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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Organic Gardening

This year I have set as one of my goals, to learn the art of canning. when I was a kid my mother and grandmother always "put up" fruit and vegetables for the winter, and I distinctly remember my Aunts basement lined with Jars of everything from Tomatoes to apples. So instead of growing a garden and giving away all the extra stuff, I want to make every effort possible to save it for the winter, or what ever befalls us in the next year.

I have to admit that I was led to this task by reading a book by an author that I share absolutely no political beliefs with, but this book isn't about politics, it's about living free from corporations and the government intervention of our food supply. The book is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver and the purpose of the book was to show how to break your cycle on corporate farms and the constant screwing around that the government does with our food supply. The author tracks her family's quest to become totally self sufficient on producing their own food for 1 full year. This is, to me at least, a survivalist's dream and the books actually provides a wealth of information on how to move in that direction. Planning, canning, storage of all sorts, plus a ton of knowledge on things like bio-diversity in crops and livestock. There is a reason Monsanto wants to control all of your grain foods you know.

Anyhow, I though I would pass on a few items for the readers that will help them get moving towards a life of a "Locavore" (A person who eats only what they can grow or purchase locally). Ms. Kingsolvers book is a good start, but you also need to know where you can get heirloom seeds and ways to get your garden moving without the use of over processed fertilizers or non-organic stuff beign absorbed in your food supply. Take a look at the links below, I have used them all over the past few years so I feel they have some value.

Get those Tomato Seeds started!!!

Heirloom Tomato Seeds - Over 700 varietes of Heriloom Tomato and Vegetable Seeds

Garden State Heirloom Seed Society - Great source of information for people wishing to grow organic heirloom vegetables

Organic Gardening - Grow your food without poisons injected by corporate over the counter junk.

New Jersey Eat wild - your source for safe, healthy, natural and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, dairy and other wild edibles.

Know how to Can - And of course, know how to store all those great vegetables.

Plus you can just type "Food Storage" into Youtube and a whole day of viewing pops up.

What have you done to prepare today?

Original: http://newjerseypreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/03/organic-gardening.html

Water Storage

I'd like to talk about water storage today because I think many of us don't think about it at all. I have mentioned previously that you would need a gallon a day per person to be comfortable, but you would only need a quart a day to survive. Very different numbers and two very different ways of looking at your storage amounts.

So lets do some math: Family of four(4), one (1) gallon per person per day, fourteen (14) days minimum for your average emergency and bam you need to store 56 gallons of water, potable water no less. Now, how do you store that much water? A great way is to use food grade barrels available at plenty of on line retailers, just search for Closed Head Polyethyene Drums. A drum like this will store your water for a year before you have to empty and clean it.

When we talk about water most of us just seem to take for granted that clean water is everywhere, but as most disasters show us, clean water can be pretty darn hard to find when you need it most and boiling it will only kill bacteria not remove poisons or heavy metals. So the next thing to address is filtration. Filtration can happen at the lowest level while you are backpacking with a device such as THIS , or you can have an elaborate setup such as THESE. But whatever you choose you have to address the need for more filters, mobility, and the amount of water you want to store, a couple canteens, or 2 weeks worth.

Water is essential to life and in our gloomy future wars will be fought over it. But god always seems to drop some on us every once and awhile, might as well catch some for future use, know what I mean?

Original: http://newjerseypreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/03/water-storage.html

Curing Meat (part 2)

This is the second post about curing part of a pig which my family received as a Christmas present. In the first part I described butchering and bagging the pig. I am including a few more pictures of that process here.

Please take note of the first picture. I hope you're not too squeamish, but if you're going to be a survivalist, you'll need to do a lot more than just look at pictures of this stuff. First, do you know where the bacon is located on the half of pig laying there? I can't really describe how to get it out, you kind of need to see it done, but it is underneath the rib cage as you are looking at that picture. For reference, the left side of the picture is the hind quarter, then in the middle is the rib cage and bacon and the front(to the right) is the front shoulder.

