Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I finally decided to ask someone for help. I told my daughter I would only ask a man that had kids with him for safety reasons. It was kind of hilarious as we sat there evaluating each driver that pulled into the parking lot. No . . . no . . . no . . . maybe. Finally, a man pulled up next to us with a 12-year old son. I asked him for help and told him my husband was coming. He said he was sure he could jump my car. So he looked in the back of his car and those jumper cables that were supposed to be there had vanished. I said, "Well, I happen to have some in the back of my car." So, I pulled them out of my handy dandy car kit. The car engine was soon humming. I thanked him for his good deed, and he said that he needed to do a good deed that day.
This wasn't the first time I needed to use something out of my car kit. It's such a reassurance to have it in my car. The bag I use for my kit is an insulated soda can bag from WalMart. Red to signify emergency. Sometimes when I'm grocery shopping on a hot day and can't get home right away, I dump the emergency items out and put the frozen items in. A great help!
Items for my car kit:
Food bars, etc.
Blanket (regardless of the weather, it will help if someone is in shock)
Flashlight and batteries (Good thing I just checked because my batteries were dead)
Toilet paper roll
Plastic trash bags
Other Useful Items I want to add:
Detailed Area Map
Whistle and small mirror
Good shoes (can you imagine walking 10 miles in heels?)
If you have a story about how your emergency car kit helped you, please share it with us.
I don’t know why, but personally I’m always afraid to make lasagna. It just FEELS like a lot of effort and time…which is why I was so excited to find this recipe from Kraft Foods (and to notice that it is a great food storage recipe as well) to do in the slow cooker (you don’t even need to cook the noodles before hand!) It was simple (especially when you have frozen hamburger in your freezer, just make sure it is thawed BEFORE you add it to your slow cooker)
Slow Cooker Lasagna
* 8 lasagna noodles, uncooked
* 1 lb. ground beef
* 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
* 28 oz. jar spaghetti sauce (I made my own…click HERE to do the same)
* 1/3 cup water
* 4 oz. can mushrooms
* 15 oz. ricotta or 24 oz. cottage cheese
* 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Break noodles. Place half in bottom of greased slow cooker.
2. Brown ground beef. Drain. Stir in Italian seasoning. Spread half over noodles in slow cooker.
3. Layer half of sauce and water, half of mushrooms, half of ricotta or cottage cheese and half of mozzarella cheese over beef. Repeat layers.
4. Cover. Cook on low for 5 hours. (You can also double these ingredients and make 3 layers.)
Label makers are good to help you organize. Label your bins of stored food. Your buckets with expiration dates. On your plant markers each year. Files, trays, bins, etc. Your imagination is your only limit.
It helps to organize, and makes everything look nice and tidy.
So... stock up on a couple of label makers, ink and label tape. And start using them now. You'll probably get hooked too.
Most people will assume the most difficult part of this dish is making the corn tortillas from scratch. In actuality, this is not difficult; it is merely time-consuming. It goes fastest with two people working together, although one person can certainly do it by themself. We generally double the recipe so that we have enough extra tortillas to freeze for use another time.
Homemade Corn Tortillas
(More information about making tortillas from scratch may be found in this previous post.)
2 cups masa flour
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups tepid water
Be sure to purchase masa flour for this recipe. Do not substitute plain corn flour or cornmeal. Masa is the fine flour from corn that has been dried and then cooked with slaked lime (to make hominy), ground up, and dried again. Masa is used for making corn tortillas and tamales, among other traditional Mexican foods.
Now, back to the recipe. Mix the salt into the flour. Most recipes do not call for salt but we think it improves the taste.
Slowly add the water, mixing until the dough is moist and holds together. Cover and let sit for half an hour.
Roll into balls about the size of a golfball. If necessary, add a little more water. You want to ball to hold together without cracking but not be overly moist. Keep the dough covered as you are working so it doesn't dry out.
Place the ball between two sheets of plastic. I find the liners from a box of cereal are just the right weight for this.
You can purchase a tortilla press if you want, but I just press down on the balls with a cutting board to flatten them into tortillas.
If the tortilla is too thick, you can use a rolling pin to roll it out a little thinner. Carefully peel off the plastic from the top and bottom. Note: if the dough is too moist or the tortilla too thin, the plastic may stick.
Carefully lay the tortillas in a preheated skillet and cook over medium-high heat until lightly toasted on both sides. This doesn't take long, so if you are working alone, keep a sharp eye on them.
Place cooked tortillas on a plate covered by a dish towel to keep them warm. Try not to eat so many fresh out of the pan that you don't have enough left for the meal.
This is an old family recipe that I've slightly modified over the years.
1 large onion, chopped
½ c fire-roasted green chiles, diced*
1 c diced fresh tomatoes (or substitute 15 oz can diced tomatoes)
3 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 ¼ tsp chile powder (plain ground red chile powder, not a blend of spices)
¾ tsp cumin powder
1 tbs packed brown sugar
2 tbs white vinegar
In a large nonstick pan, saute the onion until limp.
Add remaining ingredients.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed:
· For more heat, add more diced roasted green chiles, or chile powder & cumin.
· For more of a tangy bite, add more vinegar.
· To tame the heat, add more tomato sauce or brown sugar.
If you want a thicker sauce, whisk together 1 tablespoon masa and 3 tablespoons water. Stir into sauce and simmer 3 minutes to thicken, stirring frequently.
How to Roast Green Chiles
*Freshly roasted green chiles taste far superior to the canned product available in the grocery store. In the Southwest, stores often set up chile roasters outside during late summer chile season and sell 20 pound bags of fresh green chiles inside. You take the bag outside where the fellows running the roaster dump it inside the perforated barrel (see photo link), fire up the propane burners, and turn the barrel until the pepper skins are nicely charred. You take home a garbage bag filled with hot, steaming chiles. Once cooled, you peel off the charred skin, remove the seeds, and have wonderful fire-roasted green chiles that you can use immediately or freeze for later.
