfortable to hump after four or fine miles. The shoulder straps are wider, firmer and helped to stabilize the pack better.

So while the cyclone looks large, it's not as big as it looks. It is adjustable for body frame size in a couple ways.

For me, I chose this size based on what I knew I needed to carry, not what I might need to carry. I think too many people do not take into consideration the minimum load-out for their specific needs. My guidelines were:

5 day road trip, either via flight or by vehicle I wanted to be able to take one bag for 5 days. In this case I don't need to pack much in the way of food/water but have access ability to acquire it.

3 day patrol, in this case I have to carry food and water for three days in addition to shelter, food prep, field first aid, clothing appropriate for climate/terrain.

If you make a list of everything you need, from your perspective, to accommodate necessities for 3 days afoot in the field with no resupply or access to additional gear/food and also to accommodate 5 days with access or limited access to additional food/gear it make packs selection a little easier.

Take the items on your list and work out a visualization of the space required for those items, AND, most important to me, how you will carry that load-out. Access, organized, compartmentalized. Everything has a place and everything is in its place is where the organization starts and it ends with streamlined gear loads, lighter weight, easier access in a more organized manner. Helps with efficient use of space I guess.

1900ci packs are not as big as one thinks. My full INCH bag is 7,000ci for comparison and my full BOB is 5000ci. For me, to get what I wanted in a get out of dodge fast bag, I needed 1900ci, anything bigger and I get slowed down too much, anything smaller and I have to start deciding what to leave behind or toss out.

For comparison, here's another bag that is 1900ci - the Osprey Circuit Daypack:
Coming in Part Two - what's in the bag?
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