Second, note the pig head in the background. The head has been skinned because there is a good amount of meat on it -- it's a meathead. Most of the meat there is put into sausage, but my relatives eat the tongue, and some people eat more than that. In a survival situation, you will want to save as much edible meat and fat as possible. The fat has a lot of uses.
The second picture shows some of the meat packaged for the freezer. As I stated in the first post. Freezer bags are a big time saver, and they seem to have no problem keeping the food for up to a year. The larger ones have no problem holding a medium sized chicken. A side benefit of the freezer bags, and one which I have never utilized, is that you could reuse them. We always throw away all packaging that has touched raw meat. That seems to be the normal and wise thing to do when everything is cheap and available. In a crisis situation I'd probably save mine and reuse it. Now that I think about it, this is kinda cool, I've already got a freezer full of meat packaging supplies.
On to the curing process.

I'm still learning about all this but will share what I've learned. (In other words, don't' quote me as an expert, do your own research).
There are multiple ways of curing meat. The salt cure is one that has probably been around for thousands of years. You can find many recipes on the Internet and in books.

My recipe was as follows: three gallons water, three cups of pickling salt, one cup brown sugar, and 1 oz. curing salt. This is enough for about 25 lbs. of meat.

I got my information from Sugar Mountain Farms blog. The author of that page notes that the curing salt contains 6.25% sodium nitrate which has been connected to cancer. It is a helpful preservative, but not necessary if you will be eating it relatively soon, or freezing properly.

The curing salt is cheap(.99 cents / oz.) and can be purchased here.
In order to cure an entire hind quarter I had to cut it into two pieces. Once cut, each piece easily fit into a five gallon bucket. The above recipe was enough for one bucket and each half of the hind quarter weighed between 25 and 30 lbs. I was able to cure the bacon in one of the buckets with the ham as well.

Before placing the hams into the bucket of cure it is important to inject the meat with some of the curing solution that has already been mixed up in the bucket. This is done to insure that the curing solution gets all the way in to the bone at the center.
A meat pump is used to inject the meat. (Wow! I don't own one of these, but borrowed one from my brother-in-law. I just saw the price. This one is going for nearly $50. You might find a cheaper one.)

Just suck up the juice by pulling out the plunger, insert the sharp point into the meat, and depress the plunger. I did this in at least five or six places on each cut. The idea is to be sure that the meat near the bone is fully saturated. When the solution is injected you can see the meat swell to receive the solution.
Once the meat is injected it may be placed into the buckets and the resealable lids put in place. As stated previously, I put the bacon on top of one of the hams. The bacon did not need to be injected.

Now for the waiting. Meat may be cured from 2 weeks to 6 six weeks or longer. It depends upon your purpose and in my case weather conditions. I believe the theory is that the longer it cures, the longer it will last. If your freezer is out of service, you may need to preserve meat in such a way that it will last for long periods in warm weather.

If you are just looking for good taste I can assure you that two weeks is sufficient for the hams. I had planned to cure mine for longer but the weather was getting too warm. I have a wood stove in my basement and was having a hard time keeping the meet between 32 and 45 degrees, so after two weeks I pulled it out. You'll want to get a good meat thermometer as well.

I should mention that I pulled the bacon out after only 4 days and it was fantastic.

I made my own smoker. To accomplish this I simply stacked up cement blocks five layers high and about four square. This is bigger than needed but I already had a large BBQ pit made so this was a simple modification. I then cut a piece of particle board to fit over the top. Mesh wire was attached to the particle board in order to hold the meat. The meat would hang on the underside of this board, over the smoke pit.

To create the smoke you could simply light a hardwood fire, but I chose to use charcoal. When the charcoal fire was glowing red, I spread it out, and covered it with soaking wet hickory wood chips. These were purchased at Home Depot for $5. As soon as that smoke started billowing up, I flipped the board containing the meat over the top of the smoker. I then covered and surrounded the whole thing with a tarp and let it sit for about six hours. At the end of six hours I brought it inside and it was ready to cut and package.