To roast your own fresh green chiles, lay them in a single layer on a hot BBQ grill or under your oven's broiler. Cover the grill or close the oven and listen for popping sounds to know when to turn them over. Steam builds up inside the chiles and splits the skin on top. Keep turning the chiles until the skin on all sides are blackened. Place in a bowl and cover until cool enough to handle. Wearing kitchen gloves, peel off the skin and remove the seeds and stem. Avoid the temptation to dunk the chiles in water. It does speed up the cleaning process but it also washes away some of the wonderful flavor. The chiles will keep in the refrigerator for only a few days, so freeze in small portions for use as needed.
If you forget to wear gloves, as I frequently do, make sure you do not rub your eyes or any other sensitive tissues for at least 24 hours. If you are a female using a Keeper or Diva cup, it is vital to your well-being to remember to wear the gloves. Trust me on this one. You do not want the capsaicin in the peppers on your fingers at this time of month!
(Soy) Chorizo-Potato Enchilada Filling
6 medium red potatoes, diced
1 large onion, diced
6 oz soy chorizo (I buy it at Trader Joe's)
Cook red potatoes in a pressure cooker or pan of water until just tender.
Heat a skillet on high heat and saute the onion until golden. (This can be started immediately following cooking the corn tortillas in the same hot pan.)
Add the soy chorizo* and stir for a couple of minutes.
Stir in the potatoes. Mix thoroughly and cook until heated through.
*If using real chorizo, be sure to cook the pork thoroughly. If not using soy or real chorizo, add 1 - 2 tablespoons chorizo spice mix to the onions and potatoes for flavor.
Chorizo Spice Mix
3 tbs chili powder
2 tbs paprika
1 tsp each coarsely ground pepper and garlic powder
½ tsp each cinnamon and cloves
¼ tsp each ginger, nutmeg and ground coriander
1 tsp each oregano, cumin and thyme
6 bay leaves, crumbled
Mix and store tightly covered in a jar.
Use approximately 2 tablespoons for each 1/2 pound meat substitute.
Enchiladas may be assembled in different ways. They can be simple stacks of corn tortillas with sauce and maybe a sprinkling of cheese, or in my case, a drizzle of vegan cheesy sauce courtesy of Jo Stepaniak's Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. Or, they can be more complicated with a tasty filling layered between corn tortillas, covered in sauce, and baked. After getting our most recent gas bill, I opted for stacked enchiladas, with filling, but not baked. All of the ingredients were hot and there was no need to burn more natural gas baking it in a pan. If I had been taking the dish to a potluck, the baked version would be more appropriate.
Layered as follows: Dip tortilla in sauce and place on plate. Add a layer of filling. Repeat. Finish with another tortillas and top with extra sauce and a little cheesy sauce.
Months later, I picked up a Le Creuset pot at a yard sale with the intention of using our old potato growing set-up as a hay box for retained heat cooking. (Photos here.) I never got around to that.
Well, after seeing the photos on the page linked above, I wanted to try again. The only appropriate basket I had was pretty small: 12" diameter at the top and 12" high. I have one tall narrow pot that I thought might work. Here's what I did.
Step 1: Lined the inside of the basket with foil. (Foil kept from burritos purchased at Chipotle's Mexican Grill...)
Step 2: Created insulation. I used 3 heavy towels, putting them in at crossed angles to get the best coverage. For more insulation, I decided to wrap the whole thing in a blanket.
Step 3: Prepared something to "cook." I boiled some brown rice and water in a covered pot for 5 minutes and then tucked it into my basket.
Step 4: Wrapped it up nice and tight.
Step 5: Reflected the heat even more. For optimum heat retention, I wrapped foil-lined bubblewrap insulation around the blanket-covered basket and tucked a blanket in the top opening.
Step 6: Waited. I checked on the rice several hours later and it was cooked. The bottom of the rice pan was still quite hot to the touch.
The only downside is that the rice came out somewhat mushy. I'm thinking it might work in soup, rice burgers, or perhaps to make rice milk. (Any other suggestions welcome!) Update: Aha! I just went back and reread the information page. Somehow, yesterday I missed the part about reducing the amount of water for cooking grains by one quarter. That would helped with the mushy rice problem.
This is definitely a viable way of cooking food with very low energy inputs. I'd like to try beans in it. I also think anything that would work in a slow cooker would work in this set-up.
It was a seemingly ordinary February day. I got up, took my son to school, went to work, finished my projects with a great sense of accomplishment, and headed to pick up my son before returning home.
Excited to get the family gathered back together, eat dinner, and relax, my son and I proceeded onto the road. It didn’t take more than a few minutes, however, to realize this was not going to be our typical drive home.
Just as we got onto the freeway, traffic started to jam. Actually, jam is a radical understatement; traffic was more akin to a parking lot. One minute we were driving along and the next minute everything came to an abrupt halt.
I turned on the radio and found out the reason for our state of being was a snow pickup to the north of our location. Instead of a usual run-of-the-mill snow fall that slows traffic but keeps people moving, wind caused whiteout conditions which jammed traffic for entire city lengths. In fact, several main highways and roads were completely closed due to the severe weather. And because nobody could have predicted the traffic entanglement, school busses, commuters, and families were all involved in the mess. Nobody was spared.
Hoping for the situation to improve (it couldn’t really get worse), I called my husband and told him we’d be home a little late— but probably not too late. We were, after all, less than 5 miles away.
