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Sunday, February 1, 2009


The Government of Canada has an official preparedness site. If you've never visited it, I suggest you take a few minutes to have a look.

The government's basic 3 step plan is as follows:

Know The Risks
Although the consequences of disasters can be similar, knowing the risks specific to your community and your region can help you better prepare. Find out here what the hazards are in your region.

Make A Plan
It's easy and essential. Every Canadian household needs an emergency plan. It will help you and your family know what to do if disaster strikes. Make your own plan and print it out today.

Get A Kit
It doesn't take long – find out what goes into an emergency kit, or where you can buy one. An emergency kit helps ensure you and your family are ready to cope on your own for at least the first 72 hours of an emergency.

The Government of Canada lists the following as known risks:

Severe storms
Storm surges

They also list the following as other possible emergencies:

Bomb threats
Chemical releases
Nuclear emergencies
Pandemic influenza
Power outages
Suspicious packages

The Canadian Preppers Network and its Provincial affiliates are working together to address each of the "known risks and emergencies" recognized by our Canadian Government, along with many more that our Government won't acknowledge.

Home security
Animal encounters
Food quality
Hospital-created deaths
Household toxins
Judicial break-down
And many many more!!

Topics will not be limited to immediate dangers. We will have a linked series of articles on off-grid survival and homesteading techniques.

For the less rural: safe-house hints and preps will be explored.

When the Canadian Preppers Network finds something new, we'll try it out for you first!

A vast amount of material is available through the associated American Preppers Network and we will try our best to source relevant Canadian links.

No matter who you are, we will have something for you!

A Good Investment

I mentioned in my last post that I had been canning everything I could. That's true and if you have been reading my stuff all along, you know that I'm big on home canning. Well I've now taken that big thing to new heights. I got on Greedbay and purchased "the Big Kahuna", a 41qt. pressure canner. Technically it's a portable autoclave by D.A. Kadan, but don't let that fool you. The only difference I can tell between it and the All-American 941 pressure canner is two manual vents instead of a single weight.

My test run with it used a batch of 19 quarts of beef stew. From the picture you can see that I used two burners on a glass top stove, which is a no-no according to the stove manufacture. The weight of the canner is supposed to be too much for the glass top. I've never had any problems canning on a glass top stove, but your mileage may vary.
Since it has manual steam vents rather than a weight, you have to be very careful to completely vent the canner one time when it first reaches pressure. Supposedly, this allows the entire volume to reach the temperature of the steam, IE no cool spots in the top of the canner. Not something that I get wound up about with a weighted release valve, but with the manual, I could see how it could be a real issue.

The second thing is that it is a MANUAL steam release. If you don't relieve the pressure when it gets too high, there is a real danger of turning the canner into a bomb. The nice thing is that you can order the parts to convert it from manual to automatic. I just haven't wanted to part with the extra cash just yet to do that.

The long and the short of it is that instead of it taking me 6+ hours to can that batch of stew, I only needed just under two hours. I'll call that a good investment.


Original: http://realsurvivalability.blogspot.com/2009/01/good-investment.html

Gardening: Grow Potatoes in Tire Towers

The picture to the right
was taken in Summer 2008.

See the bushy-ness in the two 3-tire towers? (That bushy plant towards the back is a rhubarb.) Potatoes are relatively easy to plant, and growing them in tire towers takes a lot less room than hilling rows. The other tires were later used for additional tiers, and a couple were moved for the pumpkin patch. But that's another posting!

Here's how to do the potato tire towers:
  • Drop by your local tire repair place (like Big-O Tire) and ask if you can have some of the tires they are throwing out. Be sure to wear gloves, and get some tires that have NOT used fix-a-flat or don't have steel edges showing. VERY important.
  • Pick a location that will give your potatoes lots of full sun. This section of the fence got about 8-10 hours of full sun.
  • Loosen the top layer of the ground, OR if your soil is as bad as ours, cover the ground with mulch-fabric, or cardboard & newspapers.
  • Lay one tire on top of your prepared area (we did one tire for russet potatoes - left, and one tire for red potatoes - right).
  • Line the inside of the tire with newspaper or plastic.
  • Fill entire tire with topsoil or potting soil.
  • Take 4 seed potatoes (per tire tower) and place them 2 inches down into the soil. Water.
    Watch your potato plants. When they are about 8 more inches about the soil, add another tire, and fill it, leaving a couple of inches sticking out. We had to place enough potting soil to fill only half the tire. When the plant grew a few more inches, we added more soil. Water regularly.
  • Continue with the next tire. And a fourth. Remember to leave some of the foliage out of the soil to allow it to catch more rays. Don't go any higher than 4 tires.
  • Dig out 2-3 weeks after the potato plant has flowered. UNLESS you want more matured potatoes... then you wait until the foliage is dead then dig them up. You can do a tire at a time, if you'd like.

Very easy and a good way to conserve space.

Original: http://survival-cooking.blogspot.com/2009/01/gardening-grow-potatoes-in-tire-towers.html

Cool your food down; With FIRE!

Don’t worry about electricity for refrigeration anymore. A scientific team from Stanford led by Adam Grosser has created a thermos sized refrigeration device that runs without electricity. Instead it creates cold when exposed to fire. How could this possibly work?

Well it works on thermo dynamics. Basically the heat causes gas to move and evaporate and because of this reaction cooling takes place. Originally the problem with this type of refrigeration is that it would occasionally…..well blow up. But know thanks to modern science it is so perfectly calculated that blowing up simply isn’t a problem anymore. Read more about it here at wikipedia.

As far as I know these aren’t being mass produced, but when they are I will be getting one. Refrigeration will be a great luxury in an electricity down scenario.

Original: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SurvivalGearEquipment/~3/524834432/

Your Family Emergency Plan

Do you have a plan? If you don’t, you need to write one and now is a great time. I’ve often thought it over in my head, playing out several possible scenarios. I’ve committed this week to writing these thoughts down and reviewing the plan with all involved parties - even the kids.

