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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Could You Live Without Money?

I used to think that one of the best things about backpacking away from civilization for days or weeks at a time was the fact that I could live, even though it was for such a short period, without using any money whatsoever. Obviously it took some cash to get prepared with gear, supplies, and food but for an entire week or more I didn't need one cent to survive (this was before you had to pay for wilderness permits, when you could drink out of a stream sans filter, and when backpacks weighed upwards of 40 pounds when filled).
Today I came across an article about a man who actually lives without money. I am always fascinated by people like this. They turn what society says people must do, into things that aren't necessary. Like the author, I am rather spoiled by hot water on demand, AC in the car, and the occasional batch of Chinese food being delivered. Could I live like Mr Suelo in the article? If necessary, most anyone could. Would I do it by choice. No. But the takeaway for everyone who reads this article and Mr Suelo's blog are many:
  • You can live however you want.

  • You don't need to live in a house, an apartment, or even a tent.

  • You don't need to be in debt.

  • You don't need to work.

  • You don't need to spend money if you don't want to.

  • You can actually live off the land (but your diet, your clothing, and your lifestyle will probably be significantly different that your current consumerist lifestyle).

  • You don't need electricity, running water, a TV, a refrigerator, or other things that people feel are "must have" items to survive.

  • You don't need to act "normal" or what society at large considers "normal". (IMHO when you look at a group of "high class executives" their behavior is often anything BUT normal--buying stuff not because they want it but to impress others, working 18 hours a day and completely ignoring their families, etc).

  • You do need an open mind to live like this gentleman. Unfortunately our minds start closing (mine included) around junior high school. From then on we follow a path of what is expected of us. The more open we are to the wide range of possibilities available to us, the more possibilities we find.

Some of the most memorable people I remember from growing up were, as grandma called them, "the eccentrics". An aunt who left her family to travel around the world like a gypsy with only what she could carry in her backpack. They guy who came back from Vietnam and lived in the local woods because he couldn't stand to live in society. The man who gave away all of his money and started over just to see if he could do it. Learning from people like these will teach you survival skills that won't be included in survival school curriculums.

Original: http://codenameinsight.blogspot.com/2009/07/could-you-live-without-money.html

Juicing Berries and Making Jelly

I'll be playing blog catch-up as I can get to it--a few more crazy busy weeks ahead, but lots to share, so hang in there--I'll put up posts when I can catch a few minutes! We'll start with a project from a couple of weeks ago--Mulberry/Currant Jelly. Yummy. If you've only had jam and jelly from the store, you're missing out! Jams and jellies are pretty easy to make and holy cow they're way better than most of the store stuff. You'd be surprised how little fruit it takes to make a batch of jam, so go ahead and give it a try next time you get a sack of fruit you don't know what to do with.

I had some currants from our baby currant bushes, but it was not enough for a batch of jelly until I got some mulberries from a friend. Then it was jelly time. Now, usually I make jam because it seems like less waste, but currants are SOOO much seed and skin compared to the juicy part of the berry that I thought I'd better jelly them instead.

To make jelly, you first need juice. To get the juice from a soft fruit like berries, apricots, plums, etc, first wash your fruit:
After the fruit is washed, smash it up. You could use a hand potato masher (silly, I don't have one). I used my kitchenaid on low:
Measure the mashed fruit and put it in a pot.
Repeat with any other fruit you're going to juice for the same jelly--here's the mulberries. I left the little stems on them since I knew I was jellying and they'd get strained out of the final product. If I were making jam, I'd have to pull all those little stems off (they don't like to come off without mashing the berry up pretty good).
Put all the mashed fruit in a pot, add a little water (I think I put in about 3/4 cup) and put it on the stove.
Cook it until the fruit is all soft and cooked.
Now you're going to strain the juice off. Here's a method I remember in my kitchen as a kid, so I did the same thing. There might be other ways, but this works pretty well without much work. Put your strainer in the pot that will collect the jelly (yes, it's on the floor).
Put a few layers of cheesecloth in the strainer (yes, my floor is clean).
Pour the cooked fruit in the cheesecloth (no, my floor is not clean anymore).
Get a dowel or broom handle and a couple of chairs and set it up like this:
Now tie the cheesecloth around the dowel and carefully pull the strainer out from under it. I guess you could leave the strainer in, it really doesn't hurt anything.
Let the juice drip from the fruit for a while. If you want really clear jelly, don't squeeze the bag. If you want all the juice you can get even if you get some pulp with it, twist the bag and squeeze out more juice (that's what I did).
In your pot is magical fruit juice. Phew. That was enough for one day. I put the juice in a couple of jars and put them in the fridge for the night. (you sure don't have to do that--you can skip right on to making the jelly if you want, it was just that it was already past my bedtime, so I had no desire to make jelly that night.)