Three hours later we were still two miles from home. Just to give you an idea of the agonizingly slow commute: At one point I called my mom to express my frustration. When I called her I was one mile from the freeway exit I needed to take. It took almost two hours to get to the ½ mile point. This was not a fun drive!
At several times throughout the night, police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances needed to pass through. With a great deal of effort, we all moved over and they safely got by. Much to my dismay, several people tailed these vehicles to edge ahead of the tumult of cars (which made me furious).
At this point I was feeling quite helpless and despair was sinking into the pit of my stomach. Somehow the original mess had become even worse and we were moving slower than ever.
And that’s when my son started crying.
Have you ever been in a car with frazzled nerves, just trying to make it through the drive? Have you ever had a screaming child thrown into that mix? Welcome to my life!
I have a tendency to get frustrated in traffic. I feel like most people are only out for themselves and will do almost anything to get even one or two car lengths ahead (seriously, how much is that going to help?). Anyway, I was about ready to kill everyone else on the road. And the crying wasn’t helping—at all.
But my sweet baby boy wasn’t asking to get out of the car or even if we were almost home. Not one complaint about our horrible situation was coming from his mouth. Heartbreakingly, the only thing he wanted was something to drink. He would have taken either milk or water (I’ve found it’s rare to have an actual choice of what kids will take). To my devastation, I had NOTHING to give him. The despair sunk deeper as I contemplated whether or not to pull over to grab him some snow. I ultimately decided against this as I had nothing that could have contained snow. Also, side-of-the-road snow doesn’t usually stay clean for long.
Fortunately, I had my son’s blanket and favorite stuffed animal. And although these items weren’t what he actually wanted, they calmed him down enough for the rest of the drive home.
After driving for a grand total of five hours, we pulled into our driveway.
Why, you might ask, am I telling this story? Because it taught me a valuable lesson: Emergencies don’t always entail massive amounts of devastation. I would categorize that night as an emergency. It took hours for thousands of people to get home; some people never even made it. Hundreds of students ended up either stranded on their busses or sleeping at school, and road closures caused many others to sleep in hotels and cars.
I now carry water in my car at all times along with a few basic emergency supplies. I never could have predicted getting caught in the situation my son and I ended up in, but I will never be unprepared if something similar happens again.
We often experience bumps in our lives; seldom do we get warning that they will occur. So all we can do is prepare. Preparing yourself for emergency situations away from home, no matter how drastic they may be, will give you peace of mind should you find yourself in a circumstance such as mine.
by our new contributor
Shannon Peterson, Copyright Shelf Reliance, LLC (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In the information age we live in, we can never seem to get anything fast enough. We demand instant satisfaction and answers to our questions. And things like air conditioning and automatic washers that were once extravagant luxuries are now taken for granted. Even the food we prepare is usually out of a box (or a drive through window). We can never seem to get too much convenience and most of our needs are virtually at our fingertips (when is the last time you actually stood up to turn on the TV?).
In this world where the “I-want-it-and-I-want-it-now” attitude is so prevalent, emergency preparedness is often overlooked. It’s hard for many of us to imagine not being able to flip a switch for instant light or to push the popcorn button on our microwave for an instantaneous treat.
The sad truth is hard times can befall us at any moment. In the last few years it has seemed like large scale natural disasters are occurring at a more frequent rate. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of these events is we can’t predict their coming. And even when we have some idea of where and when they’ll strike, we can never be sure. Although some emergencies such as hurricanes can be somewhat predicted (see our Dare to Prepare blog), most often we are caught completely off guard. And many times we get caught in the worst emergencies of all—the small dilemmas we face where only a few items are needed but access to them is not available (see our Driving in a Winter Wonderland blog).
We are reminded of the need to prepare on an almost daily basis. From bad economic growth to temporary food shortages to a rise in unemployment rates, we can’t count on instantaneous gratification forever. And while you may be sitting back saying, “yeah, but that will never happen to me,” just remember that everyone else whose been caught off-guard has probably thought the same thing.
Fortunately, Shelf Reliance has all of the tools and supplies you’ll need to get yourself and your family members prepared for an emergency. With food storage, emergency kits and supplies, and food storage shelving racks, Shelf Reliance can give you all the information and guidance you’ll need to create a well formulated plan.
If you are unsure where to start, please take a minute to visit our Shelf Reliance Planner. Here, you will be able to calculate and customize food storage, emergency kits, and food shelving options for your family. We know you’ll find that once your emergency plan is in motion you’ll have more peace of mind knowing your family will be well protected in the event of an emergency.
by our new contributor
Shannon Peterson, Copyright Shelf Reliance, LLC (email@example.com)
Would you be willing, or able, to wash your clothes by hand during a power outage? Or would you simply hope you didn't run out of clean clothes before the power came back on? That might work for a little while, but what about during an extended power outage? Or if you really want to reduce your energy dependence?
Anybody can hand wash clothing for a little while. All you need is a container, water, and cleaning agent. Let the clothes soak for at least half an hour, agitate them, rinse until all the soap is gone, wring the water out, and hang up to dry. The sink works for a few items, buckets or washtubs will handle more, and the bathtub works for a full load. Cold water works fine, especially with longer soaking. How do you agitate clothes in the bathtub? Pretend you are on vacation in France and are stomping on freshly harvested grapes!
Over the summer, I tried this a few times. I used buckets outside during the nice warm weather, just using hose water with a little laundry soap. It worked fine and I was able to dump the used water right on the trees. The buckets were narrow, though, and not particularly practical for doing large loads. When using my front-loading washing machine, I sometimes used the buckets to drain the rinse water and haul it out to the trees. This method was not only labor-intensive, it also chained me to the wash cycle lest I leave the room, forget about the upcoming rinse, and come back to find a flooded floor.