I’m lucky because I have wonderful in-laws that care for my kids, either all day or after school. Unfortunately their home is about 12 miles from my home and workplace. So, considering that something BIG happens like a major earthquake, I’ve let my in-laws know to stay put and we’ll come to them. What if there’s a major evacuation though? I’ve selected two meet-up points one a few miles away and the other out of state. I’ve also considered that staying put may be the safest alternative to evacuating. I need to work out the communication details though. It’s often said that text messaging should work even if cell service is out, but really I need to consider all possibilities ahead of time. It may be that we cannot reach each other for a number of days and I want to be sure my family knows what to do.

Another problem that I face is the fact I live in a highly populated area with large mountain ranges bordering one side and the Pacific Ocean the other. There are only so many choices. If there’s a major earthquake here, freeways may be closed. It’s always good to have two different routes, and even a third option mapped out ahead of time. You can keep your written plan, along with detailed maps in a ziploc bag in the front pocket of your survival bags. It’s good to review this plan twice a year to make sure your routes haven’t closed and that everyone knows what the plan is.

It would also be good while developing this plan to familiarize yourself with your children’s school’s policies. Some schools go immediately into lock-down and your kids won’t be released, others will expect you to pick them up as soon as possible. Check this out and if you don’t agree with their policy, plan how you may work around it. Maybe if you sign a waiver they will agree to an open door policy - and there may be other options.

Keep in mind that if you’re prepared you can act quickly and be one of the first on the road out of danger. Second guessing and waiting for instructions will ensure you’re in a very long line headed out of the danger area. Keep your car gas tank full - this is something I constantly remind myself of - I don’t want to be stuck in a long line for gas when everyone else is getting on the road ahead of me.

Be prepared, develop a family plan this week and have some peace of mind that in an emergency you’ll know what to do and reach safety as soon as possible.

Original: http://survivallady.com/?p=184

Provident Gourmet - Frugalizing Your Recipes

Bauern Brot

Originally uploaded by nodigio

This may take some experimentation on your part, but the end results will be better than you expect. In many cases, your frugalized recipe will be pretty and tasty, and often indistinguishable in taste and presentation from the original.

The first thing you need to do in this process is collect your favorite recipes as well as the recipes you’d like to try that have expensive ingredients you can’t find or afford. Write them in a spiral bound notebook or type them into the computer so you have room to write your substitutions and notes.

Next, make a list of the expensive ingredients in your recipe collection: saffron, asparagus, truffles, arrowroot, unsweetened baking chocolate, leeks…

Now, figure out less expensive substitutions for them. For example, turmeric makes a good substitute for saffron and the taste and presentation are almost indistinguishable between them. You can replace unsweetened baking chocolate with cocoa powder and cooking oil or butter. Scallions (also known as spring onions) and regular yellow onions can replace leeks. Cornstarch replaces arrowroot handily. Green beans can be used in place of asparagus; it changes the flavor but leaves the presentation and texture pretty much intact. Truffles are a type of mushroom, so experiment around to find a mushroom that will give you the earthy sweet flavor of truffles – morels are, to my taste, a good substitute, but you may prefer an oyster mushroom or even the common button mushroom.

Write your preferred substitutions in your list.

You can also use less of the expensive ingredient. For example, truffle oil will often give you the flavor of truffles for far less than buying actual truffles. Also, using half a cup of chocolate chips in a cookie recipe won’t affect the flavor any, but will make the cookie healthier and less expensive. Jarred roasted red peppers are just as tasty as freshly roasted red peppers and both faster and less expensive. Canned tomatoes make a good substitute for fresh when tomato season is over. Consider halving or even quartering the amount of meat in a recipe or replacing the meat with stock – we don’t need to eat so much meat anyway. Cut back on sugar and other sweeteners, and substitute unsweetened fruit juices instead where possible. Fruit juices add depth to the dish as well as sweetness and often has fewer calories.

Also, consider making your own stocks, broths, pie crusts, and sauces. These are easy to make from inexpensive ingredients and they can often be canned or frozen to use later. Stock is made with a deboned poultry carcass, chicken feet, or pork neck bones, or beef marrow bones, or other bony parts and is simmered for about 6 hours. Broth is made with meatier parts and even with whole chickens and vegetables like the ends of carrots, celery tops, onions, and herbs, then simmered for about 3 hours. Pie crusts cost about a dime to make yourself compared to $2.00 to buy frozen. A lot of sauces can be made and canned or frozen to use later – pesto sauce made when basil is growing, then frozen, is cheap compared to buying prepared pesto, for example. Consider what you can make yourself when you are making substitutions for expensive ingredients. Sometimes, homemade is both tastier and cheaper.

Now, prepare a recipe using your substitutions list. Note what happened – was it too dry, too moist, did it fall apart, was the flavor not quite right? Was the texture off? Make any adjustments, and try again. Often, the method you use to cook the dish has almost as great an effect on the final outcome as the ingredients themselves. Consider toasting your spices before adding them to your recipe – toasting spices brings out greater depths to the flavor. Let your bread doughs rise longer.

Have family and friends sample your experiments. When you create a frugal and tasty substitution, write it down and keep it. You can make a file of recipes on the computer, or write them on recipes cards, or keep the recipes in a spiral bound notebook, or however you prefer to keep your recipes.

Review them from time to time to see if you’ve developed new and better frugal substitutions. The goal is to continue to eat delicious foods on a decidedly shoestring budget.

Original: http://gallimaufree.wordpress.com/2009/01/09/provident-gourmet-frugalizing-your-recipes/

Survivor’s Club

Frozen Rocks

Originally uploaded by nodigio

I teach friends and students and others a variety of observation games because I know that observation is one of the keys to survival. I’ll put the rules to the games we play at the end of this post. Some of the will be familiar to you as children’s games.

