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Friday, February 27, 2009

If I were a rich man...

(Originally posted at the Farmer Geek's blog)

Ahh, if I were a rich man, but I'm not. Oh, I'm not scraping the bottom of the barrel, but I am by no means rich. So that is why it was so good to see an article in the paper yesterday about barter coming back and becoming more acceptable. It was an AP article from Boise, Id, but I believe it is growing across the country. That's why I found the article in my little local paper.

Bartering is the art of trading goods and services for what you need/want instead of paying for them with cash money. I don't know about any of you, but I've practiced this for years in a very simple way that I never really considered barter until I really sat down and thought about it. How many of you have ever asked some friends to come help you with a project, be it building a house, pulling an engine out of the car, dropping a tree, whatever, and offered to feed them or give them beer, etc? I do it all the time... "Hey, I'll feed you if you come over and help me do X, Y, or Z!" I have a buddy who does it on a larger scale and on a regular basis. He would rebuild cars, paint them, install furnaces, etc. In return, I've known him to get cars, to get building materials, motorcycles, etc. Granted he works like a dog on these projects, but I secretly believe it is because he likes the work!

Now, no matter what may come down the pike, wouldn't it be nice to know that you have skills that are valuable? Imagine if you could trade canned produce from the garden for a side of beef, gardening work for plumbing work, etc. Think about it... you would save money, but you would have to spend some time working things out, etc.

If you don't have skills that would be useful to someone else, maybe you could stock up on valuables that other people would want. Canned produce, fresh eggs, tobacco, alcohol, etc. These old time skills served those that came before us for many a year before we became a nation of buying on credit instead of saving up for what we want/need. With the new economic issues and uncertainty, wouldn't it be nice to make sure that you have something that you could fall back on... Just In Case?

Good Trading, Everyone!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Meal Planning = Money Saving

Today's post is brought to us by... Marica over at NorthsideGuerillaFarmer.synthasite.com

I love old books. I collect them, I read them, I trust them more than I trust Wikipedia or Ask.com. Someday I will write about the values of old books. For now let me share with you something from Meta Given’s “The Modern Family Cook Book” (1942).

“The Meal Planner’s Creed
“The health of my family is in my care; therefore--
I will spare no effort in planning the right kinds of food in the right amounts.
“Spending the food dollar for maximum value is my job; therefore--
I will choose from the variously priced foods to save money without sacrificing health.
“My family’s enjoyment of food is my responsibility; therefore--
I will increase their pleasure by planning for variety, for flavorful dishes, for attractive color, for appetizing combinations.
“My family’s health, security, and pleasure depend on my skill in planning meals; therefore--
I will treat my job with the resect it is due.”

There’s a lot to reflect on in this passage, but I want this post to be short so I’ll leave it to you all to reflect and comment.

Planning a weekly menu saves money. Not knowing you or your family, I’m going to describe how we do it, and ask that others who plan out their meals share their secrets as well. We can learn from each other.

We are fortunate, we have a deep freezer. It’s stocked with veggies from the garden, fruit from the farmers’ market, and meat. Secret #1: Find out when the butcher marks down the meat and get yourself to the store that morning. It’s amazing how much money you can save. Our cut-off is 50%; that is, if it isn’t 1/2 off the original price, we pass it up. Advertised sales and specials are generally about 25-30% off regular price. Even if your rule is to buy only meat on sale, and even if you don’t have a deep freezer, you’ll still be saving an additional 25% by carefully shopping the markdown bin and just popping it in your regular freezer.

Secret #2: Make a list of what you have in the freezer. We use a spreadsheet, but a simple rolling list stuck on the door of the fridge would do just as well. Delete or cross off what you use.
My husband, John, does almost all the meal planning and cooking. We shop on Sunday morning. Bright and early Sunday morning he sits down and starts planning. This means he literally takes a piece of paper and writes “Sunday,” “Monday,” “Tuesday,”... down the left hand side. We’ve been at this a while, but if you’re new to this, Secret #3 may help you get started: designate “nights.” We have Sunday supper, veggie night, steak night, and fun food night. We change this up every now and again, for example, during the warmer months we add fish night. If your family loves pasta, you might schedule pasta night on a weekly basis. Plan the nights according to your family’s schedule. We typically have a couple of friends over for supper on Sunday and serve something a little special because we have all day to prepare it. Sunday supper includes a dessert that we’ll be nibbling on for three or four days. Veggie night is Tuesday because left over veggies (not just steamed veggies but casseroles and such) become the side dishes for Wednesday’s supper. Thursday is steak night (broadly construed) because one John’s students comes over, and he is a meatatarian. Friday is fun food night because it’s TGIF, and our habit is to stop at our local tavern on the way home. But instead of going out to dinner (and spending money on another drink) we come home to chicken wings and fries, or calzone, or burgers (fun food and cheaper beer). Designated nights gives you a road map to begin planning a week’s worth of meals. It’s worth repeating that you do this based on your schedule. You know you’ll be late getting home on Thursday. Which is less expensive, stopping at the deli or fast food place and picking something up, or throwing some stuff in the crock pot Thursday morning before you leave for work?

