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Monday, October 4, 2010

Prepping: It's Not Just for TEOTWAWKI

My son and daughter-in-law visited us for the Labor Day weekend. Last month's injection of cash helped them but the employment prospects are still less than optimal. Cash, as always, is in short supply. But I realized there were other assets.

I filled one of those $2 Styrofoam coolers you buy at Wal-Mart with meat from the freezer and grabbed a couple of 12-packs of canned vegetables from the shelf that I purchased at a commissary caseload sale. It's not much but it may save them a trip to the grocery store. Some of the #10 cans of freeze dried stuff may be next....

The point is that there are any number of emergencies that can happen besides a total meltdown: unemployment, illness, flu outbreak, blizzard or hurricane. Anything that disrupts our lives can make having a stockpile of food just one less thing to worry about. Having it on hand for TEOTWAWKI doesn't mean that a portion of it cannot be donated to someone who is dangerously close to exhausting their supplies due to a conventional crisis.

Preps & Life

Prepping is a hobby and a way of life--a lifelong pursuit of being prepared for what's around the corner. You will never reach a "done" point--you will work at it for your whole life, and when you die, you'll hopefully have passed the mindset to your children and grandchildren. And hopefully you've have some worthwhile possessions to leave them as well.

Because preparedness is a lifelong pursuit, you need to approach it as such--with forethought, strategy and patience. Here's some thoughts.

Career. If you're young and not yet on a career path, look to get educated in a field that will provide stable employment, suitable income and will allow you to stay away from "danger" zones--crowded, expensive, crime-ridden urban areas choked with restrictive laws. If you're well into your career and not liking the path that you're on, change it. Get more education, change careers, do whatever it takes to get where you want to be. Don't be afraid to invest in yourself. You will have to make short term sacrifices, but they will pay off over the long term. Your work will have a huge impact on every aspect of your life, so you need to make sure it's squared away.

Buying Preps. Have patience. Unless you have substantial cash or assets you can sell off, you're unlikely to be able to instantly have all of the funds needed to purchase the preps you would like to have or feel that you need. With all of the many potential threats and fears out there, this kind of patience can be difficult. What if disaster strikes tomorrow? And that's the exact problem--we don't know when SHTF will hit. Panic buying is all too common, but you need to avoid it. Research out your purchases, think them through and make them count. Make investments in the areas you are most lacking. If you have a year's worth of food and no guns, buy a gun. If you have a dozen guns and a month worth of food, buy more food. And when you buy, buy quality. You want gear that you can bet your life on and also that you can pass on to your kids or grandkids. You might have to wait a bit longer to afford quality items, but it is worth it.

Stages of life. Again, unless you have sizable resources, it's going to take you years before you can afford all of the preps you want. And you've got to be ok with that. For example, buying a remote, well-stocked retreat/cabin as a second home is not cheap and not something most people in their mid-20s are going to be able to do. It might take until you're 50 or 60 to do that--or heck, you might need to wait until retirement age before you make the move out to the Bug Out Land. Put goals out there for yourself and your family to work towards, but give yourself enough time and make them realistic. If you're not at the point in your life where you can't have a certain prep--for money reasons, lifestyle reasons, whatever--don't let it drive you nuts. It's all right--you'll get there.

Balance. It's easy to go overboard--and maybe not in your eyes, but in the eyes of your loved ones. Make sure you keep perspective, stay optimistic and maintain your important relationships throughout your life. People can get burnt out on doom and gloom and worrying about the end. Don't try to force prepping on those who aren't interested; be patient and encouraging, but don't insult and alienate. If you feel yourself going overboard, take a break. Do fun things, be positive and enjoy life. Tightly knit family and community groups will see you through the hard times ahead.

Dying alone in your uber-TEOTWAWKI bunker, surrounded by a mountain of guns, ammo and MREs is not the end goal. What is the end goal then? Dying happy and free, having made the world a better place for your family, friends and others. Your preps are insurance to help make sure that happens.

Buying Silver

I recently found an EXCELLENT website that's sole purpose is to educate us about inflation and economic principles and to explain (economic) activities that happen in the news. Two of their videos are under my button "Get off the Fence!" They are

and I wanted to tell you about their FAQ regarding silver. I feel like I got a crash course recently!

  • Silver "rounds" are essentially coins, but can't be called that because they weren't made by a Federal mint.
  • When silver breaks about $21 or $22/oz you know the S is about to HTF.
  • Silver coins are a little more expensive, but are purported to be more recognizable by more people if SHTF, because they're minted by the government.
  • In crazy inflationary times, silver can actually gain value quicker than gold. The ratio of gold: silver drops as prices rise.
  • Previously in US history, some coins in circulation (such as pre-1965 dimes) were 90% silver and are thus good for holding.
  • NIA's review found the highest rated seller of precious metals to be Gainesville Coins
  • Bars are good if you are going to have a lot of silver, but coins are better. To my way of thinking, the pre-1965 dimes are best because they are even smaller and can be used to buy smaller things if it comes down to using silver to pay for goods/ services post SHTF.
  • For less than $15 you can get 10 pre-'65 dimes. (that's called "$1 face" because it's face value is $1 (ie, 10 dimes).
  • At this time you can get a buffalo image round for about $19. We found a local gun shop that has a coin shop in it, where we can buy silver without shipping.
We're so pleased you are reading Farming Salt & Light! Choose how you live!