I’m not alone in believing that the ability to pay attention to your surroundings is a part of the skill set that will put you in the Survivors Club. This is a fairly exclusive club. Only those who survive serious disasters are part of it. My membership is earned several times over. When I was young, I wrecked a car in the Hartz Mountains of Germany, got lost in the Swiss Alps during a snowstorm, accidentally strayed across the Iron Curtain when it still existed and was captured, and a few other incidents, all the way up to middle age, when I got a duck stuck in my thigh, survived the Murrah Bombing, fell through a ceiling, had a tandem skateboarding accident, and right through to old age, when I was in my first auto accident (not my fault).

What I’ve learned is that we really do control much more of our fate than you might realize. The cosmic coin toss may put you in the path of a crazed duck with a broken beak but you have lots of options about what you will do with that scenario. We may not get to pick our DNA, and we may not always survive the collapse of a bridge or dodge a bullet, but if we survive the initial moments of the event, our chances of survival increase. We are in control of every moment after the crisis part of the event passes.

Consider the pilot on the recent forced landing in the Hudson River. The moment of crisis was when the engines were damaged by the birds. What the pilot did after that moment ensured maximum survival. He kept his wits to plot out what to do, he observed his surroundings for the optimal outcome, and he used his skills to execute a safe landing in as safe a place as he could find. That’s what survivors do.

When I crashed in the Hartz Mountains, I drove off a hairpin turn. I was a novice driver, and it was my first time behind the wheel and I did have an instructor with me. Driving in the mountains was probably not the smartest thing to do, but once the crash was done, we survived by observation and skill – I remembered a house we passed. We bound our wounds and hiked back to the house. They didn’t have a phone, but the next morning, they took us into town, and we salvaged the car and got our injuries properly cared for. Had I not remembered the house – and first aid skills – we might have died on that mountain. Others have. Not far from where we crashed, they found the remains of 2 other wrecks and the people in them. At least 2 of the people did not die immediately.

Every one of my mishaps, accidents, and disasters could have proven fatal. I’m not a particularly brave person, and I’m not particularly tough. There’s a growing field in survival psychology, and their research and studies all seem to indicate that 10% of the people will do what they need to do to survive, 80% will panic, and some of them will luck into surviving, and 10% will do everything wrong and die when they should have easily survived. Within those categories are those who survive, those who never had a chance to survive, and those who could have survived and didn’t. There’s still a lot of debate over whether it’s luck, personality, skill, or some combination of those – or something completely different that contributes to their survival.

Me, I’ll hedge my bets and go with a combination of things. Practicing disaster scenarios helps condition your responses. Practice all kinds of disaster scenarios, not just apocalyptic ones: getting fired, your house burning, being in a car accident, being mugged, choking, all the things you might encounter. But don’t over-practice them, because I think if you rehearse too much, you get stuck in routines and miss obvious opportunities. Build up your knowledge and skills. All knowledge is truly worth having because you never know what bit of trivia may float up and save you. Even if you aren’t skilled, if you’ve only heard about something or read about it, you can most likely use it to save yourself and others. How many times have we read a survivor’s story and the survivor said “I read about X and thought I could do that – and I did and it worked.” Read widely, listen to other survivor stories, pay attention to your surroundings.

That last one is critical. Sometimes, you can survive a disaster simply by being observant and avoiding being involved in the accident. A lot of people have inattentional blindness, they are unaware of things happening around them if they aren’t specifically paying attention to them. If you travel the same route every day, you are less likely to notice minor changes and may not even notice major ones. Your eyes focus clearly on only 2 – 3 degree area around your focal point; the rest is blurred. If you are talking on a cell phone as you drive or walk, you are less aware of your surroundings. A recent study indicated that pedestrians talking on a cell phone were more likely to cross streets when it wasn’t safe to do so. If you are concentrating on one thing, you may block out everything else.

You can train yourself to notice changes around you that could help you survive, to forestall this inattentional blindness, and to widen your visual acuity area.

That’s where these games come in. They are training exercises to increase your memory, your observation skills, and your observational skills.

The first is the old standby children’s game: Memory. If you played this game as a child, you’ll remember that it consists of matched pairs of cards laid randomly face down. You take a turn by turning two cards over. If they match they stay face up. If they don’t match, they both go face down. The point is to remember where each picture is so when you turn over your first card, you can more quickly turn over a second card that matches.

Another is a new game marketed on ThinkGeek.com called Think-ets. This is a small bag of miniature trinkets that have several possible games. One game is to take out a random number of trinkets, scatter them on a small surface, give the players time to see them (start with 45 seconds and reduce the time as you become more skilled), then cover them and have the players write down (or call out) what the items were. An advanced form of this game is to recall not only what the objects were but where they were in relation to one another. One way to play the advanced form is to have the players write or tell where the pieces were. A second way is to scramble the pieces before removing the cover and once they’ve guessed what the pieces were, then have them put the pieces back in their original places. Another is to take a selection of random pieces, scatter them, give people time to see them, then cover the pieces and remove one item. Uncover the pieces and have the players guess what’s missing.

For the hearing, random noises can do the same thing. Collect a variety of everyday noises and some not so obvious ones, then have players guess what the sounds are. Play a random series and have them guess what each sound is and where they may hear those sounds. You can even record the sounds of a regular trip and have the players guess where you are, from where you started to where you ended. Don’t forget the footsteps of people who pass you every day, or the sounds of pets or animals that are around, honking horns, traffic roaring, wind in trees or humming through buildings or sculptures, that sort of thing.

Don’t leave out tactile and scent, either. The same things can be done with the textures of the things you normally touch – from surfaces under your feet to vibration in the air to things you feel on your skin – passing breezes, traffic breezes, regular gusty alleyways, sun orientation, and things you touch with your hands. You can patch together strips of textures, and take walks to feel the differences in walking on cement opposed to tile or dry grass or wet grass or street surfaces. Do this with a trusted friend and a blindfold for both the tactile and scent games.