Secrets #1-3 work together. For example, last Saturday a friend came over unexpectedly and offered to take out a tree. In repayment, we invited him and his family over for Sunday supper. This sort of spur of the moment company can be a big whollop to your grocery budget. You want to do something really special (it was an obnoxious tree) but it’s the end of the month. Ah ha! There just happened to be a 10 lb. ham in the freezer; a 10 lb. ham originally $17.99 that we paid $8.99 for. We fed eight people for $9 + the cost of a dozen potatoes (bought last week on sale) + a can of pineapple + a jar of marachino cherries + a little brown sugar + homemade brownies. Not bad. But it gets better.

So John starts the weekly menu with ham for Sunday supper. There will be left over ham. That means we can have one of our favorite ham casseroles and a tossed salad on Monday, and a ham souffle on Saturday. We can freeze the bone, remembering to record it (see Secret #2), for soup some other time. It also means ham sandwiches for lunch Monday. Secret #4: No matter what you plan for supper each evening, make enough for left overs and pack your own lunch. If you have to eat lunch out every day-- or worse, microwave boxes of who knows what-- you must be either spending a lot of money or be really bored with your choices, or both.

You can see how planning is starting to go. With the list of stuff you have in the freezer, and in conjunction with your grocery store’s weekly newspaper ad, sitting at your kitchen table planning out the weekly menu is like a trip to the store before you even leave your house.

With a weekly meal plan sitting in front of us, it’s simply a matter of looking at each item on the menu and asking, do we have what we need to make this? If not, it goes on the grocery list, along with the handful of staples we’re running low on. (Remember, too, that if you’ve been stocking up on things on sale, like canned goods, and you are in a temporary financial bind, you can look at your stockpile. Just do yourself a favor and re-stock as soon as you are able.) Secret #5a: going to the grocery store with a list based on a meal plan saves money because you’re not buying stuff, especially perishables, you may not wind up using. Secret 5b: It saves time. Have the list, pick the item up, put it in the cart, check it off. Next item.

Secret #6: Plan on “extras,” and make them yourself if you can. We make almost everything ourselves: salad dressing, bread, bar-b-que sauce, marinade, grapefruit juice, wine. We call these extras and they are included in our meal planning. If we are running low on mustard, John jots it on the weekly menu, and will make mustard one evening. You may have different extras. After-school snacks. Stuff for the kids’ breakfasts and lunches. Crackers and dip for cocktail hour. Fishing food. Whatever your extras are, you are probably buying them at the store. These things cost money. If it hits you at 6pm that you are completely out of granola bars for the kids’ lunches, you are going to spend a lot of money at the Stop & Rob. Plan on extras and make them at home it you can.

I see people in the grocery store wandering aimlessly about as if they were in a trance. What are they doing? Looking for sales? Looking for ideas for tonight’s dinner? No, they are wasting time and money. They don’t have a plan. This is no way to live.

Anyone else want to share your Secrets?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

To Conceal, or Not...

Chris mentioned Conceal and Carry (C&C) in his post on Monday, and I really want to touch base on this. Ohio allows for C&C with some rules and regulations, but it is legal. To each and every person though, this is a personal decision, and it can be a very.... touchy... subject as well. There is no Right and Wrong about this topic. With one exception. That exception being that EVERYONE should realize that this is a right granted to each and every one of us by the Constitution of the United States of American. The Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights states:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the
people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Now, it doesn't just say the right to keep Arms. No, you have the right to keep and BEAR Arms. This doesn't mean you have to. This doesn't mean that I have to. This means we have the RIGHT to.

Now, that being said, in Ohio, in order to obtain a C&C permit, you have to pass a class that shows that you are familiar with the workings of a firearm and the safety issues related to them. This costs anywhere from $75 on up, and must be presented by a certified instructor. This isn't a bad system. In fact, I kinda like it, except for the fact that you have to pay for the required course, but I have lived in other states where you only had to show up at the Sheriff's office, pass a background check, and boom, you had a C&C permit in hand. This means that you may have people who have never touched a firearm carrying one around. Maybe they don't know how to load it properly, maybe they don't know how to work the safety, maybe they don't understand ricochet... who knows?

Great, now you have your permit, but wait... there are these little stickers everywhere saying weapons forbidden. So I can carry my firearm, but when I want to go into the store, I have to leave it in the car. Zip over to the bank? Leave it in the car. This doesn't make much sense to me... if you were to think about robbing someone, wouldn't the bank where you KNOW that they are not going to have a weapon for self-defence make the perfect location?

Hmmm, it is a trade-off, but if things ever get bad, do you want to be able to carry something that will let you protect yourself and your family? The answer is up to you, and it is completely yours. No right or wrong. Just think about it and don't ever try to tell me that I am not allowed or that I am wrong if I do or don't.