I borrowed a meat slicer for the bacon. The hams were cut into about 8 pieces for family size consumption and then packaged in the zip lock freezer bags. I must say, that was some of the best hickory smoked bacon I've ever had.

Original: http://pennsylvaniapreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/04/curing-meat-part-2.html

Curing Meat

This winter I tried my had at salt curing some meat. I have a dehydrator and have used it with beef and venison but curing with salt was something new. We were given half a hog as a Christmas present from my wife's aunt who is a farmer. Problem was, it was given on the hoof. In mid January my brother-in-law and uncle-in-law (that's a word right?) and myself met up at the farm to do this pig. By the time I arrived they had shot it and had it hanging upside down from the forks of a skid-steer loader. He was half skinned. We finished skinning and then carefully cut him in half before dark. The two pieces were laid out on clean plywood in the cool garage overnight.

The next morning we went to work butchering. No one ever taught me how to butcher, I just kinda taught myself by cutting up deer over the years. However, my wife's uncle was a butcher for forty years and I really learned some things that day.

We used to wrap all our meat in butcher paper. That works well, but takes a long time. Recently we've begun using large, freezer style, zip lock bags. Man is that faster and it works good too.

My portion turned out to be about five shoulder cuts (small to medium size), eleven pork chops, one whole slab of bacon, and one whole rear quarter.

I cut the rear quarter in half so that it fit into two five gallon buckets. I rolled up the bacon slap and placed it into one of the buckets, and then put lids on the buckets for transport. These were new, food grade buckets and they had sealable lids.

After arriving home the roasts and chops along with about five pounds of ground meat went to the freezer. The hind quarter and bacon we prepared for a cure. That will have to be described in the next post.

Original: http://pennsylvaniapreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/04/curing-meat.html

Food-Grade Pails, Freeze-Dried Food and #10 Cans

Hello fellow Canadians, this is my first post on this site and hopefuly not my last. There are a few online sites I have ordered from and would like to share them with you. The first is http://www.y2knorth.com/ , you can get food grade pails, mylar bags etc. for food storeage. The next one sells freeze dried food in pouches, http://www.mec.ca/Main/home.jsp?bmUID=1235309418147 along with alot of other stuff. http://www.gear-up.com/index.php this site has equipment and dodads you may find useful. This last site will begin selling food in #10 cans in a couple of months, they are in Ontario http://www.freeze-dry.com/food.html . I hope some of you find these helpful.
I am off to Kuwait in two weeks, working for an US company supporting the troops in Iraq.

Until next time.

M. Martin

Original: http://newbrunswickpreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/02/hello-fellow-canadians-this-is-my-first.html

Audio Podcast: Planning vs Paranoia

icon for podpress Episode-175- Planning vs Paranoia [37:30m]: Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download

The more I talk to the media the more I am realizing how deep the belief that survivalists are paranoids is in the average person. This is simply as gently as I can put it moronic. Is it paranoid to have life insurance? Is it paranoid to wear a seat belt? Is it paranoid to keep an eye on your kids while they play? If not why is it paranoid to take personal responsiblity for yourself and understand that at times things go wrong?

Tune in today to hear…

  • My continuing struggle with the media
  • A bit more on the twits that think I am making a huge mistake by admitting to being a prepper
  • What your own power is and why it should make you act in confidence vs in fear
  • The ability to plan and survive is a universal human constant
  • If property is over price in your area don’t buy it, move, yep I said it
  • What happens to you if you try to take a child away from his mother and what that teaches us
  • Why making basic human responses into something “amazing” by the media is robbing people of their own power
  • Your inner voice, it will never shut up, so you better listen to it
  • What humans can do about disaster that no other known entity can
  • Why disaster commonality is so important
Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/survivalpcast/~3/_bzzrumhhuU/episode-175-planning-vs-paranoia