We've thought about the laundry issue in the past, considering ways to save energy and water. Eventually, we hope to convert a used wringer washer to pedal power. We've even looked at plans for a pedal-powered wringer. Before moving, however, we don't want to acquire any additional large appliances. For now, I'd resigned myself, once again, to putting our green plans on hold until we move.
Last month, however, the Princess of Pink blogged about selling her washer and dryer, and doing her laundry manually. I was inspired to get a similar set-up and try my hand at this. I ordered a laundry agitator aka Rapid Washer from Lehman's, along with a glass washboard for stains. The agitator is simply a plunger-type tool to push soapy water through the clothes during the wash and clean water through them during the rinse. (But this plunger's never been used in a dirty toilet.)
There was still the problem of wringing out the water, though. I've got a bum wrist and it simply doesn't tolerate wringing out wet clothes, especially heavy jeans. With the hard water in this area, letting sopping wet clothes drip dry leaves stains and extreme crunchiness. Luckily, she suggested an easy solution: a spin dryer.
For you purists out there, the spin dryer may not seem to make sense since it does draw electricity. That's true, but the electricity used to extract the water from wet laundry is far less than the electricity required to run the washing machine for a complete cycle. The spin dryer is compact, very efficient, and quiet.
How efficient is it? Well, I tested it the first time by putting in clothes that had been washed in the front-loading washing machine. My washer has a "max extract" setting that removes more water from the clothes than most machines. The spin dryer extracted an additional five cups of water from the clothes! Interestingly, too, the line-dried clothes were softer than usual as a result.
But, back to doing the laundry by hand. I needed containers that would take little space when not in use (and when moving) but allow me to do a full load of laundry at a time. The most practical option was 18 gallon plastic totes. I priced metal washtubs and decided the plastic totes were a better deal in the long run. Once we are moved, I want a utility tub/sink set-up. At that time, the totes can be used for storage instead of laundry.
Here is my set-up and process for doing laundry by hand.
Soak clothes with a little laundry soap for at least an hour. I use cold water from the hose.
Cloth wipes and pads are the only items soaked in hot water. They are washed and rinsed separately in buckets recycled from a friend. (I don't have cats.)
Rub out any stains with the washboard. Agitate clothes with the Rapid Washer for about 5 minutes. This is a good workout, although I advise against doing 5 pairs of adult jeans at one time!
Put clothes in basket with holes to drain (see basket in picture above). Rinse in clean water. Drain and rinse again (in a new tote). Spin dry and hang up on the clothesline.
To reduce overall water used for laundry, multiple loads can be soaked and washed in the same water, although clean water will be needed for the final rinse. It works best to do whites first since colors may bleed.
I've been hand washing laundry for a couple of weeks now. This is not a difficult task although a pre-existing issue with my shoulder and neck may preclude me from continuing for a short while. It takes more time than putting clothes in the washing machine and walking away, but almost anything done manually takes longer than its mechanized alternative.
There are some advantages to washing by hand. I can easily wash the cloth wipes anytime now, instead of waiting until I have a full load of darks to run through the machine. I'm using less water and every bit of it is being re-used on our trees. I'm also looking forward to seeing a reduction in our electricity bill. I'm getting a good workout.
Maybe we should reconsider that Amish farm property we saw for sale...
All survival conscious people should provide due thought towards the probability of civil unrest during those times of impending disasters and emergency situations. It goes without saying that when the law is running thin the lower level trash will attempt to take over the masses. This is a situation where cooperation among neighbors and friends become an extremely important asset. This mutual cooperation will provide at least some sort of resilience from the threat of local terrorist activities or natural disaster opportunists which are sure to be lurking nearby.
To begin with one must fully understand civil emergency management procedures which will involve several proven disaster strategies usable towards stimulating the needed cooperation from required friends and neighbors. Normally one can consider the possibility of only two kinds of risks which will be associated with a disaster. These risks are the risk of war and the risk of peace. Although these are the mere basics under today’s way of life we would encounter a much more comprehensive type of approach to the matter of security for our home base when required. Either way cooperation is still the key word.
We all have to learn to stress the value of and be prepared for the unexpected situations which may crop up when we least expect them. Nothing can be worse then ending up being surprised with something that we had not counted on happening at a time when we least need it to occur. When planning properly we should never be surprised about anything. This is the difference between those that survive and those that do not. An adequate means of proving these early warning signs and the actions needed to resolve them are absolutely necessary at all times and under all situations.
We all need to develop a capacity to build up our knowledge about the various potential problems and create a miniature data base in our minds towards combating these efforts. In our circle of friends we need to build a means of blending our efforts together through knowledge as well as information sharing. We are currently entering an era where there are going to be many surprises that awaits us. Remember the Tsunami in 2004, the events of America’s September 11th, our hurricane Katrina disaster as well as the increased activity associated with earthquakes.
It would not hurt any survivalist or group of survivalists to cultivate a civil protection network from among like minded people who are close by. Sharing their abilities towards civil protection, evaluation of the areas risk assessment and emergency preparedness knowledge could well lead to binding friendships when real friends are badly needed.
Copyright @2009 Joseph Parish
[The following is a guest post by Pat Meadows. Yes, we just ran another review of this one, but Pat's extensive knowledge of container gardening and related topics warrants revisiting this book...]
‘Fresh Food from Small Spaces‘ is an exciting book, an inspirational and
informative book. Ruppenthal’s main topics are container gardening,
sprouting, fermenting, growing mushrooms, and small livestock (chickens and
bees only), making compost and worm boxes. He lists and describes steps
that anyone can take towards helping to build a more sustainable planet and
living more lightly on the earth, as well as being more self-reliant.
I was very glad to see a short chapter on ‘Survival During Resource
Shortages’ and one on ‘Helping to Build a Sustainable Future’. The
‘Introduction’ also touches on these topics.