This is our Right. Keep it, protect it, cherish it, or you will miss it when it is gone.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Firearms - Clean and Store

Another excellent post by our friend Chris over at the 1acreohiohomestead!

As I said in my last post, I spent 11 years behind a counter selling firearms. For the most part, I met good people with common sense and knowledge of their firearms. Then.....I knew the other guys. The ones that took better care of their kegerator in the garage than their deer gun. Nearly every year before gun season here, they came in and needed repairs. Some were due to neglect, some to mistreatment, but most were due to improper cleaning.

These guys would take their shotgun (deer slugs here in Ohio), and after their outing, hose the thing down with WD40 and stick it back into the closet or cabinet. Let me tell ya, that stuff may be great in the garage, but in the gun cabinet, it may as well be superglue. An overdosed spray of this stuff runs down the barrel, into the action and trigger assembly, and just lays there. Over time, the rest picks up all the debris, powder, and other crud and takes it with it. What you end up with is a sticky, gooey mess that can seize a trigger assembly and bolt faster than any glue out there. It always amazed me how these guns were treated, but I always took their gun with a smile and handed them a bill for $25 to strip, clean, and lubricate properly. I've cleaned the cylinder of revolvers that were so filthy from neglect, that I literally wore out a new EZ brite lead-wipe cloth on it. I've seen semi-auto handguns that needed soaked overnight in a cleaner bath.....all rediculous neglect for no reason, and worthless as a defense weapon. Imagine grabbing that handy pistol and the slide won't move freely or the trigger is sticky.....

With all that being said, buy a proper gun cleaning kit for each different caliber or guage that you own. Follow the directions, and use cleaners and lubricants sparingly, MORE does not mean BETTER. Choose the products you like and stick with it. Buy something designed for firearms and not something at the auto parts store. Learn how to disassemble your firearm and clean it properly. I dont mean taking it apart down to every screw, but at least learn how to take out trigger assemblies and bolts on your shotguns. Remingtons and Mossbergs are just two simple push pins, and the whole group pops out. (PUSH pins, not hammer me out with a nail and claw hammer pins!!! saw that one many times) Pick up gunsmith manuals for them if you want and learn how the thing operates and learn basic disassembly. Clean them properly, whipe them off, and store them where there is little moisture. Check them frequently for rust! I remember one guy who brought in a 50 cal muzzleloader for me to clean. He put it away after the January deer season while it was still cold, inslde a zipper case. That thing looked like it just came off the ocean floor. It was more than we could handle since it needed totally reblued, so I sent him to a local gunsmith where it cost him more than he paid for it used.

As far as storage, I have a cabinet, a safe, and a wall mount rack. Inside the safe is a dehumidifier rod, though I have used just a cord and 25 watt appliance bulb to keep moisture at bay. One thing I learned from a german customer was to store everything muzzle down. He told me that everyone there used that method. Why? read above. Any exess cleaner or lube runs down and out the muzzle, and not into the action. Pretty simple and makes sense, huh?

Now....if you have something for home protection, consider a few things. Trigger locks are great if you have kids, but what about defensive purposes? Wall safes are equally as good, but how far away is it? If someone breaks into your home and you're trying to fumble around with a key or combination, you may as well just have a can of mace in the drawer. What if it takes a key, and you left your keyring downstairs? That .45 you bought to defend yourself is uselsss. I like the V-line lock boxes. They can easliy fit in a drawer or under a bed, and have a 4 button lock combination. Mine is mounted under the bed frame, and I've practiced with it for years. Lay in bed, turn off the lights, then practice pushing the 4 buttons in sequense and turn the little knob....before too long, your pistol will drop right in your hand. I compare this to practicing salmon fishing knots....practice when it's dark, 12 degrees, and with a 40mph crosswind and rain hahaha. Practice with that more than you practice with your gun, it can equally save your life someday while keeping the gun under lock and key. Though mine is still here, it's empty now that the kids are gone and I dont have to think about their friends wandering around the house. My 45 is in my drawer, and Lisa's 9mm is in hers.
Real quick, I'll touch on kids and guns since I went into trigger locks. Kids are curious, we all know that, and they're sneakier than a cat if they want to get into something. Education is the key. Take kids shooting at an early age, teach them that it's not a toy, teach them to respect it, and teach them safety. Though it was a whole other time, I was raised with a housefull of firearms, and not a one was locked up. We KNEW what they were, and knew not to touch. (plus the fear of an ass whoopin was always there lol) Dad's .357 was always sitting on his nightstand, open and loaded, and not once did we touch it. Rather than hide them away from your kids, teach them. If you must insist on locking them up, think about a simple locking doorknob on your bedroom. Ours has had a lock for years, and I carry a spare key at all times with me. It's tucked in a pocket behind the pouch for my multi-plier and mini-mag light, so it's with me from the time I get up, till the time I go to bed. I'm not one to carry a pistol 24/7, but it's something you may consider.

Clean it, store it, practice with it, and respect it. We buy these for a reason, whether its defense, fun, or hunting. We take care of our car, our house, and our tools. Firearms deserve no less than the same.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The .22 Rifle-Fun Plinker and Survival Must

Today's post comes from Chris W over at the 1acreohiohomestead!