Consider the smell of the places you go – gasoline, hot tar, fried foods, perfume from the woman who always beats you to the elevator, your co-worker’s aftershave, or the smell of hot paper and ink from the printer. Smells may be a little harder to capture than textures or sounds or sights, but worth the effort. The best way is to simply walk along your routine paths and identify the smells as you go. Do this for each season or weather change so you know how the scent scenery changes.

The more variety and awareness you have about these things, the more likely you are to continue to be aware of them on some level. If you train yourself to recall them in play, being able to recall them in everyday life will be much easier. If you do a check periodically throughout your walk or drive or commute to reaffirm the familiar sights, sounds, scents, and textures, you’ll notice changes and be ready to respond to them. When you see smoke where no smoke should be, you won’t walk heedlessly into the smoke the way so many people did at the King’s Crossing Underground fire back in the 80’s. I remember that and being horrified by the fact that officials kept directing commuters down into the fire and the commuters went, and not one drop of water or one fire extinguisher was used to combat that fire. Thirty some people died, most of them not even aware they were walking to their deaths. They followed their routine in spite of smoke and flames.

Don’t be one of the King’s Crossing Underground railroad victims – be aware of your surroundings and respond to them. And join me in the Survivor’s Club.

Original: http://gallimaufree.wordpress.com/2009/01/26/survivors-club/

Gardening: Wonderberries (aka Sunberries)

Wonderberries. They are also called garden huckleberries & sunberries. They are a small shrub and not as picky as tomatoes. Gotta remember to NOT eat the green berries (possibly poisonous!). Eat when blue - cook with sugar like in a pie. Here's a good reference: http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/wonderberry.htm.

We'd gotten the seeds from Baker Heirloom (http://www.rareseeds.com/). I'd planted the seeds in a cup, and when they got about 2 inches tall, transplanted into a planter and placed outside near our strawberries. I hate to say this, but except for watering (sprinkler), I forgot about them. It grew into a very small bush, about a foot high. When it got cold and we started bringing in the plants (October), we brought that in. As we were figuring out where to place it, Hubby noticed the bush had a lot of dark blue berries on it! Guess we missed the unripe/green stage. We were quite brave, and each tasted one. Yum! They are quite sweet, like a blueberry, but much smaller. They have a good Winter home in our family room, under the grow light, with the tomatoes, banana tree, and blueberry bushes.

We can't find any nutrition data on them, but we're somewhat confident they are similar to other berries in nutrition, antioxidants, probably vitamin C. Now that we've experimented with the seeds, and like the taste, we plan to have a LOT of wonderberry bushes next year. Planning on a huge crop of these okay-to-ignore berry bushes.

We have only the one plant this year so no experimenting with processing and preserving, but next year, we'll try to dehydrate, make jam, and freeze. Anyone have experience and/or knowledge of wonderberries?

Original: http://survival-cooking.blogspot.com/2009/01/gardening-wonderberries-aka-sunberries.html

Getting Your Family on Board With Food Storage

Ok, I’ve convinced you - you need a reserve of food, you want to learn to can and dehydrate, you want to start eating more local foods. But you haven’t done anything yet, because, well, the rest of your household isn’t on board. Before you go there, you need to convince them. So I offer up this handy guide of answers to common protests about food storage and preservation. I also offer up some suggestions on what not to say, just in case you need them, mostly because that part was fun for me to write ;-).

Protest #1: It will be too expensive!

Bad answer: “But honey, the world is going to come to an end soon, and male life expectancy is going to drop into the 50s, so you won’t need your retirement savings anyway. Let’s spend it on food so I have something to eat in my old age.”

Good answer: “I’m glad you are so concerned about our finances, and I share your concern. I think in the longer term this will save us money, allowing us to buy food at lower bulk prices and when it is at its cheapest, and thus will insulate us from rising prices. But let’s sit down and make a budget for what we think it is appropriate to spend on food storage.”

Protest #2: No one has time to can and preserve food anymore! Isn’t that a leftover form the bad old days?

Bad answer: “Of course you’ll have time to do it, sweetie - can’t you get up before the kids do to make pickles? You already get 5 hours of sleep a night, so what’s the problem? Here, read this woman’s blog and you’ll start feeling guilty that you don’t love the kids enough to make your own salsa.”

Good answer: “What I think will end up happening is that we’ll save time later from effort spent now - and we’ll know that our food supply is nutritious and safe - I don’t feel good giving the kids processed foods with all the recalls and contaminations. But let’s definitely start slowly - I’ll make some sauerkraut, and then if you think we should, we’ll look into plans for a dehydrator. But we’ll do it together.

Protest #3: Where are we going to put all that stuff? There’s no way it will fit!

Bad answer: “On those shelves where you keep all your old vinyl records, silly. As soon as I get that stuff out to the trash, we’ll be ready to build our pantry.”

Good answer: “I think there’s some unused space in that guest room, and if I clean out this closet, I know we could put shelves up and store some food. I guess I should think about cleaning out some of my junk, right?”

Protest #4: Storing food is for wacko-survivalist types - that’s not us.

Bad answer: “Oh, didn’t you read that stuff by Nostradamus that I gave you? Oh, and do you know how to use an uzi?”

Good answer: “No, storing food is what my grandmother did to get through the great depression. It is pretty normal, actually - so normal that FEMA and the American Red Cross recommend that every American store some food.”

Protest #5: Nobody in our house is going to eat Garbanzo beans. I’m certainly not going to - they make we want to puke!

Bad answer:”Oh, you’ll eat those beans, young lady, or you’ll spend the rest of your life in your room!”

Good answer: “Ok, you don’t like chickpeas. That’s ok - what would you suggest we get instead? Would you like to come with me to the bulk store and help me pick out some storage food? It needs to be about 1/3 protein sources to grains - what would you suggest?”

Protest #6: I don’t want to think about bad stuff that might happen, or be reminded of it!

Bad answer: “Ok, you don’t have to. But have you ever seen this great website, The Automatic Earth?”