I was also glad to see that Ruppenthal recommends the use of Self-Watering
Containers. I know from personal experience (and from being the listowner
for a list devoted to Edible Container Gardening) that this is a very, very
superior way to grow vegetables in containers.
What the book is *not*: it is definitely not a how-to book. It is *not* the
only book you’ll ever need about *any* of the topics that it covers. If you
buy the book thinking that it is, you’ll probably be disappointed.
Instead, it gives an excellent general overview and introduction to some
very disparate topics. It gives you ideas for things *you can actually do*.
The author also points you towards more detailed sources of information on
each topic. I doubt if *anyone* could have written a detailed instructional
guide on all of these very different topics.
Major disappointment: the only illustrations are black-and-white stock
photos. Some color photos - and more personal photos - would have been a
great addition. This is really a very glaring lack. (Shame on you, Chelsea
Second major disappointment: no index. I would have expected an index in
anything published by Chelsea Green, a quality publisher.
Major plus: The book is referenced, with endnotes. There is a list of
resources as well.
Ruppenthal writes well, and I would definitely have given this book my unalloyed
praise if it only had better photos and an index. I have no other criticisms.
No, nothing like the movie. I’m talking about actual buckets. Five gallon food-grade buckets with gamma-seal lids, to be exact. Six of them.
Maybe you’ve heard of the concept of a bug-out bag. It’s essentially the bag you grab to take with you when the hurricane is coming. Or the wildfires. Or the zombies. It’s an emergency kit. But instead of a duffel bag, ours are in buckets. The bucket itself is pretty useful in an emergency, for anything from water storage to a stool or table to a makeshift toilet. Or even a drum, if you get bored enough. I often hear that after the initial rush, emergency situations can get unspeakably boring for those affected.
The bucket is also watertight, or very nearly so, and rigid, so the contents don’t risk getting smushed. And you’ll be amazed at how much can fit in one. The gamma seal lids make it wonderfully easy to get into the buckets without using any tools or four-letter words. The last thing you need in an emergency is to be wrestling with your bug out kit to get at its contents.
Why six buckets? We’ve got one for each family member (two adults, three kids), and one “communal” bucket with more general supplies. Overkill? Maybe. But there are all kinds of scenarios that could require us to leave at different times, or take two vehicles, or otherwise split up. Having one container per person makes it easy to make sure that spare glasses, medications, clothing, diapers, or comfort items stay with the person who might need them.
What kinds of emergencies are we trying to cover? Who knows. It’s the old Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. The idea is to cover a wide range of possibilities. In an actual emergency, you may not have time or you may be too stressed to think of all the things you might need. By planning ahead, you are thinking and acting in a calm and rational state, so that if the worst happens, you only have to grab and go.
Does this sound like paranoia? Two words: Hurricane Katrina. Two more: September Eleventh. But really, bad things happen on a smaller scale all the time: Housefires, floods, chemical spills, tornadoes. Your odds are low, but don’t assume they’re zero. And with as crazy as things seem to be getting in the economy, where “biggest _____ since the Great Depression” is gradually getting replaced with “bigger _____ than the Great Depression”, predictability is kind of going out the window.
Now I should say that not everything you might want in an emergency can fit in a bucket (sleeping bag), and for some things it’s not practical to store them there (birth certificate). So I’ve also made a “Grab List” to be kept with the buckets. The Grab List is just sort of a brainstorming tool that you can scan during an actual emergency, to jog your memory. On it are anything from the practical (cooler, boots, water filter) to the sentimental (wedding photos, baby pictures) to the more frivolous (books, MP3 player, favorite toy). The list should be ordered from most important / most likely to be missed down to the trivial, so that if you only have a few minutes, you can just stop reading before the end of the list. And when making the list, remember that your future self may not be thinking clearly when reading it, so put things like “cell phone with charger” or “wedding album (top of bookshelf).”
The contents of the kids’ buckets are much different than the adults’. They’ll need less stuff to begin with, and less of their stuff is likely to be critical, so you can always throw in some extra goodies to get them through what is bound to be a stressful time. (Don’t neglect the adults in this regard either, but remember the kids are just kids.) If you have kids, imagine the difference it might make to their mental state - and yours - if the scary emergency is suddenly a cross between a slumber party and a holiday.
By the same token, imagine the difference it might make for you in an emergency, to be calmly grabbing a few buckets rather than scampering around frantically trying to get your brain to figure out ten things at once.
In deciding what goes in the adults’ buckets vs. the communal bucket, it often comes down to practicality. If it’s cheap and / or easy to build in redundancy, go for it. Remember, we’re trying to cover, at least to some extent, the possibility of having to split up, because you just never know. In some cases, I had the same item in both the adult buckets and the communal bucket because it was trivial to do so. That way you’re not thinking, “So who gets the bucket with the toilet paper?”
Oh, and one thing not included is First Aid items. I have two pre-assembled First Aid kits stored with the buckets. I also included a very basic printed First Aid Booklet with each. On my Grab List is “Where There Is No Doctor”, which can be purchased or downloaded for free here. or purchased new & used here.
So on to the actual lists. These are examples, and you can always adjust to suit your needs or the types of emergencies you feel susceptible to.
Kid’s Bucket (Example):
Bowl, Plate, Cup
Pen & Paper
Towel / cloth
Sweatshirt / sweater
Underwear (x2) (or diapers / pullups)
Sports drink (for hydration)
Baby formula & bottles
Toys / Games
Adult’s Bucket (Example):
Atlas & state map
Addresses, phone numbers, & directions to places you might need or want to go
Bowl & Plate
Thermal coffee mug
Pepper spray / mace
Cash, including coins
All-purpose folding knife
Emergency blanket (mylar)
General purpose soap (like “camp soap”)
Headlamp (or substitute flashlight, but I like the headlamps)
Pens & Paper
Towel / cloth
Sweatshirt / sweater
Hat, Scarf, Gloves
Water purification drops
Waterproof match case w/matches
Magnesium fire starter
“Girl stuff” (*)
A distracting paperback
Sports drink (for hydration)
Cash, including coins
(*) Menstrual pads can be used as emergency bandages.