First of all, I won't go into anything on weapons for defense or other reasons. The intention of this is to cover firearms suitable for general survival hunting. Someday I may cover deensive weapons, but not in this post. I also won't cover manufacturer names or models. I have my favorites which I'm not afraid to mention, but I don't want to neg any others that some of you may love. Keep in mind that everything is my view and opinion, and not gospel, lol.

I spent 11 years in the gun business, 2 years behind a counter at a large chain store, (see the last post on my blog) ,and 9 years at an actual gun shop. I saw everything from one extreme to the other, from actual German pub rifles to a .50 caliber single shot, and everything in between. (YES-they actually shot rifles in the pubs instead of darts!)Over the course of that time, I saw any common calibers/guages sell over and over. Today I'll start with the most common of them all, the .22 rimfire.

I love a good .22 rimfire, always have. I've had more .22's in my life than anything else, and still own one that was given to me at birth (marlin 39a golden mountie) , my dads first (winchester 67) , and the first one I bought with my own money. I spent many a weekend shooting a weeks worth of allowance money through that old lever action, and it never failed me once. They are by far the least expensive of anything to shoot, the most fun, and the most versitle of any firearm going, past or present. Those .22's always brought me home with game like rabbits and squirrels, and were always deadly with varmit like barn rats, groundhogs, raccoons, possums, crows, and the occasional feral domestic rodent as I call them. (here kitty kitty) . I've even
taken down foxes and coyotes with a .22 rifle, and I know of guys who have taken deer with one.

I've had all kinds of .22's, lever actions, bolt actions, semi-auto's, a gatlin gun, heavy barrels, single shots, and even an actual East German olympic trainer, and I've loved them all. (still have a soft spot for a 52 Winchester) But my top choice has always been a bolt action, and that is what I will recommend for the purposes of this post. Semi auto's are great, but face it, they fail. Internal parts can break, wear down, and leave you stranded with nothing more than a wood and metal walking stick. Semi's can also be finicky about ammo. I had 3 identical rifles, and one
would feed brand X, one jammed occasionally with the same ammo, and the other oughtright just ouldnt feed it. The lever action is a classic, but same as the semi's,
parts can fail. The trusty bolt action very rarely fails, and jams/misfeeds are easily extracted. A bolt action will feed cb caps, shorts, longs, and long rifles, while semi's and levers will only feed LR's. Given an emergency situation, with a bolt action, you could just grab whatever is handy and you're in business. Even if the magazine won't feed them, (like cb caps), they're easily loaded one at a time in a bolt action. Ever try to feed a cb cap in the side of a marlin lever gun? Not the easiest thing I have ever done....lol.

Now that I've stated my opinion and choice of action, lets go on to feed mechanisms. I've disliked detachable box magazines since I got my first .22 with my own money. I set off proudly with my new sighted-in rifle to get a few squirrels. I had 2 or 3 in my pouch when I took a shot at another one and missed. A quick jack of the bolt left me empty because I somehow bumped the release lever and dropped my mag somewhere in a 10 acre area. I still had more that I could feed one at a time, but that defeated the purpose of having a magazine. The next day I bought 2 more
mags and wrapped them with a 1" ring of bright orange electric tape, just so they might be easier to spot if it happened again. After that day, the thought of dropping one was always on my mind, and I spent more time checking my mag than I did concentrating on dancing fox squirrels. That rifle got set aside as a backyard plinker not long after, and I went to a tube feed. I had that rifle for about 10 years and never had a problem, and the old lever action still has it's origional tube. I've seen them get bent, but it's far more rare than a lost magazine. A single shot bolt action would be the logical choice to eliminate ANY magazine/feed problems, but I just don't care to have just one shot....though I would take a good .22/410 over and under if I found one at a good price. I'd still give my left *** for a nice Springfield M1 Scout!!! I'd settle for a savage though, lol. (pre-war wood stock of course)

On ammo storage, it's common sense. Store in a cool dry place. Keep what your rifle shoots best, but keep it something readily available too. I've had a few rifles that absolutely loved RWS target ammo or CCI Green Tag, but those aren't available at your local wallyworld or Xmart. Get something that shoots well, it readily available, is fairly inexpensive, and that will do what it should. If you want to use it for hunting, sight it in with hollow points and stock hollow points. Keep some handy, keep some in your hunting rig or vest, and keep some in you BOB if you
have some. Keep good cleaning supplies around, and keep a small one in your vest and/or BOB as well. I have a small snake-like cleaning rod that fits in the pocket of my vest,(Brownells Bore Snake) and a small bottle of bore cleaner with cleaning patches, bore brush and lens cloths(packet-size eyeglass wipes) that are always handy in both. Those big bottles at the gun shop are more economical, but you can't carry a quart with you very easily. The same as carrying spare lantern mantles, the cleaning kit can get you out of a jam,literally!