Good Answer: “But remember, we’re not just storing food for bad times, we’re storing food so that we can save money, go shopping less, have more time for each other, and so we have to worry less about money.”

Protest #7: Things will never get bad enough that we need our stored food, so what’s the point?

Bad Answer: ”I expect things to get so bad that we seriously consider whether or not to eat the hamsters - probably by next Friday. After Pookie and Herman, the neighbors will be next.”

Good Answer: “Well, this is really about a whole way of eating - not just storing food for an emergency. So no matter what happens, we come out ahead - we have the food, and it will get eaten.

Protest #8: Ok, I’m willing to think about some food storage, but storing water? That’s for whack jobs.

Bad Answer: “Ok, well I’m storing water for me, and if anything bad happens, I’m just going to sit there watching you shrivel up.”

Good Answer: “Remember the floods in the midwest this summer? A lot of areas had contaminated water, and I don’t really want to go for days with no water to wash hands in or to cook with. All we’ve got to do is take these recycled soda bottles and fill them with water and a couple of drops of bleach, to know that we won’t be in that position.”

Protest #9: Home preserved food isn’t safe - I heard about someone who died from eating home canned food.

Bad Answer: “Oh, you are right. Let’s only eat industrially packaged food with lots of peanut butter in it.”

Good Answer: “It is true that unsafe canning practices occasionally result in home canned food hurting or killing someone. But think of all the trouble we’ve had with the industrial food system - the melamine in dog food, botulism in canned chili, salmonella and ecoli on tons of things. I agree we have to be very careful, especially when pressure canning, and I plan to be. But we can preserve our own in lots of ways that are completely safe, and overall, home preserved food is actually safer, not to mention more nutritious, than commercial canned food.

Protest #10: There are so many things about this that are hard - it takes time, energy, new tools, money. It may be a good idea, but why would you want to take it on?

Bad Answer: “Because Sharon (yes, that woman on the blog you call “the nutjob”) says I should - she fed me the zombie paste, and now I have no will of my own.”

Good Answer: “Because I think we deserve better food than we’re getting. I want it to taste better, I want the money we spend to help do things we’re proud of. I want to depend on ourselves more and on corporations less. I want us to be healthier, and I want us to work together on this as a family. I want us to feel like when we are eating, we’re doing something good - for us and the world.”

Best of luck on this!


Original: http://sharonastyk.com/2009/01/27/getting-your-family-on-board-with-food-storage/

A photon saved is a photon earned.

We're in the segment of the year when our house energy balance is always very, very tight.

I was just getting ready to do an "energy/building/planning" post when I got ambushed by Crunchy, who wants to claim that unplugging your fridge will cost more energy than it saves...

Such a silly head. :-)

The discussions there are well worth reading- and actually, I don't think La Crunch and I disagree, in the end- it's more a matter of I was talking generalities, as in "for most families in the First World..." and she was talking "in MY household..." Yes, by golly, if your Kitchen Boss is also Obsessive/Compulsive, you can use a refrigerator in a useful, non-wasteful fashion. Many homes are not so lucky, however, and quite few refrigerators have operators on the other end of the "careful" scale.

Sure, Crunch, you do very well with your fridge- though I still want to see your ACTUAL energy consumption numbers- measured by a Kill-a-Watt or something, like Sharon uses. I can just SEE you, standing in front of the open door of your EnergyStar fridge- and planning stuff- 8 times a day, for minutes at a time... :-p And how many times a day do the kids and hubby open the door? Hm? What the maker promises, and what you actually use, are not the same thing atall atall.

And, incidentally, the Inspector General of the EPA has just (Dec. 17) issued a report: industry scam on the Energy Star program. Guess what? It ain't all they say it is. One clue- it's a program run by- the appliance industry (largely started so they could avoid real government regulation by showing "voluntary industry compliance" - but don't say that out loud).

In any case, fridges are not the only piece of the energy equation, by a long shot. While I hope to do a "fridgeless" update in the near future, at the moment I want to concentrate on some aspects of being off the grid.

Winter changes what is going on with your solar panels- unless you live on the equator.

The usual situation at higher latitudes is; you get weaker sunlight, because it has to filter through more atmosphere at lower angles; you get fewer hours per day; many winter months tend to be more cloudy (though not all locations are the same). At the same time, however, the panels themselves put out 1% more power for ever 3°C colder- which can mean a LOT on a -20° sunny day, like 20% more current than rated for (boiled my batteries, first year).

Over all; you have less power available in the winter; though it's not as bad as most expect.
And you have to include the effect on your system batteries; we've got only 4 lead-acid golf cart batteries, quite a small bank. One of the management requirements for lead-acid batteries is they need to be "topped up" regularly; once a week at least, you need to push them to full charge. It's really hard to do that using panels alone in the winter. So- if you're like most off-gridders, you do have a backup generator. We have TWO! Just so you know. Ok, 5; but 3 of them are broken. The broken ones are older, the working ones are state-of-the-art, and carefully maintained.

Your goal, as an obsessive/compulsive home electric system manager, is to have to buy as little gasoline (house) or diesel (greenhouse) as possible. So you really do want to get every last photon captured that you possibly can. Every photon makes a difference.

At this point, in the Little House, we're missing a lot of winter photons; partly due to design compromises discussed previously here, and partly due to the passage of time, with some unanticipated consequences.

If you'll look closely at the photo above (and I hope to heck that you can click on it and get a bigger view- sometimes Blogger does that, and sometimes not, and I haven't figured out why, and they're not telling) you'll see that the panels are shaded by tree branches (the trees are 200' away, but the sun is low) and, the panels are covered with frost, greatly reducing the input.

The frost comes from- the chimney. The "smoke" you see there isn't smoke at all; it's steam. When we have temperatures below 0°F day after day, the woodstove is actually burning very hot and clean most of the time. But water is the other product of combustion, along with CO2; and under the right conditions, it will form frost on anything in what is normally the smoke path. This was one of those days; and it was so cold the frost didn't melt off until almost noon, costing us a big chunk of the daily photon budget.