(**) Besides their intended use, condoms have other uses in an emergency. If they are not lubricated or otherwise treated, they can hold water. You can also use them to waterproof something (like a bandage). Or there’s always balloon animals.
Yes, it all fits. Tip: Put the clothes in first. You probably won’t need them right away, and that way you can smash ‘em down as much as you want without fear of crushing anything else. And pick compact snacks, or keep them in a separate bag for easier rotation.
You’ll notice the clothing choices are kind of specific. Jeans are more durable than, say, sweats, and a sweater can go over a t-shirt when it’s chilly, and be removed when it’s warm. You’ll also notice the snacks are not at all specific. Don’t worry about nutrition. Worry about calories and comfort. Remember this is for short-term emergencies, not long-term.
Communal Bucket (Example):
Emergency blanket (mylar)
Emergency radio (crank or similar)
Filtered water bottle
General purpose lotion (Curel)
Anti-inflamatory / pain reliever(s) of choice
Pens & Paper
Screwdriver (with multiple tips, or else multiple screwdrivers)
Trash bags (small)
Trash bags (large)
Cash, including coins
I primarily used two books in putting this all together (The Crisis Preparedness Handbook, and When Technology Fails), though I did glance at a few other lists and add in my own ideas. Remember, this is not a definitive list: Feel free to add, omit, adjust, and rearrange as you see fit. If you have any suggestions for things that are missing, feel free to say so in the comments.
Compiling all this stuff can be spread out over time, and as budget allows. That’s the advantage of advance planning. Now that ours are just about done, I have to say that I worry a little less about Bad Things. And that by itself is probably worth the money spent.
The old saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” still holds true to this day. Junk land by definition is simply land which has no real definitive value due to a lack of those things which may give it value and worth. It may lack easy and reliable access. It will usually have poor road access or sometimes even none. It may lack a proper source of water or have poor soil for crops or livestock. It may not even have the option for an on-the-grid source for power which will require an alternate source of power to be found. There are solutions to these problems that can make junk land a viable option for you.
Like a diamond in the rough which has no lasting value until it has been cut, shaped and polished, so too will living on junk land be rough until you have shaped and polished it to fit your individual needs and the needs of your family. This will require lots of time, a variety of skills, adequate resources and a huge amount of determination on your part that will involve not only you but your entire family. You will probably be giving up a great many “creature comforts” that you have been accustomed to and you may be reluctant to give these up or do without them. This is a personal choice that you alone will have to make.
If you lack the necessary determination, skills, or resources you may need to wait until the option of junk land is more viable. Patience in knowing when the right time to pursue junk land as the proper option is hard. The emotional desires of having your own little piece of paradise can sometimes cloud your judgment. Rational and well thought out reasoning will help you succeed in this type of endeavor. Not everyone will have the required abilities to turn junk land into a thing of beauty. While this may be a very big obstacle, it too can be overcome. Common sense must be your guide to prevent any irrational thoughts and actions from putting you in a worse condition than you may be in presently.
These problems are not new and have been overcome by many people, myself included. My own experiences have been both enlightening and educational. It has been a definite learning process. Hopefully, by examining the different aspects of developing your land, you will be able to make your dream for a self reliant and sustainable lifestyle become a reality.
This topic requires a great deal more thought and discussion to examine all the different possibilities and options for making junk land a viable option. It is a topic which needs to be looked at from both sides of the fence. While the grass is always greener on the other side, it still needs to be mowed!
“Junk Land - Part Two - Required Resources” will deal with some of the different skills and resources that will probably be necessary to make junk land a viable option for you.
Staying above the water line!
If you are uncertain whether it is safe for you to stay in your home, you may need to make alternate living or shelter arrangements. Unfortunately, if the event was severe enough to damage your home, it probably created further hazards as well. Highways and roads may be unusable due to ruined pavement, fallen trees, downed electric wires, or flooding. The traffic conditions may also be so utterly congested by others trying to leave the area that any travel may be next to impossible. Your best option may be to simply camp out in the backyard for a while or to take shelter in an alternate dwelling or structure, such as a shed or garage. You may simply have to spend a few nights sleeping in your vehicle.
The first thing you will need to do is determine if there is any major damage to the structural stability of your home. Short of having a professional engineer available to do a proper evaluation of damages, use your best judgment and a lot of common sense to determine whether conditions are safe enough for you to remain in your home. If there is any doubt where you and your family’s safety are concerned, make other arrangements and don’t risk possibly deadly consequences.
Missing portions of your roof, exterior walls with gaps or openings or interior walls that are severely bowed or buckled could be further signs of serious problems. Cracked or shifted foundations could be other signs of structural instability. Broken rafters or support beams could also be indicators of possible problems. Wet or muddy conditions due to flooding could also pose a health risk due to mold and mildew. Large trees, power poles or power lines that may have fallen on your home can also create potentially life threatening hazards. Broken water mains or gas lines are other hazards that may make it unsafe to stay in your home or to try and return before it is actually prudent to do so safely. Basically, if it doesn’t look safe, it probably isn’t. Don’t take unnecessary chances. It is simply not worth the risk.
Strange or funny noises could also be indicators of a lack of structural integrity which may lead to a potential failure or collapse. You will also need to be ready for the real possibility of changing conditions in any type of structure which has been damaged and will need to be ready to get out quickly if the situation changes.