Last but not least....
To scope or not to scope, that is the question. Really, that all depends on your personal preference. I used to love open sights, but my eyes arent what they used to be. Both have good points, and both have bad. Unless you're extremely well practiced with your rifle and it's sights, open sights are limiting. Scopes are awesome, but they can break, scratch, or be bumped off center. If you prefer a scope, PLEASE get a decent one!!! Nothing got my panties in a bunch
more than seeing someone back then with a $1000 rifle with a $30 scope sitting on it. ( I honestly remember seeing someone with a Sako Finnbear in 300 Win Mag with a 4x scope and see through rings!!) I'm not saying to buy the $400 Leupold, but at least get something that will hold up to rough use. If its for hunting and survival, it's going to take a beating no matter how much you baby it. Get the good scope, get good rings, and think about investing in flip-up scope caps. You won't lose them like the stretch-over kind. They're far worth the extra money when a sudden rainstorm pops up. I dispise the see-through rings, but again, that's your choice. They make sighting in difficult and make the scope a bit more vulnerable to damage. If you stick with
open sights, by all means take them off and locktite the screws in place. (BLUE locktite) If it's a ramp-style rear sight, pick up an extra ramp or 2 and keep them handy. Before I forget, get a good sling for it. I love the look and feel of leather, but for a survival rifle, nylon is a much better choice to brave the elements. I prefer the clip-on style with the screw-lock mechanism on the latch, but thats just me. I dont want them getting bumped and coming unhooked when I least expect it like a box-magazine.

So.......pick your .22, get what you need for it, and take care of it. That rifle may be a fun weekend plinker and varmint getter, but someday it may mean the difference between a squirrel over a fire instead of eating mayapples and dandelions.

Thanks for the post Chris!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Preparing and Learning: Practice Practice!

((Today's post comes to us from Marica over at northsideguerillafarmer.pbwiki.com)

When it finally hits people that they need to take more responsibility for their own lives, and begin preparing for eventualities, they typically go forth with gusto! Before they know it, they have a nice little stock pile of dried beans and enough flour to supply an army with bread. There’s just one problem. Neither they nor their family cares for beans, and no one knows how to bake bread. It’s not only silly, it’s wasted time, money, and effort. This scenario, though, points to an aspect of preparing that’s sometimes neglected: LEARNING. Among other things, learning takes practice, and the time to practice is not when you have no time to practice.

What do *you* need to learn and practice? I can’t answer that, but perhaps I can give some structure to your “what I need to learn” list, and offer some suggestions on how to go about checking things off. Let’s start with the beans and bread. Beans and bread are fundamental elements of feeding yourself and your family. I take this to be one of a prepper’s three primary goals. The others are providing shelter, and protecting and defending yourself and family.

I’ll discuss each goal in turn, starting with FOOD, specifically, beans. Most folks who don’t care for beans appreciate beans’ nutritive and economic values. But they still don’t care for beans. I’ll wager this is because they’ve never eaten a really good bean dish, have a limited selection of beans (or recipes) from which to choose, and-- even if they have eaten a tasty dish and ventured beyond pintos-- were distressed later in the evening (“magical fruit,” indeed!). Now would be a good time to learn to like beans. Serve a new bean dish once a week. Try out different varieties and recipes. (Ethnic markets often have huge bean selections, shop around.) The cost of a bean dish that you really don’t care for, and gets pitched in the trash, is minimal. Try again next week. The more you experiment-- practice-- the more you will learn about the kinds of dishes and beans your family does like. And you’ll be surprised how quickly your digestive system “learns” to tolerate beans (especially since you’ve practiced various methods of soaking and pre-cooking). Should you decide to plant beans in your garden next year, you’ll be pleased you’ve learned that your family really doesn’t like lima beans, but they love Swedish brown beans.

Smell that bread. The time to learn how to bake your own is not when everyone else panics about the coming snow storm and empties the shelves. You may feel pretty good about your preparations when you lay out the flour and yeast and butter on the table and tie on your apron. But... you’ll soon be wishing you knew just what the heck “knead until smooth and elastic” means. Now is the time to learn. You can greatly accelerate your learning curve if Grandma or Mom can teach you first hand-- plus you’ll see how easy it is. If that’s not an option, there are videos on line, and pictures and descriptions in cookbooks (I find older editions of Betty Crocker and Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks especially useful, but there are others). You’ll need to practice practice to become efficient. As you do, intersperse some no-knead or quick bread recipes. When those buttermilk biscuits come out of the oven (served of course with homemade preserves which you learned how to make last summer) you’ll also be learning how long it takes it is to heat the kitchen up on a chilly morning.

The same principles of practice and learning apply to other aspects of feeding yourself and your family. This summer will be a good time to start learning how to grow a productive vegetable garden, and to preserve some of your harvest. So what if you start small with tomatoes in pots and a few pints of frozen tomato sauce? Everything you learn this year will generalize to what you need to know to grow a larger and more productive garden, and to preserve more of its bounty, next year.