Frost on the panels from the chimney is a compromise I knew about at the start- the position of the panels on the roof was determined by many things, including access for maintenance. It ain't perfect. I was also worried we might get smoke deposits on the glass panels; but in reality it's never been a problem; a good rainstorm every once in a while works fine. I actually went up there and cleaned the panels with Windex every month for the first year- at which point I decided it wasn't worth while. Biggest bang I got was in the spring, during oak pollination. Some days, the oak pollen blocks more sun than the frost ever does.

Frost like this is a minor problem; usually happens only 6-10 days a year; and most times melts off quickly. The reason I was tracking things so closely was:

An unexpected, and unbudgeted electric load for the system to carry. This is a "nebulizer", which the doctor prescribed for Smidgen in the middle of our fight with upper respiratory bugaboos. Doc examined her and said she was on the edge of bronchitis and or pneumonia; the medication inhaled from this thingy opens up the air passages, and helps stave all that off. It seems to be working.

It has a powerful little air compressor that drives the mist-making device; Smiden has to sit in this delight for a half hour, four times a day. And it's noisy. You can't eat, drink, draw, read, or play with it on; so we've bent one of our rules and allow her to watch DVD's on one of the computers while she sits (that's her "mesmerized by Disney" look). More energy consumption not in the budget.

Of course (BIG MAJOR ADVICE ALERT!!!) when you were doing your original budget for the power out/power in/power storage calculations- you DID include a substantial chunk of the budget for "unanticipated needs" - didn't you? :-) Of course you did. Good for you.

I did, in fact. But that was 25 years ago, and the world has changed; that margin has long been used up; so the extra load now has pushed us over our normal winter brink. Instead of running the backup generator once a week in winter, we're now having to run it about every other day. If we don't- the first thing that happens is the DSL modem drops out. Horrors!

The other loss of power, stemming from the shadows of tree branches; is fairly new. Those trees only grew that tall in the last 3 years, and I hadn't really expected them to, ever. Silly me.

I was basing my tree height expectations on what my farmer neighbors told me, and the observable heights of trees in farm-forests around here. Surprise- if you manage the forest for the trees- not the cows- the trees get quite a lot taller, in 30 years.

Now, in December/January, because of tree growth, the solar array is actually charging the batteries for only about 3 hours a day; drastically less than the usual 5-6 hours. Thankfully, it will only be a few more weeks before the sun rises high enough in the sky so it is above the trees much earlier. Meanwhile; more gasoline. We're sighing in relief over the current drop in gas prices; but for the future, this is all a problem; the basic equations for electricity for this house are now out of balance; and unbalanceable without some serious changes in the array. No easy answers in sight.


On a different but highly related note; the Little House has been approached by Nick Rosen; author of How to Live Off-Grid , for us to be one of the families he'll cover in his new book on going off-grid in the USA (first book is UK). You can find out more about him, and find lots of off-grid discussion at his website: off-grid.net.

Part of his new book, though, is that he's trying to pair up the families he covers; he wants one "old-timer", and one "newbie" for each region; so he can match up expectations and realities. Sounds good to me.

The upshot being; we're looking for newby not too far away from The Little House; someone who has just recently gone off-grid. Is it you? :-)

For those who don't know; The Little House is in SE Minnesota; if you're within 100 miles or so, I think that's likely close enough for a match; certainly our insolation and climates will be pretty similar.

If you're interested - email Nick at news@off-grid.net; or you can send me a note here by making a comment.

And hurry up about it- he's about to arrive in Florida and start driving; or may have started already.

Original: http://littlebloginthebigwoods.blogspot.com/2009/01/photon-saved-is-photon-earned.html

Recipe: Sweet Flat-Bread

A cross between a cream-puff and a pancake, this is served with homemade preserves or butter and honey. It's made in the oven, and serves several people.

3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk (reconstituted ok)
1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Beat eggs till light-color. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Spray, oil or butter a 10" baking pan or pie plate (cover bottom and sides). Pour in batter. Bake 20 minutes, or until brown.

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

Original: http://survival-cooking.blogspot.com/2009/01/recipe-sweet-flat-bread.html

Food Prices: Up, Up, and Away!

2437520379_f9851dfb48_m Food Prices: Up, Up, and Away!
photo credit: graygoosie

Since most people who know me also know of my passion for all things preparedness, I’m often asked what is a good idea for investing one’s hard-earned money. With $7 trillion (yes, with a ‘T’) of “wealth” having been wiped out recently, people are looking at their 401k results in abject horror. What to do?

Any good investor will tell you that it’s important to diversify, or in other words, not to put all your financial eggs in one basket. For that reason, my advice for the start of a solid investment usually consists of one word: food.

Food storage is important for many reasons, not the least of which is that you’ll be able to provide for your family should any TEOTWAWKI scenario come our way. But one oft-overlooked aspect of food storage is that by stocking up now, you’re beating inflation.

Consider for a moment a few of the following headlines:

Similar articles are in abundance, all pointing to the same truth: food is increasing in price. Investing in wheat alone over the past five years would have given you a higher return (in terms of dollars) than any mutual fund out there. As much as the government tries to manipulate the Consumer Price Index to suppress the reality of inflation, they can’t get around a simple analysis demonstrating a 15% inflation in food prices in the past single year.

Deflation won’t help either, since increasing layoffs will only cut production and thus lead to a shortage. Remember your supply and demand curves from Economics 101? Yes, that’s right, lowering the supply (as a result of deflation) will increase the demand on the product (assuming it’s a product generally desired, as food is), which in turn increases its price. As prices decrease in the short term through deflation, there will be less incentive to increase supply (because of diminished profit margins), thus creating a future shortage when inflation certainly will return in full force.