Should you determine that the structural integrity is intact to a degree where you can safely enter or remain in your home, you will need to clean up any hazardous debris that may be in the area. Broken glass from windows, splintered wood from walls or roofs or other objects such as furniture that have been disturbed from their normal place in the home can all create possible safety problems.
Let common sense be your guide. Take the time to properly evaluate any damages you may have sustained before risking your life and the lives of your family. If you have the slightest doubt, try to seek professional help and guidance at the first available opportunity.
Staying above the water line!
Today I felt it was time to ratchet up the sense of urgency in our preparations and economic planning. There is a lot in play right now and we need to really take a look at where we are headed, how bad things can get.
Tune in today to hear…
- What profitable companies laying off employees tells us about the future
- Why “the Wall Street Villain” card is about to be played heavy and why you should ignore it
- Australia joins the “Bail Out Brigade” and what that says about the global economy
- Why once this crisis is over for most of the world they may give the U.S. a giant collective middle finger
- Why you really should set and meet a goal of 6 months of stored food
- Why now is not the time to be buying mutual funds and why I call mutual funds a “scam”
- Why the financial storm is already here but won’t be ending any time soon
- Why nothing can be done to speed up the correction but many things are being done to make it last longer
- What you should be spending on and investing in now
- Why you need a spending journal and you need it now
- The importance of planing for what to cut in your spending before you need to
- Ideas for what types of businesses will succeed in 2009 forward
- Why now may be a good time to work for free to learn skills and/or trades
Morse code is a character encoding for transmitting telegraphic information, using standardized sequences of short and long elements to represent the letters, numerals,ponctuation and special characters of a given message.. The short and long elements can be formed by sounds,marks or pulses, in on off keying and are commonly known as "dots" and "dashes" or "dits" and "dahs".
In 1844, S. F. B. Morse demonstrated to the U.S. Congress the feasibility of sending a message ("What hath God wrought") over a wire from Washington to Baltimore. Today there are 2 versions of Morse's original code: the General Service or International Morse Code, and the American Morse Code.
I'm sure many of you watched the show Jerico which you could here the use of morse code!
If for nothing else it makes a simple tsk-tsk comm set up for radios,when silence is golden.Any way,here it is:
b _. . .
d _. .
f . ._.
g _ _.
h . . . .
I . .
j ._ _ _
L ._. .
m _ _
o _ _ _
p ._ _.
q _ _._
s . . .
u . ._
v . . . _
w . _ _
x _. ._
y _._ _
z _ _ . .
1 ._ _ _
2 . . _ _ _
3 . . ._ _
4 . . . ._
5 . . . . .
6 _. . . .
7 _ _. . .
8 _ _ _. .
9 _ _ _ _.
0 _ _ _ _ _
Here's a neat link you can translate morse code as well as here it!
May your blades stay sharp, your guns shoot straight,your fires burn warm, and your wits stay about you......Scout Out!
Get one while you can. I picked up one this afternoon.
3 heat settings.
Great unit. I've already got a huge pea soup simmering in it. :)
Believe it or not a Bandanna is one of the most handy survival items that you can have in your kit or bag. They are cheap (about $1 a piece) and take up very little room in your bag.
So why is the Bandanna such a good survival item? Here a few reasons:
- Great to keep your head warm in the cold or cool in the hot sun.
- It can be used as a Emergency Bandage or to wrap a Sprained Ankle
- Soak in cold water and wrap around the neck to prevent heat exhaustion
- Cleaning (use as a napkin, wash cloth or towel)
- Pot holder or dish towel
- Wrap gear in your backpack to prevent it from making noise
- Bum Bag to carry supplies
- Cover food
- Fire and Light - Use as a wrap for a handmade torch or lamp, or use as emergency tinder.
- Dust Mask
- Tuck into the back of a ball cap to protect neck from the sun
- Water filter
- Signal Flag
I bought my copy back in '72 for $3.95, when it first came out. I listened to old time string band music back then and knew of bunch of hot fiddlers, banjo players, double bass, guitar--a great batch of muscians in a band called the Swamp Root String Band. They were a hoot. Anyway, they got me interested into things old time Appalacian. Foxfire was a natural.
Amazon has some of them, of course.
Along the way I acquired a bunch of the Foxfire books, but it seems only volume 1 and 2 remain with me. Damn. When I moved here I had to get rid of hundreds of books, boxes and boxes of (sob) my good friends. As much as I hated that, it had to be done. And it is a relief not to have to move dozens of boxes of books anymore. Now I use the library all the time.
Foxfire has a chapter on home remedies that I want to share with you. Try to keep an open mind about these things. These were not stupid people, not a bit. They could and did live strong, vital, active lives. They wouldn't have used these remedies if they were ineffective. So some of them are bound to be, and these are the ones I've mentioned here. Others of the remedies just make me hoot and holler, as I have a highly developed sense of the absurd. (My comments are in bold. I really enjoy these things. :) Still, that doesn't mean the thing wouldn't work--for all I know they might. I've only typed up a few of the remedies, buy the book. There's tons more great info and lore in these books than just the Home Remedies chapter.
I'll quote you the intro in full, and then cite a few of the remedies in each category. Might as well, we just got snowed in again with a mini-blizzard. Ain't much else to do and this is kind of fun. Enjoy.
The scarcity, until very recently, of medical facilities in the remoter rural areas of this country has been so well documented that it needs little repetition here. Nevertheless, despite the lack of facilities, peopole did get sick and often needed help. The fact that help wasn't there didn't eliminate the need.