Likewise, this summer will be an excellent time to practice grilling. There’s little point in stocking up on charcoal and having steaks in the freezer-- just in case-- if you wind up serving grilled shoe leather. If the steaks you grill aren’t reliably the best you’ve ever eaten, you need more practice!

Make your own wine. Make your own stocks, your own sauces, sausages, pickles, granola, apple juice, mustard, chili powder. It’s not hard, and not at all time consuming, if you take the time to learn and practice. Now is the time.

Let’s move on to the second of a prepper’s three primary goals: SHELTER. I am not here addressing folks who are interested in learning how to build a McMansion out of twigs and sod. If you desire to do this, go for it. I envy you. I am, rather, addressing folks who live in a house that they and the bank(s) own, and much as they’d love to have a bug-out getaway, are stuck where they are.

Given this reality, there are many opportunities for learning and practice. Think back to the stock pile of beans and flour and let me pose a few questions. Do you have a stockpile of really awesome cordless power tools? Great! When was the last time you used them? Practice practice. Go build a bird feeder. Miter some corners. Now is the time to practice efficient corner-mitering just in case you need to miter some corners when the window frame needs repair.

How about that chain saw? One reason you have it is because it might come in handy when you need to clear a path after an ice storm. Don’t be caught saying, “Dang, what was that gas to oil ratio?” Practice practice.

*You* may be A-o.k. with the tools and the chainsaws, and with knowing what knots to use to tie things down before a big wind, and for that matter with bread baking. Good for you! How about your spouse and kids? Have you taught them? Now might be a good time for rest of the family to do some learning.

There are probably things you don’t realize you don’t know how to do in order to keep your shelter in good repair. Take a tour of your home and property. What repairs and improvements have you been putting off because you haven’t had the cash on hand to pay the handyman? With proper instruction and practice, could you learn the necessary skills? As with bread baking, do you have older relatives who could guide you? If not, the internet is littered with “how-to” forums. If you are moving off the grid, yard sales and junk stores are excellent sources of how-to books. I’m thumbing through Volume 2 (Br-Ch) of the “Popular Science Do-It-Yourself Encyclopedia,” published in 1956, which begins with how to operate a hand brace (a “crank-type tool designed to hold and drive a variety of bits,” the original cordless drill!), ends with chimney repairs, and has detailed instructions (with pictures) for how to build shelving units, storage cabinets, carports, and to burglar-proof your home. (Tip: notify the milkman so bottles don’t accumulate on your front porch).

Remember, too, that shelter need not be restricted to the literal roof over your head. It’s clothing, home furnishings, and all the things that make a house a home. Now might be a good time to learn how to use that sewing machine, to knit, to replace a button, to make alterations, to practice a long forgotten hobby such as needlepoint or embroidery. Again, keep a look out for old how-to books on the “domestic arts.”

An added benefit of learning and practicing these and other skills is that they can significantly cut the cost of home upkeep, as well as gift-giving. You may become good enough to turn them into a currency for trade (alterations for a bird feeder for your mom’s birthday). It just takes practice!

Preppers understand the need to PROTECT and possibly DEFEND their food, shelter, selves, and families. If you own firearms, you may already be kicking yourself for not going to the range this winter. Go. Practice. Go this weekend and at least once every month. Now may be the time for serious shooters to learn reloading (making your own ammunition). If you are not yet armed, and decide to get a rifle, shotgun, or handgun, take the time to learn Ohio law, and to properly use, clean, and store your weapon. Take an NRA basic class. Continue your education with an advanced or tactical course. Now might be the time to train and get your concealed handgun license. Again, involve other family members. You bought that shotgun to protect your home and family. Are you in your home with your family every day, all day?

Protection and defense don’t stop at the barrel of a gun. Sign up for Red Cross First Aid classes. Now. Accidents happen. Has everyone in your home learned how to use the fire extinguisher, car jack, make a splint? When the tornado siren sounds, how long does it take you all-- and your pet and all the “important” stuff you’ll grab in a panic-- to get to the basement? Practice!

Preparing for eventualities takes more than stockpiling goods. Make your “need to learn” list and get your learn on. Then practice practice.

-Marica (northsideguerillafarmer.pbwiki.com)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Have a Plan

This is contributed by Scoutinlife...

Start in the beginning! You need a PLAN. What are you preparing for? Make a list of events in order of possibility of importance combined with consequences of not prepping. You'll find that a camp stove, plenty of water, and two weeks worth of canned/dry goods will get you through most anything. If it gets cold where you are, you'll need some form of alternate heat, you may need alternative lighting, etc.

A key element to any good food storage plan is a good rotation plan. Needless to say, rotation doesn't work at all if you don't eat the food regularly you store. A rotation plan can be as simple as first in first out and either mechanical (how you put them on the shelf) or using a simple date system

Buy what you eat and eat what you buy.can goods are good to stock and have a good shelf life if stored properly, cool dry area.dry beans and if you like them dehydrated potatoes (bagged potato flakes).water, water and more waterA good start is simply storing what you eat normally which for most of us is short-term storage foods, 1 year or less like canned goods or dry goods.....