Lowering the supply is not only the result of a poor economic climate and downsizing firms. The government has in the past—and the present is not too different—passed legislation to artificially prop up prices by wastefully diminishing the existing supply. This temporary action (seen as positive by those selling the product) only misallocates resources and puts others out of business. Atlas Shrugged teaches this lesson quite well.

Food should not be treated as an investment that will yield a resale profit. Rather, its storage should be treated as a “the sooner, the better” situation in order to save you money. By delaying the purchase of your needed supplies, you are only hurting yourself; rising inflation and a devaluated dollar are both working against you, and quickly.

Again, the financial benefit of storing up food is one of the less important reasons for doing so. But there is wisdom in “buying low and selling high”, or simply buying low and thus putting yourself in a position to aid others if/when the time comes. And as expensive as things are now, it is only going to get worse. That’s what we learn from Zimbabwe, anyways.

Original: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/UtahPreppers/~3/524384513/

Audio Podcast: Emergency Heat Options

icon for podpress Episode-129- 6 Emergency Heat Options for the Modern Survivalist [29:52m]: Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download

Today I am recording from home rather then on the road. Why? A typical North Texas Ice Storm! It got me thinking that I have never discussed emergency heat requiements and ways to provide emergency heating.

Tune in today to hear…

  • Do you have a fireplace, will it matter?
  • Is your fire wood protected?
  • Thoughts on buying and sourcing wood, not all wood is equal
  • Don’t wait till winter to procure your wood
  • Thoughts on finding free firewood even if you don’t own land or live in the backwoods
  • Electric space heaters? Yes sometimes power doesn’t fail, just the furnace does
  • Gas space heaters (properly installed) are a great back up idea
  • Kerosene Heaters can be safe don’t believe all the bad press
  • Back up generators are great but heat draws a ton of power you still need other sources
  • Thoughts on storing large quantities of gas for generators and stabilization
  • When all else fails build a “cocoon”

Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show.

Original: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/survivalpcast/~3/524574693/episode-129-6-emergency-heat-options

No Go

Winter travel is often curtailed, and for good reason. Here in the Pacific Northwest, particularly on the wet side, two inches of snow will lock this place down. I know that people in the Mid West will snicker into their sleeves when they read that, but it’s true. This winter there’s been alternating flooding and snow to contend with, all the way up to and including shutting down Interstate 5, the primary north-south freeway through the state, for several days. Interstate 90, the primary east-west freeway, has been closed several times, too, for a day or more at a time.

There are a couple of aspects of self reliance to the above scenario. Firstly, if the big trucks cannot get through, the shelves at your local grocery are going to get thin in pretty short order. I’ve heard that the average large chain grocery store (around here, that’s Safeway , Fred Meyer’s and Albertson’s ) only have about three days of groceries on site at any given time—and that’s the groceries that come in from their local distribution centers. Those distribution centers have about two weeks of groceries to send out to the stores before a lack of semi truck deliveries from much farther away shuts them Big Truck stuck in the snowdown. Looked through your back stock shelves lately? And how much of that can you prepare without the electrical grid or possibly not even with piped-in gas? We’ve got about three more months of winter, folks.

Another aspect is whether or not you can get yourself to the grocery store at all. If you don’t have a proper vehicle or know how to drive in the snow, ten or twelve blocks can get very expensive once you’ve uncrumpled your quarter panel—and maybe that of the person you slid into. Your best bet is to stay home to the best of your ability.

Original: http://ourright2selfreliance.today.com/2009/01/25/no-go/

Link of the Day


How long will canned foods store?

Heirloom Seeds

Have you ever wondered why survival sites recommend heirloom seeds? There are a few reasons.

One, open-pollinated heirloom seeds will produce the same offspring every year. If you plant a beefsteak tomato and then save the seeds for next year - which is actually a fun and interesting project - its seeds will produce the same type of beefsteak tomato (except if it’s cross-pollinated). This won’t necessarily happen with hybrid seeds. While hybrid seeds have been bred to withstand drought and pests, they are also bred to be used once. You may use a hybrid from a store that works just fine for you, and the seeds you save MAY produce the exact same vegetable, but you take your chances.

Two, buying heirloom seeds supports small, family owned businesses. These are the heart of America and represent what some of us wish would become more popular - sustainable living that supports communities in a productive and healthy way.

Three, hybrids are produced and owned by big business. While a lot of what they’ve developed has helped feed the world, they have also worked against the small, family heirloom seed farmers. As with all big business, although they have their place in society, they shouldn’t dictate what we do individually.

I just received my Baker Creek Seed catalog and I’m so excited to select some seeds for planting this spring and also consider which seeds I’d like to store long-term. I’ve considered what exactly to store away and I’ll be starting with those seeds I already know. Types like zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes and green beans. Vegetables I grew up growing and know how to grow and what to expect. This year I also want to try kale and swiss chard as they’ve become two of my favorite vegetables. I have a couple other things like New Mexico hot chiles and a type of Thai spinach that I want to try this year too. If things go well, I’ll add extras to my storage.

Who knows if we’ll ever need to use our seeds in a survival situation, but I know they’re there if I need them. Gardening is one of those fun things in life that we can enjoy while gaining knowledge that will serve us well in an emergency.

Original: http://survivallady.com/?p=161

Stock Up Challenge Week #11

from survivallady.com by Betsy

Are you ready to get back into stocking up mode? I’ve noticed that EVERYTHING has gone up in price. So, in addition to survival insurance, stocking up will be inflation insurance too!

Why is it I’m always replacing my pasta and sauce? My kids love it and sometimes we have it twice a week. So, I’m always replacing stores. Buy what you like and will use and you won’t have to think too much about rotation - it’ll take care of itself.

2 Jars Spaghetti Sauce

2 Packages Spaghetti

2 Cans Tuna

4 Cans Stewed Tomatoes

1 Bottle Mustard

Something interesting. I noticed at Costco they have a new plastic organizer for all your canned goods. It fits in a cabinet or closet shelf and I think holds up to 20 cans. You don’t need anything fancy though, and certainly don’t need to buy anything. Keep your cans right on the shelf and first in is first out, so add new stuff to the back. If you don’t have room in a cabinet, put your stores in inexpensive plastic boxes and stick just about anywhere, except the garage. Moderate temperatures are a must when storing food items.