Now we'll make the jelly. Find a good jelly recipe. I used a recipe for "berry" jelly from my Ball Blue Book. Here it is:

3 1/2 cups fruit juice
1 package powdered pectin
2 TB lemon juice
5 cups sugar

I did not use the recipe for currant jelly because my juice was about 2/3 berries and 1/3 currants, so I went with the berry recipe instead. Most pectin boxes have recipes inside them as well. Measure the juice into a pot and add the lemon juice if it's in your recipe. You can add a little water to bring it up to the full amount of juice if you want. The second batch I did, I didn't have enough juice so I put some apricot nectar in--now it's kind of a mixed fruit jelly instead of mulberry/currant, but still turned out purple and delicious. Another option to make up the amount of juice if you're short a little bit would be to use whatever juice you have in your fridge, maybe a grape or apple. It's not concentrated enough to make the whole jelly batch with it, but it's okay if you need to make up a half cup or so of liquid.
Okay, now we've got the juice in the pot, add the pectin and stir it in. Bring to a boil, then add the sugar and stir it in. Bring back to a rolling boil and boil for however long is specified in your jelly directions (mine was 1 minute hard boil). Hard or rolling boil is a boil that doesn't stop when it's stirred. I stirred most of the time it was cooking.
Meanwhile, heat your jar lids in a pan of water . . . yeah, I usually forget this step until I'm ready to can and then have to heat them up fast to put them on the jars. Don't skip this step--the lid makers have gotten cheaper on the gooey stuff that seals the lids over the years and it just doesn't seal right if it's not put on the jar hot. I used to be able to put the lid right on the jar without heating it and it sealed fine, but not anymore. Heat your lids.
After the boiling, remove the jelly from the heat and ladle hot jelly into jars leaving 1/2 inch or so headspace.
Process 5 minutes in boiling water canner and then pull them out, let them cool, and enjoy on your toast the next day :)
Besides tasting better than store jam or jelly, canning your own also saves a ton of cash over buying it. AND you can make whatever kind of jam or jelly you want, so you're not limited to the varieties on the store shelf. Seriously good stuff there.

Original: http://selfrelianceadventures.blogspot.com/2009/07/juicing-berries-and-making-jelly.html

Protect your stuff

This is a $20 solution to saving you a whole lot of grief. If there is only one thing you should accomplish in the next week this should be it.

First, scan your important documents like: birth certificates, marriage license, divorce decrees, adoption papers, wills, power of attorneys, health care proxies, deeds, titles to cars, insurance policies, DD214’s, and at least the first page of the bank statement from each of your bank or investment accounts.

Next, empty everything out of your wallet – credit cards, debit card, driver’s license, VA card, gun license, professional license, health insurance cards – and scan them.

Then purchase a large jumpdrive. I think that I got a 16MB one for about 20 bucks. Back all of your documents and pictures from your PC or Apple to the jumpdrive. Make sure you also copy over everything you scanned.

Finally, buy a waterproof match container from WalMart. I paid 99 cents for this one.


Stick the jumpdrive into the waterproof match container, seal it and find someplace safe to put it. You may want to store it someplace different than your home, maybe at your office, locker, in your car or with your BOB.


Be disciplined about it and do a backup of your data at least once or twice a year going forwards. Protect your stuff.


This is crown vetch growing in a nice summer field. This is what I will dream about during the cold, dark days of our New England winter.

P1010001I think it may be called crown vetch because each little group of flowers looks like a purple crown. Vetch is a legume, which means, like peas and beans, it puts nitrogen into the soil. That’s right legumes convert nitrogen from the ear and leave it around their roots. Legumes improve your soil. Also, because most legumes have good roots they help to keep soild friable. If you plant legumes in your garden at the end of the season don’t pull the plants up by their roots. Cut them at soil level so that the part of the root where the nitrogen is fixed remains in the soil. Livestock can also graze crown vetch. I know those pretty purple flowers look tasty to me and I only have one stomach. Ahhh, the smell of summer.

Original: http://hotdogjam.wordpress.com/2009/07/20/protect-your-stuff/


This is the second half of the blog about water. You will find videos/podcasts, instructions, and other information about the subject for this week.


Disaster Preparedness-Water Supply

Water in the Wilderness - Part 1

Discussion on Water Filters:

How to Build a Rain Barrel:

Rain Barrel-Three Minute Gardener


Make a Funnel out of a 2-liter Bottle:
Take a sharp knife and cut around the outside. Ta Da! You have a funnel to fill smaller containers from bigger containers.

Boiling Water with a Piece of Plastic:
Build a fire. Place rocks that you can easily lift with a forked stick or two sticks into the fire. Make sure the rocks were collected from a place that does not hold water or is covered with water. The rocks will exploded if taken from a stream, river, pond or lake. Let the rocks heat for awhile.

Next, dig a hole. Line the hole with a piece of plastic. Fill the hole with water that has been allowed to settle. Take the rocks out of the fire with the sticks. Be careful, the rocks are Hot!

Place rocks in the water, and step back real quick. Once the rumbling has stopped the water should be boiling hot.

Make sure the hot rocks do not touch the plastic sticking out of the water. It will melt the plastic. The reason the hot rock doesn't melt the plastic, below the waterline, is because the boiling water keeps the rock off the plastic until it has cooled.

Other Information:

Alpha Rubicon has an article on making a Home-Made Berkey Water Filter by Daire. It is a variation of the gravity filter; I talked about in Week Four-Water. The article can be viewed at http://www.alpharubicon.com/kids/homemadeberkeydaire.htm

Daire's pictures are excellent. Notice the nuts to hold the filters tight while the filters are still laying on the bucket lids. One change I would make, would be to put two blocks of wood between the upper and lower buckets. I would do this because I don't want the nuts to have to hold 40 pounds of water.

Original; http://gsiep.blogspot.com/2009/03/second-half-water.html