Once you have your shelter/warmth, food and water, then start getting health and comfort items... Toilet paper, sewing supplies, meds, shoes, stockings, underwear,tampons/pads, soap, bleach, vinigar, gardening seeds, books on family medicine,ammo,etc...

Not just typical garden seeds but the seeds for an herb garden, chilis, you name it. if it's teotwaki, these would all make good bartering goods in addition to sprucing up ones own homestead...for short term just hit the spice racks at Wally World and the ethnic(mexican, italian, indian, asian, etc.) sections in your local supermarkets, even the nondried sauces and mixes etc. will keep for a long long time unopened

If you have land start prepping the area for gardens, or fruit trees if you can, set up the abilty to have live stock. aka- rabbits,chickens maybe. This way your ready to roll on producing some of your own food and can supplement what food preps you have to make them last twice as long!

As bare minium firearms simple economical 22. cal rifle an a simple single shot shotgun can all be had for a round a couple hundred bucks new or much less used plus some ammo need to be set aside...

You can prep on $10 a month - food, water, and shelter (heat/light/etc.). Like eating an elephant you do it one bite at a time. Put away cases of canned soup, bags of rice,ammo and cases of water.

When it comes down to it, in life the only thing that really matters in survival is food and shelter, everything else is a nice adder. Its why many people use the rules of three not only as a good guide for basic survival but survival planning.

thanks go out to Scoutinlife for this contribution!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Money, Its a Gas...

(originally posted on my personal blog TheFarmerGeek)

So I just finished reading The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey. First off, this book is Awesome, and I highly recommend it for everyone. The primary and only focus in this book is how to build wealth by removing DEBT. His goal is to help everyone who reads his book (or hears his radio show) to get rid of all debt and to live debt free! His process makes a lot of sense to me, but he had a couple points that I want to discuss today.

First point. Debt is bad. Period. End of sentence. I have read many many many financial books on buying rental properties, real estate, etc. The one big thing that every one that I read had in common is that they advocate the use of Other People's Money (OPM). Dave will explain that yes this could work, but this could also seriously backfire too. (Trust me, he explains it a whole lot better!)

The big point that I wanted to talk about because he lays it out in a page, and I think that this really needs to be talked about right now. Gold is not the answer. We are all aware of the new "stimulus" ... *ahem* ... bill that is waiting on the presidents desk to be signed right now. (If you are not, do the research!!!) This bill could sound the death knell for the American economy. I hope not, I pray not, but ... Now if the economy collapses, what do you want to have? Common wisdom says to invest in gold and precious metals because they have always been the foundation for economies. While that may be true, it won't help you right off the bat. Someone who has TONS of extra food saved may accept your gold, but most people won't because it won't be worth diddly. Dave states that a "black market barter system" is what will emerge. Heck, we know this in our heart of hearts, and we know it because the barter system is alive and well in rural America.

Barter... if things really go downhill, what are the most important things to have to be able to barter, if need be. Skills, first and foremost, you can always trade for things by being able to do jobs and projects that need to be done. Many people don't have these skills anymore, so the more skills you have, the more in demand you will be. Next, FOOD. Yes, I said food... If you have food stored up and saved for a rainy day, those that don't have any will try to beg, plead, steal, or borrow to get food for themselves and their family. The more you have, the more options you have. Another huge category? Things that would currently be "black market". This includes tobacco, beer, wine, hard-core distilled liquor(!!!!), ammo, weapons, etc.

Don't get me wrong, if you have the cash to buy some gold, DO IT! Just don't expect it to be the complete salvation of your family IF the economy collapses. However, depending on how long it takes to get a new economy set up, you could live long enough to have that gold make you rich in the new economy. So again, it is good to be prepared for that situation, BUT make sure you are prepared for the others as well.

Read the book, think about it, make your decision, and Do It!

*title from Pink Floyd's Dark side of the Moon track entitled Money.

Anyone, anyone, buehler, buehler?

With Joel the K leaving the OPN, I do not know if anyone else has expressed any interest in contributing. At this point, I am going to ask again if there is anyone who is interested in contributing, please send me an email at thefarmergeek@hotmail.com. If you have specific areas of interest, please include that in your email (preserving food, protection, money, good buys, etc.). I will get back to everyone as I can.

Thank you,

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What is a Prepper?

Some people may be put off by the term "prepper". So let's talk about exactly what is a Prepper.

prepper: one who prepares. Period.

This means that Boy Scouts, homesteaders, survivalists, and even most "normal" people are preppers by definition. The real difference between a prepper and a Prepper is in attitude. In my experience, "normal" people prepare for normal things. Car needs and oil change, kids don't like what's for dinner, power goes out for an hour, etc. A "Prepper" tries to prepare in a more conscious way for things on a larger scale. Power goes out for a week, severe illness or loss of job, all the way up to things like revolution, war, Nuclear war, etc.