Happy shopping! Check back on Friday to see what I bought.

Original: http://survivallady.com/?p=163

Safety Goggles For Emergencies

I don’t have even one pair of goggles in my house or car. That will change after today. Eye protection is one aspect of preparedness that I haven’t thought too much about. I’ve considered particle respirators, rubber gloves and disposable gowns for emergencies such as pandemic flu, but until now I haven’t given much thought to goggles.

Safety goggles can protect your eyes, not only from the flu virus, but from chemical contaminants in the air. The are a crucial item to have available for all members of your family. Even swim goggles or masks are functional in a pinch, but for a small price you can have some of these for everyone in your family;

There are several discount sellers of OSHA approved safety goggles on the internet. Make sure you get the type that protect against chemical splashes. I plan on having a pair in each survival bag and one in my desk at work. Don’t forget goggles in your survival preparations. Your eyes will thank you!

Original: http://survivallady.com/?p=165

Polar Expedition Gear Review

. The zip T-neck goes up much higher than crew necks, a great feature. "Good moisture wicking ability. The zip T-neck goes up much higher than crew necks,.also the zip neck lets you cool down when needed and zip it up to maintain your warmth. As always, proper layering is a must. . Consider this a must have for extreme cold with proper layering." a lot of great feature's. I received this as a Christmas gift in the size XL I normally wear and it fit perfectly, a high quality product made in the USA which is a rare things these days." This was a great gift since I working on a few more cold weather gear items.... Pack boots are next on my list to procure! I wore this one day during blackpowder season with a vest temps at around 38 degrees a decent amount of wind and truly was comfortably warm!

Adopted for use by the U.S. military, including the Special Operations Forces, Polartec® Power Dry is exceptionally effective at wicking moisture away from the skin. The dual-surface system has a tough outer layer for rapid dissipation of sweat that has been drawn away from the skin by the inner layer. This leaves a soft, dry surface next to your skin. And because layering is an essential part of cold-weather protection, the outer fabric is smooth-faced, so other layers slip on easily. Our Polar Weight Zip T-Neck delivers incredible warmth with minimal weight. It incorporates a high-loft grid channel back for enhanced breathability and superior moisture wicking. Offers even greater compression than conventional fleece for easier packing. Made in USA. Sizes: M-2XL. Camo pattern: Seclusion 3D®.

school preparedness

Last Wednesday, I wrote about a stop-and-think experience that I had in some extreme winter weather. You can read the post here. Because of terrible winter storm conditions, parents were not able to pick up their children from a local elementary school. Even families that lived adjacent to the school were unable to get their children because the blowing snow had reduced the visibility to nothing. A lot of children and teachers ended up spending the night at the school. The children were mostly comfortable because the school had food, electricity and communication. Everyone was fine and I'm sure it was the adventure of a lifetime.

There are several situations that could strand my kids at school. Our schools won't release the students in any situation unless an authorized individual picks them up and signs them out. I realize that this policy ultimately protects my children. But it also means that my kids could be stuck at school until I can get to them. In some possible emergencies, they could be waiting outside the school in bad weather until I can sign them out.

So, what would I want my kids to have if they were ever in a situation like this? Obviously, I can't expect my kids to carry a huge preparedness kit around with them everywhere. But each child already has a backpack that they usually have with them. Sometimes those backpacks are already pretty full. So in the past, I have filled a small plastic ziplock bag with a few items. Usually there are a few empty side pockets available to stash a little bag.

Here are some things that you could fit into a small ziplock bag:
Reflective blanket
Water pouches
Granola bars
Family picture (with emergency contact numbers on the back)
Rain poncho
Wet wipes

If more space is available:
Emergency cell phone
Spare socks/hat

A lot of the schools in our area already have small emergency kits for each student stored in each classroom. It's worth it to become familiar with the safety precautions and preparedness preparations at your children's schools.

Original: http://iprepared.blogspot.com/2009/01/school-preparedness.html

Floored by talk radio

This morning, AM 1340 talk radio, it was just before Neil Vortz' show around 8:45am central time, caught the tail end of the discussion, I got this.....

The power is out and your family is hungry. All you have is a loaf of bread and a lb of ground beef and no electricity. What kind of meal can you make? I was stunned, no one knew! Then there was some stupid woman who called in and said that you couldn't make anything with it but ground meat and a loaf of bread!

Is it possible that the majority of people do not know how to make a fire and then cook something edible on it? How is that possible? Have we gotten so self absorbed and lazy that we have lost the basic instinct for survival?

Our grandparents didn't need all these modern conveniences we surround ourselves with and they ate just fine. They didn't rely on a drive to the grocery store every day for their meals.

Here now we have a winter storm warning. This storm has been coming for 4 days now, all over the news. People are so wired for the short term and are still waiting until the very last minute. This morning, the local grocery was packed! A line of cars on the highway waiting to get into the parking lot. It turned my stomach looking at them knowing that all those people live around me and are not smart enough to have more than one day worth of food in the homes. The coming storm is not enough of a warning for people to be prepared ahead of time. Here we are at the last minute, running to the grocery store right before the big snow/ice storm hits! How many of those people bought things that need to be in the fridge? How many of them have no other heat source but their electric furnace? My next thought is- why buy food for a house that you won't stay in because it's freezing cold? Will they take their food with them when they leave? I doubt it.

Please, people, wake up and learn some basic survival skills so you can take care of yourself and your family. Please, prep the basics at the very least and learn how to prepare meals with them. Stop thinking short term and start thinking about the real storm that's coming.

Stay safe and warm thru the storm and keep prepping!

Original: http://selfsustainedliving.blogspot.com/2009/01/floored-by-talk-radio.html