And so, as with everthing else, there were forced to make do with what they had on hand. As Harriet Echols told us, "People, y'know, didn't have a chance of runnin' after doctors back in these mountain areas. They weren't close, and where I was raised, it was twelve miles by horseback to th' nearest doctor. They got a cut and it was too bad. They used th' turperntine and sugar or kerosene oil as an application to kill infection; and of course kerosene oil in those days was scarce because people had to use it for light, y'know. That's all th' lights we had except th' pine knots in th' fireplace."
The end result was a staggering body of lore, a portion of which is included here. Some of the remedies undoubtedly worked; some of them probably were useless; some of them--and for this reason we advise you to experiment with extreme care--were perhaps even fatal (taking large quantities of whiskey for snake bites, for example). "It was a chancy business," as Molly Green said of her remedies. "If it hit, it hit; and if it missed, it missed."
But the remedies themselves stand as a weighty testament to the ingenuity of an all but vanished race.
Drink a mixture of honey, vinegar, and moonshine.
Make a tea from either the seeds or leaves of alfalfa.
Drink powdered rhubarb dissolved in white whiskey.
A magnet draws it out of the body.
In one pint of gin, place several pieces of the heartwood of a pine tree. Leave them in the gin until they turn brown. Then take one teaspoonful of the mixture twice a day.
Suck salty water up your nose.
Smoke or sniff rabbit tobacco.
Swallow a handful of spicer webs rolled into a ball.
Keep a Chihuahua dog around the house. (Who knows?)
Gather leaves from ginseng, dry and powder them. Put the powder in a pan, place a hot coal on top of it, and inhale the smoke.
Place a spider web across the wound.
Apply a poultice of spirit turpentine and brown sugar to the wound.
Use a mixture of soot from the chimney and lard.
Use pine resin.
When the sap is up, take the green bark of the wild cherry and boil it to make tea.
Take the young leaves of the poke plant, parboil them, season, fry, and then eat several "messes."
Make sassafras tea, using the roots of the plant.
Make a mixture of red clay and water. Put splints on each side of the arm and plaster it up with the clay. When the clay dries, put the arm in a sling.
Boil chestnut leaves and place the resulting ooze on the burn.
Bind castor oil and egg whites around the wound with a clean cloth.
Linseed oil will draw the fire out.
If the person has never seen his father, he can draw the fire by blowing on the burn. (??)
Apply a mixture of camphor, mutton tallow, soot, pine tar, turpentine, and lard to the chest.
Make an onion poultice by roasting an onion, then wrappign it in spun-wool rags and beating it so that the onion juice soaks the rags well. Apply these rags to the chest.
Render the fat of a polecat. Eat two or three spoonfuls. This brings up the phlegm. (Skunk oil again, methinks.)
Eat raw honey.
Wear a flannel shirt with turpentine and lard on it all winter. (And make lots of friends :)
Make a tea from the leaves of boneset. Drink the tea when it has cooled. It will make you sick if taken hot. Leaves of this plant may also be cured out and saved for use during the winter months.
Make a tea from powdered ginger, or ground up ginger roots. Do not boil the tea, but add the powdered root to a cup of hot water and drink.
Boil pine needles to make a strong tea.
Parch red pepper in frount of the fire. Powder it, cook it in a tea, and add pure white corn liquor.
Drink whiskey and honey mixed.
Drink red pepper tea.
Tie an asafetida bag round a baby's neck for six months to keep away six months' colic.
Drink sampson's snake root tea.
Boil two or three roots of ginsend in a pint of water, then strain and drink.
Put some ground ginger from the store in a saucer and add a little sugar. Put it on the tongue just before bedtime. It burns the throat and most of the time will stop coughs.
Dissolve four sticks of horehound candy in a pint of whiskey and take a couple of spoonfuls a day. This is also good for TB.
Boil one cup of wild cherry bark in a pint of water. Add some syrup and cook until it gets thick.
Whoops. Gotta go do some chores, feeding cats and ducks and getting snow off my car. Stay tuned for part two.
- Your first line of defense against financial disaster is friends and family. It should be difficult to take handouts and help from those closest to you, you don't want to get comfortable with this kind of situation, so make sure that the help you get from others (room, board, money, etc) is repaid in kind. You may not have money but can you wash their car, do yard work, clean the house, etc; this makes you a more welcome guest.
- Check out community service agencies. The Salvation Army offers a number of services in our city--everything from free haircuts, free breakfast and lunch daily, and help with utility payments among other things. The Goodwill also offers a variety of service programs in addition to their thrift store.
- Churches are another source of help, offering everything from free meals on a regular schedule to free clothing to occasional emergency housing options.
- Veteran's Service Centers offer a number of services to help people through hard times such as rental assistance, training opportunities, help with food/clothing/utilities, etc. Many of these services are available no matter how many or how few years you served.
- There will usually be one or more food banks in the town/city where you live so if you are hungry, by all means find out where they are and accept what they offer.
- Food stamp programs have grown exponentially due to the great need. With documentation, signing up is relatively simple.
- Homeless shelters are not the most pleasant places to stay but if that is your only option, it is warmer than sleeping outside. Generally other housing programs take quite a while to get into as waiting lists are long.
- Unemployment is another source of income which you actually earned through being employed so sign up immediately if you find yourself unemployed (according to a recent article in the newspaper, it may take some time getting through to the service since phones and websites for the service have been overwhelmed).
- Medical care can be found at community "free" clinics. As a last resort, hospital emergency rooms cannot refuse to treat you (and they usually have some sort of charity care program too). They can, however, make you wait for ages to be seen.
- And then there are all of the federal and state welfare programs (many of which are available if you have dependant children): medical coupons, cash for families with children, disability payments, assistance with paying for child care, etc.
When you are desperate, especially if you have a family to take care of, there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. On the other hand, if you are doing OK it is always a good idea to help those in need whenever possible.