So part of the issue we have here is a matter of degree. A person can be a Prepper and just have a lot of food and water saved, but a person can be a Prepper with HazMat suits, 10k rounds of ammo, and 5 years worth of food. Its all a matter of degree.

The important thing here is not how you prepare, the important thing is not how much you prepare. I believe that the important thing is that you look at your situation and you look at the future. Compare these two things, stay abreast of the news and world events, and you DECIDE, deliberatly and consciously, what you are going to do. If you choose to do nothing and something major happens, tough, you chose that. Don't come crying to those who have prepared and tell us we owe you or any other crud. That is not to say that a prepared person won't help you, but if you do, its a good deed for them, its nothing you are owed. If you do prepare and nothing happens, what's so bad about that? We don't know what will happen in the future, and as the old saying goes, "Better safe than sorry".

I hope this clarifies things. Once again, this is only my opinion, if you agree or disagree, feel free to share!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Let's start small...

Before I begin, I just want to give a bit of an update on my plans for contributing to the site here. To start with, I will probably be posting three days a week to start. I don't know if I am going to work on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule or a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday schedule, so I may try it out for a bit and see what works best for me. Just because it is not a scheduled day, I reserve the right to post if I get a bee in my bonnet, but hey, you never know. Also, feel free to comment or email me even on non-posting days. I do check my email, even with my busy schedule!

On to the topic of the day. Prepping is being ready for whatever may come. Now, this is a speciality name for an idea that has been around for longer than this country has existed. In times past, the farmer put up as much food as he could so that he could feed his family throughout the winter. Throughout a large portion of American history, it was commonplace to see chickens running through the front yard of houses, even in major cities! It wasn't until the mid/late-twentieth century when processed foods and markets grew in popularity, transportation costs dropped, and people were able to go to the store to get just about anything they wanted, when many people stopped worrying about the availability of their food. The market always had fresh food, yes, even off-season!

While this is still true, the sad fact is that with the price of gasoline rising (ok, it settled for now, but who knows when it will spike again) it is costing more and more to process, package, and transport that food. Thus making food more expensive. Food gets more expensive, and then what? You have to pick and choose, do I get store brand or just do without? My kids will only eat this name brand pre-made whatchamicallit but its quadrupled in price, oh no! Whatever will we do?

First thing to do is to give store brands a try now before it becomes too late. Many/most of them taste just as good as the name brands without the pricetag. Next, try making regular foods instead of "quick" or "instant" foods. For less than the price of 6 servings of instand oatmeal, you can get a canister of regular oats that will last longer and make many more servings. The regular oats have the benefit of being usable in other things (oat bread, oatmeal cookies, etc). Rice is another great example of this. Regular rice is so much less expensive than quick rice and it doesn't take that much longer most of the time. It lasts longer in the pantry, makes more, and it is better for you as well. Not only do these help with your preparing for an emergency, it helps your pocketbook, Right Now!

To begin prepping, everytime you go to the grocery store, pick up a few extra cans of various foods to put aside. These are for storage and emergencies, not for your weekly food consumption. So put them aside and keep a list of the "extra" you have. Pretty soon, you will notice you have enough extra food to last a week, then two, then a month, etc.

What cost the peace of mind knowing if you got an ice storm, you have enough food to feed your family till you can get out of the house? Is it worth the extra $5 a shopping trip? What about an extra $1 or $2? Remember, you don't have to jump in feet first and spend tons of money right away, you can start small and build up your pantry.

Well, there ya go, a small look into the quick and easy way to start preparing (aka prepping!)

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Howdy Folks

Howdy howdy. I need to introduce myself. My name is FarmerGeek, and I will be helping out and posting here on the Ohio Preppers Network (OPN) as well as Joel the K. I figure if I am going to be posting here you should know some things about me, and who better to tell you than... me!

I am a homesteader. Ok, this doesn't mean that I am using the old homesteading laws to get land (hey, they removed that bill back in the '70s). What this does mean is that I (and my family) grow our food and raise food animals. We can and preserve our food in the fall for the winter, etc. We are very into personal responsibility and self-sufficiency. I was raised and have always been a big proponent for standing on my own two feet. I don't like having to rely on anyone else for anything that I need.

When it comes to prepping, we are not buying gas masks and gieger counters. But we are prepared with enough food to last us for a while. What happens if we got hit by an ice storm that came through not too long ago? We can survive.

To me, prepping is about being ready for anything and everything. As the Boy Scout motto says, "Be Prepared".

I am here to help teach others how to be prepared. Come what may. I always appreciate any and all feedback, so please feel free to leave comments or even send me an email. If you do send me an email, make sure you put the name of the blog in the subject line so I know it is not junk mail.

P.S. check out my other blog, TheFarmerGeek at thefarmergeek.blogspot.com

Ohio Preppers Network Est. Jan 17, 2009 All contributed articles owned and protected by their respective authors and protected by their copyright. Ohio Preppers Network is a trademark protected by American Preppers Network Inc. All rights reserved. No content or articles may be reproduced without explicit written permission.