3 Ways to Utilize Fallen Leaves

The life cycle of the leaf is very interesting and can be summed up a followed:  The cycle begins when a tree makes it’s leaves in the spring, it concentrates all of it’s energy and nutrients into making them.  It’s quite simple – the more leaves there are, the more photosynthesis can occur.  When the leaves drop in fall, they create a ground cover for the trees to conserve moisture.  As the leaves decompose, they provide the tree with added nutrients and resupplies the soil with microbes.  The nutrients will go back to the soil where the roots can get to the nutrients and minerals in order to create more leaves in the spring.  It’s a great cycle and can be utilized for your garden.
In the gardening community, leaves are huge.  When they are composted they become known as “black gold,” a nutrient rich material that can used in a multitude of ways in the garden. Here are three ways to add leaves to improve your garden’s performance and growing season.

3 Ways to Add Leaves To the Garden

Leaf Mold is the result of allowing leaves to decompose over a series of months.  Allowing the leaves to sit and slowly decompose in a pile or in a aerated container, will create an earthy leaf mulch to use in the garden.  It is a great substitute for peat moss, which can be costly.  This nutrient rich mulch can be used during any growing season and will  provide added cover to delicate root structures and prevent soil erosion at the same time.  According to studies, adding leaf mold to soil or used as a partially decomposed mulch improved the soil’s  moisture retention by 50%.  It also insulates root crops such as carrots, turnips and rutabagas, thus creating a longer growing season.
Adding leaves to compost heap is a great “brown” addition to use when composting.  Adding leaves will help retain needed moisture for the compost heap, as well as provide important microbes to help during the decomposition process.  Earthworms will feast on these leaves and in return make nitrogen rich worm castings (worm manure) to use in the garden.  To get leaves to decompose faster, go over the leaves  with a lawn mower or chop them up.  Of course, leaving the leaves whole is fine too, it just takes a little longer.  Click here to learn more about composting.

Lasagna Gardening - This method has a lot of names: sheet mulching, no till gardening or lasagna gardening, but it is the same type of gardening method.  This method of gardening is equivalent to creating a miniature compost pile in the garden bed to decompose while the plants are growing.  This takes minimum effort, creates nutrients and natural fertilizer for the plants, food for earthworms, and does not disrupt the earthworm environment that resides in your garden beds.  It also utilizes the materials that one has on hand.  This gardening concept mimics the natural layering method of the forest floor and is therefore the closest method to Mother Natures.
Building a vegetable garden layers
Building a vegetable garden top layer

 Which Leaves Are Best to Compost?

Although all leaves will decompose and add nutrients to the soil, there are a few that are better to use than others:
  • Maple leaves are high in calcium and potassium, and tend to break down easily.
  • Oak leaves are slower to break down but are great for the garden.
  • Honeylocust leaves are very fine to begin with, so are great to use for garden purposes.
Think Twice Before Using These Leaves:
  • Sycamore, black walnut and beechnut take a little longer to decompose, but can still be used.
  • Any leaves from diseased plants or trees should be avoided.
Utilizing natural materials, such as leaves to use in the garden can improve your soil, naturally fertilize, create a nutrient rich mulch,  as well as keep your soil moist.  Leaves are a gift back from nature and utilizing them in the garden will reward you three fold.

How to Make Cheese from Powdered Milk

Here’s another recipe I wanted to test out that puts to use the buckets of powdered milk I have stored. Remember if you are constantly rotating your stored food (especially the 3-month food supply) not only will you greatly reduce the chance of anything going bad, but you’ll actually be learning to use your bulk-stored food and eating what you store — some of the most important rules in food storage.
To make cheese from powdered milk is an easy process (unexpected since I never had any experience making cheese before this). Here’s how it works:

What You’ll Need

  • Powdered Milk
  • Water
  • Cooking Pot
  • White Vinegar or Lemon Juice
  • Cheesecloth or Clean Cotton T-Shirt

How to Make Cheese from Powdered Milk

I used a small amount of ingredients so I could test it out first before using the full recipe. The full recipe calls for:
  • 3 cups powdered milk
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup plain white vinegar
In my instructions I quartered this recipe as follows:
Step 1: Mix together 3/4 cups of powdered milk with 1 1/2 cups of cold water in a cooking pot. Stir until dissolved.
Step 2: Stir milk over a medium-low to medium temperature until it becomes hot to the touch but not scalding (this should be around 140ยบ if you’ve got a cooking thermometer)
Step 3: Maintaining the same temperature, stir in 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. You should immediately begin to see the curds separating from the whey.
Step 4: Continue cooking to allow the curds to separate from the whey. After a few minutes there should be large globs (if that’s a real word :) ) of curds in an amber pool of whey. If it’s still too milky, add another tablespoon of vinegar, stir and cook it on medium to medium-low heat until the curds completely separate from the whey.
Step 5: Pour the curds and whey into a colander lined with a clean cloth, cotton t-shirt or cheesecloth to drain off the whey (this sweet liquid can be used in the place of water in other baking recipes so drain it into a bowl if desired).
Step 6: Taking the cloth or cheesecloth (a t-shirt in my example) squeeze the curds to press out any remaining whey.
Step 7: Rinse the curds — which is essentially ricotta cheese at this point — under cool water and eat fresh or store in the fridge.


What you should be left with is about the same amount of curds as you measured out in powdered milk.
Since I used 3/4 cup of powdered milk in the above recipe, it resulted in about 3/4 cup of curds — so plan your recipes accordingly.
I was really excited when learning this, since I love lasagna. Pasta as well as tomato sauce — in the form of canned tomatoes (or powdered tomatoes) — stores very well, but ricotta cheese doesn’t. Now that I know how to make fresh ricotta cheese easily from my stored powdered milk, even lasagna can be enjoyed during the end of the world. :)

Related posts:

  1. How to Turn Your Non-Fat Powdered Milk into Whole Milk
  2. How to Make Powdered Eggs
  3. How to Build Your Food Storage On Only $5 a Week